Staying up-to-date on social media trends: an ongoing challenge

As I outlined in my October newsletter, we are working this year with a researcher from Harvard University to learn more about how our students' usage of social media may be impacting their self image, among other things. It might be a good chance now, as the project is underway, to remind parents to remain mindful of the social media platforms their children are using. Last fall, we saw some worrisome trends in our kids' usage of anonymous social media apps. Fortunately, we haven't seen the same volume or intensity of difficulties as we saw last year, but staying mindful of the topic might be helpful.

my communications to parents, I encouraged families to discuss with their children the features of apps that are most distressing and likely to invite trouble: the ability for users to post anonymously, little or no monitoring by reliable adults, and limited options to flag or take down offensive or dangerous posts. Three that have come to our attention in the past year are Yik Yak, Streetchat, and After School.

I encourage you also to look periodically for news on apps that might be worth noting. One excellent place to keep track of ever-changing app offerings and which apps are appropriate for your teen is 
Common Sense Media, which reviews popular apps, rating each for how appropriate they are for kids. They offer a simple tool (see screenshot below) that allows parents to explore media offerings - including phone apps. 

Sean Bevan

District Policy Update

Over the past three months, the Westwood School Committee has considered a policy revision to the District's existing policy on the physical restraint of students.  This change comes in advance of a new regulation in Massachusetts' law moving schools towards a greater focus on the prevention of physical restraint of students. All schools in the Commonwealth are required to adjust existing policy to align with the new regulation.
In December, the School Committee approved the new policy for Westwood.   Handbooks for all Westwood Schools have been updated with this new information mid year and I encourage you to review that information and contact me if you have any questions about the new policy. A link to the new policy can be found here:   

 See this LINK to the Westwood Public Schools Policy for further information.

Information Regarding Tardy and Dismissal Notes

Starting January 11th, we are asking that all tardy and dismissal notes include the student's name and school ID number.  This additional step will help the office to more efficiently maintain records of student attendance.


Also, a reminder to all students: “To be dismissed, a student must present a dismissal note from a parent to the attendance secretary prior to homeroom in order to ensure inclusion on the daily attendance.” (WHS Student Handbook)

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


Depression Intervention: An Informal and Informative Session for Parents and Community Members

Date: January 14, 2016
Time: 7:00 - 8:30pm
Location: Thurston Middle School Cafeteria
Dr. Tracy Gladstone is the inaugural director of the Robert S. and Grace W. Stone Primary Prevention Initiatives, which focuses on research and evaluation designed to prevent the onset of mental health concerns in children and adolescents. She is an assistant in psychology at Children's Hospital, and instructor at Harvard Medical School, and a research scientist at Judge Baker's Children's Center. 

Join us in January for an informal presentation on depression prevention. Dr. Gladstone will provide background information, share current research and answer questions. 

Space is limited. Please RSVP for this event!

Documentary Screening: In Plain Sight

Date: January 13, 2016
Time: 6:00pm
Location: Little Theater, WHS

Come See In Plain Sight, a documentary about the issue of Human Trafficking in the United States. Presented by Mr. McGunagle's Literature, Ethics and Action class. 

Reception Honoring Dr. Zarrow

Date: January 21, 2016
Time: 6:00 - 7:00pm
Location: Auditorium Lobby, WHS

Join us as we celebrate Dr. Zarrow's achievement of being named the National Language Teacher of the Year by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. 

Chinese Foreign Exchange - Call for Host Families

Westwood High School is looking for families to host students visiting from China, the first step in what might develop into a two-way exchange program. The students - 5 young men and 8 young women, ages 15 to 16 - are visiting New England to participate in a Harvard Model United Nations event, and they hope to deepen their experience by visiting Westwood to see a high-performing US high school in action. All of the students speak English.

Here are the details:

  • Arrival: the students will arrive in Westwood on Sunday, January 31
  • Week 1: the students will stay with host families from January 31 through Friday afternoon, Feb. 5. The group will depart that day for a sightseeing trip in New York City before returning to their host families on Sunday, Feb. 7
  • Week 2: the students will stay with host families from Sunday, Feb. 7 through Friday, February 12
  • Departure: students will depart for college visits and more sightseeing on Friday, February 12

During their stay, the students will observe courses at WHS, participate in exchange programs with our students, and conduct research projects in Westwood and other cities. We are very excited to welcome them to our community and are hopeful we will find families to host them during their stay.

