student at whiteboard

High School

2020–2021 Student Advocates

News Type:  High School Date:  Monday, November 9, 2020

Landmark High School students juggle many responsibilities each day: school, homework, community service, and often long commutes. Each year, 10–12 seniors add another time-consuming commitment to their schedules that requires travel, public speaking, and sharing personal stories. That role is being a Student Advocate. This year, several Advocates face the additional challenge of navigating hybrid or remote learning.

The Advocates, led by faculty members Jason Mansfield, Dan Ahearn, and Ashley Norman, present to graduate and undergraduate education students at local colleges and universities, as well as to students, teachers, and administrators at elementary and middle schools. They talk about their learning difference, how it affects them in school, at work, and in other aspects of life, and how they overcome their challenges. In addition, they offer advice and strategies to teachers about how to support students with learning differences to help them succeed. These personal accounts are honest, powerful, and eye-opening. Some of these presentations will be remote this year, and students will all certainly be wearing masks.

The Advocates delivered their presentations to a group of Landmark faculty and staff in early November. All were composed, prepared, and confident. There was a common theme when the Advocates listed tips and tools for teachers: be patient and provide a supportive environment. Other strategies drew on Landmark's Six Teaching Principles, such as presenting information in varied ways, making lessons active and kinesthetic, using templates, encouraging self-advocacy.

Shared Experiences

Josh described how having slow processing speed affects "every aspect of my day." He said that he often knows the answer to a question, but it takes him more time to put his thoughts into words. "This lowers my self-esteem and confidence," he said. He recommends that teachers "be patient, question students to make sure they understand concepts and directions, and provide executive function supports."

Heather, who has dyslexia, used strategies she learned at Landmark to help a second-grade girl she babysits who struggles with reading. "I was always catching up in class and avoided reading, so school was not fun," she said. Heather wanted to spare the girl the pain and anxiety she faced. "I read a story to her first, then previewed the text, summarized it, and had her practice. Then I asked her comprehension questions." Her advice for teachers? "Be supportive and encouraging, work in a quiet environment, break down the steps, and set goals.

Ethan explained that while there's no scientific evidence of a correlation between mental health issues and dyslexia, students with dyslexia are more likely to be bullied or harassed than other students, which can cause anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. He suggests that teachers look for signs that students are being bullied or are experiencing mental health issues and intervene. "Most important, be supportive and patient," he said.

Since 1995, dozens of Advocates have shared their stories, given advice, answered questions, and enlightened many. In addition to influencing future teachers and students, the Advocates leave the program with well-honed public-speaking—and some teaching—skills.

2020–2021 Advocates

  • Mia
  • Makayla
  • Lilly
  • Heather
  • Ethan
  • Josh
  • Morgan
  • Landon
  • Maggie
  • Nathaniel
  • Ruby

landmark high school student advocates presentation

Solidarity Day 2020

News Type:  High School Date:  Friday, October 16, 2020

Each year, Landmark High School's Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) sponsors Ally Day and encourages community members to reflect on their values and actions, commit to end harassment and bullying, and support their peers, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. In 2020, the GSA expanded its focus to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and called the day Solidarity Day. The day is intended to draw attention to the historic harm done to Black people and emphasize the responsibility we have to adjust our language, ideas, and actions so they are appropriate and reflect the voices of those most impacted by oppressive systems and behaviors. The GSA encouraged the community to reflect on the following pledge:

I believe that all students, regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression deserve to feel safe and supported, and that Black lives matter. That means I pledge to:

  • Try to listen to perspectives and experiences that differ from my own, and to keep an open mind.
  • Not use racist, or anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) language or slurs.
  • Intervene, if I safely can, in situations where students are being harassed or tell an adult.
  • Support efforts to end bullying and harassment.
  • Encourage others to be Allies.

