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By Jocelyn Cote
You know what really grinds my gears? Congestion. It’s a very common practice at Westford Academy. Every day, both in the morning and afternoon, many kids decide to completely disregard others’ needs to get from one place to the next by blocking hallways and traffic lanes with large groups, making travel nearly impossible. The repeat offenders are usually underclassmen in their respective hallways and the bell lobby, but seniors and juniors have their wrongdoings as well.
For students who arrive at school between 7:25 A.M. and 7:30 A.M., navigating the halls is a nearly impossible feat. These kids are already in a rush to beat the bell, and the hordes of students lingering in the halls do not exactly help their progress.
Oftentimes, these chatty groups take up the entire width of the hallway, and while I myself try to get through as politely as possible, most of the time I find I have to give a slight push or shove in order to get through. Why take five seconds of your time to move over for a passerby when there’s a totally engrossing Rec Ball conversation to take part in, right?
There is no reason why these groups can’t spread out a bit to let others pass through. If the huddle is an integral part of your conversation for whatever reason, it’d be best to just find a new area to gather in – the cafeteria and library are just two of many options.
What trumps the hallway congestion, however, is the parking lot congestion. Not only is it trickier to navigate, considering it’s a lot harder to meander through small spaces while controlling a large motor vehicle versus just walking, but it is also much more dangerous. I am honestly surprised that no one has gotten hurt due to parking lot antics this year.
Much like the hallways, groups of students like to congregate in large groups within the parking lot in the afternoon, more often than not across entire traffic lanes. We all know how much of a nightmare the senior parking lot is, so these hordes of people make getting out of the lot and on your way home so much more difficult than it needs to be. Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg – every day, I see at least one person leaping all over someone else’s car, hanging off of car doors and rear view mirrors like monkeys while the vehicles drive on. Others enjoy jumping out in front of cars to prank their friends and in turn hold up the line. Kids dash around with no regard for the numerous cars around them, which has caused many a slam on the brakes for me.
It’s ridiculous and hazardous. There is nothing wrong with wanting to chat with your friends after a long day at school, but please keep in mind that traffic lanes are there to let cars through, not give you an area to congregate.
In summary, I’m sick of taking a proverbial machete through the hallways and parking lot as I’m trying to make my way through the school grounds. A little breathing room will do us all good.
By Jocelyn Cote
With the long-discussed ALICE drill upon us, Westford Academy is preparing for the simulation’s implementation this afternoon. As most WA students are aware of by now, ALICE is a new security strategy which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. Unlike traditional lock down procedures, ALICE encourages choice in course of action in the event of an armed shooter entering the school.
However, a lingering concern amongst both students and teachers alike is the possibility for negative effects that can be brought on by a stressful experience such as an active shooter simulation. Combined with the fact that ALICE is a relatively new and unfamiliar concept to the whole building, tension has the potential to run high.
Detective Justin Agraz, WA’s student resource officer and collaborator on the ALICE program, recognizes the concerns as completely valid.
“We designed the simulation purposely to be a low-intensity situation. [I am] kind of a firm believer that you have to walk before you can run and crawl before that,” he said. “If you think about an intensity scale of 1 to 10, we said we wanted to start out at a 3.”
Even with regulations in place, it is inevitable that many people will feel stressed during the drill. According to Psychology teacher Sandra Whittemore, stress has various adverse effects on a person’s body, including weakening one’s immune system, decreased appetite, lack of sleep, stronger reactions to stressors than usual, hyperactivity, and in extreme cases may even shrink the hippocampus, the part of the brain which controls a person’s memory.
Psychological effects are another concern for some. However, most participants should be fine with the situation in the long run, and those with preexisting anxiety or other problems can sit out the simulation if they are worried about their reaction in a controlled but realistic simulation such as an ALICE drill.
“For the average kid, [psychological concerns] will be short-term. For kids who already have high stress from a whole slew of other environmental influences, it could take them a little longer. [...] I think after going through the drill, debriefing and talking about it, they’re going to come out of it better,” said Whittemore.
