Note from the Editor: This is an article in a series called "Wethersfield Heroes," where our students work to highlight and honor those in our community going above and beyond amidst the tumultuous year. If you know someone that you would like to nominate as a Wethersfield Hero, please contact Mr. Martin at email@example.com.
by: Andrew Strong
“My motto has always been whatever trouble I have that's going on in my life, I leave it at the door and I don't bring it into work.”
Jonna Roberge is a paraprofessional in the Advanced Life Skills (ALS) program at Wethersfield High School. Not only does she love her job and help encourage her students, she also is an amazing person in school and out. When I interviewed Ms. Roberge, I realized that I wasn’t there for just an interview, I was there to meet a hero.
Before Ms. Roberge became a paraprofessional, she served in the Air Force, and it changed her life. The Air Force helped her grow and mature, which helped shape her for who she is today.
Ms. Roberge said, “Going into the military gave me an opportunity to mature, to grow up, to think about my strengths, my weaknesses, what to work on, and it made me feel responsible for somebody other than myself. I can then now see how it carried over into my life as a wife, as a mom, as a co-worker, and in this program working here at the high school.”
During the interview, she had one of her students with her, and the love and respect he had for Ms. Roberge was clear. The positive impact that Ms. Roberge has on her students is incredible. Also, after the interview, Ms. Roberge continues to say hi to me every time in the halls, and asks how my day is going, and it makes me smile every time. I realized that Ms. Roberge can change a person's day around even by the little things.
Ms. Roberge’s story is so important to share, because she not only is a hero to us in Wethersfield, but is a hero to our nation. Thank you for serving, and thank you for being a hero to us in Wethersfield.
Note from the Editor: This is an article in a series called "Wethersfield Heroes," where our students work to highlight and honor those in our community going above and beyond amidst the tumultuous year. If you know someone that you would like to nominate as a Wethersfield Hero, please contact Mr. Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Using the interactive player above, you can hear WHS seniors Chris Daley, Josh Barbara, and Christyan Cimino sit down with school resource officer Eric Knapp. In this podcast, you will hear his thoughts, accomplishments, and ideas as a Wethersfield Hero nominee.
Note from the Editor: This is an article in a series called "Wethersfield Heroes," where our students work to highlight and honor those in our community going above and beyond amidst the tumultuous year. If you know someone that you would like to nominate as a Wethersfield Hero, please contact Mr. Martin at email@example.com.
by: Andrew McDonough, Micah O'Donnell, and Jay Socha
Mr. Joseph Calleri, a lifelong resident of Wethersfield, is a paraprofessional at Silas Deane Middle School. Calleri, or Mr. C, as he’s known by all of the students he works with, has been working in Wethersfield schools since 2003.
More than anything, Mr. C enjoys interacting with students. Working with his students through their struggles and getting ‘positive feedback’ when they get a good grade is what Mr. C values most in his job.
Middle school can be a very confusing, yet formative time. Keeping up with school work and maintaining good study habits is a different experience for all middle schoolers, all of whom are trying to navigate themselves in a new school, with new people, and new responsibilities.
Having a friendly face like Mr. C to assist with school work and stress is so important for many kids. Speaking from experience, as a former student in his class, Mr. C made every class we had with him more enjoyable, since we knew we had a helping hand and voice of support nearby.
“Sometimes they [his students] have their bad days, but that’s like everybody else…you encourage them, and you’re like tomorrow’s a better day”, Mr. C said.
Mr. C, along with all paraprofessionals, played a vital role during Wethersfield’s distance learning, a time when communication between teachers and students was severed. Mr. C had to be there for his online students, and keep them in check throughout the school year.
During distance learning, Mr. C noted that sometimes communicating with students was a near impossibility, as some would simply not join Google Meets. ‘‘It’s not that they don’t care, it’s just that they don’t have that motivation to get online’’. As high school students, we related immensely to the struggle of staying focused while at home, with so many distractions within arms reach. It was a difficult time, and Mr. C helped his students get through it.
When asked if he had any advice, Mr. C encouraged students to ‘‘just keep trying.You just want to keep going and going and going. If you put in the effort and time, the grades will come.” After being asked how he would like to be remembered, Mr. C added, “That I was willing to help people out when they were in trouble”.
On behalf of us, and all students who have worked with you, Mr. C, thank you. We’ll take your kindness, compassion, and generosity with us wherever we go.
By: Lena Uccello
At a young age, we all begin to envision what our future looks like. Some want to be a teacher, some a lawyer, and others, even an astronaut. Jamain Naidoo, a parent ambassador for the WECC (Wethersfield Early Childhood Collaborative) council, had these same dreams as a child. But, it was the trial and error of these visions that led this mom of 2 boys, and a strong advocate for families in town, to where she is today.
It was when Jamain first connected with Kimberly Bobin, family and early childhood coordinator of WECC, that her involvement with the organization began. Jamain was looking to learn more about childcare options in town and after having a positive outcome she saw this program as a valuable resource and felt that not enough families in town knew what WECC was and how it could benefit them.
However, it was not just the program itself that caught Jamain’s attention, it was the person in charge, Kimberly Bobin. Kim is an unbelievable resource; a kind hearted, caring member of our community who is always turning her wheels to find ways to incorporate change while actively listening for feedback. Her leadership style is a rare quality that’s hard to find, but according to Jamain, Kim checked all the boxes in this category.
“Kim is just phenomenal. She is an amazing human who is always willing to help others and is constantly working to ensure all our really cool ideas that come to fruition or at the very least land on the desks of those who can truly change our town for the better. And she’s always open to feedback which is really one of the best things about her. That’s the leadership style you want in a program that’s still growing and becoming its own,” said Naidoo.
It was because of this council and group of advocates, much like herself, that Jamain found her home and put down her roots. She found comfort in this small town and finally discovered what it was she wanted to do. This was no longer a childhood vision, it was reality.
It was about 15 years ago when Naidoo decided to leave her birthplace of South Africa and move here to the United States. A new life, new people, a new town, and an entirely new country were ahead, but she was ready.
Now, when asked if immigrating to a whole new world with no friends or family was challenging, Naidoo’s first words were, “Oh my gosh, yes!”
She found it difficult to meet new people and to find moms who had similar interests as her. But, though the adaptation was quite hard to grasp in the beginning, Naidoo now says it feels like she’s been here forever.
As part of the newly added parent ambassador committee of WECC, come next year, Jamain plans to be more deeply involved within her position. She recognizes that along with herself, every other parent in town has kids in our school system. So, this being said, anything that seems beneficial for the students, Naidoo feels the need to advocate for.
