WHS Teacher Appreciation Week!
With Teacher Appreciation Week, WHS journalism students wanted to take the time to write about some of the teachers that have made an immense impact on them across their years. I hope you enjoy reading their words just as much as I did. --Mr. Martin
First and foremost, every teacher in Wethersfield High School is great in their own way. There are a couple of teachers that stood out to me the most during my four years in this school and they are Mr. Galivian, Mr. Sikora, Mr. Martin, and Mrs. Fitzgerald.
Mr. Gallivan, I want to thank you for putting up with my annoying behavior when you had me during my sophomore year. You are one of the most determined teachers I know that has the ability to put up with kids who slack and try their best to be annoying. Sadly, our time together was cut short due to covid but every day I spent in your class trying to be funny and not doing my work. I'm glad you pushed me to pass English class and I would go back in a heartbeat to have you as one of my teachers again.
Mr. Martin, I’ve known you for a little while now and I’m taking your class right now as we speak but you have impacted the way I want to strive for the better. You’re one of the four teachers that is always putting up with my attitude and you have the best comebacks and sarcasm of all time. But I really want to say thank you for taking the time to not get frustrated at every assignment I turn in late or when I don’t try. Instead of getting frustrated, you channel your somewhat frustration into helping me turn in my assignments, helping boost my motivation to get your classwork and other teacher’s work done, and lastly helping me have great motivation to graduate. You are a blessing to the staff and students of WHS and I will never forget the things you have taught me when I am done with High School.
Mr. Sikora Never in my four years of high school have I failed your class but you did inspire me for lots of things. We both know I’m a lazy kid and hate doing assignments but during your classes and assignments, I feel like I can have fun and be more like myself when I am in your classroom. I like how you aren’t judgy. I discovered my passion for construction when I took your construction class last year. Thanks to you I will be able to do what I love after high school without making a million decisions about what I want to do with my life. You showed me that even working hard and getting stuff done can be fun as long as you’re determined and passionate about what you want to do. Whoever has you next in the incoming years of high school will have fun with you. Stay cool.
Lastly, I want to say thank you to Mrs. Fitzgerald for always keeping me well organized. Whenever I would say I can’t do something because it’s late or it’s too late to pass the class you gave me the motivation to try and push myself past my limits so I could pass my classes. I like how you checked in on me every day whether it was for school or how I just was mentally and physically. You have been a lot of help in my path to success in passing class and school and for that, I will forever be grateful and thankful.
During my time at Wethersfield High, I have had at least one conversation with every teacher. I've built very close relationships with a bunch of these teachers too. So picking one and writing an article about them is impossible for me. I can't pick just one teacher. All of these teachers have shaped me. If you had told me at any time in my life before my sophomore year of high school, that I will be going to college as a physical education major to become a physical education teacher I would not believe you.
Before high school, I hated school. I never did my work, I never knew what was going on, I never listened but most importantly I never cared. I had zero motivation for school or my life in general. I had no structure, no direction, no help. At Least that's what it felt like. During the beginning of my freshman year, I was failing the majority of my classes and was struggling both inside and outside of school. I wasn't the person I wanted to be and I didn't have the motivation or structure to be better/be that person. I can't pick favorites, I love and appreciate each one of the teachers, students, and staff members that go to this amazing school. Being that I want to be a teacher myself I have pulled pieces and philosophies from everyone I have talked to build my own.
I am beyond thankful for everyone in our great community, the lessons I've learned from them, the memories I've shared with them, and most importantly the growth that I've gained from them. I really can't put into words how grateful I am but I attribute any and all of the success to the people around me. As I said, I'm beyond thankful to everyone here and I can't pick favorites. But one teacher I really want to say thanks to is Mrs. Blanzaco. Without Mrs. Blanzaco I never would have gained the motivation to succeed or find what makes me happy. Without her, I would still be failing and I have no idea where I would be. I just know it wouldn't be a very good place. For those who do not know Mrs. Blanzaco is a tutoring teacher at Wethersfield High. She goes above and beyond to help people. Not students… people. She builds genuine relationships with everyone she meets. You can tell she is not working here to get paid, she's here because she truly just wants to help people, and that is exactly what she does. Mrs. Blanzaco got me on the right path. There is no value in what I've gained from her. But thank you Mrs. Blanzaco. For turning a stubborn, immature, mess Into what I want to be, something greater than myself.
