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Posted Thursday, Jun 25, 2015 
In July, 12 WMA delegates will travel to China to run a summer program, while the Jaihui group will send 155 to WMA in August for an American Culture camp experience.

WMA signs Sister School Agreement with Jiahui Yangguang School

On March 30, a small delegation from two schools, WMA and the Jiahui Yangguang School, met in Dalian, China to sign a sister school agreement.

What is a sister school agreement and what do both schools hope to gain from the relationship? First, it is simply a way to formalize the relationship between the two schools in the hope that both constituencies will learn and grow from the friendship. Second, it is the opportunity for the exchange of ideas, programs, and people, again in the hope that both constituencies will be better together than even the sum of their parts.

Our first introduction with the Jaihui Education Group (a private school with six schools throughout Dalian serving elementary, middle and high school students) occurred last summer when a group of approximately 130 students, teachers, and administrators came to our campus in August. A WMA staff of five teachers and 11 student prefects worked hard to make our guests feel welcome and to give them a sense of what life in America and WMA is like. It was a result of this hard work, and the good experience they had, that they came back to us in the fall to ask if we would consider entering a sister school agreement with them.

After a small team negotiated an agreement stateside, Head of School Brian Easler met with the administrators in China in March and signed the agreement. In very basic words it states that we will share with each other information about programs, exchanges, and professional development opportunities in the future without holding either party in any kind of contract that requires anything except continuing the friendship.

The first exchange they asked us to be a part of will be happening in July. We will send a delegation of 12 educators who will travel to China to run a summer program July 13-24. We will be teaching English, Culture, Drama, Economics and PE. 

In August, the Jaihui Education Group will be sending a second group (this time 155 students, teachers and administrators) to our campus for another American Culture camp experience. 

Posted Tuesday, May 5, 2015 
Dr. Keroack is the CEO and President of Baystate Health, the largest employer in Western Massachusetts.

Dr. Mark Keroack '72 named as Commencement speaker

Dr. Mark Keroack ’72 MD, MPH, who saw two of the biggest transitions in the history of Wilbraham & Monson Academy, will be this year’s commencement speaker at the Academy’s graduation ceremonies May 23.

“It means a lot to me to come back,” said Dr. Keroack, who visited with students and administration April 21 during a private luncheon on campus. “I was in the first class of Wilbraham & Monson, and now it’s been 43 years. I’m hoping I’m going to share some of the unexpected twists and turns in my life, and how what I learned here at the Academy helped me prepare and adapt to them.”

Dr. Keroack, a Springfield native, attended the Academy when it went co-ed, and was entering his senior year in 1971 when Wilbraham Academy and Monson Academy merged.

“It’s remarkable to me, all the technical learning I’ve done is less useful to me in this moment than the stuff I learned here,” Dr. Keroack explained. “I got a masters degree in bio statistics: I don’t do statistics anymore; I got an MD from Harvard Medical School: I don’t practice medicine anymore.

“But I have to influence and inspire people every day, and I have to rally people toward a common purpose, and I have to help people see the higher value of what they’re doing. All of those things, I’ve drawn from here, and also Amherst (College). The idea of maintaining balance in your education is one of the things I’m going to try to get across.”

After teaching for a dozen years at the University of Massachusetts and serving as the senior vice president and chief medical officer for the University of Health System Consortium, Dr. Keroack was hired in 2014 as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Baystate Health, the largest medical organization in Western Massachusetts.

“I’m thrilled to have Dr. Keroack as a commencement speaker because I think he has an extremely interesting and engaging story in the track of his life since he left here in 1972,” Head of School Brian Easler said. “I’m excited for the community to hear his story.

“In addition to that, he’s the President and CEO of the largest employer in Western Massachusetts, and he’s using innovative practices to maintain the independence of Baystate Health. It’s going to be a good message for everyone.”

Posted Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015 
A grid painting by Ms. Decker will be on display in April at the 2015 Spring Art Exhibition & Sale in Monson.

Ms. Decker's artwork selected for show

Wilbraham & Monson Academy Fine and Performing Arts Department member Wendy Decker has been selected to participate in a local art show.

Ms. Decker’s colored pencil drawing was chosen to be displayed at the 2015 Spring Art Exhibition & Sale in April at the Monson House of Art.

“Other than commission pieces, I haven’t created a lot on my own since college,” Ms. Decker said. “I entered a demo piece last year for this show and got rejected, but this I felt really happy about.”

In July, with an upcoming project for her WMA Drawing class in mind, Ms. Decker created a 12-inch by 9-inch drawing titled "Aquarelle" based on the work of Chuck Close, a partially paralyzed artist who specializes in grid portraits.

“He used a grid to fill in every little detail,” Ms. Decker explained. “I fell more and more in love with this process and am glad I saw it through to the end. It is a photo I was inspired by from an “Anthropologie” ad and I hope to do more pieces like this in the future.”

