Posted Thursday, Jan 29, 2015
Boys' Winter Track wins 2 in a row
After two narrow losses in its first meets of the 2014-15 season, the Wilbraham & Monson Academy Boys’ Winter Track team has won two meets in a row. According to Coach Sean McGrath ’07, the team’s wins can be attributed to its strategic placement of its runners.
"We have been to Philips Andover three times,” said Coach McGrath. “We haven't been able to beat them until this past meet. We understood where Phillips was strong and where we needed to win points off them.”
Coach McGrath also noted that even though the team’s points were being scored in select events, that it was still a team effort.
"The points aren't coming from the whole team,” said Coach McGrath. “They’re coming from a few individuals. What’s been crucial is that it is a team effort, and we really focus on supporting each other in the meets. The kids who may not be competing for points are still working hard and pushing the kids working for points, so it still is a team effort."
The Titans have been very strong this year. Coach McGrath pointed out RC Goodman ’15 won the 50-yard dash, which has been a struggle for him in the past. "RC has had a great year,” said Coach McGrath. “He finally won the 50-yard dash, where he has competed against the same runner from Andover who has beaten him by a nose every time . . . he got him off the start and had a good finish."
Team captain Marcus Klebart ’15 said, "We have progressed this year especially in participation, because in a lot of previous years we would only have a couple kids in each event, and this year we have been having larger amounts of kids in all of the events, which has helped us get the little points . . . the numbers really help us win meets.”
The Titans have been very successful this year, and it is clear that Coach McGrath’s strategic selection of races, along with leadership from the team’s captains, has been the reason for such success.
Not only have the Boys’ been set up for success this year, but the Girls’ Winter Track team has also been building strength as well.
"This is probably one of the strongest teams that we have had,” said team captain Alexandra Baltazar ’15. “The attitude is really good with the girls. We may not be winning but we are working hard.”
Alex recognizes that this year has been a struggle, however, she is content with her team’s progress as well as its effort so far.
- By James Sabatino '16
Posted Thursday, Jan 29, 2015
Sara Burke '15 Westfield colleen contestant
Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Sara Burke ’15 has never thought of herself as royalty material.
There are those, though, who may disagree.
Sara is a contestant in the 2015 Westfield Sons of Erin Colleen contest. Sara is one of 27 young women ages 17-21 competing for the colleen and five members of her court, with all six selectees earning the right to ride on Westfield’s float at the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March. The winner will also receive a $1,500 stipend toward a trip to Ireland.
“Just me personally, I’ve always been super clumsy and I’ve never matched my clothing,” Sara said. “I’m wearing daisies and stripes right now. I’ve always received letters from beauty pageants asking me to enter and it’s been an on-running joke in my family. But then I decided to run for colleen.”
Sara and the other contestants will be interviewed by the Westfield Sons of Erin Colleen judges Feb. 5 on intellect, Irish heritage and personality. The 2015 Sons of Erin Colleen Ball will be held the following night.
The contestants who are selected to the colleen’s court will also receive a sweater and kilt, which Sara said would be proper dress code length at WMA.
Posted Thursday, Jan 29, 2015
Students Skype with Rwandan government official
For the third year in a row, Boston University professor Carl Hobert led an all-day case study regarding post-genocide Rwanda for Wilbraham & Monson Academy students enrolled in Global Studies I.
This year’s case study, though, came with a bonus as Academy students had the opportunity to Skype with a government official from Rwanda who experienced and survived the genocide of 1994, when nearly one million Rwandans were slaughtered by fellow countrymen.
Mr. Didier Nkurikiyimfura serves as the Director General in charge of Information and Communication Technology in the Ministry of Youth and Information Communications. Addressing the students for 15-20 minutes, Mr. Nkurikiyimfura spoke of the importance of forgiveness in order for the country to continue to move forward.
“The opportunity to talk to a Rwandan government official was incredible,” Emily Dromgold ’17 said. “I don't know any other place where I would ever be exposed to someone that important with such a personal connection to the Rwandan genocide, especially as a sophomore in high school.
“The comment that struck me the most was when he spoke of forgiveness. Despite losing family members to the genocide, he said that forgiveness was extremely important or one would live with a damaging weight for the rest of their lives. This man had been through so much and he is now working toward the betterment of Rwanda. He truly was an inspiring person to be able to speak to.”