Control is an important part of the ALICE simulation – each student will work with their peers and teachers during the block, with ample time allowed for discussion within the room as they work together to answer “What if?” during each phase of the drill.
Whittemore is also pleased with the care that WA has put into keeping the simulation ethical and in accordance with American Psychological Association guidelines for experiments.
“The parents have been notified about this, all the training has been shared with the staff and students in terms of what they’re involved in, and [the fact that] there is an opt-out [makes the drill] in line with APA guidelines,” said Whittemore.
Indeed, all students have the ability to opt-out of the simulation at any time both before and during the ALICE drill, no questions asked.
Another individual at WA who has experience with the adolescent mind is Steve Cunha, the resident school psychologist. He also shares the opinion that the simulation may not be for everybody.
“Even though it’s a drill, and I think it’s important for people to experience it, [...] people are going to have to know what to do. [...] However, our special needs students here and some of our students who are more emotionally fragile might be a little disturbed if they are asked to throw something at someone or barricade the door; you’re a little taken aback,” he said, “Even though it’s a drill and everyone knows it’s a drill, [the simulation] is still a little disarming.”
However, Cunha believes that participating in the simulation is a valuable experience, and encourages students to take part if they are on the fence about it.
“My opinion is that students shouldn’t necessarily drop out. I think there are some special cases that we all know about here in guidance, but since we all know this is a drill, for this kind of training I think students should take part. You’re not going to know what something will be like until you’re actually there – that goes for anything. [...] It’s hard for anyone, especially teenagers, to put [themselves] in another situation; that being able to distance yourself from your own point of view. [...] It’s a good, logical step for if we do any other kind of drill,” said Cunha.
Although the chances of the school actually experiencing an active shooter intrusion are slim, the situation is unfortunately becoming more and more prominent in the past few decades. Nevertheless, Whittemore is confident in administration’s ability to handle and prevent danger with the school’s threat assessment team.
“Our school does a really good job at prevention. We haven’t only focused on response,” she said, “Threat assessment is a really important aspect of keeping our school safe, and we have our counselors, teachers, and trained individuals who are looking and very vigilant with kids who might be in crisis or could be involved in some kind of issue where it could lead to violence. [...] A school shooter could be anyone, and could happen anywhere. We have to accept our reality. We have to lose our innocence and say, ‘This could happen.’”
Although unsettling to think about, today’s ALICE simulation will in fact not be as intense as last year’s teacher simulation, as no stand-in shooter will be present and students will be given ample time to work with their peers during each phase of the drill. Following the drill’s completion, students will participate in grade-wide debrief sessions to reduce any remaining tension.
“[The goal] is to allow students and staff to practice the techniques that we’ve taught to see how effective they can be and to get a feeling for them ahead of time,” said Agraz. “Just like you wouldn’t take a test without looking at the material, we don’t want your first time using ALICE to be in a real-life situation. [We want students to] experience it with lower stress first.”
By Jocelyn Cote
Often hailed as the biggest band in Britain today, Arctic Monkeys are no strangers to critical and chart success. However, after almost ten years of enthralling the UK, the band are only just finding an established following here in America. Their latest album, 2013′s AM, debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 chart, making it their highest-charting release across the pond, and lead single “Do I Wanna Know?” became their first song to enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 76.
Thus, it did not come as a surprise when news went out that the band had booked, and in turn sold out, a show at Boston’s Agganis Arena, which boasts a seating capacity of 7,200.
Currently embarking on the AM Tour, this current leg takes the band across the east coast of the USA. The venues are predominantly more intimate spaces with capacities that average at around 1,500 people, but also include two arena shows: Thursday night’s show in Boston, and Saturday night’s show at the world famous Madison Square Garden in New York City, the band’s largest US headlining show to date.
