Friday, November 17, 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Weekly News and Notes

As we turn the corner into November, we thank everyone for their patience this week, having already experienced a weather cancellation and a disruption to our normal routine! We do have a few updates this week with some happenings from UHS.

GUIDANCE

Thanks to everyone who attended the Financial Aid Night on Wednesday. If families were unable to attend, we did send resources and the presentation home earlier this week, and we hope that parents will take an opportunity to contact Mr. Barry or Ms. Smith if questions arise.
Speaking of Ms. Smith, she will be with us until the holiday break in December, as Ms. Hampton remains out on her maternity leave. We mention counselors at the start of this update, as we head to the end of the first quarter and families will no doubt be looking for support in terms of college applications, post-secondary planning, or fixing any grading concerns that come up at the end of a quarter.
Finally, the next several weeks will see our counselors working in class with underclassmen, so be on the lookout for some of those resources and updates.

ACADEMICS

First quarter grades do close on Monday, and report cards will be posted. In addition to grades, teachers will report on student progress toward meeting schoolwide learning expectations. Those rubrics can be found online, and they are frequently measured against specific assignments by teachers. If parents see that students are “not yet meeting” or are “approaching” these standards, these become good conversation starters with teachers, as “meeting” and “exceeding” standards within the context of the class or department are measured backwards from the ideal traits of our graduates. We hope that these comments provide you with more context about the habits of learning than the “old” report card comments, of which many of you are familiar (i.e. “prepared well for class,” “cooperative,” and “could improve with more effort”).

ATHLETICS

Congratulations to our field hockey and cheerleading teams, which concluded their “competition” seasons this past week, the field hockey team taking Lunenburg to double overtime before falling 1-0 and the cheerleading team having a strong showing at the SWCL championships last weekend. Our boys soccer team advanced past Montachuset Regional Tech with a 2-1 win on Friday and will face Holy Name on Monday at 2:00; the girls soccer team visits Tahanto on Tuesday at 2:30. Finally, our football team narrowly missed the playoff round of Division 5 based on power rankings, but improved to 6-3 with a win over a very strong Oxford team on Friday. A reminder that we do host Northbridge in the annual Thanksgiving rivalry game, and information about ticket sales will be forthcoming. Finally, our cross country teams will compete in the divisional championship this week, having captured championships at the SWCL meet last year - the boys capping an undefeated season, and the girls surging past Grafton!
Winter registration has opened. Please make sure that student-athletes are registered through FamilyID.
Unfortunately, girls basketball coach Ed Healey had to resign this week due to family reasons. We thank Coach Healey for his hard work with our Spartans over the past two seasons, and an immediate search for his replacement has commenced. Interested candidates can forward cover letter, resume, and references to Mr. Calarese.

MCAS, AP, SAT Results

We recently posted and sent MCAS results to parents of students who took the MCAS last year. We are pleased with many of our MCAS results, and we have seen significant growth in some areas of the SAT. In the coming weeks, we will be articulating plans for the integration of additional college-level courses at UHS, and we are also researching ways that we can expand innovation andcareer pathways, based on the work that our school team completed on our recent trip to Nashville Public Schools, while working with the One8 Foundation and our higher education partners.

Finally, we thank you for patience with Monday’s cancellation. We know that cancellations and delays can wreak havoc with family schedules. In that spirit, just remember that there is no school on Friday, November 10 in observance of Veterans’ Day.

Have a great weekend,

Michael Rubin, Principal

Friday, October 27, 2017

Weekly News and Notes

Instead of the cursory update this week regarding "updates" and "events," I wanted to include a couple of notes that should make community members very proud. I hope you will take a minute to read this week's message.

Often times, communities like ours become places where it is easy to hear the rancor and discontent of a few people, and let that drown out the good. This week, we were able to enjoy so much of what makes Uxbridge a great place, and we share some of the reasons why our student-body and community can be such a source of pride.

