Thursday, April 28, 2022

We Love Our Rankings

Humans love to rank things. Best schools, best restaurants, best movies, best dog(s) (I won this one); however, all rankings must be taken with a grain of salt. Not entirely as arbitrary as ranking our favorite Halloween candy, but school rankings are essentially inconsistent at best. 

The most accessible measuring stick is applied to standardized test scores. Considering how well CCHS students perform on those exams, it would be in our best interest to highlight those results as the most critical factor, but truthfully they are only one measurement form. 

Recently I received an inquiry from concerned parents regarding high school rankings published in US News. I provide details below outlining our rankings. Also, I would encourage readers to listen to Malcolm Gladwell's Podcast on this very topic. "Revisionist History: Lord of the Rankings"

Several national and local publications use various metrics to rank public high schools across the state and country. They measure multiple things ranging from student achievement to school resources.  

I will refrain from delving too deep into the particulars, but there are countless ways to compare school systems, and most are subjective and difficult to quantify.

Helping guide and prepare students to excel, succeed, and grow academically, socially, and emotionally while providing a positive and supportive environment that allows young adolescents to remain curious, kind, empathetic, and hard-working, remains a worthy goal worth pursuing.  

There is no doubt that CCHS is a high-achieving academic institution that excels in many areas, and it is a fantastic place to come to school and work every day. There is also little doubt we are surrounded by high-achieving high schools filled with many talented and bright kids. They give us hope. 

There are 378 high schools in Massachusetts and tens of thousands nationwide.  

Below, I provide information on a few national ranking systems and present data from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary education regarding standardized test scores, but one measure of a school system. 

Nevertheless, you will find CCHS ranks near the top of the list when measured solely on academic performance.

CCHS earns an A+ and ranks #19 out of 378 in Massachusetts and #362 out of 19,984 nationaly

SAT Scores
CCHS Ranks #10 in Reading & Writing
CCHS Ranks # 13 in Math

AP Scores
CCHS Ranks #4 in AP Performance

US World News
CCHS Ranks # 48 in Massachusetts, just below Ashland and Duxbury, and 1,059 nationaly. If you take a deeper dive into the metrics (see Lexington & Concord scorecard below) we "lose" significant points for offering less AP exams along with a parallel metric, of "passing one AP exam.

Lexington Scorecard

Concord Carlisle Scorecard

Friday, April 15, 2022

Safety Reminder, A Holocaust Survivor's Story, Climate for Freedom Award, CCHS Music, Debate Team News, Samara Reid, Robotics Team, August Lee-Kovach, Nico Calabria, College Admissions Article

Important Safety Reminder 

For the concern and safety of our students, there is no drop-off or pick-up outside the cafeteria between 7:15 am - 8:00 am AND 2:15 pm - 3:00 pm. Drop off/pick up during these times are only in front of the school by the flag pole. Please adhere to these rules for the safety of our students.

My Friend Abe: A Holocaust Survivor's Story

On April 27th from 7 pm—8 pm at Willard Elementary School (185 Powder Mill Rd, Concord, MA 01742), Mr. Steve Goldberg, a Holocaust Historian will visit Concord to present his life’s work, My Friend Abe: A Holocaust Survivor's Story. We are very fortunate that Mr. Goldberg will be presenting Abe’s story of survival to our school community, as we observe Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) on April 27th—28th. Click on the flyer for additional details and to RSVP.

Climate for Freedom Award for 2022

The CCHRC is pleased to announce that there are two recipients from two of our local schools for our Climate for Freedom Award for 2022. They are the Concord Middle School (CMS) Gender and Sexuality Alliance (formerly CMS LGBTQ+ and Allies) and the Concord-Carlisle Spectrum Club at Concord Carlisle High School (CCHS). This is the first time there are co-recipients of the award. You can read the full article here.

The Awards were presented on Sunday, April 3rd, 2022 in the Learning Commons at Concord Carlisle High School. Representatives from CCHS Spectrum Club: Phe O’Leary, Francis Davies, and Alex Nugent (pictured below). Congratulations Spectrum Club!

