Posted Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014
Crew wins first race
Three members of the Wilbraham & Monson Academy Crew team put in a lot of extra work during the summer, and it didn’t take long for that extra work to pay off.
In the first event of the season, Allie Collins-Anderson ’16, Lili Brook ’16 and Peter Labbe ’17 posted first place finishes at the Rockrimmon Regatta Saturday in Springfield on the Connecticut River.
“They were successful in this first race, and that was in large part due to the fact they were out on the water working during the summer,” Coach Heidi Ostendarp said.
WMA is a member of Springfield Crew at the Pioneer Valley Riverboat Club in Springfield. Lili and Peter won the mixed youth double race, becoming the first all-WMA boat to win a race since the sport began at the Academy in 2012.
“Peter and I worked really well with each other,” Lili said. “It was only the second time we’ve rowed together so that was great. It was great to win because I don’t think WMA has won a race in a long time . . . or ever.”
Peter and Lili were so exhausted after the race that they saved any type of celebration until later.
“We were pretty tired,” Peter said. “We gave each other a weak high five and we had to get out of the way so other boats could finish. But when we got back we were so happy we won.”
Allie won the women’s open double with a fellow member of the Springfield Crew, and also placed second in the women’s youth single. Not only did Allie work one-on-one with a trainer this summer, but she also went to crew camps at Mount Holyoke College and Brown University.
“Going to Brown, that was the first time I had really seen what really competitive rowing was all about,” Allie said. “I got some good feedback there. She said I have a lot of potential as a rower. I was able to row behind two of their varsity rowers, so I was able to observe their technique and made sure my stroke was matching theirs. It definitely confirmed my wanting to row in college. It made me want to work harder so I could make sure I’m at that level.”
WMA will next compete at the Tri-State Regatta in Northfield Sept. 21.
Posted Tuesday, Sep 9, 2014
WMA Girls' Volleyball to host charity game
September 26 isn’t national pink day, but it will sure look like it at Wilbraham & Monson Academy.
The WMA Girls’ Volleyball team will host Ludlow High School in a fifth annual charity game, with all proceeds from this year’s event going toward a cure for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for children. The match begins at 7 p.m.
The Titans, who will wear pink uniforms for the contest, picked this particular charity because September is children’s cancer month.
“Because it’s the fifth year, Ludlow people are aware of it and Wilbraham people are aware of it, so we’re hoping to get a lot of people from the community here,” WMA Coach Donna Barone said. “We’ve already scrimmaged Ludlow this year and we’re pretty even so it should be a fun night.”
The event, which alternates sites annually, is one of the highlights of the season for the Titans. “This year’s game will be exciting,” Carly Venditti ’16 said. “We’re hoping for a big showing from the student body. We do this every year. It’s great to see the kids come out. Some boys go all out and dress up in pink shirts, pink shoes, pink shorts, pink socks and paint their faces. That means a lot to us.”
Pink Titan T-shirts will be sold as a fundraiser for $15 before and during the match. Food, drinks, multiple raffles and WMA’s Damb Band will also be at the venue. Entry is fee and donations will be accepted at the door.
Posted Tuesday, Sep 9, 2014
Jordana Irzyk '17 selected to Board of Directors for Springfield Public Forum
Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Jordana Irzyk ’17 has been named to the Board of Directors for the Springfield Public Forum for the 2014 season.
Jordana learned the week of Sept. 1 she was one of two high school students from Western Massachusetts selected to be on the board.
“It’s obviously a big honor, and also a new privilege and responsibility so I’m looking forward to working with this organization,” said Jordana, a highest honors student. “My mom does a lot of work with non-profit organizations so it’s interesting to follow in her footsteps at a young age.
“Going to the Springfield Public Forum last year, I found the speakers really interesting and it was cool to talk to them. Being on the board, you have a say in who is coming and maybe it could be more appealing to teenagers. I liked the idea that there are speakers on different topics so you can become a mini-expert on a topic after listening to what they have to say. There’s free food, too.”
Jordana attended most of the Springfield Public Forum events last year as part of their scholars program. She particularly enjoyed forum speaker Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns,” depicting her African American family’s migration from the south to the north and west.
“Jordana was one of three WMA student representatives on the Springfield Public Forum Scholars Program last year, so she went to a lot of the events, attended the lectures, and also attended several breakout sessions with some of the speakers,” said Meg Hutcheson, WMA’s Dean of Curriculum. “She got a real feel for what the public forum is all about. Now she’s a WMA Global Scholar so she will attend even more events, and it’s exciting to be on the board as a student representative.”
Posted Monday, Sep 8, 2014
Tennis courts named in honor of Fisher Family
For roughly 20 years, Wilbraham’s Rudy Fisher spent his summer months on the tennis courts at Wilbraham & Monson Academy, spending time with his friends playing the sport he enjoyed.
