Concord Middle School Students Find New Skills and Personal Growth in Xanadu

Concord Students Find New Skills and Personal Growth in Xanadu

by Kimber Lynn Z. Drake, Correspondent

When Hannah Vincent agreed to take the helm for the returning Concord Middle School theater program, she knew there would be challenges.  It had been three years since the middle school’s last musical production, and the kids who are now her oldest cast members were still in elementary school back then.

“With that long of a hiatus, we didn’t know how the students were going to handle this kind of a project,” says Vincent, director of Xanadu, Jr and an educator at Concord Middle School.  She was not discouraged, however, because she knew that in addition to being fun for the children, this would be very important work.

Experts both in the arts and in education tell us that delving into areas beyond the standard core subjects at school helps our personal growth in many ways.  Michelle Barnes, Director of the Relevé Ballet Workshop of Wellesley, MA asserts that theater in schools gives us a low-risk environment in which to learn something about who we are.

“Art is all around us, not just in museums,” states Barnes.  “It’s in video games, movies and the logo on your coffee cup.  Whether we eventually become an engineer, an opera singer or a firefighter, we all need to have a chance to explore what we can do artistically at an early age.  Can I draw?  Can I act?  You can’t know unless you try.”

Theater also helps kids to grow in ways that they couldn’t during the pandemic.  Justin Cameron, Principal of Concord Middle School, sees daily the effect that the recent years of social isolation have had on students.  “The middle school years are an incredibly important time for development of social skills,” says Cameron.  “During those months of remote learning, these kids missed out on the practice of those skills that the school environment normally provides every day.  This project gives kids a chance to work closely as a team on a complex task that happens to be really fun:  putting on a show.  In this non-competitive environment, they celebrate each other’s successes and find ways as a team to adapt to their shortcomings.  This is a big boost for their social development.”

Over two months later, Vincent is witnessing firsthand the results of this artistic exploration and teambuilding as the cast and crew put the finishing touches on their production of Xanadu, Jr.  “These kids have really impressed me,” she says.  “They have dug in and taken an active role in the whole process.  They are helping each other remember cues and review dance steps.  Some are sewing their own costumes.  This show has given them the chance to get off their phones and participate in something that requires focus, energy and dedication.”

Barnes agrees, “When you’re in a show, the feeling of team pride is extraordinary.  You come together and work hard as a group to give the gift of entertainment to hundreds of people each night.  And by the time you are done, you’re more than a team.  You’re a family.”

Xanadu, Jr runs March 3rd – 5th, 2023 at the Sanborn building of Concord Middle School.  Friday and Saturday @ 7pm, Sunday @ 2pm. Tickets are $10 and are available starting February 24th at .

Photo caption:

Concord Middle School students in rehearsal for Xanadu, Jr.  Photo by Kimber Lynn Z. Drake.

2023 CMS Building Project Event Information

A New Year, Another Special Town Meeting

 Happy New Year from the Concord Middle School Building Committee!  As you know, Special Town Meeting on January 19th is fast approaching, and Concordians will be called upon to vote whether to approve allocating additional budget dollars towards the project’s budget.  A vote like this is important, and requires Concordians to be informed.  What’s contributing to the increased budget? Has the finance committee endorsed the article?  What happens if the article doesn’t pass? Please join us at a Public Forum or Informational Coffee to understand all the factors at play!  

 The full schedule remaining is as follows:  


Thursday, Jan 5, 7:00pm: Informational Coffee on Zoom, with co-chair Pat Nelson

and CMSBC member Steve Stasheski.  

           Meeting ID:962 7329 9483 with Passcode:



Jan 9, 2023 7 p.m. Public Forum on Zoom, with Superintendent Laurie Hunter,

co-chairs Dawn Guarriello and Pat Nelson, and CMSBC member Steve Stasheski

           Meeting ID: 975 6857 8967 and Passcode: 948723

Wednesday, Jan 11, 2023 at 10:15 a.m. in person at Fowler Library, with

co-chair Pat Nelson and CMSBC member Alexa Anderson  


Jan 17, 2023 at 12 p.m. on Zoom with

CMSBC members Alexa Anderson and Steve Stasheski

            Meeting ID: 968 9317 4463 and Passcode: 977904

See you at the Coffees, and certainly at Special Town Meeting on January 19th!



CMS Building Commitee hosts “Virtual Coffees” before January 20th Town Meeting

The last three virtual “Coffees” highlighting the design and plans for the proposed new middle school building will be held:

Wednesday, January 12 at 11:00am;

Thursday, January 13 at 7:00pm;

and Wednesday, January 19 at 1:00pm.