One of the most hard-working thoughtful teachers I have met here at WHS is Mr.Miller. I have just met Mr.Miller this year for Pre-Calc. He doesn't teach in any really crazy way, or he doesn't just crack jokes with students the whole class. He teaches the lessons, and makes some jokes here and there- but for the most part, it's pretty cut and dry.
The reason I want to write this appreciative letter for Mr.Miller is because of his heart. And what I mean by this is I think Mr.Miller has a really big heart. My class for Pre-calc is wild, and it would probably be an understatement. My class can be really rude sometimes, sometimes we don't pay attention (myself included), a lot of the people just don't really care. Now a lot of teachers can probably claim this as well because as students we can be all of those things.
But what really moves me about Mr.Miller is the fact that he continues to show up every single day with the same positive attitude and the same goal/drive to help us learn math. And yes, obviously, he has gotten mad at us a few times when we have pushed his limits- as any teacher should. But also the fact that on every single test, when those same students don't care about a single thing that Mr.Miller is teaching every other day with the same energy, he will always help them the best he can. This caught me by surprise the first couple times he did it. I would say to myself, "why is he helping these kids, they don't give him the time of day during regular classes." Now I wouldn't given it a second thought if he would just play it off and say something like "Well that's what we were learning about last class when you weren't paying attention." And I think that would have been completely fine because those kids didn't deserve it in my opinion. Why would Mr.Miller help them? Why? That's when I thought to myself, he does it because that's what teachers do.
The most inspiring person I’ve met while here at WHS has definitely been Mrs. Duggins. She has only been teaching me for a year but I have known her since my freshman year. She has taught me life lessons about our history because she wants us to learn about how we began and how many things have changed.Mrs.Duggins is one of those people that you see way more than a teacher, she is a mother figure and inspires me to want to do more in life.
She isn't just there to tell her students about WWI or WWII or The Civil Rights Movement, but she also connects herself with each of her students to make sure they’re okay in school and outside of school. She is bright and strong and cares so much about her students like they are her own children, and she wants everyone to graduate and do big things in the future. Mrs. Duggins loves her history class even though it might be challenging at times. Even though we as students might be challenging to deal with, seeing Mrs. Duggins' energy and her bright smile always brightens everyone's day.
My grades have always been great in her class because she makes it interesting and fun, even though it is in the morning. I saw Mrs. Duggins yesterday and she had a talk with me because I was in a messy situation with an old friend. And she told me that I'm not a bad student and to hear that I might get in trouble made her upset with me. So we had a sit-down talk and she made me realize that the situation was really not important and I shouldn’t be interested in it. She is a very strong black woman and mother and I aspire to have the same mindset as her. She is a great teacher and an awesome person. Thank you, Mrs.Duggins.
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Wethersfield High School’s National Art Honors Society is gearing up for a grandiose art exhibit.
By Sarah Gurskis and Tea Tola
To celebrate Youth Art Month, Wethersfield’s National Art Honors Society (NAHS) has its members (ranging from grades 9-12) creating and displaying their art for the annual art exhibit. From pencil-and-paper to digitally-created iPad creations, unique art mediums will be put on view for the school to view and appreciate.
The creative-driven members have been working hard on their pieces, and are excited to show what they have made. The event will be located in the WHS art exhibit right outside of room 20, and the art will be hung between the dates of March 21-24.
Vice President Andrea Moyano shares her ideal piece in the show: oil pastel. She is looking forward to seeing this medium skillfully used on a canvas due to her lack of knowledge of the medium.
“It’s going to be a variety [of art pieces],” event planner and advisor Andrea Haas said. “It’s going to be a variety [eclectic] vision of the different, individual members.”
Members of NAHS are eager to express themselves through their artwork, saying that there is more to their art rather than just a still display. Senior member Martina Carbone says, “Art is a language for some. It’s their outlet to how they communicate their views on the world.”
Fellow member Alex Jara says, “Art shows what I’m thinking and it reflects on my personality.” Collectively, members agree that their artwork is meant to embrace the views of those who depend on their artwork, and to be heard is something to be celebrated.
The artwork displayed will mainly be by the junior and senior class, with underclassman art sprinkled throughout the exhibit on March 21-24 outside of room 20
If you are interested in joining the National Art Honors Society, a fee of ten dollars is required and will promptly be donated to all NAHS future activities. See Mrs. Haas in room 20 for more details.
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: Molly Bowers
New this year at Wethersfield High is the Culinary Arts class, and it is unlike any of the other cooking and nutrition class the school offers. This class is for students that have completed both Nutrition Ⅰ and Ⅱ, but instead of simply just cooking in this class, it focuses more on the hospitality and business side of the cooking industry.
