Friday, September 29, 2017

September 29, 2017

Good afternoon-

A big thank you to the many parents who made it out for Back to School Night last night.  The teachers were appreciative of your time and flexibility!  I realize the time wasn't the best for all but there is never going to be a time that works for everyone.  I appreciate the comments and feedback. 

It's hard to believe October is here!
Please keep some important dates in mind as you plan:
October 4- Courageous Conversations-Wonder
October 9- No School
October 16-20- Homecoming week! More details to follow
October 17- all school assembly to hear Jamele Adams!
October 18- picture retake day & early release for students at 12:35pm
October 24- Courageous Conversations- Love.Inclusion.Trust
October 26- National Honor Society induction

Author Julie Berry will be coming to the Ashland Public Library on Wednesday, October 11 from 6:30 - 7:30 after spending a day at Mindess doing presentations to all grades and creative writing workshops with all 5th graders. The idea for her newest book, “The Emperor’s Ostrich”, was hatched during one of these creative writing workshops at Mindess several years ago.  Those students are probably freshman or sophomores now.  Ms. Berry dedicated this book to the children of Mindess and she wants them to know that it is truly through the creative writing process she taught them that books are born.  Attached is a YouTube clip of “The Emperor’s Ostrich”.  

Have a wonderful weekend and be sure to check out the Parent Flyers .
Ashland Raises Healthy & Happy Kids
Ways to Prevent Obesity and Eating Disorders in Adolescents
Below are some evidence based (scientifically researched) strategies to prevent eating issues, both obesity and eating disorders, in adolescents.
  1. Do not diet. Dieting is associated with greater weight gain and increased rates of binge eating in both boys and girls. Dieting is counterproductive to weight management efforts. Dieting can also predispose to eating disorders. In a large study of 14 and 15 year olds, students who severely restricted their calorie intake and skipped meals were 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who did not diet; those who dieted at a moderate level had a fivefold increased risk.
  2. Eat family meals when you can. Eating family dinners most days was found to be protective against purging behaviors, binge eating, and frequent dieting. Theories for why family meals are protective include the following: families will consume healthier foods than teenagers would choose on their own; parents can model healthy food choices; family meals provide a time for teenagers and parents to interact; and parents can monitor their child’s eating and address issues earlier when they are aware of their child’s eating behavior.
  3. Do not talk about weight.  Several studies have found that parental weight talk, whether it involves encouraging their children to diet or talking about their own dieting or weight, is linked to children being overweight or having eating disorders. Parents who had conversations about weight had adolescents who were more likely to engage in dieting, unhealthy weight-control behaviors, and binge eating.
  4. Focus on healthy eating. If parents talk about healthy food choices, overweight adolescents are less likely to diet and to use unhealthy weight-control behaviors.
  5. Promote a healthy body image. Approximately half of teenage girls and one-quarter of teenage boys are dissatisfied with their bodies; these numbers are higher in overweight teenagers. Instead of talking about weight and looks, emphasize what your child’s body can do and encourage healthy eating and exercise.

Friday, September 22, 2017

September 22, 2017

Time flies when you are having fun!  The first 15 days of the 2017-2018 have been full of laughter and learning at AHS.  I had a great time at Ashland Day which is always one of the most fun events of the year.  It was great to see so many people there supporting the great work our students are doing at AHS.  My daughter and I enjoyed the photo booths!

 This year, in a concerted effort to make more opportunities for student voice to be heard, the Deans and I are implementing mobile office hours.  Wednesday morning I spent about two hours sitting at a desk outside the library. It was fun and I learned a lot.  My first lesson was that kids definitely think it's weird for the principal to sit at a student desk in the hallway.  Many got over that and stopped to ask what I was doing and answer a few questions posted on a white board.  A few staff members stopped by for meetings too.  It was the best two hours of my week!

I asked the students "what is your hope for the school year?" and "what could make AHS better?"  Their answers were awesome.  Besides the request for tater tots, tacos, bigger apples and a salad bar (I will share these answers with Nutrition Services) students had some great responses for how to make AHS better.  My favorite? SMILE-I love that and it was written a couple of times.  I also loved "people who encourage greatness, and for the people who do, to keep it up."  Student hopes for the school year were just as inspiring and thought provoking...."for students to use their words and actions to make AHS an accepting, welcoming, clean (!) environment for all", "to create a more accepting school environment, a place where people aren't afraid to have a bad day every once in a while", and finally "to set a good example for younger students in the school!".  This is such a caring community filled with kindness and compassion.  Knowing that the majority of AHS students feel this way is what makes this job so enjoyable.    

