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Posted Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014 

Author Jody Casella addresses WMA English classes

Author Jody Casella was a guest speaker April 7 in five classes at Wilbraham & Monson Academy, where she addressed students from the upper school and middle school regarding the rigors of the writing and publishing process.

Ms. Casella’s sixth book, "Thin Space," was recently published by Simon & Schuster.

Ms. Casella explained what she called “the myths of the creative process” and recounted how many drafts it took to complete "Thin Space," which is a young adult fiction novel. WMA’s AP Literature & Composition students also close-read the first scene of her novel and explored how the author built characterization, dialogue and plot.

“As a young writer I have always thought that my work may never be good enough to publish. However, after talking to Ms. Casella and listening to her experience with writing I learned writing is about perseverance,” Jessica Smith ’14 said. “Every good authors hear ‘no’ from editors until someone finally says ‘yes’ and the key is to continue writing. Ms. Casella explained that she has written seven books but it was her sixth book that was published. And from that she showed our class each copy and the edits it endured in order to be the published work of art it is today.”

WMA library assistant Noel Shamleffer invited Ms. Casella to campus, and Director of Library Services Deb Levheim coordinated the visits to various English classes. A former English teacher before becoming a published author, Ms. Casella was a natural in the classroom and hit it off with the WMA students.

“Ms. Casella provided visual examples of manuscripts and explained how much can change between one draft and the next,” Ms. Levheim said. “This was a great teachable moment for our students because they can feel overwhelmed by the editing process and about rewriting some of their own work so it was positive for them to see that even professional writers have to edit, rewrite and go through multiple drafts.

“I was also pleased the students got to meet a living, published author because I think sometimes they might read a book and not realize all of the labor that went into creating it.”

Posted Wednesday, Apr 2, 2014 

Lauren Poole '17 wins state title in gymnastics

Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Lauren Poole ’17 won another state title this gymnastics season, but unlike other years, this championship came with a big reward.

After winning the vault in a field of 44 competitors at the Connecticut State Championship, Lauren was selected to compete at the regional competition for Team Connecticut.

“Working really hard in the gym paid off,” said Lauren, who competed in the Level 8 category. “Making regionals has been a goal of mine ever since I started competing so making it was quite an accomplishment.”

Lauren won the vault for the sixth time in seven years at the state meet, which was held this season March 23 at Hamden, Conn. The win on vault was particularly sweet because she successfully completed a new routine.

“It was amazing,” said Lauren, who also placed sixth in the all-around. “I worked really hard and it was the first time I performed that type of vault in a competition. I felt prepared because I did it a bunch of times in practice.

“I also thought I did pretty well at the all-around. I did a new connect on beam for the first time so being able to complete that was good.”

Along with her six titles on vault, she’s won the bars three times, all-around three times, and the floor exercise once at the state meet. She will compete the regional meet in Woburn April 27.


Posted Tuesday, Apr 1, 2014 

4 WMA students serve as journalists at global summit in China

Four students from Wilbraham & Monson Academy served as journalists while attending the Global Student Leaders Summit in China March 18.

More impressively, those four students had their work published in various media outlets during and after the conference, which drew students from throughout the world.

Carolyn Cross ’15, Emily Zeno ’15, Meg Harrington ’15 and Jackson FrenchRobitaille ’14 served as working members of the media while at the global summit in Shanghai. They wrote on topics ranging from social issues to China’s historic sites.

“It was a real world-type of responsibility,” Carolyn said. “We submitted articles and had them sent back because the editors wanted something slightly different. We had to scrap our first articles and re-write them, which is what journalists have to do for their jobs.”

Carolyn wrote for the Huffington Post; Emily was published in the Wilbraham Times; Meg blogged for Boston Innovation; and Jackson worked for Education First, which served as the media host at the summit.

“We got to work on our writing and see what the editors wanted,” Emily said. “The editor of the Wilbraham Times wanted me to focus on the cultural differences between America and China. I had to adjust to different people and interview different people. I got the full experience of journalism.”

Meg worked at a mock press conference for former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., who also previously served as Ambassador to Singapore and China.

“I had the job of opening up the press conference with a question and thanking him for being there,” Meg explained. “I asked my question, which was ‘What leadership skills did you learn as governor of Utah that we could use as young leaders to apply to issues that are important to us.’ He talked about listening to people and relating to everyone.”

Prior to the press conference, Emily was invited to have lunch with Mr. Huntsman, who has served in the administration for four U.S. presidents. Emily earned the opportunity to sit with Mr. Huntsman and his wife at the head table after submitting a video on natural disaster relief, which focused on the 2011 tornado and snowstorm, both of which crippled Greater Springfield.


Posted Monday, Mar 31, 2014 

Jonathan Lee '15 performs at Boston Symphony Hall

Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Jonathan Lee ’15 made the most of his opportunity to play with the best high school musicians in the state, putting forth a beautiful performance at Boston Symphony Hall March 22 during a show by the Massachusetts Music Educators Association All-State Orchestra.

“It was a great experience,” said Jonathan, a violinist. “I have never played in a hall like that. It was one of my greatest experiences.”

Jonathan and the rest of the All-State Orchestra maintained a rigorous schedule in the days leading up to the concert. The musicians, who numbered roughly 70, practiced from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. for two days, with breaks for lunch and dinner. The group also had a final rehearsal the morning of the show.

“We only practiced together for a few days but we practiced hard,” Jonathan said. “It was a difficult schedule but it was worth it.”