If you are interested in hosting a Chinese student during their stay in February, please email Administrative Assistant to the Principal Jackie Kinsman

News From the Guidance Office

Parent Talks

Guidance-Parent Talks offer parents the opportunity to meet with guidance counselors and discuss topics including the college application process, standardized testing and course selection. Guidance-Parent Talks are held in the Faculty Club from 8:00-9:00 a.m.  Future dates:

January 7th – for all parents

March 1st – for all parents


Information for Seniors:  

Free assistance available for completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

FAFSA Day will be held on January 31st and February 21st, 2016. FAFSA Day provides free assistance to students and families completing a FAFSA. This statewide program is administered by the Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators with the assistance of many community-based organizations. Visit FAFSA Day for more information and specific locations.


Information for Juniors:

Resources for College Planning

Parents and students are encouraged to visit the Junior Page of the Guidance website for helpful links and resources.


Junior Workshops and Individual Meetings

In January guidance counselors will hold individual meetings with juniors to review PSAT results and begin a preliminary discussion of the college application process. From January 25th to February 6th the Guidance Department will present the Junior Workshop during junior English classes. Students will receive detailed information regarding standardized testing, college and career searches, and the application process. Students will work with the web-based Naviance program to conduct a college search.


Registering for the SAT & ACT

Juniors are encouraged to Register for the SAT and ACT now to ensure their first choice test site location. The Guidance Department recommends that students register for the optional writing portion for both tests. Historically the colleges have been clear on their preference for the ACT with Writing. What is not as clear is the college’s preference on the new optional essay portion of the SAT. Many colleges have not yet weighed in as to whether or not they will require the SAT essay. However, in the interest of our students being certain of fulfilling requirements of all colleges on their final list, we recommend the essay at this time. (More information can be found on the SAT Essay College Policies Website.)


Both College Board and ACT require all students to upload a photo when registering for the test. A photo I.D. and admission ticket are required on the day of the test.  There will be no exceptions, even when students are taking the test at Westwood High School. Students without a photo I.D. and admission ticket with uploaded photo will not be allowed to take the test.


2016 test dates are as follows and marked with an * when being offered at WHS:



March 5th

*May 7th

June 4th



February 6th

*April 9th

June 11th


College Planning Night, Wednesday, January 27th, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Juniors and their parents are encouraged to attend this informative presentation on the college planning process. Amy Cembor, Senior Associate Dean of Admission, will present the college admissions perspective, and Guidance will give an overview of the process including researching colleges, developing a well-balanced list, and standardized testing procedures.


Information for Sophomores:

College Planning Night, Wednesday, January 27th, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Although the primary audience for College Planning Night is juniors and their parents, sophomores and their parents may attend to get important information on the changing college admission climate.


Information for Freshmen:

Ninth Grade Seminars

The third round of ninth grade seminars will be held in January. Topics covered will included preparing for midyear exams and course selection.

