Thursday, December 14, 2017

December 15th: A pivotal moment, or is it?

Fast forward to the year 2038.  You are now thirty-eight years old.  Maybe you are working your dream job in New York, Los Angeles, or Boston.  Maybe it turned out differently, and you are starting another business after a few successes and failures. Or, perhaps you just finished post-graduate work and you are getting married to the person of your dreams. Maybe you are traveling to exotic locations for pleasure, for work, for both. Possibly you are raising two, three, four children of your own. Visualize any one of these scenarios, or visualize where you hope to be at the age of thirty-eight.  Will Early Decision and Early Action decisions on December 15, 2017, matter? Allow me to answer for you.  It won't. 

As college acceptance decisions loom, I want to remind every student waiting with bated breath that you are not defined by the college you choose, you are not defined by your post-high school decision, but you will be defined by how you treat people. You have nothing to prove. Who you are is enough.  With caution, I urge you to weight this moment with proper proportion, as proportion and harmony need not be strangers.  

Placing too much stock in a process marred by ambiguity is a fool's bargain.  For those that receive a yes tomorrow.  Congratulations.  I am so happy for you.  Be proud.  Be excited.  Be humble. As Berry said, "you do not know the road; you have committed to a way."

I can't help but lament at what the college application process has become.  Why can't this process be standardized, so students are spared the grueling process of completing different supplements for each school? When did the college application process morph into the equivalent of another rigorous class?  Is it necessary to place such pressure and time commitments on high school students? Is there not admissions counselors at colleges across the land who are watching their own children grind away at a process that seems unnecessarily arduous?  The last two rhetorical questions can be answered merely, no & yes.  

Last year I witnessed a video online of a young student sitting by the computer awaiting notification from the college of his choice.  He was surrounded by family all hovering about and peering over his shoulder.  Undoubtedly with a pounding heart, he opened the email from the institution of his choice.  A double-click away from the next four years of his life. 

They simultaneously read the email and pandemonium erupted in the room.  A great, triumphant moment for the young man and his family.  It made me smile.  Watching a dream come true for a young man or woman is always smile-worthy.  Of course, the video went viral because he heard the word yes.  This will play out millions of times across the country in the coming weeks.    

It is impossible for me not to wonder, what would the reaction be if the 3 letter reply he hoped for (yes) was replaced with the dreaded 2 letter answer, NO! Knowing his family is anxiously awaiting a yes, I imagine "no" would have been crushing.

I fully recognize sitting in my position it is easy to tell students, don't worry, it will all work out, but I honestly believe it will.  If you do not get into college #1, #2, or even numbers 3, 4, or 5, it will work out; you will end up where you belong.  The college that accepts you is lucky to have you, and to the ones that said no, well use that rejection as fuel to demonstrate their colossal mistake.  

In moments like this, it is difficult, but nonetheless necessary, to keep perspective. If the most devastating moment of the year is a rejection letter, then life is splendid.  Know that your family and friends are proud of you no matter what.  

I include an article written by CCHS senior, Chao Cheng, and I am sharing a New York Times article I read nearly three years ago.  Below is a portion of the article I find particularly poignant.  After being turned down by the colleges of his choice, a mother found a beleaguered and devastated son.  She wrote him a letter.  I included a portion of it below.  It will all work out. I promise!

Dear Matt,

On the night before you receive your first college response, we wanted to let you know that we could not be any prouder of you than we are today. Whether or not you get accepted does not determine how proud we are of everything you have accomplished and the wonderful person you have become. That will not change based on what admissions officers decide about your future. We will celebrate with joy wherever you get accepted — and the happier you are with those responses, the happier we will be. But your worth as a person, a student and our son is not diminished or influenced in the least by what these colleges have decided.

If it does not go your way, you’ll take a different route to get where you want. There is not a single college in this country that would not be lucky to have you, and you are capable of succeeding at any of them.

We love you as deep as the ocean, as high as the sky, all the way around the world and back again — and to wherever you are headed.

Mom and Dad

Frank Bruni is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times. This essay is adapted from his book, “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania.”

