Massachusetts is considering changing from the Eastern Time Zone to the Atlantic Time Zone. This proposal was approved by the Massachusetts Commission and is currently awaiting approval from the federal Department of Transportation and state legislature before becoming a law. If this proposal is approved, Massachusetts would be ahead of its current time by an hour, leading to darker mornings and brighter afternoons. Daylight Savings Time would be year round.
Fifty-two students from all grades in Hudson High School have been surveyed about their opinions on this potential change. The data show a strong preference.
While students may reject the change to the Atlantic Time Zone, administrators were more accepting of this change.
“Changing to the Atlantic Time Zone,” Principal Brian Reagan said, “would help us in making school start later, since it would be harder to walk to school in the dark mornings.”
This change would have a big impact on some aspects of society, such as tourism.
“One problem,” history teacher Katherine Neff said, “that would occur if Massachusetts changed to the Atlantic Time Zone alone would be that traveling between states would be difficult.”
The difficulty of traveling between states, or interstate traveling, would affect more than just tourism and vacations. This change would also affect teachers who live out of state. They would be forced to face this difficulty every school day. Fortunately, the solution to this problem is seemingly simple, even if implementing this solution would be difficult.
“It would be best,” Neff said, “if Massachusetts changed time zones with other states in the New England area.”
One of the clearest benefits to Massachusetts would be the brighter afternoons, which appeals to some students.
“I don’t feel like school would change,” one student said in response to the survey, “and I wouldn’t want it to. I like that we get out at 2:03 because it’s early and still leaves time to do other activities outside of school before doing homework.”
Nancy Tobin speaks in a Hudson High School classroom. | by Dakota Antelman
by Dakota Antelman
Nancy Tobin spoke to the friends her son Scott left behind as they all mourned his death at his funeral.
She held those teens and twenty-somethings close and promised to support them if they ever needed help with the disease that took her son — substance use disorder.
“Don’t let this happen to you,” she said. “If you need me, come find me. I really would be there. I would be the person who would go and pick you up and take you to a rehab.”
Roughly eight months later, she was speaking to teens again, not at a funeral, but as a guest speaker in a Hudson High School Wellness class. Indeed, Tobin has taken her story public, joining a growing community of people touched by substance use disorder working to prevent future addictions by describing their struggles.
Families Tell Their Stories after Their Loss
Tobin said she speaks both to process her grief and to help others avoid the trauma she experienced in losing her son.
“I can either sit in the corner of a room with a blanket over my head and cry and never want to move; I fight that feeling every single day of my life now,” she said. “Or, I can stand up and I can say, ‘I’m going to go on, and I’m going to go on because my love is that strong — because Scott’s love was that strong.”
Tobin struggled alongside her son for years. He was first exposed to opioid painkillers after a terrible car accident in his senior year left him with bone breaks in his ribs, feet and wrist, a bruised lung and a concussion among other things.
He still graduated from Hudson High School that spring and moved on to Franklin Pierce University in the fall. His addiction worsened, however, once he was at college.
Over the next five years until his overdose, Scott asked for help. Unfortunately, many of the treatment centers his mother sought for him turned Scott away, saying they had no open beds.
As her son struggled to get help, Nancy Tobin said Scott told few people about his addiction.
In speaking publicly, Tobin hopes she fights the stigma surrounding drug use that she said caused Scott to keep that pain quiet.
“It’s one more thing, that, if they let it out into the open, they’ll lose any bit of credibility that they once had,” she said about drug addiction. “That’s a very hard thing to be in a situation like that. Again, why do we do that to people?”
She continued, saying that stigma persists even though recently soaring drug overdose rates have included several young people killed in Hudson alone.
“It still makes people very uncomfortable, and that discomfort makes people want to sort of still turn their head and wink and whisper about it,” Tobin said. “[They say], ‘That happened because so-and-so was hanging around with the wrong people,’ or that it was bound to happen because of something that they have heard. There is a lot of rumoring and a lot of talking. That’s the piece that has to change.”
