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Kingston's Extension OK'd; Teaching Healthy Choices

School Committee agrees to earlier recommendation to extend Super's contract a year.

Who doesn't like School Superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston? 

In his nine months in Belmont, Kingston has garnered praise for his steady leadership at the helm of the Belmont School District from not only the school committee, said Laurie Graham, School Committee chairwoman, "but also from the community and staff." 

"He has been doing a wonderful job," said Graham who made official what was first reported in Belmont Patch in November, the School Committee will extend the Arlington resident's contract by one year. 

"It will be my masochistic pleasure to accept," joked Kingston, who had retired from his previous position as the long-time head of the Chelsea Schools in 2011. 

The unanimous decision will allow the committee months of breathing room in developing a hiring process to find a permanent district superintendent. Graham told Belmont Patch the search will not commence until the winter of 2012/13. 

Kingston currently earns $150,000 a year. His new one-year contract will also up his vacation days from 12 to 20 and the department will pick up his health care.  

Teaching to Make the Right Choices

Belmont Athletic Director Edward Davis calls them his "A plus plus Team." 

To juniors at Belmont High School, Stacie Marino and Sarkis Asadoorian are the front line in a new semester wellness course that provides students an opportunity to make positive decisions about their well being in a course known as Positive Decision Making. 

Veteran senior staff members at the High School, Marino and Asadoorian are at the forefront of the High School's efforts to combat serious health concerns uncovered in a youth risk survey released in two years ago. The survey pointed to teenagers abusing alcohol at higher than anticipated rates and questionable choices to combat stress that threatened their health. 

"This is the school's attempt to have a positive effect on students," said Dr. Michael Harvey, Belmont High School's principal.

It is also a chance to reach student's on wellness issues since they were freshmen, said Davis. Yet the course is not a repeat of the ninth grade course; the spotlight for juniors is on emotional and more in-depth focus on behavioral matters. 

Beginning this year, juniors take a semester course that provides them half of their physical education requirement that meets twice a week. The overarching theme of the course is that there is no "golden bullet" solution to problems facing student but rather the class attempts to zero in on the issues the student may face and look to make a positive behavioral change, said Harvey.

The staff works on lifestyle issues with a focus on dealing with emotions in the correct ways, said Marino. 

"Many students are overwhelmed with stress and anxiety in school and we try to do so in healthy ways," said Marino, who indicated that a stress test given to the juniors "is a real eye-opener to them." 

The course also works on wellness and nutrition, said Asadoorian, noting that a third of all adults today will develop type 2 diabetes and many more are obese.

"What ask what does the body need and eliminate what it doesn't need," said Asadoorian, using free websites that promotes healthy diets and choices. As a final assignment, the students make a five-minute video on making positive choices, the best of the year's will be presented in May to the public and the school population. 

"This is a way to further their education," said Harvey.

"So when they leave Belmont after high school, they can make informed decisions."

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