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Liz Mitchell '04 of English Department works on book written by former WMA faculty member

Posted Oct. 22, 2013

Former Wilbraham & Monson Academy English teacher Todd Felton once told Elizabeth Mitchell’s parents, “Liz is a writer.”

Not only did that comment turn out to be true, but it also turned about to be incredibly fateful.

Ms. Mitchell ’04, a member of WMA’s English Department, worked as an editor and researcher for the second edition of Mr. Felton’s book, “Walking Boston.” The latest edition was released in September.

“It was fulfilling,” Ms. Mitchell said. “To feel I gave something back to someone who had helped me accomplish so much, and to help him accomplish a goal of his, I feel things came full circle in a sort of way. And when I saw what he wrote to me in the acknowledgement, it brought tears to my eyes.”

Ms. Mitchell had Mr. Felton as a teacher for five classes at the Academy. Mr. Felton immediately saw Ms. Mitchell’s writing ability and encouraged her to become a tutor in the school’s writing center.

“That’s where I first realized that I didn't just love to write, but I also liked to help other people write,” Ms. Mitchell said. “I liked editing and helping people express themselves more clearly.”

After college, Ms. Mitchell became bedridden for six months with Mal de Debarquement Syndrome, which is a rare balance disorder. She lost her job and her apartment.

“I felt like my world was ending,” Ms. Mitchell admitted.

Lost, especially professionally, she called upon her long-time mentor, Mr. Felton. Coincidentally, at the same time, Mr. Felton had been asked by Wilderness Press if he could write a second edition for his book, “Walking Boston.”

“He had a full-time job and didn’t have time to do proofreading or fact checking,” Ms. Mitchell explained. “The publisher wanted to him to add more content. He asked me if I wanted to help, so he ended up helping me get my foot in the door.”

And Mr. Felton helped Ms. Mitchell get back on her feet. Not only did she embrace the job, but she found herself in position to add content.

“The research happened almost organically,” Ms. Mitchell said. “He asked me what parts of Boston I knew best, and that translated into the areas I knew best and I liked to visit the most, and where my family lived. My family was able to help me suggest to Todd how to re-write his East Boston chapter, and what we could add with Deer Island and Winthrop. My uncle is an urban planner and he helped with the new greenway in Boston. And my fiancé grew up in Dorchester, so he and his family had some ideas about that area.”

Ms. Mitchell worked on the second edition for a year. Along with a lot of walking in Boston, her research included checking websites, making phone calls, investigating new businesses, and checking out if businesses had closed.

“It was an experience I had never quite had before,” Ms. Mitchell said. “I had a story published in a literary magazine about two years ago, and that was the first time I saw my own words published between two covers. But this was something else. This was bigger. It was someone else’s baby, but I had helped nurture and bring it to maturity.”

Posted by webmanager on Tuesday October 22, 2013 at 01:48PM
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Student meets bestselling author Dan Brown

Junhao (Mark) Xu '16 is a big fan of bestselling author Dan Brown. Over the summer Mark read Brown's novel Inferno hot off the press. When he heard Dan Brown would be visiting the area, he wanted to go. Director of WMA's International Student Program Gayle Hsaio made arrangements for Mark to attend the lecture. Below is a synopsis written by Mark.

Below is a synopsis written by Mark:

Dan Brown, who wrote many bestselling novels including the Da Vinci Code, gave a speech lasting from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. on Thurs., Sept. 26 at his alma mater, Amherst College. Mr. Brown talked about his life experience and his opinion of the combination of region and science, and then answered fans questions. After Mr. Brown gave the interesting and inspiring lecture, he signed autographs and agreed to take photos with fans.

Posted by webmanager on Wednesday October 2, 2013
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WMA honors academic excellence with new medals

Thanks to the Deans Office, blazers just got a little heavier for some students at Wilbraham & Monson Academy. But that's a good thing.

The Academy will now reward all students who achieve honor roll for an entire academic calendar year with a distinguished WMA Academic Excellence Medal.

“We saw a lot of athletic pins on kids’ blazers, and that’s great because they work really hard at athletics, but they also work hard at academics,” said Brian Easler, Associate Head of School and Dean of Students at WMA. “We wanted some equal, public representation.

“I had a couple boys in my classroom two years ago who were considerable athletes on campus, and they looked like athletes. When you looked at them you thought ‘football player’. But what surprised me and probably most people was when they were in the classroom they were super bright and excellent students, and that went almost totally unrecognized because of the way they looked and the athletic pins they had on their blazer. We felt we needed a way for them to be recognized for their intellectual ability as well.”

The medals are made of antique bronze, which are different than other pins given by the Academy. The medal serves as the base, with dangles noting a specific school year added to the medal. A student who enrolls at WMA in sixth grade could potentially graduate with seven dangles hanging from the medal.

The Deans Office did its homework over the summer, compiling a retroactive list for all students in the classes of 2014-19. Upper school students who qualified were given a medal during school meeting at Alumni Memorial Chapel Sept. 5.

“This is a good habit to get into: honoring people for things other than extra curricular activities,” said Kristin Reeves ’14, who received six dangles for her academic work since entering the Academy in sixth grade.

“I think it’s a really good idea because it motivates students to get onto honor roll, and by having that medal it shows what you have done,” Sadie Park ’14 said. “It’s a nice way to accentuate a student’s academic works.”

Alexander Strange ’17, a first-year student at WMA, said the medals serve as a good incentive. “It’s a good idea to have the pins because it shows you’ve worked hard and it will make some kids work harder to get a pin,” Alexander said.

Posted by webmanager on Wednesday September 11, 2013 at 11:51AM
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