February 6 was thankfully without precipitation, but the bitter cold Massachusetts has become all too familiar with lately kept the queue lines for the show somewhat short by the band’s standards. Soon after doors opened, the arena slowly but surely filled out as the show’s two openers took the stage.
Chicago snotty punks and recent high school dropouts The Orwells opened the show, delighting the crowd with a display of angst-ridden tunes accompanied by the curious antics of lead singer Mario Cuomo, who would often be thrashing about on the floor or staggering across the stage with fingers running through a mane of tangled blonde hair. For 35 minutes, the band played through an electrifying set that left the audience content.
The second opening act was Georgia band Deerhunter, who have been billed as special guests for the tour’s two arena shows. Their inclusion was a curious one – while Arctic Monkeys specialize in more straightforward Rock ‘n’ Roll, Deerhunter stray to the more experimental side of things. Nonetheless, their set proved stunning, but seemed to garner mixed reviews from the audience for obvious reasons.
Playing songs from their two most recent releases, 2013′s Monomania and 2010′s Halcyon Digest, the band took the stage to a deafening wall of reverb and swirling guitars which persisted throughout the performance. Audience members covering their ears by the time their set drew to a close was not an uncommon sight. Dimly lit in a sea of purple and green light, the band’s shadowy presence added to their mysterious aura.
Soon, the night’s headliners finally took the stage, opening with aforementioned single “Do I Wanna Know?” Although the set was a bit short, clocking in at around 75 minutes, the energy from both the crowd and the band was immense.
Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner, known for being a lady-killer of sorts with female fans of the band, drew screams from the crowd each time he took a comb to his gel-caked, jet black quiff or gave a nod to the audience. All enchanting aside, though, Turner proved to be a perfect example of a talented performer with the power to hold an entire arena in the palm of his hand.
That being said, however, it would be a crime to discredit the remaining members of the band. Guitarist Jamie Cook, bassist Nick O’Malley, and drummer Matt Helders all played an integral part in the show’s success.
The band drove through a powerhouse of a set heavily focused on new material, but brought back old favorites as well. Songs ranged from new favorites such as “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” and “Arabella,” to time-tested classics such as “Fluorescent Adolescent” and “I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor.” To the audience’s surprise, long-time friend of the band and fellow musician Miles Kane joined the band onstage for the main set closer, “505″ – the first time he has done so in front of an American audience.
Closing out the show with a triple punch of “Cornerstone,” “One for the Road,” and “R U Mine?”, the Arctics enthralled their audience for one last time. From American cult classics to last year’s stateside breakthrough, the band is guaranteed to remain one to watch for years to come.
By Jocelyn Cote
You know what really grinds my gears? The parents who decide that the best place for them to drop off and pick up their kids is the senior parking lot.
Any senior who drives to WA knows how crazy the lot can get in the morning, especially 10-15 minutes before class begins. With bumper-to-bumper traffic already forming as students rush to find a parking spot, these parents tend to block entire rows, sometimes idling for minutes at a time as their kids gather their belongings. It’s unfair to us and a huge nuisance for all involved, including other parents trying to leave the school after they drop off their kids at the back door – you know, that place where students are actually supposed to be dropped off.
There are signs guiding cars through the student drop-off route everywhere, and the issue has been addressed in multiple parent emails. There’s no reason why these parents or their kids shouldn’t know where the designated area is. Yet here we are, halfway through the school year, and there are still parents who insist on blocking traffic so their precious little Johnny doesn’t have to make a long and treacherous journey to get inside the school… which really makes no sense, considering the fact that it’s probably an equal or shorter walk from the drop-off area to the back door than it is from the lot to the senior entrance.
This isn’t just an issue in the morning – the afternoon pick-ups are just as bad. As a flood of student cars try to exit the lot, there are always the scattered parents parked at the most inconvenient angles waiting for their kids, and the other parents struggling to beat against the current to get into the lot so they can either wait around and add to the congestion amongst the seniors or take the long way to the back door.
