Bomb Threat: a Chance to Refine Practice

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As you know, Westwood High School was evacuated on Friday after a bomb threat was e-mailed to the school. The evacuation was orderly, and we followed our protocols for threats like these. As with any fluid situation, I made some adjustments to our existing protocols, with input from my fellow administrators, Dr. Antonucci, and Chief Silva. The evacuation and eventual dismissal both went well, but the event has given us a chance to reflect on what worked and what can be improved. 

The area of improvement I noted that impacts parents most directly is one that I have already made progress on: weaknesses in communicating reliably with all parents. In short, one of the two communications platforms we use to send e-mails to families did not work for every e-mail address. Some Internet providers, I have come to understand, filter out (or delay the delivery of) school-generated e-mails. I have met with my IT team, and I am certain that future emergency communications will not be filtered out or delayed. I apologize that this technical glitch may have contributed to heightened anxiety for some parents. 

Though we do our best to communicate with parents even in emergency situations like Friday's, please understand that I am usually unable to send out lengthy communications. I try instead to send out the information I have available in a timely enough manner that doesn't take me away from the other responsibilities of managing the crisis on site. I will continue to do my best in situations like these to communicate with you as needed as soon as possible.

One final note: the school's response to the bomb threat ultimately went well because of the compliance and good behavior of our students and the professionalism of our staff in keeping them safe and calm. I can't say enough about how well the students and staff responded last Friday to an event that was certainly distressing for all of us.

Police Chief Silva has communicated multiple times with the community about the event and the investigation. If you have questions about either, please go to the WPD's Twitter ( page to see his communications or to get in touch with the police department. 

Sean Bevan

Change in Discipline Practice Underway

This year, we've instituted a change to how we are thinking about discipline issues not only at the high school but throughout the District. 

The changes are designed to limit the academic impact on students whose misbehavior requires an administrative response. In the past, we've relied on fairly conventional strategies to respond to student misconduct: after-school detentions for minor offenses and in-school suspensions for more distressing offenses. We used outside suspensions for serious offenses, and we always have had the option of expulsion for students whose behavior is truly dangerous. 

We have found that these traditional approaches have been effective in keeping the school environment safe and orderly, a place where teaching and learning can proceed with little interruption or distraction. But, we have seen firsthand how this thinking - specifically for students who have been suspended - impacts the academic progress of students who, often times, are students who struggle to make progress in school.

We have already begun applying a new approach this year, relying on more flexible and innovative interventions designed to hold students accountable for their behavior but to keep them in class and learning as much as possible. For example, in the past a student who was found to be in violation of the alcohol policy - say, they were found to intoxicated at a school dance - would be suspended from school for five days or more. The impact of missing five consecutive days of direct instruction, as you might imagine, is significant. Beginning this year, we have already employed more sensible options, including Saturday School, wherein a student spends several hours at the school either with a teacher or working in service of the school with our facilities staff. What previously may have been a five-day outside suspension resulting in more than 35 hours of school time lost will now likely be 'converted' to five consecutive Saturday School days, where the student catches up on their work on works with our facilities staff on projects like cleaning white boards, maintaining the grounds, or updating bulletin boards.

Of course, we fully anticipate that there will be instances where as student's behavior necessitates an immediate school response where he or she is suspended from attending school. Any instance wherein a student's presence at school is dangerous or disruptive would likely result in an outside suspension. For example, fighting and physical aggression would necessitate this kind of removal.

If you have any questions or comments about this new approach, please feel free to reach out to me at
WHS Jazz Combo performs at the Downey Elementary School 50th Anniversary Celebration.
From L to R: Trevor Brown, Guitar;  Peter DeReyna, Bass;  Mark Brooks, Drums; Radha Mastandrea, Trumpet

Photo: Shannon Stivaletta (class of 2014)
WHS String Quintet performs at the Downey School 50th Anniversary Celebration.
L to R: Karen Choi and Meredith Gee, violin; Abby Craine, viola; Jamie Vaccaro, cello; Shaye Firmin, bass 


Donate your used electronics
Protect the Environment; Help Our Community

The WHS Student Council is conducting a recycling fundraiser. There’s nothing to buy. We are simply asking you to protect the environment by donating your used consumer electronics and ink cartridges. Your used item(s) will be recycled in accordance with EPA regulations. 100% of the proceeds will help fund Student Council activities. We are currently collecting: cell phones, ipads & tablets, inkjet and laser cartridges, ipods, e-notebooks, laptops, digital cameras, video cameras and game boys & discs.

