Tag: School

Community Service Club fundraises for homeless children

Daniel Tsardounis, 2016

Last Saturday, the SHS Community Service Club collaborated with Commonwealth High School at a supermarket drive held for Our Place, a homeless children’s day care located in Cambridge. Read more →

Student Forum Held for SHS Renovation

Emily Nash, 2019

A student forum was held in the SHS auditorium concerning the upcoming rebuilding of Somerville High School last Wednesday, March 30th.

Presented by SMMA architect Matthew Rice and Project Manager Sean Burke, the forum sought to engage and inform students of the planning process while asking for student input. Read more →

Science Fair: the freshmen takeover

Christina Bissereth, 2016

During the SHS Science and Engineering Fair, held last Thursday, March 3rd, students presented their projects and those selected will participate at the Regional IV Science and Engineering Fair this Saturday, March 12.


1st place winners

Freshman Charlotte Kafka-Gibbons

Freshman Nabila Anandira


2nd place winners

Juniors Andrew Churchill and Alec Portelli

Sophomores Mei Mei Collins and Saja EL-Saudi

Freshman Annie Donovan

Juniors Tabatha Bohmbach and Brian Garcia


3rd place winners

Senior Benjamin Stevens

Sophomore Gabe Kafka-Gibbons and Samuel Saron

Freshmen Asa Fulton and Nik Protopapas

Sophomore Aya El Hassan

Freshman Ivy Richardson

Freshman Aislinn Cannistrato

Freshman Samuel Newman

Mr. D: The Energetic Powerhouse of the History Wing

Annie Donovan, 2019

IMG_5374[1]Whether found having a lively discussion on the Revolutionary War with his students while donning a colonist hat or helping freshmen with essays and worksheets at the Ninth Grade Experience in the library, his energy and enthusiasm about his work consistently shines through in his teaching.

Mr. David DiPietro, a 9th grade US History teacher and a Ninth Grade Experience leader, spends his classes educating his freshmen about the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, and the Declaration of Independence.

“Mr. D has so much passion for history, and shows it everyday while he creates an awesome learning environment,” says freshman Rachel Eatough, a student in DiPietro’s class 6.

Although he has always enjoyed history, DiPietro didn’t always know that he would become a history teacher.

Growing up in Lexington, Massachusetts, DiPietro, the youngest son of a civil engineer and a church worker, struggled with his grades in high school and was never truly interested in the curriculum.

It wasn’t until college, an experience DiPietro felt had a large impact on his life, that he fell in love with learning.

After receiving his Bachelors of Arts at Roger Williams University, and his Masters of Arts at UMASS Boston, he then went on to Tufts to receive his Masters of Arts in Teaching. He became a student teacher in the Somerville Public School System in 2010. Three years ago, he officially began teaching at SHS in room 349.

During these last three years, DiPietro has treated the freshmen that sit in his class like mature adults, looking for them to think more critically rather than to simply take tests and memorize dates.

Not only has he succeeded in that, he has also created bonds with students through the Ninth Grade Experience, a program that helps freshmen transition from middle school to high school through giving them an opportunity each week to meet with all of their teachers in one place.

DiPietro finds the most important aspect of teaching to be getting to know the students by helping them with their homework and answering their questions. By doing this, he believes he is able to “get to know what they need to know.”

Ms. Sarah Eustis, a fellow US History teacher at SHS and a friend of DiPietro, finds him “committed but lighthearted” and “receptive to the feelings and needs of others.”

IMG_5376[1]Outside of the classroom, DiPietro is a fan of baseball, cooking, and reading. Among his favorite book genres are historical nonfiction, fantasy, classics, and, based off of the posters of superheroes plastered around his desk, comic books.

Teaching students, though it may not have been what he planned to grow up to be in his childhood, has become a large part of his life and has influenced his beliefs.

DiPietro is a teacher passionate about social justice. When asked for one thing he could change about the world, he said “equitable education for all,” a necessity he believes that all children should have access too.

