Friday, December 21, 2018

Update: Safety and Security at CCHS

To All Members of the CCHS Community,

In Concord, our schools are safe because of our commitment to security, our collaboration with the Concord Police Department, and our students and staff are compassionate people who genuinely care for one another; however, the news cycle reminds us too often that safety in a free and open society is relative.  

We understand that people are clamoring for details particularly in this situation as it deals with the safety of our school. As an ongoing police investigation, there are limits to the amount of detail we can share. With that said, all threats are taken seriously and this particular instance is no exception. We are acutely aware of the immense responsibility we have to keep all students and staff safe, and we handle this responsibility with care.  As a school leadership team, we discuss safety on a daily basis while working closely with the local police departments and our School Resource Officer, Scott Camilleri.

In terms of this particular instance, I can say with confidence that once the threat was brought to our attention we acted swiftly and with urgency to ensure the safety of all students and staff.  In collaboration with the Concord Police Department, we immediately interviewed students within minutes of receiving notification of the threat.  I can say with confidence, we handled this situation with the seriousness all threats deserve. 

The Concord Police Update provides additional information you should review.  

The safety of all students and staff will always be our top priority.  I remind everyone to say something if they see or hear anything that is concerning.  No individual should investigate or try to determine by themselves if a threat is real or severe enough to report to a staff member, a police officer, an administrator, or a parent.  It is incumbent upon each member of our school community to immediately report any incident to ensure that our community is safe. With that said, it is clear the rumor mill is in overdrive, so I caution everyone to deal in facts, avoid innuendo, and refrain from fueling the fire when possible. Please call us with any questions or concerns.  

There are three necessary components to any successful school system; safety, organization, and high expectations for teaching and learning.  Our school excels in all three areas because the strong and robust relationships between students and staff.  While safety will always remain the highest priority; as educators, we know that relationship building, connections with students, and compassion are key elements to a safe and positive learning environment.  

To ensure the best possible environment, we all need to work together to create the mindset that we will arrive at this school every day with the intention of contributing to the well-being of others. I believe that the 1300 individuals who arrive daily should commit to making each day better.  In this context, I am not referring to academic achievement, athletic accolades, or performing and fine art awards, I am talking about acts of kindness and building each other up as opposed to tearing each other down. 

I encourage you to not be hard on yourself as you walk through each day; life is challenging, and mistakes are part of our learning; however, you should have high demands of yourself and those closest to you when it pertains to treating others with kindness.  

I wish everyone a wonderful vacation filled with family and friends, and I look forward to seeing every back on campus in 2019.


Michael J. Mastrullo

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Thomas Hudner, Cam Emde-Gerdine, Ian Smith, Music Districts, Food Drive, Improv, Prism, Calendar Changes & More

One definition of courage is "the quality of mind that enables a person to face difficulty and danger without fear."  I would submit that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather being scared but acting anyway. 

Thomas J. Hudner was an officer of the U.S. Navy and a naval aviator. He rose to the rank of captain and received the Medal of Honor for his actions in trying to save the life of his wingman, Ensign Jesse L. Brown, during the Korean War.  

Hudner and Brown were among a group of pilots on patrol when Brown's plane was struck by ground fire 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. In spite of these efforts, Brown died of his injuries and Hudner was forced to evacuate, having also been injured in the landing. 

If a fictionalized war movie featured a pilot deliberately crashing a plan to save a fellow naval aviator, it would border on unbelievable, but the facts of this heroic act of bravery are well documented. I wager Hudner battled intense fear as he acted heroically in an attempt to save Jesse Brown.

Jesse Brown's legacy is not defined by Hudner's act of heroism, however. He was the first African-American aviator in the U.S. Navy, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the first African-American naval officer killed in the Korean War.  He was fighting for a country that was actively and deliberately trying to deny him fundamental human rights.  His courage and bravery are equally notable.  There are lessons to be learned from most everyone's life, and Mr. Hudner and Jesse Brown prove heroes live humbly amongst us.

This past week we mourned the loss of former President, George Bush Sr. In addition to being one of 45 U.S. Presidents, his resume includes Vice President, congressman, ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.  Worthy of note, Bush postponed college after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday, and became one of its youngest aviators. 

Whether you agreed with his politics or not, he was a man who carried himself with grace, and humility, and judging by the eulogy delivered by his son, he was a great dad.  The lesson we can all learn from Bush Sr. is one of grace and humility.  He forged a friendship with the man who defeated him in the 1992 election, Bill Clinton, as they joined forces for a cause bigger than self.  They helped raise millions of dollars to help victims of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe in 2005.  Considering the divisive nature of contemporary politics, it is hard to conceive of two former presidents from different political parties forging a friendship and joining forces to help others.  

Lastly, anyone can act with proper decorum when they win, but a real judge of one's charachter is best determined by how they operate in the face of defeat whether a sporting competition or a presidential election.  Nobody would have blamed "Bush 41" for being bitter following his failed bid for a second term, but instead, he left the oval office with grace and humility.  

