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  


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Guest Blog Post - Mrs. Hall, Art Teacher

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

Every year I have the privilege of teaching Advanced Studio Art.  It is a senior level art class with a prerequisite of three prior years of art courses.  This year I started our first class with the question,

“Why have you chosen to include art in your class schedule every year?”  

Sincerity reigned.

“Art is my voice.”
“Art is thought provoking.”   “Art is different.”  “It makes me think.”
“Art doesn’t judge me.”
“It’s the only place I speak.”

I was appreciative of my students’ openness and was pleased that we as an art department have set up our students to truly understand the power and value of art.  No one said initially that they were there to perfect painting techniques or drawing skills; they were there because along the way they realized that the process of making art was a lot more than that, it was the process of communicating to the world things that may otherwise be hard to articulate.  They realized that they had things to say, to explore, to understand and that this was a place to do all of that.  

Our conversation eventually turned into one about goals.  If art was where they feel most comfortable, what aspects of art-making did they need to explore further to become uncomfortable?  Where did they need to grow, to practice, to begin again?  Portraiture, observational drawing, watercolor painting, acrylics.  This is where my work begins.  Creating lessons that develop skill and technique while also allowing students room to express themselves and hone their personal style all the while making sure that failures and setbacks never dampen their obvious love and dedication for this work.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Guest Blog Post - Mrs. Pereira

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A couple of weeks ago I offered the SHS faculty an opportunity to write a blog post about any topic they wished to share.  Our first one is from English teacher, Mrs. Pereira.  


Having learned about a cool app called Padlet, I wanted to use this with my classes. Padlet is a virtual wall where students  can share  - through a mobile learning device - responses in real time. To introduce the topic of the Holocaust, before we began reading Night, I wanted to activate my students’ prior knowledge.What do they REALLY know about the Holocaust? So... I put a thought-provoking picture on my virtual wall along with the question “What do you know about the Holocaust?” After I gave my students the information to access the site, fingers began to fly! 100% participation! Students were anxious to share what they knew! I did ask them that they share their name with their post, for two reasons: 1 - I was trying to learn who was who, and 2 - I wanted a sense of each student’s writing ability. After we finished reviewing what was written, I asked students for their feedback about the activity (as this was the first time I’d ever used it). Every student had a positive response; they loved it and want to use this app again. I am including the link if you would like to view this Padlet:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Weekly Update 10/9/15

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I hope everyone had an excellent long weekend!  

This week's SHS Faculty PD

Congratulations to former SHS Assistant Principal Alan Tenreiro for winning the NASSP National Principal of the Year award last week.


PSAT test is this Wednesday for all juniors and sophomores that signed up.  Wednesday schedule will be different due to PSAT's.  More info will be shared during advisory on Tuesday.  

It is Homecoming Week.  Check out all of the events here.  Girls Soccer vs. LaSalle Tuesday. Bonfire Thursday.  Football Friday.  Dance immediately following the game.

Reminder - Picture Re-Take day was changed to October 20th.

Great locker room sign!
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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Weekly Update 10/2/15

This week's SHS Faculty PD from paper/li.

Great article on former SHS soccer player Alex Jenkins

SHS Homecoming events begin October 12th.  Check out all of the events here.  Bonfire 10/15.  Homecoming football game and dance on 10/16.

Congratulations to our September Students of the Month!

  • Class of 2016 - Gian Kishfy
  • Class of 2017 - Chloe Olean
  • Class of 2018 - Megan Labbe
  • Class of 2019 - Bryce Moroni
Big SHOUT Out the all of the parent volunteers who assisted with the Pink Out this past Saturday. Another great event supporting a great cause!

School Committee has a meeting this Monday, October 5th at 7 pm.

Big week for Sentinel athletes.  Check out the schedule at

No school Monday 10/12/15. 

Happiness is a choice. 
Optimism is a choice. 
Kindness is a choice. 
Giving is a choice. 
Respect is a choice. 
Choose wisely.
- Vala Afshar