Thursday, April 26, 2018

Justin Moy, Ian Smith, Luke Pailet & Rosie's House , A story too incredible to believe & More

Today is school day number 140, which leaves but a mere 40 days for grades 9-11 and but 21 for seniors. Assuming we can actually witness a flower bloom and avoid another snow day, the last day of school is June 22nd.  

The seniors are marching towards their 11am June 2nd Graduation ceremony with only a 19 May Prom, senior week activities, Prifti Day of Service, AP Exams, final exams, awards ceremonies, sporting events, a musical, Choral Pops Concert, a METCO Senior Dinner, and like 1,000 other things left to complete. I am exhausted just typing it; however, I am aware that exhaustion is partly a state of mind, and seniors can no longer doubt what they already know. The end of high school is but weeks away. 

It will be a busy end to the year, but one filled with fun and excitement. I recommend savoring the moments and not wishing them away. This life chapter of pk-12 mandatory education is about to end. This day is thirteen years in the making, so embrace and enjoy the last 21. 

Senior Week Activities Information

Before moving on to CCHS highlights, I feel compelled to share a story I shamefully admit I was not aware. 

Captain Thomas Hudner, Officer Jesse LeRoy Brown, and Lt. Chris Raguso
We receive alerts from Governor Charlie Baker notifying us when and why to fly the United States Flag at half-staff. On April 4th the flag flew at half-staff for a former citizen of Concord with a story that is too incredible for even Hollywood to dream.   

Thomas Jerome Hudner was an officer in the Navy, and he flew alongside fellow Navy Officer Jesse LeRoy Brown. Brown's remarkable story is awe-inspiring as he was the first African-American aviator in the U.S. Navy, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and, tragically, the first African-American naval officer killed in the Korean War. 

The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia. "On 4 December 1950, Hudner and Brown were among a group of pilots on patrol near the Chosin Reservoir when Brown's Corsair was struck by ground fire from Chinese troops and crashed. In an attempt to save Brown from his burning aircraft, Hudner intentionally crash-landed his own aircraft on a snowy mountain in freezing temperatures to help Brown. In spite of these efforts, Brown died of his injuries, and Hudner was forced to evacuate, having also been injured in the landing." 

I can't even imagine the trials and tribulations endured and overcome by Brown to become the first African-American Naval aviator, and Thomas Hudner undoubtedly faced ridicule for being his wingman, and from what I have been told, they were dear friends. 

Brown died heroically fighting for a country that was not even willing to bestow even fundamental human rights we all so gratefully enjoy in the United States. Hudner intentionally crashed his plane in a failed attempt to save his life. I will not even attempt to compose a sentence articulating the awesomeness of the event I just described. Somethings require no words. 

When I learned of this event, I gasped and covered my mouth as it was too incredible to believe. If you just learned of this event, I wager you did as well. Officer Brown and Captain Hudner, thank you for your service.  

Military rites for Navy. Capt. Tom Hudner

Unfortunately, the cost of war struck close to home recently. FDNY Lt. Christopher Raguso was killed in a helicopter crash on March 15 in the line of duty serving our nation in Western Iraq.  Lt. Raguso is the cousin of CCHS Guidance Counselor, Rachele Brown. Rachele describes their relationship as more like brother and sister.  To Rachele and your family, we are so sorry for your loss. 

Lt. Raguso leaves his wife Carmela and two young girls, 6-year-old Mila and 5-year-old Eva Rose.  Lt. Raguso, thank you for your service.  

If you wish to honor a real-life hero I have included details of how to do so.  

Christopher Raguso Charities Information
FDNY Lt Raguso escort

CCHS Highlights

Justin Moy Honored
Courtesy of MDA Press Release
MDA Selects Two National Ambassadors to Represent Families Affected By Neuromuscular Disease

A six-year-old girl from Waco, Texas, and 17-year-old high school senior from Concord, Mass., are set to travel the country and share their stories

CHICAGO, March 12, 2018 — For the first time in its 68-year history, the Muscular Dystrophy Association has selected two individuals to serve and represent families affected by muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular diseases. Six-year-old Faith Fortenberry of Waco, Texas, and 17-year-old Justin Moy of Concord, Mass., will serve as National Ambassadors for 2018. The announcement took place at the MDA Clinical Conference in Arlington, Va., in front of more than 700 clinicians and health and research industry experts.