Dozens of students, faculty, and staff participated in Solidarity Day at the High School on October 16 and signed the pledge digitally. A Peace flag was displayed in the cafeteria in Alexander. The flag symbolizes Landmark’s stand against the injustice and inequality that still exists in our society.  

"Our goal for Solidarity Day is for members of the Landmark community to take time and reflect on how our actions and behavior can create a community that is a more welcoming, equitable, and safe place for all." said Jennifer Moy, faculty leader of the GSA and a teacher at the High School. "It is especially important in these uncertain and challenging times to continue to have events like this (in a safe manner) to draw attention to these issues and show our support for those more at risk for harassment, inequity, and discrimination."

Ally Day is inspired by Ally Week, a student-led program during which LGBTQ K–12 students and educators lead a conversation on what they need from their allies in school. It is sponsored by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network). Showing our support is especially important now, as rates of bullying and harassment increase for students who identify as LGBTQIA+, and these students are four times more likely to attempt suicide.

 

Visual Arts Shine

News Type:  High School Date:  Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Since the spring of 2020, Landmark School has made countless adaptations to our program, facilities, and approach to accommodate extra health and safety measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers are innovating like never before but staying true to the roots of the Landmark method. Not surprisingly, the High School Visual Arts department has been particularly creative in setting up their workspaces to be as engaging as possible for students who are attending school in-person, remotely, or in hybrid mode (some days on campus, others at home). 

Co-Department Heads Kara Healey and Beth Jamieson developed new systems utilizing new tools and technology in the art room and by converting the gallery space to an electronic media lab to engage students no matter where or how they are attending school. 

Traditionally, the department uses shared materials, however, this year, all studio art students received individual art kits furnished with supplies as well as portfolios filled with various papers and surfaces and drawing boards. At the start of the year, students were coached through the process of setting up a portable home studio and how to position their document camera so that teachers can view their working space in order to give real-time feedback and encourage productivity throughout the entire studio class period. 

Jamieson said, "Inside of the classroom, various monitors and cameras have been positioned so that remote students can see multiple angles of the class and feel like they are participating in the classroom environment—even when they are working from the comfort of home. We set up projectors and demonstration cameras so that teachers can model techniques and give students an up-close view of the lesson and a sample project." 

In the digital media lab in the gallery, Healey and Jamieson set up two keyboards and mice for each computer station in order to ensure that all materials can be sanitized between classes, and each student is given an individual mousepad to store in their class binder. Digital art students are using various programs and apps in order to create work in Digital Photography and Graphic Design classes. 

No one can predict what will come in the months ahead, but we know that Landmark's High School Visual Arts Department will be ready. 

Landmark art student working in digital media lab

 

High School Teacher Receives Prestigious Fellowship

News Type:  High School Date:  Thursday, October 1, 2020

Sarah Ciras, a Landmark High School computer science teacher, was selected as a Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) Equity Fellow. She is one of 15 teachers across the country to receive the honor.

The CSTA Equity Fellowship involves collaborating with a group of 14 other educators around the US to work toward furthering an equitable landscape in computer science education. The goals are to bring an intersectional lens to the computer science education community, with the goal of making the field in general a more diverse and welcoming space for all. 

“I'm so excited to have been chosen for the 2020 Computer Science Teachers Association Equity Fellowship so that I can further my mission of improving access and the quality of computer science education for students with learning disabilities (LD),” Sarah said. “I look forward to bringing this sentiment to a national platform alongside the rest of my cohort, making computer science more equitable for all.”

Sarah’s responsibilities as a fellow are:

  • Share her expertise with CSTA members across the globe, including at the 2021 CSTA Annual Conference.
  • Develop professional learning experiences, such as online professional development (PD) courses, webinar series, virtual conferences, chapter PD for the CSTA community.
  • Collaboratively design and implement a project to promote equity in computer science education.
  • Represent CSTA and the computer science education community.