That’s the great thing about Westford Academy, parents – we have multiple entrances for your own convenience! Ones that actually don’t go through the senior parking lot! Who would’ve thought that?
Just last week during midterms, I came into school right before the make-up block for one of my finals. I entered the lot as I normally do, surveying the rows and trying to find a parking space that wasn’t too far from the door (it did feel like negative numbers outside, after all), and decided I’d try to find a spot in my usual row by the football field. Of course, as soon as I go to turn into the row, there’s a parent with their car idling smack dab in the middle of the lane.
Now I’ll admit, I’m not the most comfortable or confident driver, and realizing I was gridlocked with my car facing the wrong way in a one way lane and the lot set to be flooded with students in a matter of minutes sent me into a panic. After a probably 10-point turn, I was finally able to turn my car around and get a spot in a different row, but not without narrowly avoiding multiple parked vehicles in the process.
The senior parking lot is already a zoo. Let’s not turn it into a jungle.
By Jocelyn Cote
No matter how you look at it, 2013 was an incredible year for music. From long-awaited albums to unexpected comebacks, this was certainly a year to remember. Now, as 2013 draws to a close, I’ve lent my ears to its musical output once again to assemble my favorite releases.
I’ll be honest here – I didn’t know what to think of Lorde at first when “Royals” first started to hit radio airwaves. Sure, her voice is impressive for a seventeen-year-old, and her songs are catchy, but is her songcraft really all that unique? Pure Heroine is what sold me. Her lyrics can get a bit cliché at times, and usually focus on the rites of teenagerdom, but are overall mature. It’s a solid album bursting with glittery pop nuggets that cater to a wide audience, with songs being heard everywhere from alternative radio to top 40 stations. It’s only up from here for this young lady.
Ah yes, Daft Punk. The kings of electronic dance music and one of the most uniquely-outfitted duos of all time. Random Access Memories was one of the most anticipated albums of the year and it delivered. Their first true album release since 2005′s Human After All, the album marked a return to form with funky, danceable tracks and some interesting collaborations, including Pharrell Williams, The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, and Animal Collective’s Panda Bear. There’s something here for everyone, and if you deny that “Get Lucky” was one of the greatest tracks of the year, you’re lying to yourself.
I honestly never thought I would see an album release from David Bowie, so imagine my surprise and excitement when The Next Day was announced as his first album in a decade. Sure, it’s no Ziggy Stardust, but definitely his strongest output of the last quarter century. The album blends elements of classic rock, jazz, and modern alternative into a musical melting pot topped with Bowie’s one-of-a-kind vocals, still strong after 66 years. Once you get past the cover, which is the artwork for 1977′s “Heroes” with what looks like five minutes in Windows Paint, it’s an enjoyable listen for any Bowie fan.
Kveikur is undeniably darker than Icelandic band Sigur Rós’ previous effort, 2012′s Valtari, but from that darkness sprouts beauty. After losing a founding member last year and rumors of a break-up swirled, the future of the band was uncertain, but Kveikur solidified the fact that they’re strong as ever and here to stay. Sigur Rós have once again stuck with the usual post-rock route, but lead singer Jónsi’s vocals have been brought to the forefront rather than being drowned in a sea of ambient noise, creating a gorgeous balance that was not present on Valtari.
So… is it 1983 or 2013? That’s the question I kept asking through my first listen through Silence Yourself. The all-female quartet from London conjures up a jarring post-punk album that would fit in perfectly with many of the genre’s staple albums. Lead singer Jehnny Beth’s vocals fall somewhere in between Ian Curtis and Siouxsie Sioux and frame the album’s picture, with ferocious drum, guitar and basslines to create 39 minutes of heavy, confrontational rock ‘n’ roll. Although not a recording for the faint of heart, Silence Yourself is certainly an album that will scratch your 2013 punk itch.