“We are honored to have Faith and Justin, and their families, represent MDA as National Ambassadors this year,” said MDA President and CEO Lynn O’Connor Vos. “These young individuals have incredible and different stories to share. I know that they will do a fantastic job for MDA during this exciting time in our organization’s history, as we seek to build on the momentum of recent therapeutic successes, further our mission to provide the best quality of care and empower individuals and their families to live unlimited. Our partners will also enjoy meeting these families and learning about their inspiring personal stories.”

Faith and Justin will be MDA’s 41st and 42nd National Ambassadors. As MDA’s most visible spokespeople, National Ambassadors help forge better connections between families, increase engagement with current and new partners, deepen MDA’s reach among its audiences and champion improved services for individuals living with neuromuscular disease. Faith and Justin will travel the country meeting sponsors and families and attending events, and will chronicle their year on our blogs and social media pages.

Justin Moy

MDA National Ambassador Justin Moy In 2012, Americans got to meet 12-year-old Justin Moy during the MDA’s Labor Day Show of Strength broadcast. Justin, who loves science and singing in his school’s choir, is now 17 and a senior at Concord-Carlisle High School. Next year, Justin will be going to college, where he hopes to major in biochemistry so he could one day become a muscular dystrophy researcher.

The oldest child of Prow Sarnsethsiri and Chris Moy, Justin has been thankful for the support of MDA over the years and is eager to give back by sharing his story and inspiring others.

“I am excited to do outreach and advocacy,” Justin said. “I want to show MDA partners how helpful MDA has been for my family and me, and share why it’s important to raise money for MDA and to bring awareness to accessibility requirements of those living with neuromuscular diseases.”

Some of Justin’s fondest childhood memories have taken place at MDA Summer Camp, where he made several close friends, including his camp counselor Alex Funez. Alex recently ran the Run to Remember half marathon in Boston on behalf of MDA Team Momentum, pushing Justin along the way.

Prow looks forward to the chance to accompany her son around the country and share the impact MDA has had on her son’s life.

“MDA has given Justin so many opportunities, such as Summer Camp and participating in races, that make his life normal. They are experiences that can’t be put into words,” she said.

Olympic Hopeful, Ian Smith
By Ian Smith
Ian Smith, Class of 2019, tried out for luge in 6th grade, on a wheeled sled on a big hill in Carlisle.  After two more screening camps in Lake Placid, Ian was asked to join the development team, training in Lake Placid and Park City, Utah.  Now in his 5th year in the sport, Ian is on the USA Luge Junior National Team.  He spent much of this winter training with his team and coaches at German and Austrian tracks, and racing in the 6 Jr. World Cup races.  Each luge track is different, so the team travels to different locations each week, preparing for the next race.  

He qualified for Jr. World Championships in Altenburg, Germany, and was the top finisher among the USA Men.  He was the 2017 Junior National Champion and returns home from 2018 National Championship races this year with a gold, silver, and bronze, and as the top-seeded USA Luge Youth Men's slider.  

Fun Luge Facts: It is not uncommon for a men's luge sled to go over 75 mph, and up to 85 mph on some tracks.  CCHS's Courtney Sepucha, Class of 2020 and Katherine Bishop, Class of 2017, were once luge athletes too. 

Ian in his own words.

"The first experience I had with luge involved finding out I’m severely allergic to poison ivy, yet despite the slow (or rather, of course) start I’ve gradually picked up speed. When the Slider Search came to Carlisle, my dad had to practically drag me to the event. I was whiny, in 5th grade, and liked playing video games on Saturday too much to be bothered to try out for some sport I’d never heard of.

When I got there, my father and I had to fill out paperwork and get a roller sled and a helmet, and then I took the long walk up the hill at Spalding Field. On the first go, I didn’t really get the whole “steering” idea, and went straight down the hill. The second time, I figured out how to steer—by ramming through some hay bales and crashing into a poison ivy patch; the day after I related this little mishap to the general burning sensation engulfing my legs. But on that third push down the ramp, I got it. Finessing my way through cones, I felt like I was traveling at the speed of sound; I flew down the hill and could barely stop the sled. A few screening camps, a month or so of waiting, and a grade level later, I was named to the Development Team.