There is a designated box in the front lobby by the stairwell for your donations. We greatly appreciate your support!

Carol Rosengarten, Student Council Advisor

Jillian Donlon, SC President

National Honor Society Now Offers Peer Tutoring
Members of the National Honors Society are now offering Peer Tutoring.  Students are encouraged to go to the Guidance Office during any block to receive help in any subject.
HOV Parking Program underway - The WHS Legislative Council passed a proposal last Spring to develop a parking program designed to reward students who carpool to school. The program took effect last week, with the parking spots being designated by a sign created by WHS graphic design student junior Elese Gaydos. For more info on the program, see my blog post from the spring. 
WHS Gives Back: Students Work in Boston to Help Women in Need
Front Row L to R: Sammy Naymie, Emma Healy, Abi Walsh, Meredith Brodsky, Mark Massad
Back Row L to R: Mr. McGunagle, Francesca Rudi, Patrick Sharpe, Marissa Mealey, Haley Fedorowicz, Colette Schissel, Ms. Testa, Lauren Reissfelder

On Thursday, September 25th, the Westwood High Dominican Republic Service-Learning trip volunteered at Rosie's Place in Boston. The group raised funds to buy dinner, prepped and cooked the meal, then served over eighty women and children in need. The volunteer experience was an opportunity to give back to the Boston community as well as to get to know one another before heading to the Dominican Republic for a week-long service-based learning experience in February 2015. 
The students worked hard and never stopped smiling; they learned a lot about themselves and others at Rosie's Place. The group can't wait to continue to help make the world a better place! 

Yearbook Photo News

Picture Day was held on September 16th and students should be receiving their photo ID and pictures, if ordered, soon. (orders may be placed online after the proofs come in) If your child was not here they should plan on having a photo done on retake day, Friday, October 24th. Announcements will be made that week with more information on where to report. 
Senior Yearbook Photos: if your child did not have a Senior Portrait session with G & B studios this summer they will need to make an appointment to have a photo taken this month. Photographers will be at WHS on Oct. 28, 29th & 31st but you must call to schedule an appointment. This is your last chance to have a yearbook photo taken at the school. Anyone who does not schedule an appointment will need to go to the G&B Studio in Connecticut. Please note;WHS does NOT accept photos from any other photographer for our yearbook.
Contact G&B Studios with questions or to make an appointment: 800-639-2104

School Supplies Collection

October 20 - November 14, Junior Jacqi Goodrich will be collecting new or unused school supplies to donate to the Higginson/Lewis K-8 school in Roxbury, MA. This school cannot give the students and teachers as many supplies as they would like. Let's show our support and Westwood pride by donating items such as pencils, folders, paper, notebooks, binders, colored pencils, crayons, pens, colored markers, etc. Old book bags that are no longer being used would be greatly appreciated. too. Every little bit will help some student to better their education. The collection box will be in the High School Lobby. Thank you for your support!!

WHS French Exchange 2015

Westwood, USA -- Rochefort, France
There's still time to sign your son/daughter up for the WHS French Exchange for April 2015. The new deadline is Wednesday, October 8th. Click here for more information. 
Read more about the Hermione Tall Ship project, the Franco-American venture that your child would be a part of by taking advantage of this exciting educational and travel opportunity. 
For information about scholarships or if you have any questions, please contact Ms. Aykanian at

Meet Our New Teachers

Joining our already stellar faculty, are 14 new teachers in English, Science, Math, Performing Arts, Social Studies, and Special Education. Please join me in welcoming Katrina Bafumi, Maura Bennett, Ronna Frick, Rebecca Green, Bill Hurley, James Looney, Laura Neill, Jacquelyn Orleck, Sally Patton, Brandon Price, Jaymes Sanchez, Jean Sharry, Anna Sommers, and Chelsea Thorne. Read more about the new teachers here

Community in Action Bottle and Can Drive

October 18
9am - 12pm
Westwood High School

Donate your redeemable Cans and Bottles! Westwood Community in Action is holding this fundraiser to support the All Night Graduation Party for the Senior Class of 2015! We accept redeemable glass, plastic and aluminium cans and bottles.  Please bring glass bottles in cardboard boxes if you can.  We will accept loose bottles, but it helps us with sorting and redemption if they are in boxes.