CCHS Music Ensembles Earn High Honors

This past weekend more than 100 CCHS musicians participated in the MICCA (Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association) Concert and Choral Festival, which is held at 7 sites across the Commonwealth. The Select Choir, Orchestra, and Concert Band all participated and earned high honors (Silver, Gold, and Gold respectively) from a panel of expert adjudicators.

A tremendous amount of hard work went into preparing these challenging programs and they represented our school and community at the highest level.

Please congratulate these students when you see them!

- Dave Gresko, Director of Bands and Orchestra, and Deb Smith, Director of Choirs

National Speech & Debate Association Honor Society

The National Speech & Debate Association’s Honor Society recognizes middle school and high school students and coaches for participation in speech and debate activities. Students earn merit points for participation in one of the oldest and most respected honor societies known to college admissions offices.

Members of the Honor Society are held to the Code of Honor, the highest standards of humility, equity, integrity, respect, leadership, and service. Character, personal accountability, and social responsibility have been valued by the organization since its founding in 1925. The Code of Honor reflects the core values of and standards for participation within the organization.

Members earn recognition through points and degrees in the NSDA Honor Society. Each new degree represents hours of learning, practice, and improvement by students thanks to dedicated coaching.

The following degrees were earned at Concord Carlisle High School from 03/01 - 03/31:

Molly Branigan - Special Distinction
Richard Li - Special Distinction
Asher Sun - Excellence
Felicity Zhang - Distinction

Debate Team Wins at MSDL State Tournament

On Friday and Saturday, March 25-26, CCHS sent two strong debate teams to compete at the highly selective Massachusetts Speech and Debate League’s State Tournament, the major effort for the 2021-22 season.

In the varsity division, Molly Branigan & Richard Li have their best showing of the season, earning a 4W-2L record and breaking to octofinals (sweet 16), before losing to the eventual championship team. This was a great effort by our co-captains, and they deserve the trophy they earned in a field of 52 of the best teams in the state.

In the novice division, the team of Felicity Zhang & Asher Sun had a record of 2W-4L, but Felicity was in the top 20% of individual speakers.

CCHS was well represented by some of our most active judges, including Rui Ma (5 rounds), Jen Moffitt (3), Kerry Moffitt (3), Ling Liu (2), John Branigan (2), and Hua Yang (1). Our team has depended upon the excellent support of our parents who judged and chaperoned consistently as needed. Thanks to Jen and Kerry for stepping up even without a debater in the competition.

Samara Reid Wins National Scholastic Art & Writing Award

Congratulations to Samara Reid who won the regional Scholastic Art and Writing Award for several works in the category of digital art.  The entries that won regional Massachusetts Gold Key awards were submitted in the competition for national-level awards.  Samara won two National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards at that level: a Gold Award and a Silver Award. Join me in congratulating Samara on this excellent achievement!

Robotics Team Places First at WPI Event

Congratulations to the Robotics Team who placed First at the New England District WPI Event! The Robotics Team will now move on to the New England District Championship that is being held in Springfield on April 14, 15, and 16. Congratulations to our Robotics coach, Elaine Picard, and to the entire team. Let's go CCHS Robotics!!

August Lee-Kovach Delivers Again

August Lee-Kovach has become the youngest ever creator of a published Sunday NYT crossword puzzle, making his debut at the age of 14 years, 11 months. This is his third puzzle for The Times since last October when he started his run with an excellent Saturday crossword. You can read the full NYT article about August here. Excellent work August!

Nico Calabria Advances to World Cup

Mr. Calabria - CMS 7th grade Social Studies teacher -- captain of the USA National Amputee Soccer Team traveled to San Juan de los Lagos, Mexico to compete in World Cup Qualifier Tournament.  As many of his students know, Mr. Calabria's team won their final match with Haiti and secured advancement to the World Cup! Congratulations Mr. Calabria!!

