Keeping up with Social Media apps

In September, I sent a note out to parents warning them about a phone app, Yik Yak, that I found alarming. Two weeks ago, we saw large spike in our students' usage of yet another worrisome social media app, Streetchat. Similar in concept to Yik Yak, it enables users to post pictures locally (that is, to others near to their geographic location or who self-identify as members of a particular school). Though many of the posts are silly or benign, others are not. 

In my note to parents, I explained, "I am writing not to share with you news of a new, distressing app but to instead encourage you to talk to your son or daughter about the social media platforms they use and to discuss your expectations of them as 'digital citizens.' In that discussion, you might want to discuss with them 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, options to flag or take down offensive or dangerous posts, etc." 

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

Registration for Parent Teacher Conferences will open Thursday, November 13th at 8:00 pm

Parent Teacher conferences will take place on Thursday, December 4, 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Cafeteria. 

Online sign-ups for parent-teacher conferences will begin at 8:00 p.m., Thursday, November 13. Since senior students take two single-semester courses, it is important that you choose your son or daughter's English teacher conference slot with this in mind. To know which English teacher is your son or daughter's current teacher, log on to Aspen or simply ask your child. Also, keep in mind that you do not need to sign up for a conference with a Wellness teacher since the course is self-directed.

For more information on how to register for online sign-ups, click here.

The Westwood portal to the Pick-a-Time web site is here.

Congratulations to our National Merit Scholarship "Commended Students"

The following 13 students were recognized the by the National Merit Scholarship program as "Commended Students", which means they placed among the top five percent of the 1.5 million students who tested. If you see any of the following star students, please congratulate them!
Rachel Adjami
Trevor Brown
Greg Campion
Sarah Danforth
Abigail Drokhlyansky
Joyce Du
Jack Eaton
Sam Hornstein
Emilie Magnan
Ian Marten
Monica Nagalla
Caroline Scanlan
Jack Takazawa

News from the Guidance Office 

Guidance Website
All parents are encouraged to visit the guidance website
here.  The website has information including 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 from 8:00-9:00 a.m.  Future dates are:
November 5th – for parents of 10th and 11th grade students
January 7th – for all parents
March 4th – for all parents

Financial Aid Night, Wednesday, November 12th, 6:30 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.
College Application Deadlines
Seniors who applied early action and/or early decision (November 1st or November 15th) will have their updated transcripts sent to colleges after first term grades are issued.  Students with regular decision deadlines of January 1st or later should submit transcript release forms by December 12th.
Results of the PSATs are expected by the second week of December.  Juniors took this practice SAT exam on October 18th.  During the month of December counselors will meet individually with juniors to review their PSAT results, current transcript/GPA, and begin an introduction to the college search process.
Tenth Grade Career Workshop
During the first week of December guidance counselors will lead a two-day Career Workshop in the tenth grade Wellness classes.  Students will be given an overview of options for college majors and careers, and complete a personality and career interest inventory on Naviance.
Ninth Grade Seminars
The second round of ninth grade seminars will run during the third week of November.  Students will receive a copy of their transcripts and be taught how to calculate their grade point average based on first term grades.  

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

Grade 10: All grade 10 students are having their hearing and vision screened in the months of November and December.  The school screening program is not a diagnostic service but does provide screening for hearing and vision problems, some of which may need professional attention from a specialist.  You will be contacted by the nurse if your child needs an evaluation from a specialist.  Talk to your child about wearing their contacts or glasses to school.  Often students have trouble seeing and it turns out they have glasses or contacts but don’t wear them.  Let Mrs. Poreda know in writing if you do not want your child screened.  Please call the nurse with any questions at ext. 3353 or 3350.

Grade 10: Height, weight, and BMI screenings for all grade 10 students is almost done.  Please call the nurse’s office if you have any questions.

Your Medicine Cabinet: Many of us have medications in our medicine cabinets that are years past the expiration date or we save medications we no longer need.  Remember that teenagers often start abusing medications that are found in a medicine cabinet at home or at a friend’s home.  You can bring medications to the Westwood Police Department and dispose of them in the container in the lobby.  You put them in the container yourself and no questions are asked!  This is a great way to keep prescription drugs out of the hands of teenagers.  It also keeps them out of our water supply as many people just pour medicine down the drain or flush them.  Plus you will have a clean medicine cabinet!

Fever Guidelines: If your child has a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, please call the school nurse at ext. 3353 after calling the absence line at ext. 1512.  We ask that students with a fever stay home for 24 hours after the fever is gone without taking a fever reducing medication such as Tylenol or Advil.  Often a parent will ask if an illness is going around.  We only know what is reported so please let us know!  You can either call or email us with the information. 

Emergency contact Information: It is very important that you take time to update your emergency contact numbers in the parent portal of Aspen.  If there is an emergency it is so important that we have a number to reach you.  Updating your email address is important to make sure you receive emails from school.  If you don’t remember how to update the parent portal, see the high school website for information.
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.

