Features

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Danica Johnston works at her desk. | by Dakota Antelman

by Dakota Antelman

When Danica Johnston entered the University of Southern Maine (USM), she knew she wanted to do one thing — play varsity sports at the college level. Forced to pick a major, she chose business.

Fourteen years later, Johnston sits as Hudson High School’s new assistant principal, a position vastly different from any of business jobs she sought fresh out of college less than a decade ago.

Johnston was a star high school athlete growing up in Bridgton, Maine. Her play attracted the attention of college scouts, eventually earning her a spot on the Stonehill College soccer and softball teams. Though she was a talented athlete, Johnston struggled to decide on a major, and, by extension, a career to enter after college.

“Out of high school, all that I knew was that I wanted to play soccer or basketball in college,” she said. “That was really my motivation. I picked Stonehill first to play soccer there. My father is a businessman. He majored in business and engineering, so he got to travel a lot with his job. I thought that was interesting, so that’s what I majored in.”

After transferring from Stonehill to USM to avoid excessive student loan debt, Johnston graduated with a degree in business. That degree quickly helped her land a job in sales and trading. After starting work, however, she found herself feeling unfulfilled.

“I absolutely hated it,” she said. “It was a horrible world to be in. I shouldn’t say horrible, but nothing made me happy about going to work. I made a lot of money, but it wasn’t worth it.”

So, after her brief stint in the working world, Johnston went back to school. She obtained a masters degree in secondary education from Worcester State. Two years later, in 2016, she started work on a second masters degree, in educational leadership and administration, at Endicott College.

For Johnston, administration was a happy marriage of her business experience and her passion for education.

“I really always wanted to do the administrative piece because it’s kind of the business management piece where you have an impact on what goes on behind the scenes, but then you also get to work with kids and students,” she explained.

Johnston climbed quickly through the education world. She coached two junior varsity sports and taught math for a year in Lunenburg. She then secured a job as a math teacher in Littleton and rose to the rank of math curriculum director for grades five through 12 before she left the district this spring.

She left Littleton after Hudson announced in early June that longtime Assistant Principal Josh Otlin would be leaving the district. Otlin, a Milford native, became an assistant principal in his own town but only did so in late May, leaving Hudson with little time to find his successor.

Before hiring Johnston, the Hudson Public Schools impaneled committees of students, teachers and parents to interview finalists in the final weeks of the 2016-2017 school year.

Doing so was no easy task according to Principal Brian Reagan.

“For an assistant principal, I want to get as many professionals in the building to interact with the candidates as possible,” he said. “That’s why when the process is truncated like it was, you need to work hard to get it all to happen in that short period of time.”

The district announced they had chosen Johnston on June 23. She started work in Hudson eight days later, on July 1.

For Reagan, Johnston’s comfort with students in her conversations during the student panel discussion set her apart from other contenders for the position.

“When she was in the room with 25 or so students, there was a table that she could have sat at but she stood; she walked over [to the students]; she engaged with the students who were asking questions; she asked good questions back,” he said. “It seemed to be more of a dialogue than an interview, which I found to be a positive strength.”

He added that, since starting in Hudson, Johnston has continued to display this strength.

“She’s interacting very well with kids,” Reagan said. “She seems to have a nice rapport with them.”

Though she has not spent her entire career working with students, Johnston has spent it adapting.

As she works at her desk in Hudson, a plaque from her days on the USM soccer team hangs over her shoulder in her office. That plaque serves as a reminder of a different time in her career. Indeed, Johnston celebrates her ability to adapt as her career progresses.

She first adapted to work in the business world after years of success as an athlete. Then she adapted from business jobs to education jobs. Now, she’s adapting again — from her former jobs in Lunenburg and Littleton to her current one in Hudson.

“I learn several new things every single day; the most difficult piece is that things are run very differently at every different school,” she said. “At Littleton it was very different. At Hudson it’s very different. So every circumstance is a new experience for me.”

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Senior Alec Dalton solemnly watches as the clock winds down. The score remains 14-6. | by Siobhan Richards

by Dakota Antelman

A Hudson football player slapped his hands against his pads and screamed, “It’s over!” as quarterback Corey Clemons trotted to the sideline after throwing an interception late in Friday’s 14-6 loss to Nipmuc.

