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Posted Friday, Apr 18, 2014 

Ambassador Prosper visits, supports WMA

During his speech at Wilbraham & Monson Academy on April 17, Ambassador Pierre Prosper encouraged the Global School’s students to make a difference in the world.

Ambassador Prosper was speaking from experience. As a person who has witnessed many of the darkest times in the world’s recent history, the 1985 Boston College graduate has played a role in making the world a better place.

Prior to his closing words of encouragement, Ambassador Prosper spoke about his work in post-genocide Rwanda, both as a war crimes prosecutor for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal and as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes.

The topic of Rwanda is familiar to the majority of the Academy’s students. Not only is the 1994 genocide covered in Global Studies II and AP Human Geography, but for the last three years the classes have also participated in an all-day case study with Boston University professor Carl Hobert.

Ambassador Prosper arrived in Rwanda less than a year after the civil war, where one million people were killed in 100 days. He saw mass graves and experienced “the smell of death, which you never forget.”

“But one of the things that surprised me was the need to rebuild trust between the Rwandans and the international community,” the Ambassador explained. “What we have to remember is the UN peacekeepers were there in Rwanda and left during the genocide. They did not protect the population. When I went there I said I was there to help, and you can imagine the reaction. Why should they trust me? The UN pulled out.”

After rebuilding trust with the Rwandans, Ambassador Prosper then scored a major victory for mankind by successfully prosecuting at a 14-month trial that rape and sexual violence in time of conflict be included as war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“For the first time, we elevated rape and sexual violence and prosecuted them on equal footing with murder and torture, and we also put a novel twist on it and defined it as a form of genocide,” the Ambassador said. “Before, people saw genocide as a mass killing, but if you look at the Genocide Convention (in 1948), it envisions acts that fall short of death and causing serious bodily and mental harm. We thought rape fit within that.”

In an interview, Ambassador Prosper also discussed his work during post-9/11, which included dealing with Al-Qaeda, Guantanamo Bay, and sending detainees back to their respective home countries. The Iraq War also fell under his responsibility.

“I was handling Saddam Hussein and going after members of his party and prosecuting them,” the Ambassador said. “What was interesting about that whole period was while I had to deal with Iraq and 9/11, I was still dealing with post-genocide Rwanda, dealing with the former Yugoslavia, and dealing with Darfur and Sudan.”

Ambassador Prosper was a roommate at Boston College with Victor Ruiz, whose son, Aaron, is a member of the Class of 2016 at the Academy. The former roommates stayed in touch over the years, and the more the Ambassador learned about WMA from Mr. Ruiz, the more he wanted to come for a visit. He was glad he took the time out of his busy schedule to experience WMA for a day, where he met with classes in the upper and middle school before speaking at school meeting.

“What’s important is what WMA is doing,” the Ambassador praised. “This is such a global school. The world has gotten smaller and is getting smaller every day. For us to be able to succeed, you have to be able to understand and navigate the world. You have to understand different cultures and different views and philosophies. It’s important to receive the certain education that is being taught here for that reason.

“I’m fortunate enough through my experiences that I received that education, and I feel comfortable navigating the world. But I see a lot of people who don’t and it’s to their detriment because it’s only going in one direction. That’s one reason when I learned more about this school I wanted to come and share my experiences.” 

 

Posted Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 

Artist-in-Residence, Jeff Harms to perform May 1

Singer/songwriter Jeff Harms will headline the 2014 Francis Michael Casey Fund Concert Thursday, May 1 at Wilbraham & Monson Academy. The concert will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Alumni Memorial Chapel with a reception following at Morrow House from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The concert will feature Jeff Harms, singer, songwriter, performance artist, fine artist and sculptor. He will be performing original songs along with a presentation by current Wilbraham & Monson Academy students. Jeff is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

The namesake of the fund, Mr. Francis Michael Casey, a former teacher and headmaster of Wilbraham & Monson Academy, passed away in 2006. Arthur H. and Barbara F. Zalkan and their three children, Brett ‘83, Marilyn ‘84, and Ira ‘89 created the fund in 1994. It was established to honor his devotion to and support of the fine and performing arts, as well as the educational experience the school provided.

For more information contact Director of Major Gifts & Campaign Coordinator Christina Cronin at 413.596.9189 or visit us online.

Posted Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 

Trinity College-bound WMA students enjoy keynote address at city conference

When Trinity College Professor Xiangming Chen returned to Wilbraham & Monson Academy for “The City: An Academic Conference” April 4, two of the Academy’s students were particularly interested in his discussion of “Making and Remaking Cities.”

Kirill Gudkon ’14 and Garfield Ding ’14, who both hail from major international cities, were accepted into Trinity in the winter and will attend the elite New England academic institution next school year.