During those 20 years, when the courts needed a new surface, Mr. Fisher stepped up and paid for the repaving.
Due to his generosity, the Academy was happy to name the tennis courts in memory of Mr. Fisher and his wife, Margie, during a ceremony in June. Mr. Fisher passed away in May of 2011.
“It was very convenient for Rudy to go to the Academy,” said Lynn Grimard, of Wilbraham, Mr. Fisher’s daughter-in-law. “He lived nearby and could come over to meet his friends and they could play tennis. He enjoyed having a campus like Wilbraham & Monson Academy in his town. He liked the Academy and how it was around for so long and so much history. He felt gratitude toward the school because WMA opened up the tennis courts for the community to utilize.”
The Fisher’s sons and two grandchildren attended the ceremony, with the Rudy & Margie Fisher Tennis Courts unveiled for the first time.
“The ceremony was beautiful,” Mrs. Grimard said. “It was lovely. The unveiling of the sign was nice and an exciting moment when they peeled back the sheet to show the sign. That was done nicely and Marge really loved the look of the sign.”
Mr. Fisher also loved that one of his grandchildren, Alexis Grimard ’14, attended the Academy.
“He felt good she was going to WMA,” Mrs. Grimard said.
Posted Monday, Sep 8, 2014
Matt Naumec '15 enjoys strong summer on links
For the start of the last few school years, Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Matt Naumec ’15 said the same thing: he had his best summer of golf ever.
Matt was accurate again in his description of the summer of 2014, where he played with the best amateur golfers in the world and won his share of trophies.
“I think it was the strongest summer of golf I’ve ever had because I understood my game,” Matt said. “I knew what shots I had to hit and where to play it. My putting and driving have really improved.”
The highlight of Matt’s summer came in August when he played at the U.S. Amateur Championship, which drew the best non-professional golfers in the world. The tournament was held in Georgia. He earned a spot by placing second at a qualifying event in Connecticut in July.
“I qualified. I went to Georgia and it was awesome,” Matt explained. “I didn’t play that well but it helped me with my game. I learned a lot. I played against high-ranking amateurs. It was probably the best experience for my golf game I’ve ever had.”
Matt had quite a few other great experiences as well. He won the Massachusetts Junior Open on the last hole, which was particularly exciting since he placed second in 2013. It was his fourth top 10 finish at the event.
“It was cool. It’s been one of the tournaments I’ve wanted to win,” he said.
Matt won two other events during the summer as part of a team. For the second year in a row, he was on the first place side when Team Massachusetts won the New England Junior Championship, which was a collection of the top seven golfers from the New England states. Matt’s team won by 17 strokes. Later in the summer, Matt helped Team New England beat Team USA in a match at the Boston Golf Club, which included the top high school golfers in the country.
Before all of his summer accomplishments started to pile up, Matt verbally committed to Boston College. He received a partial athletic scholarship and hopes to be enrolled into the prestigious Carroll School of Management following his freshman year. He plans to officially sign with B.C. during the November signing period.
“The coach and I got along well and I had a strong connection to a lot of the guys on the team,” said Matt, whose mom graduated from B.C. in 1988. “They’re my friends and they’re the top New England junior golfers in the country. We’re going to have a good team. We have a good class coming in this year. It’s great academics and a great balance between golf and academics. They have great practice facilities and a great strength of schedule, playing in the ACC. It just worked out.
“I had a good fit with the college. I looked at many other colleges but it’s so true: when you find it, you find it, and I only felt it strongly at B.C.”
Matt also considered Notre Dame, Maryland, Penn State, Purdue and Georgetown.
Posted Thursday, Sep 4, 2014
WMA's AP scores trend upward
“Trend” is one of the most popular words in the world right now.
For example, Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Advanced Placement scores continue to trend upward.
That isn’t just an example – that’s a fact.
WMA’s AP scores improved for the third time in as many years, finishing well above the Massachusetts and global average. Of the 161 students who took an AP exam in 2014, 83% recorded a score of three (out of five) or better. The average in Massachusetts was 72%, while the global average was 61%.
Also, and even more remarkably, approximately 20% of the WMA Class of 2014 finished as AP Scholars of Distinction, meaning students scored an average of 3.5 or better on all AP exams, and scored a three or higher on five or more exams.
“The WMA AP program continues to develop and evolve because we have such committed teachers eager to create innovative curriculum,” said Meg Hutcheson, WMA’s Dean of Curriculum. “The fruits of their efforts are seen in the increased scores and improved student performances.”
The Foreign Language Department has adjusted its focus in recent years, making the subjects more enjoyable while also improving AP test scores.