“I am hoping this fellowship will provide more opportunities for students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities in the field of computer science by furthering the truth that kids with LD can succeed with the correct supports,” Sarah said. “I think we all know that a homogeneous field does not allow for innovation, so bringing our students to the table will only make the field a better place to learn and work.”

A Longtime Advocate for Students With Disabilities

Sarah has been working with the University of Washington—Seattle and the group AccessCSForAll since 2015, pushing to bring more attention to accessibility of computer science for those with disabilities. She partnered with the university on a National Science Foundation Grant entitled "AccessCSforAll: Including Students with Disabilities in High School Computer Science."

The CSTA offers support, professional development, and resources to computer science teachers across the United States and Canada.

sarah ciras headshot

O'Riordan Named President of Athletic Association

News Type:  High School Date:  Monday, September 28, 2020

Tom O'Riordan, Landmark High School's venerable varsity cross country and track and field coach, has been elected president of the New England Prep School Track and Field Association (NEPSTA). In his new role, Tom will serve as head of the Cross Country and Track and Field Coaches Association for some 280 NEPSAC schools throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, and Quebec. Tom will continue to coach and teach at Landmark.

"I'm honored and excited to serve as the next NEPSTA president," said Tom. "I'm eager to work with the Executive Board and coaches as we look ahead to offering all NEPSTA athletes the chance to compete again as soon as safely possible." 

A Stellar Record

Tom was named Coach of the Year for fall 2019 by the Eastern Independent League (EIL) and has compiled an impressive 37–5 cross country record and has helped Landmark win five out of the last seven EIL Track and Field Championships. Between the two sports, Tom's teams have won eight EIL Championships, one MBIL (IGC) Championship, and three New England titles.

"Tom takes on this role at a time of uncertainty for all sports throughout our region and it will not be easy," said Landmark Athletic Director Brook Sumner.  "I know he'll be a credit to Landmark!"

tom o'riordan headshot

2020–2021 Student Council Officers Elected

News Type:  High School Date:  Friday, September 11, 2020

The results are in! A record 233 Landmark High School students—an impressive 86% participation rate—voted to elect Student Council officers on September 11. Ethan Kerr '21 won the race for president, Nathaniel Smith '21 secured the vice president slot, Ally DeAraujo '21 will serve as treasurer, and Heather Graham '21 assumes the position of secretary.

Candidates presented virtual speeches on September 10, outlining their platforms and explaining what makes them the strongest candidate for the job. 

Ethan stressed the need to be united during a school year that looks and feels different from years past. "We are going to build a Landmark community that is more united, more a family than ever," he said. "We are going to have campus events on campus so we can see each other and interact, and create that bond that we hold dear."

Nathaniel's speech focused on improving and expanding the dining options on campus and modifying the dress code. "I feel you should be able to wear whatever you want," he said. Citing long lines in the cafeteria that limit dining time, Nathaniel said he'd work with the administration to extend lunch periods and to allow students to drive off campus for lunch. 

Ally drew on her fundraising, accounting, and money management skills to make the case that she'd be a responsible treasurer. "I am interested in learning how you, the student body, wants to spend the money we raise this year," she said. "I will work to spend the money in order to make our time at Landmark more fun."

Heather acknowledged the inconvenience of wearing a mask for eight periods a day and promised to work with the administration to offer students more outdoor programming. "I recognize that safety needs to be the number one priority. However, I would work with the administration to encourage outside learning activities that keep the students socially distant, and also increase mask breaks." She also said she would propose selling goodie bags of candy and cookies for $2 to raise money for the school and holding monthly special lunches for each grade.