Moments later, it was over. The Warriors, who entered the game ranked ninth in Central Massachusetts by the Worcester Telegram, avoided an upset loss on the road that Hudson nearly executed.

“We played great,” Clemons said. “We fought [throughout] the whole game. But, just at the end, we made a few little mistakes. We’ve just got to get better next week.”

Hudson started the game by marching down the field and scoring on an Andrew Di Battista touchdown on their first possession of the game. Though the Hawks failed to score on their two-point conversion attempt, they followed that drive up by shutting down the Nipmuc offense for the remainder of the first quarter.

The Warriors broke through in the second quarter when George Morrice ran in an 8-yard touchdown. They then took the lead on a successful extra point kick.

After trading punts with Hudson for most of the second half, Nipmuc got its next break when they pinned Hudson against their own goal line with less than four minutes left in the game. With Hudson trailing 7-6 at the time, the Warriors intercepted Clemons’ pass and sent their offense to work deep in Hudson territory.

Nipmuc coaches soon put the ball back in the hands of Morrice, who solidified the Warrior lead with a 24-yard touchdown run with 2:21 remaining in the game.

A week after the Hawks beat Clinton on the road to notch their first win of the season, head coach Dan McAnespie noted the successes and failures of his offense that ran through both games.

“I think our offense clicked better in the Clinton and in this game at times [than it did earlier in the season],” he said. “But, at times, it totally just couldn’t do it.”

Looking back on the game, both he and Clemons saw opportunities where Hudson could have changed the contest’s outcome.

Primarily, the Hawks got within at least 20 yards of the Nipmuc end zone twice after their first touchdown. Snapping issues marred both drives, however, as high snaps either left Clemons with little time to pass, or sent him scrambling to retrieve the ball as it bounced yards behind him.

Likewise, at least one major penalty stymied Hudson’s final attempt at a comeback after Nipmuc’s second touchdown. Officials assessed Di Battista a 15-yard penalty midway through the drive. The penalty pushed the Hawks back towards their goal line and quickly snuffed out Hudson’s hopes of the first down they needed to extend the drive.

“We both were able to move the ball, but then we stalled and we did dumb things like snaps over the head, the penalty [and a] third and three where we have it but then we don’t have it because we’re running backward,” McAnespie said.

The Hawks now head back on the road to face Maynard next week. Both McAnespie and Clemons noted that their team has work to do in practice this week to improve before that game. Shortly, before walking off the field, however, Clemons said he was proud of what his team put forth despite being one of many Hawks disappointed by the outcome of the game.

“We could run all over them,” he said. “We made good blocks. We ran hard. They thought they were coming to blow us out, but we gave them a fight. The end wasn’t what we wanted, but we came out, punched them in the mouth, and fought.”

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Freshman Ellie Calandra sprints to beat Gardner's Avery Kavanaugh to the ball as the rest of the Hudson defense rushes to stifle the Wildcat attack. | by Dakota Antelman

by Dakota Antelman

A 3-0 lead at halftime was not comfortable enough for the girls soccer team in their game against Gardner on Wednesday. That’s because almost a year ago, against the same team, in a nearly identical situation, three goals were not enough to seal the victory.

Hudson let a 3-0 lead at halftime slip away against Gardner last year, settling for a 3-3 tie. With memories of that comeback fresh in their minds, the Hawks returned to the field in the second half and promptly beat the Wildcats 4-1.

“I think with last year, how we were ahead, we ended up tying, we were much more motivated to not let that happen again,” said senior Beverly Calandra. “Everyone was much more focused on the game, and we weren’t cocky thinking we already had it in the bag. It was nice to keep the lead while we had it.”

As they did last fall when Sophia DiPlacido notched a hat trick in the first half of her team’s eventual tie with Gardner, the Hawks got off to a good start.

Grace Starner scored early in the game off a corner kick by Calandra deep into the goalie box. After dominating possession of the ball for the first 20 minutes of the game, Gardner nearly tied the game. Hawk goalie Erin Campbell, however, recovered after charging at the Gardner striker and preserved the lead.

Brooke Bohn regained the momentum for Hudson later in the half when she headed Hudson’s second goal past Gardner goalie Courtney Richard. The goal was the second Hudson scored off a corner kick in the game.

