last blue class to hold a Class Day

last class to have Class Day

2019 decorations

original Class Day shovel

Member of the class of '68 still his beanie!

Class Day Returns: What Is It?

by Aidan O'Sullivan, 2022

The penultimate celebration of graduating seniors before graduation, Class Day will return to Somerville High on Friday, June 3, always taking place on the Friday before graduation. The event did not take place the previous two years due to the pandemic.

The History:

Before 1912, Somerville had two high schools: Somerville English and Somerville Latin. When they eventually combined, they held a graduation ceremony where a spade was presented to the president of the junior class as a symbolic way of passing down traditions and asking the younger classes to “guard them well.” From this point, this tradition began to be called Class Day. There were other schools who held the ceremony as well, but Somerville’s has persisted where nearly all others have fallen away.

The Ceremony:

To begin the day, seniors gather and are separated into companies. The National Honor Society and the senior class are split into companies, including NHS1 and NHS2 with all other companies lettered from A to J. During graduation, students will be in these same companies, though even non-graduating seniors may participate in Class Day.

The seniors are then led into the auditorium by teacher company leaders and junior volunteers known as the honor guard. Assistant principals read what each student noted as their greatest accomplishment in high school, as well as their post-graduate plans. Students may choose to have nothing read.

In attendance will be two eighth graders from each elementary school in the city, as well as members of the Somerville High graduating class from 50 years prior. Because Class Day was not held the previous two years, this year’s event will include members from Somerville’s classes of 1970, ‘71, and ‘72.

After each student’s accomplishments have been read, the class poem and song are performed. Students are able to submit class poems which will be read blind and voted on by a representative group of seniors. That student reads the poem at both Class Day and graduation. Similarly, the class song is also written by one or more members of the class, often with one person or group writing the lyrics and another person or group writing the music and also to be performed at both events.

The day continues as the band leads the companies from the auditorium to the area in front of the school. Senior class officers then lead the ceremony, which includes the National Anthem and the handing down of the colors and the original 1912 spade to the junior class president. The year of each class is engraved on the handle. The program ends with the singing of J. Everett Bodge’s school song, “Somerville Leads the Way.” He wrote it in 1937, his senior year, and students have been singing it ever since.

The day ends with an outdoor lunch in front of the building for all participants. Seniors will also receive their yearbooks after the ceremony has concluded.

Graduation will be held on Monday, June 6, at Dilboy field.

If you would like to get the flavor of Class Day, here is a video of the indoor portion of the program from 2019, the last year we were able to have one.

Ketanji Brown Jackson Confirmed to the Supreme Court

by Ella Wilczek, 2025

On April 7th, Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as the 116th US Supreme Court justice and first Black woman. The confirmation was presided over by Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to be elected to that position. She will replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who is retiring after twenty-eight years on the Court.

The Senate confirmed her by a vote of 53-47, with all 50 Democratic and three Republican senators (Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah) voting yes. Jackson will be the sixth woman and third Black person to serve on the court, which has historically been dominated by white men. In addition, she will be the first former public defender in the role.

According to the White House, "the President sought an individual who is committed to equal justice under the law and who understands the profound impact that the Supreme Court’s decisions have on the lives of the American people." He felt that Justice Jackson's credentials and track record supported those ideals.

Though three Republicans voted to confirm, partisan politics were evident in the number who opposed her appointment.



Somerville High School Robotics Team Competes

by Gerran Hullah, 2025 and Rafael Ronen, 2025

Did you know that the Somerville High School has a robotics team?

If you said yes, then you’re right! The Highlanders participated in the FIRST robotics competition (FRC) with robot 6201.

In January, the team started work on a robot to compete in this year’s competition Rapid React. After 2 months of hard work, they took part in their first competition of the year on Saturday, March 19 in Reading, Massachusetts. The robot did well in the qualification matches on Saturday, qualifying as the 18th seed overall out of 39 teams.

One of the game's bigger challenges is its late game monkey-bar-like traversing task. During each match, the robots on the field compete to score as many “cargo” (oversized tennis balls) into one of two hoops. As the clock runs down, the robot makes its way to the base of the monkey bars.

Through a creative feat of engineering, the robot 6201 uses its uniquely designed arms to pull itself up, making it all the way up to the fourth and last bar. The climbing system had some issues but through determination of both the operator and the robot, 6201 ranked 6th in its climbing skills. You can watch it here.

Highlander Team 6201 competes again this weekend. Stay tuned and go Highlanders!

More photos on our Instagram @shs_highlander_news.

Interview With Councilor-at Large Jake Wilson

by Ella Wilczek, 2025

I sent a series of the same four questions to all five new members of the Somerville city council in late February to ask about their political goals and perspective on the relationship of high school students to local politics. Councilor Jake Wilson was the first to respond.

Jake Wilson was elected as a councilor-at-large for the Somerville city government during the November 2021 election. He grew up in central Iowa and studied at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He moved first to the Boston area after his graduation in 1999 and to Somerville in 2004. Recently, he has worked as the president of Somerville Youth Soccer.

What are your goals for the city council? What issues would you most like to see a solution for?

My primary goal as a City Councilor is a very simple and straightforward one: to act in the best interests of our city and live out the stated values of our community while doing my best to engage with the residents, business owners, and workers of Somerville in order to ensure their voices are heard in Somerville government.

We've got a number of issues facing our government here in Somerville, but one of the biggest, most impactful ones is the disconnect between what is happening in City Hall (and around the city) and the people of our city, who oftentimes are in the dark about important decisions and projects. I'm looking to personally do my part to improve that communication and dissemination of information, but also to build mechanisms for better sharing of this information with the public by the Administration, by city staff, by our City Council, and by the other boards, commissions, and committees that play an important role in municipal government here.

