December 2016

The LABBB Collaborative

Sharing best practices for promoting inclusive opportunities for students with special needs     
LABBB Chenery Middle School Receives Award for 2015-2016 National Best Buddies Chapter of the Year!
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri

LABBB Has a Podcast! First Episode is an Interview with Dafna Krouk-Gordon, Executive Director, TILL
Communication and building a community is on my mind everyday that I come to work. I ask myself the questions, What can LABBB do to create as many resources possible for parents?How do we help parents plan for the future? How do we communicate what we do? How do we get across the importance of building a community? How do we show the connections in our community as they exist right now? How do parents see the group homes that have been developed among LABBB families? 

LABBB Programs are located in 16 different buildings and 15 different workites. We have students that are enrolled from over 70 districts, and we are all part of one community. We belong to something unique. Just come and experience the LABBB Reunion Dance and you will know exactly what I am talking about. 

LABBB has Monthly Newsletters, Executive Directors Blog, LABBB Facebook Page, LABBB TwitterLABBB Instagram, informational emails, classroom blogs, weekly LABBB staff community news, PAC Meetings, PAC Yahoo Group and now we are introducing our monthly LABBB Podcast. If you wish to view each of these communication tools, please click on the hyperlinks or click on the image above to listen to our Podcasts. 

We want to increase our communication and bring you something that no one else is doing in a special needs community. We have our own Podact webpage and we will be producing monthly Podcasts that will cover a variety of subjects. The Podcast show will be called The Reality and Brutally Honest Truth About Special Needs Planning. I have never done a podcast before, but I listen to many of them and this is what sparked the idea. Our podcast will continously improve every episode we produce. It will evolve. I am flying the plane while building it! 

I want to thank Ben Cullity for helping me get this Podcast started. Without his knowledge and expertise this many never have happened. 

To listen to our Podcats please click here: The Reality and Brutally Honest Truth About Special Needs Planning. If you have any ideas or guests that you would like to us interview on our show please let me know. 

I also want to say Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to everyone in the LABBB Community. 


Pumpkin Palooza!
By: Kimberly Roberts, Speech Therapist
The theme for Speech Group in Ms. Brown's classroom for the month of October was pumpkins! Throughout the month, students participated in a variety of language-based activities aimed at strengthening their vocabulary, comprehension and expressive language skills. 

For our final activity, students worked in small groups to make their own edible pumpkin patches! As a group, we identified ingredients, followed directions and worked on our turn taking skills! 

We focused on the concepts "top", "middle" and "bottom" as we added ingredients to make our pumpkin patches. Students also completed two review activities: they answered picture supported "WH" questions about the activity and sequenced steps from the recipe to re-tell how they made their pumpkin patches. Finally, it was time to eat! This was everyone's favorite part of the activity!

What's Happening in Classroom 54
By: David Dooks
On November 14th, the students from Area 54 (Minuteman classroom 54) visited Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, MA to learn firsthand about trophic levels of food/energy webs and s y mbiotic relationships.  The day was perfect as we wandered through the Farm led by Wendy, our instructor from the Mass Audubon Society.  We hadn't walked 10 feet before Britney discovered an example of commensalistic relationship between lichen and a tree.
Upon visiting the Chicken House we discovered that an animal can be included in more than one trophic level.  Chickens are both Primary Consumers because they eat grain which is considered a Producer, and they also eat bugs (which are considered primary consumers) so that also makes them Secondary Consumers. 
We also learned how to read the code on egg cartons to tell when the eggs were packaged and how old the eggs actually are, (store bought eggs could be up to a year old and still be considered fresh!).  Wendy taught us about the stages of composting and how plant material decomposes and becomes soil, which in turn helps to feed the next generation of plant life (producers).

Of course no visit to Drumlin farm would be complete without a visit to the pig barn and the sheep and goats.  They also have a place in the food/energy webs.  The mice in the two barns have a commensalistic symbiotic relationship with the pigs and sheep.  The sheep and pigs coexist with the mice.  The mice benefit from the shelter and food provided to each animal, and the sheep and pigs are not at all affected by the tiny freeloaders.
The wonderful thing about Drumlin Farm is that in studying these food/energy webs we had three different ecosystems to see in action.  The Farm itself, an aquatic ecosystem with the ponds at the Farm, and native ecosystems with their extensive nature trails and the Native Wildlife exhibits (which features injured but rehabilitated and human-habituated animals that otherwise wouldn't independently survive in the wild).

We had a fantastic day of being able to take what we have studied in our classroom and see in person how it applies to the world we live in.
What's New at LABBB Minuteman Career Directions
By: Frank Jackson
The Career Direction Program has had a nice start to the new 2016-2017 School Year.  We came back in September with Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School's new Student Handbook having a cover designed by LABBB/Minuteman student Joe Bianco.  Joe is a senior in the Design Visual Communication Shop and last spring DVC had a contest to see which design would be used for the cover of the 2016-2017 Student Handbook.  