This new elective addition is taught by Andrea Leuschner, who has been teaching nutrition at the high school for 5 years. She studied fashion and merchandising at West Virginia University and then went on to work in the garment industry for more than 20 years, then working in every facet of the restaurant industry prior to teaching at WHS.
The Culinary Arts class is only open to students that have completed both Nutrition Ⅰ and Ⅱ. This class will last the entire year and is centered around the business and preparation behind cooking. The itinerary for the class this year starts with selling ready-to-bake and pre-prepared treats to the staff around Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. With the prolonged class, the students will have the opportunity to get a glimpse into the hustle and bustle of the cooking industry with possible field trips to test kitchens, but also the less glamorized portion of the industry. Like planning, budgeting, and even creating a logo.
With the class being a full year class instead of a one-semester course, there is a lot more time for the class to go through more content and complete more intensive projects. Leuschner said, “There are so many things I want students to learn in the class, but I think the main thing is to develop confidence in their culinary techniques so that students are able to make a variety of food for themselves and their family. Learning how to cook requires so many skills; problem solving, math, science, reading and creativity.”
Leuschner has a number of things planned for the students and class. Starting with fundraisers, and teaching the students the basics of food business and menu planning; Then around March there are plans for the class to run a mock restaurant within the nutrition room, to help the student practice and learn the different aspects and roles within a restaurant.
Want to try out the culinary creations at WHS? Click the following link to order apple crisp or pumpkin pie for the upcoming holidays!
by: Alanna DePinto
On the fifth floor of Wethersfield High School, Mr. Jensen shows a documentary on the space shuttle Challenger to his statistics classes. Mr. Jensen shows the video every year without fail. To learn more about why this video was shown I interviewed Mr. Jensen and statistics student Emmeline Hong from his eighth period class.
Mr. Jensen started teaching Statistics in 1996 and started to show the Challenger video within 10-15 years after he started teaching. When asked why Mr. Jensen started showing this video to his classes, he said, “I want to make a point about extrapolation and I’m a storyteller.” Jensen mentioned it was an extreme case but the Challenger video showed a complete story on people following data and people with a political or a PR agenda. The video shows that data is something that carries heavy weight and people still ignore it.
When asked what exactly he wanted students to take away from the video he said, “Something I want students to take away is the seriousness of learning, that particularly statistics, if you really learn how to handle data well and accurately, you can have a huge impact.”
Jensen demonstrates with this video and with in-class activities that he wants to help his students make smart educated decisions without bias in their futures. Jensen wants his students to look at the data to come to conclusions and not be persuaded by outside pressure, because, at the end of the day, it could be his students handling data that impacts peoples’ lives in the future.
When I interviewed senior Emmeline Hong, she mentioned the video made her feel sad for the people who died and their families. When I asked what she took away from the video, she said, “I learned that you should never assume anything. You should always make decisions off of consistent data rather than what you hope will happen.” Emmeline Hong agreed that the video made sense being shown in class as it reflects on the ideas on analyzing data in Statistics. Hong also mentioned that with such a serious topic, it made the class truly feel real and impactful.
This is just one example of the many real life connections Jensen makes in his statistics classes. Mr. Jensen helps students in developing critical thinking while learning content. Students are not only pushed to learn statistics, but to understand the seriousness of what they are learning. If you are interested in Statistics, consider taking the ECE class with Mr. Jensen.
Meet our new CS teacher Ms. Nicholas
by: Riley D'Amato and David Grigorian
You may have seen a new face on the second floor, and students are pleased to welcome a new teacher. Her name is Ms. Nicholas and she teaches Creative Computing, Robotics, AP Computer Science A, and Intro to Computer Science at Wethersfield High School.
Creative Computing is a class that focuses on the basics of computer science while intro to computer science goes at a faster pace. Robotics focuses on robots and the more physical aspect of building robots. AP Computer Science A is a full year class that focuses on java coding.
This is her first year teaching. In the past, she worked as a substitute teacher for three years. She has been in the technology field since she was 19 years old. She got a job in graphic design for 17 years and is very experienced. She also learned IT and computer languages. She turned to teaching because, “I want to share my knowledge and my passion for computer science with everyone.”
She’s excited to be part of the WHS family. She said, “It just seems like a great place to start my teaching career, and now I don't think I ever want to leave.”