Isaias (Ikas) de Brito Trindade ’17, of Angola, was happy to hear Rwandan government officials continue to share facts surrounding the country’s darkest era in hopes that other African countries don’t suffer the same fate. Angola and Rwanda are both members of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
“From an Angolan point of view, the case study was a very intriguing experience,” Ikas explained. “First, because it was a way for me to experience the traditional problem-solving way of my country. Just like in Rwanda, in Angolan villages, they also gather in the village center and discuss problems with the soba, the Angolan version of Rwanda's burgermeister (mayor).
“Second, knowing that peace and stability are crucial things that Africans fought really hard to obtain, I know that maintaining the peace is necessary for the sake of the unity and the reconciliation of the people.”
Mr. Nkurikiyimfura also spoke of his personal situation, where he was raised predominantly in a refugee camp outside of Rwanda and how now some people from the country don’t feel he’s a true citizen.
Along with the opportunity to Skype with Mr. Nkurikiyimfura and watch a powerful and detailed movie regarding the genocide, WMA students spent the day role playing various common situations post-genocide Rwanda faced, such as attempting to reclaim previously owned land and cattle.
Posted Monday, Jan 26, 2015
Jack Dowding '15 to play golf at St. Anselm
With the help of a recent Wilbraham & Monson Academy alumnus, Jack Dowding ’15 has made his college choice.
Jack will attend and play Division II collegiate golf at Saint Anselm College upon his graduation from the Academy.
“It’s a beautiful campus, they have my field of interest (business), and the coach (Frank Driscoll) was a great guy,” Jack said. “I wanted to play competitive golf.”
Jack first learned about Saint Anselm from Taylor Fortin ’14, who received a basketball scholarship to the school in the spring of 2014. Jack and Taylor were on the WMA Golf team together.
“Taylor was helpful along the way,” Jack said. Jack was accepted into the school Jan. 12, and Coach Driscoll emailed him Jan. 24 to say he had a spot in the team.
“Coach Driscoll is all about building your future than becoming a professional golfer,” Jack explained. “He talked about the success of his players and how they’ve gone on to well-paying jobs and became successful men.
“After he emailed me I sent an email right back and told him I would accept the position and was grateful for the opportunity.”
Jack is also grateful for his time at WMA and his experience with Coach Doug Hutcheson.
“Coach Hutch has been so instrumental in helping me and Matt along the way,” said Jack, referring to classmate Matt Naumec, who signed a National Letter of Intent to play golf at Boston College. “During the spring he always came to me with different schools he thought would fit my personality. He helped me grow as a player and took me to the level where I’m going next.”
St. Anselm plays in the Northeast-10 Conference. Golf is a fall and spring sport, with the highlight of the season being a trip to North Carolina.
Posted Thursday, Jan 22, 2015
Katie Cronin '17 selected to SBS All-Tournament team
Wilbraham & Monson Academy Girls’ Basketball Coach Durelle Brown called Katie Cronin ’17 “a beast.”
In the basketball world, that’s a compliment.
Katie was named to the Stoneleigh-Burnham School All-Tournament team for her performance during the three-game event Dec. 19-20.
“The best thing about that weekend for Katie was she found her groove and her role within her team,” Coach Durelle explained. “Taking her off the point guard position this year and letting her play the two-guard, it breeds more of her athleticism with her instinctual mentality because now she can think of herself first, but she also has a point guard mentality and she can find others. That weekend, she found her stride offensively. And defensively, she was a beast.”
Katie helped the Titans beat host Stoneleigh as well as Vermont Academy before the Academy lost to Miss Hall’s School in the final.
“In the championship game, even though we lost we still worked really well together,” said Katie, a 5-foot-5-inch guard. “We played well. It didn’t turn out how we wanted it but when we looked back on the video, Coach saw more of the good things than the bad.”
Katie averaged 11 points and six steals in the three games, including 20 points, nine steals and four rebounds in the championship.
Posted Wednesday, Jan 21, 2015
Josh VanVoorhis '16 - top gun
Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Josh VanVoorhis ’16 has gone from being the Riflery team’s manager during the 2013-14 season to one of their top shooters this season, with a high score of 190 (of 200) in the team’s first match.
Josh wasn't the team’s manager by choice a year ago. He received a shoulder injury during the 2013-14 fall season playing football, and that injury persisted throughout the Riflery season.
