Friday, November 15, 2019

Concord Education Fund, College Panel, Athletics Update, Japan Delegation & More

As seniors contemplate life after high school, many are continuing the application process for college, which has morphed into a responsibility roughly the equivalent of another class.  

Recently we held a panel discussion with admissions counselors. With the help of the guidance department chair, Alison Nowicki, and CCHS social studies teacher, Chris Gauthier, we tried to cull some salient facts.  Not an exhaustive list, but I include some takeaways below.  

Discussing post-high school options with your child is essential, but I recommend it start with the following question.  Do you feel pressure to pursue a certain path or look at colleges because of _______? We could fill in that blank with many different things, be it peer pressure or concerns of measuring up to some perceived expectation or self-imposed pressure.  

It is important young adults choose their path or look at colleges because they are inspired to do so.  With age comes the acuity of hindsight, and I think we must emphasize that the years after high school and attending college is more than where they will be for the next four years.  It is a time where young adults figure out the kind of person they want to be for the next 4,10, 20 years.  Choosing a course of study complete with a major that allows students to graduate employable is essential. Still, these formidable years are where they learn to be better friends, siblings, sons/daughters, partners, and people.  A time where they are laying the foundation for a prosperous life making the world a better place by utilizing their unique talents.  Lofty and idealistic, but I believe it to be true.  

Read on for more information on upcoming events.  Have a great weekend.  

"Parents supporting teachers inspiring students."

Concord Education Fund 25th Anniversary Event
The generosity of the Concord Education Fund cannot be overstated.  The tireless efforts of so many parents who selflessly donate hours of volunteer time on behalf of our schools. A simple thank you is woefully inadequate,  but on behalf of the high school, it is the least I can do.  Thank you, all.  Details on their 25th Anniversary party is below.  I hope you will attend or donate money to support and inspire our future leaders.  

Event Details
Date: November 16, 2019
Time: 7 – 11pm
Location: 300 Baker Ave
The backside of the building

Athletics Update
Last weekend in Wrentham, our Boys XC and Girls XC teams were crowned D2 EMASS Champs. Saturday, the teams travel to Gardner Municipal Golf Course for the D1 All-State Championship Race and look to add some more hardware to the CC trophy case. The girls start at 12:40 and the boys at 2:00. 

Football was eliminated from the playoff bracket last weekend in a thriller vs. Tewksbury. Saturday at noon CC hosts Danvers in a matchup of well-coached, talented teams. Tickets are $7 adults/$5 students.

Cheerleading competes in the MSSA D2 North Regionals on Saturday at North Andover High School. Our team performs at 12:35. Tickets are $10/adults and $7/students. 

Boys Soccer beat Wakefield 4-0 on Wednesday to advance to the D2 North Final vs. Winchester on Sunday at 3:30 at Manning Field in Lynn. A win Sunday propels the team to a state championship game appearance - date and location TBD. 

College Panel Event
On Wednesday, 16 October, juniors had a chance to attend an information session with a panel of college admissions professionals.  In attendance were representatives from Dickinson College, The College of the Holy Cross, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Middlesex Community College, and Northeastern University.  Admissions officers offered advice to students, answered questions emphasizing what is important for admission decisions, and provided insight into options other than going straight to a four-year institution.  Some of the main takeaways:

1) Know why you're going, and interrogate your reasons for wanting to go.  College is about learning, and that learning will be more meaningful if it's something that you wish to as opposed to a perfunctory next step. Don't feel obliged to apply to and attend college right after high school. Perhaps a gap year, an experience like City Year or working before attending school.   College is also expensive and it irresponsible to spend that money on something if you are not sure why or if you want it.  

2) Make sure there is a market for the skills that you want to develop in college.  Yes, you should study your passion, but know that you will eventually have to get a job.  Some majors are marketable right out of college, and others will require more study.  Make sure to take account of this when you are planning your college experience.  

3) The essay is important, but it won't make or break an application.  In the end, colleges want to hear your voice.  Also, your writing matters across the application.  Correct grammar is essential not only in the main essay but also in the supplements and when writing about extracurriculars.

4) While all grades matter, junior year grades are the most important because they offer the best picture of the student you might be in the future.  

5) Not all schools require SAT/ACT scores; in fact, the GPA is widely viewed as a better measure of a student's ability.

6) Interview if you can, as it is a chance for the student to get to know the college, as well as the college to get to know the student.  Both should be trying to determine if the other is the right fit.