Students can have their voice heard several other ways.  Please encourage your student to consider joining the School Site Council or the Principal's Advisory Council.  Any interested student should reach out to Ms. St. Coeur for more information. 

Back to School Night!
The AHS Back to School Night is Thursday, September 28th from 5-6:30pm.  This evening is an opportunity for you to walk through your child's entire schedule, meet their teachers, and here about the course expectations & syllabus.  I look forward to welcoming everyone with a very brief introduction before starting classroom visits at 5:15pm.  I do realize the time is earlier than normal but we are trying to fit in multiple events in a short time period. Thank you in advance for your flexibility. 
News from Student Council:
Just a reminder that the Student Council is running a fundraiser this Sunday at Barnes and Noble in Framingham, where we will get a percent of all proceeds for any purchase made with a voucher.  I've left vouchers in your mailboxes; it's also attached to this email.  
For those of you with little kids, we're running a bunch of activities during the day (so you can drop them off with us, and then have some quiet shopping time!)  They can "make their own Golden Book" from 11:30 - 12:30 with members of the Student Council.  Then from 12:30 - 3:30, we're running story time / game time -- members of the Student Council will be reading and playing board games and group games with anyone there (just over in the children's section.)

At 3pm, Jenn McMahon will be reading from her new book, Inish Clare, and will be discussing the writing process, taking questions, and signing books.  Come on out to support her!

 Vouchers are available on the AHS Student Council website at We will also have them available at the store from 11:30am - 4pm that day while we're running our events.
Finally, the vouchers are good at any Barnes and Noble this Sunday (9/24) as well as online at (and online, they're good from Sunday 9/24 until 9/28).

Hope to see some of you there!

The entire Ashland community is invited to join “Team Peach” as we walk to honor the memory of Brendan Petry and support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The 3-mile walk will take place on Sunday, Sept. 24th from 10am - 12 noonstarting at the Natick High School track, 15 West Street, and proceeding through Natick.  Support the Petry family by wearing the color peach, as a nod to Brendan’s nickname, and walk to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. Please also consider making a tax-deductible donation on Brendan’s behalf - even a small amount would be appreciated: For more information, email Sue Sicard at

Class of 2018! Grynn & Barrett will be at AHS for Senior Portraits on Monday, October 2nd for anyone that needs their yearbook photo taken.  

Please take a moment to review the Parent Flyers to check out what is going on around town.

Ashland Raises Healthy & Happy Kids:
Seven Phrases To Calm an Anxious Child
It happens to every child (and adult) in one form or another – anxiety. We would like to shield our children from life’s anxious moments, but navigating anxiety is a valuable life skill.  In the heat of the moment, try these simple phrases to help your children identify, accept, and work through their anxious moments.

  1. “Can you draw it?” Drawing, painting or doodling about an anxiety provides kids with an outlet for their feelings when they can’t use their words.
  2. “I love you. You are safe.”
  3. “Let’s count _____.”  Counting the number of people wearing hats, the number of tiles on the floor, or the number of kids in the room requires observation and thought, both of which detract from the anxiety your child is feeling.
  4. “I get scared/nervous/anxious sometimes too. It’s no fun.”   
  5. “If you gave your­­ feeling a color, what would it be?” Asking your child to say how they feel with a color, gives them a chance to think about how they feel relative to something simple. Follow up by asking why their feeling is that color.
  6. “Let’s have a debate.”  Older children especially love this exercise because they have permission to debate their parent. Have a point, counter-point style debate about the reasons for their anxiety. You may learn a lot about their reasoning in the process.  
  7. “Let me hold you.”  Physical contact provides a chance for your child to relax and feel safe

Friday, September 15, 2017

September 15, 2017

Good afternoon & happy Friday!

It was a busy and exciting first full week of school. I have loved seeing all of the creative learning happening across the building. Today my day started with local speaker and Brandeis Dean of Students, Jamele Adams, working with our peer leaders on love, inclusion, and trust. As we work towards creating an environment that is safe and supportive of all learners I encourage you to have family conversations about treating everyone with respect, despite our differences.

Just a reminder, there is no school next Thursday. Happy Rosh Hashanah to all those who celebrate.

School council:
The AHS School Council is a group mandated by the MA Department of Education to assist the principal in:
1. Adopting educational goals for the school that are consistent with local educational policies and statewide student performance standards.
2. Identifying the educational needs of students attending the school.
3. Reviewing the annual school building budget.
4. Formulating a school improvement plan.
For any school that contains grades nine to twelve, the council shall review the student handbook each spring to consider changes in disciplinary policy to take effect for the following school year. 

The council is made up of AHS administration, faculty, students and parents.  We are currently seeking nominations to fill 2 two-year parent spots as well as 2 two year student spots on the council.  If you are interested in running for a position or would like more information please let me know at  Students are also encouraged to email me or come to the office for more information.