Joe's design was chosen from dozens of other students in an open competition.  DVC is a popular choice for LABBB/Minuteman Career Direction students as we currently have three students in the program.

Some of the other shops we have students  having success in are Automotive Technology, Telecommunication & Fiber Optics, Carpentry and Culinary Arts & Baking.  Students spend a week in shop classes and then the following week in academics.  Some of our students also go out to work in their vocational field to supplement their education. 

Career Direction is a unique program that gives our students the opportunity to learn real life job skills that will translate into them becoming successful as they move on to higher education or joining the workforce.  
Exporing Simple Machines
By: Caroline Brown
Ms. Brown's class at Chenery has been working hard learning about simple machines!  Each student has been learning about inclined planes, wedges, pulleys, wheels and axles, screws, and levers, and how each of these simple machines can make work easier.  To put our classroom efforts into practice, we used these machines to experience the effects firsthand.  The first two machines we trialed were the wheel and axle and the lever. 

Students took turns carrying a milk crate full of books and games across the gym.  It was heavy, and it was hard work!  After that, the crate was placed atop a scooter, and the students were asked to push to crate back to the other side.  Everyone was amazed at how much easier the task became when the wheel and axle were added to the situation.

Next, we experimented with levers.  We explored how the position of the fulcrum impacts how much force is needed to move a load.  We used a yard stick, a roll of tape, a small plastic cup, and ping pong balls to demonstrate this.  First, the fulcrum (the roll of tape) was placed in the middle of the yardstick, and students took turns adding force to the end opposite the ping pong ball.  It was fun to launch the ping pong ball, but we knew we could send them even further by moving the fulcrum further away from the ping pong ball. 

We tested that theory by moving the fulcrum to the opposite end of the yardstick, then sending the ping pong balls halfway across the gym!  It was a fun, hands-on way to learn about simple machines! 

Our next activities will include the pulley and the wedge, and we are all excited to play around with some more hands-on activities!

LABBB Chenery Middle School National Best Buddies Chapter of the Year!
by Sarah Bennett
In 2002, a LABBB Inclusion Specialist, and a Chenery Middle School Art Teacher, formed the first  Best   Buddies  Middle School Chapter in Massachusetts. What is interesting about this relationship is that These two teachers did not see eye to eye when they first started working together. 

What is amazing is that they ended up forming a strong relationship, and together, they wanted to start a Best Buddies Chapter at Chenery Middle school in Belmont. I remember the staff around the table hearing, "Inclusion" and "Social" opportunities for LABBB students and we all said "Yes" without even knowing what Best Buddies was. These two teachers applied for a chapter and were approved, making this chapter the first middle school Best Buddies Chapter in Massachusetts. 

This chapter has been successful for so many years and continues to thrive. The Chenery Chapter is where every other  Best  Buddies Chapter in LABBB has its roots.

On Wednesday, November 30, there was a ceremony recognizing The LABBB-Chenery  Best  Buddies as the 2015-2016 National Chapter of the year. It was a great afternoon. The auditorium was was filled with Chenery Best Buddies, parents and both the Principal of Chenery Middle School, Mike McAllister, and John Phelan, Superintendent of Belmont Public schools joined us for ceremonies. They are both big supporters of Best Buddies. 

Thank you to Steve Goodwin for facilitating a great ceremony.  I also want to thank Paula Rizzo for all her help and Carole Miller and Kathleen Powers for facilitating the  Best   Buddies  Chapter for many years after Karen Frank retired. 
Fur Ever Friends
By: Kathleen Farley
Dogs have proven to bring happiness and relieve anxiety in students and staff within a school settings. Interactions with furry friends reduces blood pressure, provide tactile stimulation, give motivation to move, walk and stimulate the senses. Four legged visitors improves self esteem, acceptance from others and lifts moods. The introduction of non-threatening therapy dogs can serve as a catalytic vehicle for forming adaptive and satisfactory social interactions.

Having said this I would like to introduce to you, Charley Farley. He is a 1 1/2 year old Chocolate Labrador Retriever.  He visits the Lexington Campus one time a week. During these visits he walks uptown with a group of students and participates in the after school walking program. 

The students and staff have responded in a very positive manner. Charley loves the school. One student, who has a history of fearing dogs, has developed a very special bond. The dog was introduced to the student in small increments over the past year. 
He has limited expressive communication skills. Now, when he sees Charley he gently pats him and says "hi" Staff who know this student will ask how did you do this? There is no answer it is a connection Charley and the student made together.

Charley is very young and is in training all the time. He has his good citizenship puppy certificate. The LABBB students and staff are an important part of that training. One student said to me "I do not like dogs but Charley is different I like him"

Charley has made a positive impact to our LABBB community. He particularly looks forward to his weekly reimbursement from Paula Rizzo (6 milkbone treats).

Happy Holidays to all!  

