The Goodrich Academy Student Council might be fairly new, but it certainly has made an immediate impact in the community.
The students at Goodrich latch onto a meaningful initiative and work together to make sure it helps out people in need.
"This Student Council formed immediately," Goodrich Principal Alexis Curry said. "They'd seen their peers struggle with a place to sleep at night -- they know it happens here pretty regularly -- and they took on that initiative first. Every one of them has showed up and worked hard. I'm proud because they've made the commitment. They are good kids."
History teacher Brad McNamara serves as the Student Council adviser. He says it's been a rewarding experience to watch students want to give back and help others in need.
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Michaela Wakefield is blazing her own path to future college success.
The Fitchburg High student has accomplished some rare feats by earning two scholarships in only her junior year.
“It’s not typical for juniors to secure a scholarship, never mind two,” Fitchburg High School Assistant Principal Albert Mercado said. “The opportunities are there, but I don’t think students are, in their mind frame, aware of that or the parents or guardians are aware of that.”
First, Wakefield earned second place for a “Voice of Democracy Essay Competition,” co-sponsored by the Townsend VFW and its Auxiliary and Pepperell VFW, and recently won first place in a “Women Making A Difference Essay Contest.” The scholarship is provided by Fitchburg State University and the Leominster Public Library.
“It’s really important for me to enter scholarships that I’m passionate about,” said Wakefield, “because I find it easier to write about stuff like that because I have more of an opinion or viewpoint.”
In the “Voice of Democracy” essay competition, the theme was, “Our Hope for the Future.”
Wakefield, who has a grandfather and great grandfather that are veterans, added: “I reflected on what we can change about our nation and what we are doing really good at but can still improve.”
The second-place award earned Wakefield $100.
Wakefield wrote about Gerty Cori, a biochemist who became the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science, for her first-place essay.
“I felt like the women in science are unsung heroes even to this day, so I thought it would be important to write about her,” Wakefield said.
Wakefield said that she doesn’t believe that she’s a strong essay writer, but she wrote them from the heart.
“My main goal was it was great if I win, but I wanted to get this person’s story out and let her story and truth be told,” she said. “I was really happy that I was able to accomplish that.”
Wakefield was a visitor of Upward Bound Math-Science at Fitchburg State University when she opened the email telling her that she won the first-place scholarship valued at $250.
“I jumped out of my seat and I was really excited, and ran to the program director and said, “Look at this email, I won,’” Wakefield said. “I was really happy for my essay to be celebrated because I put a lot of effort and passion into it.”
Wakefield is still undecided on her college future, but she wants to get into a four-plus-one program, get her master’s in biotechnology and become a genetic counselor.
Landon Tucker's dream is now a reality.
Tucker, a Fitchburg High School senior and Honors Academy student, is beaming with pride after recently being selected as a Posse Scholar and receiving a four-year scholarship to Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.
"It's definitely exciting," said Tucker, who is ranked second academically in his class. "Throughout the whole process they were always showing videos of people getting it. They were excited, cheering and crying and things like that.
"I definitely felt a lot of emotions. I called my dad right after and teared up a little bit. It was definitely exciting that all the hard work paid off."
Over 1,000 students from the state were considered for the Boston Posse Scholar, and Tucker was one of only 10 to be selected.
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Fitchburg High School seniors Brianna Harnden and Judith Hanson were recognized for achieving National Merit Scholar status by the School Committee.
Brianna and Judith are among the nation's top 50,000 students, based on their PSAT scores as juniors. "It's really quite an honor," said Superintendent André Ravenelle, as he thanked the students for representing the district with such outstanding scholarship.
Brianna is also a School Committee student representative this year.
Landon Tucker’s heart is full when he is able to help others.
The Fitchburg senior is also being recognized as someone who gives back to his community.
The president of the Current Events Club was recently named one of the top runners-up in the 2018 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards in Massachusetts.
“It’s not just me, though, it’s through the Current Events Club that we all put in together,” said Tucker, who will receive an engraved bronze Distinguished Finalist medallion to commemorate this prestigious award. “As a group, we’ve tackled five or six projects that we just launched this year. We really took this year by storm and tried to do as much as we could and give back as much as we could.
“It was really exciting to hear that we were being recognized, and I felt the club was being recognized for the work that they’ve done over the year.”
Tucker – like everyone on the Current Events Club – has a passion for lending a helping hand.