Despite the stigma, Tobin realized her story’s effectiveness even mere minutes after her presentation to Hudson High School students. She hugged students who, she said, trembled as they thanked her and told her they knew people who struggle with addiction just as Scott did.
“I will never forget looking around into those students’ eyes and seeing them looking right into mine and feeling as though they were as open to hearing me as I was open to telling them whatever I could that might be of help to them,” she said. “They don’t feel that it’s a joke. They don’t feel that it needs to stay in the shadows. They know it’s real, and that’s what they looked like. They were afraid.”
In addition to her presentation at Hudson High School, Tobin was involved with a recent vigil for overdose victims in Marlborough. Marlborough mother Kathy Leonard, who also lost her son to an overdose, organized that vigil and currently runs a support group that Tobin attends for families of overdose victims. She has also worked with the executive director of the Addiction Referral Center, Marie Cheetham, on fundraising and awareness events for the center, which provides care for recovering addicts.
After her presentation in Hudson though, Tobin said she wants to focus mainly on small-scale, person-to-person conversations going forward.
“I want to really bring this idea of getting rid of the stigma and getting people to realize that it’s everywhere,” she said.
Addicts Tell Their Stories during Recovery
While Tobin provides the perspective of a grieving parent, Dot Fuller speaks as a recovering addict.
Fuller, like Scott Tobin, was a member of the Hudson High School Class of 2012 who struggled with heroin addiction. She remembers getting high with him when the two were younger but had been clean for just over a year when Tobin overdosed.
Part of her recovery, Fuller said, has involved separating herself from the community and acquaintances that she knew while she was using. As a result of that separation, she did not immediately know her friend Scott had died.
Fuller followed in Nancy Tobin’s footsteps, also speaking to Hudson High School Wellness students just days after Tobin’s talk.
Reflecting on her own experience as a student in Hudson, Fuller noted the absence of similar drug use prevention education even just five years ago.
“People came in, but they were all old and no stories hit home,” she said. “Maybe it just wasn’t as relevant when I was in high school, so that’s good that they’re doing more stuff about it now.”
Fuller struggled with drug addiction earlier than many of her classmates. While Nancy Tobin said Scott did not use harder drugs such as heroin until college, Fuller vividly remembers feeling out of control before even starting her sophomore year.
“It turned into a job — like a career — just getting high, not wanting to be sick anymore but not being able to do anything, even to take a shower without getting off E,” she said, using an expression used by many addicts to describe the feeling of emptiness and lethargy when sober. “I was well into that stage by the summer before sophomore year.”
With a pervading feeling that she would be punished by administrators or guidance counselors if she asked for help, and without dialogue about drug use in her school, Fuller remembers feeling disconnected from her school community.
“It was very isolating because Hudson High School was a school where everybody did sports,” she said. “Everybody was so focused on what college they were going to, so I was in Worcester a lot. I related a lot more with the inner city schools. Worcester was the closest.”
Fuller dropped out of Hudson High School before her senior year. In the ensuing years, she managed to get sober and hold a job at Tufts Medical Center. She frequented Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous meetings for support, but she once relapsed after nearly a year sober when she visited Hudson and felt a sudden urge to use again.
Now with close to two years of sobriety, Fuller feels like she has regained some of the control she lost as a teen. Still, she told students during her presentation that relapse remains a very real threat.
As she continues to push back against that threat, Fuller has made appearances like the one at Hudson High School a regular part of her life. She finds them healing.
“When I tell my story to people, I’m practicing honesty,” she said. “That’s one of the biggest things to me, to be honest with myself and be like, ‘This happened, and this is where I don’t want to go back to.’ Hearing myself say it out loud is like a reminder.”
Fuller said dishonesty was a major part of her addiction, in school and outside of it. She explained, “If you asked me what I had for breakfast, I would say a bagel even when I had cereal. It was just a habit to lie.”