My Bloody Valentine’s comeback album was second only to Bowie in the surprise department – long rumored, but never really confirmed (lead singer Kevin Shields is known for being notoriously cryptic.) Their first release since 1991′s Loveless, the sovereigns of shoegaze return 22 years later with an album that lives up to the decades of hype. From start to finish, the album features the band’s signature shoegaze blend of soaring synths, distorted guitars, and excellent percussion. It doesn’t knock Loveless down for top spot in the MBV hierarchy, but boy, does it get close.
The Joy Formidable are one of my favorite indie acts out their right now, and I got my first taste of Wolf’s Law when I saw them late last year in Providence, quickly making it one of my most anticipated albums of the year. While it doesn’t quite top their debut album, 2011′s The Big Roar, Wolf’s Law is filled with triumphant moments, from the rapturous opener “This Ladder is Ours” to the melancholy, stripped-down “Silent Treatment.” There’s a few forgettable tracks, but nothing truly bad. All music aside, the album also boasts some of my favorite cover art of the year.
Often considered one of the founding bands of the Britpop movement, Suede lost momentum through the late 90s and early 00s and called it a day in 2003, only to reunite in 2010. However, it would take another three years before the band’s first album in a decade, Bloodsports, would be released. The album is a triumphant return for the band, after a string of sub-par albums towards the end of their original recording career, and likely their best release since 1995 sophomore album Dog Man Star. The album shows a band back in their element, reliving the sound that brought them to the forefront of British music 20 years ago, but with a modern twist.
Deerhunter are known for stylistic jumps from album to album, and Monomania is no different. Gone is the mellow acoustic vibe of 2010′s Halcyon Digest, and in comes pure, unleashed southern garage rock. And – like much of the band’s work before it – it works. The album is loud and in-your-face in the best way possible, with screeching guitar riffs and muffled, low-fi vocals wrapped up in a blanket of reverb. It’s a change in style for sure, and may take some getting used to for seasoned Deerhunter veterans, but overall it encompasses itself as a great American record that salutes the great American songwriters of past and present.
Atoms for Peace began as a simple band in 2009 comprised of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich, bassist Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and percussionists Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco who grouped together to develop a live arrangement of Yorke’s 2006 solo album The Eraser. After years of rumors, the band finally produced its first album together, Amok. Its sound is interesting – Yorke describes it as “[not being] quite sure where the human starts and the machine ends.” It’s essential listening for any fan of Yorke’s work, but caters to electronic and experimental fans as well.
Across the pond, Arctic Monkeys are a household name and arguably the biggest band in Britain at the moment. Following their usual two year release pattern, it was no surprise when AM was announced as a follow-up to 2011′s Suck it and See. The album isn’t as in-your-face as some of their previous work and at times trades in usual upfront guitar parts for groovy basslines and beats, but overall it’s a cohesive listen tied together by lead singer Alex Turner’s snappy vocals and lyrics that marks another stepping stone in the British rockers’ musical journey. This is the album that turned me from a casual Arctic Monkeys fan to a loyal listener.
What do you get when you cross Canadian indie rockers Arcade Fire with one of the world’s most acclaimed dance producers, James Murphy? Why, a 76-minute alt-tinged disco revival, of course. Reflektor is nothing like the band have ever released before in the best way possible. I would consider the title track one of the top singles of the year for various reasons – it’s fun, danceable, and even features a cameo from David Bowie, who claims to have wanted the song for himself after hearing it for the first time. Although some fans have balked at the new sound, it’s definitely interesting to see a different facet of one of the most enthralling bands in the world.
From the moment I finished my first listen of this album, I was almost positive it would come out on top on my end of the year list. Modern Vampires of the City is Vampire Weekend’s most cohesive album to date – the songcraft is strong and it flows very smoothly. Lyrically is where this album stands out in the catalog, though. No longer are we talking about rings at the bottom of the sea or greatest hits listmakers, but rather questioning religion, love, and the meaning of life – but that’s not to say there isn’t carefree fun sprinkled in the mix. It’s a beautiful, poignant picture of an incredible band in their prime, and will likely be looked upon as one of the greatest albums of the decade for years to come.