7th Annual Diwali Festival

October 18
$20 adults/ $10 children
Westwood High School

Celebrate the Festival of Light with food, lights, music, dancing and art. Event presented by Westwood Indian American Association. Indian dress or party attire suggested.
October 18
$20 adults/ $10 children
Westwood High School

Celebrate the Festival of Light with food, lights, music, dancing and art. Event presented by Westwood Indian American Association. Indian dress or party attire suggested.

Harlem Wizards Game 10/23

October 23
6:30pm (doors open at 6pm)
$12 adults/$10 students

The Harlem Wizards are coming to Westwood High School Thursday, October 23rd. The evening promises to be a fun-filled event that is great for kids and adults and guarantees to put a smile on your face!

At a Wizards game, fans will witness amazing basketball talent combines with hilarious comedy. It's two hours of family time where parents, grandparents, and kids can all laugh together. When you're in the stands, you're more than a spectator: you're part of the show with loads of audience participation. Throughout the game, fans will experience a magical display of tricks, coordinated ball handling, fancy passing and aerodynamic athleticism combined with high-energy comedy and audience interaction. The experience only can be summed up as awe-inspiring!

Tickets can be purchased at any school in the district. 

8th Annual Capturing Nature in Westwood Art Exhibit

October 28
WHS Theater Lobby
The Westwood Land Trust is sponsoring the eighth annual Capturing Nature in Westwood Art Exhibit to raise awareness and appreciation for Westwood’s beautiful natural environment.

The public is invited to attend a reception to view the exhibit in the Westwood High School Theater Lobby on October 28th from 6:00-8:00pm. Admission to this popular event is free and refreshments will be served.  


Students in grades Kindergarten through 12, will be creating nature-inspired works as part of their fall art curriculum. Each art teacher will submit a sampling of student work. There will be contour drawings of gourds, organic prints, tree studies in charcoal and so much more!


In preparation for the event, with the generous support of the High School PTO, students at the high school will be able to visit the Center of Westwoods to draw, paint, sculpt and photograph outdoors from direct observation. Under the guidance of the art faculty, the hope is that the artwork produced for the exhibit will be authentic and spontaneous.


Adults are also are invited to submit nature- inspired artwork for the event. Entry forms are available at the Westwood Public Library and online at Questions? Contact Cheri Hurley, WLT Board Member, at or 781-326-5433.

News from Guidance Office 

Guidance Website
All parents are encouraged to visit the guidance website here.  The website has information such as upcoming events, standardized testing procedures, navigating the college application process, financial aid and scholarships. 
Parent Talks
Guidance-Parent Talks offer parents the opportunity to meet with Guidance Counselors and discuss topics including the college search process, standardized testing and course selection.  Guidance-Parent Talks are held in the Faculty Club from 8:00-9:00 a.m.  Future dates are:
October 24th – for parents of 9th grade students
November 5th – for parents of 10th and 11th grade students
January 7th – for all parents
March 4th – for all parents
Financial Aid Night, November 12th, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., Auditorium
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.  A list of available scholarships is available on the guidance website.
Information for Seniors:
Students applying to colleges with November 1st deadlines should submit transcript release forms to the Guidance Office by October 24th. Forms are available in the Guidance Office and 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 were mailed to recipients in September.  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 grade 10 MCAS assessments 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 recipients will receive a tuition waiver to the Massachusetts state colleges and universities.  (The waiver does not cover fees, books, or other expenses.)  All applications must be turned into the Guidance Office by May 1, 2015.
Information for Juniors:
PSAT:  Saturday, October 18th, 8:00 a.m.
All juniors are encouraged to take the PSAT, which is the practice test for the SAT.  Registration forms were emailed home and are due on October 10th. Registration forms are available on the Guidance website. Students taking the PSAT should report to the high school’s main lobby at 7:45 a.m. on October 18th.
Information for Sophomores:
ACT Aspire:  Saturday, October 18th, 8:30 a.m.
All sophomores are encouraged to take the ACT Aspire (formerly the Plan Test), which is the practice test for the ACT.  Registration forms were emailed home and are due on October 10th.  Registration forms are available on the Guidance website. Students taking the ACT Aspire should report to the high school’s main lobby at 8:15 a.m. on October 18th.
Information for Freshmen:
Ninth Grade Seminars
Guidance Counselors presented the first of three Ninth Grade Seminars in Ninth Grade Reading & Research blocks in September.  Topics addressed included accessing resources at the high school, graduation requirements, and the importance of extracurricular activities.  The presentation is posted on the guidance website.  The second round of seminars will take place in November.

Job Board:
 Any student looking for part time work should stop by the Guidance Office and check the postings on the Job Board.

