student at whiteboard

High School

Student Advocates: Empowered By Their Disability

News Type:  High School Date:  Friday, January 17, 2020

There’s no doubt that having a language-based learning disability (LBLD), such as dyslexia, affects students in the classroom. They may struggle with listening, speaking, reading, or writing; managing time, materials, or information; or self-advocacy and self-regulation. LBLDs also factor into students’ lives outside school, in social situations and at work, for example.

Several of Landmark School’s Student Advocates talked about how their LBLDs influence their personal lives. While their learning differences certainly pose challenges, these students embrace their disability and find inspiration from it. 

The Student Advocates are a small group of seniors who deliver presentations about their learning difference to graduate and undergraduate education students at local colleges and universities, as well as to students, teachers, and administrators at elementary and middle schools. Their personal accounts are honest, powerful, and eye-opening.

Embracing Their Learning Differences

Several of the advocates said they feel empowered by their learning difference, whether it boosts their creativity or drives them to exceed the expectations of those who don’t understand what it means to have a learning disability.

Joe, who plans to study architecture in college, thinks that his learning disability has enhanced his creativity and eye for design subtleties. “I've always found that with architecture I tend to be a critical thinker and designer, and I can see things that other people can’t see when it comes to structures,” he said. For example, “somebody might look at a building and say, ‘Wow, that’s a cool building.’ Meanwhile, I see that building has some components of Victorian architecture, and it also has some of this and some of that. Due to having a learning difference, I can notice things that others can’t.”

Similarly, Lucie credits dyslexia with gifts that will help her succeed in every aspect of her life. “I’m super organized, have a creative mindset, am an abstract thinker, and have well-developed social skills that will take me far,” she said. In addition, Lucie takes pride in proving people wrong who doubt her abilities. “People sometimes think I’m not able to do something because I have a learning disability. I prove to them that I’m much more capable than than they immediately expect.” 

Isa’s working memory deficits affect her in situations such as job interviews. “Absorbing content coming at me really fast is difficult,” she said. “In job interviews, my biggest anxiety is they are going to tell me crucial information that I won’t remember, so through Landmark I’ve learned to write things down and create to-do lists. I’ll bring a pen and paper to the interview.” Having a learning difference has helped Isa develop an enviable outlook on test scores. “If I don’t do well on a standardized test, it doesn’t mean I’m not intelligent. Having a learning disability (LD) helped me see that getting a certain number on the SAT doesn’t indicate my intelligence or affect my self-worth. I think having an LD has allowed me to move past those types of ranking of worth.”

People sometimes think I’m not able to do something because I have a learning disability. I prove to them that I’m much more capable than than they immediately expect.—Lucie

 

Overcoming Challenges with Strategies

Other advocates reported that working can be difficult and stressful, but they overcome these challenges by using strategies they learned at Landmark or by focusing on their strengths.

When John started working as a salad chef, he had a difficult time memorizing the recipes and he made a few mistakes. He used strategies to commit them to memory.  “I took pictures of the recipes and quizzed myself before and after every shift,” he said. Perhaps because of some of the difficulties he has faced, John considers himself an empathetic problem solver. “I've always been great at solving social conflicts or helping people combat whatever they're struggling with at the time.”

Jessup’s job can also be stressful as a result of his LBLD. He works at a family-owned grocery store, and he sometimes takes phone orders for fruit baskets. He said that customers can get annoyed if he asks them to repeat information. “I try to avoid that part of the job!,” he said. An eager, ambitious, and enthusiastic student, Jessup embraces his learning disability because it has helped him view education “more positively than many other students. I care about my education a lot.” 

Liz shares Jessup’s sunny outlook about having dyslexia. “I would say I am a creative person and I often see things in a different way than others,” she said. “I believe this is because of my dyslexia, and this has helped me in numerous ways.” And like John, Liz works in food service and has struggled at times, particularly with spelling some menu items. “When I'm typing in the orders on the computer there are certain words, marinara for example, that I don't know how to spell. My coworkers don’t understand that even though I spell it about 10 times a day, I can’t spell it correctly even if I just typed it 10 minutes ago,” she said. “I explain to my co-workers that I have dyslexia, a learning difference but they don’t always understand it.” 

The Student Advocates are going a long way in helping people understand that learning differences don’t make a person less capable and these differences can in fact be a gift that helps them see the world through a different lens. As Lucie said, these students will go far in life.

 

 

Learning About Dwarfism at Landmark

News Type:  High School Date:  Wednesday, January 8, 2020 Byline:  Taylor Nault '21

My name is Taylor Nault. I am a junior at Landmark High School and I was born with Achondroplasia, which is a form of Dwarfism. This is my seventh year being a part of the Landmark community. It was hard at first to adapt, because I was the only person here with Dwarfism. However, I have overcome this by learning to self advocate and make friends that accept my disability.

