Important change to WPD-WHS practices regarding underage drinking

In the second week of February, I sent along the following letter to students and families, alerting them to an important change to the way we work with the Westwood Police Department. I share it here now to reiterate the message and to encourage parents to share their feedback with me:

February 11, 2016

Dear Westwood students and families,

I am writing to share with you information about an important change to the way we interact with the Westwood Police Department (WPD). 

As you may know, the Westwood Public Schools and the WPD have a Memorandum of Agreement that outlines our shared commitment to student health and safety. In 2013, I worked with Chief Silva to develop a common sense, realistic response to underage drinking and a deeply concerning pattern of behavior wherein teens would flee from the police to avoid facing school-based consequences for violating the MIAA’s chemical health policy. The practice provided students with the option to request to take a breathalyzer test if the police encountered them in response to a call reporting underage drinking. When employed under ideal conditions, the new practice enabled students to demonstrate clearly that they had not violated the MIAA policy.

The change was an innovative attempt at addressing a complex issue. Unfortunately, the practice has been impossible to implement consistently: the disorder and confusion of teen alcohol parties simply prevent police staff from using the breathalyzers consistently and exactly as outlined in the policy.

So, effective immediately, Westwood teens should not expect nor ask for a breathalyzer test if they are being processed by WPD staff at a party where alcohol is present. The police will continue to share with us information about teens' behavior when they determine that the behavior rises to the level of jeopardizing their or others' safety. Information regarding students' behavior occurring off of school grounds will be delivered from the WPD to WHS by the School Resource Officer and only in instances when student safety is a concern. 

While this decision alters what information we receive from the police, it does not change how we will respond to information they share: if we determine that a student-athlete violated the MIAA’s chemical health policy, we will respond as usual, imposing the consequences outlined by the MIAA. Our expectation is and has always been that all of our students - and particularly our student-athletes - make healthy choices when they find themselves in a situation where drugs or alcohol are present. 

Finally, I want to underscore the point that the only way to absolutely ensure that a student’s alcohol or other drug use at a party will not be reported to the school is to not attend any party where alcohol is present. Please take this opportunity to clarify with your son or daughter your expectations and values as a parent regarding alcohol use and attendance at parties.

Any questions about the WPD's policies and procedures would best be answered by Chief Jeffrey Silva, who can be reached at (781) 320-1000 or at

Sean Bevan

Site Council Updates

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 3/1/16 Meeting: 

  • WPS Budget update

    • The School Committee will vote at the March 23rd meeting and then it goes to Town Hall

  • The group identified some possible goals for the 2016-2017 School Improvement Plan

    • Analysis of course offerings

    • Looking for ways to support first -time WHS parents

  • Class Day/Graduation update

    • The Administration is looking to streamline Class Day/Graduation programming to create more consistency and thoughtfulness regarding the awards given out at these events

  • Thurston Middle School Principal Allison Borchers is working with Foundation for Westwood Education on a fall event with Michael Thompson.

Planning ahead in the case of extended April Vacations

April breaks is coming up and we want to remind parents that if your child is going to miss days leading up to or coming out of vacation weeks, communicating with teachers is key to staying current with their classmates.

We ask students to let their teachers know if they plan to miss days of instruction before a break. So that they don't fall behind, students should plan to collect any work that they will miss and speak with the teacher to determine when to turn that work in.

2016 MCAS Testing Dates

English Language Arts: March 22 - 24
Math: May 17 & 18
STE - Science: June 1 & 2

News From the Guidance Office

Course Selection for 2016-2017 School Year:
Students completed the course selection process last week on Aspen. Course confirmation letters will be sent home on March 31st verifying students’ course selections. If your child chose a higher level academic course than their teacher recommended a conversation with the teacher is encouraged. If you choose to override a recommendation, you must speak to the respective department head and complete a Request for Change of Recommended Level Form, these forms will be mailed home next week. Individual schedules, including courses, blocks and teacher assignments, will be sent home in August.

Information for Seniors:  
New Event!
So You’re In: Now What”, (Short) Wednesday, March 16th, 12:45 - 1:30 p.m.
The workshop is for seniors and will include a panel of former WHS graduates reflecting on their college choice, advice on comparing financial aid packages and selecting the best fit school after acceptance.

Westwood Community Scholarships & Awards
Seniors were given access to the Westwood Community Scholarships & Awards application. Students who wish to be considered for any community/school-based scholarships or non-monetary awards are encouraged to apply. 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. The deadline is April 7th.

