Friday, April 24, 2020

Grades, Last Days of School, Graduation, & Office Hours


I write on the last day of "April Vacation," and what a vacation it was.  I mean, sometimes doing the same thing every day is a good thing.  For example, I have been lucky in my life to enjoy a vacation getaway when all the days seem to blend together.  They might look something like this.  

Monday: Wake up, exercise, shower, eat, go to the pool, eat, nap, go to the beach, shower, go to dinner.  Tuesday-Saturday: Rinse & repeat.  "April Vacation" 2020 did share one similarity and that is routine.  

Monday: Wake-up, exercise, shower, eat, Zoom Meeting, read depressing news, Zoom Meeting, eat, eat a little more, walk Gus, yell at Gus for eating the furniture, bothering Darwin, eating my shoes, my socks, the baseboard;  Zoom meeting, eat, shower, put on same clothes, play a board game, watch Netflix, read, go to bed.  

Tuesday - Friday: Rinse & Repeat. 

My dog Gus.  He is a big fan of the quarantine and a fan of doing everything a good dog does not do!
Friday afternoon typically comes with excitement as weekend plans start to form, but now every day feels like a Tuesday; however, as we progress through our string of perpetual Tuesdays, I wonder if we will all come out the other side of this more grateful for life's simple pleasures. I know I will.

If nothing else, the American story is one of progress; not linear, but circuitous progress marked by long periods of prosperity derailed periodically by depression, war, and disease.  Woven into our DNA is a perpetual desire for more, and the past two centuries largely met our appetite with an abundance of plenty.  Perhaps a positive bi-product of this dreadful pandemic is a greater appreciation for life's simple pleasures that have been worn down and dulled by prosperity.  

Going out to dinner, seeing a movie in theaters, or stopping for an ice cream cone will be appreciated more as a result of this.  Visiting with friends, family, watching sports, a great concert, or a play will no longer be taken for granted and will likely be more fulfilling.  

By and large, we are all grateful for our second home at CCHS, but I think we will all return more grateful for all that it means to our daily routine and lives.  Wishing you and your family nothing but good health during this difficult time.


Michael J. Mastrullo

Last Days of School & Graduation
Seniors:                       5/22
Grades 9-12:              6/18

We have started the process of planning for Graduation.  I will share information as it becomes available.  Further, there will be no final exams this year.  

Why is the plan for  Q3 grades and why is CCHS moving to a Pass / No credit option for the 2nd semester of the 2019-2020 school year?

There was thoughtful consideration on the issue of grades.  We wanted to be fair and not cause unnecessary stress during a time characterized by enormous stress.  Considering we were six weeks into quarter 3, we initially gave students the option for a letter grade or a pass/fail for the third marking period. When we provided this choice the prospect of returning to school this academic year was still an option.  Governor Baker has closed schools for the year, so we need to pivot slightly.  

For Q3, some students chose a letter grade and some chose pass/fail.  Allowing that to remain would create a discrepancy in transcripts and require students who chose "pass" to explain to college admissions why they have a pass/fail in quarter 3. That seems unfair.  

There is another side to this dilemma. Students who performed well in quarter 3 want that grade factored as it boosts their grade, so forcing them to accept a pass for quarter 3 seems unfair.  The compromise addresses both of these dilemmas.  

Students who chose a letter grade for quarter 3 will receive this benefit in their semester I grade; however, all students will have a pass in quarter 3.   

Lastly, by issuing a semester I letter grade and a semester II pass/no credit, it allows for GPAs to be calculated fairly.  Humanities courses are semester-based, so making all classes in the 3rd and 4th quarters a semester class (regardless if they are full-year or not) will level the GPA playing field regardless if a class is a full-year or half-year. The graph below explains this far better than my narrative.  

The decision for pass/no credit for the second semester is in-line with Massachusetts schools, DESE recommendations, and feedback from colleges. Standard grading systems are designed for normal times and these are anything but normal times.  Supporting students academically and focusing on their emotional and mental wellness is the priority. A  Pass / No Credit grading system for the 2020 spring semester will help alleviate some of the stress that the uncertainty has caused not just for our students, parents, teachers, and staff.  

In a previous blog, I shared information from college admissions offices.  I share one from Stanford as well.

Stanford reassures prospective students for 2021-22 academic year of flexible, holistic admissions process | Stanford News

Office Hours
We put forward two options for office hours and Option B was the favored choice. This will begin on Monday.
Option B

X Block
Social Studies
Arts / CS / H&F / Rivers / AP Capstone
Clubs / Activities / Free
Clubs / Activities / Free
Arts / CS / H&F / Rivers / AP Capstone
World Languages
Clubs / Activities / Free
Social Studies
Clubs / Activities / Free
World Languages
Clubs / Activities
Enjoy Weekend

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Fuel the Fight, Words of Wisdom, Q5, Prom, and other Information


I hope this email finds you and your family healthy and weathering this unpredictable storm as best you can.  As a father of two middle school girls, I am acutely aware of how difficult the present situation is, and it is likely to remain this way for some time.  As I stated previously in a blog post, make the best of this difficult situation and come out the other side a better, more resilient, and more grateful person.