The show will be open six dates in April, with the opening being held April 11 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Ms. Decker will attend the Artists’ Reception that day 1-4 p.m. The Monson House of Art is located at 200 Main St. in Monson.

Posted Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014 
The new middle school dormitory was named in honor of Rodney and Shirley LaBrecque.

LaBrecques honored with dorm

Wilbraham & Monson Academy took the lead in global education when it trademarked itself The Global School®.

This school year, the Academy has again stepped to the front of global education, doing something no other school in the United States can match.

During Family Weekend, WMA had a ribbon-cutting event for the Dedication of The Rodney and Shirley LaBrecque House, which serves as a dorm for 12 Grade 8 middle school students. “We’re the only boarding school that offers boarding for 8-postgraduate,” former Head of School Rodney LaBrecque said.

“This is a different model. I’m pleased with how it came out, and the quality of the students, from what I understand, is great.” Head of School Brian Easler and Board of Trustees Chair Scott Jacobs ’75 offered a welcome to the more than 200 people who attended the ceremony, which was held Oct. 18, in front of the dorm.

Since he began at the Academy in 2002, Mr. LaBrecque felt the Middle School needed a boarding component. In his final year as Head of School, he saw his belief become a reality, with construction beginning near the end of his tenure. Students from China, Korea, Mexico, Russia and Ukraine moved in at the start of the 2014-15 school year.

“What is happening here is to the future well-being of our planet,” Mr. LaBrecque said. “These middle school students are forging a new tradition.”

“The Middle School dorm is another pillar in the career of Rodney and Shirley LaBrecque,” Middle School Director Charlie D’Avanzo said. “Our middle school students will now look beyond their own world to the globe.”

Project donors S. Prestley and Helen Blake, William Faulkner ’57, Edward Gramse ’39 and family, Craig Rubin ’63 and Kent Pecoy were recognized for their generosity during the ceremony.

Also, “There was an anonymous donor who cleaned up a whole lot of extras, I will say,” acknowledged Timm Marini, a member of the Board of Trustees and Chair for the Buildings and Grounds Committee.

Mr. Marini added the project was completed in time for the school year due to the efforts of many people, including former Board of Trustee member Mike Flynn.

“Although it was a hard process and a driven process, it was done with class and poise,” Mr. Marini said. “As a result we have a beautiful facility for the kids.”

Mr. LaBrecque was on campus for the first time in more than a month. He greeted friends, faculty and students as they entered the dormitory for a tour at the conclusion of the ceremony.

“It was fantastic to see all of the students and families here, and enjoying this beautiful campus,” Mr. LaBrecque said. “This dormitory will add to the quality of the student body and the quality of the student life, so it’s a fantastic opportunity for the school as we move ahead with being a leader in global education.”


Posted Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 
Kelley's unit captured a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Captain Kelley McCormick '84 of Boston PD returns to WMA

When Kelley McCormick ’84 enrolled as a student at Wilbraham & Monson Academy in 1981, he had no idea what he wanted to do for a profession. He didn’t envision himself being a police officer, and he certainly didn’t envision himself being in the middle of a terrorist attack.

However, even though he didn’t anticipate either, the Academy prepared him for both. Kelley visited classrooms and spoke to the entire Middle School before addressing the faculty and students at school meeting Sept. 11.

“I came back because of the way I was treated here,” Kelley said. “I’m an alum, and I’m also a huge supporter and believer that alumni believe in the Academy, and coming back to the school is part of a way I can help . . . maybe help that kid where I was sitting at school meeting.”

Kelley said WMA gave him the academic structure and skills to be successful, and he values the friendships and mentorships he received. For him, most importantly, he learned the value of being a servant leader.

“The Academy taught me to get outside of my individual self and look out into the world and ask, ‘How can I lead and how can I make this a better place?’” he said.

Kelley, a captain in the Boston Police Department, made Boston a better place in April of 2013. He was working a detail at the Boston Marathon near the finishing line when two bombs exploded. While others were confused, Kelley recognized a certain smell and his experience told him what had happened. The next night, his unit surrounded and captured one of the two suspects.

“I was happy that I was able to make a difference . . . that I was in the right place at the right time to make a difference, especially after 9/11, when I couldn’t get back to Boston because I was stuck in Las Vegas,” said Kelley, a 27-year member of the Boston Police Department. “The worst feeling in the world is helplessness. It was good to make a difference because a lot of people didn’t feel safe.”

Similar to 9/11, Kelley said the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon disrupted reality and “changed every person I know in some way.”

“When we cleared the area after we caught the suspect I called my wife and let her know I was OK. That was tough. It was the only time in operations that both my wife and sister said, ‘Don’t get killed today.’”

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