College Admissions Article

From the Guidance office...
With college admissions decisions in, this is a great article

Friday, March 25, 2022

Isabella Synnestvedt, Mia McKennitt, Leadership Award, Climate of Freedom Award, Speech and Debate Award


We are but one week away from the 1st of April. The first day of April coincides with the last day of quarter 3. We are 3/4 of the way complete with one quarter before summer, even less for the Class of 2022. "The days are long but the years are short." Have a wonderful weekend. Please read on for news about our great students. 

Parking at CCHS

As a reminder, please refer to the March 22nd blog post regarding parking at CCHS. Only seniors are permitted to park on campus. 

Isabella Synnestvedt Competes in Junior National Championships

Congratulations to Isabella Synnestvedt.  She is among an elite group who competed in the U20 division in Minnesota, March 7 - 12th. She represented New England well, here are her results:

  • Freestyle U20 - 13th
  • Classic Sprints (she competed in 4 rounds - qualifier, quarter-final, semi-final, final) - 12th
  • Classic Mass Start - 25th
  • Freestyle mixed relay - 8th
New England won overall and took home the Alaska Cup! You can read all about the Junior National Championships here. Congratulations Isabella!

Mia McKennitt - '22 Boston Bruins-MIAA Sportsmanship Award Recipient

Congratulations to Mia McKennitt who is this year's MIAA Sportsmanship Award! This award is presented annually by the Boston Bruins and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) to one individual from each high school ice hockey league in the state who best exemplifies the highest standards of fair play and sportsmanship. Congratulations Mia!

Leadership Award Recipients

Nafeesa Hoda, Kristina Kane, and Madeleine Smack - are being recognized at State Representative Tami Gouveia's Unbossed event (Unbossed: Celebrating Bold Leadership, an awards ceremony and fundraiser event in support of her campaign for Lieutenant Governor). The virtual event is on March 20th at 4:00pm. Nafeesa, Kristina, and Madeleine lead the CYSJ group for Carlisle children ages 7 and up to learn about social justice. They've covered topics including activism, Women's rights, Black history month, privilege, and micro-aggressions with discussions, videos, games, and poetry. Congratulations Nafeesa, Kristina, and Madeleine!

Climate of Freedom Award

The Spectrum Club was awarded this year's Climate of Freedom Award by the Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council along with the Middle School's Gender and Sexuality Alliance. Started over 30 years ago, the Human Rights Council continues to support human rights and respect for human differences. It is a volunteer group that coordinates its efforts with other local resources to overcome issues that divide and create misunderstanding and strife. The Spectrum Club will be accepting the award on April 3, 2022, at a ceremony to be held at CCHS. Congratulations to The Spectrum Club!

About the Spectrum Club: 

The Concord-Carlisle Spectrum Club began in the early 1990s as part of the statewide Safe Schools initiative.  It was founded by a group of students, teachers, and parents and has been going strong ever since.  

Spectrum is a club that welcomes all CCHS students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or status as a questioning person and/or ally. They promote interest in and tolerance of diversity, and work to support a positive and welcoming school climate for all. Meetings provide support and social space for students (and sometimes faculty and staff) who come and talk about their week and the challenges they are having as well as education about local, national and global trends in the area of LGBTQ rights. It is a judgment-free space where people can be themselves. 

Written by Faculty Member: Benjamin Kendall: 
We have hosted school-wide events like "socials" which are informal dances like during October (Halloween and Coming Out Month) and May - we have invited Gay Straight Alliances from surrounding schools as well- our attendance has usually numbered up to 30-40 students total.  In recent years, we have worked on reform issues within the school like expanding the number of Gender Neutral Bathrooms at the high school as our trans and gender non-conforming student body expands.  We have also met multiple times with Health and Fitness teachers to discuss ways to revise their Sexuality Curriculum to make it more inclusive of and sensitive to LGBTQ+ students.  We have applied for several grants with Student Government to expand on art around the school that would make the building more visually welcoming and inclusive as well as invite in a gender specialist who can talk with teachers and staff about how to make their classes more welcoming and inclusive of LGBTQ+ students.  And finally, at this year's professional development in service, which met over 4 early release days, we had a total of four Spectrum students participate as guest panelists on two of the days.  

