Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Student Government Day

We are currently looking for student volunteers who are interested in participating in the 65th annual Student Government Day to be held at the State House on April 13, 2012. As participants in this program, students will assemble at the State House, where they will have the chance to replicate activities of the state legislature or meet as constitutional officers and members of the Supreme Judicial Court. Each year, we have been fortunate to participate in this program which gives our students the opportunity to see government in action.

Last year, current seniors Matthew D'Innocenzo and Dan Consigli had the opportunity to represent Nipmuc at this event.  While at Student Government Day, Matt and Dan helped to pass two bills: House Bill H01697 - an act relative to reducing childhood obesity rates by removing the state subsidy for sugared sweetened beverages and candy - and Senate Bill S00205 - an act relative to financial literacy in schools.  This was a great opportunity for the students to meet several public figures including Governor Deval Patrick and Senator Richard Moore.  Both students have been involved in leadership roles in the community and in the school and are interested in politics in the future.

We are looking forward to having another pair of Nipmuc students participate in the program this year. Student Government Day is open to current juniors and seniors. Any interested students should see Mrs. Linehan in the main office as soon as possible in order to sign up. Those who are interested should be prepared to provide a speech to their fellow students during morning announcements on Friday (12/16) as part of the application process.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bravo, Nipmuc Drama!

The cast and crew taking a bow after
their Sunday performance of
Rebel without a Cause
Congratulations to the Nipmuc Drama Guild for its moving and memorable performance of Rebel without a Cause this weekend. If you are familiar with the story then thoughts of the play might conjure up images of James Dean delivering one of his powerful monologues about courage, relationships, or the ongoing struggle between right and wrong. If you were able to take in one of this weekend's performances, however, your thoughts of this production will most likely leave James Dean behind in favor of the powerful performances delivered by Matt D'Innocenzo (Plato), Kelsey O'Hagan (Judy), Phil McMullin (Buzz), Brian Mullen (Jim), or any of our student-actors who participated in this play.

On Thursday evening I had the opportunity to speak briefly with the play's director, Mrs. Elizabeth McCarthy. As the students were working through their dress rehearsal, she talked about how pleased she was with the students' progress and shared how much she had enjoyed working with them. When I had the chance to view the production this weekend, I could see why Mrs. McCarthy was so proud. The students not only put on a great show, but also exhibited the kind of collaboration and camaraderie that has come to characterize Nipmuc Drama.

There's a moment in the play when lead character Jim Stark says "Home isn't a place, it's a state of mind...a relationship between people." When senior Brian Mullen made this statement as part of his powerful portrayal of Jim Stark, he not only captured a key idea of the play, but also the great success of the performance. For, over the course of the fall our student actors and crew members truly found their home away from home in their work with Nipmuc drama. The results of their many hours of rehearsing were evident in the quality of the production and the sense of togetherness they exhibited.

I am so proud of all of the actors and crew members who worked together to make the play such a success. I am already looking forward to our spring musical, Cinderella, which will take place March 30 - April 1.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Superintendent's Meet and Greet

As a reminder, please be aware that Superintendent Dr. Joseph P. Maruszczak will be holding three additional opportunities for "Coffee Time with Parents and Community Residents."

The next meet and greet event will take place at Nipmuc Regional High School tomorrow, 12/8/11, at 7pm in the Nipmuc Media Center. He will also be meeting with parents and community members on the following dates:

Monday, 12/12/11, Miscoe Hill School, 7:00 p.m., Media Center
Thursday, 12/15/11, Central Office, 3:30 p.m., Supt. Conference Room

All parents and residents of Mendon and Upton are welcome to come to any session they choose.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Breakfast with Guidance: Post-Concussive Syndrome

Thanks to school nurse Kristin Gauthier and the Nipmuc Guidance Department for this morning's presentation on concussions and post-concussive syndrome. Mrs. Gauthier provided an informative and interesting presentation on the growing awareness of this serious medical concern and how it affects adolescents. Included below are some "takeaways" from today's presentation:

1. We can't overstate the importance of concussion awareness.
Last year at Nipmuc Regional we had 22 reported cases of diagnosed concussions. During the current school year, we already have 12 students with diagnosed concussions. The recovery from a concussion is often lengthy and can affect all aspects of a child's life, not simply academics.