A Different Way to Educate

Rosie Jacobs, 2017

Around the country, high school students face the drudgery of attending school. Whether they realize it or not, students experience the historical nature of factory work, with bells dictating when they change classes. While some teachers stray from structured rows, there will always be classrooms where desks stand in orderly lines like machines in a factory.

ClassroomRegardless of the individual talents and character of each student, the subjects they must take fall into narrow categories, assignments are similar, and each standardized test seems indistinguishable from the next.

Public school systems have their benefits such as location, transportation, and taxpayer funding; however, the main focus of the curriculum is geared towards testing, creating a toxic environment for cheating, stress and lack of student voice within classrooms.

Some students don’t learn well in this traditional setting. They may need a more hands-on approach, space and time to think and become independent, and teachers who act as mentors, willing to harness their students’ passions through trust and responsibility.

Despite the drawbacks of public education, there are always alternatives.

A Cambridge-based studio called NuVu boasts a very different approach to secondary education, where students focus on collaboration in design, utilizing mathematics, art, science, technology, and music, among others. Grades do not exist at NuVu; instead, a portfolio suffices.

NuVu students attend a seven-week semester. One teacher, or “coach,” as they are referred to, and an assistant, present an open-ended, real-world issue to students. For example, students have developed solutions for climbers affected by hypothermia, prototypes for children with cerebral palsy, and lever attachments that make maneuvering wheelchairs easier. With the help of their coaches, each student forms a perspective and develops a course of action to solve the problem.

The program provides support, both from the studio advisors and outside resources, including leading experts and professors from MIT and Harvard, who later review the student’s work and offer feedback. The founding school, Beaver Country Day, as well as Cambridge Rindge and Latin and the Cambridge School of Weston have partnered with NuVu so their students can have a different opportunity and are able to earn credits.

In NuVu’s rich environment that provides information and support for continuous self-evaluation, reflection, and improvement, attendees acquire a highly personalized understanding of the world and the ability to see situations from multiple perspectives.

Another program in Brookline tackles the problem of the lack of student driven assignments and the unequal playing field between teachers and students that occurs in the authoritarian practices that schools have used for generations.

A student’s voice should be heard and valued. It’s their education. Why not give them the responsibility to lead it?

Students at Brookline High School have already succeeded through the development of SWS, a school within a school. Dating back to 1969-70, students vocalized their support for student-led curriculum and the need for more personal relationships with teachers.

SWS became an alternative for all students who sought to participate in a democratic classroom and community.

The program is voluntary and has a separate administrative unit from the high school, admitting only 120 students in 10th, 11th or 12th grade based on a lottery system. Even though the admission process is separate, students in SWS partake in some of the high schools’ courses as well.

Because the program was initiated by students, SWS gives their students more freedom and more responsibility in directing their own education. According to Brookline High school’s webpage, all students and staff are required to attend the weekly Town Meeting, which “serves as a forum for discussion and debate and for changes which are inevitable in a growing dynamic community.”

science-studentsIn each class, students share responsibility for classroom management and attendance while teachers are particularly interested in getting to know their students, both inside and outside the classroom.

Much of SWS is based on the idea of community building, working together to reach a common goal. Students are highly motivated to speak out and exercise their rights as independent individuals. Students form committees that help in admissions, community service, and any issues or changes within the school.

Other options for alternative schooling include homeschooling or semester schools, where students become involved in intellectual and social communities formed around themes including, marine ecology, organic farming, ethics and leadership, visual arts, and others.

Semester schools are boarding schools that enroll college bound sophomores, juniors, and or seniors. I am leaving at the end of January to attend the Conserve School, a semester school in Wisconsin dedicated to the study of environment sustainability.

The idea of an alternate education seems daunting and unknown. That’s because moving away from tradition is uncomfortable for people and often creates a psychological barrier that inhibits them from exploring these differences.

