Academic Integrity updates to handbook are focus of Q1 sessions in English, other academic departments

Last year, the members of the WHS department heads group worked with me and my fellow administrators to look closely at our aging handbook policy on academic integrity. The policy, which hadn't been updated in many years, simply was not in keeping with our current practice. As a result, students were confused about our expectations, and adults had a hard time enforcing the rules as they were reflected in the handbook. I am writing to share we dedicated some time this fall in classes to ensure that students understood our policies so that they might avoid encountering trouble by misunderstanding a flawed policy.

One example of the flawed previous policy is: "Faculty members must report to the administration... any violations of the academic integrity policy defined for their classes, and faculty members are encouraged to recommend to the administration specific consequences that they believe are appropriate". What we found was that teachers' application of the policy and students' understanding of what constituted cheating was inconsistent. Often, cases of academic integrity violations were murky and difficult to process confidently and consistently.  

Through the revised policy, we tried to clarify the process of determining if a violation occurred by leveraging the expertise of the department heads. Since instances of suspected cheating or plagiarism can be specific to each department (i.e. the use of an online translator in a Spanish class or a the improper use of a calculator in a math class), the input and expertise of the department head is critical. We are already finding that department heads have provided a much-needed layer of departmental expertise to the handling of reports of cheating or plagiarism.

Additionally, the previous policy featured highly directive language that allowed for very little latitude in determining punishments: "Except in the first offense of plagiarism, any student found violating the academic integrity policy must be referred to the administration and may receive no credit for any work or instrument involved in the violation." In the new policy, "the teacher, with department head approval, may discuss alternative ways for the student to receive credit." This change allows us to use these instances as teachable moments, times when students who employ poor judgment are encouraged to learn from their mistakes. 

Your son or daughter participated in a lesson in their English class in the past two weeks designed to clarify for them our expectations. This week and next, they will (or have already had a) talk in their other classes about how these expectations are implemented specifically in those classes. 

I am confident that our updated policy and our renewed interest in training students on our expectations will reduce instances of academic integrity policy violations. I am happy to hear your thoughts on this or any other topic. I can be reached at

Site Council Update

The WHS Site Council is an advisory group to the principal. The group is comprised of teachers, staff, students, parents, and community members. Specifically, the group provides input on the principal's School Improvement Plan (SIP), meeting each month to receive updates on initiatives related to the SIP. 
This year's council is comprised of: 
  • Katie Thurston, Faculty (Term: 2015-2016, 2016-2017)
  • James Vanaria, Faculty (Term: 2016-2017, 2017-2018)
  • Harold Jiang, Parent (Term: 2015-2016, 2016-2017)
  • Michael Gay, Parent (Term: 2016-2017, 2017-2018)
  • Judy O'Dwyer, Parent (Term: 2016-2017, 2017-2018)
  • Brad Pindel, Community Representative (Term: 2016-2017)
  • Danielle Sutton, Community Representative (Term: 2016-2017)
  • Jacqueline Kinsman, Support Representative (Term: 2016-2017)
  • Ben Dubiner, Student (Term: 2016-2017)

Summary of the 10/4/16 Meeting: 

Information from Guidance

Guidance Website

Parents are encouraged to visit the Guidance Website. The website has information on topics such as navigating the college search process, standardized testing procedures, applying for financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

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, unless otherwise noted, from 8:00-9:00 a.m.  Future dates:

October 20th – for parents of 10th and 11th grade students

November 3rd – for parents of 9th graders, in room A108

January 12th – for all parents

March 9th – for all parents

Financial Aid Night, November 9th, 6:30 p.m., Auditorium (Please note new date)

A representative from MEFA (Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority) will present on the financial aid process at our annual Financial Aid Night.  Parents and students interested in learning more about financial aid should attend this informative presentation.

FAFSA Now Available
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is now available. This is the first year that parents of seniors can fill out the form prior to January 1st. Please visit the FAFSA website for details.

Information for Seniors:

Students applying to colleges with November 1st deadlines should submit transcript release forms to the Guidance Office by October 25th. One form is required for each college. Transcript Release Forms can be found on the Guidance website.

Massachusetts State College and University Scholarships

Seniors who performed well on their tenth grade MCAS exam may be eligible for one of two Massachusetts State College and University Scholarships

  • John & Abigail Adams Scholarship

Students who received a minimum of two scores in the Advanced category and have a combined MCAS score that ranks in the top 25% of the district, are eligible for the John & Abigail Adams Scholarship. Letters will be mailed to recipients in October.  Adams Scholars will receive a tuition waiver to the Massachusetts state colleges and universities. (The waiver does not cover fees, books, or other expenses.) No application is required.

