WHS Launches Bimonthly Student Program, "Courageous Conversations"

In January, I wrote in my newsletter about an exciting and uplifting student-led initiative, "The America I Believe In", a social media and in-school campaign to create statements of solidarity declaring the school community's continued dedication to tolerance and acceptance. The group, which dubbed itself the Equity Coalition, provided WHS students with a forum to voice their beliefs on what they believe America stands for. Through the campaign, students created over 100 placards with declarations like, "The America I Believe In Does Not Infringe on Constitutional Rights" and "The America I Believe In Leads By Example". 

Soon after, we received a report of swastika graffiti in the building. I have since communicated with students and families about this issue twice and have spoken with clergy from the Temple Beth David and the Westwood Interfaith Council. In my latest communication to families, I talked about a program we are developing that, we hope, will respond to this graffiti and become an extension of the work of the Equality Coalition: we will begin a bimonthly series of student programs called Courageous Conversations in an effort to expose students to diverse cultural traditions and contributions, as well as provide opportunities for dialogue and perspective taking. The programs will provide a vibrant demonstration of our community’s celebration of diversity, increase our students’ cultural awareness and appreciation, and signal our commitment to engaging in important civic conversations, even if messy and difficult. The programs will be designed to allow students and teachers to 'opt in' to hear about the topics they are most interested in. 

Our first program will feature Karim Nagi, an Egyptian performer and lecturer who uses music and humor to explore critical topics like Islamophobia and the dangers of stereotyping. Mr. Nagi has conducted workshops at countless area high schools and universities including Yale, NYU and Princeton. He is endorsed by Young Audiences of MA, a non-profit group that links Massachusetts’ best performing and teaching artists, and students through performances and workshops that are tied to Massachusetts learning standards. I am excited for his visit, which is on April 13, and I look forward to sharing photos and takeaway points from the program.

For more information about Mr. Nagi, please visit his web site. You may see one of his lectures here.

MCAS Testing Dates
Math: May 16 & 17
Biology: June 5 & 6

Information from Guidance

Information for Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors:

The 2017-2018 course selection process for grades 9, 10, 11 is complete, and no further change requests will be accepted. Schedules will be mailed home in August.

Information for Seniors:  

Seniors who wish to be considered for the Westwood Community Scholarships & Awards must submit their application by April 6th. The SAR (Student Aid Report) and financial portion of the application must be submitted to be considered for scholarships, but is not required for non-monetary awards.  

Information for Juniors:

As juniors prepare for spring SAT and ACT exams they are encouraged to access free Test Prep, including the Khan Academy official SAT Practice website.

Parents can still submit the Parent Information Form to their child’s guidance counselor. Information provided on these forms is very helpful for writing students’ letters of recommendation.

Juniors who are eligible for the Koplik Scholarship next year received a letter and application outlining details. Applications are due May 1, 2018. The letter is sent out one year in advance to make families aware of additional requirements.

Information for Sophomores:

Guidance counselors will present a two-day Career Workshop in the tenth grade Wellness classes.  Students will be given an overview of college major and career options, complete a career interest inventory, and research career options. We encourage you to review these results with your child.  

News From the Health Office

Grade 12: College Health forms:  Make sure your child sees Mrs. Poreda or Mrs. Galvin as soon as possible if your child needs help filling out a college health information form or needs information about immunizations.  Your child will not be able to register for or attend college classes without all necessary health and immunization information.  The nurse’s office is closed in the summer so don’t wait!!
Health Insurance:  It is mandatory in our state to have health insurance.  The health Connector is an independent state agency that helps you find the right health insurance plan.  The web site is:  The affordable health care law allows children to be covered by their parent’s insurance until age 26.  Make sure your insurance will cover your child if they attend college or work out of state.  Some insurance only covers in a set network.
Individual Health Care Plans:  If you have a graduating senior with an IHP and would like a copy for the college health center, let Mrs. Poreda or Mrs. Galvin know.  If your child currently has an IHP, a new copy will be emailed home to you in May and will need to be filled out and returned by the first day of school in September.
Do you ever wonder why your teen acts the way they do? Your teen’s brain is not fully developed until they reach their mid-twenties. Knowing how the teen brain develops will help you understand how to deal with your teen and how to keep them safe. Take the time to watch these short videos and you will be amazed at what you learn!!
Smoking Cessation: Norwood Hospital offers a free 6 week program to stop smoking.  It is facilitated by a Freshstart® American Cancer Society instructor.  Call 781-278-6022 for information and to register. This program is for parents and students.  There are also many smoking cessation apps for your smart phone.  Check out the app store.
Get Addictive Drugs Out of Your Medicine Cabinet:  Drug abuse in teens often starts in the medicine cabinet at home or at a friend’s house.  If you have medication you are no longer using, you can bring the medication to the Westwood Police Department and dispose of it in the container in the lobby.  You put the medication in the container yourself and no questions are asked!  This is a great way to keep prescription drugs out of the hands of teenagers. 
Tree Pollen season starts around March 15th and lasts until the end of June.  Allergic rhinitis (runny nose) is commonly seen during this time.

