Tweet by Tweet, Spreading Smiles

posted Dec 19, 2014, 6:18 AM by Christopher Turner   [ updated Dec 19, 2014, 6:26 AM ]

FITCHBURG -- A trio of teenagers are using the anonymity of the Internet to push good feelings, instead of the usual snark, and it's caught fire in their school. 

Two weeks ago, three female Fitchburg High School students started the FHS Compliments Twitter account, under the handle @FitchburgComps. They asked that their identities be kept secret and wished to be identified individually by the letters "F", "H" and "S". 

Compliment Twitter pages restricted to specific schools have been around for a few years. Students write kind messages about specific classmates and the Twitter user posts them without saying who wrote them. "F" said she had wanted to do one for a while, but didn't have the nerve to do it alone. 

"S" said she was inspired by a friend at another school who started a compliment Twitter account and she brought "F" and a third friend in on the project. Twitter users send them direct messages with proposed compliments, and the three organizers approve them for publication on the account. 

It got 100 followers the first day. "F" said they are shocked at how fast it's been growing. It's even won the endorsement of Principal Jeremy Roche, who said it's great to see something so positive gain so much attention within the school.  

Recent messages posted on the account include compliments about being a good friend, having a great head of hair or being a talented basketball player. 

"I think teachers associated social media with being anti-social", said "S". She said it's much easier to spread negative messages than positive ones, and they're working to buck the trend. 

A widespread theory popularized by the web comic "Penny Arcade" is that online anonymity combined with the presence of a large audience turns normal, well-adjusted people into complete jerks when they go online. "H" said bashing people does seem to be the norm online, which is what makes it all the more important to break the trend with something positive. 

"It's easy to forget (when writing to another online user) that there's a person behind it", said "H". She said the compliments are capable of brightening someone's day, even if just a little bit. 

The three creators said they publish submissions during the school day by hiding their phones under the desk or using a bathroom stall. They don't want anyone to see the page on their phone screens. 

"H" said they occasionally get rude submissions, which they reject and non one else ever sees. They also get backhanded compliments and unintentional jabs. In those cases, she said they write back and help the author write something more positive. 

"I think it embodies what it means to be a Red Raider", said Lizzie Moison in reference to the school mascot. 

She's a junior who spoke about the FHS Compliments project to the School Committee on Monday. She said the Twitter account is extremely popular and no one has figured out who is behind it, but people are speculating. 

They've heard naysayers say organizers must be doing it to pad their college applications or for the attention, which the trio deny. "F" said the whole FHS Compliments project only works when people don't know who is behind it, as being anonymous keeps the focus off of them. 

"We're not the only ones who are behind it", said "F". "We're just sending them out". She said the people who submit compliments are an integral part of the project, as are the people who read them. 

"It's really bringing us more together as a school", said "F". 

The creators said they've been able to resist telling other friends, something that is hard to do with three people. "H" said it's been easy for he, as letting their identities get out would wreck things. 

For now, their secret is safe.

Enterovirus D68

posted Sep 25, 2014, 9:00 AM by Patrick Reardon   [ updated Sep 25, 2014, 10:04 AM by Fitchburg Schools ]

Updated Clinical Advisory and New Fact Sheet about Enterovirus D68

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced a confirmed case of Enterovirus D68 on September 23, 2014.  The patient is a school aged child with a history of asthma who became ill in early September and has since been treated and released from an area hospital. Please see the attached DPH Fact Sheet about enterovirus D68,  and the new CDC infographic about preventing the spread of enterovirus D68.

Bus Routes 2014 - 15

posted Aug 26, 2014, 9:14 AM by Fitchburg Schools   [ updated Aug 26, 2014, 9:15 AM ]

The bus routes for the 2014-2015 school year are now posted!  Please visit this page for each school's routes:

Fitchburg schools nutrition team seeks favorite recipes

posted Aug 6, 2014, 7:08 AM by Fitchburg Schools   [ updated Aug 6, 2014, 7:27 AM ]

Sentinel & Enterprise
UPDATED:   06/26/2014 06:29:55 AM EDT

FITCHBURG -- In honor of Fitchburg's 250th anniversary, the Sodexo Nutrition Services Team of the Fitchburg public pchools invites all community members to submit their favorite recipe.

