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Our Thoughts Go Out To Newtown Connecticut

posted Dec 17, 2012, 11:22 AM by Chuck Caragianes   [ updated Dec 21, 2012, 8:23 AM ]

Heartfelt Condolences and a Thank You to the Maynard Community

It is hard to imagine the incredible shock and grief that is being felt by the Sandy Hook Elementary School community in Connecticut.  On behalf of Maynard High School I send our deepest condolences to that grieving community.

Here at Maynard High School safety remains our top priority and we have spent this morning reviewing our own emergency procedures in cooperation with Officer Duggan at the Maynard Police Department.  Our regular “Lock-Down” drills, staff-student check-ins, communication with folks at home and open lines of communication help serve to create a positive and safe environment.  Any member of our community should feel free to contact us at any time with any concern.

I would also like to thank the many parents, students, and community members who have contacted me, and other staff members, today to lend their support to Maynard High School, our staff and students and thank us for the work we do.  On a very difficult day, each message has been a real source of uplift and hope.

Staffing Announcements

In the last few days and weeks we have had some staffing adjustments and changes that all parents, guardians and community members should be aware of.

First for those who may not have heard, a new paraprofessional has joined the high school team and her name is Sara Saleem.  Sara is currently working on her Special Education licensure and is currently licensed as a high school English teacher.  Initial feedback from students and staff alike, along with my own observations, confirm that Sara is an incredibly positive addition to our staff.

It is also my pleasure to announce that Ms. Ilana Thombs, a graduate of the University of Connecticut with outstanding recent work experience and references will also be joining us a Special Education Paraprofessional on January 3, 2013.  With the hiring of Ms. Thombs the Special Education Department is in a stronger position than ever to support our students.

Next, due to personal needs outside of Maynard High School Guidance Counselor Elizabeth Schuster has applied for and received a leave of absence for the remainder of the school year effective January 2, 2013.  We wish Elizabeth well and hope to welcome her back for the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

We are very fortunate that Chris DeVine, an intern currently working with the guidance department to finish his own academic work to receive guidance counselor certification, has agreed to work in Elizabeth’s place for the remainder of the school year.  Chris has already been working with students here at Maynard High School around college applications, has a wealth of experience working with challenging high school age students, and is working with Elizabeth on the transition for January 2nd right now.  Welcome to Maynard High School in this new capacity, Chris!

Finally, I would like to welcome Maggie Jones to Maynard High School as a science teacher working directly with Larry Vanaria.

Due to difficult and extenuating circumstance Mr. Vanaria has missed several days of school this year and several individual classes.  Maggie will be teaching the 1st block Honors Biology Class for the rest of the year and is assisting Mr. Vanaria with all of his other classes and is stepping in when needed.  Maggie has a B.S. in Biology and is a graduate of Maynard High School herself having had Mr. Vanaria for AP Biology.  Our Assistant Principal Purnima Vadhera is lending additional support to our science program on an as needed basis.  Mrs. Vadhera was The Science Department Chair at Newton North High School and taught AP Biology herself.  The team of Mr. Vanaria, Ms. Jones and Mrs. Vadhera are working hard to insure that our students continue to have excellent science instruction with the greatest continuity possible.

MassBay Community College

Enrollment for the spring semester at MassBay Community College has begun for qualified Maynard High School students who have passed the Accuplacer test.  Please contact our Assistant Principal Mrs. Vadhera should you have any questions.

Opportunities for 21st century learning around Social and Cross Cultural Skills

Purnima Vadhera, the Maynard High School Assistant Principal, has been working with several organizations to create a menu of international experience options for our students at Maynard High School including touring trips, trips with a focus (e.g. studying literature, history, etc.), traditional exchange programs, as well as conference/summit opportunities for high school students.  

Design for Change:

Design for Change is an organization that fosters service learning. Students are encouraged to attend the spring summit in March with key note speaker Kiran Sethi to obtain additional information in regards to service learning opportunities.

Global Student Leader Summit on Environmental Sustainability:

This will be held in 2013 with Key note speakers Al Gore and Oscar Arias in Costa Rica and in 2014 on the New Global Economy in Shaghai, with key note speaker Jon Huntsman.  The students learn first hand from experts on global issues in regards to environmental sustainability and what each of them can do (Scholarships available). 

