Fitchburg kids celebrate science, math, tech

posted Apr 14, 2014, 7:04 AM by Fitch burg


10-year-old Seamus Leger and 9-year-old Owen LeBlanc work with "Scratch", a free educational programming language developed by the Media Lab at MIT. (T&G Staff Photos/BETTY JENEWIN)



Magdelana Suarez works with her 9-year-old son Brian Suarez to make a spaghetti tower. They are from Fitchburg. (T&G Staff/BETTY JENEWIN) Enlarge photo


Eliza Gallo, 9, plants a sunflower seed during the Family Gala Night at Reingold Elementary School. (T&G Staff/BETTY JENEWIN) Enlarge photo

FITCHBURG — Students and parents learned STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) principles while having fun at the third annual AALI Family Gala Night March 27 at Reingold Elementary School. 

Middle-schooler in Fitchburg attends leaders conference

posted Apr 14, 2014, 6:24 AM by Fitch burg

Sentinel & Enterprise
POSTED:   04/13/2014 06:31:41 AM EDT

FITCHBURG -- Elise Pierce, a sixth-grader at Memorial Middle School, attended the National Young Leaders Conference in Wakefield March 20-23. The conference recognizes students who have exhibited academic success and leadership potential.

"I am very grateful to Ms. Callahan, my fifth-grade math teacher, who nominated me for this opportunity," Elise said prior to the event. "I look forward to learning skills that I can put to use at school."

The National Young Leaders Conference has outstanding students from across the nation take part in unique leadership development. The conference helps young scholars build leadership skills and strategies that are critical for success in the 21st century.

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A bloodthirsty plant! At Fitchburg High!

posted Apr 14, 2014, 5:28 AM by Fitch burg   [ updated Apr 14, 2014, 5:33 AM ]

'Little Shop of Horrors' ready to deliver the musical mayhem
By Alana Melanson,
POSTED:   04/10/2014 07:02:25 AM EDT0 COMMENTS

Kasey Laroque and Tyler Scipione perform a number during a preview performance of the musical "Little Shop of Horrors" at Fitchburg High
Kasey Laroque and Tyler Scipione perform a number during a preview performance of the musical "Little Shop of Horrors" at Fitchburg High Wednesday morning. The show premieres tonight. See a video at SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE 

Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

FITCHBURG -- Fitchburg High School students are ready to provide laughs, thrills and chills this weekend with their production of the well-loved comedy horror rock musical "Little Shop of Horrors."

Senior Tyler Scipione will portray Seymour, a meek worker at a rundown flower shop owned by the cranky Mr. Mushnik, portrayed by sophomore Skyler Robinson.

The business is doing very poorly until Seymour finds some exotic plants, including a large Venus flytrap-like plant that intrigues customers and draws them in, to the delight of the money-hungry Mr. Mushnik.

Seymour, played by senior Tyler Scipione, sings with the ever-hungry plant Audrey II, played by Mia Valadez, during a preview performance of the musical
Seymour, played by senior Tyler Scipione, sings with the ever-hungry plant Audrey II, played by Mia Valadez, during a preview performance of the musical comedy "Little Shop of Horrors" at Fitchburg High on Wednesday. The show premieres tonight at 7 p.m. at FHS, with additional shows at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE 

Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

Seymour is secretly enamored of his coworker, Audrey, portrayed by sophomore Ryan O'Neil, and names the plant Audrey II, but he soon finds out the carnivorous plant requires blood. When Seymour finds out that Audrey's boyfriend, Orin, a sadistic dentist who loves to inflict pain on people, portrayed by senior Guy Chase, is abusive to her, Seymour feeds Orin to the plant. Audrey II becomes increasingly more demanding of blood, leading Seymour to make a number of questionable decisions in order to maintain the fame he has gained as the plant's caretaker.

"It's a really great show and a lot of people put a lot of really hard work into it," Robinson said.

"It's always a real pleasure working with the students here, because their commitment is always tremendous," said Tabitha Greenlees, director and music teacher. "And it always takes an army of people to do a musical, and I've received a lot of support from staff members here at the high school, and other schools."

Between acting, technical production work and other pieces such as creating playbills, at least 65 students have had some hand in working on the musical, she said.

Senior Bao Truong, who plays the voice of the plant, also created all of the graphics for the show, Greenlees said.