Tri-M Music Honor Society Inducts New Members by Greg Campion
On Thursday, October 9, the Westwood High School chapter of Tri-M (the national musical honor society) welcomed twenty new members in an annual induction ceremony. The High School’s new Dean of Students Amy Davenport spoke at the event, lauding Tri-M members for demonstrating the strong work ethic required to study music. The society’s name, “Tri-M”, stands for “Modern Music Masters”, and members must be high school students who meet certain academic standards while remaining active in at least one of the school ensembles.  President Peter de Reyna, Vice President Radha Mastandrea, Secretary Lucy Somers, Treasurer Karen Choi, and Historians Mark Brooks and Greg Campion form the student Executive Board that leads our school’s chapter of Tri-M.
Spanish Club Celebrates Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) at Harvard
Students learned about the Mexican holiday while trying Mexican hot chocolate and dead bread, learning how to dance, making sugar skulls, papel picado etc.! We had a great day!

8th Annual Capturing Nature in Westwood Art Exhibit a Great Success!

The Capturing Nature in Westwood Art Exhibit was a great success. Members of the Westwood community came came to support local artist and budding young artists from Westwood Public Schools. Pictured to the left is a 3D sculpture by 10th grader Ben Adjami. 

National Honor Society Now Offers Peer Tutoring

Feeling Overwhelmed? 
We're here to help!

Peer tutoring offered all blocks in the Guidance Department. Drop in to the Guidance Office to see which NHS students are available.

WHS Student Participates in the All-National Orchestra in Nashville, TN!

Senior Upright Bass player Shaye Firmin participated in the All-National Orchestra, held in Nashville, TN from October 26-29th.  Students participated in three days of rehearsals and then performed on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry House.  Shaye is the first WHS student to be accepted into this prestigious ensemble. Congratulations!

Fall Play: November 5-8

Priscilla Dreams The Answer by Walt McGough
November 5th & 6th at 7:30pm
November 8th at 2pm & 5pm
Students - $10, Adults - $15
See both Cast A & B: Students - $15, Adults - $25
Priscilla, a young woman, has a seemingly normal life: she goes to work, comes home, watches TV game shows, and then spends the night bouncing from dream to dream. However, one thing in her life is not normal: these dreams are interrupted nightly by a phone call- from aliens. Priscilla is then asked to do the unthinkable- save the world. With the help of her favorite game show contestant and her eccentric boss, Priscilla works to rise to the occasion and find the answers she needs, or her life as she knows it will cease. Join Priscilla November 5th, 6th, and 8th as she discovers the real answers behind it all.

Winter Sports Registration Has Begun

Please take note of the following important dates:
Friday, November 14--Deadline.  All student athletes must be registered by their parents at and have an updated physical (no more than 13 months old) on file with the school nurse in order to tryout. 
Monday, December 1--The first day of tryouts for winter teams.
Friday, December 5--Payment is requested at the time of registration and is required once athletes are placed on a team.  To pay online, go to:

WHS Athletic App Now Available

Over the past several months, the Athletic Department has been working with the developers of the app that is now available to download through the Apple App store or GooglePlay.  The app has several components that will be helpful for students, staff and families, including links to:
  •  Athletic schedules for Freshman, JV and Varsity Teams
  • Rosters, Scores, and Standings 
  • Google Maps integration that will provide directions to all athletic events
  • Integration into your smartphone calendars program

Community Language Partners

Thurston Middle School and Westwood High School are seeking opportunities for kids and teachers to develop their language skills through authentic interactions and real-world experiences:  watching a cooking demonstration, learning about daily life (including school) in a Spanish or French speaking country, learning about popular television shows for kids, a favorite cartoon or  a popular children's’ song or game.  Our students want to speak to fluent speakers, and they need to practice asking and answering questions.  If you are willing,  we can find a way for you to share your experiences and provide authentic interactions for our students and/or teachers.

If you are a native or fluent French or Spanish speaker, or know someone who is, please reach out to us! (contact Kathy Lee or (781) 326-7500 X3313)  You do not need to be an educator or have experience working with kids.  There are many ways to get involved.  If you are not a native or fluent French or Spanish speaker but you have authentic props (medical jackets, restaurant uniforms, airline uniforms or forms, pamphlets, maps, menus in Spanish or French) or contacts in schools in Spanish or French speaking countries we would love to build our collection of authentic props and resources.  Thank you for your support of the Westwood students and teachers!


Thanksgiving Food Drive

Help support the Westwood Food Pantry! Key Club will be hosting a Thanksgiving Food Drive from Monday, November 3rd through Friday, November 14th. We will be collecting food and supplies in bins located in the lobby of Westwood High School before the holiday. The pantry is particularly in need of:

Non-perishable foods: tea bags, spaghetti sauce, juices, canned fruit, fruit cups, ketchup, mustard, canned goods (cranberries, vegetables, sauces, soups) boxed foods (potatoes, stuffing, baking mixes, rice)

Health & Beauty Supplies: toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, disposable razors, shaving cream, and deodorant.

Thank you for your support and participation!
Submitted by Bridget Murphy

Westwood Food Pantry Looking for Volunteers

The Westwood Food Pantry is looking for student volunteers to help with sorting food donations to be distributed for the holidays! The sorting event will take place on November 15, from 10:00-2:00, with two shifts of volunteers working to sort donations.

Go to the Sign-up form here: Contact Maya Plotkin at

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 Student Council Recycling Fundraiser

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

Important Dates to Keep in Mind

  • November 5: Early Release
  • November 11: Veterans Day (School closed)
  • November 12: Early Release
  • November 13: Pick-a-Time portal opens, 8:00 pm
  • 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: MLK 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 7*
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

*Please note: the last day of Term 1 have been changed from November 5 to November 7

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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