I should mention that we have a tremendously supportive faculty and administration- Brian Miller encouraged our students to participate on the professional development panels.  Ray Pavlik of Student Government encouraged us to apply for the grants.  Michael Mastrullo has been very supportive of the gender-neutral bathroom issue and Andrew Nyamekye, our new Director of Diversity and Inclusion has met with us to hear our concerns.  

Speech and Debate Team Earns Charter Status

Congratulations to the Speech and Debate Team for earning Charter status in the National Speech and Debate Association! This significant achievement is the highest school membership honor. Charter status is earned by building a team that is heavily involved in the honor society, wherein they earn points and distinction through speech and debate competition, as well as community service, public speaking, and leadership activities. Earning a Charter is a remarkable achievement, placing the program among the best and most stable in the nation. This designation demonstrates that under the Debate Team leadership, not only is the team growing and competing at a high level, but the students uphold the highest standards of integrity, humility, respect, leadership, and service in our organization. For more information go to Congratulations CCHS Speech and Debate!

Pictured: Ryan Valentine, Jack Peppercorn, Richard Li (Co-captain), Mr. Averill (Coach), Molly Branigan (Co-captain), Alex Li (Treasurer), Wilbur Moffit, Asher Sun, Eleanor Yoshida, Felicity Zhang,
Sarah Cherawala 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Parking at CCHS


Parking has been and remains a significant problem at CCHS. As noted in my messaging earlier this year, student parking is designated for seniors only. This unfortunate fact results from capacity issues and not a reluctance to allow juniors to park at school. 

Over the past six years, we have made significant attempts to add parking at CCHS, to no avail. Adding parking spaces is more complex and complicated than one would assume. Nevertheless, I must deal with the facts as they are, and not how I want them to be. 

We have tried to manage this with empathy and common sense, which has not proved fruitful. Recently more and more seniors who paid for parking find their spot occupied with nowhere to go. 

 The parking lot is reserved for staff, visitors, and seniors who paid for a parking spot. 

Students on campus without a parking pass will have their car towed immediately from the lot. As a reminder, parking passes cannot be sold or transferred. Thank you for your attention to this matter. 



  • Parking is only available to seniors (YOG 2022).  All seniors requesting a parking spot will be entered into a lottery.  In order to enter the lottery, you need to purchase a parking permit and complete the required information on  If you are not assigned a parking spot, your purchase will be refunded. We are hopeful that all seniors can be accommodated.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Masks, Meet a Neuroscientist, Nordic Ski Team, Writing Contest Winners, Lauren Keilty, Debate Team, Boys Track, Girls Swim & Dive


Tomorrow we arrive at CCHS with masks optional. It is hard to believe, but a sophomore in high school has yet to arrive at CCHS unmasked. We welcome the relaxing of COVID-19 measures, but we do so with empathy, compassion, and kindness to those who, for a myriad of reasons, cannot remove their mask. For those who welcome this change, I am glad you can remove your mask. To those who need to wear a mask, please show empathy and compassion.  

I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow. 

Meet a Neuroscientist, Tuesday, March 29th | 5:00 pm EST

Harvard Brain Initiative (HBI) is launching a new virtual event series called “Meet a Neuroscientist.” Click here to learn more and register for their first event on March 29th at 5 pm. 

The goal is for high school students and undergraduates across the nation to have a chance to chat with brain science researchers from the Harvard community. We will offer one-hour sessions in Zoom where students have a chance to meet two researchers from different areas of neuroscience. These researchers may be graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, professors, or staff members. Each speaker gives a short, informal talk about their research and educational background, and then opens up the conversation for Q&A. 

 Please reach out to, if you have any questions.

Nordic Ski Team - Champions!

The girl's team beat Mt. Greylock for the State Championship in a very tight race. The course was 7km and the race was held at Prospect Mt. in Vermont.

Senior Isabella Synnestvedt was the overall winner for the girls with a split-second margin of victory.

Other top finishers: 5th - junior Finn Feist; 10th - sophomore Sarah Kirincich, in 20th - senior Grace Waldeck

The boys finished in 2nd place overall, far behind Mt. Greylock. Same course. 