Elections for parents are held at Back-to-School Night and student elections will take place at lunch on the same day.   We will determine meeting days in the near future but most meetings are held at 4pm for approximately 90 minutes.  

Back to School Night!

The AHS Back to School Night is Thursday, September 28th from 5-6:30pm.  This evening is an opportunity for you to walk through your child's entire schedule, meet their teachers, and here about the course expectations & syllabus.  

News from Student Council:
On Sunday, September 24th, the Ashland High School Student Council will be running a fundraiser at Barnes and Noble.  For any purchase made with a voucher (good at any Barnes and Noble), the AHS Student Council will get a percent of the sale.

Throughout the day, members of the Student Council will be running some child-friendly events at the Framingham Barnes and Noble (where you can drop off your kids and enjoy some quite time to shop!)  From 11:30 - 12:30, they will be assisting children in creating, writing, and illustrating their own Golden Book.  Then from 12:30pm - 3:30pm, they be bringing some of their favorite children's board games to play with your children while you shop.  They will also be reading some of their favorite children's stories.

In addition, at 3pm local author and AHS guidance counselor Jenn McMahon will be reading selections from her recently published book Inish Clare. She'll also be signing copies and leading a discussion on the author's craft.

Vouchers are available on the AHS Student Council website at We will also have them available at the store from 11:30am - 4pm that day while we're running our events.

We are also super proud of 10th grader Eryn Flynn who will be doing her own author event at Barnes & Noble this coming Wednesday, September 20
Stop by and see her at Ashland Day as well!

Please take a moment to review the Parent Flyers to check out what is going on around town.

Tips to Boost your (and your child’s) Mental Health
The beginning of the school year can be busy and tiring and overwhelming. Below are some tips to help your whole family relax and stay mentally healthy.
  1. Focus on gratitude and achievement. At dinner each night, have everyone say one thing they were grateful for today and one thing they achieved.
  2. Work your strengths. Do something you’re good at to build self-confidence, then tackle a tougher task. This can be especially helpful with homework.
  3. Do something creative. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked.
  4. Laugh every day! Laughter reduces anxiety.
  5. Go off the grid. Set aside time each day to put away electronics and spend time with friends or family without the interruption of texts and notifications.
  6. Move daily. Play tag with your kids, dance every night as a family, play a fun sport. Exercise/movement reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and increases endorphins (the body’s “feel good” chemicals).
  7. Write. Writing about upsetting experiences has been shown to reduce depression.
  8. Spend time with a furry friend. Time with animals lowers cortisol, and boosts oxytocin - which stimulates feelings of happiness.
  9. Try prepping your lunch and/or planning your outfits for the week. Planning ahead can give you a sense of control.
  10. Spend time in nature. We are lucky to have Ashland and Hopkinton State Parks close by. Research shows that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost well-being.

Friday, September 8, 2017


Good afternoon and happy Friday!  

Today was one of my favorite (yet most exhausting days) of the year.  After shortened classes in the morning we enjoyed a whole school activity geared at teaching/reviewing our core values and expectations in all parts of the building and grounds. The entire student body was divided into mixed grade groups for ice breakers, games, and creating videos demonstrating the core values in action.  It has been fun to preview some of the videos this afternoon as the PBIS team reviews them to choose the best.  Our PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports) team puts so much work into this great activity each year.  For the second year in a row the Peer Leaders ran the activities.  The demonstrated true leadership and school spirit.  It was fun to watch the students have a good time with the core values and           expectations while also thinking about what they really mean.

After the all-school activity the entire student body headed to the gym for our annual Convocation, a pep rally of sorts where the seniors receive the key to the school.  The Class of 2018 showed their spirit and encouraged the other classes to make the most of their time in high school.  Class president, Jess DeBenedictis, encouraged the student body to "clock out" of school by finding a fun activity to get involved in.  Come to the football game, go to the dance, enjoy hall decorating.

 The seniors took their "fire truck" picture, always a favorite!


All in all it was a day of fun and with a lot of learning about values and expectations built in!

Progress report windows for iStudent and iParent are now open and will remain open at all times expect immediately preceding report cards.  Students and parents are able to access grades, attendance, schedule, etc. Students should be starting to settle into classes and making sure they are in the right place for their ability. Teachers are obligated to update grades at least every two weeks so please be patient if you do not see grades entered.  As a reminder, the add/drop period for semester 1 ends next Thursday, September 14.

Picture Day is next Wednesday, September 13.  Picture forms can be picked up in the main office.

