October 3rd, 2020
Austin Prep Claims Third Consecutive Nason Award
For the third consecutive year, and despite the cancellation of the spring season, Austin Prep has been named as the recipient of the 2019-2020 Boston Globe Nason Award. This award recognizes overall athletics excellence among Catholic co-educational schools across the Commonwealth, with overall, regular-season winning percentage as the criteria for selection. Congratulations to all our student-athletes and coaches for their unparalleled success over the past three academic years. For more information on all the Boston Globe Scholastic Awards, including the Nason Award, click here.
Athletics Returns to Austin Prep
The quest for a fourth straight Nason Award began this week, as after school hours at Austin Prep returned to its normal, vital self with the return of athletics to campus. It was the first official athletics activity since March. Nearly 450 student-athletes participated in tryouts for fall sports or out-of-season practices. To view photos from the week of tryouts, click here. Photos are courtesy of Ms. Nicolle Renick, Head Cross Country and Assistant Track and Field Coach.
The first home, on campus varsity athletic contests will take place on Monday, October 12nd, with Field Hockey playing at 10:00 a.m. and Boys Soccer playing at 1:00 p.m., both against Bishop Feehan.
Austin Prep Faculty and Staff Enrolled in Diversity, Equity and Social Justice Class at Merrimack College
Austin Prep continues its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives by advancing our cultural proficiency through faculty and staff professional development. Members of our administration and faculty have been actively participating in webinars run by the University of Notre Dame, Boston College, NAIS, AISNE, NEASC, and the NCEA. Currently, there are 12 faculty members who are enrolled in a Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice course taught by Tom Bourdon of the Merrimack College faculty. This course is specially designed for Austin Prep and is based on Dr. Bourdon's years of experience teaching this course at the collegiate level.
The class has focused on building community among the twelve teachers by discussing their experience and comfort level with the topic, followed by work on defining the terms diversity, equity and social justice so that they all have a shared understanding of the terms. The first week participants also discussed implicit bias as faculty took the Harvard Test. This served to help grapple with issues of race, specifically with the subject of engagement on school campuses. Faculty examined the difference between culture and climate and proposed ideas of how Austin Prep can promote higher levels of engagement for Students of Color. Austin Prep Faculty and Staff attending the class include, Ms. Kerry Barrett, Dr. Maria Blewitt, Ms. Alexandra Dell'Anno, Dr. William Driscoll, Mr. Raymond Kabunga, Mrs. Nicole Luongo, Mr. Michael McLaughlin, Ms. Sarah Meier, Mr. Jaycob Morales, Mrs. Nicole Putney, Mrs. Lisa Theriault, Ms. Alicia Varraso, and Ms. Heather Veit.
Despite Hybrid Learning Model, Science Labs Continue at Austin Prep
One of the many areas of the Austin Prep experience that had to be reimagined in our school reopening plan were science labs. Despite social distancing guidelines which impact how many students can be in a classroom, while simultaneously engaging students in a cohort learning from home, science labs are still a part of the curriculum at Austin Prep. Labs are possible, in part, to the addition of Ms. Alison Holland, Science Lab Assistant, who began work at Austin Prep just prior to the start of the academic year.
Ms. Holland helps manage a schedule to accommodate all of the science teachers and determine how to rework labs to be within the new guidelines posed by the pandemic, in addition to helping with the setup, implementation, and break down of lab experiments during class. She also takes students through the safety rules and regulations for the lab in which they will be performing experiments and moderates some labs when teachers are in class with remote students. Because some science classes have more than 10 students and because many of the labs only hold 10 students, a teacher can split the class in half and have Ms. Holland help manage the lab with half of the class in one room while the teacher has the other half of the class in another room. This way, the students can stay socially distant but still perform lab experiments.
Furthermore, students in the cohort learning from home are still engaged even if an experiment is taking place on campus. Labs are two part assignments to be completed after the conclusion of a two-day lab session, with the lab itself conducted while the student is on campus, and the remote activity a corresponding research assignment. This innovative approach being adopted in the science department creates an opportunity for students that otherwise would not be possible.
New Academic Program Provides Support to Children of Faculty and Staff
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many within our society to reimagine various aspects of daily life. As we return to some semblance of our routine lives, one such dilemma facing parents is the challenge of balancing professional obligations with family needs, an obstacle especially prevalent with those who work in various areas in elementary and secondary education institutions.