How to Survive the College Admissions Madness

On Applying to College

With the November 1st early application deadline just two weeks away, many seniors are heavily preoccupied with assembling all the required materials necessary for their applications: transcripts, essays, recommendations, the Common App, and more. During the application process, it isn’t hard to feel a sense of despair, a feeling that you really should have paid more attention during freshman year, so maybe you would have a higher GPA, and maybe then would your dream school want you. One suddenly comes to a realization that college is just around the corner, and with it comes the gateway to life as an independent adult – and that everything you’ve done with your life up until this point matters, whether it be those years of playing the violin or all those afternoons volunteering at the local community center.

Perhaps it is because, as young as we are, we have not truly been exposed to many other grand-scale issues such as maintaining a stable income, or perhaps it is because we are so excited for it. All things considered, we place a huge emphasis on going to college that is arguably unwarranted and exaggerated. It is not without reason, of course; college, and higher education in general, opens up a multitude of opportunities for one’s life. It is a place and time where one will end up with life-long friends and memories, and it is where one truly leaves the shackles of teenage life behind and embraces the world, independent at last. For these reasons, and many more, it is indeed quite important where one goes to college and what one makes of it.

But not for the purpose you think. Sure, being accepted to a prestigious institution merits joy and satisfaction, but you shouldn’t get hung up on not being able to attend the school of your dreams. College is what you make of it, and there’s not point in wistfully wondering about your life had you gone to a different school. It is a time to discover yourself and your passions, and regardless of what college you attend, you will have the opportunity to do those things and much more. As residents of Massachusetts, one of the best educated states in the US, we are already miles above the average teenager of the world. 

Wherever you end up, you can be sure that you have access to amazing resources and amazing people. And in the long run, in the scope of your entire life, whatever you will have been destined to accomplish, destined to become, is dependent on yourself, and not the college you go to. YOU define who you are, not the admissions officers at schools across the country who have no idea what you look like or what you want. College is a stepping stone to the rest of your life, and if you don’t get into your dream school, it isn’t the end – learn from it and become a better person.
Ultimately, if you take away nothing else, I hope you will keep this simple message in mind:
Don’t let your college define you… let yourself define who you are.

Friday, December 8, 2017

XC, Soccer, John Griffin, Improv, Music Awards, V-Ball, CCHS Farm, CCCC, Unite with Light, Weatherfest & More

Evaluating and celebrating the achievements and accomplishments of CCHS students over any arbitrarily chosen time period will undoubtedly yield some impressive results.  The last few weeks are extraordinary even by the loftiest of standards.  

In the past few weeks, the CC Weather Club launched a weather balloon and will soon analyze the results after its recovery near the coast of Nova Scotia.  The Boys Cross Country team finished 4th in the state capping another remarkable season, and our theater program performed four knockout performances of Shakespeare's The Tempest.  

The Boys Soccer Team won a state championship when CCHS senior, Logan Dick scored a goal cementing a double-overtime victory in thrilling fashion.  CCHS set an all-time record with 40 students accepted into the MMEA Eastern District Festival; outpacing all schools in our district. Orchestra and band witnessed thirty-two students accepted into districts with a fantastic nineteen All-State Recommendations, a school record.  

The volleyball team went undefeated in the small school division of the DCL, and won the overall DCL league with a record of 17-1, finishing 9th  in the state in division 1 with a final record of 18-2.  

Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment is owned by our Girls Cross Country Team. They capped an undefeated season with a DCL championship and a state championship. Most impressively, it was a complete team effort marked by solid performances by all runners.  

With all this success we can anticipate several coaches and students receiving recognition over the course of the next few weeks.  Congratulations to Sarah Reichheld, Kyle Jackson, and Carly Blue for being named Globe All-Scholastic, and coaches Hanna Bruno and Ray Pavlik for Coach of the Year honors. 

Congratulations to all student-athletes, coaches, and music performers.  

Weatherfest & Launch
By Charles Peachey
A few weeks CC Weather Services hosted our first ever Weatherfest event.  Pam Gardner from Channel 4 Boston along with folks from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were on hand to lend support to our bolstering program.   There was a balloon launch from the upper turf field as well as an interactive weather themed fair.  The event included weather demos, music, some games and a raffle...even a food truck!  