Winning entries will be prepared for Fitchburg public school students once each month. The monthly winner will be invited to enjoy lunch on that day with Fitchburg public school dignitaries.

Jill Lucius, director of nutritional services, is soliciting recipes for favorite ethnic foods, to include main dishes and side dishes.

"I hope all Fitchburg residents consider submitting their favorite side dishes, such as a dish featuring vegetables or starch," Lucius said. "Main dishes, meat-based or vegetarian, are also welcome".

Entries are welcome from anyone from the community, whether or not that person has a child or relative in the school district. Entries are due Aug. 30. Mail your entry to Jill Lucius, Director of Nutrition Services, c/o Fitchburg High School, 140 Arn-How Road, Fitchburg, MA 01420 or email her at

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Memorial Middle School students raise funds for heart research

posted Jul 28, 2014, 6:01 AM by Fitchburg Schools

Matt Sadowski, left, from Fitchburg Public Schools, is pictured here with his principal, Fran Thomas. Matt recently had surgery for a congenital heart defect. He and classmates raised $400 for heart research during a heart walk fundraiser at Memorial Middle School. 

FITCHBURG — Shown above is Matt Sadowski, grade 8 student at Memorial Middle School, Fitchburg, with Principal Fran Thomas. Sadowski and classmates participated in an American Heart Association Fundraiser Walk around the school grounds. This was part of the school's Fuel Up To Play 60, a program which enables teachers and students to take action to improve nutrition and physical activity in their school. Students, staff and the PTO donated the $400 raised in Sadowski's honor. He recently underwent open heart surgery for a congenital heart defect. This funding will go towards local heart research efforts. Physical education teacher, Sue Tourigny, who organized the effort stated, "We are extremely proud of all of our students and staff and their commitment to looking out for each other."

Students display work at 21st Century Learning Center showcase

posted Jul 28, 2014, 5:58 AM by Fitchburg Schools   [ updated Jul 28, 2014, 6:03 AM ]

Sam Williams, a Fitchburg High School student, with some of the work from the after school Art Exploration Program. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

FITCHBURG — The 21st Century Learning Center Program, Fitchburg Public Schools, held its school year celebration in late June.
The showcase featured student performances of dance, juggling, music, drama and jumping, as well as artwork and technology projects from many of the participants.

Sam Williams, a Fitchburg High School student, from the after school Art Exploration Program, and fellow students were able to meet with their instructor, artist JoAnn Pellecchia, for two hours each week.

"I was amazed by the work of my students," said Pellecchia. "Each student demonstrated creativity and originality in their final product. I am happy that I had the opportunity to lead such a talented group of students."

More than 400 students from Fitchburg participate in the program during the school year. The program was held at five schools in the Fitchburg Public Schools and hopes to continue offering quality after school programming next year.

The program is hosting Camp S.U.N. (Students Understanding Nature) for students in Grades 1-8 from June 30 to July 24.

Fitchburg High senior headed in 'right direction' with selection to attend Boys Nation in D.C.

posted Jul 28, 2014, 5:50 AM by Fitchburg Schools

By Alana Melanson,
UPDATED:   07/16/2014 07:37:49 AM EDT0 COMMENTS

FITCHBURG -- For the second time in three years, Fitchburg High School will send a student to Boys Nation as a senator. Senior Isaac Nelson, 17, will be one of 98 high-school students from across the country to participate in the American Legion-led program, which introduces youth to the structure and function of the federal government.

Only two high-school boys from each participating state attend Boys Nation each year, following the state-level program Boys State, for which participants must be nominated and chosen to attend based on leadership skills and academic record. The program is also available for girls, who go to Girls State and Girls Nation.

At Boys State, held at Stonehill College in Easton last month, Nelson and Dyllan Almeida, of New Bedford, were elected as U.S. senators to represent Massachusetts at Boys Nation, which will take place July 18-25 at Marymount University in Arlington, Va., with daily trips to Washington, D.C.