In the spirit of the Austin Prep mission, the School has developed the Academic Support Program, a program for Faculty and Staff to assist in the navigation of the delicate balance between professional fulfillment and family needs. At this time, hybrid and remote instruction delivery models are common practice throughout most school systems in our neighboring communities. The Academic Support Program offers a structured, and inspiring environment for our employees’ school age children to engage in their individual remote learning plans, unique to their schools, while their parents fulfill the responsibilities of their respective roles with Austin Prep.
The Academic Support Program launched September 8th and has been met with much success, as well as gratitude on behalf of our Austin Prep Faculty and Staff Community. The Program is staffed with educational leaders who are passionate about promoting a fluid, creative, and encouraging space for the young students, who represent grades ranging from 1st to 5th. The implementation of this program reminds us all during this time of uncertainty, when our community is faced with adversity, we can explore ways to identify a solution.
“Our goal is to provide a conducive, and supervised, environment for children of Faculty and Staff to allow them to independently engage in their respective remote learning plans while their parents fulfill obligations of their position with Austin Prep,” Mrs. Kelley Ferretti, Human Resources Generalist said. “I am thrilled to be part of creating something so innovative and new for our Austin Prep employees and their families.”
Middle Schoolers Study the Moon During Rare October Month
Ask a member of the sixth grade class of 2027 about the moon and they'll tell you about its phases, waxing and waning, and that October 2020 has two full moons. This past month, students have been exploring our nearest neighbor in the solar system - the moon - in their Earth and Space science class. Dr. Maria Blewitt, Science Chair, developed the course in line with her doctoral research on the pedagogy of citizen-scientists. Students crave curricular relevancy and the opportunity to apply knowledge to the real world. Sixth graders have enjoyed taking the vocabulary and concepts they've been exploring in class and applying them in staring into the starry skies and being their family's resident astronomer. Dr. Blewitt's curricular work continues the work of the Middle School Strategic Plan to invigorate the curriculum with innovative approaches to instruction that animate students' curiosity and spirit of inquiry.
College Counseling Hosts Junior Families on Webinar
Last week, the Office of College Counseling continued their virtual webinar series with a Junior Family Information Night. Panelists included admissions representatives from Boston University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Roger Williams University.
A reminder to our Juniors and Seniors that colleges have signed up to connect with you virtually. If you are on campus, these visits will take place in Rooms 307 or 309 and if you are remote, you may access the session with the URL that you receive when you register on Naviance under the "What's New" tab. Next week's visits include: Bentley University, Colby-Sawyer College, Curry College, DePaul University, Drexel University, Emerson College, Gettysburg College, Hobart William Smith Colleges, Johnson & Wales University, Kean University, Lasell University, Le Moyne College, Lycoming College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Stony Brook University, State University of New York, University of California-Irvine, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, University of New Hampshire and the University of Rochester.
Flu Shot Clinic a Success
Austin Prep hosted two successful Flu Vaccination Clinics for the school community on campus this week, with over 240 community members receiving a flu shot. As a reminder, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts now requires the influenza vaccine for all students in Kindergarten to Grade 12. All students must receive the vaccine before December 31st, 2020. If a student is unable to receive the vaccine, there are medical and religious exemptions allowable in the state of Massachusetts. If your child falls into one of these categories, or if you have any other questions, please contact the Health Office at (781) 944-4900, ext. 816 or 716.
Save The Date: Virtual Open House Week is Approaching
This year, Austin Prep will host our annual fall open house with a series of evening webinars starting on Monday, October 26th to Monday, November 2nd. Families can pick and choose which webinar they would like to attend. Each presentation is designed to provide families with a closer look into different aspects of Austin Prep including details specific to the Upper School, Middle School, athletics, arts and design, and much more. The webinars will include presentations from school leadership and a student panel discussion. More details will be forthcoming, but in the meantime, please contact the Office of Admissions at email@example.com.
Hispanic Heritage Month Continues at Austin Prep
Austin Prep is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, and we have been recognizing the contributions, achievements and influence of Hispanic Americans on the history and culture of the United States. Throughout the month we have provided students with opportunities to embrace and celebrate Hispanic culture. Yesterday, students enjoyed cuisine from Puerto Rico, including pollo guisado (Puerto Rican braised chicken thighs), Puerto Rican grilled flank steak, Puerto Rican pink beans, and sauteed zucchini with tomato sauce. Thank you Sage Dining for helping to supplement the learning experience of our students (and for the great food).