“The shift in languages is shifting the focus to native materials, and when we say native materials we mean materials that are designed for native speakers of the language, not necessarily designed for an English student learning a foreign language,” said Kevin Kane, chair of the Foreign Languages Department. “Our text sources, as well as our sources on the internet, were able to give kids a more authentic listening experience and a more authentic reading experience, and that’s what the AP test is looking for: real situations. Knowing the structure of the test and knowing how that works, we’re able to start some of those activities and build the skill sets earlier. That pays off not just with the test prep, but also in what the students are able to say and do and articulate. A lot of those activities are fun to do, the interest is there and the results are good.”
Dan Moran of the Central for Entrepreneurial and Global Studies Department put an academic standard on a certain type of essay, which he in the end felt helped his students greatly with their writing skills and reading habits.
“We introduced a ‘time bomb’ essay, where the students had an hour from the time they opened up the attachment to respond to the attachment via email, and all of that is traceable through our First Class email system, so if they went over the hour they lost points,” Mr. Moran explained. “This taught them to write quickly under the gun, and also to review things they may have been shaky on.”
WMA also saw in increase in the number of students taking AP exams, with 161 students tackling tests in 2014 compared to 119 in 2010.
Posted Thursday, Sep 4, 2014
Mr. Moran brings Dartmouth lessons to WMA
A week after finishing a pair of master’s degree courses at Dartmouth College, Wilbraham & Monson Academy teacher Dan Moran was applying what he learned at the Ivy League college in his classroom.
Mr. Moran, a member of the Academy’s Center for Entrepreneurial & Global Studies Department, completed a pair of classes in Dartmouth’s Globalization Studies concentration: Culture and Global Media, and Race Discourse in Latin America.
“It’s a great program and I recommend it,” said Mr. Moran, who lived at Dartmouth for 10 weeks during the summer prior to starting WMA’s 2014-15 academic calendar. “There’s something to be said about working with people who are leaders in the field, or highly regarded and frequently published in the field. They have a thought process that’s both electrifyingly deep and streamlined. You hope to tap into that type of thinking – the ability to see things at their essence and build from there.”
The Race Discourse in Latin America class had a direct tie to WMA, which has traveled to the Amazon four times since 2008.
“My focus was on power relationships in colonial America, culminating in a research project based on the Xavante and the reservation our students have been going to in the Amazon,” Mr. Moran said.
The Culture and Global Media class not only looked at current media from all angles, but also how it affects various people throughout world.
“The course dealt with how global media is changing and how culture interacts with different kinds of media,” Mr. Moran explained. “It was heavy on cultural psychology and how we interact with the media, and also concepts such as hybridity, where you have different cultural media coming together.”
Mr. Moran wasted no time bringing what he learned at Dartmouth to his classroom on the first day of school, altering a lesson he has taught the last few years just a notch, which took the discussion to a higher level.
“The first day of class in Global Studies 1, the last three years I’ve asked the kids to define ‘global’ and then ‘choices’ and then ‘study’ – choices being connected to economics.
“This year I led them a little deeper, and as a result of my media class, I switched out ‘study’ for ‘integration’ and it raised the level of discussion to a high and sophisticated level, and that allowed me to scaffold the thinking I saw in graduate text to the high school freshmen, so it exposed me to a level of thinking I can scaffold into the classroom. I’m already seeing the dividends of that paying off with the freshmen and they’re complexity of thought.”
Posted Tuesday, Sep 2, 2014
Justin Jang '15 earns college credits in 2 courses at Georgetown
Since Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s YoungSeok “Justin” Jang ’15 plans to apply to Georgetown University this fall, he figured what better way to get to know the school than to take a few courses there.
Justin attended two five-week semester courses at the Summer College at Georgetown University in June, earning a B and college credit in both finance and public speaking.
“The campus was beautiful,” Justin said. “There’s nothing like it. It’s small, but once you’re in there it feels like you’re in a totally different environment than Washington D.C.”
“Georgetown has a certain appeal about it. It has a good name, and I wanted to visit the campus because I will probably be applying there later in the fall. And, the program matched up with my summer schedule. I was able to leave school at WMA, hop on a plane to Washington and get into a dorm room. It worked out conveniently.”
What also worked out conveniently was Justin’s knowledge of the subjects entering the program. He was nervous, but he was also prepared for the rigors of college courses. He was the only high school student in the finance class, and he was one of three high school students in the public speaking class.
“I was intimidated at first with the finance class,” he said. “There were a few big concepts that I didn’t know whether or not I was ready to handle, but after a week or so it felt like I knew the class. The public speaking was a personal development class that wasn’t quite as rigorous of an academic course.
“I’m glad I went. It was a great experience.”