News From the Nurse's Office

Grade 9:  Important!!  All grade 9 students are required to provide written documentation of a current physical exam done by their health care provider.  The physical must be turned in by February 1, 2016 and must be dated February 1, 2015 or later.  Please turn in the physical as soon as possible. If you don’t have health insurance, you can visit or call the school nurse for information.  If you have a physical scheduled after February 1, 2016 please let the school nurse know.  Also call if you are unsure if you turned in a physical exam for your child.
Grade 9: All grade 9 students had a postural screening done in December.  You were notified if your child needed further evaluation from a specialist.  If your child needed further evaluation, please let the nurses know the result.
Grade 12: Check your graduating student’s health insurance now to make sure they are covered out of state if they plan to attend college outside of Massachusetts.  You may have to make adjustments in your type of insurance.  Children are covered by their parent’s health insurance up to age 26.  Now is a great time to look into health insurance so your child won’t run into coverage issues.
Grade 12: Now is a good time to book a physical exam for your child heading off to college next year.  Students can’t register for classes unless they have a new physical exam and current immunizations.  Try to make the appointment for late April or May when your child knows what college they will be attending.  Some colleges require that you use their own form for the examination. 
Smoking Cessation Class:  A free smoking cessation class is offered by the American Cancer society  Freshstart Program.  Call 781-278-6022 for information or to register. 
Smoking cessation Apps for a Smart Phone: Some free smoking cessations apps for your phone are QuitSTART, Quit Smoking:  Cessation Nation, QuitNow, LIVESTRONG MyQuit Coach, tweetsmoking, and Butt Out.  Check these out to make a positive change in your life.  If your child smokes encourage them to try a class or a free app. 
Substance Abuse Resource: If someone you know is struggling with substance abuse it is often difficult to know how to help them.  The Massachusetts Substance Abuse Helpline can give you information and resources to help. Call: 1-800-327-5050 or
What do I do? Is your child having surgery?  Do they have an issue that prevents them from walking up the stairs? Do they need to take medicine during the school day?  If you have any questions about any issues your child may have, please call or email the school nurse.  You can also check the web site in the health office section for forms or answers to questions. 
If your child has any health concerns or you have any questions, please call Mrs. Poreda at ext. 3353 or Mrs. Galvin at ext. 3350. Email: or

Westwood Public School Launches a Smartphone App for School Lunches

Yes, even for school lunch, there is an app for that!
In today’s technology driven world, the nutrition program at Westwood Public Schools is both keeping pace and leading the charge. The nutrition program is one of the first school nutrition programs in the nation to launch the mobile app for school menus.
The free app, called School Lunch by Nutrislice, is available in the
Apple App Store for iPhones and in Google Play for Android phones. The menus information are also available via
The smartphone app shows each day’s menu, including pictures and descriptions of the foods. It also lists nutritional information for each food and makes finding common allergens simple.


STUDY WEEK at Westwood Public Library

Looking for a place to study during midterms? Join your friends for STUDY WEEK at Westwood Public Library. Study Week features: 
  • Extended Hours EXCLUSIVE to High School Students
  • FREE pizza, drinks, and snacks
  • Spaces for private and group study
  • Fun stress-relief activities
Tuesday, January 19: 7 - 11 pm
Wednesday, January 20: 7 - 11 pm
Thursday, January 21: 7 - 11 pm

Sponsored by the Westwood High School PTO and the Westwood Public Library

News from the Art Department

Ceramics I students started to weave for their "Sculptural Weaving Project" with the arrival of a freshly harvested batch of bamboo that was donated to us by the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain.
Studio Art students at all levels ( I, II, III, IV, and AP) had the opportunity to "Figure the Figure" during a week long drawing workshop. With a generous grant from The Foundation for Westwood Education, the Art Department hired a dancer to model for figure drawing (also known life drawing). During initial classes, students drew a high volume of fast poses (most under 60 seconds). They explored a range of figure drawing issues, from rendering accurate proportion and understanding anatomical structure, to capturing movement, tension, and weight. The workshop culminated with a 30 minute pose, during which students synthesized what they’d learned.  Results from a survey of Mrs. Thurston's Studio I class, revealed that students unanimously felt that their drawing skills had improved greatly thanks to the workshop.

WHS: Senior Independent Project Program (SIPP)

SIPP (Senior Independent Project Program) is a five credit senior elective hybrid course that affords the opportunity to delve into an area of interest that is not available in the traditional high school curriculum. Students explore a topic that that they are passionate about through research, intensive study and hands-on experience.  Not only will students learn about their selected topic, but they will also hone and develop useful real-world skills.  To help facilitate learning on this year-long journey, students are paired with mentors who guide them as they explore their passions in the context of a collaborative class setting.


Juniors interested in becoming a part of SIPP meet with committee members for a feedback conversation about their potential project before submitting an application. 34 students were accepted into the program for the 2015/16 school year. The application process for the 2016/17 school year begins in early January. Current juniors who are interested in applying should listen for SIPP announcements the week after winter break.