7) No extracurricular activity is better than another.  Instead, colleges are interested in sustained commitment and meaningful engagement.  For some, those activities are sports or clubs, and for others, those activities are work or family obligations.

 CCHS received its twenty-first annual delegation of students and teachers from our sister-city of Nanae in Hokkaido, Japan, from Monday 10/28 through Monday 11/4, as part of a larger delegation and exchange that included adult citizens and town officials.

Delegation from Japan
A big thank you to Dr. Nurenberg for fostering a signature relationship with our friends in Nanae, an ocean away.  I include pictures at the conclusions of this blog. 

Nine students from Nanae High School and Jr. High spent the week living in homestays with CCHS families, attending classes and taking part in events with CCHS students like dodge ball, attending practices of the Cross Country team, concert band, and chorus, and producing their own shows on the WIQH radio station and CCTV television station. 

In addition to these school-based activities which they shared with their homestay siblings, the visiting Japanese students also took special field trips to Boston and Salem to learn about New England history. The Nanae students made cultural presentations during lunch blocks, including tea-making, origami folding, and Japanese games and snacks, while the CC students introduced their Japanese counterparts to Halloween. The whole delegation came together for a potluck party wherein everyone did both the Hokey Pokey and the Hakodate Squid Dance.

This visit takes place in a larger context of how Concord Carlisle High School has enjoyed a twenty-five year long sister-school relationship with two schools in Japan'snorthernmost island of Hokkaido. We have sent our own student delegations to Nanae in 1998, 2004 and 2007, 2010 and 2019 (concert band) and in2007, 2009, 2010,  2012, 2014, 2016, and2018 (SciFi club). 

Throughout all this time, students at CCHS have maintained pen and videopal relationships with their Japanese counterparts, learned Taiko drumming, and more. Our next planned outbound delegation trip will be in April 2020.

If you want to get involved with our sister-school program, please contact Dr. David Nurenberg in the English Department (, who is our Japan program coordinator.

Interact Club
Attention all students: Project 351 and the Interact club are leading a food drive to support the Open Table food pantry here in Concord. The food drive will be a competition between advisories, with the top advisories getting a Dunkin Donuts breakfast. The drive starts November 13th and lasts until December 13th, and donation bins will be located in your advisory room or in a breakout space. If you do not put your food items in your advisory’s bin, make sure you ask your advisor to update the google sheet to record the donations. Here is a link to Open Table’s most needed food items as donation guidelines. Advisory prizes aside, I hope you all will consider donating to support this drive. Many of us are in a position to do good, so why wouldn’t we? Thank you, and may the best advisory win!"

At CCHS, we recognize that today's students are often bombarded with messages indicating that the path to success as an adult is linear and that there is only one definition of achievement.  To provide a broader perspective, we reached out to CCHS alumni from all over the world, all of whom have graduated within the last twenty years.  

We asked about their work and educational experiences, their setbacks, and triumphs, along with any advice they have for current students. Their stories, now on display outside the Learning Commons, provide many different illustrations of what “success” can look like post-CCHS. 

We want every student to find the path that is right for them and to leave high school empowered to embrace the inevitable joys and setbacks that are part of the journey of reaching adulthood.

Click here to read the stories 
Thank you to the parents on the Challenge Success Committee Polly Meyer, Lauree Eckler, Lynn Delise, and Jennifer Clarke, and to the staff members who contributed to this project, Ned Roos & Madeleine Pooler, & Tracie Dunn, and to Senior Matthew Ngaw.

Photo by William Owen

The Laramie Project
Under the leadership of our talented and dedicated theatre teacher, Melissa Charych, CC Theatre actors and techies have been working on our fall production of The Laramie Project, a documentary play that explores the murder of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming college student who was beaten and killed in 1998 for being gay.  As an educational institution that stands in solidarity against hate, our talented group of students, staff, and parent volunteers will pay hommage to Mathew and to all members of the LGBTQ community. The play is an ensemble piece requiring actors to portray multiple characters communicating a message of compassion and hope in the face of unspeakable hate.  

Immediately following Matthew Shepard’s murder, members of the Tectonic Theater Project in New York City traveled to Laramie, Wyoming, to conduct interviews with members of the community and to the people closest to Mathew.  Composed using first-hand accounts, The Laramie Project utilizes the words from those interviews to construct a masterful play, and I am excited to see our students perform with passion and sincerity.  We are thrilled to have a member of the original Tectonic Theater Company come to CCHS to run a workshop with our cast and crew on Monday, October 21st.