As we await a decision on returning to school, the collective wisdom of health experts makes a return seem less likely with each passing day. As noted in my previous blog, there is little I can do or say to assuage the sense of loss students are feeling. I offer little in relieving this well-grounded sense of loss other than words of sincere sympathy.  Grieve the loss, but do not despair, this will pass, and you have a lifetime of memories awaiting.  Although sobering, it might offer some remnants of solace knowing that teenagers around the entire globe are in the same boat.  

We have waited as long as we could before making decisions on traditional senior events, but the time has come to provide information on cancelations. This is likely not a surprise to you, but the finality of the decisions listed below move this from the theoretical to the reality. Before I notify you about decisions related to upcoming events, I wanted to provide some words of encouragement.  

Yesterday I shared with staff some words of wisdom to digest from the Head of Cyber Security for the United States Air Force. I have taken the liberty of adapting for students her poignant remarks in the hopes of providing some perspective.  

Words of wisdom from Lt Gen O’Brien
Head of cyber in the Air Force

1. You are not “Working From Home,” you are “At your home, during a crisis, trying to work.”
2. Your personal physical, mental, and emotional health is far more important than anything else right now.
3. You should not try to compensate for lost productivity by working longer hours.
4. You will be kind to yourself and not judge how you are coping based on how you see others coping.
5. You will be kind to others and not judge how they are coping based on how you are coping.
6. Your team’s success will not be measured the same way it was when things were normal.

My Adaptation for Students
1. You are not “Schooling from Home,” you are “At your home, during a crisis, trying to do school.”
2. Your personal physical, mental, and emotional health is far more important than anything else right now.
3. You should not try to compensate for lost productivity by working longer hours.
4. You will be kind to yourself and not judge how you are coping based on how you see others coping.
5. You will be kind to others and not judge how they are coping based on how you are coping.
6. Your success will not be measured the same way it was when things were normal.

Information on Upcoming Events
1) If we are allowed to return, we will not have Q5 this school year.  

2) If we are allowed to return, we will not have traditional finals. 

3) The prom scheduled for 16 May is canceled. Although I cannot make a promise, we are open to the idea of a scaled-down version held at the high school or some other local facility if, and it is a big if, health officials, town officials, and all school officials feel it can be done safely. 

4) Senior week activities are canceled at this time.  

5) We in the process of planning another student/staff game of Kahoot, and we plan to add other activities, including, but not limited to, bingo. 

Due your best to remain positive, and, most importantly, listen to the health professionals and take care of yourself and your loved ones.   

I will close with some good news.  There are many examples of our community doing amazing things to support those in need.  None better than Fuel the Fight.  Thanks to the individuals who made this possible.  

Fuel the Fight 
“Fuel the Fight - Concord” which is hosted on gofundme launched to raise money that will be donated to local restaurants, which will make meals for the medical staff at Emerson Hospital.

Concord reached its goal of $40,000 with many, many CCHS and younger Concord kids and families donating everything from $5 to $1,000. Eighteen local restaurants signed on, and 75 meals are being delivered every day to all departments thanks to the effort, which will continue throughout the spring. 

The uplifting story was featured in the Concord Journal.  

Fueling the fight: Concord fundraiser feeds Emerson Hospital workers, supports restaurants during COVID-19 pandemic

Our restaurants need all of our continued support, as do the brave workers on the front lines at Emerson. Well done, all.  


Michael J. Mastrullo

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Principal's Blog: Perspective, 3rd-Quarter Grades, 4th-Quarter Plans, Kahoot Trivia Night, and a Note From Colleges

April dawns and I think we all wish we could call this period of time a cruel April Fool's joke and return to life as it was before the coronavirus.  

Despite the ringing of alarm bells by medical professionals and icons like Bill Gates, our lack of experience made pandemic warnings seem possible, even scary, but not probable.  The small percentage of people who saw this coming surely wish they were proven wrong, and for the rest of us, our collective innocence on the potential of a life-altering, global pandemic is forever shattered. 

Below is an update on 3rd-quarter grades, future educational plans, communication from colleges, and a community-building event. None of this should cause stress, it should not induce panic, it should be viewed through a perspective calibrating lens recently adjusted by the coronavirus. 

