Authors Posts by Dakota Antelman

Dakota Antelman

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Danilo Ambrosio celebrates after accepting his diploma. | by Dakota Antelman

by Big Red Hawk Staff

HHS honored the more than 100 members of the senior class on June 4 at graduation. The ceremony featured student speeches, performances, and speeches by Principal Brian Reagan and Superintendent Jodi Fortuna.

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by Siobhan Richards

by Big Red Hawk Staff

This year dozens of seniors decorated their graduation caps. We posted our best pictures of their caps in this gallery.

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Seniors performing in the Baccalaureate ceremony stand on stage after walking in. | by Siobhan Richards

Members of the Hudson High School class of 2017 gathered in the HHS Auditorium on May 30 for the annual baccalaureate ceremony honoring their grade. More than 20 seniors read or performed music for their classmates, friends, and family while HHS staff members Reed Prior and Rebecca Appel also spoke at the ceremony.

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McKayla Shutt bats while a teammate looks on. | Submitted photo

by Dakota Antelman

Less than a week into her high school softball career, McKayla Shutt thanked her coaches for treating her just like the rest of her teammates.

Born without a full-sized left hand or fingers on that left hand, Shutt faces difficulties in softball that her teammates and opponents do not. But, after roughly her first year of high school play, she remains happy that her coaches don’t use her disability as a reason to go easy on her or keep her off the field.

“The coaches treat me like everyone else,” she said. “I do the same amount of catching, the same amount of throwing, the same skills that everyone else is taught.”

The backup first basemen and backup catcher on the eighth grade softball team, Shutt plays by first catching the ball with a glove on her right hand. She then drops the glove with the ball still inside of it, and finally picks the ball out of the glove to throw it also with her right hand.

Her coach, Catherine Brow, said she was impressed by Shutt’s ability.

“She does it so quickly especially when she’s behind the plate,” Brow said of Shutt’s fielding. “She catches it, and, by the time she’s standing up, she has the glove down, the ball in her hand and she’s ready to throw. It’s such a quick change. You don’t even notice it.”

While Shutt has played other sports, including field hockey, soccer and basketball, she has spent a considerable amount of time playing softball. She began playing t-ball in kindergarten and has progressed ever since.

Over the years, however, she has not found the kind of honest criticism from coaches she currently enjoys.

“[Before this year,] if I didn’t catch as well in one inning, my coaches would be like, ‘Oh it’s fine, shake it off,’” Shutt said, adding, however, that she loved all her coaches. “But here, the coach that I have will tell me, ‘You weren’t as good as you could have been.’ It’s nice to hear them say that.”

Catherine Brow sees this inclusivity as a core coaching value. In accepting Shutt with open arms, and treating her just as she does any other player, she also said she feels driven by her job as a paraprofessional and her ongoing education to become a special education teacher.

“Everybody should have the same opportunity,” she said. “Nobody should have anything held against them because of their disability. I’m not going to treat her any differently. I’m going to give her the same chance I give everybody else.”

Passivity by her own coaches was not Shutt’s only problem before high school. Indeed, opposing coaches, she said, would doubt her ability to play or question her when she dropped her glove and threw the ball with the same hand she caught it with.

“I’ve proven most of them wrong,” she said.

In dealing with naysayers, Shutt said her mother has been a crucial source of support.

“Obviously, she has two hands,” Shutt said. “But she has been there for me during everything with sports, especially when people are giving me a hard time about it.”

While some of her past coaches treated her differently or even questioned her ability, Shutt said her teammates have always supported her without question.

“They pick me up when I’m down,” she said. “They know how to cheer me up. They understand that it’s difficult, but they treat me like a normal person, which is really nice. They treat me like I have two hands.”

She added that this was the first year that she and all of her softball friends have played on the same team. Before this year, they were scattered among teams playing in a town league.

As the year progressed, Shutt said the new competitive atmosphere helped her improve. During the season, she made a major batting adjustment, switching from a conventional batting stance to a “slapper” stance. Before high school, Shutt hit using her one right hand. With Brow as her coach, she learned to bat from the other side of the plate while running towards the ball.

“I think that’s helped her a lot,” Brow said the day after one of the team’s practice. “She was hitting very well yesterday, and that’s definitely an improvement for her.”

Shutt hopes to one day become the starting varsity catcher. After her eighth-grade season, one in which she said she saw no special treatment, she said she now sees a clear way to make that happen.

“Since I came to the high school, I’ve talked to the coaches about it, and they’ve told me what I needed to correct,” she said. “They’ve been working with me on it. I think I’ll get there.”