Those first 2 years on the “D Team” were nothing short of agony. We slid for 8 hours a day at Lake Placid, doing double sessions—going out to the track at 8, taking 4 runs, eating lunch, and then taking 4 more runs in the afternoon. What’s bad about this is that luge requires a certain level of relaxation which is difficult to attain when exhausted. Some people may say, “Isn’t it fun, though?” or “It’s just sledding, right? How bad could it be?” The answer to these questions is: no—I was absolutely horrible, it was -10ºF, and luging is much, much harder than just cruising down a hill on a toboggan. The first 2-3 years in your luging career are spent learning the basics, and until you can get those basics down you hit walls. Hard.

Granted, when just starting the sport the place you go from on the track is quite low and slow, meaning crashes don’t actually hurt that much; this being said, when you have horrible position and don’t know how to properly drive the sled you do crash a lot. One wall at a time, I  made my way down the track until I finally started to get the hang of the sport. Then it was time for the Candidate Team (“C Team”).

Once I was on the C Team, things start getting exciting. There are races with the Canadians in North American Cups, and I started to show some skill—and dare I use the word “grace”—as I sped down the track. I got up to the real starts, experienced new tracks, and got to travel all over North America (by this I mean 4 tracks—but hey, what’s the difference to a freshman?). I got better sleds, better equipment, and the experience is genuinely enjoyable. At this point, school becomes an “on your own” type of deal, which means you have 2 types of kids: those that do homework, and those that don’t.

Unfortunately for my luge career, I was the nerdy kid that did his homework, which meant I had a much more stressful time than my compatriots. Stress equals being tight, and being tight equals being bad at luge. You may think this is an overstatement, but I’m dead serious. Nowadays, I never do homework on race weeks. Ever.

After 2 years of NorAm’s and my first ever medal, it was time for Junior Nationals. For the past 3 years I had placed mediocrely in these races (it’s a 2 day affair—2 runs per day, and the national champion is the person with the 4 fastest runs). This year, I told myself, would be different.

It was finally race day #1, after weeks and weeks of training. -13ºF. The ice is was so hard that you couldn’t steer without the sled breaking out into a skid. The best way to describe skidding to a non-slider is this: imagine going on a rollercoaster, and then at the top of the loop-de-loop the car goes sideways, and you fly out of it. Not fun.

Anyways, I was 2nd to last in the start order, so I got to hear the absolutely abysmal times of my teammates as they hit walls, skidded, and crashed their way down the track. I got nervous, and started to worry about how my runs would be. Those 2 runs were the first time that I proved I could not only slide well, but slide fast. I had two near flawless runs, and came down into first place by over a half a second (for reference, this year I saw 9 people within 50 thousandths of a second at the Junior World Cup in Igls—that was a close race).
Day 2 started off….roughly. 

My first run I hit out of the start curve, and was behind the leader by over a second. I got to the finish disappointed, and wanting to do better than that. My arms hurt, I was freezing, and yet I wasn’t worried about my second run: I was angry at my first. We got to the Junior Men’s start house, which is a literal shack with no heater whatsoever. Everyone was freezing, wet, and generally miserable, but I was just frustrated. I had a good first day, and I didn’t want to throw it all out of the window because I messed up the start. When my coach called me out for the second run, I just told myself to relax, think about absolutely nothing, and pull a start that was really, really fast. And I did.

On the second run I pulled over a second faster than the closest competition—a run that I believe to this day was the best run I have ever put down. But there were 4 people in front of me. This is where things get tense in a race.

Sitting in the starthouse, watching the huge timing clock count up as your competitors make their way down the track, madly hoping that they’ll be just a little slower than you.
The fourth place sled came down in second place. Three to go.

At this point my adrenaline is going full blast. I watch the clock as the sled currently sitting in third place makes its way down the track. A good run, but not a great one, he too comes down into second place. Which means I’m in first place, with two sleds left. Now I’m shaking.

These last two sleds were the junior men that traveled on the Junior National Team and competed in Europe, which meant I was the world’s biggest underdog going up against them.

The first of the two hit in a straightaway, costing him 5 tenths of a second and putting him in second after two runs. Now I had a guaranteed second place, but if the last slider put down a good run I was toast.

He pulled off. His start wass faster than mine. He slid through curve four, and his run looked “blisteringly quick,” as the announcer states.
Through curves 10, 11, and 12. Into the chicane (the name of the not-so-straight straightaway—it has a few kinks).

I was so nervous I could’ve thrown up, and I wasn’t even sliding. He flew through curve 17. The announcer said “he’s got this one in the bag.” My heart sank as I realized I’d just choked, big time. “Crash, curve 18.”