Top finishers: In 6th place, sophomore Xander Scopinich-Burgel, in 12th - Senior
co-captain Bryce Lublin, in 14th - Junior Jonah Carter

Please see this article for the complete write-up.

Writing Contest Winners

The English Department would like to congratulate the winners of its annual writing contest: Isabelle Adourian and Mai Richmond.  We wish these two juniors good luck as they go on to compete in the national contest sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English.  

Lauren Keilty

Congratulations to Lauren Keilty '22 for competing in the US Equestrian Interscholastic Athlete Program. Lauren has committed hundreds of hours of training throughout her career. You can read Lauren's recognition letter here. Way to go Lauren!

About US Equestrian: This program was developed to provide recognition for the accomplishments of young equestrians and encourage their future involvement in equestrian sport. US Equestrian recognizes the dedication of equestrians preparing for competition through practice and training sessions as similar to other students in athletic programs and developed this program to honor individual achievements with a varsity letter in the student's chosen sport, regardless of the availability of an equestrian team or club through their school. 

CCHS Debate Team News

The CCHS Debate team participated in two tournaments on Saturday: The Lumos Debate held online and the Boston Catholic Forensic League’s national qualifier held in person at Shrewsbury HS. 

At Lumos Debate, in the Gold Division, our phenomenal team of Asher Sun and Felicity Zhang were undefeated and took 1st Place Team, after defeating Waring School’s top[ team of Mikaila Bennett & Eliza Proctor in the 4th round. As coach of both teams, I was happy to see both teams debate so well and to see Asher and Felicity’s hard work pay off. Judging for CCHS at this tournament was Hua Yang.

At the BCFL National Qualifier, CCHS was ably represented by Richard Li & Wilbur Moffitt. They had a superior showing, going undefeated in the first 3 rounds before qualifying for elimination rounds and earning the “second alternate” position for the National Debate Tournament in May. In addition, Wilbur became the first “Double Ruby” (508 NSDA points) at CCHS, a remarkable sign of his active participation in debate. Ling Liu also became our first judge to attend 20 tournaments in her judging career, a sign of deep commitment to the team!

This was our second IN-PERSON tournament of the year, and it was a joy to be with other debaters and actually be in the same room with our competition. Waring School’s Team leader, Cam Gimbrere, described the difference this way:

“One thing I love and missed the most about in-person debating is the strangely comforting and strange grounding technique I developed freshman year. Tournaments are terrifying, and between your horrendous nerves and attempts to avoid rival teams, there's not much quiet time. When I get in this space at in-person tournaments, I breathe and take a physical step back. What am I seeing? High schoolers. High schoolers dressed up in little suits for twelve hours a day, reading little research papers and pretending they're little politicians. Being once again in this environment of chatter and focus is invigorating. Being once again around people who are wandering the halls in socks because their shoes were hurting or those who are crying in the bathroom because they should not have lost that round (I have been in both of these situations) allows me to realize that I am not alone here. That it's okay if I don't get top place or break to finals. It's okay. We're just high schoolers.” 

In addition to agreeing with Cam’s philosophical observations on in-person debating, I found it refreshing to be in the same tabulation room with my lifelong colleagues from our regional leadership team, eating bad pizza and sharing our thoughts on the state of debate in New England. 

Debate Team Places at National Qualifier

CCHS’ novice “phenoms” Felicity Zhang & Eleanor Yoshida were dominant and earned a spot as 2nd alternates in the New England District Tournament of the National Speech and Debate Association’s qualifier for the National tournament to be held in Dallas in June. Debating the new February topic, “Resolved: On balance, Turkey’s Membership is Beneficial to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” they garnered a 3W-2L record against the top teams in New England. It was an awesome showing for a young team competing against the best varsity debaters in the league.

They gained valuable experience that CCHS will use for the next two weekends at the NCFL National Qualifier and the Harvard Tournament. Thanks to Felicity and Nora for being our “avant-garde” on the latest topic. Rui Ma served as the judge for CCHS and debate coach Tim Averill worked in the judge training for the tournament. 