“Since I have such a long kick, I like to aim it for the back post mostly on the six-yard line because the goalie is typically not that far out,” said Calandra, who took both corner kicks.”This team tonight wasn’t marking up our players well, so we were able to get the space to score some goals.”

The Hawks added another goal before the end of the half when Maggie Baker hammered home a rebound generated by Brooke Bohn. Though the flurry of first half scoring energized the Hudson crowd, Hudson coaches were wary of keeping their players engaged in the game as they entered the second half. For Fortwengler, the memory of last year’s 3-0 halftime lead that melted away remained fresh.

“[I was] trying to bring up the rumors of last year and how it ended and how I didn’t want it to happen again,” Fortwengler said. “I was really trying to keep their enthusiasm going and their energy high.”

In many ways, the team did just as their coach asked. Alex Sousa scored midway through the second half, expanding Hudson’s lead to 4-0. On the other end of the field, goalie Erin Campbell and the defense in front of her held onto the shutout until Gardner finally scored with less than six minutes left.

Things then heated up in the game’s final minutes. Officials awarded both teams free kicks as fouls piled up late in the game. Tensions between the teams reached a boiling point with just under three minutes left when a Gardner player earned a yellow card for punching Hudson’s Carley Devlin.

For Fortwengler, the physical conclusion to the game was a display of his team’s strengths.

“Good fouls are good fouls, and sometimes the fans and the people feed off of a good foul and it starts to get a little crazy,” he said. “I try not to let the referees dictate the game, but we play hard and sometimes schools can’t handle that.

Hudson now moves on to face Concord-Carlisle on Saturday. Before they left the field on Wednesday, however, Fortwengler relished his team’s ability to face an eerily similar situation to last year’s game and produce a different result.

“When you play a team before and it’s 3-0 and they come back and score goals, that haunts you,” he said. “But you just have to focus on what you want to do to get better. We did that tonight.”

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Matt Burke shown on the field holding a football during the Dolphins game against the Steelers. | Submitted photo by Peter McMahon (Miami Dolphins)

by Siobhan Richards

For New Englanders, the football season was a time to root for the Patriots, especially when the Patriots played one of their AFC rivals, the Miami Dolphins, in Week 17 last year. In that game, however, Hudson football fans had to root for both teams.

Matt Burke, an HHS graduate and football captain from the Class of 1994, has climbed through the ranks of both collegiate and professional football to become the current defensive coordinator for the Dolphins.

Burke played football for most of his high school career as a safety and at quarterback his senior year. Burke also excelled in the classroom. He was the Class of 94’s valedictorian.

“That’s [Hudson] where it really started. I played other sports [basketball, baseball, and track],” Burke said, “but when I went to college, I knew football was the sport I was most passionate about.”  

Burke attended Dartmouth, where he played safety, and he was a part of an undefeated Ivy League championship team in 1996. At the time, coaching had not crossed his mind as a possible career.

“I took kind of a convoluted path to coaching,” Burke said. “When I left Hudson, I went to Dartmouth, and I kind of thought I was going to be a doctor or something. When I was in college, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew I loved football.”

Burke began his coaching career at Bridgton Academy in North Bridgton, Maine. From there, he worked as a graduate assistant coach at Boston College, where he received his masters degree. There, he also realized his passion for coaching and was determined to make a career out of it.

“Over the course of my time at BC, I was like, ‘All right, this is what I want to do.’ I don’t know if I ever really made a conscious effort to coach, but it just kept happening, and at some point I looked up and said, ‘Man, I want to make a career out of this,’” Burke said.

As he continued to coach, more opportunities opened up. While working as the assistant secondary coach at Harvard, his big break came.

“You never know when your break is going to come or when opportunity is going to rise, so you can’t really plan for it. But I told myself, ‘I’m going to work hard and be a good coach, and whomever I was working with would hopefully recognize that when a break did come,'” Burke said. “I told myself that I was going to coach as hard as I can and be as good as I can and let the breaks happen when they may. I just happened to get very lucky.”

Burke’s hard work paid off when Harvard recommended him for a coaching position at the Tennessee Titans. They hired him as the defense quality control coach, beginning his NFL career.

He moved around to three different teams, slowly moving up in the ranks to linebacker coach. This past January, he was promoted to defensive coordinator of the Dolphins.

