Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee, 4.5.17


Thanks to Hamilton and Wenham Town Meeting

I want to say “thank you” to the voters at Hamilton and Wenham Town Meeting for overwhelmingly supporting the Hamilton-Wenham Regional District’s FY18 Budget at April 1st’s Annual Town Meetings. I also want to thank the members of the Boards of Selectmen and the Finance Committees from Hamilton and Wenham for their support for the FY18 Budget. This was an incredibly challenging budget season. This was mostly due to the shift in our enrollment from Hamilton to Wenham. I truly appreciate the spirit of collaboration that exists between the Towns and the H-W District. As we look towards next year’s FY19 budget development, which is shaping up to be an even more challenging process, we will need to rely on our shared dedication to providing the resources that prepare our students to be “future ready” more than ever.

Thanks to School Committee Member Deb…

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What does your digital footprint look like?

After watching the video “Think Twice Your Digital Footprint Matters” I realized that work of this magnitude with our children in schools and at home is never done.   We can never talk about appropriate online activities just once with our students.  It needs to be a consistent message that is shared by parents, students, school personnel and members of the community.

At our high school we have seen an uptick in the inappropriate use of mostly phone-based apps that include Snapchat, Instagram, Finsta and other apps designed to mask activity.   According to the video, 40 percent of teens admit to sexting or inappropriate use of technology. A Shocking numer.  In our school, that would be over 200 students.

Even though our children see and hear the messages about the importance of their online footprint including pictures, videos and chats, we still find instances where students have been involved in something inappropriate.   It is extremely easy for kids to mask what they are doing by using apps designed for a double use like the Calculator% app that looks like a calculator but when the right combination of numbers is entered, it opens a hidden world of photos and videos.  Apps like this are readily available to our kids and are usually free.

My message today is to bring this issue to your attention and to hopefully head off a potential serious problem for our children.  Please have the discussion, check out their phones and underscore the impact that poor choices relating to online activity.  It is important that we all continue to work together to be proactive and have the important conversation about online activity, including the resulting consequences.  I have added some links at the bottom of this post that may be useful.

I hope this post opens the door for more conversation at home. We will continue to have the conversation with the students at school through health classes and special presentations.  I believe that these instances are teachable moments for everyone.  Teachable moments that can be valuable as our students look toward their futures!

Links that may be of interest:

HWRHS to host a “Mental Health Stability in College” panel discussion

American Psychological Association research indicates that university and college counseling centers have noticed a shift in the needs of students seeking counseling services from more developmental and informational needs, to more severe psychological problems. Please join us for a discussion about managing student mental health in college. What supportive signs should you look for on college campus? What can you do if your child is in crisis while at college? Hear from area college representatives about their various offerings and have the opportunity to ask questions. According to a 2012 survey done by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 73% of college students reported having a mental health crisis while in college:

Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School will host a “Mental Health Stability in College” panel discussion on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. in the Ferrini Auditorium. The event is co-sponsored by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater North Shore. This presentation is for families who have possible mental health concerns about a child preparing to go off to college. The discussion is free and open to the public.

Hamilton Wenham shines at DECA State Career Development Conference

Hamilton-Wenham seniors Samuel Boudrot and Taylor Ross had phenomenal
success at the 58th Massachusetts DECA State Career Development Conference
(SCDC) at the Marriott Copley and Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Boudrot
placed third and Ross placed fourth in their competitive categories qualifying for the
International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in Anaheim, California. 19
Hamilton-Wenham students joined over 2,700 students, advisors and business
professionals attending the high school conference where students compete in over
50 categories of marketing, hospitality, finance and entrepreneurship.

Boudrot competed in Principles of Finance and received achievement medallions for
second place on the comprehensive test portion of competition and second place on
the first of his two role-play events. Ross competed in Quick Service Restaurant
Management and received a third place medallion for her first role-play event.
Sophomores Lauren Verge and Valerie Wise had a strong showing placing top 10
overall in their category of Travel and Tourism Marketing Team Decision Making.
Ross and junior Amy Thissell campaigned for positions on the DECA State Action
team, the student-elected government for MASS-DECA. Although unsuccessful,
Advisor Laura Wheeler shared, “I could not be more proud of Taylor and Amy. The
loss was heartbreaking for them, me, and the team, but the work they put in and the
campaigns they produced were top notch.”

The Hamilton-Wenham DECA Quiz Bowl team composed of senior Cooper Nielsen,
juniors Alec MacDonald and Kaili Guyer, and sophomore Eli Leonard held strong for
two rounds but succumbed to Burlington High School in round 3 who went on to
win the tournament.
Twelve students will be receiving a certificate of professional competency for their
performance at the SCDC meaning that they performed above the national standard
in one or more of their performance areas: Senior Arthur Doggett in Personal
Financial Literacy, sophomores Cameron Guyer and Thomas Colucci in Sports and
Entertainment Marketing Team Decision Making, junior Cameron Vautour in
Principles of Finance, junior Caroline Donellan in Human Resources Management,
junior James Goudie in Principles of Marketing, senior Jack Suminsby in Automotive
Services Marketing; sophomores Lauren Verge and Valerie Wise in Travel and
Tourism Marketing Team Decision Making, senior Samuel Boudrot in Principles of
Finance, senior Taylor Ross in Quick Service Restaurant Management, and junior
William Curtis in Business Finance Series event.
Additionally, Hamilton-Wenham earned 8 allocations for the prestigious Leadership
Development Academy at the ICDC through chapter campaigns on the state and
national levels. The team received a national plaque for their efforts.
Overall Wheeler was impressed with their showing at the conference and their
willingness to immerse themselves in this new program this year. “The students at
Hamilton-Wenham have truly embraced the DECA program and made the most of
their first year. From presenting to the Rotary Club and meeting local business
members to practicing role-plays and networking with MASS-DECA members at the
SCDC, they have learned valuable job skills that get them out of the classroom and
into the real world of business.”
The SCDC took place over March 9-11 with principles, series and team competitors
taking a 100-question comprehensive exam then performing 2 role-plays in front of
business professionals who volunteer as judges. Role-plays are common business
scenarios where the student is asked to solve a problem and present their solution
to the judge while covering specific performance indicators. Project competitors
presented their research and prepared papers at the conference.
DECA is a co-curricular organization of high school business students with over
200,000 members in all 50 states, four US territories, Canada, Mexico and Germany.
DECA helps students develop skills for successful careers, builds self-esteem,
provides leadership opportunities and stresses community involvement and service.
In order to become a DECA member at Hamilton-Wenham, students must be
enrolled in a qualifying business related course during the school year or have taken
a qualifying course during a previous school year. Qualifying courses include
Financial Literacy, Sports & Entertainment Marketing, Economics and Math and
Finance. In addition to Mrs. Wheeler, the students were joined by chaperone Matt
Fitzgibbons, Guidance Counselor.

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To learn more about DECA, visit