Back to School Night!
The AHS Back to School Night is Thursday, September 28th from 5-6:30pm.  This evening is an opportunity for you to walk through your child's entire schedule, meet their teachers, and here about the course expectations & syllabus.  

Student drivers must have their parking permits by next Friday, September 15.  Parking forms can be picked up in the main office.  The forms, along with a copy of the car registration and student license, must be turned in with the payment.  If you or your student need a payment plan please see one of the Deans.  We are happy to work out weekly payments if needed.  

If your student rides the bus remember that only items that students can hold on their laps are allowed on the bus.  Excluded items are large musical instruments, large sports equipment and bags, and large projects.  Parents must transport these items themselves.

Exciting news from the Ashland Public Library!
 31 AHS students registered for the summer reading program and read 48,667 minutes!  That is amazing and I was excited to hear one student sharing how many minutes she had done and that she had won a prize.  Nice to hear kids talking about the fun of summer reading!

Please take a moment to review the Parent Flyers to check out what is going on around town.

Friday, September 1, 2017


We had a great first couple of days at AHS!  It has been fantastic having the energy of the students back in the building.  We started the year focusing on relationships and Ms. Carreiro, Ms. Lachapelle and I had a great time letting students know they were ready and we were glad they were back on Wednesday morning.  I am a firm believer in building relationships first and enjoyed seeing the many activities around the building where classes got to know each other while also learning (the variety of BINGO games were my favorites!) Teachers were creative, excited, and thoughtful.

At the beginning of August I welcomed the new AHS staff in our back to school letter.  I'd like to "reintroduce" them and welcome them to the Ashland High School family:
Erin Lachapelle joins us as the new Dean of Students.  She is the Dean for the 10th & 12th grades.
Shafiya Finger is our new School Psychologist.  She will work with students on IEP's who need social/emotional support but she is a resource for all.  We wish Heather Smith Canney the best as she moves on to a new position.
We are excited to welcome Terri Henry who has taught for APS for many years.  She is joining us as a computer science/technology teacher.
Stephen McKeon is taking over the reigns of the Academic Foundations classroom.  His predecessor, Erin Cameron, has moved to a new role in the special education department.
Mary Nemeth joins us as the music teacher.  She will teach Chorus, guitar, and new Musical Theater class.
Maureen Wiencek joins us as our new full-time nurse (she worked for us two days a week for the past couple of years) and Erin Gaiero will be the new part-time addition to the nursing team.
We also have two enthusiastic ESP's, Kathleen Siplas and Justin Ventola, joining the special education department.
We are thrilled to welcome all of these professionals to the Ashland community and know they share our passion for helping all kids succeed.

Next week we will continue establishing our expectations for all students.  Wednesday we will meet with all classes to review important information and updates.  We do ask that you spend time as a family reviewing the AHS Student Handbook then sign off.  Friday is our Convocation Day.  We will do a fun all school activity planned by the PBIS team and run by the Peer Leaders to review our core values and behavior expectations.  It is a fun day of building connections and kicking the year off in a positive manner which culminates in the Class of 2018 the key to the school.

We were surprised at the number of students in the building on Wednesday at 7am despite our new start time.  They were super excited to get back to learning!  As a reminder, students should plan to arrive at AHS no earlier than 7:45am. The building will not be accessible and students will remain in the back lobby/cafeteria until 8:10am unless they are there for a club/activity meeting.  Breakfast will be served at 7:45am.

Bus drop off & pick up has gone relatively well, with immense improvements over the two days.  A couple of buses were late Wednesday and Thursday, which happens every year as they work out the kinks, but students were assured they were not marked tardy,  Parent drop off is in the back of the building until 8:20am.  After the start of the school day ALL students and visitors must enter the building through the front doors and check in with the front office.

The late bus will pick up students wishing to stay after school at 3:45pm.  Students should be out front waiting for the bus.  The late bus runs Monday through Thursday.

Student parking is at the side of the building with the solar panels.  Students can not park in any of the other lots.  Buses for athletics will be pulling into the back lot each day at approximately 2:45pm so anyone parking there could be blocked in.  Students must have their parking pass purchased by Friday, September 15.  Forms can be found in the main office and students should bring a copy of their license & registration with the application and payment.  The front office can not make copies but there is a copier in the library.

After school help is available on a daily basis.  Teachers are available by appointment and each department has a designated day each week when teachers will be available for drop-in assistance. Teachers will share information about their individual availability with their classes.

Auditions for the AHSTS fall production of Museum are Tuesday, September 5th at 3PM in the theater. Callbacks are Wednesday, September 6th at 3PM. No preparation is required for auditions. Audition information and forms are located at

Please take a moment to review the Parent Flyers to check out what is going on around town.