October 10th, 2020
Virtual Open House Week is Coming Soon
This year, Austin Prep will host our annual fall open house with a series of evening webinars starting on Monday, October 26th to Monday, November 2nd. Families can pick and choose which webinar they would like to attend. Each presentation is designed to provide families with a closer look into different aspects of Austin Prep. It is our goal that by the end of this virtual series, families will have a better understanding of Austin Prep and our mission: to inspire hearts to unite, minds to inquire and hands to serve. Some of our best referrals come from current families. Click here to learn more.
Art and Design Students Connect Class Curriculum and Dance
Madeline Hickey '22, an Independent Study in Advanced Choreography student, is seen here practicing the "Firebird" jump last week. This jump was made famous by Misty Copeland in the ballet of the same name. Copeland is the first African American principal ballerina with the American Ballet Theater. Students in Mrs. Marla Pascucci-Byrne's P'26 Middle School dance classes are also studying the Young Adult version of Copeland's autobiography this semester.
Picture Retakes Scheduled for October 13th and 15th
For those who missed school pictures last month, picture retakes have been scheduled for October 13th and 15th from 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Chapel attire is required. If you had your picture taken last month but were not in chapel attire, you need to attend picture retakes. For picture ordering information, click here.
If you opted to participate in the remote only teaching and learning option this quarter, you will not take your school picture on campus. Please contact Mark Lawrence Photography directly to schedule a time to have your photo taken at their studio.
Math Department Successfully Adapts in Hybrid Learning Setting
With the implementation of a hybrid model to start the academic year, there have been many changes to how Austin Prep faculty engage with and teach students. This has particularly been the case in our math classes, as the days of paper classwork, group projects with shared materials, and going to the white board for extra help have passed -- for now.
To help with this transition, professional development and various new software programs have provided our math faculty with the tools to effectively teach in the hybrid setting. Over the summer, the math faculty reimagined the best ways to reach all levels of students regardless of if they were learning from home or in the classroom. Faculty took multiple professional development courses related to remote learning and they experimented with different software packages and strategies to teach mathematics.
Faculty and students are using a multitude of teaching and learning strategies. Some teachers are creating videos of their lessons, allowing students the opportunity to preview material. The software app Notability adds a key component, allowing teachers the ability to share their screen with students at home and on campus so the students still receive the experience of working collaboratively with teachers to solve math problems. In this video, Mathematics Faculty, Mrs. Michele Brewer demonstrates this teaching technique. Additionally, breakout rooms incorporate cooperative learning, and extra help is easily available on Zoom with the shared screens.
"We are fortunate to have access to a wide range of technology and teaching tools to ensure that we are teaching math at the highest level, despite the circumstances." Mathematics Department Chair, Mrs. Natalie Petrillo P'10, said. "Although we look forward to returning to the whiteboard, we are pleased that our students are current with our curriculum and learning at the same pace as in previous years."
Athletic Department Prepares for Home Competition Monday
This Monday, October 12th marks the first home athletics contest to start the 2020-21 academic year. We are excited to see our student-athletes compete again, and Athletic Department staff have been hard at work preparing our facilities for spectators.
As we prepare for games on campus, and using CDC provided guidelines with collaboration with our Catholic Central League (CCL) counterparts, we have developed a set of spectator and visiting team guidelines for this Fall season, which can be found here. These guidelines are put in place to help ensure the health and well-being of not only our community, but those who visit our campus.
Parenting in a Pandemic
Please join us on Tuesday, October 20 at 6:30 p.m. for an interactive webinar featuring adolescent psychologist, Lance Linke, Ph.D. Parenting during the Covid-19 pandemic has presented new stressors and challenges. Household rules and norms have shifted and knowing how to foster independence and growth in adolescents is more complex than ever. In this webinar, Dr. Linke will discuss both the new (and old) challenges of parenting teenagers. His discussion will focus on the importance of careful decision-making for parents and guardians. Dr. Linke will also share practical tips and strategies related to setting healthy boundaries, best practices for communicating with students, and managing emotions. If you have any questions regarding the webinar, please contact School Counselor Mrs. Jess Lenci. To access the webinar, click here. If prompted, the passcode is 395469.