She said FHS teacher Ellen Welsh's marketing and business classes helped to create the playbills, FHS drama teacher Steve Dauphinais is tech director, McKay Arts Academy teacher Marci Loiselle is stage director, and middle school band director Derek Dassatti will play piano for the show. Greenlees also thanked Tom Simahk for designing and building all of the sets, and the FHS Band Parents Association for all of their support.

Scipione, Robinson and Chase said they've had a great time working on the show, and the cast has become like a second family to them.

While all three have done other shows, this is Chase's first musical, and he said he regrets not becoming involved in theater before his senior year.

"I didn't do it freshman year, and now I regret it," he said. "I just recommend all upcoming freshmen to get involved in theater--it really is a great experience."

"Join theater because it's the most fun thing you'll ever do in high school," Scipione said in agreement.

Greenlees said more than 1,000 members of the community came to see last year's production of "Grease," the school's first full musical in two decades, and she's hopeful for another great turnout this year.

"To have that kind of support, from within our school district and from the community at large, is really fantastic and such a tremendous thing for the students to be able to see and interact with and to know the things they do, all their hard work, has absolutely been appreciated and welcomed by the community," she said.

"Little Shop of Horrors" premieres tonight at 7 p.m. at FHS, with additional showings at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets for the show are $5 each, and children under 10 get in free. 

The production is presented by special arrangement with Music Theatre International. 

Follow Alana Melanson at or on Twitter @alanamelanson.

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Little Shop of Horror- Promo Video

posted Apr 10, 2014, 5:42 AM by Nicholas Morin

Little Shop Of Horror Promo.avi

Students are proud to have their artwork exhibited at the Fitchburg Art Museum

posted Apr 2, 2014, 7:30 AM by Fitch burg

Coming up May 1st - 4th, the Fitchburg Art Museum is excited to host the 2014 Art in Bloom weekend. This exhibit is a partnership with the Laurelwood Garden Club. Art in Bloom is an area-wide collaboration of garden clubs, florists, garden centers, landscape designers and inspired individuals who fill the Museum with an extravaganza of floral designs. This creative use of flowers to interpret works of art is one of the most popular and well attended events at the Museum. Admission to the exhibit is free to all Museum goers. Students from the Fitchburg Public Schools are proud to have their artwork chosen to be included in this professional art exhibit at the Fitchburg Art Museum.

There will be a champagne celebration on Friday evening, May 2nd, which is expected to draw over 200 guest.

1. Enzo Marrone, Grade 6, Longsjo School, Teacher - Ms. Robillard, acrylic paint, approx. 1’9”x2’3"

2. Barbara Santiago and Bivlahna Massas, Grade 7, Longsjo School, Teacher - Ms. Robillard, acrylic paint, approx. 1’8”x 2’ 2"

3. Jaelese Garay, Grade 7, Memorial Middle School, Teacher -Ms. Connell, tempera, approx. 1’ 10” x 2’ 4"

4. Sophia Mahone, Grade 7, Memorial Middle School, Teacher -Ms. Connell, tempera, approx. 2’ 4” x 1’ 10"

5. Ryann M., Grade 3, McKay Arts Academy, Teacher -Ms. Cranson, printmaking, approx. 1’ 11” x1’ 5"

6. Ava Boddie, Grade 4 AS, South Street School,Teacher - Ms. Rivers, tempera and glue, approx. 1’ 11” x1’ 5"

Little Feet, big hearts at race

posted Apr 1, 2014, 10:43 AM by Nicholas Morin

By Matt Stewart, Correspondent

POSTED:   04/01/2014 06:34:51 AM EDT0 COMMENTS

FITCHBURG -- Community service and helping others in need are values that Fitchburg High School strives instill in its students, and the annual 5K for Little Feet charity road race exemplifies these goals in action.

The race, now entering its fourth year, is entirely student initiated and run, and the bulk of the proceeds go to providing shoes for underprivileged elementary and middle school students in Fitchburg Public Schools. This year's race features a new course and the outreach goal of attracting more participants.

Race day is set for April 27 at Fitchburg High School at a cost is $20 for those who pre-register and $25 on the day of the event. There is a combined 5K race and walk for adults and older children, as well as a modified kids' race that is free for young children.

Fitchburg High seniors Jason Bugarin and Connor Dufour are serving as race directors and are organizing the event with help from a half-dozen other students.

"Last year was the most successful year, as we were able to buy the most shoes in our history," Dufour said. "(Compared to this point last year) we are on track to achieve that same goal, but we're hoping for additional race registrations to meet it.

"It's great to be able to help out the community and give back to Fitchburg Public Schools. It helps the kids feel a little more comfortable and it's one less thing that they have to worry about, and they can focus more on schoolwork."

