Friday, April 24, 2020

April 24, 2020

Good evening all-

It's been an emotional week. While we all knew the announcement was coming, the actual words brought on so much emotion. The loss of hope hit hard. I think many of us thought we would at least have some time or opportunity to see students before June 19. 

We were so excited to deliver signs to every senior in the Class of 2020 today. Approximately 20 AHS staff members (teachers, ESP's, nurses, secretaries, and admin) had a wonderful morning visiting homes in Ashland as well as Framingham, Holliston, Milford, Natick, Millis, Bellingham, Hudson, and Hyde Park to make sure every senior got a sign. Thank you for allowing us to have this joy. 
Here are a few photo's taken along the way: AHS Loves the Class of 2020 photo album
Feel free to send your photo to be added! 

I sent a separate email to senior parents yesterday but do want to reiterate that we are heartbroken for our seniors. We want to be able to publicly celebrate their accomplishments! But everything we plan hinges on the Governor's orders. Planning graduation exercises is a huge undertaking each year. Doing it with the uncertainty we are currently facing is beyond challenging. We are committed to finding a way to honor our students, in a personal and meaningful way. We will look to seek student and family input next week. 

As we all reflect on remote learning for the next two months there continues to be many questions and, of course concerns. We feel them too. We are following the Commissioner's recommendations to the best of our ability and recognizing that not every family has the ability or the capacity to access remote learning. We know we have students working to help support their families, we know we have students who usually "do" school quite well that have been completely overwhelmed, we know we have students who are helping with the remote education of their younger siblings while their parents work essential jobs or jobs from home...the scenarios go on.

I have heard from some parents concern about too much work, from others that there is not enough. Also that teachers have scaled back on Zoom/Google Meet/etc. sessions. That is true. Not because they don't want to see students but more because the students aren't coming. Or if they join they refuse to turn on their cameras and engage in conversation. It's a dilemma we have to figure out together.  I also wrote a few weeks ago about the issue of Zoom-bombing. Students continue to try to join classes using fake names (sometimes of an administrator) or vulgar names to get a laugh. These are challenges teachers are working to navigate. Our biggest wish is that the majority of students were able to engage in the suggested schedule we shared. We understand that most aren't, and we understand the why's. Thank you for continuing to be willing to engage in conversation about what is working and what isn't. 

As the remote learning plan stated students will be earning Credit or No Credit for the work they complete this semester. Up until this point teachers have been using several formats to share their assessment of student work. Some have used Google classroom exclusively, inviting parents to see the class. Some have continued to use iPass. Starting Monday, all AHS teachers will resume updating iPass, at least every two weeks, with student progress. 

Since we are awarding just credit this semester teachers will be recording progress using the following codes:
1- assignment completed
0.5- assignment partially completed, student can revise/redo using teacher feedback for growth
0- assignment not completed, student can pass in at any time

I will share a more detailed document on assessment, GPA, transcripts, etc. after the School Committee meeting next Wednesday.

The Ashland High School Student Council was so disappointed about missing our annual Bingo Night, we decided we're going to do it anyhow!  Come join the Ashland High School Student Council for "Virtual Bingo Night" on Thursday, April 30th, at 6:45pm.  We will be live-streaming this through Facebook Live on the "WACA TV" page.  For all the details on how to play, how to get cards, etc. visit our website at:     

And check out our promo for the event:

We hope you'll join us for a fun evening!   Any questions, contact the AHS Student Council at

Friday, April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020

Good afternoon all-

I hope you are all safe and healthy! We have now wrapped up our second full week of our Remote Learning Plan. Our numbers show that most students are engaged in learning. Our teachers have been working hard to reach out to students they have not heard from. If you feel unsure of what teachers are doing to reach your students I encourage you to reach out and ask! As a district we are still working on what grading looks like in this semester of Credit/No Credit. iParent and iStudent are still open and many teachers (but not all) are using it. Teachers are giving students feedback and assessing their progress but we are really not focused on grades during this time.

AHS Loves the Class of 2020! We are in the process of purchasing lawn signs for the entire class. Thanks to all of you who have donated to the senior sign project. This information was shared with the parents/guardians of the Class of 2020 but I wanted to share the donation link here as well.

Planning for graduation....I hate writing those words and not linking the standard document we typically share at this time of the year. Sadly, this year is clearly different. We don't know what graduation will look like yet but we will be seeking feedback from seniors and their families once we have a clear picture of what will be happening after May 4. The students have been sharing a lot of ideas during class meetings. Please be assured that no decision has been made at this time.

Mr. McGann hosted a webinar with some of the most popular colleges our AHS students attend. Check it out here: Navigating the College Search Process.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

April 9, 2020

Good evening-

Happy Passover and Easter to all of those that celebrate. Like me, I am sure many of you will be doing virtual family celebrations. It is a challenging time for us all but I continue to remember what I can be grateful for. I hope my child will some day remember the time we spent together rather than the struggle of remote learning.