Nelson said he spoke with 2013 FHS graduate Michael Richard, who attended Boys Nation in 2012 and is now a student at Harvard College, when Richard was serving as a counselor at Boys State this year.

While Nelson was a bit unsure about his leadership abilities at first, Richard "pointed me in the right direction," he said.

Nelson quickly gained the respect and support of his peers, whom he said chanted his name and cheered for him when he was announced as a senator.

"It was amazing," he said.

Nelson was born in Ghana and lived in London for a year before coming to Massachusetts in 2009 when his father's job transferred him here.

He is a National Honor Society student, captain of the FHS soccer team and a member of the school's Ocean Sciences team, which won the McDowell Award for Excellence in Academic Collaboration at the Blue Lobster Bowl at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in March.

He said he would like to start a robotics team at FHS.

Nelson said he has been interested in aeronautics since he was a little boy in Ghana and would watch planes take off from the airport near his home. Having at times wanted to be both a pilot and an astronaut, he has since decided he would rather design and build aircraft rather than fly them.

"I wanted to build the fastest jet, or something like that, and hopefully work with the United States Air Force and build superior jets and fighter jets and aircraft like that, maybe work with Boeing and the government," Nelson said.

He aims to attend MIT after high school, with the ultimate goal of becoming an aerospace engineer, but said he's open to his experience at Boys Nation potentially changing his mind.

Nelson said he is excited to meet President Barack Obama, but he's even more excited about learning about how the federal government works and strengthening his leadership skills.

"I want to do something that stands me out, like I'm a leader," he said. 


n Two representatives from each of the 49 Boys States -- Hawaii does not participate -- represent their state at Boys Nation in Washington, where they receive an education on the structure and function of federal government.

n The first Boys Nation -- then called Boys Forum of National Government -- convened at American University in Washington in August 1946. Three years later, it became American Legion Boys Nation.

n Each delegate acts as a senator from his Boys State. The young lawmakers caucus at the beginning of the session, then organize into committees and conduct hearings on bills submitted by program delegates.

n Senators learn the proper method of handling bills, according to U.S. Senate rules. Participation in the political process is emphasized throughout the week, including organization of party conventions and nominating and electing a president and vice president.

n The week of government training also includes lectures, forums and visits to federal agencies, national shrines, institutions, memorials and historical sites. On Capitol Hill, Boys Nation senators meet with elected officials from their home states. 

n Since Boys Nation began in 1946, a number of its graduates have been elected to public office, including presidents, congressmen, governors and state legislators.

n For more information: The American Legion, P.O. Box 1055, Indianapolis, IN 46206 or


Follow Alana Melanson at or on Twitter @alanamelanson.

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Local grads create video for education

posted Jul 7, 2014, 11:32 AM by Fitchburg Schools   [ updated Jul 28, 2014, 5:52 AM ]

By Eric Stanway CORRESPONDENTTwo Fitchburg High School graduates, Michael Richard, first row far right, and Bethany Bourghalt, created a video to promote higher education, the Fitchburg Going Places Initiative. Shown here are local graduates who took part in the video. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

FITCHBURG — As the economy continues to languish, well-paying jobs are increasingly thin on the ground. Consequently, the importance of attaining a higher-education degree has never been more important. Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama introduced her Reach Higher Program, which encourages high school students to pursue training on a higher level, and gain some kind of economic stability. Launched in the beginning of May at College Signing Day, the program is working to inspire young people to rally the country around the President's "North Star" goal — that, by 2020, the United States will once again achieve the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

The program spurred two Fitchburg High School graduates, Michael Richard and Bethany Bourghalt, to launch their own project, the Fitchburg Going Places Initiative. To publicize the program, the duo put together a video presentation that encourages students to further their education and realize that it could be a passport to success.

Mr. Richard, who has just completed his first year at Harvard College, spoke about how the video and the initiative came about in a recent interview.

"One of the things that I noticed is that Fitchburg has, in the past, been considered not to be one of the best places as far as education is concerned," he said. "That's all changed. Fitchburg is currently on the upswing, and the future for the graduates is particularly bright."

Mr. Richard said that his interest in the potential for higher education goes back quite some time.