I was able to speak with several students this week and receive a couple of emails from parents, regarding college acceptances and scholarship awards that have rolled in. For educators PK-12, and certainly for parents, the joy that comes in seeing that letter (or, as it is now, the update on the online application portal) is validating, exciting, and invigorating. It speaks to a process that started with first steps, sounds, and letters, and it marks the first step of a new experience and a life that is ready to soar. It is October - which means that we not only have many successes left to achieve this year and many more moments like these, but also can start feeling good about the process and the work so many of us do in support of the students.

At the same time, our school is simply buzzing with action. Walking through dozens of classes this week, our observations are of classes engaged in learning, with students solving problems, teachers structuring inquiry-based activities, and the learning happening in diverse ways. The vision many people would have had for the building, where disruptive behaviors are minimal, where educators are working to their fullest capacity, where our core values and learning expectations can be seen on display at any given moment - is starting to come to fruition. We know the results will come, and we are seeing improvements in many areas, all of which have significant impact on achievement.

Finally, today we hosted a building study team from Wahconah Regional High School and the Central Berkshire Regional School District, which is looking at UHS as a model school as it starts its feasability study. We know that UHS was not built in a day, that programs and facilities ought to be married in excellence, and that we have a place that should be a source of pride for anyone who lives in this town or calls UHS his or her alma mater. The remarks from people as they left today was that our school left them "inspired," that the "students are awesome," that "people are really happy and good to each other here," and, most importantly, that we "have a great place."

Buildings are brick and mortar and wires. Schools are about people. We have the makings of a strong culture here, where the lessons, the students, the activity, and the buzz are all worthy of the community's investment and trust. I will walk out of UHS today feeling validated in the work we are doing, proud of a staff that is shifting its mindset and enhancing the skills of students, and grateful for a student body that is pushing itself toward new standards, every single day.


MEFA Financial Aid Night

MEFA Financial Aid Night will be held on Wednesday, November 1, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Parents/guardians of seniors should attend.

Senior Play
The Senior Play, The Curious Savage, will be held on Thursday, November 2, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $3 for students and senior citizens, $5 for adults.

Football Can Drive
The football team is collecting canned goods for donation to the local food pantry. Please bring items for donation - there is a box in the main foyer of the building.

Finally, many thanks to our booster club parents, for their creation of signs for our senior student-athletes, who wrap up regular season play here at home this week. Playoff brackets will be posted next week, so stay tuned for updates of postseason play!


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Winter Athletic Registration

Please register for winter athletics! Our portal is located at: https://www.familyid.com/organizations/uxbridge-public-schools or by clicking here. There is an option to pay the participation fee online as well, and there is no service charge for doing so. 
In order to register for a winter sport, please complete the registration, have a current physical examination on file with the school, and pay the appropriate participation fee. If any of those stipulations have not been met, a student may be denied participation. Note that a physical examination is valid for 13 months, so if a student had his/her examination this summer or fall, s/he is still eligible.
Please direct questions to the athletic director; questions regarding physical examinations can be sent to the school nurses, Ms. Schiller at UHS or Ms. Gauthier at MMS.
Finally, schedules for the winter season, including the availability of junior varsity programs, will be determined based on registration numbers. The portal will close on November 17, 2017. PLEASE REGISTER ON TIME.
Thank you for your cooperation.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Personal Post

I rarely take occasion to use this blog for anything personal, but every now and then, writing becomes a good mechanism/outlet for me to share my feelings. Call it therapeutic, call it self-indulgent, call it what you will.  The journalist in me resolves every now and then to scribe in the first person in the same voice as a one-time columnist, so I beg your forgiveness and indulgence for a few paragraphs.

There is a line in The Great Gatsby, one of my favorite texts to teach, that reads: "Let us learn to show our friendship for a man while he is still alive." It is for that reason that I often do not post things to social media after someone has passed away, why I don't go on paroxysms of emotion, why I tend to keep my thoughts to myself. Yet in the past week, I am breaking my rule, and sharing thoughts on someone who shaped and even defined my consciousness as a coach and leader.