Not all options are free like public schools are, yet money should not be the reason students hesitate to apply. Many of these schools and programs offer scholarships and financial aid for motivated students.

Perhaps Somerville High School could learn from Brookline High’s SWS or collaborate with programs like NuVu. Students and teachers should become aware of these opportunities where creativity and passion go hand and hand. Let us take to heart what Steve Jobs once said, “innovation distinguishes between the leader and the follower.”

Do Teacher’s Have Lives Outside of School?

Larissa Ann Levasseur, 2016

A lot of students believe that teachers don’t have much fun outside of school because  they’re probably just reading or taking some educational online class or something.o-HAPPY-facebook

“The only place I’ve ever seen one of my teachers outside of school was at the grocery store,” said junior Jessica Saulnier. “And then I thought to myself: is this all they do when they’re not grading?”

But you won’t catch all of your teachers lurking around grocery stores in their spare time. History teacher Ms. O’Connor is interested in being outdoors.

“I live near the beach. Sometimes after school, I like going for walks on the beach,” she said. “When the weather is nice, I like to play soccer, frisbee, or go for a run.”

Even when the weather turns, Ms. O’Connor explains how she takes the opportunity to go to the movies with her friends from college.

Senior Katlyn-Rae said, “I feel like teachers are always working. They have a ton of grading and planning to do. Even during the summer, it’s like, how do they find time for themselves?”

Spanish teacher Mrs. Brown, born in Argentina, likes to travel during her time off.

“I go home and then probably somewhere new – within the states or outside of the states,” Brown said. Her favorite vacation spots are Cartagena, Colombia and London, UK.

Sometimes teachers catch themselves doing things that are very un-teacher-like.

“Sometimes when I use bad grammar trying to explain something, I think, I’m a teacher, I probably shouldn’t do that,’” said Ms. O’Connor.

“I think all teachers have moments like that, when they catch themselves doing something teachers probably shouldn’t do,” said science teacher Ms. Quigley on extending her lessons outside of class.

Senior Selena Sounlamphant wonders: “Do teachers even have a favorite thing to do? They’re always talking about how much they love their jobs; I can’t see them doing anything else.”

“Rollerblading,” said Mrs. Brown. “It’s a good strength workout. Something I wouldn’t normally share with students is that I’m really into weights. I can dead lift 200 pounds.”

Something Ms. O’Connor steers away from when sharing stories with students is the book-on-tape she listens to sometimes, The Boston Girl.

“I started to listen to my first book on tape, which makes me feel like an old woman,” she said. “But I only listen to it in the car to kill time. I don’t just sit at home and let it play, if that’s what you were thinking.”

In the end although teachers behave one way in the classroom, grading papers, creating lesson plans and managing their time, they are also real people who have passions other than their jobs as teachers.

The Reality of Dropping Out

IMG_0140I don’t really remember much of the first semester of school. Everything happened so quickly. I gave up on school, and everyone in it. I lost grasp on the reason I had for dropping out and told myself that I did it for freedom but we all know that isn’t true.

School was just overwhelming for me. I had to work and balance school work, pay for bills, and try to have a social life, so I left. Life outside of school started off pretty smoothly. I was working full time, and I didn’t need to wake up at 7am every single weekday. I hung out with a lot of my college friends and coworkers. I pretty much tried to disappear from the minds of everyone I knew in highschool, and I was okay with that.

My mom supported my decision but I know she really wanted me to finish high school. At this point, school and everyone in it was erased from my mind, instead I had the memories of all the parties I went to. JK and I partied practically every night and it was fun at first but after a while you realize that something is missing.

It took me about a two to three months of self destruction to realize that I didn’t want to be in the position I was in. Just going to work felt boring so I had to find something the filled in the void of having high school friends. So I partied, smoked, and drank almost every day. I would usually come home at 2am. I needed to change. It’s hard to change something that felt so normal though.

