Creating Connections - March 18, 2016

A weekly message from Interim Superintendent Dr. Marco C. Rodrigues

March 18, 2016 - Volume 1, Issue 12

Superintendent's Message

On Monday, March 14, Governor Baker signed a bill titled An Act relative to substance use, treatment, education and prevention which set limits on opioid prescriptions, provides information regarding opiate use for high school athletes and their parents, and requires continued education for prescribers. Yesterday, the Report of the Superintendent to the School Committee highlighted the opioid impact on students and families and our local public health response to this epidemic.

By now you must have seen the state-wide campaign featuring the slogan: "Addiction is not a Choice. It’s a Disease." Simple but powerful message that depicts the devastating results associated with drug or alcohol addiction.

Much have been written about people’s battle with addiction; some with successful outcomes and too many with destructive ends. Because addiction does not “look like” other diseases, biased opinions can quickly form, casting a shadow where light is needed most.

Today, I had the pleasure of having lunch with the students from the Rockdale High School, a high school designed to educate students who struggle with addiction. The Rockdale High School serves high school students from Central Massachusetts and is operated by the Central Massachusetts Special Education Collaborative.

Twenty-nine students, from 13 different communities, access core curriculum and support services at Rockdale High School which has become a safe heaven and an integral part in their recovery process.

My visit to the school today and the interactions with the students, far supersede any messages or information contained in studies, statistical data, or slogans. I encourage you be mindful of this disease, not to quickly judge those who have it, and to be accepting and supportive of those who need our understanding and support, including the care givers.

Thank you Rockdale High School students and staff for the lovely lunch!

Celebrations and Updates

Guest Conductor Visits Burncoat

BHS Orchestra

Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra Conductor Dmitry Yabonsky, visited students at Burncoat High School on Tuesday, March 15th. He worked with students for an hour and guest conducted their rehearsal of Brahms’ "Academic Overture" and Bach’s "Double Violin Concerto." Mr. Yablonsky performed with his orchestra at Mechanics Hall on Tuesday as well. The Burncoat High School Orchestra will give a public performance at Mechanics Hall on Sunday, April 3rd at 4:00 p.m. with the Worcester Youth Orchestra and Worcester Youth Philharmonic, and the Shrewsbury High School and Pioneer Valley Symphony Youth Orchestras. For more information, please visit the Worcester Youth Orchestra website.

WPS Art Teacher Presents at National Convention

Stacy Lord, Art Teacher at Worcester East Middle School, was one of five presenters at the National Arts Education Association Convention in Chicago on Thursday, March 17th. Ms. Lord spoke about her participation in NASA’s SOFIA program this past August, in which she traveled to the stratosphere through NASA’s 2015 mission known as the Stratospheric Observation for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). Ms. Lord was chosen to embark on this atmospheric adventure along with her colleague, Worcester East Middle Science Teacher Howard Fain. As part of her presentation, Ms. Lord aired footage of the documentary of her experience created by her brother, Jason Lord. He is currently raising funds to complete this educational project.

VEX Robotics World Competition

Tatnuck Magnet School and Burncoat Middle School, have qualified for the 2016 VEX Robotics World Competition in Louisville, Kentucky, after competing at the Southern New England Regional Tournament Championships at Quinsigamond Community College and North High School in February. The Tatnuck Magnet School and Burncoat Middle School are the only elementary and middle schools in Worcester to receive an invitation to the World Championships. In order for both schools to participate, they must raise $4375.00 each for travel expenses, registration fees, and accommodations. They are looking for sponsors and would be grateful for any assistance!

Class Act: Marta Brodeur

WHDH Channel 7 highlights Burncoat High School senior Marta Brodeur in their "Class Act" segment for all that she does in helping those in need. View WHDH Channel 7's coverage.

Did you know...

Did you know that:

  • Opioid overdose is one of the leading causes of death in Massachusetts?
  • There has been a substantial increase of 911 calls for students experiencing behavioral health and emotional distress events?
  • Worcester Public Schools are home to over 200 children awaiting foster care placement?
  • 1 in 5 Massachusetts high school students were offered, sold, or given illegal drugs in school?