Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Thanksgiving Tradition

This afternoon I enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving luncheon with the Rotary Club. Thank you to the Rotary Club for inviting Superintendent Zrike and I to join the WHS Warrior Varsity Football Coach, Mike Boyages, and senior captains Mike Miller, Zach Levine, and Mike Melanson in preparation for the big game on Thursday.  Our captains each gave a short speech, and I was impressed that they each chose to talk about family - family at home as well as the family comprised of their teammates and coaches at school - as the most important part of what Thanksgiving Day means to them.  I look forward to the game every year as it is a special reunion of our larger WHS family, including current and former students, teachers, friends, and families.  It also promises to be a great day of football...Go Warriors!

WHS Football Coach Mike Boyages, with senior captains Mike Melanson, Zach Levine, and Mike Miller

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sad News

The Wakefield school community is heartbroken to hear of the loss of recent WHS graduate Benjamin Mohla.  Ben was a member of the Class of 2010 and was loved by his teachers, classmates, and friends.  Ben’s wonderful sister, Casey, graduated this past spring. 

Ben was an active member of the WHS Band, he was a Diversity Leader, and many may remember his vibrant performance in the 2010 Senior Show.  I presented Ben with the Principal's Spirit Award on Senior Awards Night, in recognition of a student who lit up our school with joy and enthusiasm. We are all proud that Ben was a senior this year at the University of Vermont.

Counseling and support will be available for students, staff, and alumni in our Guidance Department during school hours this week, with extended hours until 4:00 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.

On behalf of the school community, I extend our deepest sympathy, love, and prayers to the Mohla family.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Spelling Bee

I just left the opening night of Spelling Bee, presented by WHS Theater Arts under the direction of Will Karvouniaris.  The show is an unbelievable, not-to-be-missed event at WHS!  If you don't already have tickets, you really must go...I promise that it will be the highlight of your weekend!  I laughed almost continuously throughout the night, and the only other ongoing emotion was astonishment at the level of talent in our student cast, from 9th and 10th grade up-and-coming stars to the juniors and seniors who we already know to be amazing.

There are two more shows this weekend:  Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 2:00 p.m., all at The Savings Bank Theater at Wakefield High School.  

All I can say is "wow" to ensemble cast members Carley Buckley, Jared Spies, Julia Blois, Sam Bianchet-David, Adam Tarpey, Emily Sheeran, Emily Cierpial, Matt Stanley, and Liam Dailey.  Wow!

Also, a special thank-you and congratulations to our talented Music Director, Ana Morel.

Don't miss this show!!!

New Parent-Teacher Conference format

Thank you to parents for such a strong showing at our Parent-Teacher Conferences this week...it was wonderful to see and speak to so many of you!  

I would love to hear feedback from parents on this year's conference format:  we held two sessions, Tuesday from 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. in teachers' classrooms and Wednesday from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. in the Cafeteria and Library/Media Center.

How does this compare to the full-day open house format of the past two years. or the single evening format that we used prior to that?  Were you able to schedule conferences with ease if you have children at more than one school?

I hope you don't mind sharing your experiences with me so that we can continue to improve on a welcoming and meaningful conference format.

Email your thoughts to:  kim.smith@wpsk12.org

Thank you!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sunset at WHS / Parent-Teacher Conferences

WHS senior Tyler Ledin took this gorgeous photo of WHS on a recent November evening!

We had a successful afternoon of Parent-Teacher conferences today from 12:00 - 3:00 p.m.  If any parents missed an opportunity to meet with a teacher, we have a second session of conferences tomorrow evening from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.  I can't promise this beautiful sunset, but I can promise a warm welcome!

Friday, November 15, 2013

New and Improved

With the support of the Wakefield community, we were able to make some significant improvements to our facility this school year.  In addition to our beautiful new athletic facilities (fields, tennis courts, track, and gymnasium), a good amount of work was completed in the interior of the school as well. You can see what a difference these improvements have made in the photos below, and there is no question that our students benefit from the fresh, clean, comfortable environment.  We still have a long way to go, but this is a great start: 

New lockers in the Math wing

New glass windows (replacing opaque plexiglass)

New water fountains - the students love the water bottle feature!

New flooring in the Social Studies wing

Monday, November 11, 2013

Keys to Success student recognition program

 Keys to Success leaders Elizabeth Glynn & Machenzie Collins
with Mr. Moody and his Sophomore nominee and recipient, Sarah Stumpf
A year ago, seniors Caitlin Collins and Kevin Glynn came to me with an idea:  they wanted to start a recognition program that acknowledged those students who typically "fly under the radar" but "do the right thing every day" - students who put a lot of effort into school work, are kind and generous to others, and consistently live the core values of our school.  Caitlin and Kevin were willing to take on the leadership role in instituting the program, modeling it after one they had read about called "Keys to Success", but with their own twist.  Caitlin and Kevin contacted Wakefield's Chamber of Commerce President Kendall Inglese and established a partnership in which the Chamber would provide gift certificates, donated by local businesses, for the four students nominated each month by their teachers as those who demonstrated those qualities that are ultimately the "keys to success" in school and in life.

Caitlin and Kevin did a tremendous job in building this student-generated/student-led program - with a great deal of help, support, and enthusiasm from Kendall and the Chamber of Commerce - and then to ensure its continuation beyond their graduation, passed along the leadership roles to their younger siblings.  Elizabeth Glynn and Machenzie Collins took over, made some strong improvements to the Keys to Success program, and we're off to a great start for the 2013-14 school year!  Pictured above are Elizabeth and Machenzie, with the October award-winner from the sophomore class, Sarah Stumpf.  Sarah was nominated by her Social Studies teacher, Mr. Moody, who couldn't say enough about Sarah's daily work ethic, positive nature, and kindness toward others.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Culinary Arts at WHS

Ms. Lacy and students at work
The first thing I did this morning was order lunch at our very own Warrior Cafe, the student-run Culinary Arts program at WHS.  Led by Culinary Arts teacher Ms. Susan Lacy, a talented  group of seniors enrolled in Culinary Arts class prepare menus, cook a wide range of delicious offerings, take orders and serve and/or deliver lunch for faculty and staff each day.  The students are gaining tremendous real-world experience running a fully-functioning restaurant, the Warrior Cafe.  In addition, they cater larger scale events including the Wakefield Education Foundation Celebration of Learning Banquet and the Senior Class Night Cookout. They host formal luncheons - like the Middlesex League Principals and WMHS Alumni Foundation Hall of Fame annual events - and often host receptions for the Superintendent and School Committee throughout the year.  The Culinary Arts program begins with a class for juniors where they learn the prerequisite skills for the senior course.   We are fortunate to have this unique, authentic curriculum at Wakefield High School, as it is not an experience available in many non-vocational high schools.  By the way, today's menu is:  

Soup:  Roasted Winter Vegetable (carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and onions)
Salad:  Mixed greens topped with golden delicious apples, dried cranberries, pomegranate and sunflower seeds, and crumbled blue cheese
Entree:  Turkey & Sweet Potato Shepard's Pie

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Different Kind of Curriculum

On Tuesday, the 24 elected leaders of the WHS Student Council participated in a full-day leadership workshop, held at Hale Reservation in Westwood, MA.  The setting was - as you can see below - entirely outdoors in the woods, where students worked on collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and learned how leadership skills emerge in a variety of ways.  The students faced a number of challenges, including the ladder climb pictured here, during which they learned how necessary it was to support and help one an another if the entire group was to succeed.

At one point, we saw a deer.  It was a peaceful, breathtaking moment for all of us.  

It was different kind of curriculum, a different classroom on this day - one that the student leaders will not soon forget.