As the linebacker coach, he worked closely with parts of the defense and, specifically, with linebacker Mike Hull.

Hull spoke highly of his coach, saying, “He’s a very intelligent coach. He knows everything about the defense, and he’s going to give you straight answers so you know what your job is.”

Burke can find the specific strengths in each player and highlight them on the field. Under Burke, Hull had a breakout season, more than tripling his tackles, with 18 tackles in 16 games.

“[Burke] lets you be a football player and really lets you thrive in whatever your niche is or whatever type of player you are. He doesn’t try to make you too mechanical and really works with you,” Hull said about Burke’s coaching style. “I love working for him. I think I speak for every linebacker in the room. He’s a great coach.”

Some of Burke’s coaching success can be traced back to his time at Hudson under former football coach Victor Rimkus.

“I definitely experienced a lot there [at HHS],” Burke said. “Looking back I ended up experiencing a lot of different things in my early football career, and it was a good foundation of experiences of both highs and lows.”

His relationship with his former coach and teacher has stayed strong throughout the years. The two have met up on occasion when Burke is in town, and Rimkus even went to see some of his games in college. He still recalls much of his time with Burke in high school, even though Rimkus retired after Burke’s junior year.

“I coached him 25 years ago, but he always had a place in my heart. He was such a great student and athlete,” Rimkus said. “Matt was an outstanding student, an outstanding athlete for a tall spindly kid, and boy, he could really run.”

Rimkus has followed Burke’s career wherever he went, and as a former coach, is very impressed by his career path.

“Well I’d like to think I did [inspire him to become a coach],” Rimkus said with a chuckle. “During the years I have always watched for him on the sidelines, until his father told me he’s always up in the press box. He’s so intuitive and really knows the game. I hope they have a great season down in Miami, and he’s got a lot of work to do down there on defense.”

Burke has been working with the team throughout the offseason and addressed some of his ideas for the season at a press conference in May.

“I could see all kinds of success stories from Matt Burke. He’s going up, and I wouldn’t be surprised some day if he becomes a head coach in the NFL,” Rimkus said. “I think someday you might even be reading about him as a head coach tangling with the Patriots.” 

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Ms.Williams with fellow teachers and colleagues |by Jordan Cullen

by Jordan Cullen

Fifth grade history teacher Leslie Williams reflects on her 29-year teaching career. She reflects on her work at Farley Elementary School and Quinn Middle School as well as her teaching philosophy.

What got you interested in teaching?

When I was a kid, I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, and my parents sent me to a parochial school. It was a terrible experience. I was a very good student, and thank goodness I was a very good student because they were very harsh. It was run by the nuns, and however you feel about that, they were very cruel. Their idea of getting kids to be successful was to sort of humiliate them and brow beat them if they were kids that sort of learned differently. I never had any problem with them because I was a very good student, and if you were a good student, you were pretty much okay.

But from a very, very young age it occurred to me that this a terrible way to go about enticing children to learn anything. So as I continued on I eventually went from K to eight, and then I went to a public high school. It had been my first experience in any kind of public school, and I saw examples of people who really seemed like they liked the kids that they were teaching. It was very weird in my head, but I knew that it was something that I thought that I could do. I had always sort of wanted to be a nun or a teacher.

When I was a very little girl, I used to put a towel on my head as my nun habit, but the nun thing after my school experience was like, “ No, I’m not doing that.” So teaching was always something that I wanted to do, so that’s why I became a teacher because I knew I never wanted other kids to be treated that way I saw other kids being treated.

How long have you been teaching?

I have been a licensed certified teacher in the state of Massachusetts for 43 years. I was home with my kids for a while, so altogether it’s about 29 years teaching.

What is something you have learned from teaching?

I’ve learned that people learn in very different ways. To be really effective at what you do, you have to honor and respect the fact that kids work differently, and you have to provide an environment in which all kids, no matter how they learn, can feel successful. And a lot of that has to do with differentiating the kind of material that you’re presenting to them. Making kids feel like they are important to you, and you are important to them. It’s a lot of emotional coaching, along with teaching them what I am supposed to teach them. So it really is, sort of, a journey. It is an emotional journey.