Certificate of Mastery
Seniors who plan on attending one of the Massachusetts state colleges, and received an application for for the Stanley Z. Koplik Certificate of Mastery Scholarship, should submit the application to Guidance by May 1st. Additional requirements apply. Please contact your child’s guidance counselor with any questions.

Information for Juniors:
Parents are encouraged to submit the Parent Information Form, aka the “Parent Brag Sheet,” to their child’s guidance counselor. Information provided on these forms is very helpful for writing students’ letters of recommendation. (Download the form as a Word Doc, or save a copy as a Google Doc.)

The TEC College Fair will be held on March 23rd, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at WHS. Juniors are encouraged to attend.

Many juniors are in the process of preparing for spring SATs and ACTs. Access these links for information regarding SAT & ACT Test Prep and how to Register for the SAT and ACT.

Counselors will be meeting with juniors from now until the end of the year to discuss the college search process and developing a list of colleges. Parents and students are encouraged to visit the Junior Page of the Guidance website for helpful links and resources.

Information for Sophomores:
WHS will be offering the Practice ACT on Saturday, April 30th. The vast majority of our students take the ACT during the junior year and the Guidance Office recommends that all sophomores take this practice test. Please complete the Practice ACT Registration Form and return to the Guidance Office by April 22nd.

News From the Nurse's Office

Grade 12: Health Insurance:  It is very important that you check your health insurance for your graduating senior.  The Affordable Care Act ensures that children can be covered under their parent’s health insurance until they are 26.  But make sure your insurance will cover them if they will live out of state or out of your insurance network.  Often insurance will only cover for emergency care, not routine care, if you are out of state or out of network.  Check now to make adjustments in your coverage if needed especially if your child has a chronic illness.  But no one can predict the future and what condition your child may develop.  Medical care is expensive!!

Grade 12: Once your child is accepted to college many forms will come in the mail for them to fill out.  One important form is documentation of current immunizations.  Your child won’t be able to register for classes until this form is completed and returned.  If your child needs help with this or has questions, please tell them to come to the nurse’s office for help.  Many colleges also require a current physical so make sure you schedule an appointment with the pediatrician.  The high school nurse’s office is closed during the summer so don’t wait.

Emergency Information: Please check your emergency information in aspen and change it if necessary.  It is very important that you can be reached in an emergency.  If any of your phone numbers have changed make sure you change it in aspen.  If you forget how to make changes, go the
high school web site and instructions are available.

Individual Health Plans (IHP): If your child has an individual health plan in place at school, take time to review it.  The plan must be renewed each year so now is a good time to see if what is in place is working for your child.  New plans for next year will be mailed home in May.  Call Mrs. Poreda or Mrs. Galvin if you have any questions.

In the News:  We have all been hearing a lot of information about the Zika virus.  For all the latest information and how to protect yourself,
click here

Mumps in the News:  There have been reports of students in surrounding colleges having mumps.  You may have many questions about mumps and want to know if your child is at risk.  Click here to learn about mumps.

Ticks: Spring is wonderful but it brings ticks.  To learn more about tick borne diseases and how to avoid them, go to
the CDC 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.

Order your Green Years Yearbook TODAY!

The 2016 Green Years Yearbook is now available to purchase online

Parents consider placing a personalized ad recognizing your graduate in this year's Yearbook. Show them how proud you are with this lasting gift before you send them off to tackle the world.

WPS Bus Registration for 2016-2017

Bus Stickers will not be issued to Middle and High School Students.  At the end of August, please check the Aspen Portal to see what Bus # your child(ren) have been assigned to. The Bus Routes will be posted on the District Website and in the local newspaper.       
The annual bus fee for 2016-2017 will be $180.00 per student.  The annual family cap will remain at $450.00 for all students in grades K-12.

Online Bus Registration
If you are interested in Bus Transportation for your child, please visit the Westwood Public Schools’ website at and click on, On-Line Payments, Bus Transportation Registration & Payment.  After reading the FAQ’s, you can Register and pay online for Transportation. To guarantee a seat on the bus, registration and payment must be received by the June 30th deadline.
Parents will need their child’s Student ID # (except for Kindergarten) which can be found on elementary school lunch invoices, middle school lunch cards, report cards or high school ID cards.  Please make sure to enter the grade your child will be entering next September.
Heath Petracca
Director of Business & Finance

Conversations with Barent Walsh, Ph.D.