2. Recovery requires a partnership.
As a school we rely on communication between students, parents, the school nurse, physicians, guidance counselors, and teachers to help a student to get back on track. It is extremely important for teachers and guidance counselors to understand the extent of the injury in order to make appropriate adjustments to deadlines, work loads, and classroom expectations. Students often rely on their ability to self-advocate when making their way back to the classroom or field of competition; however, strong communication between all can help to make the academic, social, and physical adjustments easier to manage.

3. Concussions are particularly dangerous because they are "an invisible injury."
Students suffering from a concussion often look and act normally despite suffering from the symptoms of the injury. Because the injured student is not using crutches, band-aids, or a cast, others may not immediately recognize that he/she is not feeling well or capable of completing typical tasks. This can create a situation where a student feels a great deal of pressure to complete his work, return to his team, or go back to his part-time job. By collaborating with our nurse, families can often help to validate a student's injury and set reasonable goals for returning to normal activity.

4. ImPACT Testing is a must!
ImPACT testing is one way to help diagnose and treat concussions. The test is taken prior to any injury and provides some baseline data about typical brain function. With this information, our school nurse can work with coaches to help athletes determine the safest time to return to action. Nipmuc encourages all of its athletes to take this test. Mrs. Gauthier works with local neuropsychologist, Dr. Michael Sefton, to analyze test results and determine if the concussion has healed. This test is free to all Nipmuc athletes and available at a cost of $20 to non-athletes. (Thank you to the Warriors Club for funding this important test.) If you would like to help your child receive this test, please contact Mrs. Gauthier at kgauthier@mursd.org.

A great deal of information beyond these these key points was included in the presentation this morning. Feel free to review the presentation below:

Thank you, also, to Missy Mulgrew who shared a parent's perspective on dealing with concussions and senior Matthew Campagna who spoke of his first-hand experience recovering from a concussion.

Breakfast with Guidance continues to be a great way to work directly with our counselors and staff members in order to gain information about some of the topics that most affect our students and parents. Our next Breakfast with Guidance event will take place on January 24th when counselors present "Beginning the College Search: A Guide to Post-Secondary Planning for Parents of Juniors." The presentation will take place at 8am in the Nipmuc Professional Development Center. Please email Mrs. Ona Moore at omoore@mursd.org to reserve your seat for this presentation.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Informative MEFA Presentation

Thanks to the Nipmuc guidance department and MEFA presenter, Brad Finger, for an informative session for senior parents on how to finance a college education. We are fortunate to have MEFA assist us each year with this presentation which answers questions and provides some practical steps to take when making decisions about how to pay for college.

In addition to providing an informative session, the presenter also made our audience aware of the many online resources that are available for students and parents. You can sign-up to get regular MEFA emails and also sign-up to receive last night's informational packet by clicking here.

You can also use www.mefacounselor.org or www.yourplanforcollege.org to get tools for financial understanding, college planning, and career readiness.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Central District Chorus, Band, and Orchestra

In early November, three Nipmuc students auditioned for the Central District Jazz Band, and on November 19th twenty-four Nipmuc students auditioned for the Central District Chorus, Concert Band, and Orchestra.  The results are in:

Nick Addeo - Trumpet in Concert Band
David Byer - Timpani in Concert Band with a recommendation for an All-State audition in January
Corey Imparato - Trombone in Jazz Band with a recommendation for an All-State audition in January
Amarie King - Flute in Concert Band
Elena Morganelli - Trumpet in Concert Band
Elizabeth Nigro - Clarinet in Concert Band
Andrew Oglesby - Trumpet in Concert Band with a recommendation for an All-State audition in January
Elena Robakiewicz - Alto in Chorus with a recommendation for an All-State audition in January