In upcoming years, she hopes to see more change on a wider scale in our community, to focus on areas such as mental health, and mental health services within the schools. But, most importantly, this strong-minded and determined woman, hopes her voice continues to be heard and understood.
You know, it’s funny how things work out. Fifteen years ago, when Jamain immigrated to the US, not once did she think she’d end up here. She just came and was “winging” it, still trying to find ways to lay down her roots and make a difference. Now, all these years later, her career is ever-evolving and with that, so is her life.
As goes the quote Jamain Naidoo has and continues to live by, “Life is like a camera, focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don't work out take another shot.”
Leaving everything and immigrating to the United States was no easy transition, but Naidoo kept that metaphorical camera by her side, and took as many shots needed to become who she truly is today...a Wethersfield hero.
By: Grace DeMonte
In the time of a global pandemic, healthcare workers should be appreciated-- especially school nurses. Kathleen Maffuid is a school nurse at Emerson Williams, recently having transferred from WHS. She first attended Clemson University, obtaining a business degree, then attended UConn for a nursing degree.
Mrs. Maffuid says “I went into the medical field because I really wanted to help people and enjoyed studying science and anatomy. I didn't know I wanted to be a nurse immediately though and had started pursuing other possible career opportunities before I finally entered nursing school.” She started her career working in the medical/surgical unit of the hospital, then transitioned into school nursing because she wanted to work in public health.
Every day working as a school nurse is different, but always busy. Some students have daily medication administration needs, some have ongoing injuries that need to be monitored, and others see the nurse for spontaneous injuries or illnesses. Every student that visits the health office needs to be documented, along with parent phone calls.
School nurses also perform annual vision, hearing, and scoliosis screenings depending on grade level. Along with treating students, school nurses also have a lot of emails and daily communications to catch up on. Despite this, Mrs. Maffuid says “What I enjoy most about my job as a school nurse is being able to be a part of the school community and to provide care to the students and staff”.
COVID-19 has had a big impact on school nursing. Mrs. Maffuid says, “Conducting contact tracing due to a positive case in the school is time consuming as it requires lots of phone calls and emails to communicate with staff members and parents”. Her advice on how to stay covid-free is firstly to get vaccinated and to get your booster shot. She also says to stay home if you aren’t feeling well and “practice the three W's (wear your mask, wash your hands, watch your distance) when in public”. Otherwise, students should try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, and get at least 30 minutes of exercise/activity daily.
School nurses have been overwhelmed with responsibilities recently, and everyone should appreciate the work they do now more than ever. They don’t always get much recognition, but school nurses do a lot to protect students and Wethersfield is very grateful for them.
Mrs. Maffuid is a Wethersfield hero because of all the hard work she does to ensure the safety of all students and staff members. Next time you visit the school nurses, be sure to thank them and let them know they’re appreciated.
By: Alanna DePinto and Allie Leahy
Colleen Keane is a teacher, mentor, caregiver and most importantly a Mom!
Ms.Keane is a Wethersfield resident who does so much for the community. She cares for children whose parents are busy working, teaching to be exact.
She started the daycare 18 years ago, when her daughter and WHS alumni Abbey was just one year old!.
Not only does Ms.Keane watch over the children, she teaches them. She has a background in healthcare, so she is able to help the children in certain aspects of their development, like fine motor skills, reading, writing, and so much more!
“I worked at a hospital for special care in New Britain, It’s a rehab hospital that specializes in people with brain injury and spinal cord injury, I was pregnant with Abbey at the time, and Conor was in the daycare on site there, I was debating whether I wanted to, or could financially stay home, it was more about that”
She goes onto say how she was going to go back to school for special education, but it became a dual certification, in that case she would have to take an entire year of to student teach, which she wasn’t ready to do. “This (home daycare) was kinda the next best thing to be on that type of schedule and be able to educate the little kids that I have.”
She finds teaching these things important because while the child's parents are at work, they are unable to assist in their development of these essential skills.
Ms.Keane does not do this alone! She is a single mother, with 3 children of her own! Conor (22), Abbey (19) and Riley (15).
She gets a lot of support from her own kids when caring for the children in the daycare. “When it comes to daycare they absolutely love it, they’ve always helped me out with the kids… it has been a juggle along the way, i’m a single mom, so the meetings in the evenings has always kinda been a juggle, but they (her kids) know how important this is to me.”
“I’ve also seen that now they’ve started to volunteer and do things in the community because they see the impact on what I have done and what I get from it, so it's a win win for both ends.”
Ms.Keane’s daycare is not the only way she has gotten involved in the Wethersfield community. When Connor went to Charles Wright Elementary, Ms .Keane got involved in PTO and held the position of president. When Connor started to play football, she got involved with the league committee and when Connor kept playing in high school she got involved with the Football boosters as well.
Ms. Keane did similar things for all of her children. Getting involved with the Swim and Dive boosters when Abbey was at WHS and now actively being involved with the Soccer boosters for Riley. Ms. Keane sees the groups she has been a part of as mini families of their own, and she is always ready to offer her help to them.
Ms. Keane told us she reached out to Melissa Whitaker, the one making sure football games run smoothly, and said if they ever needed help and were short handed at a game she (Ms.Keane) would be there. When asked Ms. Keane why she does volunteering like this, her response was, “I do it because I love it and I love the kids, I love the comradery of it all.”
With everything Ms. Keane does, she truly is a Wethersfield hero.
by: Rei Betoja and Antonio Contreras
Rob Jachym is no stranger in the Connecticut soccer scene, and especially in the Wethersfield community. From a professional soccer player to one of the most recognized coaches in the state of Connecticut, Mr Jachym has created a legacy for himself so much so that some people could even call him a hero.
Robert Jachym moved from Poland to the United States in 1979 at the age of 5 years old. His left foot began to terrorize his opponents when he started at Maloney High School in Meriden, Connecticut. Being named an All-American in 1991 is what led him to his next step at the University of Hartford, where he was a second team All-American and graduated in 1996.
“[Jachym] is one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met, no matter what he does he always does 100%,” said college roommate Antonio (Tony) Leone. The dynamic duo are still friends to this day, so if anyone knows Rob, it's Mr. Leone.
With only one step left in a professional career, he was drafted by the Columbus Crew at the 3rd overall pick in the inaugural draft in 1997 . After 7 years in the MLS as well as the USL and 63 goals later, it was the end to Jachym’s playing career and the beginning to a new chapter.
Wethersfield did not understand how lucky they were when Rob Jachym became an assistant coach for the boys soccer team. But years later, it is relevant how he has changed the Wethersfield soccer culture as a whole. “I think this year's championship is a great example of what he has done,” Mr. Leone said. Rob led this year's team to another State Championship, the 5th under Rob and the 16th in the program's history, which is the most in the state.