She has been all around the technology field, doing graphic design, web design, IT, and learning coding languages before she began teaching for the 2021-2022 academic year. Teaching was a way for her to share her passion for computer science. When asked about what her favorite part of the job, she responded with, “the students”
One student in her class said, “She lets me work at my own pace.” It allows the student to work without constraints and allows students that need extra instruction to be able to get that help.
See her in room 219 for any more information on computer science and robotics!
November means college applications
By: Rei Betoja and Antonio Contreras
Senior year means a couple things; graduation, final year, kings of the school, and finally college. Senior year starts with a race to complete the college process and prepare for next year.
The college essay, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and much more all used to advertise yourself and hopefully sell yourself to them with the hope of an acceptance letter. Senior have embarked out on this journey and we wanted to see how the process has affected them as the deadlines approach.
COVID has affected many things in our day-to-day lives which now feel normal as if we had done it for our whole lives, but one of these changes has included the college process. With colleges usually requesting your SAT scores, college essay, transcripts, and letters of recommendation, COVID has changed this process dramatically. Some colleges in the United States, such as UCONN, have stopped requesting some of these such as your SAT score.
Choosing where to go and what to study is only the start to the process, but this decision alone is a struggle for many students. This common struggle,in fact, affects about one third of college students who change their major within school.
We talked to Wethersfield senior Giankarlos Dejesus to get some insight on how he felt about what the hardest decision he needed to make was, “Figuring out where exactly I want to go and how far.”
He continued on about how COVID has helped him, stating, “As well as the fact that it has affected whether or not you needed SAT scores.”
In 2021, a total of just 43 percent of students submitted their SAT scores which dropped 33% from 77% in 2020. This is due to the fact that 90% of college app schools do not request them. So, for many students, who may feel as if their scores may have kept them out of contention for some schools, this has made it much easier for them.
College comes with a bunch of new experiences and meeting new people. “Meeting new people and getting new connections,” is what Gionkarlos is looking forward to next year. But before that, they must take on the challenge the college process imposes on all those looking to go to college.
So we asked school counselor Mrs. Lindsay what advice she has for students. “Do a lot of research, so you know who you are and if they are a good fit for you.”
You will spend the next four+ years of your life here, so find the right one. For the process, she recommends, “Take responsibility on the things you do because everything you do is up to you.” This process is extremely important and the last thing you wanna do is fall behind.
by: Aaron Maher and Francesco Moline
The end of an era approaches at a fast pace, after 20 years of WHS Principal Mr. Moore being in office, it’s safe to say that his management of his school could not have been any better.
Overseeing the renovation construction with a keen eye, as well as his reaction and efficacy throughout the Coronavirus pandemic are just a few of the many obstacles he has overcome during his time as a principal. He truly is and shall be remembered as a legend to the Wethersfield High School community.
It won't be easy to fill such big shoes, moreover it will take a surplus of experience and professionalism to even begin to fill them, which brings us to congratulate our new Wethersfield High School Principal, Mrs Siobhan O’Connor, who has been in school administration for quite some time, most recently as the Principal of Highcrest Elementary School.
She first started as a teacher where she grew up in Windsor, then went on to oversee different educational settings and eventually she was promoted to Principal at several different schools. Diving deeper into her credentials, Mrs. O’Connor specifically started as a social studies teacher in Windsor High.
When we interviewed her, she made sure to stress that classrooms should be fun and enjoyable, so that kids are willing to learn, and therefore be more successful, which she learned during her time in Windsor. Despite this however, she understands her position as someone who will be leading a very prestigious high school. One promising thing about Mrs. O’Connor is not only her view of education, but her commitment to the class. When we asked for her thoughts on the transition from being teacher to administration, “Once you get pulled from the classroom there's no going back.”
We then conducted an Interview with Superintendent Michael Emmett, where he mirrored Mrs. O’Connor’s stellar credentials with her history as a classroom teacher and administrator at multiple school levels. Of course, Mr. Moore is and always will be irreplaceable, but to compare Mrs. O’Connor with Mr. Moore is at best inappropriate, they each have their different strengths which will surely be made clear next year when she is comfortable in her job.
Mr. Emmett told us that they have a good relationship as co-workers, and that he personally vouches for her skills and mindset.
After interviewing Mrs. O’Connor herself, as well as the influential Mr. Emmett, we went ahead and asked one teacher who had been on the committee that voted for the new principal, Mrs. McKenna. We specifically asked for her viewpoints on the decision, she agreed with it and believed it was very well thought out.