When I went for my Masters degree, I wanted to take something that I didn’t know something about, and I went in 1999. At that time computers were just beginning, and I really wanted to get a Masters degree in some kind of computer programming. So I was accepted into a program at Cambridge College, and there were only 18 of us. It was a very accelerated program. It was for about 11 months. It was the hardest thing I had ever done and it was the first time that I really understood what it is. It is so powerful to me because I understood what it was like to be a kid, looking at me and not having any idea what I am talking about. So it really kind of changed and kind of flipped a switch in me that there needs to be another way. I needed to anticipate those reactions and change the way I sort of delivered what I was trying to deliver.

What is something that you have learned from your students over the years?

Patience, humility, kindness, humour, a lot of patience. I’ve learned that my expectations of kids can’t be based on what I see in a seat every day. You have to get to know the whole kid. Every kid comes in, and you’ve had a lousy day, or you had a fight with your mom or something is going on right now or your dad’s gone. All of that affects how a kid learns, and you need to be knowledgeable about that, but you also have to be really empathetic and understanding.

Why did you choose to teach younger children?

I don’t really know. Probably because of that parochial school experience that I was talking about. My perception was that the worst parts of it for me were elementary school. Once I got into sixth, seventh, eighth grade, I knew it. I understood it, and I was able to parse my way through. But I always felt terrible.

I’ll give you an example: Once a month the pastor of the parish would come, and they would have what they called paddle day. So whatever you did, if you ever did anything, and it could have been the first of the month, he could come on the 31st. He would have a chair in front of everybody, and you would go into your classroom and the kid would be put down over his lap and he would paddle them in front of everyone. And that’s a very powerful message. These are little kids. I have remembered this from a very young age.

So I think I’ve always felt this sense and sensibility for, not really, really young kids. I’ve always wanted to teach upper elementary. I did do first grade, and it was really hard because it’s a whole different way of teaching. But I think that everything that happened to me as a kid informed what I became and how and what I do what I do.

What is the biggest difference between Farley and Quinn?

Working at the elementary level is much more anxiety producing. There are a lot of duties you have to do, and there are a lot of expectations you have. You pick up your kids, and you have to walk them everywhere. It’s fascinating to me because I’m still teaching fifth grade, but fifth grade at the middle school is very different from fifth grade at the elementary school. And sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. These kids [in the middle school] go to lunch on their own; they go to their related arts on their own. So there is a lot more time at Quinn for talking with other team teachers than there ever was at Farley.

I also really love teaching one subject. I really love it. I love teaching elementary, and it circles back to your first question, had I known, I probably would have become a middle school teacher from the beginning. Young middle school, like fifth or sixth grade. I love the age. I’ve always loved the age of fifth grade, but there is an expectation in this school that ‘’You are in middle school, and you should be able to do your own lock. You should be able to get to Portuguese on your own.” That’s not the same for very kid, but I like that aspect of that. I also enjoy the concept of team time.

What would be your last statement to your students and colleagues?

I would say that I having loved every moment of it, and if I could go back and change something, I wouldn’t change a thing.

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by Rebecca Shwartz

Paul D’Alessandro is retiring this year after working at Hudson High for 32 years, teaching the workshop class that began along with his career. 

“I’ve been working in public schools for 36 years, and it’s not as common now for teachers to work at one place for their entire career, but I chose to work here for these past 32 years,” D’Alessandro says.

“David Quinn told me ‘Oh, you should work here, they need someone to run vocational classes,’ so I took his advice and applied,” D’Alessandro says. It had started out as a dropout prevention class called STRIVE, convincing students who were thinking of dropping out to stay and attend the class. It became something much more than that as the years went by.

After he graduated with a Special Education degree, D’Alessandro was hired as a special education teacher to teach vocational skills, thus creating the workshop class. The class, now connected through the Carpenters’ Union Training Facility, would help students prepare for entering that vocation.

“It’s amazing, watching them grow from knowing nothing about building to keeping an eye on them as they make their own cabinets,” D’Alessandro says. “My students usually go into the field of carpentry and woodworking, either working the wood or planning constructions.”

D’Alessandro has built many different products for customers with the help of his classes, ranging from barn doors to wardrobes and cabinets.

Since D’Alessandro is retiring, the future of the workshop is unclear. “It’s up in the air, what’s going to happen with the workshop class, but students won’t be able to get training before going to the facility.” 