Suspect Seasonal Allergies if your child has:
  1. A prolonged cold lasting more than 14-18 days in the spring.
  2. Itchy red eyes with little discharge.
  3. A strong family history of allergies.
  4. Prolonged sneezing or an early morning cough with a sore throat.
 See your child’s health care provider for treatment options!

EpiPen Recall

​The Mylan Company has recalled some of their EpiPens.  To find out if the EpiPen you have for your child or family member has been recalled click on this link: ​

​The link gives the lot numbers and what to do if you  have a recalled EpiPen. All EpiPens at the high school have been checked and you have received a call if your child's EpiPen was on the recall.​

 If you have any questions or comments about your child’s health, please call Mrs. Poreda at ext. 3353.

Westwood SEPAC Social: April 10

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. 

Summary of the 4/4/17 Meeting

  • Superintendent-elect Emily Parks and Director of Technology, Learning, and Innovation Steve Ouellette joined the meeting.

  • Steve presented the working document Guiding Principles for Instructional Technology. He sought feedback from the students and parents of the group.  The document will be shared with the Westwood school community this coming summer.

  • Sean reported that the International Travel Guide that this group worked on is currently being used as a pilot, with great success, for the Galapagos Island trip. Sean has received positive feedback from the faculty organizers.

  • Sean provided an update on the Westwood Cares strategic plan goal to administer the Youth Health Survey.  The group has decided to do a pilot this fall with 10-20% of each grade and do a full implementation in the fall of 2018. This full implementation will align with the Metrowest Health Foundation’s  survey cycle and allow the group to compare Westwood’s data to data from other area schools.

  • The group discussed possible goals for 2017-2018. These include: J-term development, mid-year and final exam changes, and Youth Health Survey pilot program all of which are already in process. Other ideas include: developing programming for students of color based on qualitative data obtained during this current school year, streamlining the process of transiting long-term absent students back to school, topics for “Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners”, changes to the Library/Media center usage, and Open Campus.
Upcoming Meetings:
  • May 2
All meetings, unless otherwise noted, take place 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. in the Main Office Conference Room. All are welcome. 
Congrats to the cast and crew of "Once on this Island" for putting on a wonderful show, bringing a welcome Caribbean flare to a week that had us digging out from nearly a foot of snow. Bravo!

From the Desk of School Social Worker Joanna Bengel

Students in grade nine participated in the Signs of Suicide Program on Tuesday, March 21.  The goal of the program is to teach students how to identify the signs and symptoms of depression and suicide, as well as how to get help for themselves or someone else by following the ACT acronym (Acknowledge, Care, Tell).  

Read HERE to learn more about the signs of depression and other risk factors for suicide.

Encounters with the Arts was a HUGE Success!

Foundation for Westwood Education Fundraising Initiative

The Foundation for Westwood Education is sponsoring its Shining Star 2017
fundraising campaign which presents a fantastic opportunity for our students and their families to recognize the contributions of their favorite school teachers, administrators, staff and coaches.

The Foundation provides grant money for many education and social programs that benefit our school and our community as a whole. The nomination period ends Friday, April 7th! Please consider joining in the fun and helping the Foundation further its mission.