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Maddie Haufe swings on a pitch during the game. Haufe would later tie the game with a two run double in the seventh inning. | by Siobhan Richards.

by Dakota Antelman

After forcing extra innings with a six-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Hawk softball team lost one of its longest games in recent memory on Saturday, May 20 by a score of 10-6 in the tenth inning. The late season loss now amplifies the pressure on the Hawks to secure a spot in next month’s playoff tournament.

“That’s a stinger,” said head coach Laura Bowen after the game. “That’s a stinger of a loss.”

The Hawks fell behind early thanks to a three-run Tantasqua first inning. Lindsey Zac started the scoring for the Warriors with a sacrifice fly with no outs in that inning. Kelsey Emrish and Marie Stewart tacked on RBIs of their own as the Warriors sent all nine of their batters to the plate before Hudson could get off the field.

“I think that we put ourselves in a hole,” Bowen said. “When we came out in the first inning and let up three runs, we put pressure on ourselves before we even got a bat in our hand which stinks.”

The score held until the fifth inning when Zac and Emrish knocked in two more runs for Tantasqua, giving them a 5-0 lead. Abby LaFountain batted in Tantasqua’s sixth run in the top of the sixth inning.

As the Warrior offense thrived, the Hawks had just two hits and a walk as they entered the seventh inning trailing 6-0. Two walks and two singles to lead off that inning, however, seemed to turn things around.

“A lot of teams down 6-0 in the seventh inning are going to go up and give up,” said Bowen. “But we brought the next batter up and had quality at bats.”

As Tantasqua batted around in the first inning, the Hawks did the same in the seventh inning, scoring six times during ten individual at bats. Amanda Doucette managed to break the Tansatqua shutout with an RBI single with no outs. Jordyn Safranski then scored from third base on a wild pitch, and Megan Miller chipped away at the lead with a two-run single with two outs. Maddie Haufe finally tied the game with a base clearing two-run double.

“It’s just the momentum that’s going through you [that keeps you going],” Haufe said of her team’s ability to come back. “We were getting pumped up, thinking we can win when we came back with all those runs.”

The game remained deadlocked after the seventh inning, however, dragging into the tenth inning before the Warriors revived their offense. They scored four times in the top of the tenth inning and stifled Hudson’s attempt at a second comeback in the bottom of that inning, winning the game.

While she celebrated Hudson’s ability to force extra innings, Bowen said she wished her team scored earlier in the game.

“We kept saying, ‘Make an adjustment from your at-bats; learn what the umpire is calling; learn what [the pitcher] is throwing,'” she said. “I think that definitely helps. She was a good pitcher, I’m not taking any credit away from her, but, like I said, we have to make adjustments earlier than that.”

The Hawks now sit in third place in the MidWach B league. They need at least two wins out of their last four regular season games if they are to return to the playoffs. Though she said that path will be difficult, Bowen vowed after the Tantasqua loss to “go down fighting.”

“We’re putting a lot of pressure on ourselves for sure, but it’s absolutely doable,” she said. “These girls have it in them. It’s just a matter of if they want it or not.”

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Winners of this year's Big Red prom pictures contest.

by Big Red Staff

Juniors attended prom on Friday, May 12. More than 100 of those juniors submitted their prom pictures to the Big Red’s prom pictures contest using the hashtag #HHSPromPics2017. Members of the Big Red staff met Monday and selected winners in seven categories.

The winner of “best picture” wins a $10 Dunkin Donuts gift card.

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Students thank their teachers during teacher appreciation week. | Photos by Dakota Antelman and Jordan Cullen

by Big Red Staff

Last week was teacher appreciation week across the country. Hudson High School students were happy to participate, thanking and praising their teachers in interviews with the Big Red.

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A Hudson firetruck waits outside Hudson High School as students leave after dismissal. The last of the firetrucks to respond to HHS left shortly after 2pm. | by Dakota Antelman

by Dakota Antelman

A lightbulb in the HHS auditorium malfunctioned on Monday afternoon, prompting a full evacuation of HHS and disrupting students taking the AP Psychology exam at the time.

The malfunction took place just after 1:15 p.m. during a drama class held in the auditorium at the time. A district electrician reached later Monday afternoon said he saw smoke when he entered the auditorium shortly after the incident.

Firefighters also immediately responded to the school while students and their teachers gathered outside. Though the evacuation lasted roughly 15 minutes, at least one firetruck lingered at the school until shortly after 2 p.m..

“Everything is safe and fine,” Principal Brian Reagan said in an announcement to the school after the evacuation ended. “We appreciate your cooperation.”