In addition to starting the workshop, D’Alessandro has been involved in other important school programs, such as coteaching. The STRIVE class came to an end five years ago due to the fact that students weren’t passing MCAS. At that point D’Alessandro re-entered the classroom. When coteaching, a program that brought special education and regular education teachers together in the classroom, started, D’Alessandro taught with English teacher Shane McArdle and physics teacher Kate Chatellier. He taught Academic Support and two classes of woodworking as well.

“Even though I’m retiring, every moment here was memorable for me; every success and failure, teaching with McArdle, and all the years I spent here,” he said.

“He’s a great guy, and I’m going to miss him,” McArdle said. “He helped me build a shed, built an adjustable stool for my three year old. He’s great.”

“This was a great ride,” D’Alessandro said, “and it’s something I won’t forget.”

 

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by Serena Richards

 

Candidates for the 2018 class officers give their campaign speeches to their classmates.

by Serena Richards and Alex McDonald

The soon-to-be senior class voted for their class officers on Monday. In an uncontested race, Maggie Appel and Sammie Cirillo were named treasurers. The community council representatives, Elizabeth Billings, Allie Falcone, and Hannah Farrell, were also uncontested. The candidates gave their campaign speeches before the vote on Monday.

AJ Libby:  

by Serena Richards
by Serena Richards

AJ Libby has held a position as a class treasurer for his last three years at Hudson High School. This year, Libby decided that he wanted to  change his direction. He decided he wanted to run for a class officer. “I feel like it’s time to change things up a bit and bring new ideas to class leadership.”

As a treasurer, in the past, Libby has collected dues and came before school on reverse half days to help with receipts. Next year Libby wants to take that dedication and “make senior year the best it could possibly be.”

Libby sees himself as “a very sociable person. I talk to everyone. I try not to exclude anybody from my everyday life,” and one of his strengths is that he is not afraid to stand up for himself and his ideas, but he is also not afraid to say no. “I have a moral compass, and that really guides me,” he said. He hopes that his communication skills, experience, and his responsible record will win him a spot as one of the 2018 senior officers next year.

Carley Devlin

by Serena Richards
by Serena Richards

Devlin has been a class officer for the class of 2018 since her freshman year. Devlin is proud of the great work she and her fellow current class officers have done planning school events like Snowcoming and the Junior Prom. She also helped Junior Boosters with dodgeball tournaments.

Devlin’s goal is to get more of her peers participating in the senior class activities and try to make more events to bring the whole school together. Devlin realizes that passing new schoolwide rules and adding new activities is more difficult “because people have said that in the past, and they don’t really go through, but I think maybe more more events for everyone to come together would be nice.”

When asked about why she should be re-elected: “I think my work for the past few years and everything we’ve already done shows that. With the work that we have to do in senior year, I’m eligible to do this like I already have.”

Hannah Feddersohn:  

Even though this is Feddersohn’s first year running, she has shown her commitment to the school and her class by also being the president of the UNICEF club, a longtime member of jazz and pep-band, along with being in Drama Society and a former member of the softball team.

When asked why she decided to run: “I feel like across the board a lot of our representatives are the same, and I wanted to bring some new aspects to it, and at graduation I want to be up there to really represent the class.” Feddersohn has a lot of new ideas she’s hoping to pass, like the Lip Dub, a full class lip sync to a song of the class’s choosing where they can have fun and use it as something to look back on.

“I feel like we don’t have an event that we all look back on, and we haven’t done anything like this before,” Feddersohn explains. She hopes to make Baccalaureate more casual, so more of her peers will perform. She wants them to be more comfortable, and for the experience to be more accommodating for those who want to perform but are not keen on the major pressure of performing in a formal atmosphere. “I want to give back to my class as much as Hudson High has done for me.”

Tony Francolini:

by Serena Richards
by Serena Richards

Francolini has been the president of the class of 2018 since his freshman year. Beyond that he does a lot of work with the Junior Boosters by helping put on many successful tournaments raising over $500. Not only has he raised a lot of money for the schools and clubs, but he also is proud of the $583 raised for the food pantry his freshman year.