We also asked her what she thinks makes Mrs. O'Connor a great fit. She answered that she “thought she fit well because of her past experiences. Not many of the other candidates had nearly the amount of experience she has had”.
Being a principal at all three levels of public schools, it was surely an influential factor in the decision. Be sure to welcome Mrs. O’Connor when you see her in the hallways!
By Gino Santilli
As COVID-19 numbers are declining and the number of vaccine applicants have increased, WHS has announced we will be making the transition to going back into the classroom full-time.
Underclassmen were welcomed into the classroom March 15 and upperclassmen are to be welcomed back March 29.
However, if students are still not comfortable returning, they are allowed to stay a full remote learning. Students, as of publication, will be returning and will be in school for a full five days per week.
Many seniors will be returning in hopes to obtain some of their senior year they feel was taken from them. Senior Joe Raposo stated about this year, “It was impacted very hard. I had to stay home and did not get the full senior experience of my last two years of high school and sports, as my senior basketball season was cut short.”
Many questions rose when the announcement was made that the kids will be going back to school. We are here today to answer some of those questions. We have interviewed John Gallivan and questioned his approach to full time learning.
When Gallivan was asked about precautions, he said, “I will continue to wear my mask, I have had the first dose of my vaccine already with the second one on March 31. I will maintain social distancing as much as possible. My reaction to the first shot was not great and I'm not looking forward to the second shot, but I also recognize that 24 hours of discomfort is a small price to pay to help return our school to normal.”
We then asked Gallivan how he would accommodate the few remote learners. He responded that, “I will continue to work with my online students the same way as I always have, whether there are 2 or 20. As teachers we need to make sure that remote learners are still getting the best possible educational experience. With Google Classroom, Khan Academy, and online discussions, remote students really are able to access the class and me as much as students who are sitting in the room.”
Many have wondered what some teachers' thoughts were about COVID-19 and the whole situation.
“Obviously it is a challenge to teach two distinct groups- students in the building and the ones at home. Nothing about COVID has been easy, and this is just a challenge that we need to overcome as teachers and as students. I think one day we'll look back on this and hopefully be more appreciative of the educational process and the ability to interact with our peers,”Gallivan said.
Thank John Gallivan for sharing those words of wisdom with us today. You heard it here first folks. Wethersfield High School is finally making the highly anticipated transition back to full time education. Stay tuned for updates on how this goes!
By: Morgan Cathcart
Wethersfield High School offers two nutrition classes, the first, Nutrition I, specializing in baking, the other, Nutrition II, specializing in cooking. This class is open to all students, however, prioritizes upperclassmen. It is taught by Mrs. Leuschner and Mrs. Bailey, both of whom are trying to make the best of this unusual situation.
The WHS nutrition classes have changed drastically since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Shifting to a hybrid model, nutrition teacher Mrs. Leuschner has had to find the best way to teach these nutrition classes.
“The biggest thing that has changed is so much stuff that we have to do online, and I have so many students that are cooking or doing labs at home,” WHS nutrition teacher Mrs. Leuschner stated.
What was once a hands- on and team-driven class is now individual from home. Students have the option to provide ingredients themselves or can pick up kits from school with all the ingredients they will need for the weekly lab.
Full remote WHS junior Emily Messina says that “Mrs. Leuschner has made a fun learning environment despite any challenges of being at home. I have learned many new cooking and baking methods, even while being at home!”
Despite all of the changes and challenges to this class, Mrs. Leuschner is still finding the positives. “It is really hard, but there is always a benefit. The benefit is, I only have a couple kids in here. I have a lot more individual time with the kids that are in, so that has been really really great,” Mrs. Leuschner said.
Even through all of the challenges and changes with COVID-19, Mrs. Leuschner has proven that one thing remains: Everyone needs to eat, and you might as well eat something fresh, creative, and made with care. Interested in cooking and the culinary arts, talk to Mrs. Leuschner or Mrs. Bailey to hear more about our Nutrition courses at WHS!
by: Lauren Pickering
Many high school students start high school with the preconceived notion that their class schedules will be crammed from freshman year until junior year so that senior year seems like a cake walk. When beginning high school, students are told that the first three years will be the most important, but that is not necessarily the truth.
Starting high school, I envisioned as a senior I would either be sleeping in or spending the early afternoons out with friends. I wanted myself to be one of those seniors, but instead I have a chaotic schedule with every class period filled and a requirement to pass each if I plan to hold a diploma with my name on it and walk across the stage in June, and all because of a slow start during my freshman and sophomore years.
