Report of FOCRLS community meeting on May 28, 2014 with Principal Smith

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Parents and community members came out on the evening of Wednesday, May 28, 2014 for the last Friends of CRLS (FOCRLS) community meeting of the school year for a talk with CRLS Principal Damon Smith. At the opening of the meeting, FOCRLS President Elaine Schear spoke of the accomplishments of the past year, and the key role of FOCRLS volunteers – many of whom were in attendance – in making all that FOCRLS does to support the school happen. Principal Smith then talked about the importance of the role of community investment in CRLS – like that of the Friends of CRLS and its supporters – for helping students achieve their aspirations. He said that there are 1700+ students at CRLS, with 1700+ unique personal stories, and that we need the community to be invested in the success of each and every one of these students. Principal Smith spoke of how school has undergone a renovation of its physical plant, which has impacted students in a very positive way, and that the school is going through the even more significant transformation of how it carries out its academic program. As part of that, there has been a process to develop an updated mission statement for the school involving faculty, students, parents, and administrators, which will help to provide a focal point for that work. He also shared with attendees the news that the school will be implementing a new class scheduling system in the fall which will help make class scheduling more nimble. The evening underlined the dynamic nature of CRLS, and many attendees made a commitment to work with Friends of CRLS as volunteers in the school year to come.

Photos from the meeting are available in this FOCRLS Facebook album.

FOCRLS Benefit Night at Flatbread Pizza, Davis Square, Tues May 27 from 5-11:30 pm

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We are thrilled to announce that Tuesday, May 27, 2014, from 5 pm to close (11:30 pm) is the 2nd Annual FOCRLS Benefit Night at Flatbread Pizza in Davis Square!


  • Football signed by New England Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich, donated by the New England Patriots
  • Baseball signed by Red Sox infielder Will Middlebrooks, donated by the Boston Red Sox
  • Falcons’ Pride Basket,donated by Jacquie Cesario, CRLS Faculty Member
  • Grendel’s Den gift card, donated by Kari Kuelzer, CRLS Class of ’88
  • Write Aide – 1 hour writing session with Elaine Schear, writing coach and FOCRLS President
  • Breakfast Basket, donated by Sandra Lima, CRLS Class of ’98
  • Wine Basket, donated by Sandra Lima, CRLS Class of ’98
  • Henry Bear’s Park gift cards, donated by FOCRLS
  • Handmade Soap Basket, donated by Elisa Pepe, CRLS parent
  • Signed and framed b&w photo of Half Dome, donated by Derrick Jackson, Boston Globe columnist, photographer, and CRLS parent
  • Wet Paint Nail Spa gift card, donated by Michelle Phoenix, Cambridge business owner

Here is your chance to enjoy scrumptious, hearth-baked pizza from one of the pioneering restaurants in MA for the local and organic food movement. Whether you eat in or take out, the Flatbread Company will donate $1.75 for every small pizza sold and $3.50 for every large pizza sold to FOCRLS, which will support our various initiatives at the high school.

Last year was the inaugural year: FOCRLS earned $598 from 96 small pizzas and 117 large pizzas, and $402 was made in raffle sales and donations that night. Let’s top that this year!

Why not make it a night out with pizza and bowling? Bowling is available on site. There are ten bowling lanes: five lanes for reservations and five lanes for walk-ins (first come, first serve).  Bowling information can be found here.

ALUMS: There will be an alumni networking hour at the bar from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Connect with others!

GROUPS:  There is a call-ahead seating option available. Reservations are recommended for parties of 8 or more.

Check out Flatbread’s website here. Flatbread Pizza is located at Sacco’s Bowl Haven, 45 Day Street, Somerville, MA — steps away from the Davis Square T stop on the Red Line.

Please help spread the word. Invite your friends and family.

See you there!

Business Leaders Learn about Opportunities at CRLS (4/4/2014)

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As part of its community outreach initiatives, The Friends of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (FOCRLS) hosted the Harvard Square Business Association (HSBA) April board meeting at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS) on Friday, April 4, 2014. FOCRLS welcomed approximately 50 fellow members of HSBA, including owners and leaders in retail, restaurants, hospitality, banking, realty, business, services, and education.

Guests socialized over a continental breakfast prepared by students in the Rindge School for the Technical Arts Culinary Arts program before the official meeting began. CRLS Principal Damon Smith provided an overview of the high school, and spoke of his vision for making CRLS a model for urban public education, stating that “We are committed to making a good school into a great one.” He acknowledged the importance of community partnerships for student achievement, and thanked HSBA members for their continuing support of CRLS.