In addition to her presentation at Hudson High School, Fuller has spoken at rehab centers she herself attended and visited the MCI Framingham Women’s Prison to make a similar appearance. She has also spoken at other Massachusetts high schools, including Bridgewater High School.
Though she insists these presentations help her far more than they help students, Fuller has seen her story’s impact on teens and addicts.
At one point, a group of people recognized her at a coffee shop after her presentation and thanked her. One said her brother was an addict. Fuller was able to connect that person with treatment opportunities.
“It feels good,” she said. “I’ll go back and visit programs that I’ve been to and speak as an alumnus of the program. When I then go to an AA meeting or something a year later and I see them, they say, ‘Yeah, I’m still doing good.’ That feels wicked good.”
Educators Hope Speakers Change Minds
Fuller and Tobin both found their presentations to Hudson High School students to be beneficial. They only made those presentations, however, because of the willingness of the Hudson High School Wellness Department to bring guest speakers into classrooms.
Wellness teacher Dee Grassey and Curriculum Director Jeannie Graffeo agreed, however, that those recent presentations were not the result of any major changes to the Wellness department’s approach to guest speakers. Rather, they said, simple scheduling issues often decide whether speakers come to Hudson High School.
Hudson’s rotating block schedule does make it difficult for guests to speak to all of a teacher’s classes, which often do not all meet on a given day.
Still, Grassey said the staff’s attitude toward such guest speakers has changed as substance use disorder has affected former Hudson students.
“We couldn’t just be [saying], ‘No, no, no,’” she said. “Kids have to hear real life experiences in order to connect. You have to be able to put yourself in that person’s situation and go, ‘I’ve done that. I’ve been there.’”
Having taught in Hudson since 1994, Grassey said the current wellness curriculum is much better now than it was years ago.
Nevertheless, she and other wellness educators agree that the schools need to devote more energy towards improving student health. Otherwise, Grassey fears, student drug use will only continue.
“I get it,” she said. “If it’s reading, writing and arithmetic over health education, health education is going to get cut. But I think the schools over the years have to take some of this responsibility that, when they’re not consistent, this is the stuff that happens.”
For Tobin, an educator herself, schools also need to change the atmosphere surrounding conversations about drug use.
“[Students] come here, and they can breathe when they come here because we don’t always know what goes on in their lives outside of here,” she said. “Let’s also make it a place where, if they need that kind of help, they can ask for it here and not be afraid of the repercussions.”
She proposed expanding drug use prevention education into Hudson’s middle school curriculum and bringing in public speakers to address staff in an effort to change faculty biases about drug use.
For Graffeo, health is crucial to the success of a student body. As drug use persists and continues to kill many young people nationwide, she wants to bring a better awareness of student health into education.
“What’s the first thing we ask about children when they’re born — are you healthy?” she said. “As we go through education, one common piece is that sometimes we forget that and we focus on test scores. We focus on all these other things, and we forget the fundamental building block, which is health.”
As Crisis Continues, Those Left behind Speak to Save Lives
The Hudson Public Schools has said it will not release hard data on student drug use collected by last year’s MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey, meaning it is difficult to determine the immediate local impact of addicts and their families telling their stories. Still, Superintendent Marco Rodrigues said in a presentation on the data that drug use rates among Hudson students are trending downward.
Though school committee members and teachers agree that is a positive sign, the school committee also agreed during that same presentation that the Hudson Public Schools must keep working until those rates reach zero.
According to national data, that goal is a distant one. Last year, 64,000 people died from drug overdoses according to the New York Times, an increase of roughly 12,000 from just the year before.
Scott Tobin’s death earlier this year, unfortunately, made him the 13th Hudson resident since 2012 included in that year-end data, according to a Massachusetts Department of Health report. Thus, as she grieved, Nancy Tobin found a group of Hudson and Marlborough parents already grieving similar recent losses.
Kathy Leonard in Marlborough has spoken publicly about her loss as she planned the vigil Tobin helped with this year. Cheryl Juaire of Marlborough, who lost her son in 2011, actually formed an online support group of which Tobin is a member. And Erin Holmes, who lost her son in 2016, has also spoken publicly. She works with the Hudson Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition to run events educating the community on the dangers of drug use.