  • 9 month course that runs from September through May

  • Students are paired with mentors who have expertise in the students’ fields of interest

  • Students work with faculty and mentors to develop project plans with specific and achievable goals and outcomes

  • Mandatory project outcomes include giving back to the community that has supported the students throughout their education as well as some kind of culminating event

  • Students and mentors work cooperatively to schedule regular meetings to meet the project goals (a combination of face to face and digital collaboration)

  • Mentors are encouraged to play an active role in all aspects of their students’ projects

  • Program kick-off is a mentor-attended breakfast at Westwood High School in September

  • Program concludes in May with final student presentations in front of a panel that includes mentors, faculty, peers, and community members

SIPP is committed to pairing students with mentors who will provide the guidance and resources necessary to facilitate the successful completion of their project goals. Ultimately, students will gain real-world skills throughout the process of this challenging and meaningful year-long learning experience.  

The Power in Knowledge
As part of their class Literature, Ethics & Action Allie Damren, Pavielle Asmar, and Jane Driscoll were asked to create a solutionary project. These students felt that there was limited knowledge surrounding Syrian refugees within the high school. They created a short video to give the community a glimpse into the dilemma.
News From Athletics
Winter sports are up and running with over 300 students participating!  Check up to date schedules and results on our new website,  In addition, download the free MIAA App to have schedules and rosters at your fingertips.  
All athletes must maintain a valid physical on file with the school nurse at all times.  Physicals are valid for 13 months from the date on the physical.  Don't be caught off guard!  Get your physical in early.
News from Asian Culture Club
The Asian Culture Club celebrated the holiday season by having their annual holiday origami ornament workshop! Origami is the art of paper folding and originated in China and Japan as early as 105 AD. Students folded beautiful handmade origami ornaments and held a fundraiser sale for the school. Thank you to all those who participated and supported the club. For more information, please contact Ms. Chu. 
News from Academic Decathlon
Massachusetts Academic Decathlon is an academic competition in which teams of nine high school students battle in ten different events -- seven objective tests: Literature, Economics, Math, Social Studies, Music, Science, and Art - based on a college-level, academically rigorous curriculum linked by a common theme (India this year), three subjective events (Essay, Interview, and Speech) that challenge us to develop, connect, and communicate ideas and personal experiences under pressure, and one high-pressure, high-stakes Super Quiz relay open to the public - at a chance for gold (medals) and eternal glory. Along this epic adventure, students from all academic backgrounds have the opportunity to be a part of something greater than themselves, to discover and embrace the thrill of learning and academic exploration that soon turns into a lifelong pursuit of knowledge, and to gain the skills and build the relationships that no classroom experience could ever hope to match.

At the preliminary competition in November at Natick High School, we were incredibly successful, placing in the top three in six out of seven events!  Our next competition is scheduled for February 6, 2016 at Quincy High School. This is the qualifying competition for the state finals (the top 16 will advance). The event will include the seven subject matter tests and the three subjective events (Essay, Interview, and Speech):
  • Speech (3.5-4 minute prepared, 1.5-2 minute impromptu) and Interview (7-8 minutes) will be judged by a 3-person panel of trained volunteers and occur on the day of the competition
  • Essays will be written and submitted online in the week prior to the competition
We welcome any students (9-12) interested in joining this winning team.  In addition, we are looking for volunteer judges to participate in the February competition. Any teachers, administrators, friends, or parents interested in acting as a judge in February please contact Mr. Kermond
Tri-M Fundraising Project

by Gigi Cianciarulo, Tri-M Historian


Each year, the Tri-M Music Honor Society selects a program, place or charity to donate its fundraised money to, giving back to those who share the same passion and love for the arts that Tri-M possesses. This year, Mrs. Cote and the Tri-M E-board selected the Gitameit music Center, in Yangon, Myanmar. Gitameit Music Center is a non-profit community center and music school in Yangon devoted to music teaching, nurturing and performing. In Pali and Burmese “gita” means music, and “meit” means friendship. Gitameit Music Center was started in 2003 by Kit Young(Pianist/Artistic Director), U Moe Naing (Choir Conductor/Center Director) and colleagues from Myanmar. Their mission is to build a supportive community of musicians and audiences locally, and to encourage sustained, meaningful contact with international institutions, teachers, and performers.