Although I hope that none of my peers are in the same position I am, if you are, I am here to give some advice to make your high school experience, and especially your senior year, less stressful and more enjoyable so that you don’t have to sweat until June 11 like I am.
To help give some insight to a less stressful high school experience, I asked Ms. Cynthia Bryan, a guidance counselor at WHS, for her advice for students with academics, scheduling, and approach to school.
“Freshman and sophomore year sets up a foundation for success, sets up study habits for later, and puts less pressure on you for graduation requirements senior year," she said.
Allowing students the time to adjust to the new environment inside of a high school, Bryan commented, “There is a limit to no more than 7 credits for freshman to allow an adjustment period and to help them be less overwhelmed. We strive to have students have balance in their lives, and that's why we purposefully chose this model for 9th grade students."
During my sophomore and junior years, I can remember having numerous study halls. Thinking back on this, if I had filled my schedule with the class requirements that I’m struggling to fulfill now, I would’ve given myself the senior year I have dreamed of. But would my stress level have been higher at that time?
I continue to ask myself if I had evenly balanced my classes would my senior year still be as stressful as it is now? Would I still be adequately challenged and enjoy my courses.
To answer this question, Bryan replied “Seniors need fewer requirements typically and students need to gear their schedule towards college requirements, if that is their path. We look at graduation requirements, and work on balancing the course load over 4 years, starting freshman year.”
Most colleges see senior curriculum of equal importance as the years before that. Students that are not planning on college still have equal opportunities for learning in high school and are offered assistance from their guidance counselors with future planning.
By: Audrey Buccheri
We can all agree that learning during this pandemic has been a big adjustment. For those of us that have learning differences and are used to receiving more support for both subject teachers and a Special Education teacher, the shift was even more dramatic.
Students with learning differences have plans put in place like a 504 or an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). These students often have modifications to ensure that they learn the information needed in a way that works for them. They often access accommodations and modifications like extended time, help with reading and/or writing, and modifications to assessments or tests, among others.
Some students with learning differences benefit from working remotely due to social anxiety and difficulty remaining on tasks, while other students are not able to manage their time at home.
For some teachers, like WHS special educator Mrs. Butler, a new focus on the whole student over grades has had to be the main focus in learning through COVID-19.
She said, “I think the pandemic has caused me to expand the way I support students whether it is virtually or in a hybrid model. I have changed my focus to be more student centered around wellbeing and mental health first and academic second.”
Focusing more on social and emotional health has been a big theme throughout the pandemic. During Spring 2020, people had to stop and spend time focusing on themselves because the busy life went away. This caused both students and teachers to do things they enjoy rather than their only focus being on school.
During this hard time, teachers need to remember that the home life for each student may look different. For some students, being home can cause a disadvantage if they have other distractions. For students with learning differences, it can harder for them to access the emotional support they can often get easily when in the building.
Mrs.Butler says, “I try to engage with students about their feelings first instead of asking them what their plan of action is, and I try to engage in different ways to match what will support the student best.”
Learning what will support the students best in their different situations has been a priority during this pandemic, showing the students that there is someone there to help.
By: Odin Wunder
The original transition from in-school learning to remote learning in March of last year was very challenging for both students and teachers. In the current school year, WHS started using a hybrid model which includes in-school and remote learning. Most students have adapted to these changes, but not everyone is working as productively as they would have without remote learning.
A great source of confusion for some students seems to be the school schedule. The school has started to use the hybrid model for students to come to school physically for two days a week, the rest of the week being remote learning days. This was originally quite confusing, but most students have gotten used to it since then.
There have also been some other changes to the original schedule. For example, the shortened remote learning days, where the schedule for the day had to be provided to the students by the teachers. There have also been days where the schedule was changed with little notice, confusing students as to whether it was an A or B day, or what schedule was being used for the day.
This is quite the problem, as students will not be able to learn effectively without a proper schedule. Wethersfield senior Lew Zelez was asked what their thoughts were on the remote learning schedule. They responded with this: “The remote learning schedule doesn’t give students time for breaks or time to catch up with assignments, which will lower productivity and learning overall.”
As he had stated, student productivity does not seem to be as high as it was with regular in-school learning. Some students find that remote learning has made them less motivated to complete school assignments, and as a result, are doing much worse in all of their classes as opposed to how they did before remote learning was put into place. Many of these students have switched from full-remote learning to the hybrid model because of this.