  • Stanley Z. Koplik Certificate of Mastery with Distinction

Students who received one score in the Advanced category and the other two scores in the Proficient category on the MCAS are eligible for the Koplik Certificate/Scholarship. To receive the scholarship students must demonstrate additional academic achievements, such as high scores on AP, SAT Subject Tests, or other notable recognitions. Full information on additional requirements is included on the application form and letter mailed to eligible students last spring. Koplik Scholars will receive a tuition waiver to the Massachusetts state colleges and universities. (The waiver does not cover fees, books, or other expenses.) Applications must be turned into the Guidance Office by May 1, 2017).

Information for Juniors:

Juniors will take the PSAT on Saturday, October 15th at 8:00 a.m. The Guidance Department recommends that all juniors take the PSAT. The PSAT Registration Form should be turned into Guidance by October 7th. At that time students will receive a practice test. PSAT results will be available in December, and juniors will meet with their counselors to review the score report. Juniors will delve fully into the college search process in January and February during the Junior Workshop program. The College Planning Timeline for Juniors was mailed home during the summer.


Information for Sophomores:

The Guidance Department recommends that sophomores take the Pre-ACT, which is a practice test for the ACT and replaces the PLAN test given in previous years. The Pre-ACT will be on Saturday, October 15th at 9:00 a.m. The Pre-ACT Registration Form should be turned into Guidance by October 7th. Pre-ACT results will be available in January.


Information for Freshmen:

Ninth Grade Seminars

Guidance Counselors presented the first of three Ninth Grade Seminars in ninth grade study halls. Topics included accessing resources at the high school, graduation requirements, and the importance of extracurricular activities. The second round of seminars will take place in November.


Information for all students:

The Guidance Office maintains a job board, where we post job opportunities called in by local businesses.

News From the Nurse's Office

Grade 9:  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, 2017.  Please turn in the physical as soon as possible. 

EpiPens in the News: The increased cost of EpiPens has been a hot topic as this medicine is not an option if you or your child has a severe allergy.  If you would like a free co-pay card when filling your EpiPen prescription,
click here for information.

Westwood Annual Family Flu Clinic:  The flu vaccine is available for Westwood residents ages 5 years and older.  Children under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent.
  • The flu clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15 in the gymnasium at Westwood High School on a first come first served basis.
  •  Residents can receive the vaccine free of charge, but all are asked to bring insurance or Medicare cards with them so their insurance companies can be billed.  It would be helpful to make a copy of your insurance card and bring it with you.
  • For additional information, contact the Westwood Health Department at 781-320-1026 or at

Grade 10: All grade 10 students will have their height, weight, and BMI measured in October. Massachusetts schools have taken heights and weights of students each year since the 1950’s.  A Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a measure that is used to show a person’s “weight for height for age.” It is calculated using an individual’s height and weight. Just like a blood pressure reading or an eye screening test, a BMI can be a useful tool in identifying possible health risks.  A BMI does not tell the whole story about your child’s health status.  BMI does not distinguish between fat and muscle. For example, if a child is very athletic and has a lot of muscle, his or her BMI may be high even though he or she is not overweight.  The results of your child’s height, weight, and BMI measurements are strictly confidential.  The school nurse will supervise your child’s screening and will make sure your child’s privacy is respected at all times.  The results will be kept in your child’s school health record.  Please feel free to call the nurse’s office at 781-326-7500 x 3353 with any questions you may have about the BMI screening.  Parents/guardians who wish to exclude their child must do so in writing by October 1, 2016.  Please send all written requests to the nurse’s office.  Additional information about children’s wellness and fitness is available upon request or you may access the state’s resources at

Prescription Medicine: Remember to keep all prescription medication in a safe place.  Most of the prescription drugs abused by teens come from family medicine cabinets and from friends. Keep your teen safe by disposing of any medication no longer in use.  You can dispose of any medicine by bringing it to the lobby of the police station 7 days a week, 24 hours a day no questions asked.  Disposing of medicine at the police station is also good for the environment.  Many medicines disposed of in the sink or flushed down the toilet end up in the water supply. 

Absence due to illness: It is important to call the absence line (ext. 1512) if your child is ill.  It is also important to let the school nurse know if your child has a contagious illness or a fever.  A contagious illness may be a strep throat, flu, skin infection, stomach flu, chicken pox, shingles, mono, or head lice.  This is important for control measures and to protect vulnerable students or staff.  The information will be kept confidential.

Individual Health Plans (IHP):  If your child had an IHP mailed home to you, please turn it in as soon as possible in order to keep your child safe at school.  You must turn in the signed IHP, the medication forms, the medications, and 2 small pictures of your child.  Call the nurse’s office if you have any 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.

Ireland, England, and Wales April Vacation Trip Info Meeting

On Thursday, October 20th at 7:00 PM, there will be another informational meeting about the trip to Ireland, Wales and England, taking place on April Vacation. The enrollment is not closed yet, but will be at the end of October. The meeting will be in the Art Room B111, from 7:00-7:30 PM. If you have any questions, please contact Mrs. Thurston at X4382. 