In addition to organizing campus-wide events, the Student Council raises money for organizations near and far, including the Open Door Food Pantry in Gloucester, Beverly Bootstraps, nAGLYDdembe Home Uganda, Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH), and many more.

ethan kerr
Ethan Kerr '21

International Group Rebrands as InterCultural Group

News Type:  High School Date:  Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The International Group has been an active club in the Landmark community for many years, celebrating Landmark School's diverse cultural backgrounds. This year, the group's leadership team proposed and voted to change the name of the club to InterCultural Group. The new name reflects the shift in the demographics of their membership, as well as the content of their meetings. While they will continue to celebrate the different cultures represented at Landmark School, the group is now more focused on addressing social and cross-cultural issues.

The InterCultural Group's mission statement has been adjusted to reflect the change as well. Their mission is:

To foster a sense of identity, acceptance, and belonging for all Landmark students; to acknowledge, bring attention to, and celebrate the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of the entire community; and to discuss domestic and international issues that impact our society.

"For me, the Intercultural group is a place where I and my fellow students can come and discuss current topics in our community as well as the world. Where I can share my opinion and have a meaningful, cultural conversation where I hear others who may see a situation from a different angle."

–Nathaniel S. '21

The group meets virtually on Tuesday evenings.

The new officers pictured below are: Ethan K., Nathaniel S., Mark S., Kaitlin R., and Vicky K., along with their faculty facilitators, Ms. Day and Ms. Zaralides.

InterCultural Group in a Virtual Meeting

Showing Support and Solidarity

News Type:  High School Date:  Thursday, September 3, 2020

At the beginning of Landmark High School’s 2020–2021 academic year, the newly formed Diversity and Inclusion Advocates asked faculty and staff to wear black each Friday to show solidarity with and support of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Faculty member Scott Jamieson, a member of the committee, explained, “Making the choice to wear black is one way of showing our students, new and returning, that our community stands up against racism and discrimination and stands up for the rights and lives of Black people across the country. This was an idea generated by members of our community and I thank them for sharing the idea.”

Responding to the initiative, High School faculty member Jamaal Dixon said, “As I watched Jacob Blake get shot in his back seven times as his kids watched I couldn't help but think, what if that was me? Many of you may not understand that feeling, but as a people, we just want to be valued, it's really quite simple. We will continue to have the necessary conversations throughout the year, and push our campus to be an accepting and inclusive community, I believe that is what we all want.”

The committee’s work is an institutional priority for Landmark School. Headmaster Bob Broudo said, “Members of the Landmark community tend to be inherently empathetic, knowing that our students tend to be marginalized in their prior school experiences due to their learning disabilities, and being sensitive to important social issues. As a community, we also know that we can and need to do more. The Black Lives Matter movement, and other human rights movements, are often wrongfully politicized. Treating people with dignity and humanity is not political — it’s a basic human right.”

The work of the committees on both campuses is to help our students and faculty become informed, invested global citizens who have an awareness of inequality, injustice, and institutional racism. 


Faculty members Lauren Michaud and Scott Jamieson show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. 

 

Teachers Spend Summer Developing Timely Curriculum

News Type:  High School Date:  Monday, August 31, 2020

Every summer, the family of former faculty member Andrew Burke sponsors a summer stipend for curriculum development. The Andrew Burke Memorial Award is open to social studies, language arts, and tutorial teachers. Award recipients spend the summer developing curriculum to share with other faculty members. 

In 2020, Chelsey Bergsten and Michelle Boucher jointly won one award and Kyle Clark the other. Chelsey and Michelle developed a curriculum to provide tutorial students with diverse perspectives on an array of topical issues. They drew on the summer reading list curated by High School Librarian Amy Velling that included books about race, gender, sexuality, immigration/culture, religion, socioeconomic status, and family.

Chelsey and Michelle read books from each category and then created 42 thought-provoking, engaging lessons that include activities, articles and questions, pictures or videos and reflections.

"We sincerely hope that the lessons all engage our students in deep and impactful thought about the diverse perspectives and identities that surround all of us," Michelle said.