But Rob reaches out past the varsity program and into the community of Wethersfield as a whole. Rob Jachym runs the Revolution Academy, which is a soccer summer camp that travels through the state of Connecticut, but for one week near the end of August it makes a stop to the town of Wethersfield.
A great number of those who lifted that trophy this year attended that camp as a kid and one of them being myself. This has made Rob somewhat of a celebrity in town. “ We couldn’t go into Dunkin Donuts without the people mentioning good luck Rob good luck boys keep it going coach.”
A hero can be defined as a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Mr. Leone went one to say “It’s also great for the town players at the younger levels to have something to aspire to.” A hero nonetheless. Kids in this town grow up idealizing him and aspire to play on that field, under those lights, and maybe even one day live one of those trophies. So when it comes down to if Rob Jachym is a hero, the answer is obvious.
He took over the head coach role in the year of 2000 and the rest is history. Success was no problem for Rob and the eagles as in the first 9 years as a head coach he already won 4 state titles. He had already made a name for himself as a player but was becoming even a bigger figure as a coach. This legendary status was set in stone when he was inducted into the Connecticut soccer hall of fame in 2010.
By: Liam Stec
In the Wethersfield community, there are many roles that people take on and manage. They vary in responsibilities, roles, and their effect, but nonetheless they are very important.
While these may be behind the scenes, or out in the open, these roles should be acknowledged and praised, especially the ones that Wethersfield High School’s English and math teachers Kristen Mucinskas and Shannon Belanger have taken on.
Mrs. Mucinskas began her teaching career at Wethersfield High School 25 years ago, saying “I feel like I was always called to teaching, I knew in high school I wanted to be a teacher.”
While being a teacher hasn’t always been the easiest, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s something she’s put countless hours into, on top of all the other things she does for the school, such as overseeing everything ECE (UCONN’s Early College Experience program) and her work with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
Mrs. Belanger, on the other hand, began her teaching career at Wethersfield High School 11 years ago, saying “I think in fourth grade I wanted to become a teacher, I really enjoyed my teacher, but I didn’t know what I wanted to teach.” It was not until college that she decided what she wanted to teach, saying “It was in college I realized that I missed math, so I decided to become a math teacher.”
While she originally became a teacher to work with others and help teach concepts and help others gain a greater understanding, Mrs. Belanger has actually been doing this much longer than 10 years, helping her friends with their math homework when she was younger. Mrs. Belanger is also involved extracurricular activities, coaching the math team, being the sophomore class advisor her work with NEASC, and even working security at the hockey games.
Among the hours invested by both teachers, one very important role that both teachers have invested time is being the Chairpeople of NEASC accreditation for Wethersfield High School. This is an organization that promotes and helps improve the quality and methods of learning, allowing for students K-12 to receive the best education possible.
This is a heavily intensive role for both Mrs. Mucinskas and Mrs. Belanger, spending hours alone organizing meetings, going to other schools and accrediting other schools (going to, approving, and sharing the schools methods of education), and meeting with each other to brainstorm possible ideas to make our school and community better.
When asked of why they do it, Mrs. Belanger responded that both as a teacher and a member of NEASC, “I really enjoy making and impact as well as helping kids,” which is exactly what NEASC is about, helping kids and giving them the best education possible.
However, both Mrs. Mucinskas and Mrs. Belanger both acknowledge that this wouldn’t be possible without the support Wethersfield High School has provided. “Our staff has been amazing, and we’ve asked a lot from our staff, and people [the staff] have been really supportive,” said Mrs. Mucinskas.
Mrs. Mucinskas and Mrs. Belanger have done a great service to not only our community and school, but Connecticut as a whole with what they’ve accomplished with NEASC. Wethersfield is very lucky to have two teachers like them who are not only great teachers, but role models for future teachers as well.
by: George Zack
If you’re at all familiar with the town of Wethersfield, you have probably heard the name Ken Lesser before. Ken Lesser has been one of the most active members of the Wethersfield community, dedicating much of the past ten years to virtually every corner of the town, and working with the schools, residents, and even politicians to make this town a better place.
And why does he do this? To give back to the community he loves.
Lesser has lived in Wethersfield for over a decade, and he has always been giving back in his own way.
Six or seven years ago, he began to ramp things up. Around 2016, Lesser helped start the Wethersfield Mayor’s Charity Ball, which raises money for multiple charities in the town, especially for those who are considered food insecure.
According to Lesser, “We have almost 25% [of our kids considered food insecure], and I thought that was a really high number in our middle class town, so from there I started the Wethersfield mayor’s charity ball to raise money for hungry kids.”
The Ball also raises money for senior citizens in town, as well as providing preschool scholarships for families who cannot afford to send their children to preschool, and according to Lesser, the Mayor’s Charity Ball has “raised in six years, over $120,000.” As he says this, a subtle expression of joy and pride begins to show on his face.
A few years later, Lesser decided that one of the best ways he could continue providing for and giving back to the community was by becoming a member of the town council, where he would have more resources and a wider reach to sustain his work, and he ended up running in the 2017 town election, where he won a seat.
“I ran to make a difference. I believe politics is all about helping people, and when you are in office you have the chance to help people with different things, and I like giving back to the community I live in and to try and make it a better place”.
Lesser wants his community work to benefit everybody, and when he was elected to Town Council, he took leaps and bounds towards doing so. Lesser reflects on this saying, “Being in elected office really is a nice opportunity to learn more about the town. We get lots of reports about different things going on in town, and it gives me, and all of us serving, an opportunity to try and enact good things that help everybody in town.”
Lesser feels the most impactful thing he was able to accomplish while on Town Council was helping lead and create the Wethersfield Veterans Commission. According to Lesser, there are over 1300 veterans in town, and while on the council he learned many of them were considered poor or in need of a variety of services. Naturally, he wanted to do something about it, and so with the help of his colleagues, the Wethersfield Veterans Commission was born.
“I was the advocate, sponsor, and driving force for that because I believe we need to help our veterans as much as possible, and that’s why the Commission was started”.
Lesser’s contributions to the town don’t end there. Lesser was appointed to the Wethersfield Board of Education in 2019, and has been on ever since. He has worked closely with the WHS community, acting as coordinator for the youth career advisory board, and also as one of the driving forces behind the leadership club here as well.
Lesser hopes that his work on the career advisory board providing lunch and learns, job shadowing, and internships for students will give them a glimpse into what could be their future.