Those are just a handful of the people affected personally by the opioid epidemic. In fact, the national community of grieving families and friends grows regularly as an overdose claims a new life every eight minutes, according to the 2016 data mentioned by the New York Times.
Though that is a community which, Tobin said, no one wants to join, it is also a community of people now eager to push through their grief and save lives by reaching into schools and other aspects of society.
“Something completely unfathomable has happened, and no matter how much I wish it to go away, it won’t,” Tobin said. “I just don’t want others to feel this. I just want to do something to help someone else with that big laugh that Scott had. I want that person to live.”
UPDATED: December 4, 2017 – 2:18 p.m.
There are programs and advocates available for those struggling with addiction and their loved ones.
MetroWest Hope meets on the second Wednesday of each month from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at First Church of Marlborough.
Addiction Referral Center (ARC) in Marlborough offers daily meetings and a drop-in center “to enjoy fellowship and a healing, healthy environment, where one can spend time with their peers.” They also offer referrals for treatment to those struggling with addiction or their families.
ARC also maintains a 24-hour emergency hotline (1-800-640-5432).
Learn to Cope meets weekly at 7:00 p.m. at the Hudson Senior Center. It provides support and education to families of those struggling with addiction. It also offers trainings in the use of Narcan, a drug that, when administered quickly, can reverse an opioid overdose.
Students struggling with addiction can also speak to their guidance counselor for support. Guidance Director Angie Flynn said that, while guidance would inform school nurses, administration and a student’s parents in such a case, a student would not be disciplined unless they violate Hudson’s substance use policy by carrying drugs on school grounds or attending school while high.
Marco Rodrigues, in one of his first acts as superintendent, offered 12 students a seat on a new Superintendent Advisory Committee that encourages and facilitates student involvement in the district’s decision-making processes.
Meeting monthly at Hudson High School, the committee includes representatives from grades 7-12 and has already addressed issues ranging from the quality of cafeteria food to the possibility of a study hall for all grades.
“We want them to be part of the solution and perhaps better understand the process,” Rodrigues said of the group and the motivations behind its formation. “Sometimes, if there’s a problem, people will say nothing is being done. But, sometimes, nothing is being done because we can’t fix something now, but we can fix it in January, or it is something that we’re already talking about in the budget process.”
After discussing the idea during public interviews with the School Committee in March, Rodrigues solidified plans for the committee over the summer. He asked principals to select students for his committee who would not otherwise be involved in such a program.
From there, Hudson High School Principal Brian Reagan said he consulted with the school’s guidance counselors to identify students within each grade that fit that profile.
“[We were looking for] different types of students who may have an interest in leadership but maybe wouldn’t have run for student government or did run and showed interest but didn’t get elected,” he said. “There are a number of kids who, we think, maybe if we tap them, they might be good in that setting.”
In addition to the superintendent and the students chosen to advise him, HHS Assistant Principal Dan McAnespie has attended the committee’s first two meetings to potentially allow HHS administration to solve issues.
“Issues are raised, and we’re able to hear them first hand and see if we can’t address some of those issues or move them on to the Community Council,” Reagan said.
Already two meetings into their schedule, the committee will meet six more times before the end of the school year. As student representatives approach those meetings, Rodrigues said, they decide which issues get discussed.
“They need to go out and talk to other students about things,” he said. “Then whatever issues they want to bring to the table, they bring that and populate the agenda.”
Before the committee can gather those student concerns, however, Rodrigues and members agreed, it must focus on informing students that it exists.
“We don’t have the means yet to focus on getting the word out,” said senior representative Garet Mildish. “The thought was to use social media and, more importantly, to use posters which would have all of our emails so that you could contact members about an issue that you have. But we’re working on that.”
After just over one quarter of the school year, members and administrators are excited about the committee’s potential. As it continues to take shape, however, students say they are eager to see results, and administrators say they are looking forward to the new perspective students can provide on aspects of the Hudson Public Schools’ operation.