Along with the experience of playing in the historic facility, Jonathan enjoyed meeting the various high school musicians.

“I met different people,” he said. “I felt there were many better violinists and musicians than me. I learned a lot and now I know I need to practice more in order to improve.”

Posted Monday, Mar 31, 2014 

Aparna Sivakumar '15, Carolyn Cross '15 win competition in China

At a competition on the other side of the globe, which included participants from throughout the world, two students from Wilbraham & Monson Academy stood out.

Aparna Sivakumar ’15 and Carolyn Cross ’15 were among a group that won a competition at the Global Student Leaders Summit in China March 18.

More than 500 students were put into small groups for two days to discuss 21st century themes, such as education, the environment, and health and safety. The objective was to create a social business while also alleviating a social problem.

“The students had to use a design thinking methodology,” said Mr. Walter Swanson, Director of WMA’s Center for Entrepreneurial & Global Studies program. “The idea behind designed thinking is the process of innovation: how do you generate ideas for increasingly complex and interconnected problems that don’t just exist in one academic silo.”

Aparna and Carolyn initially attempted to address bullying, but later opted to come up with a solution for preventing texting while driving. “We created a product that makes it impossible to text and drive if someone’s phone and car are synced with this device,” Carolyn said. “We called it ‘BRB I’m Driving.’”

Aparna and Carolyn designed a key chain that connects to a cell phone via Bluetooth. When synced, the cell phone would go into something similar to airplane mode. The suggested selling price was $27.99, with 10% of the proceeds going toward victims of accidents caused by texting while driving. Aparna and Carolyn had their winning device displayed at the summit’s Innovation Village.

“It was fun,” Aparna said. “I didn’t think we’d win. I thought maybe our idea was being repeated and there were so many really great ideas.”


Posted Monday, Mar 31, 2014 

WMA lands 5 basketball players on All-NEPSAC team

The Wilbraham & Monson Academy Boys’ Basketball team may have come up a notch short of its goal of winning a New England title, but the Titans sure didn’t come up short in regards to postseason honors.

Five players from WMA were selected to the All-NEPSAC Class AA team for the 2013-14 season.

“I’m proud of our guys and all their individual and team accomplishments,” WMA Coach Chris Sparks ’95 said. “To have five guys make All-NEPSAC is a testament to their hard work and dedication. Although we fell short of our goal this season, it’s nice to see the guys get rewarded.”

Goodluck Okonoboh ’14 was selected to the first team, while Taylor Fortin ’14 earned a spot on the second team. Max Hoetzel ’14 was named to the third team, while Curtis Cobb ’15 and Marcel Pettway ’15 were chosen for the honorable mention team.


Posted Monday, Mar 31, 2014 

Shacor Privott '14 signs NLI to play football at CCSU

After capping a great football career at Wilbraham & Monson Academy, Shacor Privott ’14 is looking to begin a new career in his home state of Connecticut.

Shacor, of Middletown, signed his National Letter of Intent in March to attend Central Connecticut State University.

“I like the new coaching staff at Central Connecticut,” said Shacor, who also strongly considered the University of Connecticut and Stony Brook University. “I look at myself as a blue-collar guy as well. I like what they’re doing.”

Shacor starred as a running back and linebacker during his three-year career at WMA. He served as a captain each season.

“Coming to the Academy three years ago, it helped me mature a lot as a person and as a player,” said Shacor, who will play inside linebacker at CCSU. “It was a different brand of football here and it opened my eyes how much harder I had to work.”

“He’s been a great player on the field and off the field; offensively and defensively,” WMA Coach Jeff Vartabedian said. “He was a great teammate and leader. I’m extremely proud of him and I look forward to the successes he’s going to have at Central Connecticut. We wish him all the best and we were fortunate to have him here at WMA.”

Shacor also thanked all the people from WMA and his hometown who helped him along the way. He said, “I wouldn’t be in this situation if those people didn’t support me.”

Click here to view Shacor's signing ceremony at WMA.


Posted Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 

Mr. Swanson, Ambassador Kim '77 serve on expert panel at summit in China

Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Center for Entrepreneurial & Global Studies Director Walter Swanson and Board of Trustee member Hyun Chong Kim ’77 served on an expert panel at the Global Student Leaders Summit in Shanghai March 18.

The summit concluded WMA’s 2014 trip to China, during which 17 students and six faculty members visited historic sites as well as global businesses in Beijing and Shanghai.

Mr. Swanson and Ambassador Kim, former Korean Ambassador to the United Nations, were among five panelists who addressed how schools are changing in order to adapt to 21st century marketplace skills.

“I gave examples of some of the changes we’ve made at the Academy regarding areas we’ve put more emphasis on, such as the study of economics and modern globalization,” Mr. Swanson explained. “I also addressed the further challenges that education will be wrestling with, including not just changing some of the content of our curriculum, but putting more significant emphasis into how we teach to ensure our students are gaining practice and mastery of 21st century skills.”

The panel addressed an audience of more than 100 educators, who were given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the panel discussion.

“A lot of schools go through this transition and try to come up with what is the ‘it’ that we’re supposed to be doing,” Mr. Swanson said. “The easy thing is to get people to nod their heads in agreement because these 21st century skills sound good. But the other questions are how is this different from what we have been doing, and when certain areas are emphasized, what areas become less emphasized. Those challenges push all of us in education to look at significant school change.”

Prior to the summit, the WMA group visited Google China and Mary Kay Cosmetics.


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