National History Bee
9th grader John Griffin recently competed in Boston Area Finals for the National History Bee.  Remarkably, John earned second place for the Boston area, competing against kids in the JV section of 9th and 10th graders. He will now be attending the National History Bee in Arlington, VA in March or April 2018. Congratulations, John.  

By Steve Wells
Check out this short video featuring CCHS graduate Will Palmer ('17) on his experience with the Concord-Carlisle Community Connections (CCCC) program, a career mentoring program: Will Palmer CCCC Promotional Video

This program is a great and easy way to build up your college profile or just learn about something interesting outside of CCHS.  If you want more information about the program, please email me or visit our website:

To apply, visit  Applications are due tomorrow!

"CCHS sophomores, juniors, and seniors are invited to participate in the Concord-Carlisle Community Connections (CCCC) program ( in the second semester of this school year. This program connects students with community professionals and residents from a varied career fields. The program, which requires only eight hours of meeting time between students and mentors, as well as attendance at a program orientation meeting and final event in May, awards 1.25 credits for successful completion.  

This program seeks to provide an improved appreciation for the value of making real-life connections in order to develop life skills and insights into the world outside the classroom. It is expected that student participation in this program will facilitate intergenerational exchanges of ideas and life experiences between students and mentors.  These connections provide an opportunity for students to learn more about the challenges and adversities faced by people and organizations in their daily pursuits and the competing choices and sacrifices often required, and the adversity often faced and overcome, in achieving personal and professional goals. Community mentors are encouraged to expose students to notions of the importance of teamwork and collaboration, developing interpersonal and problem-solving skills, building personal networks, the need for personal interaction in the workplace, and appreciating human differences, among other teachings.

If you need further information, please contact Mr. Wells, the CCCC Faculty Coordinator, at" Applications are due by December 14th.  

Unite with Light
By Morgan Labadini
Support two great charities and help bring the community together with Unite with Light! Unite with Light is a nonprofit hoping to bring the community together and raise money to be donated to Cradles to Crayons and Harlem Lacrosse. On Sunday, December 10, those who have purchased the Unite with Light kits will light luminaries on their driveways or paths. The luminary kits are $20 and contain 10 white, wax coated paper bags, candles, plastic containers, and tape. Unite with Light was started by CCHS and CMS students and is supported by youth volunteers. We hope this charitable event helps to further unite our community. There are two ways to get involved: kids can help out (while earning community service hours) and families can purchase kits.  Please visit or email:

Kits are on sale at Crosby's & Ferns.  

CCHS Hydroponic Farm
Thanks to the generosity of the Parents Association, CCHS students are enjoying their first harvest from the hydroponic farm.  Special thanks to CCHS teachers, Tom Keane and Ray Pavlik for making this excellent opportunity available to students in our Pathways Program.  

Carlisle Mosquito Article

Photo Credit: Thomas Kim ‘19
Twice Told Tales MFA Field Trip
By Alex Spence
On Tuesday, November 14th, Mr. Rivera, Ms. Winkler, and I traveled with the juniors in History & Literature: A Twice Told Tale to the Museum of Fine Arts for a tour of art of the ancient world: Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean. A great deal of the course is centered on the relationship between history and art. The atmosphere aboard the bus to Boston was abuzz with excitement, and when from my seat at the front of the bus I overheard conversations that included “cuneiform” and “Dionysus in pottery,” I knew that we were going to have a fantastic day.

The better part of the day was spent marveling at art that was either created at the same time period or geographic location as the course literature or that depicts scenes from works we’ve read together. Two highlights included an examination of a four-thousand-year-old wax seal of Gilgamesh and a tour of relics from the Golden Age of Greece. 

We had a thrilling morning in Boston's world-class museum. Yet, as much as we enjoyed the guided tour, the dessert of the day was an opportunity to work closely with master artists on ceramic techniques of the ancient Mediterranean world. The time spent learning the different materials, artistic methods, and narrative techniques employed by artists over a thousand years ago served as a wonderful entrance into our deeper learning about ancient Greek theatre and culture.