Come learn about the project before voting January 20 at the Special Town Meeting.

Wednesday, January 12 – 11:00 AM

Meeting ID: 913 4188 4727
Passcode: 313351
Find your local number:



Thursday, January 13 – 7:00 PM

Meeting ID: 978 8621 6289
Passcode: 548756
Find your local number:



Wednesday, January 19 – 1:00 PM

Meeting ID: 975 2495 9103
Passcode: 422564
Find your local number:

A limited number of parking spaces will be available for voters who wish to participate in the Meeting from their cars. 

To participate from your car:

  • Arrive early to secure a spot (voter check-in begins at 6:00 pm)
  • Park in the area designated for car participation (Officials will direct you; anyone parked outside of the designated will not be able to participate from their car.)
  • Come inside the Cafeteria (masks required) to check in and collect your voting slip and handouts
  • Listen to the proceedings broadcast live on WIQH 88.3 FM on your car radio or watch on your own device at
  • Speak (if you wish) from the outdoor microphone
  • Vote from your car by holding your paper voting slip outside your window for tellers to count

See here for full details on the Special Town Meeting, happening Thursday, January 20, 7:00 PM at the Concord-Carlisle High School, along with a video of the December 16 Public Hearing on the proposed building project:

Middle School Building News & Important Dates

Greetings from the Middle School Building Committee,

Here’s an email jam packed with event information as we quickly approach our January 20th special Town Meeting.  We would love to share it all with your members because if anyone is looking to join Middle School Building Committee members for coffee and conversation about the proposed schematic design for a new Concord Middle School building, we have what seems like a million opportunities over the next few weeks, and we wouldn’t want your members to miss out.

The Building Committee is hosting a series of coffees, where Building Committee representatives will address the proposed building design, educational strategy, community use features, sustainability, and timelines. These coffees are more casual, with opportunity to engage and ask questions.

Here’s what’s coming up.  Get out your calendars!

Wednesday, November 10 at 9:15 am at Willard 
Join us at the Willard School for this event coordinated with the Willard PTG.  Come for the talk about the middle school, stay to see how the schools have been mitigating COVID: by bringing everything from classrooms to lunch outdoors in tents!.  Our coffee will be in Willard’s tent, so dress warmly.

Wednesday, November 10 at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom for Pre-School Night
Join us virtually on Zoom! Anyone is welcome, but we’re lucky enough to have Concord Children’s Center director and CMSBC co-chair, Pat Nelson, to lead our conversation about the middle school with parents of children attending our many area preschools.  This event was coordinated with the Integrated Preschool.

Join Zoom Meeting 

Meeting ID: 940 0951 1339
Passcode: 682196

Friday, November 12 at 1 p.m. at Ripley, Conference Room 4
This is an open discussion, sponsored by the CMSBC and open to all.

Tuesday, November 16 at 12 p.m. at Ripley, Conference Room 4
This is an open discussion, sponsored by the CMSBC and open to all.

Thursday, November 18 at 7 p.m. at Sanborn
Come join us in the Sanborn Library. This is an open discussion, sponsored by the CMSBC and open to all.  Come see the site itself.  It could be your last chance to see and experience Sanborn if the new building passes at Town Meeting on January 20th and the subsequent election on February 3rd. Remember that because this is an indoor event, a face mask is required.

Friday, November 19th at 9 a.m. at Thoreau’s ‘Wedding Tent’
Join us at the Thoreau School in what has become affectionately named the Wedding Tent.  Dress code is not black tie, it’s more like hats and mittens. But the tent is heated so if you don’t like the cold, this one’s for you.

Wednesday, December 1st at 7 p.m. on Zoom for Community Forum 7
A full forum, open to all, and sponsored by the CMSBC.

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 975 4570 0844
Passcode: 141014

Friday, December 3rd at 9:30 a.m. on Zoom
Join us at the League of Women Voters First Friday Series.  As always, we’re thrilled to join the League for what is always a lively and informed discussion.  Zoom link forthcoming closer to the event itself. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 8th at 7 p.m. for our Sustainability Panel Discussion 
We’re excited to launch a new format: panel discussions with experts and specialists! The first in this series will be a panel discussion on Sustainability as it relates to the proposed Middle School Building.  Zoom link forthcoming closer to the event itself. Stay tuned!

*Finally, as we did with Listening Sessions last winter and spring, Building Committee members are also happy to join any of you at one of your existing meetings.  If you would be interested in this, please email Heather Bout at

We appreciate so very much your engagement and attention to this extremely important town project.

– CMSBC Communications Committee


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