The race started four years ago when members of the National Honors Society and track team were brainstorming ideas to fulfill a community service requirement. The race's financial success continues to grow, through business donations and race participants, and reached an all-time high in fundraising last year of $3,000, which provided 112 pairs of shoes for Fitchburg students.

The balance of the proceeds not going directly to shoe purchases get earmarked for the Fitchburg school system's Unified Track Program, which offers young, special-needs students and non-special-needs students the opportunity to engage in physical activity, compete and interact together through track and field.

"We're trying to help kids out in our middle and elementary schools who are underprivileged and don't have the ability to buy shoes and really need shoes," Bugarin said. "We communicate with the schools to see what their needs are, and the need is always there. So the goal is to provide shoes for them to wear around and improve them in participating in running sports.

"The Unified Track Program doesn't get a lot of funding through our schools and it's still relatively new, so we try to get them some money to help them with expenses and needs."

The biggest upgrade to this year's event is the new 5K course. In years past it was a straight-line course, up and back, but now the route will feature a more traditional loop.

Runners will start out at Fitchburg High and climb up Kingsman Road, before turning right onto High Rock Road. Participants will then turn right on Richardson, cross over Ashby State Road, then bear right toward the Candlewood Park development. The race concludes by exiting the development back on to Ashby State and finishing at the high school.

"It won't be a straight up-and-down run like before," Bugarin said. "It will be a variability of terrain, with some hills, and I think it will make it a better race because it's an entire loop."

Another innovation by this year's organizers is the option of registering for the event online, while also marketing it on and other platforms, with the goal of increasing participation. To register online visit,

For those wishing to pay by mail or simply make a donation to the cause, make checks payable to The Fitchburg High School Principal's Fund, Attention: 5K for Little Feet, and mail them to 140 Arn-How Farm Road, Fitchburg, MA 01420. All participants who pre-register will receive an event T-shirt, thanks to a partnership with Northeast Promotion & Apparel's Blue Heron in Leominster.

Organizing the event involved reaching out to a variety of venues in the community. Timing company First-Time Out is volunteering its equipment and timing services, while other local businesses provided sponsorship through monetary donations and gift prizes. The Fitchburg students also worked with Public Works Commissioner Lenny Laakso and the Fitchburg Police Department to ensure race safety.

The organizers are partnering with Saucony for purchasing the shoes, and will distribute them to the local middle and elementary schools following the race.

Although the primary goal is helping children in need, there are some ancillary benefits to both Bugarin, who will be attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the fall, and Dufour, a fellow future engineering major who is currently undecided about his college choice.

"This project is valuable, enabling us to help out in the community, which is important," Bugarin said. "The skills we got from this type of event, by talking to businesses and managing the event, might help with project management for a career and in the real world, where you have to work with other people toward a common goal."

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Fitchburg High School Student Receives MIAA Student-Athlete of the Month Award

posted Mar 31, 2014, 6:12 AM by Fitch burg

FITCHBURG – Leonardo Ramirez, a junior at Fitchburg High School, has been selected as the recipient of the “MIAA 

Student-Athlete of the Month Award" for February 2014.

A three-sport athlete, Leonardo Ramirez has been a vital part of the athletic program at Fitchburg High School. He has 

participated in every sport season as a member of the football, indoor and outdoor track teams. Leonardo has been a 

two-year starter in football and a top point winner in indoor and outdoor track since his freshman year. This past winter 

season, he was undefeated in the shot put during the dual meet season, was the Mid-Wach A League Champion in the 

shot put and earned a league all-star selection. He broke the school record with a throw of 54’-0.75” while winning the 

MIAA Division 3 State Championship. Leonardo followed that performance by finishing third in the MIAA All-State 

Meet and fifth in the New England Championship Meet. 

In addition to his tremendous work ethic on the athletic field, Leonardo is also known for his dedicated work in the 

classroom. He has earned a 2.8 overall grade point average and a 3.4 grade point average this academic year. His 

schedule includes several honors and advance placement courses. Leonardo’s future goal is to attend college and major 

Leonardo is involved in several service activities in the Fitchburg community. He participated on the Relay for Life 

team at the Greater Gardner Relay for Life event, serves food at Our Fathers House, a local homeless shelter, and 

participates in nursing home visits with his church choir. Leonardo also takes part in the Fitchburg High School 

Educational Talent Search program and volunteers numerous hours at the school. In addition to his volunteer activities, 

Leonardo has a part-time job in which he works over 20 hours a week. 