Of course, everything in our life matters to us greatly, but crisis has the magical capacity of providing a wake-up call; to appreciate and miss things both large and small previously taken for granted, and the fragility of life and the vulnerability that accompanies a pandemic makes everything besides your health, the health of your family, your friends, and all of humanity not nearly as important as it seemed just a few weeks ago.  

Over the last two weeks, we learned what we already knew, viruses do not discriminate, they do not recognize borders, race, gender, age, ethnicity, social status or political hierarchy; the British Prime Minister has contracted the disease.  One disconcerting development is a surge in racism against Asians. Linking infectious diseases to certain immigrants groups is not new, but it is never acceptable, and blaming Asians for our current epidemic is unconscionable.  We are all in this together, so let's be kind and take care of each other. 

4th-Quarter Educational Plan
The final details of a new educational plan are nearing completion, and we plan to communicate those before the weekend.  One thing remains the same.  We are asking all students and staff to do the best they can, and the best for some might mean very little.  For others, a routine with more normalcy is a welcome change to the present course.  We all need to be compassionate, kind, flexible, and understanding.  In the context of a pandemic, we can all benefit from connecting with each other; however, in the context of a global health crisis, we need to be aware that students, families, and staff are not immune to the stress of the unknown.  I know you are doing the best you can, and I am proud of how well we are doing.  

Q3 Grades
Over the past two weeks, we have discussed several options for grading in Q3.  This is where I landed.  Any student with a grade below a 90 average has the option of pass/fail.

Teachers will post a numeric/letter grades in Aspen early next week.

Teachers will send out a Google form to their students asking them if they would like to change their letter grade to a P/F.  Educators may choose to seek responses via another method, google forms are just a suggestion.

Teachers have until Friday, April 10 to change the grade to P/F

If a student chooses to do P/F for Q3, it will not impact your final grade or GPA. The other quarters carry more weight and have a larger impact on the final average.  

Virtual Kahoot Trivia Night tomorrow evening (Wed, 4/1) at 7pm 
We will be hosting a virtual Kahoot Trivia Night tonight (Wed, 4/1) at 7pm. 

You can register for the event at the link below:

This event is open to everyone (students, educators, and families)

You will see the Kahoot questions via our zoom screen share. 

You have two options to enter your answers:
1. Using your Phone - download the Kahoot app on your phone and then enter the game join code when the game starts (suggested method)

2. Using your Computer - you can have two windows open on your computer. One with the zoom screen share (with the Kahoot question) and another where you will enter your answer.We hope that you will join us.

Communication From Colleges

From Vanderbilt:

“There’s no doubt that high school transcripts for this year’s and future year’s applicants will look different. There will be pass/fail grades where there once were As and Bs. There will be tests untaken, chances to improve foregone, and letters of recommendation truncated. But as it always has been at Vanderbilt, context dictates how we read files. And in unprecedented times, context will take on unprecedented importance. You have our pledge that as this crisis evolves, so too will our use of context in the admissions process. But it will never relinquish its central place in our evaluation of the files of your students. Holism has, and will remain, the byword of our admissions process.

Sure – your applicant’s extracurricular charts will look different in coming years. No future applicant will have had the lead in the school musical in spring 2020. No one will be regional tennis champ in spring 2020; no one will have won an election for junior class officer in spring 2020. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be making impacts in the new environment. Some applicants will actually have time to play music, create, read for pleasure, or develop new and interesting hobbies. Some will find themselves with increasing family responsibilities or the need to undertake a part-time job. Regardless of the circumstances your students find themselves in, we’ll understand. It all goes back to context. How future applicants cope with this period of pandemic will certainly be a topic on which we will read many essays in the coming years. Reassure your students that we get it. We understand. And we can’t expect extracurricular activities grids to look the same in the near future.”

From University of Virginia:
“Please know that students will not be at a disadvantage in the admission process as a result of school closures and cancellations associated with standardized testing. Students are not responsible for things they cannot control. With most high schools closed for the spring semester, we will need to be flexible when evaluating transcripts and academic course work, and we will continue to monitor the state of standardized testing nationally and abroad. If testing is cancelled through the summer and into the fall, we will need to discuss our testing requirements for next year. Our enrollment deposit deadline remains May 1, but we will monitor the situation over the next several weeks to determine if changes to our schedule need to be considered.”

From Boston University:
“For those applying to the fall 2021 or spring 2022 semester, BU will be test optional for first-year applicants.” 

From Union College:
“We know the 2020 spring terms of most high schools have been put into turmoil. We understand that many transcripts will not have the same grading structure shared with us in the past (i.e. some will move to pass/fail), and some schools will have truncated ends to their academic years.
“No games are being played and there is no spring musical to present. At Union we totally get it. We will take all of that into consideration when reviewing your application activities section. Let us know all that you have occupied your time with during your social distancing. Your list is likely very different than is typical at this time of year but we will understand.”