"I'm currently a sophomore, majoring in economics and government," he said. "I've been passionate about government and civics for a very long time. What spurred this particular project was a story I read in the newspaper about Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Initiative, and that she and the president have really been focusing on promoting higher education, so that young people can strive and eventually enjoy a higher income. It's really important for these graduates to go after an associate or bachelor's degree to realize that dream."

The figures seem to bear this out. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, someone who does not complete college is likely to make about $20,000 a year, while those with a college graduate may earn more than $36,000.

Together with Bethany Bourgault, a film major at Syracuse University, Mr. Richard embarked on a project to create the video that would highlight the advantages of a higher education.

"The idea was to bring together graduates back to Fitchburg, and photograph them in their college attire or military uniforms," Mr. Richard said. "I supplied the vision, but Bethany was the one who actually filmed the whole thing."

Mr. Richard said that, after the footage was shot, editing the video was a relatively quick process.

"I spent about two hours at Fitchburg Public Access Television, putting the whole thing together," he said. "The resulting video really spoke to this vision and the importance of the whole initiative."

Mr. Richard said that the project had a great deal of support from local dignitaries.

"Mayor Lisa Wong was very much behind the whole thing," he said. "We also received help from Fitchburg High School Principal Jeremy Roach and Fitchburg School Superintendent Andre Ravenelle."

Mr. Richard sees the future for Fitchburg as being particularly bright. "Fitchburg graduates have real strength and ability, so we're going to work really hard to encourage this," he said.

The video can be viewed at us/. For more information about the initiative, contact Michael Richard at">

Fitchburg kindergarteners improve fluency

posted Jul 7, 2014, 11:30 AM by Fitchburg Schools

FITCHBURG — The Bay State Reading Institute recently released good news about its partner schools, Reingold, Crocker, South Street and McKay Arts Academy, in Fitchburg – a Massachusetts Gateway City. Working with BSRI, an innovative educational partnership, reading fluency of kindergarteners has dramatically improved. Getting kids up to grade level in kindergarten is especially important as it sets the foundation for higher student achievement in all the following grades.

When they entered kindergarten last fall, half of Fitchburg students were at high risk of reading difficulties. By May, most of those students had moved from the lowest achievement level to the highest. Across the four Fitchburg elementary schools, more than eight out of 10 kindergarteners are finishing school this month in the highest achievement category.

The Fitchburg schools use Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills to assess student reading fluency. DIBELS is used widely across Massachusetts and the U.S. It measures reading fluency — how well a student can decode letters and turn them into the proper sounds and words — through a sequence of one-minute tests.

DIBELS testing allows teachers and specialists to catch and fix reading difficulties early on, which leads to increased student achievement in higher grades. When students are not struggling with reading fluency, they can focus on reading comprehension, or understanding of the words they read. DIBELS also allows teachers, coaches, and principals to quickly measure what kinds of instruction are helping each student, and change the instruction if it's not. It allows teachers to chart the improvement in their students, which gives them a sense of success, and no one is falling through the cracks. This transforms the culture of the school in a positive way.

"Progress on the DIBELS is a sign of successful teaching throughout the building," said BSRI chairman and co-founder Ed Moscovitch. "Kids are getting their problems fixed sooner, and getting work that really targets their abilities. The students are proud of their success, and they end up doing work that's far more challenging than was previously thought possible. We've got kindergarteners writing sentences and identifying parts of speech and 10-year-olds organizing debates. It's astounding."

Started in 2005, BSRI is a non-profit that currently teams with over 40 elementary schools across Massachusetts to transform schools by giving teachers and principals the support they need. BSRI has been a partner with Fitchburg Public Schools since 2010 and now works in four Fitchburg elementary schools to provide embedded training, coaching and support. Seventy-eight percent of Fitchburg elementary students are high needs (low income, ELL or SPED). Using BSRI's model, each school institutes a variety of modern, science-based instructional strategies which allow teachers to teach to each student's ability, beginning in kindergarten.

BSRI is a Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Preferred Provider. In 2010, the organization was awarded a $5 million Invest in Innovation (i3) grant by the US Department of Education.

Watch how BSRI transforms schools in their Summit Creative Award-winning video.

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