As head of the leadership club, Lesser works with students to help them discover their natural leadership skills and nurture them to make each student a leading and also serving member of their community. This all culminates at the end of the year in the club’s yearly project. Last year, students made care packages for senior citizens in town to help them stay safe during the pandemic, while also providing them with necessities to save them a few trips to the store.
This area of both leading and serving in the community is Lesser’s area of specialty, and spreading his knowledge and experience with the next generation in the leadership club is what he considers to be his most important accomplishment as a member of the Wethersfield Board of Education.
Ken Lesser has played a big role in shaping much of the great community work that has, and is still being done in Wethersfield. He has truly reached every person in some way shape or form, and will continue to create an impression on the town that lasts for generations to come.
If Ken Lesser isn’t a Wethersfield Hero, I don’t know who is.
by: Riley D'amato
“My mom is from Mexico, but I grew up only speaking English, and feeling like there was a whole piece of culture that I missed. When I would go to Mexico, I would feel uncomfortable that I didn't know the language. And I had this one aunt that would always smile at me and always hug me and always make me feel welcome. I got to learn what the felt like, that it didn't matter that we didn’t speak the language, there was always one person that made me feel welcome.”
And these memories and events of her childhood shaped Kim Bobin into exactly the Wethersfield Hero she is today.
Now she is working with families to learn English. As the Family and early childhood coordinator of wethersfield, Mrs. Bobin teaches in an interactive way by helping adults who don't speak or speak very little of the language, to schedule doctors appointments and fill out job applications. While with the kids, they learn basics like shapes and clothes, preparing them for kindergarten overall.
These families can feel as isolated like Mrs. Bobin felt when she was in Mexico. To add on top of that, the COVID pandemic did not help that isolation at all. Families had little contact with people outside of their little pod and there weren't opportunities to expand that small bubble.
To combat this she said, “During COVID, we do outside playgroups, so then when they see me and they are not sure who that lady is, I sing one of the songs we do. And they make the connection, ‘oh this is the lady from zoom’, and i think that is the best part, when their little eyes light up.”
And that connection allows them to have a love for learning and a want to learn at a young age.
She also said, “My favorite part of being with the kids is, on Zoom, I tried to learn to say hello in the different languages. What I do is on Thursdays I log into the adult education class and the babies are on zoom. There are 2 babies from Bosnia, I say good morning, dobro jutro (good morning in Bosnian). And the mom goes to get the babies and they gasp.”
And the special thing about this program is it intertwines child learning and adult learning into one. When the children learn, the adults learn, and vice versa.
And the larger portions of these students are younger and are more sizable now than ever. When Mrs. Bobin started, there were about 175 kids in k-6 who spoke foreign languages, now 8-10% of the total student population does. This growth is something that makes this program so important. These kids getting ready for kindergarten without, or a minimal language barrier is such a big thing for them to stay on par and exceed expectations in school.
With the work that Mrs. Bobin does on a daily basis for the town and families in our Wethersfield community, many families can smile a little wider and feel a whole lot more welcome.
by: Yvonna Rodriguez
No matter when you attended Wethersfield High School, there is one voice students past and present can pick out of a crowd. That is the voice of gym teacher and coach Richard Scoppetto, better known to his students as Sco.
Mr. Sco has been a part of the Wethersfield community for longer than most current WHS students (and some teachers) have been alive. Not even he himself knows exactly when he joined our community.
While trying to pinpoint the start of his teaching career, he said, “I'm not sure when I started at Wethersfield High School. I started at Deane [Silas Deane Middle School] when it was a junior high and I student taught there and then I filled in for Joseph Cottone, the one they named the field [Joseph T. Cottone Field] after because he got sick.”
Mr. Sco is the epitome of dedication. He spoke to me about the effort he went through in some of his earlier teaching years. “I was the first teacher to teach special Ed here and PE. So I'd be at Deane, come here to teach a class then go back to Deane then come back here all in one day,” he said.
His dedication to his job became even clearer to see when he said that he has only had 7 sick days in the last 48 years.
While the exact start of his teaching career is unknown, what is known is the lasting impact he has had on Wethersfield High School students past and present. I spoke to members of WHS to try to understand the depth of his impact on our community.
Andrea Moyano, a senior at WHS who has had Mr. Sco as both a teacher and a coach, says he has impacted her life greatly over the years as her tennis coach. “Sco would often say to the team ‘not think, do’ or something along those lines,” she said, “he would try to get us out of our heads because we would overthink and mess up hits we could do in our sleep. I definitely try to use that in all aspects of life, especially moments when I'm really stressed or anxious.”
Joining a sports team in high school is hard, but it's even harder when it's a sport you haven't played before. That was the case for senior Alani Adams when she decided to join the tennis team last year. “Sco impacted my life by making me believe in myself when I didn't think I could learn a new sport,” she said, “he inspired me to keep trying and keep learning.”
Siobhan DeGray, an English teacher here at WHS and a member of the 2001 graduating class, was fortunate enough to have had Mr. Sco as both a teacher and a soccer coach. “Class was always interesting,” she said, “He never shied away from difficult or uncomfortable questions during health class.”
Someone who has been in teaching this long clearly must love their job, and after speaking with Mr. Sco it's clear to see that he enjoys teaching more than anything. “I come to work and have fun every day,” he told me, “I've never thought of retiring. Maybe when the fun goes I go.”
Towards the end of my interview Mr. Sco spoke to me about teaching as a whole, and the impact it has had on him. “I learn every day, but not from me. I dont think ive learned anything in the last 20 years from me. But I learn from these teachers and I learn from the students every day,” he said.
Mr. Sco is a pillar in the Wethersfield community and the impact he has had on our community will be everlasting.
by: Rosario Tine and Michael Laperriere
Wethersfield High School is full of extraordinary staff members who make up the community of the school. Each staff member brings their own unique touch into WHS. They try their hardest to make WHS a safe and welcoming community to all and provide each and every student the best 4 years of their life. There isn't a lack of effort from teachers to make a connection with students, however there are two members of the staff that Michael Laperriere and Ross Tine would like to spotlight, Mr Maltese and Mr. Martin.
Trumpets and drums from the marching band echo in one ear, while rowdy students chant ¨Let's go Eagles” in the other.
It’s all in a day's work for Mr. Michael Maltese.
Mr. Maltese is Wethersfield High School’s assistant principal and athletic director who does a lot of the behind the scenes work that most kids don’t see. Almost every student in the school will recognize Maltese, not only as a figure of authority, but as a leader and mentor.
Maltese has been an icon at Wethersfield High School for 10 years now, heavily involved in the Athletics Department. Most students participate in a sport at WHS, which makes a strong community.
