Natick Public Schools
News from Natick High School The first month of a new school year is about settling in - learning your schedule and getting to know your teachers; digging into classes and managing your learning; getting involved in extracurriculars and attending social events. Natick High School students have settled in nicely to start the year. We have 1560 students actively involved in all aspects of the high school experience. The building has an energy, excitement and positivity that can be felt across the day. We have terrific students doing great things! From that position of strength and stability, our students have raised two important issues for study, discussion and action. We are delighted to thoughtfully and systematically engage both issues beginning this year. Student Stress: Our students have expressed concern about the stress that they experience in high school. The sources of stress vary widely for our students, from grades and homework to social and family dynamics. To better understand the root causes of student stress and possible solutions, we selected four members of the Senior Class to join Principal Harrigan in an independent study class focused on this issue. The students are leading focus group discussions, reading extensively and visiting other schools who have addressed these issues. The students will be authoring an extensive study of student stress at Natick High School and making a series of recommendations in late Fall. These recommendations will serve as the foundation for school and community discussions and targeted changes. We have taken a few small steps already to alleviate stress, specifically the stress that our 9th graders feel as they transition to high school. We redesigned 9th grade orientation, recruiting 30 Seniors to lead scavenger hunt tours of the building, facilitate small group discussions and play field games with the students. To further promote teamwork and welcome 9th graders to NHS, we hosted a field trip to Hale Reservation in Westwood and Project Adventure in Beverly. The students participated in high and low rope activities led by certified outdoor educators and
small-group discussions and games led by NHS Seniors. It is our hope that these efforts have contributed to the successful transition that we have witnessed from our our 9th graders. Celebrate Diversity and Inclusion: The majority of Natick High School students describe their peers and NHS staff as welcoming, supportive and respectful. In a recent survey of over 1000 students, most reported that they feel “comfortable” or “very comfortable” being themselves at NHS. We view this as an important measure of school climate and essential to the success of our students. This is not the experience for all students however. When asked if they felt comfortable being themselves at Natick High School, some students expressed discomfort, pointing to issues of race and ethnicity, learning needs, sexual orientation and gender identity. While these experiences are certainly not unique to Natick, we are determined to engage them head on. In our increasingly diverse and interconnected world, celebrating diversity and inclusion is important for all of our students. We are beginning a conversation with our students, staff and families around diversity and inclusion. With the help of Jamele Adams, Dean of Students at Brandeis University and a Wilson Middle School parent, we are laying the groundwork and challenging our students to embrace and celebrate who they are. We are delighted to also partner with SPARK Kindness, welcoming the community to contribute in large and small ways. We will be sharing many more details and an invitation to get involved as the year unfolds. With this platform of support, our students have already responded with organic and thoughtful action. For example, the InterFem club hosted a “Celebration of You” event in the NHS Courtyard with art, music, food and discussion promoting diversity, respect and inclusion. We envision many more events just like this to get us talking and celebrating one another.
Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS) Award for Academic Excellence Luke Vrotsos
Luke Vrotsos is a highly independent and self-motivated student. His high school tenure is marked by exceptional academic achievement including honor/high honor roll all terms, induction in the National Honor Society, and the distinction of the Brown University Book Award. Though he is amongst one of the highest achieving students in his graduating class, if not the top performer, he is humble; unvexed by the competitive academic energy of his classmates. His desire to learn is genuine.
Albert is an academic powerhouse. He has taken on many of the most difficult courses that Natick High School has to offer and will finish his high school career having taken over ten Advanced Placement courses — an incredible achievement! In addition to his extensive academic pursuits, Albert is passionate in his role as Team Leader of our highly acclaimed robotics club. He has been a key member of this club over all of his four years of high school. While in college Albert would like to pursue a degree relating to Computer and Cognitive Science.
National School Development Council (NESDEC) Award for Academic Growth and Leadership Theresa Morley-McLaughlin
Theresa Morley-McLaughlin represents holistic qualities and values for which she has often been recognized. She is determined, conscientious and possesses a great deal of integrity. Theresa has experienced the high honor of receiving the Harvard Book Award and the Rensselaer Medal in her junior year, as well as a scholarship to WPI through her participation in Math League.
Sam Cohen is three vocations about which he is passionate. He is a talented Gymnast who competes with a club team for a minimum of 14 hours weekly year-round. In his junior year, he was awarded State Champion for his level and age group and 3d place all-around at the Region 6 Championship. He has also found success when competing with the NHS Robotics Team as both a Strategic and Communications leader. He served as the Strategic leader on the 2016 MA State Think Award winning team, which advanced to the East Super Regional competition in Pennsylvania. Sam also serves as co-president of both the NHS Science Bowl Team and the NHS Math Team, where he was the highest scoring member of the NHS team at the 2016 WPI Math Meet.
Her strong leadership skills are evident through her work as the President of Student Council, President of SADD, and Vice President of French Club. Theresa has also devoted a great deal of community service to various organizations, revealing her genuine interest in helping those around her.