Since getting my license, I have been able to drive to school using extension pedals, which are metal attachments that clamp on to the regular pedals. Before this, I used to commute by train. I am also very involved in Landmark’s community service. I have volunteered during Saturday school and after school to help the community. I have participated in the electronic recycling drive at School and at Lifebridge Homeless Shelter by making blankets and preparing dinner for people in need. I have also been asked to take part in the service learning trip to Jamaica this spring where we will spend time at an orphanage and a school.

This year, I introduced Dwarfism Awareness Month to Landmark and worked with the student council to raise money to support Little People of America, a nonprofit organization that provides support and awareness to people of short stature, their families, and healthcare professionals. To help the Landmark community better understand Dwarfism, I also gave a presentation to high school faculty, staff, and students this fall. 

Taylor Nault girl smiling

Viking All Stars

News Type:  High School Date:  Monday, January 6, 2020

What a Season, 18 Viking All-Stars! 

Congratulations to the following cross country athletes who were named Boston Globe all stars for the fall 2019 season.

Ryan Shea - Boston Globe All-Scholastic

2019 Eastern Independent League MVP

2-Time EIL & NEPSAC Team Champion 

3-Time EIL XC ALL-STAR

3-Time NEPSAC XC ALL-STAR

Congratulations to all our All-Stars!

Lucy Lopardo - Girls XC - MBIL ALL-STAR

Morgan Joyce - Girls Soccer - IGC ALL-STAR

Agata Miller - Girls Soccer - IGC ALL-STAR

Ava Miller - Girls Soccer - IGC ALL-STAR

Lily Martin - Girls Volleyball - IGC ALL-STAR

Kindred Hurtado - Girls Volleyball - IGC ALL-STAR

Ryan Shea - Boys XC - EIL MVP, EIL ALL-STAR & NEPSAC ALL-STAR

Nik Guthrie - Boys XC - EIL ALL-STAR & NEPSAC ALL-STAR

Dominic Paolini - Boys XC - EIL ALL-STAR & NEPSAC ALL-STAR

Peter Laird - Boys XC - EIL ALL-STAR & NEPSAC ALL-STAR

Zeke Reilly - Boys XC - EIL ALL-STAR & NEPSAC ALL-STAR

Malcolm Thornton - Boys XC - EIL ALL-STAR 

Arlo Grey - Boys Soccer - EIL ALL-STAR 

Max Ash - Coed Golf - EIL ALL-STAR 

Ian Alsop - Boys XC - NEPSAC JV ALL-STAR

Elijiah Anderson - Boys XC - NEPSAC JV ALL-STAR

Josh Applestein - Boys XC - NEPSAC JV ALL-STAR

August Reid - Boys XC - NEPSAC JV ALL-STAR

landmark high school cross country runners

Why Landmark?

News Type:  High School Date:  Monday, November 4, 2019

At the all-school milkbreak in late October, Jessup Goldberg Cook ‘20 and math teacher Grace Walkowicz member explained what brought them to Landmark. Both delivered their speeches with confidence and poise in front of more than 500 people in the Ansara Athletic Center.

Jessup arrived at Landmark during his junior year. He said while some students are at Landmark because their parents made the decision for them, he said coming to Landmark was his choice. ‘I wish I had the opportunity to start at Landmark sooner than I did,” he said. “Being at Landmark made me realize that if I put my mind to wanting to learn, I can accomplish it. I just need the access and resources to succeed at school.”

Like many Landmark faculty members Ms Walkowicz has deep connections to Landmark. Her parents, Stephen and Kelly, met and married at Landmark. After a few years, they left Landmark for other career opportunities in western Massachusetts. When it was time for Grace to choose a career, she recalled stories about the “mythical place called Landmark” that she had heard so often growing up. Grace took her parents’ advice and applied to Landmark. Now in her fifth year of teaching, Grace has no regrets. “I was curious about this place that holds so many of their memories. I didn’t expect that I’d love it here as much as I do. I have fallen in love with teaching, getting to know the students, and trying to find creative ways to make math fun. I, just like my parents, have found my family at Landmark.”

student speech all school milkbreak

Health Center Dedication

News Type:  High School Date:  Thursday, October 31, 2019

On October 30, friends and members of Georganna El Heneidy’s extended family attended an all-school milkbreak and dedication of the High School Health Center to the beloved nurse who passed away tragically in January 2019.