When asking Maltese about the athletic aspect of Wethersfield High School community, he said, “Well I think athletics or any clubs and extracurricular activities gives students a chance to show community and school pride, you get to exemplify what it means to be part of something greater than yourself.”
Being a part of a group such as a sports team is crucial to the high school experience, it can be an outlet from many problems that a high school student might face.
Maltese is passionate about student development and he believes that athletics is a great way to shape a student into a better person, “We are teaching many things beyond the sport itself. We are teaching life skills, teaching how to have teamwork, and how to act win or lose .''
Being a student-athlete is never easy with juggling schoolwork while competing everyday can be a struggle, but having these skills taught through sports certainly makes a student a more responsible individual.
Being at this school for as long as a decade, there are sure to be personal highlights and accomplishments he has experienced though his tenure here, when asking him this he had this to say, “We were building a unified sports program which didn’t exist when I came to Wethersfield High School, giving a chance to some individuals who may not be able to be on a competitive varsity team, a chance to play with other people and compete in front of a crowd and seeing the pure joy on those individuals' faces is something I would be most proud of.” Unfortunately, since COVID-19 broke out in late 2019, the unified sports program has been put to a pause, hopefully as more vaccinations are distributed the program is incorporated back into the school.
Maltese isn’t just a staff member at Wethersfield High School, he goes above and beyond to make sure each and every student has an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves. His dedication to working may go unnoticed by some. Maltese is certainly a key part at WHS, we thank Maltese for all he does here.
Students stress about an assignment by saying phrases such as, “Oh no Martin, this is due at the end of class?!?” Or just because of the daily teenage challenges they face.
It’s all a daily occurrence for Mr. John Bernard Martin III (JBM3)
Waking up at 5:30 in the morning Martin gets ready for the first of his many jobs, being a Crossfit coach. Then at 7 o'clock, he goes straight to Wethersfield High School ready to teach. Even with all the demand Martin faces as a teacher, he still manages to find time to help his students
Martin has been an English teacher here at Wethersfield High School for 9 years. To him, one of the most notable things he has experienced in this school system is the large amount of support he consistently receives from the staff, even noting “This is the first school I ever felt at home in.”
The previous school districts Mr. Martin had worked in had left him yearning for a community that he can call his own, something that he found at Wethersfield.
But getting to be everyone's favorite teacher and person hasn't always been easy for Martin.
“When I got here I was not a good teacher, I often look back at what I taught and how I taught it and especially how long things took, and I'm so ashamed that I laugh.”
This is very surprising given his accolades and work outside of the school, but ultimately it shows his humbleness and his ability to recognize his flaws and especially do everything to amend his flaws. “I'm ultimately competitive.”
He goes on to elaborate his drive to be the best teacher he can be and fight for kids to enjoy the content that he's teaching, while at the same time is competitive with himself to become a better teacher and person.
Through his hard work and determination, he earned the district's teacher of the year award and a state finalist for the award in 2020.
When asked why he became a teacher and why he has such a profound impact on Wethersfield High School and its students, he said, “High school was not a fun four years for me and often times, I felt like I wasn't good enough, but it was the teachers that I had that helped me to see what I failed to see in myself.”
Martin has been on a mission to ensure that each and every student feels worthy and feels as if they are good enough. Through his bubbly personality and hard working nature, you can walk through the halls of WHS and see why students love him. The number of kids that go into his room just to talk is astounding.
It's a wonder he has time to get any work done, but the students at Wethersfield High School truly know Martin as a Hero, whether it be academically or socially.
by: WHS Journalism Students
A note from Mr. Martin: With this week marking our Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to give students the space, time, and opportunity to speak to those both in and outside of the school community in a show of gratitude. Please read, enjoy, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.
I'm thankful for my sister, Abby. She is able to make me laugh when I am sad and is always willing to watch a movie with me. She is so fun to be around and understands my humor unlike anyone else. Thank you, Abby!
- Ella Alger
I am thankful for Mrs. Fitzgerald. She has helped me since freshman year to make sure that I pass with good grades. She has always helped me and was willing to help me before or after school as well. Thank you for your hard work and gratitude.
I am thankful for my parents because they help me with anything I need help with and they teach me things. My dad and I do projects together and he teaches me about the different tools. Thanks, mom and dad.
I am thankful for Mrs. Becker. Not only did she grow my love for Italian culture, but treated myself and fellow classmates as much more than just her students. She is that one teacher I feel I can turn to when in need of advice or simple words of encouragement. So, thank you Mrs. Becker for all you have done and continue to do as the amazing person and teacher you are.
I am thankful for Mrs. Niemic. Though I've only had her as a teacher for four months, it is so easy to tell the kind, generous and warm hearted person she is. The way she is understanding and patient with her students is a wonderful quality and one that can be hard to find. Psychology may be hard to learn, but somehow, in someway, Mrs. Niemiec has a way of making it fun. So, I thank her for constantly resonating positivity within the classroom and bringing light into each and every day.
I'm thankful for Mr. Sand. He makes his students feel like family and creates a safe environment where everyone's free to experience the way they feel. His jokes are always good for putting you into a good mood and he is an all-around amazing guy.
I’m thankful for my mom. She cares for me and checks on me every day even when she’s the one who I should be checking on. I don’t mean this with any disrespect; you can sometimes be frantic, but it goes to show your love for me. I’ll forever love you and will never be able to truly show you my full appreciation for you.
I am thankful for Mrs. Foley! She not only taught me a lot of school-related things but helped me out with lessons in real life. Mrs. Foley is always someone I can go to cheer up and have a good time. Thanks, Mrs. Foley!
I'm thankful for my family. My family has been with me through the good and bad times. They have made many sacrifices for me and my brother so we can succeed in life. And I am really thankful for this and to have them in my life. Thank you for everything mom and dad.
I'm thankful for Mrs. Conoscenti. Throughout high school, she has helped me so much, whether it was with my schedule or any other issues. She has also been extremely helpful this year during my college application progress. Mrs. Conoscenti has guided me through this process and answered any questions I have had along the way. Thank you for all you've done, Mrs. Conoscenti!
I’m thankful for my best friend, Sky. They are always there for me, at my best and worst times. I don’t know where I’d be without them.
I’m thankful for Mr. Moger. He always helped me whenever I needed it, and helped me to get grades I was proud of. He’s a great teacher and one of the best I’ve had.
- Liam Stec
I am thankful for everyone in my life. All the struggles I have endured and each person has had such a profound impact on my life. To my Dad, he has been my rock for life and the work he does for me brings me to tears. To my teachers and coaches, thank you. Mrs.Becker, Mr.Martin, Mrs.Troy, Mrs.Ryba you all have had an impact on me that words can not express. To Coach Bagdasarian by sticking by me during my worst times on and off the field. Thank you all.