CCHS Debaters Excel at Harvard

The CCHS Debate team was represented by 6 debaters at the Harvard National Debate Tournament, held online on Friday, February 18 - Monday, February 21. Debating in varsity debate were Molly Branigan & Richard Li, in J-V debate Wilbur Moffitt & Asher Sun, and in Novice Debate Felicity Zhang & Eleanor Yoshida. 

The tournament attracted over 2000 students from both the United States and International destinations - China, Canada, and Latin American nations. Felicity and Nora were undefeated and the top seed in preliminary debates (5W-0L) and won their first elimination round before losing to Regis HS of New York City in Double-Octofinals. In addition, Felicity was the ninth-place speaker in a field of 430 debaters in the novice division.

- Tim Averill, Debate Team Coach

Track Team

The boys 4x800 team from the Division 1 Championship. They broke the school record and were #1 in the state. L-R is Campbell MacDonald, Henry Reichle, Ray Pavlik, and Wes Kleiman. Congratulations!

Swim and Dive Team

Girls Swim and Dive Team, which finished 2nd in the D1 State Championship. Alana Leen broke a school record, while relay teams featuring Alana, Lindsey Mingolla, Arden Trudeau, Tess Ward, and Reese Phillips also set school records. Congratulations!

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Lunar New Year, Black History Month, Bruins' Willie O'Ree Retirement Ceremony, CCHS Debate Team

Semester 2 is upon us and we embark on the remaining second half of the school year. Another challenging year dealing with COVID, but I am filled with hope and optimism that our future is better than our past. Please read on for more information and some exciting news. 

Lunar New Year 2022

Happy Chinese New Year! Today, Tuesday, February 1st marks the beginning of a New Year -- the Lunar New Year. This day is also known as the Chinese New Year. Separately, we also bid farewell to the Year of the Ox and welcome the Year of the Tiger.

 CCHS staff member Bo Feng made this piece using a wood-burning technique  (pyrography) that is truly awe-inspiring.  Needless to say, in addition to being a great teacher, Bo is an amazing artist.

Black History Month
The month of February is Black History Month. We honor the triumphs and struggles of African Americans throughout U.S. history. This year's Black History theme focuses on the importance of Black Health and Wellness and considers activities, rituals, and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well. 

Bruins Retire Willie O'Ree's Number With Two METCO Students

I  am extremely excited to share a video of two talented METCO students.  Dallas and Toryn Jackson made their mark on the ice on January 18th, 2022 when they participated in the Willie O'Ree retirement ceremony with the Boston Bruins.  Willie O'Ree "the Jackie Robinson of hockey" changed history and opened the proverbial door for other underrepresented people to play in the NHL. 

Both Dallas (class of 2021) and Toryn (class of 2024) spent many weekends for several years participating in a Boston-based hockey league affiliated with Mr. O'Ree.  In a recent interview, Willie O'Ree said that besides being Black and being blind in my right eye, I was faced with four other things: racism, prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance.  He broke the NHL's color barrier in 1958 with the Bruins, one of six teams at the time. He played 45 games with the Bruins, despite being legally blind -- scoring four goals and recording 10 assists. Please view the video and join me in congratulating the Jackson sisters!

- Heidi Harris, Director, CCHS METCO Program

CCHS Debaters Win Awards at Malcolm Bump Memorial Tournament

On Saturday, January 22, CCHS sent 12 debaters to the online Malcolm Bump Tournament (Montrose New York - Hendrick Hudson High School), and the team won 4 awards. This was the largest group of CCHS debaters to attend any tournament this academic year, and the success showed the growth of the team.

In the Varsity Division, debate co-presidents Molly Branigan & Richard Li had a 3W-1L record to earn the trophy for 10th place. Wilbur Moffitt & Alex Li also had a storing 2-2 record in varsity.

In the Novice debate, the team of Ryan Valentine & Jonathan Peppercorn placed 8th (3W-1L0 in a field of 112 debaters, and individual speaker awards went to Ryan (10th) and Jonathan (7th). Also debating in novice were Felicity Zhang & Eleanor Yoshida, Asher Sun & Mads Reeves, and Joe Park & Jameson Velez.