Green Years Yearbook Now ON SALE

The deadline to order yearbooks is approaching.

DEADLINE: April 30


Attention Parents and Students of the Class of 2017

I am excited to begin our discussions about Class Day and Graduation for the Class of 2017. Both events are watershed moments in young people's academic lives, and the school community is eager to share these moments with you. For those of you who don’t know, Class Day is a celebration of the individual and collective achievements of the members of the class; it’s similar to senior awards events that most schools celebrate.

 Key Information:

  • Dates and times:

    • Class Day: Friday, June 2nd at 4:00 p.m. in the gym

    • Graduation: Sunday, June 4th at 2:00 p.m. in the gym

  • Seating:

    • Historically, we have been able to easily accommodate family members and loved ones who attend Class Day. However, we ask that families bring no more than five members per graduate to the Graduation ceremony. Limiting the number of attendees allows us to share the experience with all of our families, and we ask for your help in doing so.

    • We have ask that family members who need wheelchair-accessible seating contact Ms. Kinsman ( to reserve space.

    • The gym opens at 1:00 on Sunday.

  • Weather: As you know, the weather could be warm for both events. We do our best to cool the gym as much as possible, but all attendees should be prepared for the gymnasium to be warm for both events. Please feel free to bring bottled water.

  • Gowns:

    • All gowns are green, with white stoles.

    • All gowns must be pressed and/or steamed (Note: The gowns should be steamed or ironed at a low temperature; otherwise, they may melt or burn through.)

  • Dress:

    • Although we appreciate and value students' unique personalities and styles, the WHS graduation is a formal commencement ceremony, and we implore students and families to keep that in mind. Attire for graduation should be fitting of the tone of the ceremony and highlight students' membership in their class rather than underscore their personal preference. Dress for both events is formal. Graduates should wear:

      • Dress pants, shirt, and necktie; or dress skirt and shirt; no shorts or other beach attire are permitted

      • Dress shoes: boots, sneakers, beach shoes are prohibited

      • No flowers or other ornaments on the gown or cap are permitted

About All-Night Graduation party: We sometimes get inquiries about whether a student is ‘eligible’ for All-Night Grad Party. The All-Night Grad Party is a community-supported event that is hosted here at the high school. Unless one of the event organizers explains to you otherwise, all members of the graduating class are welcome to attend the event, regardless of whether they were a Student in Good Standing this term. Doors open at 9:00 p.m., and we ask that attendees arrive by 9:30.

I look forward to joining you in celebration of our graduates’ achievements. Congratulations to the Class of 2017!


Mr. Bevan

Spanish Club Takes Cooking Lessons!

Spanish Club learned how to cook 3 of the most typical dishes from Spain - Paella, Tortilla Española and Gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp). Students took cooking classes at Sur la Tabl - they started from scratch, learned about what regions in Spain each ingredient comes from, and were able to eat their delicious meals afterwards! Students began with Paella, Spain’s unofficial national food, a Valencian rice dish, learning that the rice needs to be a bit crispy on the bottom and spices need to boil before you mix them, in order to let out more flavor. Second, students tried their hand at Tortilla Española where students learned different ways of flipping the tortilla, and the lesson ended with sauteed shrimp in delicious aioli sauce. ¡Buen provecho!

News From Science Olympiad

The WHS Science Olympiad team competed at the Massachusetts State Olympiad on March 18th and, out of 54 teams, finished in 19th place. The Olympiad is comprised of 27 different events covering topics in biology, earth science, physics, chemistry, and engineering. In addition to a fantastic overall finish, the team finished in the top 5 in 2 events and in the top 10 in 7 events. The competition team was led by senior captain Anusha Manglik and included Tim Hoefler, Brendan Zeuthen, Neil Wei, Emma Harte, Nick Fusco, Fontaine Liu, Ailis Robinson, Brett Kreinsen, Justin O'Dwyer, Owen Flanagan, Lucia Vaccaro, Eamon Doherty, and Nora Sinno. A great job by all competitors!