I’m thankful for my family. They have been supporting me and unconditionally loving me for my entire life. We always stick together through good and bad times.
I am thankful for Mrs. DeGray. She is always there for me when I need someone to talk to and genuinely cares and listens to me. I can always talk to her about things that interest me like Marvel movies and my favorite actor Richard Madden. She is also an amazing teacher who helped me a lot when I had her junior year.
I am thankful for the opportunities that soccer has given me. All through high school soccer has been a place to go whenever I needed to, I have met great people through the sport that have made lasting effects on my life and will continue to in the years to come. This year especially being a part of the High school team really showed the brotherhood and community that we built up throughout the year, if it weren't for soccer then none of these relationships and experiences would have been possible. Thank you soccer for all you have taught me and given me.
- Michael LaPerriere
I'm thankful for my classmate David Gregorian and him allowing me to have his Chromebook charger. Without his assistance, I would not have been able to complete my work in a timely fashion. He helped me in a tricky situation and I appreciate his assistance.
- Liam Stec
I'm thankful for my classmate, Liam Stec. I honestly never got particularly close to Liam but I knew of him and I knew he was a good stand-up guy but that was all. Recently he wrote a thank you letter to me about how I helped him recently. I think that just saying thank you for the little things in life goes a very long way. Thank you, Liam.
I'm thankful for Mr. Sand. Not only is he an amazing teacher but he makes every day better with his jokes and personality. U.S History was always my favorite class and the highlight of my day. We learned so much in his class, besides learning about U.S. History, we learned how to be better overall humans and show empathy.
I’m thankful for my Journalism teacher Mr. Martin. I'm thankful for him because he's always full of energy which can make anyone's day better. He is also very understanding that students have lives outside of school, and is always willing to help. He genuinely cares about his students and passing his class. He can joke around and take jokes, which not many teachers and people can do. He also has an amazing shoe game. But overall, he is a very kind and nice person, and I'm happy to have him as my teacher.
I'm thankful for Mr. Baggs. Not only is he a great coach, but he’s also like a second father to me. When I was stressed out about the college process, he calmed me down and explained that I had plenty of time for an opportunity to present itself. I also know that I can talk to him about anything that doesn't relate to school or Baseball. I just believe that he's a very reliable and trusting person. Thank you, Coach!
I am thankful for my family, as is. They are the reason I have what I have, and how far I have gotten. It's just a simple thing like this, I am just glad to be here, and be alive.
I am beyond thankful for Mr. Spessard. Yesterday I won a state championship and the last thing on my mind was studying for my physics test the next day. But thanks to Mr. Spessard I had a note card to use on my test so I did not need to study and I was able to celebrate with my team.
I'm thankful for my family, always being there and always proud of me for the things I accomplish. Especially for pushing me to be my best and try my hardest. Thank you for everything you do!
I am thankful for Mr.Carr. He was my international studies teacher last year. Coming to school in September for the first time since March of 2020 was very nerve-wracking. I had Mr.Carr's class first period, and walking into his room on the first day and getting a big hello was reassuring. I was often the only student in the classroom while the rest of the class was learning from home, but Mr.Carr always made me feel welcomed! Thanks for everything, Mr.Carr!
I'm thankful for Mr. Kess. I'm so glad I was able to have him as my computer science teacher and mentor while he was here at WHS. He largely shaped who I am as a developer, and what I learned from him through his CS classes and clubs is invaluable. Thank you, Mr. Kess! Wishing you a long and wonderful retirement!
I am thankful for Ms. McLaughlin, who stepped in as coach mid-season my freshman year and has continued coaching ever since. She has continued to push us in every single practice, which pays off both on game days and at competitions. Thank you again for everything that you do for our team Ms. McLaughlin!
Thank you for always understanding when you need a due date, and always allowing me to write about what I want. Thank you for being understanding.
I'm thankful for my friends, they help me through lots of things and keep me up and positive. This year I'm glad I grew closer to them. Growing closer and hanging out with them more has been really fun and made new memories and can't wait to make new memories this year!
I’m thankful for the lunch aides. They prepare hundreds of meals for the school 5 times a week. They put up with all the chaos that is in high school lunch. If you treat them with respect they will do the same back for you. Thank you lunch aids!
Im thankful for my mom because she is so helpful in any situation. She takes care of our family and feeds us every night. she also one of my best friends and I will cherish that forever.
by: Jessica Bianchi
Senior year is an exciting yet stressful time, especially when applying to college, which includes writing a college essay. The college essay is a narrative writing piece that helps college’s get to know you beyond your grades and achievements. Though, writing about yourself isn’t easy, so here are some tips to help write a great essay:
1. Your topic does not need to be something out of a coming of age movie. Students tend to think that they need to write about something life-changing, but that’s not the case. Pick one of 2021-2022 prompts that seems most fitting to you. You can pick a small moment from your life that describes your character well like a soccer game or dance recital.
2. Read other college essays. Not only can they give you some inspiration on what your topic should be, they help you get an idea of what the essay should look like. Specifically, some guidance on how to start and end your essay.
3. Don’t worry about sounding formal or rigid. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have proper grammar or correct spelling, but you can allow your voice to shine through. This is a chance to be yourself. Mrs. Lindsay, a guidance counselor at Wethersfield High School, said, “It should be an authentic replication of who you are” and “people who read it should know who you are and see you in it.”
4. Write and rewrite. Allow your first draft to be a practice run. Let your mind run wild with the topic you chose and write whatever comes to your head. Then you can dig through your piece and find the things that stand out to you. It could be something a friend said to you, an important object; make sure it represents or describes something significant about you.
5. Have others read it. You may read over your essay dozens of times and find no errors, while your friend finds five. Your brain fills in the missing pieces, leading you to believe that no edits need to be made, that’s why it's important to get a second pair of eyes. They can tell you when something doesn’t make sense, or even if a sentence may not be necessary.
The essay helps colleges know you. It’s a first impression that you get to redo and edit. So, show off your writing skills, but also express yourself.
by: Annika Brown
Here at Wethersfield High School, the students go to class, listen, and engage with their teachers, but no one ever questions why and how those teachers got to this point. I sat down with three well-known teachers and discussed the reasons they chose their profession and how they managed their way into the classrooms of Wethersfield High School.
The first person I sat down with was Mr. Chatfield, who teaches Human Anatomy and Physiology as well as Integrated Science. When asked, “What made you realize you wanted to become a teacher?” Chatfield responded, “At a young age I fell into the role of being a teacher, as I had a younger sister who I wanted to help with everything.”