Francolini is hoping to use these skills to put on several great senior events that bring his class together. “You can come up to me any time, and if anyone has any ideas, I would love to get them,” Francolini explained when asked about his goal if he wins. After seeing the 2017 prom as a success, he hopes to repeat the process they used to make the prom great and apply it to many of the senior events.

 

Hanna Sanford

by Serena Richards
by Serena Richards

Hanna Sanford has been vice president for the past three years. As vice president, she has run dodgeball tournaments, planned prom, and done a lot of “Class of 2018 activities.” 

Sanford hopes she can make the coming year great. “This coming year, I definitely want to make senior reception a lot of fun.” Sanford would also like to make the class trip very memorable.

Sanford believes she could help make senior year great. She has never missed a class officer meeting and has worked very hard in the past to accommodate everyone. Sanford is hoping to use this dedication to further the the success of the senior class officers. 

“I think I am a personable person. I talk to everyone in my classes. I feel like I am a good voice and a good advocate for people who want to see change in this school.”

On Tuesday morning, Principal Brian Reagan announced the new class officers for the class of 2018. They are Hanna Sanford, Hannah Feddersohn and A.J. Libby.

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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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by Alex McDonald

Over the past 15 months, Hudson resident Erin Holmes has dedicated her time to helping local families avoid the pain and regret that she felt after her son died of an overdose last January. She started the local support group Learn to Cope to provide the support she needed when she learned about her son’s struggles with addiction.

“Once he was safe in treatment, I scoured the internet for any information I could find to be the most helpful parent I could,” she said.

She decided that she wanted to join a support group, and after hearing the founder of Learn To Cope talk on the radio, she knew where she wanted to go. “She was a parent, and she was saying exactly what I was feeling. I instantly felt a connection,” Holmes said.

But the closest meetings were in Worcester and Framingham. And as her son got better, the need to go to the meetings decreased. She started to go less and less.

“I thought we were in the clear. He was clean for almost a year,” Holmes said.

Almost a year after treatment, on January 22, 2016, Matthew Holmes died of an overdose of Fentanyl, an opioid much stronger than heroin. He was 22 years old.

Only about two months after her son had passed, Holmes decided she wanted to help others struggling with addiction and their families. She knew she didn’t want anyone to go through what she did.

Holmes decided she wanted to bring Learn To Cope to Hudson.

“I have been able to bring a meeting to Hudson, which will allow for more accessibility for more communities to get the support they need. I also travel around to schools and other public venues to put a face and name to this disease as well as to educate children, professionals in the field of addiction as well as law enforcement.”

Hudson High School is one of those schools. Earlier this year, Holmes helped organize an event at the high school called Hidden in Plain Sight. Holmes set up a replica of a child’s room in the mini theater and allowed parents to come into the room and see all the places their kids could hide drugs.

“I just really want to spread awareness. The most important thing I want people to learn is this is a disease and not a moral failure,” she said.

Holmes also took Hidden in Plain Sight to Quinn Middle School. She succeeded in educating many parents.

“They were in amazement, and it was a total eye-opener for them.The principal did get a lot of feedback from parents thanking [Learn To Cope] for bringing the exhibit to the school.”

Some parents have found drugs and been able to help their child through treatment because of the exhibit, she said.

Holmes has been helping people all around Massachusetts, even former colleague and friend, Jessica Healy. Healy is the Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator at the Substance Abuse Coalition.

Holmes and Healy met through the coalition, and after Holmes decided to localize Learn To Cope, Healy and the coalition have partnered with Holmes on a number of initiatives.

“We have been doing lots of stuff, like she helps out with the 5k, and we are partnering with her on education efforts. The Health Department has also been helping her get all set up with Learn To Cope,”
Healy said. She loves working with Erin, and she is amazed at Holmes’ efforts.

“It’s awesome. She has got the cause. She follows her heart, and she wants to help others,” Healy said.

Holmes enjoys helping others work through substance abuse; however, it has not changed what has happened.

“Unfortunately I do not have closure. I don’t know if or when that will happen,” Holmes said.

But, she still encourages and helps everyone she can. “If I had only known what I know now. I don’t want another parent to say that or live with the guilt and regrets I have.”

Most of all, she wants to spread the idea of hope. “Never give up. Reach out to your family and friends. There is help out there for you. Don’t be ashamed. I don’t want them to lose hope. Hope is something they still have, and recovery is possible,” she said.