Beyond that, I'm spending my time and political capital on making our streets safer, bridging cultural divides and raising up underrepresented voices, and investing in our city's neglected infrastructure. As Chair of the City Council's Finance Committee, I'm charged with leading a vital committee handling the council's power of financial oversight, and I'm encouraged by recent efforts to create a more collaborative approach to the city budget with the new Administration.

How did you make the decision to run in the election?

I've always loved politics. Like many people, national and state politics tended to hold my attention for decades. I don't know whether it was necessarily a product of becoming increasingly disillusioned with the political landscape at the national and state levels or just personally experiencing the impact of local government firsthand, but I found myself more and more convinced that local government is the most consequential level of government around. For someone like me who is accustomed to getting things done and effecting real, meaningful change, local government starts looking like a much more attractive proposition.

I'd thought about running for office locally for a few years, so when community members started encouraging me in 2020 to run for City Council in the 2021 election, it convinced me that I had something to offer this city as an elected official. The 2021 election coincided with my role leading two Somerville non-profits winding down, so it made a lot of sense to get into the race last year. And given the city-wide name recognition I had from that non-profit leadership work and the nature of the role itself, I felt Councilor-At-Large was the best fit. Judging by the results at the polls this past November, the voters of Somerville seemed to feel the same way, and that felt incredibly affirming.

As a city councilor, how do you view the relationship between the high school and city government?

Not only do City Hall and the high school building sit next door to one another on the same Central Hill campus, but the fact this beautiful new high school building exists at all shows how inextricably linked it is with our local government. As the parent of two future Somerville High School students, it was a no-brainer for me to support the debt exclusion ballot measure in 2016 and I was thrilled when it passed easily. I've also seen the degree to which the high school building project has touched nearly every aspect of our local government. But that's just the physical building.

Our neighborhood school approach to elementary education here in our segregated city means that high school is where our teenagers really come together for the first time as a city. I've seen previews of what that looks like from my involvement with youth athletics here, but I hold up the SHS student body as a great representation of who we truly are as a community. So then it falls on our municipal government to meet the needs of those students and their families, as well as the administration and staff at the high school.

Ensuring that students are able to efficiently and safely get to and from school every school day is a major concern of mine. I support measures that make the T fare-free for high school students and I'm excited to see the Green Line open in a couple of months with a stop literally right at the high school. I work every day on making our streets safer and better for drivers, public transit riders, cyclists, and pedestrians -- and protecting high school students, families, and staff commuting to and from school is central to that work.

The parking situation near the high school has become extremely problematic. It's a huge stressor for teachers every morning, and that hurts teacher recruitment and retention. I'm currently working on a creative solution for teacher parking at another school in the city and I've been watching closely as our municipal government has looked to improve the parking situation for high school staff with some smaller-scale creative solutions.

The conversation around policing touches the high school as well, with the debate around school resource officers. The uptick in violence at the high school mirrors what we're seeing in our society as this pandemic has rolled on, and the inequity laid bare by COVID-19 -- food and housing insecurity, the need for physical and mental health supports, and the digital equity issue -- is playing out at Somerville High School. So a government that is focused on meeting the needs of the SHS community will, by definition, will be simultaneously working on improving life in our city.

How do you think teenagers can be involved in politics?

As someone who was extremely politically informed and active as a teenager, I love to see high schoolers engaging politically. It all starts with staying informed and organizing. With so much misinformation (and disinformation) on social media and even in traditional media, developing good media consumption habits and critical thinking skills are a must. The formation of groups like Sunrise Somerville Youth is really heartening, and I enthusiastically meet with SSY and any other student group who wants to talk with me.

I support lowering the voting age in municipal elections to 16 because I know how politically informed and active young people at age 16 and 17 can be, and it's frustrating to know they have no way of formally participating in democracy at those ages. During the campaign last year, I spoke to a lot of young people who weren't going to be 18 in time to vote in November's election, and I know how much it would mean to bring in more of these voices at the ballot box. I'd love to see a groundswell of support and a real organizing effort at the state level to back the local option to lower the voting age in municipal elections. And I think it would be great to hold up teenage voices in that fight.

I'd also like to champion the inclusion of youth on boards, commissions, and decision-making bodies in our city -- both municipal government and community organizations. One of the things I did while in charge of Somerville Youth Soccer was to introduce two new board positions for player representatives. For an organization that spent so much time attempting to act in the best interest of our community's youth, it only made sense to me to ensure we were hearing directly from the people we were serving.

Micro-Pantry Opens at SHS

by Ella Wilczek, 2025

A new micro pantry, run by the Somerville High School Community Service Club, is now open. Everyone at the school is encouraged to take food when in need of it and to leave donations when possible.

Sophomore Donju Felix thought of the idea, inspired by the many small food pantries in Somerville and neighboring towns. “It is meant to take some of the stigma out of using a food pantry and help anyone who is in need,” says club advisor Kara Carpenter.

It aims to make people at the school feel safe and comfortable to take food and/or other items when needed and/or leaving donations when possible. People may take or donate unexpired nonperishable food items and/or unwrapped personal care products.

Medicine, perishable food such as produce or dairy products, and items such as clothes or books are not available.

The club hopes to expand the food pantry in the spring or fall of this year if it proves successful.

You may direct questions to Ms. Carpenter at kcarpenter@k12.somerville.ma.us or stop by her room, C420.