September Newsletter

Sharing best practices and promoting inclusive opportunities for students with special needs 
2020 LABBB Graduation
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
We Keep Moving forward: Updates on LABBB Fall Return 

LABBB is back, our students are back and we are getting into a new routine. We are continuing to progress and get better each day. Plan 1 was to have all our students return every day from 8:00am-12:00. About 90% of our programs started on September 15 and 100% as of Monday, September 21.  

We are currently discussing the possibility of increasing hours and we will keep evaluating the status of our 15 different locations. Our goal is always to move towards as much in-person services as possible and our discussions are focused on what we need to do to get there.  

We are slowly moving towards getting as many recreational activites going as possible. We had our Zoom Reunion dance this past Friday and it was great to see so many of our past graduates getting together and connecting. Our reunion dance is a special event each year. We hope that we will all be able to be back in person for our LABBB Alumni reunion dance in the Spring. We already have graduates asking for the date!

We are also currently working on returning to our vocational worksites. We are steadily making progress and working with our business partners for a successful transition back. They have been extremely open and want to get our students back in their workplaces.  

Our 2020 High School and Middle School Graduation Ceremony that took place on August 31st was a memorable and emotional event. Please take some time to view our Graduation 2020 video below. The graduation was a wonderful afternoon and it exceeded our expectations. The pictures say it all and our graduates were able to walk the red carpet and receive their diplomas in style. It was a great way to begin our year. 

We were fortunate to be part of DESE's chromebook order and we have been getting shipments of chromebooks in the past week. We are in great shape with our devices so students can access all their academic needs. 

We also did our first podcast of the year with Brendan Alyward owner of Unified Health and Fitness. Brendan has some connections with the LABBB community as many of our students and graduates have been part of his gym. We hope that these pocasts are helpful to our students and families preparing for life after 22. We have met some incredible people and been fortunate to have them on our podcasts to share valuable information with you. We plan on making one podcast per month on topics that help our community navigate and gain some perspective on the many decisions that they need to make. 

LABBB Graduation 2020
Monday, August 31
Our high school graduations are typically held at the Museum of National Heritage and it is such an emotional and festive evening. This year, we were holding out for an in-person graduation over the summer, but as school was approaching we decided to do a rolling graduation at the front entrance of Lexington High School. LABBB has always held middle school graduation ceremonies at each host school where those programs are located. This year, our eighth graders were invited to join the graduation at Lexington High School. Graduation was held on August 31st. It was the 48th graduation in our history, and it was memorable!

The graduation actually felt like an in-person event. That  
LABBB Graduation 2020
LABBB Graduation Video 2020
exhilarating feeling we get when our students graduate was definitely present. The cars drove by led by fire trucks, police cars, the Minuteman fife and drum marching, and the Patriot guards holding the flags. The Minutemen lined the red carpet as each graduate exited their car, walked up the red carpet, and received their certificate. We all felt an enormous sense of a community coming together and an excitement that we have at all our graduations. 
Will They Feel Connected?
by: Scott Procko
The planning began with that wild and spontaneous curriculum idea while laying on the beach over summer vacation. Soon, all of those ideas rolled into extra professional development days, new health protocols, webcams, wireless mics, new Zoom settings, Google Slides, Google Forms, ...Google Everything! New vocabulary was heard in every conversation. Synchronous, asynchronous, hybrid, remote learner and in-person learner. Well, ...the team came together, put on some new hats and set the stage. A stage built by a team of paraprofessionals, teachers, counselors, administrators, speech therapists, occupational therapists and transition counselors. Finally, our stage was ready and it was time to wait. On the eve before students returned, a quiet internal moment occurred in us all and we were left with one lingering question on our minds. "Will they feel connected?"

As the first week went on, we all individually received an answer to that question through spontaneous and unscripted moments in the classroom. One of those moments occurred during our first morning meeting and it went like this.

After welcoming our in-person learners and setting up the tech to have our remote learners join us, the stage lights went on ... "Good Morning Everyone!" I said, as my voice carried through the classroom and to the homes of our remote learners. The students responded and after a momentary quiet pause, a tiny inquisitive voice came over the speakers. "Um, can they hear me?" "Yeah!" I replied to our remote learner. Soon after, everyone began to yell out individual greetings to our remote learner. "Can I see them? ... and can they see me?" After accepting permission from everyone to view each other, the social hour began! They all picked up where they left off before summer break and it was as if they never missed a beat. Then, the moment came that helped me answer the question of "Will they feel connected?" Our remote learner excitedly yelled, "This is so cool, it's like I'm right there in the class with everyone!" 

...and just like that, the work paid off. We are a class again!
LABBB Transition Department: Massachusetts State Archives
by: Skip Avery
One of our LABBB Community Partners is the Massachusetts State Archives. It "serves the Commonwealth and its citizens by preserving and making accessible the records documenting government action and by assisting government agencies in managing their permanent records." 

The job our students perform is taking building information that is on index cards, and inputting the information into the Massachusetts State Archives database.  This is important and detailed information that must be entered accurately.  All of the cards completed by our LABBB students are now searchable electronically based on this information, making it so much more accessible than it was in the card catalog in their Reading Room.

Here is an example of an index card:
Clinical Corner: Supporting Students During Times of Uncertainty
By: Kelly Sexton
For many of us, the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our sense of safety and security.  As humans, we crave information about the future to feel safe and have a sense of control over our lives. In the absence of such information, we often use worry to try to regain a sense of control.

During COVID-19, we can increase our sense of security and emotional well-being by focusing on what we can control. Author Stephen Covey refers to the things we do have control over as our "Circle of Influence." By focusing on things we can influence, we can be solution-focused, make good choices, and practice good self-care. We also avoid a lot of frustration, negativity, and fear that comes from trying to manage things that are out of our control.

LABBB recognizes the significant impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the lives of our students and their families.  As school reopened this month, staff fostered a sense of emotional well-being by focusing on things that can be controlled, such as following CDC recommendations and engaging in self-care to promote mental and physical health. Despite the uncertainty brought by COVID-19, the LABBB community is looking forward to an amazing school year full of learning, creativity, and laughter!

For more information about supporting students during stressful times, please click here to visit Supporting Vulnerable Students in Stressful Times: Tips for Parents
Adapted Physical Education at Fox Hill Elementary
by: Tom Brincklow
During physical education class, the students at Fox Hill have been working hard on many skills and activities. Some of these include, soccer skills, stretching, and fitness. All three classes at Fox Hill have taken advantage of this great weather and have been outside during phys ed. Each student is given their own equipment to use and have a significant amount of room to social distance during classes.

Executive Director, Patric Barbieri, Hosts a Podcast talking about special needs planning and resources related to our community

Latest Episode #21: Brendan Alyward from Unified Health and Performance 

In Episode #21 We have our first guest of the year and joining us is Brendan Aylward. Brendan has a degree in special education from Lesley University and owns Unified Health and Performance in Lancaster MA. Many LABBB students work out at his gym and he has created a unique culture in his gym integrating student with special needs with all gym members. Brendan's mission aligns with our mission in LABBB and he has a vision to continue to expand his business and offering more services and inclusive opportunities for students with special needs. He also created AdaptX which is a training program to become a coach for adapted fitness programs for athletes with disabilities and he talks all about it in this podcast. Click here to view Episode #21

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