The education system overall is suffering in these times, which is seen in both the rough scheduling and the lack of student productivity. But these are not the only issues. Lew Zelez had more to say on how the education system has been affected by this: “The education system has been heavily impacted by remote learning which can be seen with how little the teachers are able to teach and how little the students are able to learn.” Judging by what he had said, the teachers are affected by remote learning as well, perhaps even more than the students.
Remote learning has had a major impact on the education system and the overall learning process. As of now, no one knows when the current pandemic will calm down, and until it does remote learning will most likely stay the same. If this is the case, then the current generation of students will be at a major disadvantage when it comes to the education that they should have received in their last years of school.
By: Krysta Szymecki and Tarsja Tibbs
Due to COVID and lockdowns around the world, students have had to participate in virtual learning. Virtual learning is a way for students to get their education without the risk of spreading the virus through computers.
Nowadays, students have options on whether they want to go to school in person, go to school completely remotely, or do both. “I also think that [virtual learning] is easier because you kind of get to work at your own pace.” Says Natali Rios, a senior at Wethersfield High School in Connecticut.
“I like that with virtual learning I can work when I want and actually use my study halls how I see fit (sleeping, reading, eating, working, etc.) instead of sitting in a classroom silently.” says Lauren Peruta, an 18-year-old senior at Wethersfield High School in Connecticut.
Learning online has been hard on everyone and many teachers have recognized that everyone's situations are different, which have benefited many students.
Senior Camille Barone said, “Something I like about online learning is how easy-going some of my teachers have been, they understand that some people have a lot on their hands right now and try to make it less stressful for us.”
Another issue some students face with online learning is the teaching strategies that are being used now. Last year, pre-Covid there were many different ways for kids to stay interested and attentive to their class, such as group projects, little games, and many more other ways. Now, there are just not many ways for teachers to keep their students involved while teaching.
Overall, both students and teachers are affected by this new way of learning. To ask students flat out if virtual learning is better or worse than in-person learning would be unfair. There are pros and cons for each student, and each person has had a unique experience with learning online.
By: Dana Andrews
Physical activity is more important than ever now with the pandemic and being at home in front of a computer screen.
Students at Wethersfield High School who learn in person and remotely that are enrolled in Physical Education have great opportunities to get active.
“Remote learners engage in an at-home physical activity using an app called PLT4M, which the WHS PE staff has used to create Strength & Conditioning programs that closely resemble our in school curriculum. As for health, students complete a series of interactive online lessons via a web-based program called EverFi.” WHS Physical Education teacher, Jeffrey Russell said.
If you’re learning in person, there are many fun activities.
“Students in person get a wide range of activities that are similar to our curriculums offerings in a regular school year along with some new leisure/social games to address the social and emotional needs of our learners. Our offerings include units such as golf, archery, leisure games like corn hole & Kkan Jjam (frisbee throwing game), as well as badminton and pickleball.”
Safety is on everybody’s mind today, and it is a top priority when students are in physical education class. Limiting class sizes and sanitizing equipment are a few of the ways safety is implemented.
“All of our games and activities are spaced out while indoors or outdoors to allow for safe social distancing. Also, all of our equipment is sanitized before and after use and we try our best to limit any shared equipment.
by: Adrianna Uccello and Elma Huzejrovic
The transition alone from middle school to high school can be difficult to begin with, let alone without the help of COVID. In middle school, teachers are much more lenient with you and in my opinion, middle school was all around easier. When transitioning to the high school, you can see that things are much different.
Now, with COVID being brought into the picture, school life looks much different. With some students being full remote and others participating in the hybrid schedule, there is a broad variety of how students are participating in school this year.
Not only is school different in the aspect that there are full online students and also part-time in school students, there is also the added aspect of lunches, clubs, sports, etc. being altered.
Since we are seniors this year, we got to experience the “normal” school life for three years but as for freshman this is not the case.
We had the opportunity to interview freshman Racheal Chamberland, and ask her questions regarding her transition from middle to high school during COVID-19.
When asked about how things are different from the middle school to the high school, Rachael said, “It was much different than I expected…(the middle school) is much smaller, and you have all like your four class together, and in high school you have to walk around the whole building, but like I got the building pretty much… and in high school you’re pretty much expected to do everything on your own.”
Students are able to be much more independent now especially with COVID in the mix, because half of the student body is home everyday.