Performances are November 21-24 at 7:30pm.  Melissa, Ned Roos, Rebecca Robichaud, parent volunteers, and CCPOPS, welcome you to join us and witness this very important piece of theatre.

Friday, November 8, 2019

A Well Deserved Thank You to All Veterans and Their Families

Once again, I left the CCHS auditorium last evening awestruck by the talent at our school.  Led by David Gresko and Deb Smith, the concert featured CCHS Bands, Orchestra, and special guests, the CCHS Select Choir. 

The "Home of the Brave," performance honored our veterans and active men and women of the military. I was blown away by the performance. Under the tutelage of David and Deb, students left me shaking my head at the quality of the performance.  

During one of several amazing pieces, David asked members of the armed forces, both past, present, and family members to stand when the Salute to the Armed Forces played.  

Many stood, and it was a reminder that thousands of veterans and their families live humbly among us.  We pass them at the mall.  We pass them at the grocery store.  They come from or move to, places like Boston, Carlisle, and Concord. We pass future veterans here in our own hallways.  

The performance raised money for the Fisher House Foundation.  An organization doing tremendous work.  If you are interested in supporting this cause, you can send a check to the high school made out to the Fisher House Foundation.  Please put CCHS Bands in the memo field.  So far more than $2,500 has been raised.  Well done, Mr. Gresko.  

Fisher House Video  

Although I did not need it, a recent message sent to my mother served as further evidence that the world is small.  My mother received the following message last week from a student at George Washington University in D.C. 


My name is Kevin, and I am a student at George Washington University. I am a history major engaged in an assignment in which we find a soldier who served in one of the world wars from as close to our hometown as possible.  I found Francis J. Connolly, a veteran of World War II whose name appears on the Wall of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery.  As I was conducting my research, I found a link to your family tree which included George W. Connolly and Helen T. O'Neill, Francis J. Connolly's parents, as well as Lillian Connolly, his sister."

Lillian Connolly is my grandmother.  My mother Linda's mother. The Francis Connolly named among the missing is Lillian's brother. My mother's uncle.  I asked my mother if she was aware of this family history. She responded, "his military picture sat on top of the television, but this was not discussed with the kids, and we dared not ask." 

Needless to say, a powerful moment for me and my family. Please read on for a heartfelt thank you to all members of the armed forces and their families.  

Veterans Day
Monday, 11 November we pause to say thank you to the men and women of the armed forces. We officially thank them as a nation annually on 11 November, but they deserve a thank you every day. 

Lest one not forget the roughly 1.4 million active members of the military all enlist voluntarily. A fact so ingrained it is easy to take for granted. 

Under current law, all male US citizens are required to register with the Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. The Selective Service System maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription. 

Conscription, commonly known as the draft, has been implemented in the US five times. The American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Compulsory, or mandatory military service, exists in roughly 26 countries including some United States allies like Norway, Finland, Israel, Turkey, and South Korea, to name a few. 

Stating the obvious, but the fact that young men and women voluntarily serve in the United States means those who wish not to serve, don't have to serve. This fact should not be taken for granted. 

The sacrifice made to serve our country can only be known by those serving, but the tremendous sacrifice is broader than the men and women in uniform.  Mothers, fathers, siblings, husbands, wives, and children of members of the military all sacrifice greatly. 

I am proud to say that both my grandfathers, my uncle, and my father all served in the Army.  One grandfather served in the Pacific during WWII.  

The other parachuted into France the night before the D-Day invasion. His brother-in-law is the Francis Connolly named above.  I have often wondered how he felt boarding the plane; surrounded by scared men to his left and right, what was going through his mind as he shuffled to the door, jumped from the plan, and floated to the ground? He was wounded in the war but survived. My uncle was shot in the jungles of Vietnam.  Also wounded but survived. 

I was too young to thank my grandfathers for their service, and I never told my uncle that I was grateful and proud.  Opportunities missed, so thank you, Henry, thank you, Tom, thank you, David, thank you, James.  I draw strength from their service, as whatever the perceived hardship I am enduring at any given time pales in comparison. 

Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines than at any point in my lifetime. Regardless of what side of the aisle you align yourself with politically, we should all agree the men and women of our nation's military deserve our gratitude.  

The great Winston Churchill once said, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." He was referring to a time more troubling, but I think it applies to all United States Veterans.  

I encourage you to find a Veterans Day Ceremony this weekend.  Sit quietly and listen, and when the service is over walk up to a Veteran, extend your hand, and say thank you. It is the least we can do. 