He later goes on to say that in high school, he realized he wanted to be a teacher because he could “help people in the subject matter that he loves.” His goal was to be a role model and help others. He also went on to explain that he had thought of other career options like a vet, but ultimately that did not fit his personality, but to be a teacher he said, “you get to be nice, caring, you get to help others, you get too coach and it was just the type of environment I felt I could best fit.”
In order to pursue this passion, he got his undergraduate degree in a subject he was passionate about, which was biology. Then he went on to further his education by obtaining his masters degree in education because as he puts it, “This was my way of saying, I really want to be a good teacher, and not only be the type of teacher that knows his subject matter, but be a teacher who reaches students and knows what to do, to be their best teacher.” He not only wants to be able to teach a subject that he is passionate about, but also reach students on a personal level and be there for them as a coach and mentor.
The second teacher I sat down with was Mr. Sand. Sand teaches primarily upperclassmen in Civics and Current Issues. When asked, “What led you to want to become a highschool teacher?” His initial response was, “Uhhh, I have no idea.”
Initially, I was confused by his response, but then he went on to explain that he had no intentions to become a teacher in high school or the first two years of college. He first thought he wanted to become a physical therapist, but then he said, “It kind of dawned on me that maybe this is something I should do. My dad was a teacher so it kind of just happened naturally.”
I then went on to ask him “ Do you have a passion for what you are teaching?” and he said, “I have a passion for whom I am teaching. I try to use history to help kids grow, help kids be better citizens, and to help them with some of the issues they have. It’s all about the kids. Always.” Mr. Sand has a clear passion and love for his students and wants to improve their lives in any way he can.
The last teacher I sat down with was Mrs. DeGray, who teaches America Through the Eyes of Women and Journalism. When asked, “What led you to want to become a teacher?” DeGray had said that she originally didn’t want to be a teacher. “Plan A was that I was going to be a Journalist. I was going to travel the world and be a reporter for a warzone, make a difference,” she saids. She later went on to say there were not many jobs available for what she was looking for and the jobs that were available, she would have to move across the country for.
This was not something she was interested in because, as she puts it, “I had already met my husband. We were already engaged and trying to start a family.” Because of this, she started to volunteer here at Wethersfield High School. She helped several teachers with the school newspaper and technical things around the school. She goes on to say, “One day someone asked me, ‘Hey! Why don’t you go back to school and become a teacher?’ So I did.”
She applied to the University of New Haven and did her teaching internship here at Wethersfield as a building sub. When asked, “Would you say you found a passion for teaching your subject area or the students?” Degray replied, “I think both because even though my background was originally in journalism and broadcast news, I was kind of on a stage wanting to inform people everyday, and I think that’s a lot of what teaching is. It’s helping others to recognize their potential.”
She even goes on to say, “I feel like I'm on a comedy show trying to sell my curriculum and content in the most entertaining way possible but also trying to help kids realize their potential and what they want to do with their lives.” DeGray went on to say that she couldn’t imagine doing anything else but teaching. Her ultimate goal was not to be a teache,r but she knows that this is where she was meant to end up. DeGray uses her knowledge of literature to teach kids and try to inspire them in any way she can.
These are just a few of the many teachers we have at Wethersfield High School. Each one of them had a different journey getting to where they are today, but what they all have in common is that they all care about the well being of their students and want them to succeed. Chatfield, Sand, and DeGray are all great examples of what it means to be an amazing teacher.
by: Andrew McDonough
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to move to a new country? In our own Wethersfield High School community, there are many students who have experienced the immigration process first-hand. Dennis Gega, a junior here at WHS, grew up in Rimini, Italy, and came to Wethersfield at the age of 13 in 8th grade.
At first glance, Wethersfield was a foreign place to Dennis. Though the people seemed nice, the wide array of houses, neighborhoods, and roads designed strictly for cars contrasted deeply with the pedestrian oriented, apartment lifestyle Dennis was used to back in Italy.
As time went on, and Dennis’s English developed, he would learn to adapt to “American culture.” When asked to discuss his overall experience in Wethersfield, he said it was “pretty positive.” He grew to like the area as a whole, and appreciated how people in town and at school were supportive toward his learning of English, and how everyone was quick to lend a helping hand.
Dennis still misses certain aspects of Italy, such as the food. When asked to comment on American pizza, Dennis went on to rate “Frank Pepe’s pizza a mere 6/10.” It’s “different,” he said. He commented on the struggle to “observe” and model others' behavior when he was trying to figure out how to orient himself in our community.
Learning how to speak, act, and even think like an American was something Dennis had to pick up along his learning process. While Dennis admired some nuances in American behavior, he did admit one key cultural difference that was somewhat of a shock to him, “People are more cocky in general in the US,” Dennis said. While he did note that there are benefits to having confidence, Dennis added that overestimating oneself was a quality that can have a negative effect.
Dennis had advice for teachers in approaching new students, “Just treat me normally.” Dennis added that he wished some teachers would treat students new to this country just “like the others,” and not make so much of an effort to go easier on them just because they are new. If you see Dennis in the hall, make sure to say hi. He’s a great, funny kid, just make sure not to talk pizza.
by: Christyan Cimino, Josh Barbara, and Chris Daley
School IDs, they are the big talk around the school. Do they have a purpose? Do they really work? Are they really keeping our school safe?
We had an interview with Wethersfield High School Principal Mrs. Siobhan O’Connor and Head of Security Mr. Mike Baribault to discuss the ID rule in our school. We asked where the idea for IDs originated. “It got a really big push after the Sandy Hook tragedy and different school security and violence incidents that happened across the country. Because before then we had no way of identifying students that came in, ID policies went throughout the country to show who belongs at schools and who does not,” said Mr. Baribault
Since then, WHS has been trying to increase the level of security in all schools and started with the IDs there. Mrs. O’Connor mentioned that she’s been wearing IDs since 1997 because of her job and that it will help us learn and get in the habit of having one in the future. In the student handbook it states, “All students are required to wear their ID on a lanyard on their person at all times.”
As an eye witness in past years, students walk into school with different colored IDs, other kids IDs, and even other schools IDs. This is a real problem that needs to be solved. We are told that the IDs are for our safety, but if I can get into the school with an invalid ID, then who else can?
The ID policy is not perfect, but WHS notices that and is making measures to adjust. This year, they made significant cosmetic changes to the IDs. This year they made the background color of them blue. Principal O’Connor said, “The IDs are blue this year so it identifies that you are supposed to be here this year. Some of the school shooting incidents were involved with students wearing IDs from past years that have gotten in.”
