Saturday, October 21, 2017

October 20, 2017

Good afternoon on this beautiful Saturday!  

I just came in from the soccer field and it felt like a summer day instead of October 21.  While the girls didn't win it was a great way to end a week of homecoming sports.  I am looking forward to a great dance tonight after what has been a spirited week that showcased what Ashland High School is all about.  The fun the students had this week, at lunch, sporting events, and the pep rally demonstrated that we are a welcoming, supportive school community.   
This week helped to demonstrate our caring community and the highlight of my week was the all-school presentations by Jamele Adams on Tuesday.  Students seemed excited and energized by his message of Love, Inclusion, Trust.  Tuesday night as I looked through the 437 selfies I received (he had them take selfies and text them to me as part of a conversation on consent), I couldn't help think about what an amazing group of young adults I get to work with each and every day.  The level of respect they show for each other and their teachers makes me proud.  

Spirit week comes to a close tonight, Saturday, October 21st, with the semi-formal Homecoming Dance from 7pm - 10pm in the high school cafeteria.  Tickets will be sold at the door for $10. All guests must arrive by 8pm and we do call home for parent permission for any student leaving before 9pm.

Here's a few of the 437 pictures I received: 

Please consider joining us for community wide Courageous Conversation: Love, Inclusion, Trust on Tuesday, October 24 at 6:30pm starting in the auditorium.  Jamele will do a short presentation, which will be followed by a panel discussion.  We will then transition to the cafeteria for a World Cafe style, small group conversation regarding diversity and inclusion in Ashland, led by our Peer Leaders.  The evening will conclude with refreshments around 8:30pm.   

MCAS Results (from the Superintendent's email)

The Ashland Public Schools will be receiving our MCAS results from Grades 3-8 and Grade 10 in the next week.  We will distribute the results hopefully by next Friday, October 27.  As you may remember the tests in Grades 3-8 were new last year and with that there will be some new reporting methods.  I have attached a letter from the Acting Commissioner of Education, Jeff Wulson, to this email.  Please review the letter and keep it handy when your student's results come home for reference.  I have also include a link below where you can review most of the same information.

What is important to note is that the Ashland Public Schools, while obligated to take standardized state assessments, do not believe these results are the sole indicator of success for your child.  The MCAS can not measure the growth of a child socially or emotionally and we invest a lot of time ensuring each child has the opportunity to grow as an individual not just academically.

Should you have specific questions regarding your child's information do not hesitate to contact the appropriate school.

National Honor Society induction is Thursday, October 26 at 6:30pm in the auditorium.

Tickets are now on sale for the AHSTS production of Museum. The production runs Friday, November 3rd and Saturday, November 4th at 7PM, and Sunday, November 5th at 2PM. Patrons may buy tickets in advance online at AHSTS offers discounted tickets purchased online. All seating is reserved. For more information or tickets, visit

As we continue the conversation on inclusion, diversity, and trust AHS will host it's first ever Challenge Day on Thursday, November 30.  Challenge Day is a day-long interactive program that provides teens and adults with tools to tear down walls of separation, and inspires them to live, study, and work in an encouraging environment of acceptance, love, and respect.  Using highly interactive and energetic activities, leaders guide the participants through a carefully designed exploration of the ways people separate from each other, and model tools for creating connection and building community.  This powerful day will include 100 students and 25 staff members.  Any student interested in being a part of this day should contact Ms. St. Coeur.  

Is your high schooler interested in improving their global perspective, enhancing their leadership skills, and conducting service abroad? The Cape Connect Service trip to South Africa is open to all AHS students and is run through Hammer & Chisel! It will be from April 12-24, 2018. Participants will receive 25-30 community service hours. If you came to our first info session, please make sure to register at using the trip code "Clocker" by Friday, November 3! We encourage sign-ups by this date so we can get an idea of the interest level, although we will accept registrations until November 12If you are interested and were not able to make it to the first info session, students & parents are welcome to our second info session on Monday, October 30 at 7pm in Ms. Hogan's room (B115)!

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend and be sure to check out the Parent Flyers .

Ashland Raises Healthy & Happy Kids:
We Need to Talk About Kids and Smartphones
I read three articles last week that validated what I have been seeing in my own children, their friends, and teens in my work. I have included the links to the articles below and really encourage you to read them. Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011.  Jean Twenge, is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and author of the book, iGen, which examines how today’s super-connected teens may be less happy and less prepared for adulthood than past generations. In a peer-reviewed study that will appear later this year in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, Twenge shows that, after 2010, teens who spent more time on new media were more likely to report mental health issues than those who spent time on non-screen activities.Using data collected between 2010 and 2015 from more than 500,000 adolescents nationwide, Twenge's study found kids who spent three hours or more a day on smartphones or other electronic devices were 34% more likely to suffer at least one suicide-related outcome—including feeling hopeless or seriously considering suicide—than kids who used devices two hours a day or less. Among kids who used electronic devices five or more hours a day, 48% had at least one suicide-related outcome. Let me repeat that, ALMOST HALF OF KIDS WHO USE ELECTRONIC DEVICES FIVE OR MORE HOURS PER DAY HAVE AT LEAST ONE SUICIDAL OUTCOME. You may be thinking, “Five hours is a lot, there is no way my child is on his/her phone for five hours per day”. Let’s break it down for a “typical” teenager...half hour on their phone before school at home or on the bus, maybe a half hour at lunch, they get home around 3:15 and go to bed between 9:00 and 10:00, or later. Yes, they are doing homework during some of that time after school but isn’t their phone right next to them?  Aren’t they answering texts and snapchats and looking at every notification that pops up while doing homework?  Add it up...more than five hours. And that is just the 180 days of school, what about weekends, and school breaks, and summers? Now read the statement in capitals above again...scary, huh?

If these facts and the articles I have included resonate with you and your family, please consider joining in a community-wide challenge to make one small change - Do not allow your children to have their phones in their rooms at night. If you think your child is only using their phone as their alarm or to listen to music, you might be wrong. I see snapchats and texts coming to my children’s phones after 10 or 11 o’clock on school nights from 11 and 12 year olds in Ashland. It is happening. Set up a place in your home where phones can be charged overnight and tell your children a specific time in the evening the phones must be there. A friend chose the kitchen counter but switched to her bedroom after she caught her daughter sneaking down to get her phone from the kitchen. It is too soon to determine if cell phone use is the cause of the increase in teen depression, anxiety and suicide but even the experts who think other factors also contribute to this increase agree that no child or teen should have their phone in their room at night, for physical and mental health reasons.  Try it for 2 or 3 weeks. See if you notice any changes. If phones are already banned from your children’s rooms at night, try another challenge: Do not allow them on their phones before school, or at the table and at restaurants, or have them “turn”  their phones in 30 minutes or an hour earlier than usual. See what they do in the evening if they are not on their phones right up until bedtime. Read? Study more? Hang out with you or their siblings? Or maybe even use the landline to call and chat with a friend (that one is doubtful!). I look forward to tackling this, what some experts are calling a public health issues, as a community.

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