He penned the letter below for incoming President, Bill Clinton.  Written in pen for an audience of one, but years later Clinton shared it with the world, and we bear witness to a standard of grace equal to the heroism of Brown and Hudner.  

With Admiration,

Michael J. Mastrullo

Thomas Hudner
By Shree Khanolkar

On Saturday, December 1, WIQH and the WIQH News Department went out to the commissioning of the USS Thomas Hudner in Boston. The ship, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, was named after the recently deceased veteran from Concord.

To find out why the ship was named after this man, one must go back to the Korean War. As the US troops fleed from the bloody Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, the soldiers on the land needed support from the Navy pilots in the skies. So, along with his 6 man squadron, Thomas Hudner went out on a basic mission to help support the troops and keep control of the area. While in the air, Hudner’s squadmate Ensign Jesse Brown was shot down by opposition forces and Hudner and the crew were able to direct him to land safely in the freezing snowy mountainside of Korea. 

The military thought he was dead and had ordered a helicopter to pick up his body. But Hudner thought differently. Although Brown’s plane was burning and he was likely to die from the fire or from hypothermia, Thomas swooped down and tried to rescue his friend. He tried numerous times to remove Brown from the plane, all while talking to him, and trying to calm him down. Unfortunately, Brown passed away as Hudner dragged him. For his bravery and defiance of orders in the face of adversity, Hudner was awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor.

On Saturday, Hudner’s courageous story came full circle. The ship was given full honors, and many local and national leaders came in. Mayor Marty Walsh, Governor Charlie Baker, Congressmen Lynch, Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford, the Secretary of the Navy and other prominent came to pay respects and set this ship off to its destination of Florida. WIQH, with Ned Roos, Jonathan Northridge, Shree Khanolkar, Issac Wilbur and Leanna Bomer went down and covered on behalf of the station.

Can Drive For Open Table
The food drive is in full swing.  To date, we have collected a total of 228 items. 
Last year we collected 800. The goal this year is to reach 1272. 

We encourage students and parents to bring in food items. There are boxes in the Learning Commons and in the lobby. 

Students who bring in food/cans will be entered into a raffle for a gift card to local businesses in Concord. Please come and see Ms. Franke in the Learning Commons to

get a raffle ticket. The food drive ends this Friday, December 14.  

A special thank you to the great, Ms. Franke for helping to spearhead this effort and for her positive attitude and love of kids, which she carries with her every day.

Don't miss the CCHS Improv Club's show PANDEMONIUM this Friday at 7pm in the Black Box Theater!

CCHS PRISM Concert  December 15th (7pm, CCHS Auditorium)
The Concord Carlisle High School Band and Orchestra will present their annual PRISM Concert on Saturday, December 15th at 7:00pm, at Concord-Carlisle High School. 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 and the Japan travel scholarship fund. Tickets ($12- adults / $8- seniors/students) now available online at This is a reserved seating ticketed event so get your seat today!

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!

Important High School Callendar Changes
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, this year Q5 will be one week (4 days). As a result, we have made a few adjustments to the calendar. The updated district calendar is available here.

A few additional details:

  • The March 11 professional day has been moved to the end of the academic year.  Thus, all students are to report to school on March 11 as it will be a regular school day.

  • Mid-year exams have been pushed back one week and will be from January 15-18.  The exam schedule is available here.  
  • The second semester will start on Tuesday, January 22 with an 8-block day (schedule available here).
  • As of now, without any snow days, the last day of school for students is Thursday, June 13.

Cam Emde-Gerdine All-American

The United Soccer Coaches Association released the 2018 High School All-American Selections. This is the highest honors that a high school soccer player can receive, only 68 boys players were recognized across the country. Cam was unanimously voted as the DCL's MVP and voted the top public school player in the state of Massachusetts.  He will receive his award in Chicago in January along with all the other high school and collegiate soccer all-Americans.  Cam has committed to play at Clarkson University next year.

The CCHS soccer team has qualified for the state tournament for 33 years in a row, and it is due to the efforts of players like Cam and dedicated coaches like Ray Pavlik, Steve Wells, Mike Parato, Eric Rivera and Ethan Hoblitzelle. Cam would be the first to acknowledge that awards like this require a strong team, and this fantastic, well-earned achievement is possible because of hard work, dedication, teammates, and coaches.  Congratulations to Cam and we look forward to watching from afar as Cam continues his career at Clarkson next year.  Good luck, Cam!

Ian Smith
Ian had his first international medal recently (bronze) for the first Jr. World Cup of the season in Park City. Congratulations, Ian.  

Music Success
CCHS Music once again ties an all-time school record with 40 students accepted into the MMEA Eastern Senior District Festival.

Congratulations to Mr. Gresko, Ms. Smith, and the following CCHS student musicians who were accepted into the Massachusetts Music Educators Eastern Senior District Festival Band, Chorus, Jazz Band and Orchestra. 

Those accepted will join other musicians from around the region in rehearsals at Boston Latin HS, culminating in a performance on January 5th.  These students will be out of school on Friday, January 4th, to attend the first day of the festival. 