Westwood Public Schools 
with generous support from 

IAM Strong Foundation

Typical Adolescent Development and When to Seek Help
March 15, 2015
Westwood High School Little Theater

Non-suicidal Self-injury in Adolescents
April 26, 2015
Westwood High School Little Theater

Barent Walsh, received his Ph.D. from Boston College. He has written extensively and presented internationally on the topic of self-destructive behavior. He is the author of the book, Treating Self-Injury: A Practical Guide 2nd edition, Guilford Press, (2012) and two other books on self-harm. As the Executive Director of The Bridge in Worcester, MA., Dr. Walsh oversees 46 programs including supported housing and residential treatment for children, adolescents, and adults with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and/or complex family problems. The Bridge also provides services for homeless individuals and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth. Dr. Walsh is intensively trained in DBT and Cognitive Restructuring for PTSD.
*photo and bio courtesy of The Bridge

Age of Opportunity Book Group

Encounters with the Arts: March 22

Westwood High School students have begun preparing for “Encounters with the Arts”, an open house of art, theatre, and music which will take place on Tuesday, March 22nd from 7:00 - 9:00 PM. This event will mark the 22nd annual celebration of arts achievement at Westwood High School.

March is National Youth Art Month, Music in our Schools Month, as well as Theatre in Our Schools Month. These observances are on full display during the Encounters with the Arts night. The program will showcase various music and theatre performances as well as an expansive visual arts exhibit.

All performances and exhibitions will take place in the Visual and Performing Arts wing at the high school. Admission is free.

This is a wonderful opportunity for students to showcase their talent and creativity with the community. It is also a perfect opportunity for middle school students and their parents to observe the wide array of elective opportunities available to them at the high school.

For additional information, please contact:
Heather Cote, K-12 Director of Performing Arts, (781) 326-7500 X4368
Katie Thurston, K-12 Director of Art, (781) 326-7500 X4382

Tri-M Music Honor Society Update

by Gigi Cianciarulo, Historian

On March 22, the visual and performing arts groups will come together for  Encounters with the Arts. This night highlights performances of the musical groups, theater performances and art classes at Westwood High School. The event will be held at the Westwood High School Auditorium, and art pieces will be showcased throughout the Auditorium Lobby. Make sure to stop by the Tri-M table to pick up your CD, only $5. Additionally, the CD will be sold at select lunches outside of the cafeteria and at every concert thereafter. All proceeds will go to the Gitameit Music Center.

This year, Tri-M is proud to be partnering with 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. 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.
 The WHS PTO will host a Spring Marketplace on Saturday, April 2 at the WHS gymnasium. The  Marketplace is sure to be a retail favorite for those seeking unique gifts.  Shoppers will have  access to over 30 vendors and artisans from New England and afar.  Available wares included gourmet foods, handmadejewelry, artwork, crafts, and clothing.  The first 100 Shoppers will also receive a reusable shopper from Wegmans.   Students and Sports Teams encouraged to have a table for more info please email

All Night Grad Party is Looking for Volunteers

The All Night Graduation Committee needs your help!

On Sunday June 5th, the Senior Class will continue the tradition of the All Night Graduation Party (ANGP). 

The party is a parent volunteer coordinated event which allows  the senior class of students one final chance to celebrate their graduation and spend quality time with friends and classmates in a safe environment. The event runs all night until 5:00 am. Thanks to the extraordinary, behind-the-scene, creative efforts of our ANGP committee which is currently underway, areas of the high school will be transformed into an amazing, themed party where seniors will be treated to many hours of endless entertainment, activities, food, snacks and fun BUT we need your help!! Please gather your friends and sign up to volunteer your time to make this a success.  Any amount of time that you can volunteer is a huge help.

The All Night Graduation Committee

News from Spanish Club

The Spanish and Mexican tradition of making and breaking piñatas filled with candy to celebrate a variety of festive occasions (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) has been around for many centuries.  WHS Spanish Club members recently put the finishing touches on their own piñata projects.  Over the past month, students worked in small groups and completed the project in a few different phases: concept design, building the base for the piñata, covering it in several layers of papier-mâché, painting, and finally, filling the piñatas with candy.  Designs included: Mickey Mouse, a ladybug, a football, a pig, and a likeness of Spanish Club's own Señorita Testa's head.  A future fiesta is planned to break the piñatas and enjoy the treats inside.