HSBA attendees also heard from a student who has benefitted from one of FOCRLS programs. Metea Koronas, a senior at CRLS, was a recipient of a FOCRLS travel fellowship last year. She discussed the trip she was able to take to Cambridge’s sister city in San Jose Las Flores, El Salvador. Ms. Koronas said that the impact of her experiences in El Salvador strongly influenced her education and career goals, and she plans on studying international relations at American University. Closing the meeting, FOCRLS Board president Elaine Schear talked about the core values of CRLS – opportunity, diversity, and respect – and how those were reflected by the work that HSBA does in the community.

Given the success of the HSBA event, FOCRLS looks forward to hosting similar gatherings in the future for other organizations. Ms. Schear remarked that “it was wonderful to partner with HSBA on an event like this, where we can show people what happens at CRLS on a daily basis. HSBA Executive Director Denise Jillson, her staff, the HSBA board and fellow members were a pleasure to work with!”

Photos of the event are available here.

CRLS Alumni Excel at UMass Boston (3/19/2014)

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Friends of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (FOCRLS) would like to recognize Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS) alumni currently enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Boston for making the Dean’s List during the Fall 2013 semester. Students who achieve a GPA of 3.2 or higher while taking 9 or more credits are recognized and placed on the Dean’s List at UMass Boston.

These students have worked hard academically and FOCRLS wishes to acknowledge them for their brilliant performance in the classroom. From the freshman class: Ashraful Rahman, Paul Denis Doran, Ramzy Fawaz Abu-Ribieh; sophomores, Dylan H. Green, Salwa Usama Elkatta; juniors, Siddharta KC, Shun Yu Tsou, Eric Tao, Andre Antonio Malcolm, Maria De Jesus; and senior class: Nicole Davidson, Tenzin Dadon, and Jummy Nahar. Please join FOCRLS in congratulating these students, who make Cambridge and the Cambridge high school alumni community proud.

FOCRLS’ It Takes a Village (ITAV) program, in partnership with the Cambridge College Success Initiative (CSI), works with CRLS alumni who are currently attending UMass Boston. Friends of CRLS provides a college counselor on site at UMass Boston who assists students throughout their academic career. FOCRLS is currently launching an Alumni and Community Mentoring program for CRLS alumni currently enrolled at UMass Boston. For more information, please visit or contact Daniel Noel, the FOCRLS/CSI college counselor at UMass Boston, at

Answering MLK’s Urgent Question – FOCRLS meeting Weds. March 26 at 7:30 pm

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“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
–Martin Luther King

Answering MLK’s Urgent Question

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
7:30-9:00 pm
(Rescheduled from snowed-out January date.)

Pearl K. Wise Library
Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
459 Broadway, Cambridge

CRLS is a place where MLK’s commitment to equality and empowerment is observed year-round through Opportunity, Diversity, Respect. Helping our school community achieve these values is a variety of esteemed organizations offering nationally-recognized college and career success programs. Come to Friends of CRLS’s next Community Meeting to hear from and mingle with educators and program directors working in and outside of CRLS with our students to expand opportunity. Learn about what they do, how they do it, and how you can get involved.

Featured programs:

Cambridge School Volunteers
Career Connection, Summer, and TeenWork Programs / Just-a-Start
City Links / Cambridge Community Services
Friends of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (FOCRLS)
Kids’ Council
MIT / Wellesley Upward Bound
The Workforce / Cambridge Housing Authority

Refreshments and Schmooze-time always included. Bring friends!

Please RSVP by clicking here, but if you don’t know till the last minute, please come even without RSVP-ing!

FOCRLS Faculty Innovation Grants Awarded for Fall 2013 (12/19/2013)

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Please join Friends of CRLS in congratulating our latest Faculty Innovation Grant recipients! (See list below.) Our 10 Grantees for Fall 2013 were chosen from among a wide variety of programs and departments.

Grant recipients reflect the commitment and vision of faculty and other CRLS staff to the academic and social development of CRLS students, and FOCRLS’ deep interest in supporting the ongoing professional development  of the teaching community at CRLS.

Our review panel of 6 CRLS parents and community members gave careful consideration to each proposal, awarding grants of up to $1,000 each.  133 CRLS faculty have been awarded grant funding by FOCRLS since 2007.

We thank our many donors — family, friends, alumni, and business leaders — for supporting the power of the ideas of our exemplary CRLS educators. This is just one example of how your gift to Friends of CRLS makes its way to hundreds of students, through our Faculty Innovation Grants Program, and our six other programs!