By Jocelyn Cote
After a day of doorbuster deals and early-morning shopping, many local teenagers chose to spend their Black Friday evening at Westford’s Parish Center for the Arts for a joint acoustic night and rock show.
Another Westford Teen Arts Council sanctioned event, the show featured an interesting mix of open mic acoustic performances and two bands: newcomers Shirts and Shoes and local favorites The Cranks.
Attendance at the show was higher than ever, with the PCA packed to the brim with audience members. The night was a success for both WTAC and all musicians involved.
Chris Carpenter is no stranger to Westford Academy. As an alumnus of the Class of 2004, he has traveled these halls many times before, first as a student, and now as a teacher. Recently, he was hired as part of the school’s Student Support Services department.
“My experiences here were great, so I felt I was part of this community and the opportunity to come back was pretty cool,” said Carpenter. “It’s been great coming back here and having all the teachers still know you. It’s kind of the whole package, I thought.”
Carpenter attended college at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he received his undergraduate degree in Business and Math. After spending some time in the business world, he decided it was not something he loved. He then shifted his focus to teaching, and attended Salem State University, where he received his master’s degree in Mild/Moderate Special Education.
As some might suspect, Carpenter is related to WA math teacher Bob Carpenter. In fact, he is his son. Carpenter cites his father as an inspirational figure in his decision to become a teacher.
“My dad actually teaches here, too. He teaches in the math department, so I’ve kind of always had an understanding of what he does and how much he loves doing it,” he said.
Carpenter’s work in the school is somewhat different from that of a traditional teaching position, but it has its similarities as well. He works with students in both student support services rooms and inclusion classroom settings, helping the students figure out their best learning style.
“It’s a little different in the sense that you’re sitting in different types of classes,” he said. “You really get to know the students very well, too, and their learning habits and skills.”
On an average day, Carpenter travels around the building to multiple classes with his students. He works in inclusion classes with teachers such as Chris Connole and fellow 2004 WA graduate Jeff Bucchianeri.
“I get to work with [Bucchianeri] in one class, which is awesome because he’s a great teacher. I learn a lot from him, too. I’m with Mr. Connole for another inclusion class, and I actually teach a [...] math class with Mrs. Robinson, which is great too,” he said. “I’m kind of a nomad a little bit. I get to wander around the school, which is great, because I get to see more people.”
So far during his time at WA, Carpenter has yet to find a least favorite part of his job, but says his favorite part is working with the students. He is also looking forward to coaching hockey, something that his father does as well.
“Obviously, I’m really excited to be here. I have utmost respect for everyone and the teachers here, and it felt great coming back. Just having everyone so welcoming was awesome,” he said.
By Jocelyn Cote
The afternoon of Friday, October 11 brought the annual Spirit Rally celebration to Westford Academy to conclude a successful Spirit Week.
As per usual, the Seniors walked away with the title of Spirit Rally champions, winning seven of the twelve events; however, they found unlikely rivals in the Juniors, who won five events. The Freshmen and Sophomores struggled throughout the rally, and walked away with zero wins to their name.
The rally included events such as tug-of-war, limbo, potato sack races, and the infamous greased watermelon toss. After nearly two hours of competition, the Seniors brought the day’s events to a close with their traditional storming of the field in celebration of their win.
By Jocelyn Cote
On Wednesday afternoon, Westford Academy varsity field hockey faced off against the Newton South Lions. The Ghosts had a strong lead early in the game, and ultimately defeated the Lions with a clean sweep of 7-0.
Varsity’s next field hockey match is on Friday at 4 PM at home against Lincoln-Sudbury.
By Jocelyn Cote
Sherley Blood-Thom is no stranger to the world of Latin. She has been teaching the language to students for nine years, first at Andover High School and now at Westford Academy. At Andover, she created an elective class where students studied the ancient world and the impact of Greek and Latin on our language today.