“When they have ideas, how can those ideas be incorporated into something that maybe the adults didn’t think of but the kids thought about,” Rodrigues said. “That is the kind of input that I want to see happening.”
Superintendent Marco Rodrigues touted Hudson’s success in lowering drug use and bullying rates, but he acknowledged the persistent problem of stress in Hudson students as he presented the results of last year’s MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey to the school committee last Tuesday.
The data released is just some of the information the survey collected. Still, it serves as a measuring stick for the district and the success of its efforts to improve student health in Hudson. Administered every other year, the release of the 2016 data comes almost exactly two years after data from the 2014 survey sparked concern and some action over mental health and drug abuse in the district.
“We look at all those indicators to understand the landscape of a school. When we look at those indicators now, they’re trending down,” Rodrigues said. “That’s encouraging. We’re not where we want to be yet, but we see a decrease in the number of incidences that we are being able to capture through the survey.”
Indeed, recent electronic cigarette use among high school students fell 12% in 2016, continuing a downward trend from a peak of 39% in 2008, the first year the survey was administered. Cigarette smoking also decreased among middle school students while rates of electronic cigarette use fell as well.
Lifetime alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drug use all continued downward trends in both middle and high school categories.
Bullying and cyberbullying rates also decreased, according to Rodrigues’s presentation.
Director of Nursing Lee Waingortin, who prepared the presentation, attributed those decreases both to improvements in wellness education and to the efforts of the Hudson Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition. The Coalition grew between the 2014 and 2016 surveys and has helped organize a variety of public awareness campaigns about drug abuse, ranging from a 5k last fall, to a demonstration to parents about how to identify possible signs of drug use in teens.
“There’s no magic bullet,” Waingortin said. “But things are trending down because of efforts in the community and in the district.”
The mental health portion of the survey results, however, showed smaller gains by the district.
While Rodriguez noted a decrease in depressive symptoms and self-injury among high school students, he said stress levels remained unchanged after they spiked from 25% in 2012 to 35% in 2014.
“You don’t have easy solutions for that,” Rodrigues said. “You can council a person. You can help a person maybe manage time better or be able to do things different, but, in the end, I cannot control somebody’s personal life. I cannot control somebody’s attitude, or caseload, or job issues, or family issues, or household situation.”
In addition to high school data, stress rates among middle school students continued to increase from 11% in 2012 to 19%.
That increase persists even after the district took action to mitigate middle school students’ stress after the 2014 survey. They, specifically, implemented a three-year grant they won in 2016 allowing them to hire additional staff to help students transition into the middle school after elementary school or extended absences. Though the district has worked to address these issues, Rodrigues noted that they remain at the core of the ongoing stress issue among middle school students.
“Everything changes,” he said. “You’re in a larger environment where you rotate from class to class. I think all those things impact [middle school stress]. I don’t think it’s all of it, but it is part of it.”
While Rodrigues did address data on depressive symptoms, self-injury, and suicidal behavior, his presentation did not include the actual numbers behind those statements. It simply said that there was a “decrease in depressive symptoms and self-injury while there was no notable change in suicide attempts since 2008.”
The presentation’s summary of that data for middle school students was even more vague.
“After increasing from 2010-2014, reports of mental health problems are somewhat lower in 2016,” it said.
In the past, Hudson has released hard data on those categories. According to Waingortin, however, the district will not release that data this year.
The superintendent of each district surveyed decides what data get released publicly. Two years ago, Rodrigues’s predecessor, Jodi Fortuna, released raw data on several “key indicators,” such as suicide attempts or recent depressive symptoms. This year, however, Rodrigues decided to publish only his presentation, not the data it analyzed, according to Waingortin. As a result, the only trends publicly available are the ones specifically mentioned in the presentation.
“It’s not that anyone is trying to hide anything, but it can be misconstrued or misread by individuals who may not know the backstory and what is being done,” Waingortin said of the decision, noting that each of the 25 other districts surveyed publish varying amounts of their district-specific data.