I looked at my friend, not really registering what that meant. He high-fived me, but I was still out of it. I started to pinch myself really hard, because I must have been dreaming.
There was no possible way that I—the nerdy kid who actually did his schoolwork, wasn’t particularly strong, good at sports, and hadn’t won a thing in his life—could be Junior National Champion. And yet somehow, I was."

Denmark Exchange

By Greg Goan
We've been having a superb time and fabulous weather here in Denmark. Today was a gorgeous day and we visited the Trellborg Viking Museum just outside of town from the school. A group photo is attached.

Students spent the weekend with their host families and did a variety of activities. Most all of them visited Copenhagen and Tivoli Gardens. Agatha and I spent some time with the faculty visiting Mols Klint, the cliffs on the shore that are made of white chalk. Pretty amazing!  

We have also shadowed in an art class, a history class and watched some very intelligent presentations by Danish students (in English) about Trump, Fake News, Trade Tariffs and Syria.  All in all the school is a thriving place that places student engagement in a relaxed atmosphere that is quite refreshing.

Nanae, Japan Sister-School Delegation
A delegation from CCHS recently went to Nanae, Japan. They enjoyed a wonderful trip and further cemented a bond now more than two decades long.  You can read their blog by following the link provided. 

March for Our Lives
By Caitlin Smith

On Saturday, March 24th, dozens of CCHS students and faculty joined the March for Our Lives to call for sensible gun reform and safety in our schools. Marching from Roxbury to Boston Common, throngs of people carried signs, chanted slogans and called passionately for changes in policy. 

The most remarkable aspect of this march was the extent to which students were leading the charge. For instance, when the CCHS bus pulled up to the staging area, two students knocked on the door. We opened it to ask if they were CC students or if they needed a ride, but they replied that they were in charge of directing bus traffic. We gave them a thumbs up for taking on that important responsibility.

Throughout the day, it was the students who stood in front, led the chants, took the stage and made the speeches. As Erin Fitzgerald ’18 put it, “It was inspirational and empowering to see so many young people being politically active.” In her article for The Voice, senior Willa Blake added that “Listening to the incredible speeches of kids about my age gave me an overwhelming feeling of hope. The young adults who spoke for us will continue being active in politics; perhaps they will run for office, perhaps they will win, and perhaps they will be the ones to change the policy that is affecting us all.”

The Activism Club would like to thank everyone at CC for taking part in the conversation in recent weeks, and we commend students throughout the nation for standing up for what they believe. The March for Our Lives was a beautiful spring day full of youthful energy and leadership, and a transformative experience for everyone involved.

Model For a Cause

By Luke Pailet
It began as a simple joke about how boys don’t have much variety in their prom outfits. What followed was a series of events that no one could have ever anticipated. 

Over the past several weeks, the CCHS Senior and Junior class boys have been involved in a "prom tux group" on Facebook It began by posting the same image of a Vera Wang Tuxedo from Jos A Bank. The group eventually became numerous posts of edited images of this original photo, beginning to focus more on the model rather than the tuxedo itself. After several days, this man was identified as Clayton Straker and was added to the group. A gofundme page to fly him out to our prom this spring was created, but unfortunately shut down by the website after raising more than half the money needed. In response to this, Clayton told us to set a goal to raise money for a charity that we care about, and if we reach that goal, he would fly himself out.

In honor of International Women’s Day, which is March 8 and the launch date for this project, the Senior and Junior class boys have decided to begin fundraising for Rosie’s Place, a battered women’s shelter in Boston. The money raised will go to sheltering, clothing, feeding, and providing emergency services for poor and homeless women, and doing much more for them as well. Visit their website for more info. Our goal in this project is to raise as much money for this incredible charity as possible. The original goal has grown from $1,000 to $10,000 after very generous donations from a variety of people. 

Unfortunately, Clayton is not allowed to attend our prom, but a plan is in the works to organize and host an event where the students involved could all meet him! There will be music, food, spikeball, cornhole, fundraising, and much more. This event would be hosted at the school later this school year, with more details for students to follow.

A very interesting article recently published by Nancy West at the Boston Globe outlines the series of events that took place following the creation of the group, and firsthand accounts of how the idea has progressed over time from those who have been heavily involved in the process. You can visit to read the full article.

Donations are very welcome and encouraged!  If you are interested in donating, please visit and feel free to donate whatever you are able to. Any amount helps, and it is all going towards an amazing cause!