From L-R: Mrs. Ledoux, Amarie King, Nick Addeo, Andrew Oglesby, Elena Morganelli
Elizabeth Nigro, Elena Robakiewicz, Corey Imparato, David Byer, and Mr. MacFadden

Congratulations to these students, our teachers, and to all the students who auditioned.  The competition is very strong, and they all study with private teachers in addition to their participation in the music program at Nipmuc.  Each student worked diligently to prepare for their audition.  The students who received an All-State recommendation will have another audition coming up in January.  If selected, those students will have the chance to perform in Boston Symphony Hall.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nipmuc Football

Nipmuc quarterback Mike Smith
After going 7-4 in the regular season, Nipmuc's football team has earned the #1 ranking in Division IV. The Warriors move to the postseason this evening as they take on the Northbridge Rams at 5:15pm at Foley Stadium in Worcester.

Good luck Warriors!

Directions to the game from Nipmuc can be located here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

F.A.S.T. 2011

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving and took advantage of the opportunity to connect with friends and family. My holiday began wonderfully with a terrific Faculty and Students Together (F.A.S.T.) event which set a positive tone for the remainder of the weekend.

As I mentioned to our parents in a letter at the beginning of last week, F.A.S.T. is a day of games, activities, and competition which aims to foster school spirit. Our students value the day as one of the highlights of the year and I often hear our graduating seniors talk about F.A.S.T. fondly when looking back on their high school experience. Despite that, over the course of the past few years, F.A.S.T. has moved away from its original intent and has not always created the sense of school pride that we hoped for.

I am extremely excited to let you know that this year's F.A.S.T. was an overwhelming success. Thanks to the efforts of our student council, our students were able to keep many of the traditions that are so important to them while adding opportunities for community service and volunteerism that brought our school together in a way that was exciting and inspiring.

The student council accomplished this by making F.A.S.T. the culminating event in "A Month of Giving." Throughout November, our students organized and participated in community service projects including raking the yards of our senior citizens, collecting food for local food pantries, running fundraisers to benefit Children's Hospital, and collecting winter clothing for those in need. Additionally, on the day of F.A.S.T. all of our students  participated in a session of community service during which they wrote letters to our troops, made bracelets for patients at Children's Hospital, or made cards for patients at Children's Hospital.

The result of this work was a day that brought us together. F.A.S.T. provided a chance for good-natured competition between classes. More importantly, however, it gave our students and teachers a day to celebrate our pride in our school and the many ways that our students have given back to our communities.

There are many moments that stand out from the day including the decorations that adorned each class's wall, the spirited dress of our students in their class colors, and the cheering on of their classmates during the pep rally. My most memorable moment, though, came at the start of our pep rally when seniors Chelsea McGuinness and Harry Rider were singing our national anthem. Chelsea and Harry sounded great and were providing a wonderful rendition of the anthem when their microphones cut out unexpectedly for a brief moment. In that second of silence, our student body collectively began singing the song. When the microphone came back on, Chelsea and Harry led nearly 800 students in a loud and proud singing of the anthem. It was a moment that captured the collective spirit of the school and the pride that made our day such a success.

As a precursor to the Thanksgiving holiday, F.A.S.T. was a great reminder the many reasons that I am thankful for our school and our students. Our day reaffirmed that Nipmuc is a special school with a great deal to be proud of.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Kicking It to Breast Cancer"

Matthew Campagna
Chairperson of Friends of Rachel
If you happen to see some of Nipmuc's students wearing pink shoelaces, you should know that they are part of a fashion trend that has started for the best of reasons. Led by Matthew Campagna, chairperson of Nipmuc's Friends of Rachel group, the appearance of pink shoelaces across our school is part of a fundraising effort to fight breast cancer.

