Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays!

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It's been a tough week at SHS.  Please continue to keep Dan DiChiara and his family in your thoughts and prayers.  

On behalf of the students and staff at SHS, I would like to wish the SHS community a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

See you on January 4th!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Guest Blog Post - Mr. Thibodeau, Chemistry Teacher

This week's guest blog is from Chemistry Teacher Mr. David Thibodeau.  Thank you for sharing!

Things that suck

I love a good hook - something that really grabs my attention and makes me want to dig deeper. It was for this reason that I attended a session at our district’s recent EdCamp-style professional development day called “things that suck.” Inspired by this session, where participants debated the merits of hot button issues in education, I’ve made my own list of ten “things that suck.” It was not easy and took me all of Thursday’s corridor duty. Along the way, it prompted me to ask a lot of questions about what is going on in the high school classroom. This list, of course, reflects my own opinions and combines my dual passions of education and chemistry. In no particular order,

  1. Breaking Bad. The show has inspired dozens of high school students to ask their chemistry teacher: “Do you make meth?” No, I do not make meth. “Could you?” No, I do not and I could not.

  1. Poison. Our students see poisons every day. Not the usual suspects from the chemistry stockroom, like arsenic or cyanide, but poisons like cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, bath salts, and the increasingly popular “vapes.” How can we teach our students - especially in chemistry class - about these dangerous substances more concretely than saying “don’t do that?”

  1. Chalkboards. Before I came to Smithfield High School, I didn’t even know they still made chalk. I guess some tools just transcend the high tech/low tech divide.

  1. 7:30 am start time. I’ve heard a bunch of reasons as to why the school day starts so early, none of which is rooted in science or research. Actually, for the last few years, a steady stream of studies have suggested that students perform better academically when the school day begins later.

  1. Complacency. Too often, students fall into the “trap of complacency,” as Forbes Magazine recently called it, where they are satisfied with the status quo. How can we inspire all students to truly become lifelong learners and never settle for “good enough to pass?”

  1. Global warming. In our materialistic society, are we helping our students to understand tomorrow’s consequences of today’s actions? Or are we perpetuating the beliefs of our throwaway culture?

  1. Student loans. If I had really understood student loans before I started college, perhaps I would have attended school elsewhere. Are our students equipped with the personal finance skills required to manage their money, now and in the future?

  1. Terrorism. The ancient Greeks asked us to “tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.” How do we encourage our students, who have grown up knowing nothing but war, to promote peace and tolerance? Will their generation be the one to bring about peace and end all wars?

  1. The 20th Century. In the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, Robin Williams tells a colleague, “Hey, it’s the 90s” in an attempt to explain some unusual behavior. To the average high school student today, the last century must have really sucked - could they have survived without Chromebooks, iPhones, or Snapchat?

  1. The 21st Century. Einstein once said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Are we inspiring our students to use their knowledge, their skills, and the technology at their fingertips for the betterment of themselves and their society?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Guest Blog Post - Ms. Kristine Sarro, Art Teacher

This week's guest blog is from Art Teacher Ms. Kristine Sarro.  Thank you for sharing!

I am a sentinel…

As part of Karen DiSano and Mary Richards’ Advisory class, Katie DeLuca created a video where she asked students and teachers what it means to be a sentinel.  I was asked this question by Katie a few weeks ago, and I fumbled over my words trying to say just the right thing.  After 12 years of working in Smithfield, I couldn’t answer the question with ease…..following spirit week 2015….. I now can.

I have spent the last month “attached” to Liz Russillo, Mae McCauley,  Evan Sousa, Ireland Judge, David Gaulin, and Justin Pezza.  Together we planned and organized all of the events for spirit week.  The excitement in these five students brought me back to high school.  I remember the same excitement.   They were able to participate as seniors for the very first time. Trying to make the week the MOST MEMORABLE of ALL the spirit weeks that came before.    

This was also my first spirit week serving as student council co-advisor.  For me, this meant late nights all week, early mornings every day, endless trips to the school store, and endless questions and plans…..BUT… was all worth every moment.

I am Sentinel.
I acknowledge the importance of FUN in the world of education.
I am connected to something bigger than me.  
I am committed to the well being of 700 students.

I am part of a team of teachers who truly care and want our kids to succeed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Guest Blog Post - SBC Cynthia Davis

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This week's guest blog is from School to Career specialist Cynthia Davis.   Thank you Ms. Davis for sharing your thoughts. 

Sponsored by the RI Manufacturer’s Association, 5 sophomore and junior girls from SHS recently attended the “Making It Real - Girls in Manufacturing” Summit in Groton, CT.  In addition to enjoying the 3 hands-on workshops, they were inspired by keynote speaker, Leslie Taito, Senior VP for Corporate Operations at Hobe Global, a worldwide manufacturing company based in Cumberland, RI.  Quotes from the students:  “It would be challenging to be the only girl but easy being the only girl if you love what you’re doing.”  “I am a take-charge leader but I realized that I have to listen to the workers and not do just what I want to do.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Guest Blog Post - Mrs. Young, Music

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This is our fourth blog post from the staff.  Thank you Mrs. Young for sharing your thoughts.   