“I was excited about listening to Professor Chen speak again,” said Kirill, of St. Petersburg, Russia. “I remembered him when he came in the fall, when he talked about environmental causes and how cities connect to that. I was glad to see him again, especially with the understanding that he might be my teacher next year.”

Professor Chen was the keynote speaker for WMA’s daylong conference. Garfield served as Professor Chen’s student guide for the day.

“His topic was very interesting,” Garfield said. “I can learn a lot from it, especially since I’m attending college where he teaches and I’ll probably be in his class within the next four years. I’m excited for that.”

As part of his speech, Professor Chen noted how the world’s population is trending out of rural areas and into cities. Garfield, who has lived the majority of his life in Beijing, one of the largest cities in the world, has experienced that trend firsthand.

“In China, the cities are getting bigger and bigger, and the government is transporting people from villages to the cities,” Garfield said. “We call it the biggest migration in the human history: it’s somewhere around a half-billion people. People are changing their lifestyle from countryside to city.”

Kirill agreed with Professor Chen's assessment that a city’s infrastructure “helps humankind to develop and grow, and people use time more efficiently because you spend less time traveling. You can be more efficient in general.”

“Professor Chen did a great job and what he does is very important. He’s working toward that big goal of making cities more efficient with a theoretical approach. As I recall the statistics, more than 50% of the population lives in cities, so that’s 3.5 billion people. We need to think about how to be more efficient, such as how to spend less fuel in cities, and how can we can prevent smog, unemployment and crime. What Professor Chen does is important for us all.”  

 

Posted Monday, Apr 14, 2014 

Coach Mannix to lead basketball team at all-star game

Wilbraham & Monson Academy Boys’ Basketball Coach Mike Mannix has been selected to coach one of the fastest growing basketball events in the country.

Coach Mannix will lead a team of all-stars at the Mary Kline Classic, which will be held May 31 at 6 p.m. at West Orange High School in New Jersey. The fourth-year event is named in honor of the mother of the showcase’s tournament director, Alex Kline.

“It is an honor to be chosen to coach at the Mary Kline Classic,” Coach Mannix said. “The game has grown into one of the most popular high school all-star games in the country in a short period of time.

“Alex Kline puts on a great event in remembrance of his mother and he has used the event as a way to raise money for cancer research. I look forward to participating in this year’s event and supporting its philanthropic cause for years to come.”

The event has remarkably raised $55,000 for cancer research in three years, including $27,000 last year. All proceeds go toward the National Brain Tumor Society and Brain Tumor Research at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.

The one-day event hosts a dunk contest, senior game, and underclassmen game.

“This event is a way for high school basketball players to show that they play for a purpose and are not one dimensional,” Mr. Kline said. “The objective is for this community outreach to show how powerful the game of high school basketball has become in order to raise awareness, as well as funds, for cancer research.”

 

Posted Monday, Apr 14, 2014 

Mikey Callahan '14 earns Eagle Scout Award

Soon after Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Mikey Callahan ’14 entered Boy Scouts of America, he saw his older brother earn his Eagle Scout Award.

More than a decade later, driven those many years by his brother’s accomplishment, Mikey received the highest honor granted by Boy Scouts of America.

“It was definitely exciting because it was something I wanted to accomplish for a long time,” Mikey said. “It’s good to finally get it. And now that I have it, I can help kids in my troop get their Eagle Scout and I can give back to the Western Mass. Council more.

“I saw my brother get his Eagle Award when I was just starting out. It’s something I’ve wanted to do and something I’ve wanted to achieve. I’ve seen a lot of people get their Eagle Award so this is something I’ve wanted to get, also.”

Mikey, a member of Troop 160, was honored with his Eagle Scout Award during a ceremony March 30 at St. Thomas The Apostle Parish in Palmer.

For his Eagle Scout project, following a suggestion from his priest and the Knights of Columbus in Palmer, Mikey worked on a specific area at St. Thomas Cemetery in his hometown. The highlight of his project was putting in a white, vinyl fence measuring 36-feet behind the Statue of Mary for Unborn Babies.

“It makes the statue pop out a little more,” Mikey explained. “There are some woods behind the statue so the fence makes it look more esthetically pleasing. I cleaned up around the area, planted a couple of trees, some flowers . . . cleaned up the area to make it look better.”

Mikey started making plans for his project in May of 2013 before completing it in October.

“It took a lot of planning but in the end it was definitely worth it,” he said.

 

Posted Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 

Global School hosts academic city conference

Wilbraham & Monson Academy, which consists of students from some of the largest cities in the world, hosted “The City: An Academic Conference” on campus April 4.

The day-long academic conference included Trinity College professor Xiangming Chen as the keynote speaker, and a panel discussion regarding the local casino project with Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, Massachusetts State Senator Gale Candaras, and Denise Jordan, Chief of Staff to Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno.