Regardless, the Hudson Public Schools and their students are already considering possible paths forward from this year’s data.
Sophomore and student representative on the school committee, Ben Carme, said he feels little has changed since the 2014 survey, even though Hudson did emphasize mental health education in its wellness curriculum in recent years.
He hopes that, with the 2016 data, the district, among other things, solicits students’ feedback about possible remedies to student stress.
“We all know that we have to get these perfect scores for college,” said sophomore Ben Carme. “That leads to stress from eighth grade all the way up until when you’re a senior. There is no specific group to help deal with that. That’s the biggest problem.”
Waingortin, however, said Hudson’s efforts are having a positive effect on key categories. Going forward, she hopes the district can increase the community’s involvement in continuing downward trends in such areas as drug use, bullying, and some mental health categories.
“We’re certainly not letting down the efforts at all,” she said. “If anything, we need to keep on track with what the data is. So far, it’s showing good response to what we are doing. We need to continue those efforts.”
This school year, the Hudson school district has decided to switch from the previous grading system of IPass to Aspen.
Aspen is a system that is currently available to school counselors, teachers and students in the high school. It should be available to parents by the end of the term. Students can access Aspen at https://ma-hudson.myfollett.com/aspen/logon.do and follow the login procedure that was sent to student emails.
Guidance Counselor Angie Flynn likes the fact that students and parents have their own personalized accounts.
She also likes that she can access a ton of information, such as IEPs, conduct, and 504 information. They were available before on IPass, but they are much easier to access now.
The teacher’s response to Aspen is pretty diverse. History teacher Tim Reinhardt explains likes that he is able to pick specific assignments to drop while making sure others, like test grades, stay. He can also access medical information on his students.
He still is finding some negatives to Aspen. He finds that he isn’t able to access the schedules of students he doesn’t have. This could be problematic if he needed to discuss an afterschool activity with them.
For some teachers this isn’t an issue, and they prefer Aspen. “I like it a lot better than iPass for many reasons,” says English teacher Maureen DeRoy, “but like anything new, it definitely took some getting used to.” With Aspen she is able to add notes to her grades with much more ease than she ever was able to with IPass.
And although, in the beginning, many students were upset about not having access to their grades like they were accustomed to, as they gained access and became more acclimated to the program, they liked it more and have similar opinions to the teachers.
“I thought it was really confusing at first, and I didn’t know how to get around Aspen, but now I’m getting more comfortable and I like it better,” says sophomore Sammy Gogan.
Athough there is positive feedback, some students still prefer IPass rather than the new system.
“I think Aspen is convenient and I like the way it’s set up, but I liked IPass better because we could see everyone’s assignments easier and we could see what the teachers put in,” says freshman Erika Ashman.
In the future, Flynn thinks guidance is going to focus on figuring out all the parts of Aspen before they add any other new projects. She is hoping that, with the program, she will be able to make a better master schedule for next school year. For now, they’re just going to take this new program “day by day, step by step.”
The Miles and Smiles for Michaella event in memory of Michaella Walsh Libby was held at the Morgan Bowl on October 21. Libby was a member of the HHS class of 2010, and she attended the University of Maryland before her passing in 2012.
Her parents, Marty and Erin (Walsh) Libby; younger brothers, Nick and Ben Libby; as well as friends and family join together each year to put on the event. This year the Michaella Walsh Libby Foundation became an official non-profit charity, and it has added a third scholarship.
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To raise money for the foundation each year there is a 5k walk around Hudson, as well as events such as the high heel dash. In addition, there are small raffles donated by family, friends and local businesses, and a larger raffle to win a trip to Tuscany, Italy.
They give scholarships each year. One goes to a HHS senior who is dedicated to serving the community and is going into the field of public health, just as Michaella was. This year’s recipient was Cara Sullivan who is interested in the public health field at the University of New Hampshire. The second scholarship goes to a student at the University of Maryland, who is also an AOII sorority sister. This year a third scholarship will go to three children in Honduras to attend bilingual schools as part of a joint effort with the Students helping Honduras foundation.
