Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Food for Thought?

According to today's Boston Globe, less than 10% of American high school students get a sufficient amount of fruit and vegetables in their daily diet.  This finding was based upon study conducted by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in 2007 where approximately 100,000 high school students across the nation were surveyed.  The study found that only 13% of students get the recommended three servings of vegetables and only 32% get the recommended two servings of fruit.  Less than one out of ten get enough of both combined.

It is almost as bad for the adult population, where the CDC found that only 27% got the recommended allowance of vegetables and 33% for fruit.

In an era where 1 out of 5 people in the Commonwealth are obese and over 17% of children aged 12 to 19 are obese (defined as having a BMI or body mass index over 30), I wonder if we're doing enough in our schools.  Are we serving enough whole, non-processed foods in our cafeterias?  Do we need to do more with our health/wellness curriculums to promote better eating.... even if that message isn't being lived in the home?

Town Hall Meeting on Underage Drinking on Oct. 8

The Tri-Town Drug and Alcohol Awareness Partnership (a group of community-based and school leaders from Foxboro, Mansfield, and Norton) is partnering with the A & E Network and the Comcast Organization to present a screening of the groundbreaking, Emmy-nominated series Intervention which airs on A & E. Following the screening, a live town-hall meeting will take place featuring interventionist Jeff VanVonderen. Mr. VanVonderen is a nationally renowned speaker with experience working with families in crisis related to drugs and alcohol. This town hall meeting will be taped for a later airing on A & E.

The event will be held on Thursday, October 8 at the Showcase Live at Patriot Place in Foxborough. A reception starts at 6:00 pm with the program running from 7:00-8:30 pm.

This very important event is the start of a series of events aimed at giving families public support on the issue of drug and alcohol awareness and helping our kids make good, safe decisions, particularly in light of recent drug and alcohol-related tragedies in our communities. The Tri-Town Partnership will continue to provide information that encourages communication between teens and their parents.

For more information on this event, here is a link to the Sun Chronicle's article from Monday.

This event is open to all students, parents, and community members. If interested in attending, please RSVP to or call (508) 858-5319

Monday, September 28, 2009

The All-Sports Booster Club Needs YOU!!

I recently read a report in the Boston Globe that more and more communities south of Boston have implemented user fees for high school student athletes. In the Hockomock League alone, six of the nine schools have gone the route of “pay to play,” with the median fee being $225 per sport. Numerous studies and both the state and national level show that the initiation of such fees results in a deleterious effect on student participation rates. Additionally, Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies reports that the percentages of Massachusetts high school students aged 16 to 19 years old employed in a part-time job dropped from 45% in 2000 to 30% in 2009, most likely a reflection of the deterioration of the economy. As employment opportunities for students continue to decline, it is imperative to expand access to athletic and after school programs to replace the social and behavioral gains when students have jobs.

So what’s my point? It’s simple. I feel blessed to be the principal of a high school where 68% of our students participate in at least one sport. If you add extra- and co-curricular activities to the mix, the rate climbs to 91%. A sizable majority of our students are clearly benefiting from lessons they are learning outside of the classroom, delivered by dedicated coaches and advisors. These real-life lessons teach our kids characteristics such as the value of hard work, commitment, and perseverance, which are the bedrock of creating a responsible citizenry.

Last spring the Mansfield School Committee was faced with an extremely challenging budget, one where millions of dollars of cuts needed to be executed. Once again, the issue of sports user fees was proposed, and the committee carefully and thoughtfully deliberated the topic. Despite the financial pressure, the committee decided not to implement user fees, citing that MHS’ high participation rate would decrease. Continued equity and access to our fine athletic and co-curricular programs was their chief concern.

Thus, the vital support of parent and community organizations such as the All-Sports Boosters Club are critical now more than ever. Through the fundraising efforts of this group, our students athletes are able to get the “extras,” i.e., equipment, supplies, uniforms, etc., that help in giving them a competitive advantage. Additionally, the group gives generous scholarships to deserving seniors each spring. Parents in the club also give countless hours of their time- from organizing and printing the seasonal sports program books to working the gymnasium concessions- for the good of the all of the programs. This Boosters Club has been run by a small but passionate and dedicated group of parents; however, many of them are no longer as their children have graduated. If you have not done so yet, I urge you to join the All Sports Booster Club. Please give of your time and resources; we need you! For more information, please contact Athletic Director Joe Russo at (508) 261-7540, X-3113 or via e-mail at

Go Hornets!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Welcome to "Principally Speaking"!

Hi Everyone-

This year I thought I would try something new and start a blog for MHS. While blogging certainly is not new, it is fairly novel among school principals. I am excited about the possibilities it may hold!

Why a principal's blog? It will serve many purposes, including:

1. To post news, notes, events about MHS in a quick and efficient way (and save a tree or two, to boot!).
2. To share some thoughts on issues/topics that are germane to education not only here at Mansfield High School, but also within our community, and at the state and national level; and,
3. To solicit your ideas and feedback. Since the very nature of blogs is to be interactive, you may subscribe to this blog by clicking here, and then post your own thoughts.

I will be posting new material on at least a weekly basis, so please visit frequently!