Dr. Linke is a clinical psychologist with expertise in self-regulation and behavior change. He holds doctoral-level degrees in both clinical and educational psychology. Dr. Linke has worked nationally and internationally with departments and ministries of health and education to create mental health frameworks that focus on the importance of emotional development across cultures. Dr. Linke has held faculty positions at Hawaii Pacific University, Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. His research publications are in the fields of cultural, educational and clinical psychology. Dr. Linke is currently the Director of Child & Adolescent Services at Kendall Psychological Associates.
Midweek Update Returns Here!
We are honored that the Austin Prep community favorite, Midweek Update, makes its season two debut here in the Cougar Courier. To check out what T.J., Marvin, and the rest of the APS Media crew are up to as they start the school year, click the button below.
Green Key Ambassadors Participate in Virtual Training
This week, 200 Austin Prep Green Key Ambassadors participated in workshops conducted by Core Trainings. An annual training, this year the training was conducted virtually. These workshops focused on understanding leadership and relational leadership concepts. Each session was customized to support this year’s School theme of “I pray that they will all be one," and each student participated in two and a half hours of training. In the training sessions, students focused on how leaders see beyond their perceptions, beliefs, and biases, and the value in mentoring others, especially our peers and younger students.
International Students Give Background on Chinese Moon Festival
Last week was the Chinese Moon Festival, a day similar to our Thanksgiving. In World Language Faculty Dr. PoChun Wang's Middle School Mandarin 1 class, international students Doris Du '23 and Sylvia Chen '21 presented to the class about traditions and how their families celebrate this special day. Doris showed the class a picture of the traditional moon cake her grandmother made.
Mr. McLaughlin Continues Work with National Geographic
Head of Middle School, Mr. Michael McLaughlin, who also serves as a National Geographic Certified Educator and Guide, recently led a National Geographic Educator Certification program webinar. The webinar, which had over 200 educators representing six continents, focused on the implementation of Phase 2 of the program, where educators design and implement two lessons using resources from National Geographic and must be intentional about embedding the National Geographic Education Frameworks within those lessons.
"One of the most gratifying elements of serving as a guide with the National Geographic Education program is the opportunity to work with educators from across disciplines, grade levels, and around the world," Mr. McLaughlin said on the webinar. "While my role is to provide support and encouragement, the greatest benefit of this work is to interact on the global scale and collaborate in instilling a sense of wonder, curiosity, and responsibility in students."
Community Spotlight: Mr. Raymond Kabunga
Note: Our vibrant campus comes to life as a result of the talented students and faculty who make up the Austin Prep community. We look forward to periodically highlighting those individuals here in the Cougar Courier.
Name: Mr. Raymond Kabunga
Hometown: Watertown, Ma.
Education: St Mbaaga’s Major Seminary Kampala, Uganda, B.A. Philosophy and Theology; Boston College, M.A. Religious Education
Years at Austin Prep: First Year
Years working in Education: 8 years
Department and Courses Taught: Theology; Introduction to the Sacred Scriptures, Living as Members of the Church
Describe a teacher who inspired you growing up: In high school in Uganda, I had a teacher who taught social studies. He made me love the subject to the point that I would always try my best to never miss his class. One of the things I learned from him was that he was always on time for his class and he always emphasized how being on time is essential and builds character.
Do you have a motto you teach by, or an expression you try to instill in your classroom? "It always seems impossible until it’s done" - Nelson Mandela
What’s the most insightful thing a student has ever said to you? “Thank you for being a good listener and someone who has taught me with patience over the past four years."
If you weren’t a teacher, what career would you have? I would be a priest.
Favorite Quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure” - Nelson Mandela
Fun fact about you, or something your colleagues & students might not ordinarily know: As I was growing up in Uganda, I used to like climbing trees and being able to go to the top of the trees and see the rest of the forest.
Any other information you would like to share? I am a fan of Arsenal Football Club in the United Kingdom. I am also a fan of Boston College sports. I like traveling, cooking, and hiking.
School Closed Monday
In accordance with the school calendar, Austin Prep will be closed on Monday, October 12th. The school will reopen on Tuesday, October 13th, and Cohort A will be on campus. Enjoy the day Monday!