High School

Fitchburg High School senior Hannah Neilon has been selected as the recipient of the MIAA Student-Athlete of the Month Award for February.

Neilon is a three-sport varsity, competing in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track, and has been a two-year captain for all three teams. This past winter, Neilon went undefeated in the 600 meters during dual meets, finishing her high school career having never lost a dual meet race at that distance. Neilon won the District E championship in the 600 for the second year in a row, breaking her own school record. She also anchored the 4x400-meter relay team, which won the league title and currently holds the school's all-time record in the event.

"Hannah has been one of the most coachable kids I've ever dealt with," Fitchburg cross country coach Jack Scott said. "She is an extremely dedicated worker with an endless desire to improve. Put her in any situation as an athlete and she will find a way to come out of it successfully."

Academically, Neilon challenges herself with a demanding curriculum of honors and advanced-placement courses, while maintaining a 4.54 GPA, ranking fourth out of 270 students in her class. She is a member and officer of the National Honor Society, serving as treasurer. Neilon has also served as a class officer for the past three years.

In the fall, Neilon will attend Tufts University, where she was accepted early decision.

Read more here.

The following students have received awards from the 35th annual Regional Exhibition of High School Art at Mount Wachusett Community College.

Liliana Encarnacion - Cash Award, Dazia Robertson - Honorable Mention, Kassandra Mutters - Honorable Mention, Sara Love - Honorable Mention, Katrina French - Honorable Mention, Jocelyn Velasquez - Honorable Mention, Azucena Villanueva Ochoa - Honorable Mention

The awards will be presented at the reception on April 12 from 6-8 p.m.

Eighteen members of Fitchburg High School’s Honors Academy were informed in a ceremony Monday morning they had been granted acceptance into the Honors Program at Fitchburg State University, with annually renewable scholarships and access to specialized coursework.

Fitchburg State President Richard S. Lapidus was joined by Fitchburg Mayor Stephen L. DiNatale, Fitchburg High School Principal Jeremy Roche and other leaders from the university and city for the announcement. The Fitchburg State athletic mascot Freddy the Falcon joined the students for a group photo.

The Honors Academy at Fitchburg High School has been closely aligned with Fitchburg State since its inception, with students taking dual enrollment courses, gaining access to university resources and participating in other university activities. All of the students recognized Monday had already been informed of their acceptance to the university, but their acceptance into its Honors Program was new.

“Obviously your four years of hard work is paying off,” President Lapidus told the students. “We’d love to have you join us in the fall. You’re great representatives of Fitchburg High.”

Read more here.

While this year's Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizens don't necessarily have pre-Revolutionary War ties, they all have ideas about what it means to be an American.

"I believe that it's every right of every American citizen to have the right to advocate and believe in what they think," said Fitchburg High School senior Rumana Ashraf.

Ashraf was one of seven high school seniors from schools around the region to be recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution Saturday morning at the Leominster Veterans Memorial Center. (She) hopes to become a physician, and has been published in the Sentinel & Enterprise, highlighting the value she places on free speech."

Read more here.

Goodrich Academy science teacher Sara Goguen's room certainly received a needed facelift, along with new STEM equipment, supplies and professional development through a grant awarded by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center during the 2016-17 school year.

"This is a beautiful space," Goguen said. "Sometimes I sit around at my desk and look around and smile. It's amazing."

The awarded amount was $105, 345.

"It's amazing and it's so moving," said Ryan Mudawar, Director, Academic & Workforce Programs for Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. "This STEM learning space was lacking the fundamentals, so it was a no-brainer to us that this grant would be funded. This is one of these grants where it really does feel good. You know you're changing lives here because students are going to get hands-on access and experiences with life-science equipment.

"A small amount of money can go a long way. They were able to do so much with it."

Read more here.

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The April 5, 2018 Leading the Nation event at the Massachusetts State House will feature three one-minute videos highlighting student success in public schools across the commonwealth. An FHS Broadcast class creatied this entry highlighting Project Healthcare, a partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College.

The goal of the Project Healthcare is to increase the number of underrepresented minority and disadvantaged healthcare providers by creating a high school to college pipeline of students who plan to enter the healthcare field. The program offers counseling, coaching, field trips, guest speakers, and dual enrollment courses for 9th through 12th graders. This grant is federally funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Like most public meetings in the city, English was the prevailing language at Thursday night's event requesting community input on the proposed Economic Development Strategic plan.

However, Fitchburg is also a city where over a quarter of the population reported speaking a language other than English, according to data from the United States Census Bureau.

The six "language ambassadors" at Thursday night's event were one response to the issue.

The ambassadors, all Fitchburg High School students, offered translation services into four languages: Spanish, French, Laotian and Arabic.

Read more here.

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.

Read more here.

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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.”

Read more here and here.

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.

Read more here.

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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.

Congratulations Scholars!

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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.

Read more here.

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.

Read more here.

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."

Read more here.

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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.

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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.