The Academy has embraced a city theme throughout the academic school year. WMA includes students from Beijing, Boston, Dhaka, Istanbul, Mexico City, Moscow, Osaka and Seoul, to name a few.

“This conference served an important role in helping students understand the worldwide trend of people moving away from rural and suburban areas and migrating to live and work in cities,” WMA Head of School Rodney LaBrecque said. “In 25 years, when our graduates will be nearing the apex of their careers, I hope that such ‘extracurricular’ education will have prepared them to live well in this new world.”

Recent studies show more and more people living in city settings. From 1982-2012, the United States (74%-82%), China (21%-52%) and Russia (71%-74%) all grew in regards to urban population. The conference also involved the students partaking in a case study, where each student adopted an identity on the topic of a casino being built in that person’s city.

“For us, it was important for the students to see how difficult urban decisions are when multiple constituencies don’t agree,” said Walter Swanson, Director of WMA’s Center for Entrepreneurial & Global Studies. “The casino seems to be the hot topic in the region right now so we used that as fodder. But ultimately, what we want the students to do is know how to argue from different positions, understand people who think differently from them, and develop the skills to arrive at a compromise.”

Mr. Chen’s speech, titled Making and Remaking Cities, explained how cities are becoming more populated and why it’s essential to revitalize urban areas such as Springfield and Hartford. The three panelists were candid, with each giving their reasons for supporting and not supporting casinos in their respective areas. Sometimes they agreed on certain issues, but other times they did not, which made for an entertaining and real presentation. New England Public Radio host Susan Kaplan moderated the panel discussion.

“I think it was interesting for our students to see there were people from the public who had varied and sometimes strong opinions on the matter,” Mr. Swanson said. “What they need to understand is when they enter into urban areas and it’s congested, people are going to have different opinions and not agree. Yet, ultimately, they share one neighborhood and one city, and they all have a vested interest in, yet often varied opinions on, how to improve their quality of life. “Hopefully the day resonated with the very diverse student body that we have.”

The conference also include presentations by: Richard Walker of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; Guy McLain, Director of the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History; Marla Michel, Director of the Business Growth Center of Springfield; Michael Mathis, President and COO of MGM Springfield; Serin Houston, Visiting Professor of Geography at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley; and Mary Steele, TV Producer of WaterFire.

Click here to view a photo gallery of the conference, click here to view a video of WMA students asking questions, and click here to read the story posted on masslive.com.

More information about the all-day event can be found on the school’s website at www.WMA.us/TheCity.

 

Posted Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 

WMA students to hold Charity Piano Concert

Wilbraham & Monson Academy will host its second annual Charity Piano Concert April 18 at Alumni Memorial Chapel at 7 p.m.

The event is open to the public. Proceeds will go toward the Yunnan Ethnic Minority School Volunteer Project (YEMS), which is a service initiative in China spearheaded by WMA graduate Melody Liu ’12

“We’re trying to promote a technology initiative at the school so we can buy YEMS several computers and establish an Internet connection,” said Valeria Surkovaite ’14, who is organizing the student-run piano concert for the second year. “They could Skype us and we could have online classes. Our students could teach their students. In their schools, most of the English teachers are not proficient in English enough to teach so the students do not get the proper education.”

Approximately 10 WMA students will perform songs by Chopin and Rachmaninoff, as well as modern music.

The event is free, however a $5 donation is suggested. Last year’s concert raised $500 for a well in Africa.

 

Posted Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014 

WMA's Nate Barone '16 to play at national volleyball tournament

Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Nate Barone ’16 has been selected to play for the Mizuno East 16U team at the 35th annual USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championships.

Nate will travel to Houston July 1-4 to compete against the best volleyball players in the country.

“It means a lot to me that they didn’t even need me to try out and they have the confidence in me to play on this team and play this level of ball,” said Nate, whose primary position is outside hitter. “I knew all the coaches and they knew me. They liked my effort and that I’m willing to put time into the sport to get better and learn.”

Nate has competed in matches and tournaments throughout the northeast, but this will be his first time traveling outside of the area.

“It’s exciting,” said Nate, an honor roll student at WMA. “We’re going to Texas to play. This will be a new experience for me: in Texas playing high-level ball. We’ll get to see and play against players who are going to play college ball. It will be a great experience to be around such great volleyball players who love the sport. Watching people play who have a real passion sparks something in me and makes me happy to be a part of the sport.

“I have a passion for the game. I love hitting. Scoring points for the team . . . it’s like scoring a goal in soccer but it happens 25 times a game. It’s a huge team sport and you bond with your team in a way that I haven’t with any other sport.”

Mizuno East is based in Bridgeport, Conn.

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