Fitchburg High School Football Coach Dan Walker says “Leo is a hard worker and a great kid to coach. He brings a lot 

of leadership and character to the team.” Fitchburg Track Coach Chris Woods also says “No matter what the 

environment, in intense competitions, Leo stays composed and handles the pressure very well. He is a great 

representative for the Fitchburg High School community.” 

The “Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Student-Athlete of the Month Award” is presented on 

a monthly basis to one male and one female student-athlete who display excellence in the areas of academics, athletics 

and community service. Students in grades 9-12 who attend MIAA member schools are eligible to receive the award. 

Monthly award winners will receive a certificate of recognition and be featured on Nominations for the 

award may be submitted by principals, athletic directors, teachers, coaches, guidance counselors or other school 

administrators. A complete list of “MIAA Student-Athlete of the Month Award” recipients and finalists can be found 

under the “Educational Athletics” and “Leadership” sections at

Fitchburg kids meet local lifesaver Lilly

posted Mar 31, 2014, 5:56 AM by Fitch burg

Sentinel & Enterprise

POSTED:   03/30/2014 06:52:01 AM EDT# COMMENTS

Kayla and Kiana Shaffer, students at South Street Elementary School in Fitchburg, meet Lilly the rescue dog. Courtesy PhotoSentinel and Enterprise staff
Kayla and Kiana Shaffer, students at South Street Elementary School in Fitchburg, meet Lilly the rescue dog. Courtesy Photo 

Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our Smugmug site.

FITCHBURG -- Students at South Street Elementary School were excited to meet Lilly the rescue dog, along with her owner David Lanteigne.

Featured in a book read to the students by PTO Vice President Robin Bourgault, Lilly is a pit bull who saved a loved one's life by dragging her from the train tracks in Shirley in 2012.

"It was great because you got to see the actual dog and learn what happened," said Kiana.

"She was a pretty good dog," noted Kayla, "and she should be rewarded for it."

They joined more than 50 students and family members who came to meet Lilly and hear her story, featured in a National Geographic book about amazing animal heroes. Lilly suffered the loss of her front left leg due to her injuries from the accident but through physical therapy she has fully recovered.

The evening event was sponsored by the Title I Department of the Fitchburg Public Schools. Each family that attended received their own copy of the book, autographed with Lilly's own paw print.

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Fitchburg students create compound microscopes

posted Mar 31, 2014, 5:53 AM by Fitch burg

Sentinel & Enterprise

POSTED:   03/30/2014 06:52:26 AM EDT# COMMENTS

FITCHBURG -- Using technology in class is very important to Christopher Landry, science teacher of seventh- and eighth-graders at Memorial Middle School. From a smartboard station to interactive presentations and notes in the form of podcasts, technology is integrated throughout the class.

New to Landry's class are microscope platforms that allow a smart device to become a microscope. As adviser to the school's Science Society, Landry instructed members in how to build them for use in his classes. Students used bolts to hold plexiglass in place, put the lens of a laser pointer in the top platform and lined that up with a camera lens.

"Students created a digital compound microscope that gave the same magni cation as most classroom microscopes," explains Landry. One of Landry's grade 8 students, Landon Tucker. Tucker used the microscope to learn about photosynthetic properties. When examining an elodia leaf, an invasive species, he was amazed at the magnification.

"I can actually see the outlines of the cells of the leaf through the lens," said Tucker.

Through a donation from the school's Parent Teacher Organization, Landry was able to purchase the necessary materials for the microscopes. Students helped prepare the materials, put the platforms together, and then practiced using it with prepared slides as well as samples taken from around the classroom. Landry now can use a device with a larger screen that all students in the group can view instead of relying on a limited number of microscopes.

"Most students are bringing their smartphones and tablets to school. Why not give them a useful purpose to explore the world around them," said Landry. "The bene t to using smartphones is that the screen allows more people to view at once. Because it is a device that the student is already familiar with, they can take photos and videos of what they are looking at for future reference."

According to Landry, this changes the way students learn in class. Instead of looking under a microscope and struggling with a tool that takes practice, students can nd immediate results at any moment.

Landry still intends to use microscopes in class for those specimens that require special techniques from a microscope. Landry and his Science Society members hope to make 15-18 platforms, enough for partner work in all the science classrooms at Memorial.

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A Plus Student: Christian Pineda

posted Mar 19, 2014, 8:15 AM by Nicholas Morin

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