On Wednesday, October 21st, Dr. Teresa Coffman from RIC visited our Music Department with her Chamber Singers. The SHS Chorus performed for the RIC students and then we got to hear their fabulous sound from just a ten-person ensemble. They performed a variety of works from the Renaissance period as well as modern vocal jazz pieces. Dr. Coffman then did a short workshop with our students and they learned a few new techniques to help improve their performance.

Our Chorus students learned that the elements we work on in class like diction, vowel placement, vocal technique, balance and blend, etc., are universal to choral singing. No matter what level the musician, they can always improve and perfect their performance.

Dr. Coffman also highlighted for our students the importance of mental engagement. She discussed how music performance is truly quite intellectual and the smallest distraction or lack of focus can have a huge impact on the musician's sound.

Thank you to the staff for excusing students from G period that day so they could have this experience!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Weekly Update 10/30/15

This week's SHS Faculty PD

First quarter ends Wednesday 11/4. Get missing into teachers!

Big week for SHS athletics:
  • Girls Playoff Soccer at home Monday 11/2 7 pm
  • Boys Playoff Soccer at Moses Brown 11/2 3 pm.
  • Football returns home for huge match-up Friday 11/6 7 pm

Congratulations to boys and girls cross country:
  • Girls finished 2nd in Class C meet
  • Boys finished 3rd in Class C meet

SHS Football breaks into RI Football Poll

Senior Fashion Show is coming soon!  Mark your calendars for Saturday, November 14th at 7 pm.  Tickets on sale soon!

School Committee Meeting 11/2 at 7 pm.

Parent Council meets this Wednesday 11/4.  7pm in media center.  

Reminder No school Wednesday 11/11.

SHS Alum needs your help! Please help Emily Batek '10. Please vote for Emily's Blog which is #7

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Guest Blog Post - Mr. Burns, English Teacher

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This is our third blog post from the staff.  Thank you Mr. Burns for sharing your thoughts. 

Frequently Asked Questions in English Class with Mr. Burns

Question: I’m doing well in most of my classes but English. I have always been a straight-A student and I have never failed. How can I improve my grade in your class?

Answer: I recently realized that learning how to write is much like playing professional football. While I do not follow sports regularly, I do know that Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, is much like a teacher, pushing his students to their highest levels of achievement. In order to achieve and excel during the game, the players must engage in many rounds of challenging practice to strengthen themselves and their skills. Each time, they adapt and hone their game plan depending on many variables, including the opposing team and the players on that team.

Learning how to write and improve your writing is no different. Think back to the first week of school when I asked, “Who are you as a writer?” The overwhelming majority of my students stated that writing was an academic area that they want to improve and gain higher levels of proficiency. More specifically, you want to write better thesis statements for analytical essays. You want to construct a series of paragraphs that are clearly developed and organized for argument writing. You want to focus on formal word choice. You want to be a better writer.

Any coach will tell you that this does not happen overnight and that this does not happen without practice and serious work and effort from the player. If you are not satisfied with your game on the field or the grade in English class, the conversation cannot be about the score of the game or the grades on Infinite Campus. If you talk about grades, you belong on the other team. I want you to talk to me about your writing and how to improve your skills as a writer.

How? Show me revised formative assignments. Research the writing tutorial links that are posted on Google Classroom or do your own research for remedial work or writing practice. Write and share extra essays so we can assess your growth and development before the next summative. Listen to the audio feedback that I have provided. Read through the rubric and comments that are attached to the documents. Reflect on the different stages in the writing process. Have someone read your writing to you or you read it to them. Self-assess your own work with a critical eye for higher order revision concerns and lower order issues. Practice. Practice. Practice!

How well you played football last year or two years ago is irrelevant to today on the field. Right now matters. Your moves and skills in this game matter. This practice matters.

If you only worry about having an “A” today and tomorrow, the writing will never improve. Focus your attention on the writing. Take the time to put in the practice to improve your writing. When the writing improves, the grade improves. If the players on the field do not practice before the game, they may not perform to their highest potential. If you do nothing with your writing except submit it and wait for the next essay to do, nothing will change, including your grade.

As your coach, I am pushing you to look at your areas of strength and areas that require improvement in writing. This is not work that can be done through multiple-choice reading quizzes or meaningless homework. The more you write (and read) in and out of class, the stronger you will become as a writer.

I’m not telling you it is going to be easy, but I am telling you that it is going to be worth it.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Weekly Update 10/23/15

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This week's SHS Faculty PD

Big shout out to the SHS Student Council for organizing a great Homecoming Week!  Thank you to the advisors Mrs. Russillo and Mrs. Sarro! By the way, the faculty beat the students this year in the student-faculty basketball game 20-4.  


65 students were inducted into the National Honor Society this week.  Congratulations!  We are proud of your accomplishments.  

SHS needs your help with a Eagle Scout project for an EWG student.  Click here for more information.  

Attention SHS Alumni!  We want to hear from you.  We want to hear your story about your first years of college, military or work.  Click here for more information.  

Parent Council Funny4Funds show is tonight (10/24) at Stillwater Tavern (formerly Crickets Restaurant). Doors Open 8. Show starts 9pm. Tickets $20 each.

First quarter ends November 4th.  Get your make-up work in.  

Many SHS teams will be starting playoffs this week.  Check out all the schedules at