When asked about the move to high school with COVID affecting how class worked, Rachael said, On a google meet, sometimes it’s hard to focus”. Students are participating in either a fully remote learning plan or a hybrid learning plan, where half the students in the school are in school on Mondays and Tuesdays, no one is in school on Wednesdays, and the other half of the student body is in school on Thursdays and Fridays.
With losing a day of school on Wednesdays, Rachael provided some pros and cons: “You lose a day of school, but it’s easier to catch up and meet with teachers because we have a lot more time.”
Students have Wednesdays at home to work on missing assignments, but it takes away from the in-class learning time students had before COVID.
When giving advice to incoming freshman for next year, Rachael said “To not be nervous, I know it’s hard because I was so nervous, and you always get nervous on the first day, but I really like the environment here, and I really enjoy being at WHS rather than middle school.”
Students and teachers are still unaware of what the next couple months will look like due to COVID, but everyone is doing the best they can given the situation!
Ask WHS: What is art?
By J’Von Cooper
What is art?
That’s a loaded question, with many ways to answer it. Yet, considering the sizable amount of students participating in the arts here at Wethersfield High Schools, it begs the question.
With art existing in so many forms, is there any way to define it?
Well, according to the people participating in those programs, there are just as many answers as there are people being questioned. However, there is at least one constant within all of them: Emotion.
As Andrea Haas, one of three art teachers at WHS put it, “Art is whatever you want it to be.” She continues to specify, “I see art as a means to send a message. Make an emotional change in the person viewing it.”
That’s how many of her students view art. As Senior Brianna Boucher said, “Art is meant to mean something”, or in other words, elicit enough emotion to be meaningful. This theme of eliciting a reaction echoes through many of the people interviewed, including an unexpecting source.
Jeffery Roets, the current play director and English teacher, had a similar response to the aforementioned people interviewed, and a little more.
“Arts not only reflects our emotions, but makes us question them.” he said. “It makes us feel something.”
Well, if so many people feel so many different ways about art, what is concrete?
Well, as seen by the people interviewed, art means something. What that something is may be different depending on whomever you ask, but it means something to somebody, with everyone saying something.
By: Natalia Travaglini & Eliza-mely Martinez
Studying can be a very hard thing to do for students. There are so many different techniques, tips, and methods to studying. Students are told they need to study for a test, but they are never really taught how to actually study. We were given different techniques, but most of the time they dont really work for us.
Depending on the type of learner, for example being a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner, some studying methods will work amazing and others will not work at all. We interviewed two seniors at Wethersfield and asked them about their studying habits and any tips they have for others.
When talking to Haley Dellafera, a senior at Wethersfield High School, about her studying habits, we asked how she studies and it varies depending on the topic she is studying for. For math, she studies by doing problems but for English, she studies by using Sparknotes and Quizlet.
Many students struggle with studying, Haley Dellafera struggles with finding the motivation to study. During our interview she said, “Actually finding the motivation to get up and studying for my test has always been a problem for me.”
This problem has taken a toll on her grades at certain times in her high school career. Haley mentioned it would be a lot easier to study if she enjoyed the topic, so she tries to find interesting subjects within the topic she is studying to make the process just a bit easier.
Since she studies differently for each topic, we wondered if she would keep the same studying habits from high school into college. Dellafera said she definitely wouldn't keep her habits. Most of the time she just tries to get by without reading the book or notes but in the end she can get by without it. In college, she thinks it's going to be a lot different and she has to read, learn, and retain the subject.
We interviewed another student from Rocky Hill High School when we asked Ianna Pagan if she believed her studying habits were good she said yes. Ianna explained that she had a good idea as to how she should study.
She usually starts by making sure if she is comfortable she has snacks to eat while she is studying. Then she starts to make a study guide that will make it easier for her to know what to study. In this study guide she writes example questions, tips to help her remember, and the hardest topic she struggles with. Ianna Pagan said “I think I will use my studying habits in college because it has never done me wrong, everytime I use this method I get a pretty decent grade”
We made sure to get more than one perspective about studying habits in high school and interviewed senior, Kassandra Vazquez as well.
Kassandra finds studying using youtube video explanations is the best way for her. A tip she has for other students who are struggling to find good studying techniques is studying for 30-45 minutes and then taking a break to avoid getting overwhelmed.
Although finding the perfect studying technique can be difficult, we hope that the tips and experiences shared by two of our high school students could possibly make the task easier.
Written, edited, and produced by Wethersfield High School students, covering all news and events.