February Vacation - Costa Rica Trip

Over February Break, 16 students travelled to Costa Rica where they immersed themselves in the Costa Rican culture through Service Learning and adventure activities. Students learned about the reforestation efforts throughout the country in the hopes of reconnecting some of the rain forests to ensure survival of Costa Rican wildlife. We spent time planting trees along the reforestation path as well as learning about the plants and animals in the area. Students spent time at 2 different schools where we interacted with the students and faculty; WHS students practiced their Spanish skills, as well as their hula-hoop, soccer, Connect Four and jump rope skills! Later in the week, as we travelled north, we helped a local high school create gravel paths that cut through the cloud forest. This community has an under 10% graduation rate, so the high school, which focuses on hands-on ecological education, runs on income from tourists who tour the forest around the school. In the afternoons, we horseback rode, went rafting, went zip lining, hiked around volcanos, toured the rain, cloud and dry forests, took a cooking class, bathed in natural hot springs and took a dip in the Pacific! It was a great trip!
WHS Celebrates Chinese New Year!
"The Chengdu Exchange Program, Ms. Spollen's Mandarin students, and Ms. Chu's Asian Culture Club celebrated Chinese New Year on February 8th. Students enjoyed lantern making, crafts, traditional Chinese foods, and more! Thank you to all of our wonderful student participants and all the support from the school, staff, and administrators. For more information or questions, please contact Ms. Spollen."
"The Asian Culture Club and the Mandarin Program held their annual Chinese New Year event with the Integrated Preschool to celebrate the year of the Monkey! Students and Ms. Chu taught preschoolers about the Chinese celebration, preformed a dragon dance, and had a show and tell with Chinese crafts. At the end, preschoolers learned some Chinese phrases and were given Lai See (red chinese envelopes that are traditional gifts to children for the holiday)! For more information or questions, please contact Ms. Chu."
News from Mandarin
Mandarin 1, 2 and 3 students were excited to host Westwood High's first-ever student exchange group from China!  Over 8 days in February, Mandarin students spent time with their counterparts from Chengdu High School both in and out of class, studying, having fun and deepening their understanding of the Chinese language and culture.  Throughout the exchange, WHS students had multiple opportunities to use their Mandarin skills in their interactions with the Chinese students. First, for a Chinese-style reception, the Mandarin students created Chinese-character welcome posters to greet the Chengdu students on their arrival.  Over several class periods, Mandarin students interviewed their Chinese counterparts and gave presentations in Chinese about Chengdu High School ("they get so much homework!"), Chengdu food ("hen la" - spicy), music and social networking in China.  Work over, the students relaxed over traditional Chinese games, including the Chinese versions of yoyo, hackey sack and Weiqi (chess).  A highlight of the exchange was the unexpected snow day.  WHS students got to share their expertise in sledding and making snowballs with the Chengdu students, most of whom who had never seen snow before.  This was an amazing experience for WHS students who were able to interact face-to-face with actual Chinese teens, and use the language and culture they have been studying to create friendships.   
News From French
On February 10th, French 5/AP students “hung out” via Google with Noah Ouelette ‘13, who is living and studying in Paris for his spring semester. Noah graciously talked to us about life in his host family, his political science classes at the Sorbonne, and how he spends his free time in and around the City of Light, all in impeccable French! Our next scheduled French hang out will be with his buddy André Brodksy ‘13, who is also studying abroad in Paris this spring.
Congratulations to Elese Gaydos, Jessie Kreinsen, Meredith Brodsky, Mary Matar, and KellyAnne Leone for making the winning dessert « Le gâteau aux double brownies » and securing 1st Place in the 1st Stage of « Tour de la Classe de Français 5/AP 2016 ». More news to come about Stage 2, which, rumor has it, is the hardest creative and linguistic climb of this year’s « Tour»!
French Club
French Club students thinking of words during a recent French Scrabble face off. Special thanks once again to the Westwood PTO for their generous grant toward language-building games like this one, and French Bananagrams. Merci!
Master crêpe maker Despina Aslanidis ‘18 and Sous-chef Ben Dubiner ’17 make crêpes for the French Mardi Gras holiday « La Chandeleur ». Students learned about the holiday while they ate typical French crêpes: butter-sugar; raspberry jam, Nutella, with healthy doses of whipped cream!
French 4 Poetry Slam
Juniors Owen Doherty and Deborah Getachew communicate the poetry of relative pronouns while reciting their respective poems « Le hamster » and « Le printemps » to their classmates and fellow slammers.
Friendship Club is Raising Funds for Cradles to Crayons
Friendship Club will be selling candy bars for $1.00 during lunch block to raise money for the children's charity Cradles to Crayons. We are collecting donations of children's gently used and new  clothing, new sneakers, and children's books. There are collection boxes outside of the library, or you can bring donations to the TEC classroom, Room A124.  Please support this worthy cause!
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 Featured_Products.html. 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

  • March 16: Early Release
  • March 18: Prom Fashion Show
  • March 22 - 24: MCAS ELA Testing
  • March 22: Encounter with the Arts
  • March 23: TEC College Fair
  • March 30: Early Release 
  • April 13: Early Release
  • April 18 - 22: April Vacation
  • April 27: Early Release

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

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