Friends of Rachel is a student group that started at Nipmuc following the presentation of Rachel's Challenge to Nipmuc students two years ago. Rachel's Challenge provides the story of Rachel Scott, the first person who was killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Since the day of that tragedy, the Scott family has shared Rachel's story and her message of kindness and compassion in order to have a positive impact on the lives of America's students. Nipmuc's Friends of Rachel club began after the presentation came to Nipmuc; the group looks for opportunties to make a difference in the lives of our students and community members.

Through the guidance of Matthew Campagna, the group's latest effort aimed to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. Selling pink shoelaces for $5 apiece, the group was able to raise nearly $500 over the course of a few weeks as part of a fundraiser he called, "Kicking It to Breast Cancer."

When I asked Matthew about this accomplishment he told me, "It's easy for anyone to make a difference. You just need to take the initiative and do it. You can get anything done if you set your mind to it."

Congratulations Matthew and the Rachel's Challenge group for your great work!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lindos Suenos (Beautiful Dreams) with the Red Sox

Joe Roberto participating
in Lindos Suenos
Like many of us in the region, I am an avid Red Sox fan. I do my best watch an inning or two  whenever possible. I spend the winter combing the news for trade rumors and potential free agent signings. And, most importantly, I am training my two boys to root for the hometown team (and not the team in pinstripes). Despite my devotion to the Sox, I'm the first to admit that I haven't tuned into NESN much since the team's September collapse. I'm glad to report that that tomorrow there is good cause for the Nipmuc community to tune back to NESN for a Red Sox update we can all be proud of.

On Wednesday (11/16) at 3pm, 6pm, and 10:30pm "The Red Sox Report" will be showcasing Lindos Suenos - a great program that senior Joe Roberto had the chance to be a part of this past summer. Run by the Red Sox, Lindos Suenos (which translates to "beautiful dreams") is a summer program that allows students to combine their passion for volunteerism and baseball in a unique 10 days of service in the Dominican Republic.

Joe first learned about the program from the team's website. He was excited about the opportunity and made the effort to apply to be part of the experience. Before long, he was called to attend an interview at 4 Yawkey Way where - surrounded by trophies and memorabilia from Red Sox history - he interviewed with team officials. A few weeks later, Joe learned that he was selected to be one of 10 students from across the country to participate in this life-changing experience.

As a member of this select group, Joe travelled to the Dominican Republic for 10 days beginning in the end of July and continuing into August. Each day, Joe and his teammates would spend approximately five hours providing community service including repairing three houses and one school. After volunteering, the team would head to the baseball field where they would get professional instruction from Red Sox coaches and have the chance to compete against local teams.

A student in the Spanish Immersion program, Joe benefitted from having a strong knowledge of Spanish that made it easy for him to carry on conversations with everyone he met. He told me that there was "never any moment when [he] needed someone to explain what they were saying." Rather than spending time trying to master the language, Joe was able to enjoy this opportunity to have a new experience. When I asked him what lesson from his trip stands out the most, he was quick in telling me that the experience has given him "a new outlook on life" and has made him "more appreciative of what [he] has." It was clear to me that while the program may have provided some tips that will improve his ability as a baseball player, the true benefits of the experience are the life lessons that he gained from this "beautiful dream." 

John and Abigail Adams Scholars

Nipmuc's John and Abigail Adams Scholarship Winners
Earlier this morning, I had the pleasure of meeting with 55 of Nipmuc's seniors in order to congratulate them on their receipt of the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship. The Adams Scholarship is awarded to those students who are the top achievers on the MCAS test in their grade level.

As I mentioned to them this morning, their achievement is truly praiseworthy. When our current seniors took the MCAS test in the spring of 2010, 96% of our students scored proficient or advanced in English and 94% scored proficient or advanced in math. The 55 students who received this scholarship scored in the top 25% of this high-achieving group.

As recipients of this award, all 55 students will be granted free tuition at any Massachusetts public institution of higher education, including a  University of Massachusetts campus, a Massachusetts state university, or a community college.

Please join me in congratulating our Adams scholars!