Chelsey added, "Now more than ever, we feel it is important for our students to reflect on how they can impact their communities on and off-campus for the better, and that starts with understanding that everyone is coming to the table with a different experience."

michelle boucher and chelsey bergsten

Adapting Curriculum for All Learning Environments

Kyle converted the High School’s language arts grammar curriculum into a digital-friendly format that uses aesthetics (color, fonts, images, diagrams etc.) and structural formatting (tables, dividers, sections, etc.) to support parts of speech work and sentence structure for students participating in classes on campus, remotely, and in a hybrid environment. His work eliminated the need to adapt worksheets for each type of learning environment. 

Beyond expanding accessibility, his goal was to increase engagement, working memory, and eventually academic growth by splicing in more components of the Landmark Teaching Principles into the pre-existing documents. 

“The decisions I made in regard to color and formatting have consistencies across all topics to help instill how language is interconnected, and the diagrams I used to introduce each topic to allow our students to actually ‘see’ how these parts create a whole, rather than having them struggle to understand abstract concepts that originally did not jump off the page,” Kyle said.

“I really wanted to honor the foundational grammar curriculum created by those that came before me, while also increasing accessibility across the various learning environments that we now have to support,” he said. “By making parts of speech and sentence structure content more 'three dimensional,' I hope to promote engagement, decrease the use of working memory, and in the end, support written language skills through various modalities, aesthetics, and patterns in formatting worksheets and activities so the students can see how certain topic supports the others."

kyle clark

The Burke Award

Andrew Burke was a social sciences teacher at Landmark High School in the early 1980s. In 1987, Andrew passed away from a terminal illness. His mother and father, Agnes and John Burke, established a faculty award the next year in honor of their son. Each year, social sciences teachers are invited to apply for the Andrew Burke Award. The Burke family communicates directly with the head of the High School to review the applicants and choose recipients.

 

High School Students Return to Campus

News Type:  High School Date:  Thursday, August 27, 2020

Students returned to campus the week of August 24 to find countless COVID-related changes to buildings, the grounds, classrooms, and the covered faces of peers, teachers, and staff. What hasn't changed is the spirit, optimism, and flexibility of the entire community.

Though smiles were hidden behind face coverings, students' eyes lit up when they reunited in person with friends and teachers for the first time since March 6. 

"It's amazing to see all of my friends again," said Brian Rocca '22. "It seems like forever since we were together."

New students were equally enthusiastic about being back in school and learning how to navigate campus.

"The campus is beautiful. It's much bigger than my old school, but it feels welcoming and personable. I love it!," said Christi McGaffigan '24. "The tour at orientation was super helpful."

New students arrived on Monday, August 24, toured the campus, and participated in ice-breaker activities. New and returning students attended orientation on Tuesday and Wednesday, which included extensive training on health-and-safety protocols, COVID mitigation strategies, and the MyMedBot app. Students also rotated though several engaging activities that tapped their creativity and got their blood flowing, such as kayaking, Frisbee golf, laser cutting, tie-dye mask making, yoga, lawn games, and more. Remote students also received training on health-and-safety protocols and COVID mitigation strategies. They also discussed the challenges of high school and shared thoughts and strategies, participated in an identity-mapping activity, met with faculty, and more. 

"Students and teachers have been doing a great job as we begin the year," said Head of School Bill Barrett. "Of course, there are many adjustments to make, but the fact that everyone is together either in person or remotely has been exciting and is carrying everyone through this transition.  Our theme this year is flexibility and so far everyone has been up to the challenge!"

For the 2020–2021 school year, Landmark's 271 High School students are taking classes in-person, remotely, or a combination of the two, so many classes include a mix of both. Students and teachers used the first two days of classes, on Thursday and Friday, to adjust to the new format and work out any glitches.

"Having some kids remote is really different. The teachers sometimes have to repeat themselves so remote kids can hear, and the teachers have to move around so kids can see what they are showing us," said Brian.

"After a few classes, the remote students seem like they are in class with us," said Emily Desrochers '24.

students playing frisbee golf

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