We know that the kids don’t like to wear our IDs because “It’s annoying,” or “it doesn’t go with our outfit,” and Mrs. O’Connor understands that. She is not trying to harp on us too much because then we won’t want to wear them even more. The administration would like us “to play a part in your own safety and security,” said Mr. Barabault. It’s a team effort.
To that, we started talking about what they were going to do to help fix these issues. They started to talk about how the IDs go much further than just to make sure that you go to the school. The IDs are also used just in case a tragedy occurs, the authorities can identify us.
All we wanted to show in this article is that we may not show it but we care about the IDs, we want to be safe, and we want to help. We want to inform the students about what the administration wants to do and we want to bring the student’s opinions to them too. There needs to be more communication between us and then more will be able to get done.
by: Connor Swanson, Brian Bianchi, and Shane Mazur
The United States is currently going through what is being considered a mental health crisis. Over the past 8-9 years, rates of depression and suicide have increased steadily, with little outreaching effort to stop it. A teacher from the Wethersfield High School social studies department, John Sand, has been vigorously at work, trying to implement a way to help young adults in Wethersfield Public Schools system.
These past few years have been an increasingly scary time, with now 4.58% of adults considering suicide. This number has increased every year since 2011-2012 and does not seem to be slowing down. This starts out in the youth years, and as a country, we would hope that there are people treating this and helping people with these thoughts but in reality, it is the exact opposite. According to Mental Health America, over 60% of this nation's youth with severe depression do not receive any mental health treatment.
This is where Mr. Sand comes into play, he has reached out to each of his classes, figuring out who would like to come together to help kids in the school get the help they need. When asked about this group, Mr. Sand described it as, “An informal gathering of students interested in helping the school address the rising mental health crisis that is gripping young people nationwide.”
He has support from Assistant Principal of grades 10 and 12, Tyler Webb. Webb has communicated with students as well, discussing ideas on how to improve mental health throughout the building.
The Mental Health Group would be a great addition to WHS because it provides help if they are struggling with their mental health or they have ideas that could help others in the school. Especially with our generation suffering through the COVID pandemic, a lot of people struggle with mental health concerns.
Mental health will always be a factor in our world and Mr. Sand created a group to limit this struggle with the students of WHS. If you are interested or would like more information, please contact Mr. Sand or Mr. Webb!
By: Jordan Schenkel and Ryan Mazur
Mrs. Lyth is more than just a normal, every day teacher, she focuses on helping kids who are struggling to manage their work loads during high school. She gives assistance on homework if needed and helps students create templates to organize their work and make their thought processes clearer. And no matter what she does it all with a smile and happy attitude, even on Mondays.
Mrs. Lyth sets a very good example on how to be proactive for yourself whether you need help with things in school or out of school. Mrs. Lyth also sets a very good example of how to work efficiently and save time. She will also read over any essays and will give suggestions as to what you should edit to make your essay even better.
After years of teaching at Wethersfield High School, her kind and helpful attitude has built up many friendly relationships between the teachers and students. In an interview with Mrs. Lyth, she told how she enjoys teaching here saying, “I love teaching here, I like the high school level because I feel like students can be more independent and take ownership of their learning.”
These opinions of Mrs. Lyth are not just from other teachers, the many students she helps to succeed all think very highly of her, especially her dedication to her job and her interest in teaching; which enforces this helpful attitude that creates these positive reactions from students. When asked why she wanted to become a teacher Mrs. Lyth responded, I wanted to become a teacher so that I could help people, students, young adults, be contributing members to their community and do the best that they can do.”
The evidence is clear, Mrs. Lyth is one of the nicest teachers you could meet. She is helpful and likes to inspire kids to do their best and sucede in their futures and her drive to help people be the best that they can be only enforces this. She is liked by the fellow teachers she works with and by the many students she takes care of. So I think I speak for us all when I say thank you Mrs. Lyth for everything that you have done for us and this school.
By: Ella Alger, Grace Lisella, Bella Tomaino
With the start of the upcoming high school basketball season upon us, players and teams are beginning their preparation. Exciting news from the CIAC on Oct. 29 stated that vaccinated players and coaches will not be required to wear a mask on the court.
This differs from the modified season teams saw last year, in which they were required to wear masks at all times with “mask break” timeouts implemented into the game. Sitting down with a few members of the Wethersfield High School basketball community, we were able to discuss how the upcoming season will differ from what we saw last season and how they will continue to stay safe this winter.
Jeffery Russell has been the head coach of the Wethersfield girls basketball team since the 2016-17 season, where he has helped lead his team to the state tournament each year and is no stranger to unusual circumstances. Back in March of 2020, his season was shut down due to the pandemic right before heading to the quarter finals of the state tournament.
Last year, the team was able to play a modified season that included the requirement of mask-wearing. When asked about his preparation for last year’s season, his goal was about getting “back to being a team again” and easing into the season, rather than the intense practices he has led in the past.
Additionally, when we asked how he would feel if masks were a choice again for this upcoming season, he told us, “My personal choice is yes. My youngest son still has some immune issues, so I mean I do just from a safety standpoint. They’ve never bothered me.” Masks or not, the girls basketball team is hoping to perform their same intensity on the court as we’ve seen in past years.
We also spoke to Coach Mark Bagdasarian, the assistant coach for the Wethersfield boys basketball team. Last winter, the boys already shortened season became even shorter due to a COVID outbreak on the team. They were forced to quarantine due to positive tests and close contact, which ended their season prior to the tournament.
For his preparation last year and this year he said, “How does it affect our preparation? It doesn’t.”
So it's just the same old season for Bagdasarian, no adjustments or alterations to the game plan, just play basketball. Furthermore stating, “I don’t like having kids wear masks, but I understand the reason for it.” Seeing that masks will not be in effect this season, Coach Bagsdasarian seems to be ready to bring the heat to the court.
Along with two of the Wethersfield basketball coaches, we also sat down with some players to receive their input on mask requirements from the past year and how they will feel having more breathing room outside of the mask this year.
We first met with senior Jack Frietas, who has been on the boy's basketball team since his freshman year and has played varsity since his sophomore year. When asked about masks affecting performance on the court, Frietas told us “I don’t think [masks] impact us at all, you just need to be in shape.” Frietas feels that masks do not affect a player’s performance during a game, instead “it’s just more annoying to have it on.”
From a players standpoint, running around at high intensity for 32 minutes with a piece of fabric on your face is not the most convenient experience in the world, so when players found out that masks would not be required for vaccinated players and coaches, they were most relieved rather than nervous. With COVID still being a present issue, taking other precautions will still be a priority. However, it puts players at ease to know that they will be able to get back to the game they always loved in the way it’s meant to be played.
Written, edited, and produced by Wethersfield High School students, covering all news and events.