During the assembly in the Ansara Athletic Center, Dean of Students Robb Genetelli recalled how Mrs. El made a lasting impression on colleagues and students and imbued the school with an enduring sense of love and peace. 

“She cared deeply for this community. We were part of her family. She incorporated us into her world,” he said. “Her joy and love of life was present in her. She had the extraordinary ability to make you feel you as if you were the only person on the planet who mattered.”

He urged students to be kind to one another in her honor and think of the legacy she has left behind. 

“It’s our job to make sure those who didn’t know her learn about her and her extraordinary compassion and love and her openness to everyone,” he said. “That’s how you keep someone’s memory alive.” 

Bittersweet Gathering

Family, friends, and members of the Landmark community then gathered outside the Health Center for the formal dedication of the El Heneidy Health Center and garden. The garden is adorned with purple flowers (Mrs. El’s favorite color), Landmark blue Adirondack chairs, and marble plaques, creating a welcoming space for students to congregate. 

Several members of her family told stories of her generosity, kindness, and love of life. Each mentioned that although Mrs. El and her husband never had children themselves, Georganna mothered hundreds of children at Landmark.

Mrs. El’s presence was felt throughout the morning—and she may have had something to do with the sun that broke out during the dedication after a morning of clouds and drizzle.

landmark school health center dedication

Mozambique Educators Visit Landmark

News Type:  High School Date:  Wednesday, October 23, 2019

For the past three years, several members of the Landmark High School faculty traveled to Mozambique over March break to visit schools and orphanages. The visits were opportunities for the educators to both give and receive teaching advice.

In October 2019, the Susan and Larry Weil, the directors of the Christian Academy of Mozambique, one of the schools the teachers visit each year, spent the day at Landmark, touring the campus, observing classes, and meeting with administrators.

“We wanted to let Landmark know how much we appreciate that your teachers travel to Mozambique over their vacation,” said Susan. “It’s been a wonderful experience for our teachers and students.”

Sense of Community Is Palpable on Campus

The Weils, who hail from Washington state, started the school and ministry in Mozambique in 1996. The school, for students in grades kindergarten through 12, has grown from 12 students to its current 123. Students are taught in English, though many of the younger students enter school speaking Portuguese​. 

Susan said the teachers at the Christian Academy most appreciate the classroom management strategies and differentiated instruction tips they learned from Landmark teachers.

The couple was impressed with the state-of-the-art science labs, the details of the woodworking in Governor’s Landing, and the natural beauty of the campus, but what most impressed them were the students and faculty.

“We can feel the sense of community between both teachers and teachers and teachers and students. The environment is very similar to CAM (Christian Academy of Mozambique),” Susan said. “We hope this relationship continue for many years to come.”

susan larry weil landmark school

Ally Day 2019

News Type:  High School Date:  Thursday, October 3, 2019

Dozens of students, faculty, and staff participated in Ally Day at the High School on October 3. Student and faculty members of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) handed out safe space stickers and encouraged community members to reflect on their values and actions and commit to the Ally Pledge, which states: 

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

  • Not use 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.

"Over 160 community members signed the Ally pledge to help put an end to hate speech, bullying, and harassment and to cultivate a safe and welcoming environment at our school," said Jennifer Moy, faculty leader of the GSA and a teacher at the High School.  

Cultivating a Community of Acceptance

As bullying has become an issue of national concern, Landmark has steadily worked to create a community that strives for acceptance, not just tolerance. Many of our students know what it is like to be left out or mistreated in the classroom, and can understand what it can feel like to be ostracized in a community. Events like Ally Day give needed attention to the struggles of the LGBTQ community, as well as provide a moment to be aware of and grateful for Landmark's supportive environment.

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.

ally day 2019 landmark high school

Dozens of Students Volunteer at Vettes to Vets

News Type:  High School Date:  Monday, September 30, 2019

 

Twenty-five Landmark High School students volunteered at the 16th Annual Vettes to Vets Day on September 29 to support veterans at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Mass.

Students were grouped into two teams, one processed thousands of donated items for the hospital before they were loaded onto the truck for delivery and the other worked the food line, serving thousands of people. Landmark Chaplain Bill Ferguson and teachers Olivia Bochicchio and Steven Melaragni  joined the students on the trip. Rev. Ferguson praised the students for their work ethic and professionalism.

"They were polite, self-sacrificing (by that I mean they would not take breaks or took over for someone else so they could take a break)," he said. "It was precious to see and I simply could not be more proud." 

Students' Professionalism Earns Praise

Rev. Ferguson was not the only leader to commend Landmark students. Sean Thibodeau, an executive at a company in Chelmsford who volunteers each year at Vettes to Vets, took the time to email Rev. Ferguson about our students.