The Triangle Coalition:

There is a series of programs in Washington for high school students to promote innovative thinking and problem solving in regards to global issues.

The World Affairs Council: 

They believes that education is the U.S.’s top security issue, and offers programs in support of educational initiatives, including:

Academic World Quest for high school students which is an annual knowledge-based competition for high school students. There are nine rounds of questions that focus on a variety of international issues.

The Global Travel Scholarship is a program that provides funding for selected high school students to travel abroad to participate in experiential learning to France, China, Botswana, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Italy.

International Student Summit and International Youth Forum which provides high school students with an opportunity to work creatively and collaboratively with their peers across the state and around the world.

Please contact Assistant Principal, Purnima Vadhera at for additional information on any of the above programs.

London Cultural Connections
we still have spaces left for the 2013 program! The program is highly experiential.  During the London Cultural Connections course we cover theatre, literature, history, art, architecture, social and political mores - from Henry VIII to the present day.

In theatre, we study and act out the Shakespeare play before we see it at the Globe Theatre; after watching Regeneration, we see War Horse in the West End, discuss World War I, visit the Imperial War Museum, and read War Poetry. We also see a couple of other shows with British connections - including The 39 Steps, with four actors playing one hundred and sixteen roles, most of them played by two men! We explore the Romantics and travel to read Wordsworth at Tintern Abbey, in Wales, followed by a trip down a Welsh coal mine to experience the Industrial Revolution. We visit The Victoria and Albert Museum, John Soane's House, The Tate Modern and The National Gallery and Portrait Gallery.

You will see from our website that we experience most of the important London attractions that have literary and historical input for our curriculum. These are all connected to seminars and discussions. Related DVD's are a daily feast. We go shopping!

The Venue:  We are based in a hotel near Kew Gardens

For Parents: The students often travel to London together, are met at the airport, and are supervised 24/7, so, for parents who might be anxious, it is a safe environment. We are in daily contact with home through e-mail and phone if needed. Regular e-mails are sent with updates of our activities.

Dates:  Saturday, July 6-20, 2013

Suitable For:
• students who are hungry for an experiential two weeks making British connections these help with high school courses in literature, history, social studies and art
• students who do not have summer plans yet
• students who want to add to the resume for college applications with rich experience and strong recommendations from us


Below is the link to the London Cultural Connections website. This will be our nineteenth year! Please let me know if you can think of anyone who might want to participate in this inspiring program. It looks great on future applications and we can also give a strong letter of recommendation on completion of the course.

ON-LINE APPLICATION FORM: See website for fees and other details, please see the following website: or contact Assistant Principal Mrs. Vadhera at for additional details or Ms. Ros Thomas-Clark 617-512-0052

Winter Concert

Come join us at 7:00pm on Wednesday December 19th for our Winter Concert under the able Direction of Ms. Erickson.  Tap your toes and sing along as our students present a wonderful evening of entertainment.

Shout Outs!

The Senior District music results are in and Ms. Erickson asked me to share them with our school community.  Members of the MHS chorus and band auditioned for Sr. Districts in November. We have received the results and are incredibly proud of the MHS musicians! Everyone earned a very high score.

Five MHS musicians scored highly enough to not only make Senior Districts but also to receive an All-State recommendation.  They will be auditioning this coming weekend for the opportunity to perform at Symphony Hall this year. Senior Districts are very competitive.  Nearly 1,000 students audition for the one band, chorus and orchestra. The students compete directly with all other students from our region (From the New Hampshire border almost out to Springfield and just inside the 495 belt) regardless of size of the school.  The MHS students who were accepted are:
Ryan Chiasson (also receiving the honor of playing 1st chair in the orchestra) on trumpet
Jeff Umbrell  trumpet
Leo Kutlowski   trombone
Helen Gerondeau   french horn
Matt Hoff   bass voice

Congratulations to these outstanding musicians!!

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has selected Taylor Kapsimalis as one of only 6 students state wide to be named an “MIAA Student-Athlete of the Month” for October 2012.  Congratulations to Taylor for this great honor that recognizes her work in the classroom and on the field.

Thank you all for reading and have a wonderful week ahead.