I tried going back to school sometimes but I still skipped and I still got to school around 11am. After a while, I gave up again but this time I realized I was just running away from reality and everyone I cared about. I fell right back into the grip of desire, and destroyed my life a bit more. On top of that I was slowly losing interest in work. I just couldn’t get a break. Not from the job, the parties, or the random people I met at them, but from myself. I was at war with myself. I couldn’t allow myself to keep living that way but it’s hard to break bad habits.

I was a mess. I felt like if I kept this up I would implode. I was alone and I didn’t want to let anyone in. I became very aggressive from all the stress I had to deal with from work, my family trying to get me back into school and the people I thought were my friends.

The freedom I felt was draining fast. I was becoming a slave to the environment I was in. I knew I couldn’t last long like this.

One day my ex-girlfriend contacted me, asking to meet up and talk about how life has been.

I was so excited that day. I cleaned myself up and got all dressed up. I went to the Starbucks in Davis Square to meet her and we talked for quite some time.

After the talk, I walked her home and that was pretty fun. We laughed, talked about how our lives have been. By bringing her friendship back in my life I found my reason to keep on going. I got back into school to keep the promise I made to her. The promise of me graduating high school and going to college.

The closer I got to her the more focus I put into school. I gave up on my self-destructive life, and I tried to make myself into a better person.

I started to go to school more and more, and I felt better with each day as I was finally getting my life back on track.

All I can do now is work hard and do everything I can to keep my promise. My life would be a lot easier if I had never dropped out in the first place, and most of the pain I feel now comes from regret.

If you are considering dropping school, please consider your options and don’t let whatever challenges that are in your life defeat you.

I found the strength to keep going through all the adversity in my life, and with the right mentality you can too.

How to Make the Most Out of your Summer

Kevin Chandraratne , 2018

Summer. The sensation of the humid morning air. Fresh moist dew covering the green, lush grass. Hot days on the tropical and relaxing beach. Out playing in the sizzling sun, shining rays of warmth on your smooth skin. Pulling all nighters, with friends enjoying the freedoms of life. A state of mind, where stress isn’t in control. Read more →

Gone but not forgotten: The reality behind senioritis

Max Freitas, 2015

When running in a marathon, runners hit something that they call a runner’s wall. Their legs start feeling like concrete, it becomes harder to breathe, and the runner just wants to give up. This wall is usually hit around three quarters of the way through a race, and it may seem almost unbearable to finish the race. This is literally like high school.

IMG_0814When a student comes far in his/her educational career to senior year, things just start to drag. Motivation seems to just disappear. A student knows they’re so close to being done with high school, but at the same time so far away.

Senioritis [noun] • the infectious illness of becoming extremely unmotivated and exhausted in their senior year of high school; possibly contagious.

Many seniors throughout SHS are experiencing this “disease” and their motivation and drive is “infected” by senioritis.

It seems to be an interesting yearly phenomenon, affecting the graduating class every year.

The question is why senioritis is such a problem every year.

Senior Tyler Jacques is one of these students affected and unmotivated. Jacques is a good student and participates in many after school activities, but has become a victim of senioritis.

“I got here on the first day of school and I don’t know. Something just happened to me and I’ve been different ever since. I once had a word search for homework and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it,” said Jacques.

Senior Grecia De La Gala isn’t much different.

“I haven’t done anything in a hundred years,” said De La Gala with a slight groan.

What causes this extreme lack of motivation, though?

Many students juggle a lot of things in and out of school. Many students have to try to figure a balance between school work, clubs, sports, extracurricular activities, jobs, relationships, and even family life.

For most, going through 3 years of trying to balance all of this leaves many overwhelmed by senior year.

“I don’t remember the last time I did homework at home. All my homework is done in school now,” said Heidi Gonzalez.

Not only does the amount of stuff on a student’s head contribute to this, but the thought that they are so close to graduating factors in.

The mentality that high school is almost over subconsciously affects a student’s performance.