Turkey Time!
By: Nikki Maloney
Our k-2 students at Fox Hill learned and talked about turkeys, pilgrims, and the Wampanoag tribe leading up to Thanksgiving.  They worked very hard to make their own turkeys after reading "The Amazing Turkey Rescue" by Steve Metzger.  

Our students were very excited to be able to use the interactive touch board that was recently added to our classroom!  They listened to a story, watched a video, answered questions and played a game about the Wampanoag tribe.  The staff was excited to see them work together and take turns while they learned!

Communications on the Go
By: Keren Averback & Janet Sullivan
Increasing functional communication and social skills is an integral part of our students' programming. It is vital that students have opportunities to practice and use these skills in the community. For students who use an AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) device, increasing independence utilizing the device to maximize community participation is imperative. 

Students in the Arlington High School classrooms participate in numerous community outings, including shopping/purchasing items at a store, monthly restaurant trips, and riding the city bus. One way students demonstrate independence and being prepared for a community trip is remembering to bring their communication devices.  These experiences are not only beneficial to our students, but they also help to create community awareness and acceptance. 

Clinical Corner - Budding Artists
By: Lisa Gurdin
Starting last fall, Erin Sullivan, mental health counselor at LABBB Lexington High School, noticed that many of our students were having difficulty communicating their concerns through traditional talk therapy. Many of the students she was and continues to support struggle with emotional and mood-related challenges and so discussing their thoughts and feelings can be overwhelming and intimidating. 

Ms. Sullivan thought that these students may be more comfortable expressing themselves in alternative ways. She turned to art as a non-language based approach to therapy. Through art, students can share their feelings, moods, and thoughts in ways that are safe, non-intrusive, and, generally, enjoyable.

Many of our LABBB students are working on identifying and using coping strategies to effectively manage their stress and anxiety. In her art therapy groups, Ms. Sullivan's students are learning that art can be one of their coping mechanisms. These students are assigned projects that have an emotional or self-reflective component. For example, for one project, her students designed a postcard that shows a fear they did not want anyone else to know. Another project involved designing an emotion wheel or picture of their life goals.
All art therapy projects are carefully selected so that they can be done in 1-2 weeks and are appropriate for the school setting meaning they are not too triggering and personal so that students feel comfortable expressing themselves with their peers. Students who cannot do a particular project participate in art activities that are more general in nature (i.e., mindful coloring). For these activities, students choose whatever art medium they would like to use. Materials available to them include but are not limited to clay, coloring, paint, and kinetic sand.

Through self-evaluations done at the end of every art group, Ms. Sullivan's students have rated their stress as lower and their mood improved following art therapy group. Some students have also learned to use art at other times to relieve stress and be truly in the moment. For these students, art has become a powerful tool for them to express their emotions, process difficult life events, and cope with stress and anxiety while being truly in the moment.

Contact Lisa Gurdin at for more information about our groups. 
Recreation News and Events
By: Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator
Boxing 101

This past fall LABBB Recreation, introduced a boxing program. 
We hopped to enroll 10 students; we ended up with 14 and a wait list.  The students were very excited to begin this new program.  The group met two times per week at the Lexington Community Center.  They did warm up exercise, boxing and fun games. 

The body plank was the most challenging the students felt.  They were told to do this for a minute; there were moans and groans from all 14.  No one could last the full minute.  Students asked to do it multiple times in a class and by the end the group was able to do body planks and some for over a minute.  All the students had smiles and were intent on doing well.  They learned boxing techniques and exercised till sweat was pouring down their faces and didn't even realize it. 

This program was so popular that we now have two more sessions for this school year planned.  Always good to try new things and give it you're best.  You just may like it, if you try it. 

2016-2017 LABBB Basketball Team

This month we also have the LABBB Basketball teams getting ready for their season. 
This year we had 35 students at try out and three teams are filled. 
December 1 will be our first game for the B team, with the A team starting on December 8 and the C team starting on December 10.  Good luck to the 2016/2017 teams. 
Happy Holiday's and Happy New Year from @LABBBREC

Recreation Resource links:

Along with recreation activities at LABBB, we often receive information regarding other recreational activities that are going on in other communities.  Check these out at their websites.  

If you have new ideas to offer, please email them to We are always looking for new ideas and opportunities our students will enjoy!

Remember to follow @LABBBREC on Twitter

Recreation Brochure 2016-2017

Music Research Study with Harvard University

Parent Resources and Events
  • S chool Cancellation Policy: 
    All LABBB programs follow the school cancellations in their respective towns.
    • Alternative Leisure (ALCS), Bedford, Drew Bilillies: or 781-275-0023
    • Newton Therapeutic Recreation w/ Newton Athletes Unlimited, NewtonMark Kelly: or 617-796-1527
    • Burlington Therapeutic Recreation, Burlington, Laurel Rossiter: or 781-270-1937
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About Us
LABBB Collaborative Central Office
36 Middlesex Turnpike
Bedford, Massachusetts 01730
(339) 222-5615