I met Jerry Espinosa following a National Honor Society induction in 2003. I was a 25-year-old advisor who had just inducted his niece/adopted daughter, and he shared with me that he was impressed and inspired by my energy. Little did I know that this would be the start of a friendship and mentoring that would guide me through some incredibly successful experiences as a coach and formative years as a young(ish) school leader.

Jerry was a miracle man - he had survived a car-jacking, resolved his life to his Faith, and openly shared his Christianity with me in a positive, academic way. He believed in the inherent good in every student-athlete we coached. He volunteered thousands of hours to work with our programs at Dighton-Rehoboth: meets, coaches' meetings, practices, bus rides, weekdays, weeknights, weekends. He adopted me as another surrogate brother, and we spent hours on phone and at practice going back and forth about school, coaching, student-athletes, and practice schedules. I learned more about track and field from Jerry Espinosa than any other man on this planet - and it paled in comparison to what he taught me about living, about looking for the good, and about living in a godly way.  After a rough day as an assistant principal, when things seemed darker than dark, Coach Espo always made things better, because he knew what was good and right, and he could make me smile and turn a day around in the context of a simple long jump drill.

We were cut from different cloths in terms of our theology, but it didn't matter - we shared similar core values, and I loved our debates and conversations about Scripture. Simply put, he made me smarter, more learned, more empathetic, more cosmopolitan. One moment we could be talking about starting blocks and hurdling form, and the next about the Old Testament.

We wanted the best for our kids. We wanted them to earn the headlines that we had once enjoyed as student-athletes ourselves. We wanted to write a successful narrative. Each of those goals was met - a New England champion, at least 8 team league championships, a six-year stretch with more than 100 wins and less than 10 losses. More importantly, there were athlete goals met, lessons learned, and, above all else, a positive bend to every experience we had. His expertise and acumen in the sport were surpassed only by his humanity and altruism. I will never meet someone again who gave so much of himself to different groups of student-athletes, year in and year out.

When I got last week's phone call with the tragic news of Jerry's passing from Coach Moura, our fellow coach and my good friend who remains at Dighton-Rehoboth, we both vacillated from shock to sadness to guilt and back again. The portrait of fitness, the strongest "masters-level" competitor I ever met, one of the strongest men I ever had the privilege of knowing - taken all too soon, leaving behind a tremendous family whose void I cannot begin to process. Jerry and I had lost touch over the years, but never did I think I would not have one more opportunity to thank Jerry Espinosa for what he did for us, for our kids. For me.  Yes, it's a selfish response. Ironically, in the sadness for all of us who lost something with Jerry's passing was that I thought about how much he changed me for the better.

As a school principal, it can be challenging to see the good, to smile in the face of adversity, to persevere when there are difficult decisions to be made. But I think of what Jerry and I preached for all those years as partners on the track - that we don't get beat by things, that one more lap can make us stronger, and that everyone is capable of meeting lofty goals, so long as neither of us ever gives up.

I will miss my friend, even if it had been entirely too long since I reached out for one of his pep talks. I will forever be grateful for the fleeting time we spent together, for the sacrifices he made to make me better, knowing that there is a piece of his character in my administrative consciousness. When it seems like the odds are stacked, that the process is too much, that small victories and goals met are not enough, there will be Jerry's voice, powerful strides, and smile, clapping loudly and urging us toward one more finish line. For that, I'm grateful for his memory, even as I reconcile the joy and blessing of our friendship with the shock and anger over his premature departure from this earth.

For all the Falcons, Red Rocketeers, Sentinels, and countless others whose lives Jerry impacted- thank you is simply not enough. I only wish that we had all heeded the advice of Gatsby and shown that appreciation one more time. There is a quote from 1 Corinthians that I think is most fitting for my Biblical friend and colleague: "do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." I reconcile that with the words of the Hebrew, that yours will be an eternal memory that continues to grow.

My friend and mentor, hope I do that we honor your legacy with a crown that indeed will last forever, befitting your strict training. May I act with your same benevolence, compassion, and consideration. And may your memory be a blessing.  You will be and are already missed.