“By doing these small tasks and giving back locally or giving back to Massachusetts or globally, it really gets me involved and helps me stay connected with the world around me,” said Tucker, a Posse Scholar who received a four-year scholarship to Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.
The Current Events Club has built up its membership from one to 25 students this year.
The club is responsible for several initiatives, including raising money for Hurricane Maria, donating 900 articles of clothing to homeless teens, and conducting a “Duct Tape Mr. D” fundraiser with the proceeds going toward the restoration of historic Crocker Field and Crocker Elementary School.
“It was a dream and a vision as of last year that we really wanted to start a club that gave the students at Fitchburg High School an opportunity to do the community service that they wanted to do,” Tucker said. “I wanted everyone in the group to do something that was meaningful to them and contributed in some way. The vision became a reality.”
Assistant Principal Albert Mercado said he’s proud of everyone involved.
“It’s really a recognition of (Tucker’s) leadership and all the students in the Current Events Club and what they’ve been able to do,” Mercado said.
He added: “For the school, it really is a testament of what I believe Fitchburg Public Schools is all about.”
Tucker says it’s all about wanting to give back and finding out what makes you happy about giving back. He has a message for anyone that is thinking about helping others.
“I want people to realize that there are a lot of issues out there and people think that they are insignificant, like they can’t contribute to it,” he said. “A lot of people in the Current Events Club had doubts at first, but it all has to start somewhere and it starts with a few minor changes that lead to big changes.”
The auditorium was filled with pride at Fitchburg High last week, as the Fitchburg High School Chapter of the National Honor Society welcomed 40 new members.
"There's just so much hope," said Fitchburg Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Paula Giaquinto, a 1969 FHS graduate. "I've been doing this since 1973. There's a lot of hope in the kids. They are so sincere. It reminds me not to be jaded. They are sweet, sincere and full of optimism and hope. It's wonderful."
The National Honor Society (NHS) is one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious student-recognition programs in the nation.
More than just an honor roll, the NHS serves to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership and character. Students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.6 or higher by their junior year in order to be invited to apply for membership.
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There's no substitute for experience.
So when Fitchburg High School alumni -- many still attending college -- came back to the school on Wednesday morning, the Class of 2018 made sure to listen up.
Sixteen alumni gathered in the auditorium and comprised a panel on stage to speak with current seniors and give them a fresh and well-reasoned perspective of the college experience.
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Fitchburg High School football coach and Assistant Principal Tom DiGeronimo will do just about anything for his alma mater.
Yes, even get duct-taped.
DiGeronimo -- a 1982 FHS graduate and a 2001 Hall of Famer -- was a willing participant when asked by Fitchburg High's Current Events Club if he would headline the "Duct Tape Mr. D" fundraiser, with proceeds going to the restoration of Crocker Field.
"This is great; I'll do anything for our students," DiGeronimo said while still duct-taped to the wall in the cafeteria on Friday. "We have the best students around and it's a good cause. We made an executive decision, half (of the proceeds) are going to go to Crocker Field and the other half is going to go to Crocker Elementary School to help them get any supplies they need. We can all learn from what they've done, how resilient their staff and students are with the unfortunate events that have happened."
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Recently, students in Mrs. Goguen's Biotechnology class at Goodrich Academy practiced genetic engineering. The students used materials and equipment provided through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Grant to attempt to grow and modify bacteria in a way that would cause it to glow. Although the results did not turn out as expected, students gained experience in using sterile techniques, preparing and streaking plates, and using scientific tools such as the incubator and micro-pipettes.
Like true scientists, students were also able to identify some experimental errors which may have affected their results.
One student commented that they had never done experiments like that in their previous school.
The Fitchburg High School honors robotics team loves a challenge.
And building a robot isn't a simple task.
The 11 students known as “Robot Raiders” have been fine-turning their robots in class and taking them out to recent VEX Robotics competitions in Derry, N.H., and Framingham.
“I’m having a lot of fun here because they are really cool here and I think the activities that we’re doing are good for the future,” said FHS senior Karmjit Singh. “I’m a big fan of electronics and building stuff because I want to become a computer scientist. There’s coding and programming, so I get some experience with that. The whole atmosphere is good and everyone is a good sport about it. I’m enjoying myself.”
Senior Amaya Muldrow says there are difficulties in building and the process to fix mistakes is all about trial and error.
“We have to build up so we don’t make the same mistake again,” she said. “It’s all just a learning experience.”
Read more here.