What is honorable about Josh is that during his time of injury he did not abandon his team, opting to work with former Coach Brian Easler to hone his spotting skills.
Coach John Lombard has been very impressed with Josh’s improvement between last year and this year. He was especially impressed with his improvements in the spotting field, and how by the end of the season he rivaled Coach Easler, a distinguished marksman.
“Josh has gone through a huge transformation from last year to this year,” said Coach John Lombard. “Last year he was an accomplished team manager, but I would also say assistant coach. He was, in terms with spotting, tied with Mr. Easler for being the one that all the shooters wanted.”
Josh is very appreciative for Coach Easler’s guidance. Josh said, “Coach Easler taught me more than I have ever known about the sport.”
Although Coach Easler made a significant impact on the team last year, Josh recognizes the constructive coaching from Coach Lombard and Coach Bill Passy.
“The team is great,” Josh said. “We are shooting very well. Two years ago we shot 200 points below where we are shooting now. The improvement we have had with the new coaches is great.”
Josh takes the sport of Riflery very seriously, and appreciates this season, where he is healthy enough to shoot.
“Not being able to shoot made the winter trimester a lot harder,” said Josh, “but being back at it is nice, and being a part of the family again.”
By James Sabatino '16
Posted Tuesday, Jan 20, 2015
WMA sends 3 to Western District
Three students from Wilbraham & Monson Academy were selected to perform at the Massachusetts Western District Senior Festival at the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts Jan. 17 in Amherst.
Jonathan Lee ’15, Cynthia Zhang ’17 and Tori Zingarelli ’17 passed the early-January audition for Western Districts. Jonathan was selected to play violin, while Cynthia and Tori earned a spot in the chorus.
For the first time in his playing career, Jonathan wasn’t in the first chair for violin. He didn’t like that situation initially, but soon realized the importance of the second violinist role.
“It was interesting,” said Jonathan, who plays first violin for the Worcester Youth Symphony Orchestra. “I’ve never played second violin in my life. At first I didn’t like the second violin because there weren’t as many melodies as first violin but I actually enjoyed it. I learned the importance of second violin throughout the concert and the responsibility as much as the first violin.”
This was Jonathan’s second year performing at Western District. Cynthia, in her first showing at Western District, enjoyed her time singing with a large chorus, which sang eight songs.
“Vocal harmony is wonderful,” Cynthia said. “It’s personal singing. You have altos, sopranos, bass, and it’s more like classical singing from centuries ago. The lyrics are historical and it can tell you a story.”
Cynthia and Tori plan to audition for Western District next year as well.
Posted Tuesday, Jan 20, 2015
Dan Wesson '18 racing to the top
Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Dan Wesson ’18 has already won more than 40 races on the track. No, not with two feet – on four wheels.
Dan, who started racing go-karts when he was 7 years old, will compete during the 2015 season in a vehicle that can reach 160 mph.
“It’s fun. I think it’s a fun experience,” Dan said.
Dan grew up surrounded by auto racing in his family. He begged his family to let him race, and when Dan hit elementary school, his parents let him strap on a helmet and climb into a go-kart.
“I asked my dad constantly if I could race and he finally let me race,” Dan recalled.
Dan began racing in go-karts that topped out at 40 mph. While he climbed up in divisions, which also meant he climbed up in the speed of the go-karts, Dan started to enjoy some success. He won a division one year and placed second in another. He stayed away from any bad accidents, but he did take a few tumbles.
“I flipped a few times in go-karts, and that was kind of scary,” Dan explained. “But when I’m driving I’m focused. I’m focused on my line, which is how you get around the track faster and faster.
“I’ve flipped my go-kart three times. Once it rolled four times. But I was more worried about getting it fixed and making sure we could go off in the main event.”
Dan hopes to be in a number of main events this season when he jumps up to a SK Light Modified, which is bigger than a go-kart and has a frame more like a car. He will compete at Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut. The vehicles travel 160 mph and he will be competing against other teenagers as well as adults.
“You have to have a lot of experience with the vehicle and a lot of experience driving,” Dan said. “You have to know how the car is driving, whether it’s loose or tight so you can make adjustments.”
Dan has been featured in stories on Stafford Motor Sports Speedway and Race Day Connecticut.