From the Desk of Principal Talukdar, January 2022

Dear Underwood Families,

Can you believe that Monday, January 31 marks the 90th day of school and is this year’s date for our “Halfway Day” celebration? In the past, students have chosen to celebrate halves in some of the following ways:

  • Wearing two different shoes
  • Wearing half of their hair in a ponytail or braid
  • Spiking up or styling half of their hair
  • Rolling up one sleeve or pant leg
  • Decorating half of an old shirt. 

Although none of this is required, these are just some ways to mark this momentous occasion and have some fun with each other. All are welcome to join in if interested. 

As February approaches, we take time to reflect on two important occasions, Lunar New Year and Black History Month, both beginning this year on February 1. Lunar New year is the observance of the start of a new year in a lunar calendar and is celebrated by over 1.5 billion people across the globe. It signals a new beginning for many, mainly focused around good fortune, happiness and health. This year is the Year of the Tiger (specifically the Water Tiger in 2022), which symbolizes being kind, adventurous, and enthusiastic. Water Tigers are considered family-oriented and to have wonderful interpersonal relationships. I know we experience many of those qualities here at Underwood and I wish all those celebrating this special holiday a peaceful and prosperous new year! If you are interested in learning more about this holiday with your loved ones, click here to explore some children’s books.

At Underwood, we honor African Americans and the many achievements that have shaped history by learning together in classes not only in February during Black History Month, but rightfully throughout the school year. Through collaboration of teachers at each grade level and the sharing of resources by the NPS Social Studies Department and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, I take pride knowing that our faculty work carefully to integrate stories of Black Americans across all grade levels so that students can develop an understanding and appreciation for the important contributions made. In addition, some will also take time to reflect on social justice issues and explore the power of activism to effect change. If you are interested in celebrating with your child at home, please find a selection of books celebrating Black History Month here.

As we look ahead, February will bring some shifts including our approach to monitoring COVID rates within our school community. I am thrilled that we are able to keep Underwood School open each day and commit to doing all we can to keep it that way. As you learned in an NPS email update yesterday, the Newton Public Schools is shifting its testing strategy away from pooled testing (PCR) and toward at-home weekly rapid antigen tests. In order to participate, you must opt-in to this new testing program as the previous consent form will not apply. For more detail, please visit NPS COVID Testing Webpage. I have been so impressed with our high participation rates in pool testing as well as our incredible vaccination rate at Underwood School among students. Let’s do all we can to keep our community members safe and healthy!