With Gratitude,

Michael J. Mastrullo

Thursday, November 7, 2019

A Concert Honoring Our Veterans, National Merit Schools, Athletic Update, & More

A Night Honoring Our Veterans

Please join us for "Home of the Brave," a night of music honoring our veterans and active military on November 7th (CCHS Auditorium) at 7pm. This 75-minute presentation will feature the CCHS Bands, Orchestra, and special guests, the CCHS Select Choir. 

 Tickets: $10 each or $25 per family

Active Military is free of charge.

Available at

Tickets available at the door

Proceeds will go to support Fisher House Boston, which provides lodging and transportation for military families while their loved ones are receiving medical treatment.

Fisher House
"Welcome to the VA Boston Healthcare System Fisher House. By helping you in a time of need, the Fisher House Program is fulfilling Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher’s dream. This is their way of saluting members of the armed services, veterans, and their families. We understand you may be going through a difficult time, and hope that the Fisher House will be able to provide you with safe and comfortable lodging while you support your loved one. That is precisely what the Fisher House Foundation and the VA Boston Health Care System hope to accomplish by extending this service."

CCHS National Merit Scholars

Eleven students from CCHS were named among approximately 16,000 semifinalists nationwide in the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship Program, and they will be competing for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships next spring worth more than $31 million.  

More than 1.6 million juniors from 22,000 high school competed in the National Merit Scholarship Program, the eleven semi-finalists listed below scored in the top 1%. Impressive! Congratulations to our semi-finalists.

Charles Crounse 
Carson Detweiler 
Sarah Hoover 
Cynthia Li 
Harriet Martin 
Madeline Mueller 
Olivia Mueller 
Elizabeth Rennert 
Maisie Spofford 
Heather Szczesniak 
Lucas Wilbur

Athletics Update
Last week the Girls Volleyball Team prevailed in a fiercely competitive match vs. a talented and well-coached Lincoln Sudbury Team. This was their third tough match, and we won 16-14 in the final set. 

The final point from the match was captured by AD Aaron Joncas, and CCHS staff member Mark Hernandez can be seen in the video celebrating the victory in the quarterfinal match. Watch the final point.   

Unfortunately, a great season came to an end last night.  We are proud of our team.  AD Aaron Joncas tweeted this last evening.  "Congratulations to the Needham Rockets. Our season ends but not without a courageous effort. Our kids have composed the entire match - what a team! Senior leaders get big kudos for setting the tone! Grateful to our coaches too." 

Congratulations to the Boys Soccer team.  Another exciting victory to advance deeper into the playoffs.  The win was fueled by great defense and goalie play along with goals by Luca Baum, Liam Harrington, and Levi Pierce. 

They advance to face the #1 seed North Andover HS on Saturday at 2pm at NAHS. Tickets are $5/$7. A great matchup with two perennial contenders facing off in this D2N matchup.  Go CC!

Congratulations to the Girls Soccer team for winning impressively and advancing deeper into the playoffs. CC goal by Nia Hislop, assisted by Ella McCollum, in the 23rd minute was all they needed thanks to great defensive play.  The offense sealed the victory with goals by Fallon Vaughn, Annie Jimenez, which was assisted by Sarah Creamer, and Hazel Johnstone added a late goal to make it 4-0.  CC advances to face Danvers Thursday at 7pm at Danvers HS. Congrats to Somerville on a well-played game.  Go CC!

The Golf Team placed 2nd in the state championship losing by 1 stroke to Winchester.  Congratulations on a great season.  

Cross Country team continues to dominate with the Girls Team winning the DCL Championship. A strong team effort with Emma Kerimo leading the charge by placing 2nd in the league. The boys also performed well led by Will Chaffin, who won the league title. They will compete in the Eastern Massachusetts finals in Wrentham this weekend.  Go CC!

The Cheerleading Team performed well at their competition and qualified for the regionals, which will be held on 17 November at N. Andover high school.  Good luck!

Congratulations to our football team for winning this past weekend convincingly to remain a perfect (8-0).  The Patriots play Tewksbury this Saturday.  

Click here for more football photos.  

Boston Globe Article

Thomas Pendock (left), whose art is featured at the Gleason Library, talks with Anthony Beckwith about his work during the October 12 artist reception. Pendock started creating his art when he took his first programming class, Introduction to Python Programming, with Beckwith during his junior year at CCHS. (Photo by Ellen Huber)