News from Marine Science Club

The (NEW) Marine Science Club at WHS attended the second annual Marine Science Symposium at Northeastern University on March 9th. The symposium allowed students to get actively involved in some of the marine science being completed by local universities. At the symposium, we joined dozens of local experts as they shared their knowledge, skills, and passion for marine science-related research and practice. Students had the opportunity to interact with both undergraduate and graduate students as well as with many professors, policy-makers, and researchers in the field of marine science. This was a wonderful opportunity to experience marine science. The symposium was sponsored by Northeastern University's Marine Science Center, the Massachusetts Marine Educators (MME), with additional support from Salem State University and from many dedicated volunteer presenters.

If students are interested in marine science but were not able to successfully register for the new marine science course in the 2017-18 school year, the Marine Science Club can provide them with some awesome opportunities to experience the ocean!
Academics in Action
This section of the newsletter highlights activities happening in the classroom

National Art Awards to Two WHS Students

 The Westwood High School Visual Arts Department is pleased to announce that two students, Yina Yang and Meg Waggett, have earned national recognition in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards of 2017.
Yina Yang, grade 11, has been awarded a National Gold Medal in Design for her book cover/jacket, “Ice.”
Meg Waggett, grade 12, has been awarded a National Silver Medal in Sculpture for her ceramic work, “Halves.”
The students’ artworks were identified by panels of creative professionals as exceptional in quality, for creativity, technical skill, and artistic voice. This year, more than 330,000 works of art and writing were submitted to the Awards program. Less than 1% were recognized at the national level.
Yina and Meg are currently members of the AP Studio Art class, having developed their creative thinking and making skills through WHS course sequences in design (Yina) and ceramics (Meg).
Since 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have recognized creative teens from across the country. By receiving a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Medal, our students join a legacy of celebrated authors and artists including Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Robert Redford, Lena Dunham.
National Gold Medals will be presented at a ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City on June 8th.
Yina Yang, Ice Book Cover & Jacket
Meg Waggett, Halves

News from Senior Independent Project Program (SIPP)

SIPP student Christina Wysocki has been working with 5 students in The Education Coopertive (TEC) program here at WHS. Every week, Christina goes into the TEC classroom to teach them how to make art. She has developed great relationships with the students and has been able to create projects that resemble what she has done in her Studio Art classes here at WHS, however, that reflect their skill level. Christina said, “Art is a great outlet for anyone, which is why I have dedicated my project to sharing art with the TEC students and named my project ‘Art as One”. Christina has also created a beautiful website where she will leave her art curriculum behind for future use.
Christina, WHS students and TEC students worked together on a beautiful project that will be displayed at the school, that reflects community - each student decorated a puzzle piece that came together to make a W. Christina is holding an Art Show on 5/2 at 6pm in the WHS auditorium lobby. Stop by to check out the amazing work the students and Christina have produced!
SIPP student Emily Dukeman has been working hard this year promoting her new line of bracelets, the Hometown Collection, with the Sisco & Berluti company, based right out of Westwood. Emily designed the line, which was catered to WHS students - using names like the “Den Stack” or “Friday Night Lights stack”. Additionally, she was in charge of all of the marketing for the company, and she held her very successful and well advertised launch event at Decor and More!
Don't forget the easy and free way your Amazon purchases can benefit the PTO: through the Amazon Smile program, the WHS PTO receives 0.5% of the price of your eligible Amazon Smile purchases.

All you have to do is begin your Amazon shopping by clicking HERE. It's free for you, but the funds add up to help the PTO support our school programs.

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.

Important Dates to Keep in Mind

  • April 12: Early Release
  • April 14: Good Friday (School closed)
  • April 17 - 21: Spring Vacation 
  • April 26: Early Release
  • May 10: Early Release
  • May 11: PTO Ice Cream Social
  • May 16 & 17: MCAS Math
  • May 19: Prom
  • May 24: Early Release
  • June 5 & 6: MCAS Science
  • June 15 & 16, 19 & 20: Final Exams
  • June 20: Last day of School (reflects 3 snow days)

Reports to Parents

Updated: 3/29/17
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
* Final Exams: 6/15, 6/16, 6/19, 6/20
  • Progress Reports available to students: May 14
  • Report Cards available to students: June 22

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

If you have any questions or concerns for the School Committee, please contact our liaison, Ms. Carol Lewis:

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

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