Once colleges send out their acceptance letters, that’s when it really kicks in.

Senior Daniel Portillo said, “It’s really hard. I have no intrinsic motivation. No extrinsic motivation. My mind set has just really changed because I already know I’m going to college.”

Portillo, for one, is another excellent student who juggles a lot outside of school. He has been accepted to Bucknell University with a full-ride from the Posse foundation.

Even some students, who believed senioritis would never affect them, have been hit by it.

Senior Terence Jeremie said, “I didn’t really have senioritis at the beginning of the year. I was pretty on top of things but now it’s kind of hitting me.”

All of this indirectly affects teachers, too. Teachers get one-on-one interaction with these students that sluggishly move about their classes on a daily basis.

Although teachers don’t get senioritis, they have to play the doctors to try to get their students to keep pushing on.

“I think it’s funny when kids claim they have senioritis when they’re like sophomores. It’s my job to keep these kids working,” said Redirect Counselor Ms. Alter.

Alter explains her theory of senioritis very well.

“I think that around this time of year once the seniors’ plans for next year are starting to become more concrete, it’s both really exciting and really scary and even a little sad,” said Alter.

She continued saying, “Senioritis is more complicated than just the idea of wanting to get out of here. But you’re thinking toward your future, whether it’s clear or not and you don’t know what to expect. At the same time, you’re thinking about your past and leaving all this behind as well as the same people you’ve spent like 12 years with.”

Alter works as a guidance counselor and sees all this coming into play day-to-day. She actually listens to students’ issues that come from beyond school. It seems senioritis is not only just a work-load issue.

“You’re trying to figure out what your future looks like and at the same time saying goodbye to people. This is what manifests itself as ‘I just want to be done’ in senioritis,” she said.

How do you cure senioritis, though?

Heidi Gonzalez said, “You can’t fix it. You just can’t.”

Ms. Alter, however, has a different view.

She explained saying, “I think the best cure for senioritis is to try and live in the moment as much as you can. Enjoy the time that you have. Senioritis is all about thinking about the future too much, so just live now while you’re at SHS.”

This all serves as a warning to upcoming classes. Juniors will be facing the same struggles and challenges in only a few months.

“I feel like senioritis is just an extreme version of procrastination. As a junior, I’m starting to lose motivation and procrastinate. I feel like as a senior, it’s inevitable,” said junior Christina Bissereth.

Like Bissereth, junior Thaina Nascimento said, “Senioritis is definitely real. I’m pretty sure I have junioritis right now. I know I have to actually be focused and motivated next year or else it’ll be bad.”

To the classes of 2016, 2017, 2018, and beyond:

Senioritis is not something to brag about to your friends saying you have it.

It may seem like fun to joke around saying you’re going to get the worst case of senioritis, but when it hits and starts negatively affecting you, it’ll be too late.

It comes suddenly because of all the things that we balance in and out of school and because we’re thinking a lot about college and the future.

In the fall of your senior year, you’ll be finishing your SATs, thinking about colleges, and filling out applications. It’s crazy to think that a year later, you’ll be taking a step toward your future through the college you choose.

It will be hard, but have hope and keep pushing on.

As long as you try to keep focused throughout the year and do your work, the symptoms of senioritis can be eased.

Don’t fall into the extremes, though. Don’t slack off to the point that it will affect your future. And don’t overwhelm yourself with all your responsibilities.

Like Ms. Alter said, it’s your senior year of high school. Enjoy it as much as possible but don’t let senioritis get the best of you.

AP Testing Almost Over

Adriana Hamilton and Rosie Jacobs, 2017ap score

No matter the test, stress is always present– especially for AP tests. For many students, stress can be exhibited both before and after exams.

“The nerves cause me to stay up late and makes it really hard to concentrate in the days leading up to the test,” says sophomore Lily Chau.

Others expressed feeling the pressure heat up after taking the exam(s). Read more →