I learned today that my email was not sent last week. My apologies. If you did not see the news from last week please also check out the April 3rd news. There are some great service opportunities detailed there.

I have continued to enjoy our class meetings with students. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking to hear their questions, comments, funny stories, and the amazing things they are doing to keep busy and connected. I miss the students so much.

A few reminders as you work to find the balance. While we are lucky that high school students have a high degree of independence but recognize many of you might need to encourage them to engage. Please support us by having discussions with your student about why it's important to engage in all of their classes. They are earning credit towards a high school diploma. As we move towards a Credit/No Credit process for assessing students it is still important for them to engage so that they can move on to the next course and their diploma!

AHS Daily Schedule: It would be great if students joined the live sessions teachers are holding but we recognize many have other commitments and are helping the family in many cases. The expectation is about 3 hours of work a day, including Friday. Every student is different and in class meetings we hear some students are racing through assignments while others are working for hours. Students, and parents if needed, are encouraged to reach out to teachers and counselors if you feel the work load is a challenge. We are all here to support you. Teachers are still learning how to do this and how to balance the right amount of material and assessment. The are presenting new content twice a week and setting timelines for when assignments should be completed. This will hopefully help students to structure their time and keep progressing with the curriculum. We want our students to succeed academically and move forward, but not to the detriment of mental health. 

Mental Health: Our student's mental health remains our most significant concern. Please encourage your student to slow down if they need to. Many students are still involved in other activities such as clubs, jobs, etc. They may need help with balancing these activities. Reach out to teachers and counselors for support and resources.

I hope the next three days give everyone a chance to decompress. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

April 3, 2020

Good evening-

I hope your students are settling in to our new reality of Remote Learning. I heard from teachers that engagement and attendance increased this week. We miss being at school and seeing the students just as much as I am hearing they miss being there. The current situation continues to challenge us as educators but has also brought amazing opportunities to grow and explore new ways of learning. At AHS we are going to continually find reasons to be grateful we have each other, our students and this community. Thank you for your many messages of support!

By now you have all seen the APS Remote Learning Plan. This document answers many questions about how we will move forward with curriculum, grading, as well as end of the year events. Please bear with us we adjust to this new way of teaching and learning. There are many issues we do not have answers to yet.
The suggested schedule in this plan is a great way to help your student structure their day. Teachers will be assigning/teaching new content twice a week. While students do not have to be present at those suggested time, it is highly recommended that they are. Teachers will be providing due dates. This is necessary for students to be able to move forward with the curriculum. Students need to move forward with the curriculum in order to earn credit. There will be more to come on what Credit/No Credit looks like in the new few weeks. While students may not be earning grades at this time, their participation in class, whether in real time or at other times, will be necessary for them to earn credit and move on to the next course in the curriculum.

As we move into Remote Learning teachers have worked to find platforms that allow them to present information and interact with students effectively. Unfortunately, over the past week, several of us, including me during class meetings, have been victims of  Zoombombing. It is horrifying that we have had students exposed to inappropriate and in some cases vile content. Teachers and the Zoom platform are working diligently to set up safe spaces for students.

Please talk to your AHS students about their responsibility in this new format of learning. Teachers are talking to them about this as well!
Students should come to Zoom/GoogleMeets/etc. sessions ready to learn. They should be focused on the teacher and their classroom expectations, just like they should be in the AHS classroom.
Students should not share the links or meeting invitations with their friends, especially when they are not in the class. Any student missing log-in information should reach out to their teacher.

The class meetings I held this week were great. I love seeing student smiles and hearing their questions. The other staff in attendance feel the same way. We will continue holding these meetings Monday through Thursday for the next few weeks as we work together to figure things out.

I have shared or will share these opportunities with students:
There are many senior citizens in town who would love to receive regular phone calls during this period of social distancing. We are starting a program to match high school students with a senior in town and will provide guidance on suggested topics to start conversations. Interested students can email Alison Mawrey at Thank you.

Youth in Philanthropy Hopkinton
Priority deadline to apply is June 5; rolling admissions to follow

The Foundation for MetroWest’s Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) program is an experiential leadership development program designed to empower and educate local youth to become our community’s next generation of philanthropists – those who give their time, talent, and treasure for the common good. As participants of YIP, students learn about needs in our community, visit local nonprofits, and grant up to $10,000 to nonprofits benefiting youth.

This free, 17-week program is for high school students who live or learn in Hopkinton, Ashland, Milford, or Westborough. YIP will meet on Tuesday evenings, from 7:00 to 8:30pm, at the Hopkinton Center for the Arts. The program begins on September 15 and runs through January 28. (Full Schedule) For more information about YIP and to apply, visit