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, 2015.  Please turn in the physical as soon as possible. 

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 as soon as possible.  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

Flu Season: The flu season will be here soon.  Here are several ways to avoid the flu:
  • Use good hand hygiene.  Wash hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Sneeze or cough into your elbow to prevent the spread of the virus by hands.
  • Get a flu vaccine and make sure your family members also get one.
  • Stay healthy by getting enough sleep and eating healthy foods.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as this is how viruses and bacteria can be spread.
  • Keep your child home if they are sick to prevent the spread of illness in the school community.  Let the school nurse know if your child has the flu.
  • Do not share drinks or other items that touch the mouth.
Click on this flu guide (flu-guide-for-parents.pdf) to get more detailed information about the flu.
Free Family Flu clinic: The Westwood Board of Health is having the annual flu clinic at the high school in the gym on October 18, 2014 from 9 a.m.-12 noon. Residents ages 5 and older may get the vaccine. Children under 18 years old need a parent or guardian with them.
  • Vaccine will be administered first come first served.
  •  There is no cost to residents for the vaccine.
  •  Please bring your insurance and/or Medicare cards; if you
     don’t have insurance you can still get the flu vaccine.  
In the News:  Enterovirus 68 (EV 68) has been in the news so I wanted to update you with information from our Mass. Department of Public Health (MDPH).
Most children just have cold like symptoms from EV 68.  The children who tend to be sicker from the virus also have asthma.  If your child has asthma make sure you have an asthma plan in place for them.  Your healthcare provider (HCP) can help you with that.  If your child develops a cold and then wheezes or has trouble breathing, you should have your child seen by your HCP.  If your child is diagnosed with EV 68 by their health care provider, they must stay home for 24 hours after the resolution of the predominant symptoms.  Feel free to contact the school nurse’s office if you are unsure when it is appropriate to send your child back to school.  Let the school nurse know if your child is diagnosed with EV 68. 
Prevention is the key to avoid problems from EV 68. Prevention is the same as for the flu. Good hand washing is vital in the prevention of illness.

Click here to get the fact sheet from the MDPH about EV 68.

Head Lice:
Head lice is a common occurrence in schools. For more information about head lice click here. 

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.

Important Dates to Keep in Mind

  • October 13: Columbus Day (School closed)
  • October 22: Early Release
  • October 22: Info Session for Parents New to WHS, 7:00pm, Little Theater
  • October 28: Picture Day Make-Up
  • November 5: Early Release
  • November 11: Veterans Day (School closed)
  • November 12: Early Release
  • November 19: Early Release
  • November 26: 1/2 Day
  • November 27 & 28: Thanksgiving (School closed)
  • December 1: All-Day Inservice (School closed)
  • December 3: Early Release
  • December 4: Parent Conference Night
  • December 17: Early Release
  • December 24 - 31: Winter Vacation (School closed)
  • January 14: Early Release
  • January 19: Columbus Day (School closed)
  • January 28: Early Release
  • February 11: Early Release
  • February 16-20: February Vacation (School closed)
  • February 25: Early Release
  • March 4: Early Release
  • March 18: Early Release
  • April 1: Early Release
  • April 3: Good Friday (School closed)
  • April 15: Early Release
  • April 20-24: Spring Vacation
  • May 4-8: Teacher Appreciation Week
  • May 6: Early Release
  • May 20: Early Release
  • May 25: Memorial Day (School closed)
  • June 17: Last Day of School

Reports to Parents

TERM 1 (44 days):    Last day of term:  November 5
Portal opens to view Progress Reports: October 10
Portal opens to view Report Cards: November 14

TERM 2 (41 days):    Last day of term:  January 23             
Portal opens to view Progress Reports:  December 12
    *Midyear Exams:  1/20, 1/21, 1/22, & 1/23
Portal opens to view Report Cards:  January 30

TERM 3 (46 days):    Last day of term:  April 7
Portal opens to view Progress Reports:  March 6
Portal opens to view Report Cards:  April 10

TERM 4 (40 days):    Last day of term: June 17
Portal opens to view Progress Reports:  May 8
    *Final Exams: 6/12, 6/15, 6/16, & 6/17
Portal opens to view Report Cards: June 19

Important Dates for Seniors

May 26: Last day of senior classes
May 27-29: Senior Exams
May 29: Grades due 
June 1: Grades finalized 
June 5: Class Day, 4:00pm
June 7: Graduation, 2:00 pm
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