Fall 2013 FOCRLS Faculty Grantees:

Brett Cramp (Drama) – “Fight Coordinator for CRLS METG Play ‘Anonymous’ ”

Leslie Davis (AVID) – “StoriesLive at CRLS”

Brenda Divelbliss & Lauren Simpson (Dance) – “Transforming a Space, Transforming Practice”

Greta Hardina (Family Liaison) – “Weekend Food Backpack”

Conrad Hauck (Engineering/RSTA) – “Funding for FIRST Robotics Club”

Kristin Knowlton (Math/Special Education) – “Mindful Mathematics: Using Meditation to Increase Memory, Focus, and Confidence”

Edna Leith (English Language Learners) – “Beginning ELL Classroom Levelled Reading Library”

Kris Newton & Desiree Phillips (Physics) – “Stop-Motion Animation and Video Production in Physics”

Barbara Weaver (History) – “Black Cultural History: A day trip to NYC to visit the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture and see the new production of A Raisin in the Sun

Jessica Young (Visual Arts) –  “Building an Object Library”

Congratulations all!

Welcome to our new FOCRLS staff members! (11/25/2013)

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FOCRLS is thrilled to introduce our three new part-time staff members: Janis Navikas (Administrative Coordinator), Sara Reese Monestime (Alumni & Community Mentoring Coordinator), and Daniel Noel (It Takes A Village College Counselor).

These three hires represent a major step in our organization’s development, allowing us to both further grow our programs, and to build the base for long-term organizational sustainability. We are grateful for the community support that has made this possible.

Given the commitment of Friends of CRLS to deepening the connections between alumni and the current students of CRLS, we are particularly delighted that two of our new staff members (Janis and Sara) are CRLS alums.

Please read on to hear about these new FOCRLS faces, and what they will be bringing to our community, now and in the months to come.


Administrative Coordinator: Janis Navikas

The Administrative Coordinator, a half-time position, will provide critical administrative support for CRLS fundraising and programs. FOCRLS has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 7 years – we currently have 7 major programs and a new scholarships initiative, and our mailing list has grown to some 17,000 parents, alumni, and community members. This position will allow us to sustain and build that momentum further.

Janis Navikas is a graduate of CRLS, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from UMass Boston. She served for a decade as Administrative assistant at the Cambridge-Ellis School, where she served as a primary point of contact for the school for parents, and provided administrative support for school operations, as well as for special events and fundraising. In addition to working at CRLS, Janis is currently part-time Administrative Assistant at YMCA Training, Inc. in Boston. She will be working out of the FOCRLS office at CRLS – if you’re in the building, please stop by and say hi!


Alumni & Community Mentoring Coordinator: Sara Reese Monestime

The Alumni & Community Mentoring Coordinator will help to design and implement the It Takes a Village (ITAV) College Success Program’s new mentoring program; this is a 10 hour/week position through the school year. The program will connect CRLS alumni and other community members with recently-graduated CRLS students attending UMass Boston or local community colleges.

Sara Reese Monestime, the new Friends of CRLS Alumni and Community Mentoring Coordinator, was raised in Cambridge and graduated from CRLS in 1995. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Emerson College, a Master’s in Education from Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus, and a Certificate in Fundraising from New York University. She is a licensed Guidance Counselor, and has worked as a counselor at The Young Women’s Leadership School and developed a Health and Wellness program for Step Up Women’s Network. Currently, Sara also teaches Health Education at Cambridge Street Upper School.


College Counselor: Daniel Noel

As part of the FOCRLS It Takes a Village (ITAV) College Success program, the College Counselor will be providing critical support for CRLS alumni at UMass Boston. This 10-hour/week position, running through the school year, was jointly funded by Friends of CRLS and a grant from the City of Cambridge’s Department of Human Services.

Daniel Noel
, a Cambridge native, is a second year graduate student at UMass Boston. He is pursuing his master’s degree in Education at their School of Counseling and is currently working as an intern at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Daniel worked at the Eliot Boys Detention Center, first as a Patient Access Representative, and then as an At- Risk Youth Advocate. Currently, Daniel is also a Therapeutic Mentor with the Justice Resource Institute in Boston.

Please join us in welcoming Janis, Sara, and Daniel!

CRLS Alumni Homecoming and First Annual Alumni Meeting 2013! (11/25/2013)

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The CRLS Alumni Project and FOCRLS enthusiastically invite all graduates of CRLS, CHLS, and Rindge Tech to return to campus for Homecoming events from Nov. 25 through December 6, 2013, including the first annual CRLS ALUMNI ASSOCIATION MEETING on Nov. 29.

Please RSVP at to reserve your spot for one or all of the many activities planned. Reunite with your former classmates!

Questions and the attendee list are available at the same RSVP link.

It will be a great time — we look forward to seeing you!