On behalf of History & Literature: A Twice Told Tale, Mr. Rivera and I would like to thank the CCHS Parents Association and the Grant Committee for funding the day’s MFA adventure!

Teacher Tuesday
This week we feature CCHS Math Department Chair, Sue Ravelese.  Read on for an excerpt and a link to the full article.  

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of teaching is learning along-side my students. I enjoy listening to my students discuss their ideas with other students as they develop their understanding. I particularly like hearing them disagree and enthusiastically try to convince each other that their viewpoint is the correct one. I look forward to my students asking me questions that I need to think about and sharing insights that get me to see things from a different perspective.

Global Literacy Certificate Recipients
By The World Language Department

The Global Literacy Certificate Program at CCH S is a program designed to foster global and cross-cultural awareness in high school students. It aims to support students in acquiring a forward-looking global perspective and gaining cultural competence.

These students listed below have done service learning in cultural settings different from their own and have demonstrated an understanding of the importance of linguistic and cultural competence as well as acquiring skills necessary for communicating effectively with people across geographic, cultural and language divides.  In addition, they have a deep appreciation and regard for diversity and the ability to interact respectfully with others at home and around the world.

Presenters: October 19th-- 1) Lisa Owen, 2) Elizabeth (Lili) Shoup,  3) Alejandro Cancio

October 26th-- 4) Carly Blue, 5) Paola Loy, 6) Nancy Jin and Lucy Jin

Google Drive folder containing all 6 Google Slide Presentations 

Photo Album

Google Doc containing student written summary of their presentations

From left to right - Charles Wang, David Jiang, Chao Cheng, Kenny Liu. 

Academic Bowl
The Academic Bowl Team recently took part in the WGBH Quiz Bowl Super Sunday qualifying round.  The results are not yet in, but we are hoping to advance to the round of 16 for televised shows.  Congratulations to the students and faculty adviser, Todd Sawyer.

Pep Band Performs at CROP Walk
By David Gresko
Members of the CCHS Pep Band performed on October 20th at the CROP Walk in Concord. CROP Hunger Walks help to provide food and water, as well as resources that empower people to meet their own needs. From seeds and tools to wells and water systems, the key is people working together to identify their own development priorities, their strengths, and their needs.

Learning Commons Blog

By David Gresko
"PRISM" is a non-stop musical kaleidoscope, showcasing the talented student musicians of the Concord Carlisle High School Bands and Orchestras. A variety of musical styles and ensembles will be presented throughout the performing space, creating an interactive experience for the audience. You have never seen a concert like this!

This benefit concert will help fund the Alfred W. Dentino Excellence in Music Fund. Proceeds will help fund:
District and State events
Private Lesson Scholarships
Clinicians and Guest Conductors
Japan 2019 Scholarship Fund

Community & Light
By Deb Smith
I would like to cordially invite the community to our special visiting artist concert featuring renowned song leader, composer, conductor and author Nick Page.  It's going to be a wonderful experience for performers and audience alike, as Mr. Page invites all to be a part of the music making.    It's free and all are welcome!

“Nick Page is both a natural and a schooled musician, with a boundless enthusiasm and ability for the awakening song.  He is a collector of folk tunes from around the world, and a gifted teacher.'" Alice Parker

“The unique Mr. Page was a great success here in New Orleans:  I loved the fact that he had the audience singing and dancing along!  He had our children’s choir playing instruments, dancing on stage, and everyone had a ball!  There was a great sense of community as we all shared the precious gift of music.”  Melissa Brocato, Honors Choir Chair for Louisiana ACDA

“Nick Page embraces the whole world in his soul and in his music.  He is a skillful, passionate, and respectful interpreter of world music who backs up his work with knowledge and context.  As composer, teacher, and song leader, Nick inspires people through song like few others, empowering them in the process.”  Emily Ellsworth, Glen Ellen Children’s Choir."

Improv Night
By Ryan Palmer
The CCHS Improv Club Presents: RIOT - an Improv Show at 7pm on December 15th in the Black Box Theater. Tickets are pay what you can at the door. We hope to see you there!

CCHS Newspaper
Defining Family, Music and Movie Reviews, School and National Sports, and More!

Additional Photos