As a part of our fundraising efforts, Tri-M has organized several events and projects that will help us raise the highest amount of money possible to donate to those in need. On January 26, Tri-M will be hosting the annual Charity Concert. This event consists of student musical acts showcasing the talent of many Westwood High School performers. There is a suggested donation at the door of $5 to help us reach our fundraising goal. This event will be held at 7PM in the Westwood High School auditorium.  

Secondly, the Tri-M CD, featuring selections from both students and teachers alike, is beginning production at the start of this year. This CD will be sold during Encounters with the Arts and every performance thereafter. All proceeds will be given to the Gitameit Music Center. Please help us support this great organization!
News from Spanish IV
Spanish 4 students recently completed a study of Colombian food and customs as a way to delve into the culture of this Spanish speaking country.  In order to experience Colombian culinary traditions in a hands-on way, students had the chance to roll up their sleeves in class for an interactive cooking experience.  Students made Colombian arepas from scratch using an authentic recipe (in Spanish of course!).  This traditional Colombian food is made by mixing corn flour, salt, and water by hand.  The dough is then formed into a disc-like shape, cheese can be added, and the arepas are then grilled on a griddle.  As a culmination of this unit, students also researched other traditional Latin American recipes to prepare at home.  They filmed instructional cooking videos to explain to others in the target language how to prepare the recipe step by step.  Afterwards they brought in their finished products for their classmates to try during a culinary celebration. ¡Qué delicioso!
Coffee House & Open Mic 
Attention Class of 2015 Scholarship Recipients
2015 Scholarship Recipient must submit a grade report to Ms. Furber in order to receive a scholarship check.  Grade reports can be emailed directly to Ms. Furber. You do not have to provide an official transcript.
Checks will be issued approximately 3 weeks after the closing dates listed below for each group and will be mailed to the student’s home address.
Group 1: now -  January 8th
Group 2: January 9 - January 29
Group 3: January 30 - February 15th
If you have any questions, please contact
Ms. Furber.
Raise Funds for WHS PTO By Shopping at Amazon
The next time you shop on Amazon - including on Amazon Prime - you are able to raise funds for the WHS PTO at no added cost to you. Simply begin your shopping at the Westwood PTO page, and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases.

School Store, The Westside, Now Takes Online Orders

Make sure you get all your holiday shopping done at The Westside. You can now place orders online at Also, don't forget to come in and get a gift card that can be used both online and in store, and watch out for our holiday sale coming soon!

You can also get to the Westside's online ordering site by going under the "Quick Links" menu on the High School Website


WHS Photos for Scholarships

Please feel free to download the images on this website for free. Mr. Mao donates his time to take the photos because he enjoys photography and watching sports. If you enjoy these photos, please consider making a donation to the Westwood Community Scholarship Fund (or another scholarship at WHS).

To  those who donated to a scholarship fund last year, THANK YOU!

Peer Tutoring is Now Available

National Honor Society students are now available for tutoring. See the Guidance Department for details. 

Important Dates to Keep in Mind

  • January 13: Early Release
  • January 18: Martin Luther King Day (No School)
  • January 19 - 22: Mid Terms Exams
  • January 27: Early Release
  • February 3: Eighth Grade Parent Night
  • February 10: Early Release
  • February 15 - 19: February Vacation

Reports to Parents

TERM 1 (44 days):    Last day of term:  November 6
Portal opens to view Progress Reports: October 6
Portal opens to view Report Cards: November 13

TERM 2 (43 days):    Last day of term:  January 15            
Portal opens to view Progress Reports:  December 15
    *Midyear Exams:  1/19, 1/20, 1/21, & 1/22
Portal opens to view Report Cards:  January 29

TERM 3 (44 days):    Last day of term:  April 1
Portal opens to view Progress Reports:  March 1
Portal opens to view Report Cards:  April 8

TERM 4 (49 days):    Last day of term: June 13
Portal opens to view Progress Reports:  May 17
    *Final Exams: 6/14, 6/15, 6/16, & 6/17
Portal opens to view Report Cards: June 21

Important Dates for Seniors

Last day of senior classes: May 24
Senior Exams: May 25-27
Senior Week: May 31-June 3   

Class Day:  June 3  – 4:00 pm
Graduation:  June 5  – 2:00 pm

Stay Connected:

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences