Authors Posts by Clement Doucette

Clement Doucette

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Students visit the Carmo Convent in Lisbon. | by Judy Pavao

by Clement Doucette

Seniors Clement Doucette and Lauren Eadie traveled to Portugal with five students from Newton South High School for the 20th annual UNESCO Young Scientists Conference.  The conference’s theme centered on “Intangible Cultural Heritage.”  Doucette and Eadie created a video highlighting traditions in Hudson while students from Newton South recorded a music playlist focusing on traditional American musical styles.

The American students were joined by students from five other nations, including Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Germany, and Italy.  While in Portugal, the students from Hudson and Newton South visited the cities of Lisbon and Coimbra in addition to the conference city of Santarém.

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CNN and The New York Times have been described by President Trump as "fake news." | by Clement Doucette

by Clement Doucette

In an interview with conservative commentator Mike Huckabee, President Trump commented that “the media is — really, the word, I think one of the greatest of all terms I’ve come up with — is fake.”  

During the 2016 election cycle, Russian outlets published news stories to social media websites that were truly fake.  However, Trump took this phrase and distorted it into an attack against mainstream media outlets, particularly CNN and the New York Times.  Of course, national media is not without its flaws; all media is biased to a degree, and coverage on CNN and broadcast news can sometimes be brief or surface-level.  Still, publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post use fact checking and journalistic integrity.  

While media analysts have described dishonest journalism as  “fake news” for many years, the president’s talking points drive a frightening point into the minds of American youth.  Media illiteracy is a serious problem that should be thoroughly addressed.

At Hudson High School, teachers have noted an increase in students’ disbelief of mainstream media sources and an inability to find appropriate media sources.  Teacher Amy Plackowski works to include aspects of media understanding and literacy into her AP Language, dystopian literature, and linguistics classes.

“In AP Language, we are looking at rhetoric and credible sources,” said Plackowski.  “In dystopian lit we are talking about censorship and the media, what is credible, and what is not.  Even in linguistics, we talk about language and how it can be manipulated.  I think there are a lot of us teaching it.”

While teachers have been including these valuable lessons in their classes, Plackowski noted a lack of continuity across departments.  

“If we have a lecture in history or in another class about finding a credible source, students may not be able to transfer that understanding to an English class,” said Plackowski. “Then, we have to kind of start all over again talking about what credible sources are.”

Plackowski cited the work of librarian Jessica Caron as being integral to finding appropriate sources.  She has been working with students to teach universally applicable research methods and basic media literacy skills.   

“I think this dovetails really nicely with a lot of content.  For example, science teachers can talk about how to tell if a study is a good study.  I think there is definitely room for this,” said Plackowski.

Still, there is more to be done.  

Elizabeth Albota teaches an elective class on media literacy in which students learn how to find bias in the media and in research sources.  However, Albota’s class has been met with low enrollment and a widespread lack of understanding of media bias from students.

“I think we’ve just hit a point in America where there’s so much information that none of it is making sense to anybody,” said Albota.  “I think there is a problem in that my generation is assuming that there are things in place for your generation that are not in place. Your generation grew up with different understandings of information.”

In addition to the the generational gap, Albota noted that high school classes generally lack detailed lessons on media literacy.  These lessons often require too much time to teach during her English classes, since students often do not have strong background knowledge about locating media bias.  Still, the low enrollment of Albota’s media literacy class and the lack of understanding from students underscores the need for more instruction on this subject.  

Freshman Bianca Chaves appreciated the idea of increased media literacy lessons and noted that she would have difficulties in locating reliable sources and media bias.

“I’ve never come across a fake news story before,” said Chaves.  “If a story were obviously fake, I would know it, but if it were something that sounded true, I would think that it’s true.”

Exposing students to a wide range of credible media sources and fact-checking lessons would help to alleviate this problem.  Chaves noted that some of her classmates use the term “fake news” to refer to CNN and other mainstream media sources without knowledge of what the term truly means. It seemed as though these students were repeating sound bites from speeches given by Trump.

“I think these students are saying that CNN is fake news to a point where they are making others believe it,” said Chaves.  “I think this is harmful, especially to some students who are new here or who don’t know that CNN isn’t fake news.”

Combatting this misinformation begins with offering students a selection of appropriate media sources and information regarding improper sources.  Clearly, students spreading misinformation is a prime source for fake news misconceptions.  Freshman Josh Czerwinski is aware of current events and keeps track of the news through multiple credible sources.  Although he noted that some sources he views are biased, he does not think that they are “fake news.”  

“Oftentimes [the bias] will vary,” said Czerwinski.  “I could think that NPR is biased towards one topic, but less biased for others.  It varies depending on the article.  I don’t use CNN or Fox News too often, and I wouldn’t say that they are fake. I think they are average news networks and are biased towards some topics, but they can be completely reliable and give proven facts.”

Czerwinski also noted that Trump’s “fake news” rhetoric is harmful and misguided.

“I think it is harmful to call these sources fake news because they can be very reputable depending on what they are talking about,” said Czerwinski. “I feel like Trump is saying that if the news is against him, then it is fake.  I know that this did happen and that these are facts.”

Although students joke that “CNN is fake news,” I experienced difficulty finding students who truly believe this rhetoric.  Still, the need for media literacy is underestimated.  The lack of media literacy at Hudson High School presents itself with subtlety.  In general, students do not believe Trump’s rhetoric word for word.  Rather, they consume media without the proper background for finding bias or for fact checking.  

Clearly, classes run on tight schedules. Still, including time for media literacy is of the utmost importance. Making media literacy a mandatory component of the eighth grade curriculum could give students the background they need.  In eighth grade, students are impressionable and could learn harmful misinformation from their peers and older students.  Teaching these young high schoolers about media literacy would give these students analysis skills to last throughout high school and beyond.  Otherwise, misinformation and insidious Russian-bot fake news stories may prevail.

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Senior Elizabeth Cautela reads the morning announcements during spirit week. | by Clement Doucette

by Clement Doucette

The morning announcements are an integral part of Hudson High School’s daily routine.  

Each morning, I join seniors Elizabeth Cautela and Lauren Eadie in reading the announcement script over the loudspeaker.  Typically, we improvise, tell jokes, and add humor to enliven the plain script.  Still, our voices can go unheard.  Some students ignore the announcements, choosing instead to talk over them.  

Although there is little time for socialization during the school day, ignoring the morning announcements and our Friday Morning Lights broadcasts is a sign of disrespect.  This behavior reflects a larger, school-wide problem; arts programs at HHS go ignored and students’ work goes unseen.  

Elizabeth Cautela has faced this problem.  In addition to the morning announcements, Cautela creates short films, spends many hours volunteering at HUD-TV, and is an active member of the HHS Drama Society.  She notes that these activities are forgotten in favor of sports.

“I think the school culture is very sports oriented,” said Cautela.  “It’s not really driven towards everybody else.  If you’re not playing a sport, then who are you?”  

Cautela noted that participating in these activities can make students feel like outsiders. Communities within HHS can be insular, and members may not branch out of their cliques.  

“I’m just doing HUD-TV and theater activities now, and I feel like it doesn’t even register to some people that these are a thing,” said Cautela.  “I wish people would support the arts more and go to drama shows to get another perspective on things.  Everything’s not just one way.  We can learn from all these other clubs.”

As an active member of the Drama Society, Cautela has been judged for her role within this group, and she senses that there is a stigma surrounding her participation.  Still, she notes that by participating in the Drama Society, she is no different than other students.  

“Theater is like a sport; you practice a lot, and then you perform like you do in a game,” said Cautela.  “We’re all HHS students, and I think that gets lost along the line somewhere.”

The Drama Society is not the only non-sports aspect of Hudson High School that is neglected; students involved with the fine arts sense that their work is often overlooked.  Ariana Jordan-MacArthur has been involved with the fine arts at Hudson High School and feels that these events are under-promoted.  In her opinion, this is a result of students talking over and neglecting the morning announcements.  

“I think it’s disrespectful that people talk over [the announcements], mostly because there are a lot of people who want to listen to them,” said Jordan-MacArthur.  “People always talk over them, and we can’t hear them.”

Typically, events such as the HHS Art Show and Drama Society productions, are announced through the morning announcements or through sparse promotion on social media.  If students ignore announcements and do not know that these events are set to occur, then fewer students will attend.

“We don’t get to hear the announcements about events going on at the school,” said Jordan-MacArthur.  “This makes it a lot less likely that people will go to these events.”

I understand that changing the culture of a school is difficult, if not impossible.  If students are unwilling to attend non-sports related events, they will not attend them.  However, there is no room to disrespect others’ work.  

Highlighting student accomplishment in the arts through social media would help.  Students who are willing to attend artistic events but may not have heard about these events on the announcements would be informed about them.  An integral part of learning is found in respecting and learning from the ideas and perspectives of others.  Emphasizing creative and artistic pursuits in school would make artistic students feel valued and would provide all students with a platform to showcase their ideas.  Keeping quiet during announcement broadcasts would help to make these ideas known to all students.  

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Junior Pat Fortuna and eighth grader Charles Togneri edit a film at HUD-TV. | by Clement Doucette

by Clement Doucette

Climbing the steep, difficult path up Mount Wachusett proved to be more challenging than any of us had anticipated. My senior mentor, Bruno, led me and my eighth grade friends up the mountain. As new high schoolers, we were inspired by the accomplishments of our senior mentors; we heard their stories of college applications and fond high school memories.

Now, as a senior, I see a startling disconnect between the upperclassmen and the eighth graders. Generally, the two groups are isolated from one another, rarely communicate, and as a result, the eighth graders tend to be the subject of generalizations by the upperclassmen.

“There’s a lot of [eighth graders] that are really intelligent and nice,” said eighth grader Alessa Maiuri. “However, they still get the title of the ‘eighth graders’ and are overall a generally despised grade.”  

The geography of HHS only exacerbates this growing problem, since it relegates eighth graders to their own section of the high school.  The program of studies prevents underclassmen from enrolling in many of the same elective classes as upperclassmen. Consequently, many older students are unaware of the accomplishments and talents of younger students. These two groups can only interact through after school clubs and activities, or through team-building exercises such as the ones held during my eighth grade year.  

“I think some of the upperclassmen don’t classify [the eighth graders] as being part of the high school, even though they sort of are,” said Maiuri.  

Of course, not all seniors view the eighth graders in this way. Clubs such as HUD-TV have been successful in connecting students from different grades. Still, these benefits are not extended to all students, as only a fraction are members of these clubs.  

Wellness teacher Dee Grassey taught at Hudson High School during the mentor program’s heyday. She noted that the mentor program acted as an important bridge between upper and lower grades and supports its return.  

“I know they’re coming from a middle school to a high school, which is difficult,” said Grassey.  “Of course, puberty is a big issue, which has to do with their maturity.  I know that those are all factors, and I do think that they need a big brother or sister.”

Although the mentoring program would make the rough transition between middle and high school easier, it requires dedication and input from the seniors.

“The problem with senior mentoring is that seniors have a lot on their plate,” said Grassey.  “What I’ve seen consistently is a problem with keeping it up throughout the year.  It’s that commitment.  The program starts off really great, but by this time of the year, it’s gone.”

Commitment is a problem within any extracurricular activity. Without a system to hold members accountable, students that are not passionate either lose interest or drop out of the program. Others become bogged down with coursework and other extracurriculars.  Senior Ariana Jordan-MacArthur expressed these concerns.

“I just remember it being a really, really fun trip,” said Jordan-MacArthur. “However, I don’t remember being all that connected with my senior buddy.  I mostly just remember having fun with my friends.  I do know that the buddies were there; they were just not really that interactive.”

Despite these issues, Jordan-MacArthur wants to see the program return.  “I would love for [mentors] to come back, and I would love to be [one], too.  I know that our class is very spirited and likes to involve everybody, so I think that if we did bring that back, we would have a lot of people who would be willing to be mentors for the eighth graders.”

Still, any interaction between senior mentors and eighth graders is better than none.  Giving attention to the school’s youngest students could make them feel accepted in the school community.

“With every class, you have that core group that need more help or guidance.  Children sometimes learn more from other children than they do from adults,” said Grassey.  “That’s why I think mentoring programs are so important.”

Despite the efforts of staff members, students must build those connections between the grades. These connections need to be natural and unforced.  Bringing back the mentoring program could build these valuable connections that both eighth graders and seniors desire.

“You can hold meetings and think up great ideas,” said Grassey. “However, if the students don’t follow up with it, there’s nothing one person or an advisor alone can do.”  

Although the program needs to have some degree of structure, providing interested seniors and eighth graders with an interest survey could pair like-minded students. Having an eighth grade mentee or a senior mentor with similar interests would make these students more willing to talk and to continue the program.

When I participated, my mentor and I did not share much common ground, and as a result, I did not learn as much from him as I could have.  The keys to a successful mentoring program are natural conversations, shared interests, and meaningful dialogue.

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Juniors participate in a wave at Wednesday’s Turkey Day pep rally. | by Clement Doucette

by Clement Doucette and Maggie O’Brien

Students celebrated school spirit and athletics at Wednesday’s Turkey Day rally with performances by the HHS band, the cheerleaders, and the dance team.  Football players continued the tradition of giving gifts to members of the cheer team.  The rally concluded with the annual Senior Skit, featuring songs from High School Musical.

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Students appeared in patriotic garb for “USA Day” at Friday’s rally. | by Clement Doucette

by Clement Doucette

HHS students celebrated school spirit and school activities during Friday’s Homecoming Rally.  Featured acts included performances by the band, dance team, and cheer, along with the crowning of the spirit king and queen from each grade.  Students also participated in activities organized by school clubs.

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Senior Owen Anketell completed a 2,300-mile hand cycle ride for his nonprofit. | by Adaptive Sports Awareness

by Clement Doucette

Senior Owen Anketell’s mantra was to just “keep pedalling,” as he embarked on a monumental 2,900-mile handcycle ride from Calais, Maine, to Key West, Florida, for his non-profit, Adaptive Sports Awareness during the summer of 2017.  

Anketell, born with a condition that leaves him with limited control of his lower limbs, planned the ride to spread awareness for disabled sports and for other athletes like him.  While he expected to educate others along his ride, Anketell learned from those he met along the way, gaining inspiration for future activities with his organization.  

“We met with a nonprofit in Ormond Beach and they were doing the same thing,” said Anketell.  “We were supposed to do a bike ride with them because they hold one once a week, but it was 106 degrees outside that day so they cancelled it.”  Although he was unable to ride with the Ormond nonprofit, Anketell learned about other groups farther south that had similar goals. One of them was the Brooks Rehab Center of Daytona Beach.

 As Anketell passed through the area, the rehab center was holding one of its weekly bowling nights to promote adaptive sports.  “They had a bunch of different people come, whether it’s through town or through the hospital,” said Anketell. “Some people were in wheelchairs, some people couldn’t see, some people couldn’t speak, and they were just out there trying to have fun and do things with everyone else.”

At the bowling night, Anketell educated the attendees about his own cause, while learning about the work at Brooks Rehab. “I got to meet a wide variety of people and tell them my story and just to see how impressed they were really made it awesome,” said Anketell.  

In addition to complete strangers, Anketell also inspired his fellow riders.  Senior Matt Farrell, a friend of Anketell, was one of these riders. “I learned that anything is possible, and it isn’t just focused on your abilities,” said Farrell. “It is just the mental strength.  You have to keep going.”

Anketell’s father, Mark, who drove alongside the cyclists, praised his son’s work.  “Just the fact that all three of them took their whole summers and spent sixty-five days on the road, in the heat, in the humidity, riding, was just inspirational to me,” said Anketell.   

Owen Anketell now seeks to localize his work and hopes to one day host a handcycle demonstration at Hudson High.  “I’ve done it once before,” said Anketell.  “A baseball group called Miracle League, which is all physically and mentally disabled kids, got to ride around, and they thought it was the coolest thing ever.”

Anketell, who travels throughout New England as a motivational speaker, is still thinking big.  He hopes to continue working on large-scale events through Adaptive Sports Awareness, including a prominent handcycle race in Alaska or a second ride from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  As a senior, he has considered college programs focused on nonprofit work after hearing about others who have turned it into a fulfilling career.  “I think it’s definitely an interesting path to go down,” said Anketell.  “I’m very interested in where it would take me.”

 

 

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by Clement Doucette

Hudson celebrated its 20th Annual Pumpkin Fest at Morgan Bowl on Saturday.  Community organizations, businesses, and performers came to showcase their work around town, while children and adults appeared in costume.