Outside of school, she enjoys playing the flute, gardening and riding horses.
“I have long heard about Westford’s fine reputation. It has a strong Latin program,” said Blood-Tom. “When I interviewed for the position I [was happy to find out] that you have so many kids taking Latin in the upper-division classes – Latin IV, Latin V, Latin Honors – and that is really phenomenal. “
Blood-Thom, a Lincoln native, is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine, which she attended after graduating from Lincoln-Sudbury High School. There she majored in both classical languages and classical civilization.
From an early age, Blood-Thom knew she wanted to teach professionally.
“My 4th grade teacher [...] inspired me to become a teacher. His name was Jeff Drury, and [he taught at] Lincoln. After that, I knew I wanted to become a teacher. Then in Latin later on, I had a wonderful mentor; a teacher who’s taught for forty years in Pennsylvania at a private school. Her name was Jane Dunlap,” she said.
This year, Blood-Thom hopes to adjust to her new teaching environment and become involved with both the Latin Club and the Debate Club. She also wants to become involved with the Art and Theater departments, and is looking into putting on a play in the Black Box with her students.
Blood-Thom’s love of the Latin language is evident from her enthusiasm.
“I think Latin is a phenomenal language because of its strength. It has persisted for 2,300 years because of its strength. It is an incredible language to learn. [...] It really drives home some of the most important wisdom we’ve come across,” she said.
By Jocelyn Cote
On the evening of the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, Westford residents and emergency services personnel gathered in the Westford Police Department courtyard for the unveiling of a new memorial to honor those lost in the attack, including two Westford residents.
The memorial was designed by fireman David P. Christiana and features a piece of a support beam from the World Trade Center surrounded by stainless steel flames.
Multiple guests spoke at the event; notably senator Scott Brown and nominee Gabriel Gomez. Brown’s daughter, former American Idol contestant Ayla Brown, also performed.
By Anastasha Echavarri
After three years of writing, interviewing, editing and storytelling, I am saddened by the thought that my career as a journalist at Westford Academy has come to an end.
My experience as a staff writer and editor has not only instilled in me confidence in my writing abilities, but it has also given me confidence in myself, a gift that I intend to carry with me throughout college and the years that follow.
The short four years that I attended WA has changed me in a profound way. Coming to this school has not only taught me about the importance of motifs in novels, mathematical equations and scientific theories, it has also taught me how to find a voice.
No, I will not forget the fundamentals of what my teachers have taught me in the classes I have taken. But this voice, which I stumbled upon during my time as a writer for the school newspaper, is able to elicit thoughts and beliefs that I will carry with me much longer than I will remember the lectures I heard and the tests I have taken.
This voice, this conviction in one’s beliefs, is impossible to teach in a classroom setting.
But while I was a part of the Ghostwriter, I was suddenly able to write about topics that I was invested in. If I wanted to discuss the latest GOP debate during the 2012 elections, reflect on the pertinence of gun control after the Newtown Massacre, or simply review the latest WATA production, I could.
No matter how controversial the topic, I could always express my opinion. It did not matter that I was only 18, because the newspaper was not a paper dictated by the school administration, but rather by the students who created it.
With any luck, I hope to continue my career in journalism when I attend college this fall, because I believe that everyone should have an outlet in which to voice their beliefs. Not everyone has to be a journalist, but it is a gift that we have the right to speak our minds.
We are blessed that in Massachusetts the press has, for the most part, the ability to practice free speech. This freedom must not go to waste, and I hope that the class of 2013 agrees with me and will continue to fight for what they believe in.
Although the members of the class of 2013 are going in many different directions, even in opposite parts of the country, we will hopefully be able to remain connected by our shared pasts. We have bonded over studying for AP exams, practiced together for DCLs, and have, most importantly, experienced the many opportunities that our school has offered us.
I, myself, will take away from these few years the most important opportunity that I was given. I was given the chance to find my voice, and I will never give it up.