News From Spanish Club

Spanish Club kicked off the year by painting pumpkins, making papel picado, and decorating calavera masks in celebration of the upcoming Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.  Students also learned about the importance of this holiday to celebrate and remember loved ones.  On Sunday October 30th, Spanish Club will be going to the Harvard Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology to learn more about this Mexican holiday and to participate in many hands-on activities including tasting traditional foods, listening to traditional music and painting our own sugar skulls! New members are always welcome - please see Ms. Testa with any questions.

WHS Celebrates Veterans Day

On Veterans Day, Westwood High will again remember, thank, and honor the WHS alumni and alumnae currently serving in America's armed forces. Please help us make sure we recognize all of them by name! If you know any of our alums on active duty, just fill in this form and we'll take care of the rest. If you have trouble using the form, please email the following to Mr. Holthouse
  1. their name
  2. branch of service (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard) 
  3. approximate date of WHS graduation
Thanks for helping us recognize these courageous and dedicated men and women.

News from Athletics

Fall sports are well underway and the athletic department is already looking forward to the winter season!  Registration for Winter Sports  begins October 15 and runs until November 15.  Payment for sports is due after tryouts and before the first official game.  In order to be approved to begin tryouts in the winter, you MUST complete the following:

1.  Register

2.  Maintain a valid physical with the school nurse, Karen Poreda.  All athletes must maintain a physical dated with in the last thirteen months at all times.

Once tryouts are over, athletes must pay their athletic fee before the first game.

Please go to the 
Westwood High School Athletics site for more information and links to registration and payment.

Download the FREE MIAA App to access all Westwood rosters and schedules.


News from Performing Arts

This year's fall play is William Shakespeare's Macbeth. It will be presented November 3 & 5 in the Auditorium. For information and to purchase tickets online, please visit our new web site:

Tri-M Induction

Submitted by Jamie Vaccaro, Historian

The Tri-M Music Honor Society inducted 29 new members on September 14th. The society selects members on the basis of academic merit as well as musical participation and character. Tri-M members promote the strength of performing arts at WHS by bringing music to town events, putting together an annual charity CD, and staffing performing arts events throughout the school year. Each year at induction, a few students are recognized for going above and beyond in their contributions to the goals of Tri-M. This year’s honored members are Antin Lam, Leona Lo, and Ezra Stone for outstanding service and Sarah Wasserman and Rose Kearns for outstanding community involvement. The ceremony was run by the student executive board, Sophia Paravalos, Anusha Manglik, Grace Burke, Tim Hoefler, Jamie Vaccaro, Jonny Phan and adviser Dr. Cote.

News from the TEC Program 

This year to commemorate September 11th, the students in the Moderate Transition I program wrote thank you cards and delivered them, along with homemade brownies, to the Westwood Fire Department and the Westwood Police Department.  Our students introduced themselves and shook hands with the police officers and firefighters at each station. The members of both departments were genuinely pleased by the thoughtfulness of our students, and thanked them for their visit.

Peer Tutoring is Now Available

National Honor Society students are now available for tutoring in Guidance. Please see this SCHEDULE for details. 

WHS Photos for Scholarships

Please feel free to download the images on this website for free. I donate my time to take the photos because I enjoy 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).

Thank you.

M. Mao.

P.S. To  those who donated to a scholarship fund this year, THANK YOU!  In the past year over $1500 has been contributed to various scholarships!

Important Dates to Keep in Mind

  • October 10: Columbus Day (School closed)
  • October 12: Yom Kippur (School closed)
  • October 19: Early Release
  • October 21: Picture Make-Ups
  • November 2: Early Release
  • November 8: All Day In-Service (School closed)
  • November 16: Early Release
  • November 23: 1/2 Day
  • November 24 & 25: Thanksgiving (School closed)
  • December 7: Early Release
  • December 8: Parent-Teacher Conferences Night, 6:30 p.m.
  • December 21: Early Release
  • December 23: 1/2 Day
  • December 26 - 30: Winter Vacation (School closed)
  • January 2: Observance of New Year's Day (School closed)

Reports to Parents

Updated: 9/30/16
TERM 1 (44 days)
Last day of term: November 4
  • Progress Reports available to students: October 5
  • Report Cards available to students: November 14
TERM 2 (44 days)
Last day of term: January 13
*Midyear Exams: 1/17, 1/18, 1/19. 1/20
  • Progress Reports available to students: December 11
  • Report Cards available to students: January 27
TERM 3 (45 days)
Last day of term: March 31
  • Progress Reports available to students: February 28
  • Report Cards available to students: April 7
TERM 4 (47 days)
Last day of term: June 9
* Final Exams: 6/12, 6/13, 6/14, 6/15
  • Progress Reports available to students: May 14
  • Report Cards available to students: June 19

Important Dates for Seniors

Last day of senior classes: May 23
Senior Exams: May 24 - 26
Final Report Cards available to students: May 30
Senior Week: May 30-June 2

Class Day:  June 2, 4:00 pm
Graduation:  June 4, 2:00 pm

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Westwood High School · 200 Nahatan Street · Westwood, MA 02090 · USA

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