The malfunction did snarl a variety of specific activities throughout the afternoon. Students already more than an hour into their AP Psychology exam had to leave their testing room when the smoke triggered fire alarms.

According to Sophia DiPlacido, a student taking the exam at the time, her test proctor calculated the time students missed due to the evacuation and added it onto the previously scheduled end of the test to allow students to finish.

“All the test scores should still be valid,” she added. “They didn’t say otherwise.”

Director of Guidance Counseling and AP Test Coordinator Angie Flynn confirmed that the scores will not be invalidated Tuesday morning in an email.

Though her score will count, DiPlacido said the evacuation did still impact her.

“It was stressful when we were outside because we had no idea if we would be able to make up the time we missed,” she said.

The additional time also caused problems for AP Psychology students and their extracurricular activities. DiPlacido said that, since they were not allowed to leave the testing room until the test was over, even some students who finished early were late for work, sports practices or other after-school commitments.

In addition to AP Psychology, the malfunction briefly raised concerns about the town meeting scheduled to take place Monday evening at 7 p.m., roughly five hours after the incident. Firefighters and facilities staff were able to disperse the smoke and a faint chemical smell long before the meeting, however, allowing the event to proceed as scheduled.

Monday’s incident also marks the second time in two years that a fire alarm has disrupted standardized testing at HHS. Last April, during the 10th grade English MCAS exams, alarms prompted the evacuation of the school.

Like this incident, however, students who were still testing at the time were able to complete their tests.

“Students need to stop testing, the proctor needs to secure the room after it is emptied, and then students can simply resume testing when they re-enter the building,” Reagan explained of the MCAS protocol for evacuations in an email. “Because MCAS is untimed, there are really no issues with losing time for a fire alarm.”

After the smoke and the chemical smell had subsided, the district electrition lingered in the auditorium testing lights and speaking with drama teacher Kathleen McKenzie about what happened. This incident, he said, was the first of its kind to take place in the now 14-year-old new high school building.

He added that a “thermal overload” sensor normally prevents malfunctions like the one that triggered Monday’s evacuation. The sensor, he explained, is designed to shut off a light before it gets too hot. “It seems like that failed today,” the electrician concluded.

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Jack Cecelya throws off to the Bromfield team after Hudson scored late in their opening day game on Friday. | by Dakota Antelman

by Dakota Antelman

Ultimate frisbee player Jack Cecelya wore a shirt with the words “If you build it…” scrawled on it last Friday, a reference to the words Ray Kinsella hears in his cornfield in the movie Field of Dreams.

Indeed, he and 10 other HHS students, with head coach Mark Krans, built an ultimate frisbee team this past winter. On Friday, Bromfield came to play in Hudson’s first match.

The team has been practicing in the HHS gym and on local fields since October. Their game Friday, however, marked a new step in expanding ultimate frisbee at Hudson High as the team began competing in interscholastic games for the first time.

“Ultimate is a beautiful sport,” Krans said. “It’s great competition. People who play ultimate love ultimate, and they play it for the rest of their lives. Just to give these kids an opportunity to play against the other high schools and whoever else we can play around here is a great opportunity.”

The matchup kicked off a nine-game schedule that will take Hudson to a variety of nearby towns for games against teams including Nashoba, Billerica, Lincoln-Sudbury and Groton-Dunstable.

Bromfield, which is entering its fourth season as an organized program, did manage to beat the rookie Hawk team. However, they only did so late in a game which had been tied 7-7 after nearly two hours of play at Hudson’s Intel Field.

After their team’s eventual 8-7 win on a sudden death “Universe Point” score, even Bromfield coaches and parents remarked on the strength of the Hudson team in its debut.

“You guys must have been practicing,” one parent said to Krans as she followed the Bromfield players off the field.

Though they lost, Krans and his players saw numerous bright spots in their debut. As their competitors noted, they say these bright spots were, in part, the result of nearly seven months of practice.

“I can throw a frisbee much better than I could going into this experience, which has been awesome,” said junior Elizabeth Cautela. “We’ve grown closer together as well. We’re friends now while we were just strangers before. We’re definitely like a family. We have a lot of fun together.”

Among the struggles for the Hawks was the introduction of heavy wind to their gameplay situations. Playing on the relatively open Intel field, the Hawks did often fail to connect with one another on long passes as their throws were frequently blown off course. They had not dealt with wind during their many months in the gym.

The game also marked one of the first regulation 7-on-7 games since the club started. Though their ranks have both swelled and shrunken since October, they have rarely had enough players show up at their early morning gym practices to run full team scrimmages. As of Friday’s game, the team only had 11 players on the roster.

Though they may not have been running full games, however, Krans said the months of practices have already generated conversation about ultimate frisbee among students and teachers. Krans, who called Massachusetts “one of the hotbeds of ultimate in the country,” noted his excitement about the growing popularity of the sport and his team in particular.

“The kids are loving it,” he said. “The teachers are hearing about it. I’m having a blast. The kids work hard, they’re teachable, they listen and they have improved so much in such a short period of time.”

New and already improved, the Hawks are eying the season ahead of them in hopes of succeeding at the state tournament in Northampton on June 1.

Looking beyond this year, the Hawks are doing their best Kevin Costner impression and hoping that since they built it — their team — more players will come.

“We called it the Hudson Ultimate Experiment because we weren’t sure if it was even going to take off and work out,” Krans said. “It’s taken off well, but we really need to grow, especially because four of our players are seniors who are going to be leaving at the end of the year. We want more young players to join so that we can build a legacy of the Hudson Ultimate Experiment.”

Cautela echoed that sentiment, saying that she has already seen and heard enough from prospective players to think that ultimate frisbee at HHS will be successful beyond this still young season.

“It’s something fresh,” she said, later adding. “A lot of these kids have been playing the same sports for 10 years or longer than that. They’ve been playing softball forever or baseball forever, and they’re tired of it and want something new. I think the future is pretty bright.”

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Ryann Sawyer slides to avoid the tag of Framingham catcher Kaitlin Carman. While Sawyer would not score on this play, she did score twice during the game with one hit and two walks. | by Dakota Antelman

by Dakota Antelman

Longtime softball assistant coach and acting head coach Ray Girard hastily answered his phone Tuesday as his team celebrated their 8-1 win over Framingham in the first round of the annual Cheryl Jones tournament.

Newly appointed full time head coach Laura Bowen was calling from Hawaii to check in on the game’s result. But her team had already ensured that she had little to worry about as they improved their record to 3-0 with another day of solid fielding, batting and baserunning in particular.

“It showed how solid we are as a team,” said pitcher Sophia Togneri. “There were a lot of balls in play, and everyone needed to hit well and hit as a team to get the win that we did. It shows how we’re really bonding as a team.”

Though it started slowly, the Hawks scored in the middle innings of the game and held on for the win. After failing to get a runner on base during the first inning, the Hawks scored three times in the game’s second frame to take a 3-1 lead.

They tacked on another run in the third inning when Emily White drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded that scored Togneri. The walk was already the eighth of the day for the Hawks and the fourth in just the third inning alone. They finished the game with 13 walks.

“The first three innings, they were swinging at stuff over their heads, but they finally got it together from then on and they knew they needed to stay focused,” Girard said about the walks. “If you start swinging at pitches over your head, you’re going to pick up bad habits. This is a good team, and we didn’t do that too much.”

Hudson followed up White’s walk with a fourth inning offensive explosion that stretched their lead to 8-1. They racked up 10 at-bats during an inning that started with a leadoff single by Megan Miller and ended with a ground-out also by Miller. Ryann Sawyer, Fillmore, White and Sydney Chiasson all picked up RBIs between those two Miller at-bats.

The Hawks quieted the Framingham bats from that point forward, allowing just one hit as they maintained their seven-run advantage.

Togneri, in particular, finished the game with six strikeouts, bringing her season total to 24. She also allowed just three hits, the second time this season she has done so. However, she was quick to deflect praise to her fielders.

by Dakota Antelman
by Dakota Antelman

“I was kind of nervous coming into this season after we had an infield that was so tight last year with all the seniors,” she said in reference to last season’s infield quartet of Haley Gaffney, Keeliey Zompetti, Keaton Prashaw, and Steph Hamilton. “I wasn’t sure how we were going to work together or if it was going to be the same [this year]. Today really gave me confidence in my fielders that, no matter what I throw, they’ll have my back.”

Her infield, now played by Haufe, Miller, Amanda Doucette, Natalie Bishop, and, later, Ashley Sousa, committed no errors in Tuesday’s game and recorded 9 of the contest’s 21 outs.

The Hawks now move into the championship round of the Cheryl Jones tournament. The final, scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m., pits them against Dracut.

“They can hit, they can field, and they have an outstanding pitcher, just like us, so it should be interesting to see,” Girard said. “It’s going to be a battle, and that’s the way it should be in the championship round.”

From there, with Bowen back as their head coach, they will resume their regular season schedule with games against Shepherd Hill, Nashoba, and Groton-Dunstable next week.