As a Hudson High School student, Michaella participated in cheerleading, gymnastics, and track and field. Each year the current cheerleaders help run the event. They provide balloons and sharpies for the balloon release. Each person has a balloon and may write a message to their loved ones who have also passed away.
The foundation continues to grow each year, keeping not only Michaella’s memory alive, but her passion for helping others.
The Hudson school district has provided students in grades eight, nine, and ten a personal chromebook free of charge this year.
Students have been actively using these new devices in classes, and many teachers have been beginning to use less paper and more technology.
“Most of the time I get to choose to take my notes online or on paper, but homework has changed because in my classes there is a lot more online work,” says freshman Audrey Dezutter. But not only are the computers useful for notes, classwork can also be managed online.
“On Day 1 [of each 7-day cycle] I’ll have my freshmen write a practice paragraph on Google Classroom, and then I can just go online and make notes or corrections. What I like about Google Classroom is that it allows you to see all the mistakes and also the corrections, so you can still see the error,” says English teacher Jennifer Wallingford. “I usually have them use the chromebooks at least once every seven-day cycle.”
Some teachers have used Google Classroom for a while now, but with the release of the Chromebooks even more teachers are using it. Now teachers have been more up to date with assignments and can even post lessons ahead of time, which allows students to get to see what the upcoming work will look like.
In addition to having access to future assignments, having classwork posted online makes it easier for students who were absent to catch up on missed work. This makes students more responsible for their own education in new ways.
“If they’re not checking Google Classroom, then they might not remember to do the work,” Wallingford says. “I think there’s still a certain amount of diligence required if you’re looking in your planner or on Google Classroom.”
Students are now more in charge of their work because they have new ways to reach it outside of the classroom. One of the most important factors of the Chromebook distribution is the expansion of learning methods and the new way to personalize each student’s education, and now all students with these devices are given equal opportunities.
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.
Spirit Committee hoped to inspire more student involvement and spirit this year in its approach to spirit week. will host this year’s homecoming dance at the Portuguese Club on October 21. This idea was introduced by the JR Boosters and is being implemented to increase school spirit.
Spirit Committee faculty advisor Chelsea Silva was a member of Spirit Committee when she was in high school. Now, Silva sees a lack of spirit in school and has identified how this has occurred.
“When I was in Spirit Committee,” Silva said, “the class officers and the grades had a more active role in creating school spirit. Now, this common active role has stopped, and Spirit Committee has to be more active and push for their ideas to be implemented.”
Homecoming has included Spirit Week, a full week of dress up days. This week has included both classic dress up days, such as color day, and new ideas, such as pink day, but one classic day will not be making an appearance.
“This year,” spirit committee member Bianca Chaves said, “Red and White day will be replaced with USA day because the homecoming game will be USA themed.”
Spirit week culminates with the first pep rally of the year. This year will feature a schedule that’s unlike previous pep rallies.
“The schedule of the rally,” Chelsea Silva said, “will include a focus on interaction with a trivia club competition and performances from the band and dance team.”
The pep rally will also announce a homecoming king and queen for each grade. The male student and the female student that have shown the most school spirit throughout the week will win. The rewards for winning this competition will include a tiara and bragging rights.
Spirit Committee also created a hashtag challenge on Instagram. For the competition, each grade will get the hashtag #HudsonHighSpiritYOG, with YOG being replaced with the student’s year of graduation. The grade with the most pictures will win free admission to Friday night’s homecoming game.
The multitude of photos on the Instagram and Twitter accounts show that the Spirit Committee’s efforts to increase school spirit have been successful.
The week will end with a homecoming dance at the Portuguese Club on October 21. Junior Boosters introduced this idea to increase school spirit.
“I hope,” Silva said, “that everyone appreciates Spirit Committee’s efforts and participates in homecoming.”
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.”