"In my time at this event, I’ve seen countless organizations, groups, clubs show up to volunteer and support the event, but this year a group stood out beyond every other I’ve witnessed. The volunteers from Landmark School worked effectively, energetically, enthusiastically and most impressive, as a team," Mr. Thibodeau said. "Without having the process dictated to them, they streamlined their work to make it as functional and effective as humanly possible.  They communicated with each other and those around them. These volunteers were respectful in their interactions with each other, my team, other volunteers, and myself. They were simply the most impressive group of young volunteers I’ve witnessed at this event or any other I’ve served in."

Program Has Raised more than $500,000 for Veterans

The Corvette parade has grown from 25 cars in 2003 to more than 720 vehicles in 2019. Since Vettes to Vets began, more than $500,000 has been raised in monetary and non-monetary donations. Funds have been used to rebuild the hospital’s greenhouse, maintain an education center for veterans with free Internet and computer training, build a new hospice unit, and purchase a wheelchair van for recreational outings for patients. 

landmark high school vettes to vets 2019

2019–2020 Student Council Officers Elected

News Type:  High School Date:  Thursday, September 19, 2019

 

The results are in! Landmark students voted to elect Student Council officers on September 12. Joseph Membrino won the race for president, John Simpson secured the vice president slot, Jake Lunder will serve as treasurer, and Lee Dalzell assumes the position of secretary.

Candidates bravely delivered speeches in Ansara on September 11, outlining their platform and explaining what makes them the strongest candidate for the job. 

Joe vowed to listen to students and bring their ideas and concerns to the administration.

"If you choose to elect me as your Student Council President, I promise to lead through listening, making myself available to hear your needs and suggestions. I will then take those ideas and be your voice to the administration," he said. "I want to advocate in order to make our experience while at school more positive and enjoyable as possible. For example, I personally have always had a problem with the glare from the sun in the morning during breakfast; if elected, I will push for shades to be put in the cafeteria to help make the morning more enjoyable."

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.

landmark high school student council

From left to right: John Simpson, Joseph Membrino, Jake Lunder, and Lee Dalzell

Gearing Up for the Fall High School Athletic Season

News Type:  High School Date:  Friday, September 6, 2019

 

The coaches at High School and Elementary•Middle School are brushing up on drills and the maintenance crew is sprucing up the fields in preparation for the fall athletic season.

More than two-thirds of the student body participates in some aspect of interscholastic sports competition—an impressive number especially given that many of our students travel long distances each day. 

Administrative Team

Brook Sumner returns for his 12th season as Athletic Director, Tom O'Riordan will begin his first year as the Assistant Athletic Director at the High School, and Tara Joly-Lowdermilk enters her sixth year as Assistant Athletic Director at EMS. Mike Murphy is one year past of the quarter-century mark as Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC). Strength and Conditioning Specialist Lauren Torres returns as the leader of our Empowerment Through Athletics (ETA) program, which is designed specifically for our female student athletes.

Fall Sports

Golf: A coed program comprised of a varsity team for the High School and eighth grade students at EMS. There is a limited number of spaces (10) for this program per our agreement with the golf club.

Cross-Country: Coed varsity team for boys and girls at the High School and a coed Middle School team of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders.

Girl’s Soccer: Varsity and junior varsity (JV) team for the High School and a Middle School team of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders (when numbers permit).

Boy’s Soccer: Varsity and JV team for the High School and a Middle School team of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders (when numbers permit).

Girls’ Volleyball: Varsity and JV team open to eighth grade girls at the Middle School.

Conference Membership

For boys varsity competition, Landmark maintains membership in the Eastern Independent League (EIL). The development and integrity of Landmark's athletic program is enhanced through this membership, and the opportunities for our athletes have expanded over the years to better meet their needs. EIL membership for our boys include the following schools: Bancroft School, Beaver Country Day School, Berwick Academy, Chapel Hill Chauncy Hall (wrestling only), Concord Academy, Lexington Christian Academy, Pingree School, and Portsmouth Abbey School.

Landmark female athletes compete in the Independent Girls Conference (IGC). This conference also values the principles of sportsmanship and adheres to a similar mission statement as Landmark’s. Giving students the opportunity to compete in leagues that recognize sportsmanship, fair play, and healthy competition strengthens their self-image and enhances their growth. Members of the IGC include Brimmer & May, Cambridge School of Weston, Chapel Hill Chauncy Hall, Gann Academy, Montrose School, and Waring School.

Both leagues are full members of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council, also known as NEPSAC. Landmark maintains membership in NEPSAC’s District III.

Learn more about Landmark's High School and Elementary•Middle School Athletic programs.

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