 Additionally, 23 students received All-State Recommendations (marked with an asterisk below), making them eligible to audition for the All-State Festival in January. 

*Elana Alevy, Vincent Babu, *William Beakley, *Alisa Belotti, Margaret Besthoff, *Olivia Ceterski, Wan Ton Chan, Liam Curley, Liam Doherty, *Alexander Erlich-Herzog, Richard Fletcher, *Sarah Girma, Philip Haddad, *Piper Harring, *Ben Heinrich, *Clara Hoey, *Marisa Ih, *Lucy Joseph, *Alex Li, *Chris Li, *Steve Li, Samuel Lyczkowski, David Maar, Luke McCrory, *Abigail Mueller, *Olivia Mueller, *Arjie Nanda, *Rebecca Pasley, Josh Pixley, *Amar Ruthen, Avi Ruthen, Minjae Song, *Yoonjae Song, Ben Sprague, Snare Drum, *Claire Sun, Henry Vlacovsky,*Ella White, Honor Williams,Tess Wolossow, and *Zhihan Xu.

Students and Staff Field Trip To Walden

Learning in Action
Recently a group of students led by CCHS English Teachers, Victoria Moskowitz, and her student teacher, Lindsay Blount, took two sophomore classes on a field trip to Walden Woods and Walden Pond.  

The students learned about the history of the marginalized groups that occupied Walden Woods, including the story of Brister Freeman, a former slave who owned property in Concord and about whom Thoreau writes in the "Former Inhabitants" chapter of Walden.  

They also learned about the geology of the area and the impact of the Ice Age on the terrain.  At Walden Pond, the students had a chance to learn about Thoreau from Jeff Cramer, Thoreau scholar and Curator of Collections at the Thoreau Institute.  They walked through the woods to the site of Thoreau's cabin where they wrote in their journals and experienced  "heaven under our feet as well as over our heads" at the edge of the pond.

Afterward, the students reflected on the value of the experience. One student expressed how important it is to learn about the "dark" side of Concord history (slavery, marginalized groups, etc.) as well as the inspirational side. 

Tedx at CC
By Dr. David Nurenburg

Liam Beguhn'20 organized to get  BU professor Richard Primak, famous not only for his work in climate science but also for his being inspired by Henry David Thoreau's Walden, to come speak at CCHS this morning, to an audience of over 100 (gathered from various science and English classes that Liam organized to attend). 

Liam did this as a part of his work for the Justice Project in my class, but this is well above and beyond what that project requires - this young man is really making a difference (and, incidentally, was also selected as one of the TEDx Concord Carlisle speakers for March, but that's another announcement to come shortly)....

By Jenna Lashley

On 19 December freshmen will complete an exercise on time management. We ask that you have a conversation with your child about time management.  A skill that needs to be developed and refined particularly in the age of cell phones.  

Essential Question: How do I manage my time to meet the academic and social demands at Concord Carlisle High School, while also finding time for fun, sleep, and family time?   

Objective: Students will add some details to complete their schedule template to better understand their time demands. They will receive recommendations from their faculty advisors, as well as, student leaders on how to better manage their time. 

Students watched a video on How to Balance School, Homework, Friends, and Everything In Between.

Other advisories news to share focused on bullying and we debated the following questions.  
  • What is bullying?
  • What is cyberbullying?
  • Why do students bully?
  • Who is bullied? Who bullies?
  • What can you do if you witness bullying?
  • What can you do if you are being bullied?
  • Does bullying happen at CC? Where do we see it?

Students watched the following video on bullying. We encourage you to talk with your child about bullying and how to handle inappropriate behavior and support students who might be dealing with or witnessing bullying behavior.

Food for Thought
By Maria Barker, Director of Food and Nutrition Services

In response to the CCHS Dining Commons Survey, Spring 2018, we have instituted the following initiatives, which will enhance student’s dining experience by offering more nutritional food alternatives for Breakfast, Lunch, and for snacks.

Hot Lunch Alternatives to the main entrée. Monday through Thursday, we now offer various pizzas as an alternative to the main entrée and offer Chicken Patty Sandwich as an alternative to pizza every Friday.

Different Pizzas, such as Sal’s, French Bread, Stuffed Crust, Max Round, Big Daddy’s and Homemade Pizza, are offered during the week.

More Hot Breakfast items are offered, such as egg sandwiches, oatmeal cereal, muffins, and a variety of bagels.  In addition, fresh fruit cups are offered.

Snack choices have increased, including sunflower seeds, string cheese, pizza slices, new beverages, and more snack boxes like hummus & pretzels.

The Salad Bar has reopened.

Soup is offered more frequently, particularly during the winter months.

A refrigerated vending machine was placed at the entrance to the Grab ‘n Go in the cafeteria, to enable students to purchase a variety of healthy snacks after school and on weekends.

Be on the lookout for a taste-testing of local fish during lunch in the CCHS cafeteria on Dec. 13.