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Blue Hills Regional District School Committee marks its 50th anniversary with commemorative gathering

By Judy Bass

“Tonight, as we reflect upon the creation of the District School Committee and of the District, I hope that everyone will think about what makes Blue Hills special,” said Blue Hills Regional Superintendent James P. Quaglia.

“I can sum it up in three words – it’s the people.”

The sentiment Quaglia expressed was reinforced by various speakers time and again on the evening of Tuesday, December 9, during a festive celebration of the school’s District School Committee, which was created fifty years ago.

The gathering was held in the school’s restaurant and attended by school staff, present and past District School Committee members, as well as State Senator Brian A. Joyce (D-Milton), State Rep. Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton), and State Rep. Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham).

The celebration will continue, starting at the end of this school year, and will culminate with the 50th graduating class in 2016.

Among the guests were current District School Committee members Francis J. Fistori (Avon), Eric C. Erskine (Braintree), Chairman Aidan G. Maguire, Jr. (Canton), Thomas R. Polito, Jr. (Dedham), Robert A. McNeil (Holbrook), Festus Joyce (Milton), Kevin L. Connolly (Norwood), Marybeth Nearen (Randolph), and Vice Chairman Charles W. Flahive (Westwood).

Past District School Committee members Bernard H. Baher (Avon), Timothy Sullivan (Braintree), William T. Buckley (Holbrook), and Alan L. Butters (Westwood) were also in the audience.  Baher, now 94, is the only surviving member of the original Blue Hills District School Committee, which he served on for 22 years, including three terms as chairman.  He was first elected in 1965 and has maintained a close relationship with the school ever since.

Legislators Joyce, Timilty, and McMurtry addressed the audience, each warmly praising the outstanding education Blue Hills provides to its students.  “I’ve always been impressed with what happens here,” said Joyce.  “For fifty years, this school has made an incredible difference in a lot of people’s lives.”

Both Joyce and Timilty presented Chairman Maguire with official citations from the Massachusetts Legislature commending Blue Hills and the District School Committee for the great work done at the school.

“I believe that the best schools are the product of diligent teamwork,” Quaglia said.  “Since the 1960s, the District School Committee has led the way by working closely with the Superintendent, Principal, teachers, support staff, parents and officials from our nine sending towns to fulfill our mission – providing the most outstanding technical education possible to every student.  For fifty years, we have succeeded.  Our graduates are good citizens, valuable employees, and the best ambassadors for this school that anyone could possibly want.”

Chairman Maguire paid tribute to some of the school’s exceptional graduates and past District School Committee members for their dedication and commitment to Blue Hills and technical education.  Scott D. Tingle graduated in 1983 and is now a NASA astronaut; Alexander S. Arredondo, Class of 2002, joined the US Marines and lost his life in the line of duty in Iraq in 2004 at the age of 20; Mr. Buckley, the former Holbrook representative to the District School Committee, served in that capacity for nearly 30 years; and Mr. Butters, the Westwood representative to the District School Committee, held that post for nearly 17 years.

However, no one matches the remarkable longevity of Mr. Baher’s connection with Blue Hills. Baher, a longtime resident of Avon, has been a visiting lecturer in the Engineering Technology program for nine years (Baher was himself an engineer).  He is a permanent consultant to Blue Hills, helped to organize the Blue Hills Foundation with former Superintendent Wilfrid Savoie and Ron Linari, and was its president for 16 years.  Baher is also a talented wood sculptor who fashioned and repaired the handsome gold eagle that once graced the flagpole outside the school and now is displayed inside the building.

“Despite all his achievements,” said Chairman Maguire, “including being Chairman of the National Council of Vocational Education during the administration of President George H. W. Bush, Mr. Baher has always been someone of immense humility who enjoyed serving the school and its students.”

Two talented individuals provided musical entertainment for the guests.  Student Jalen Rance of Holbrook sang three numbers in his own uniquely soulful, blues-infused style, and former District School Committee member Tim Sullivan delighted everyone by belting out a rousing rendition of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”

District School Committee member Marybeth Nearen of Randolph presented bouquets to District School Committee Recording Secretary Joanne Kuzborski and Communications Specialist Judy Bass for their efforts to make the evening memorable.

A sumptuous array of hors d’oeuvres was prepared and served by the students in the Culinary Arts program.  They, along with Culinary Arts department head John Haelsen and Instructor Heather Irber, were applauded by the guests for their exemplary work.

Lauding Blue Hills’ current District School Committee members and employees, all of whom have lived up to the exemplary standard set by their predecessors decades ago, Supt. Quaglia said, “Our present District School Committee members, along with our administrators, faculty and staff, still keep the fires of education and knowledge burning brightly. To paraphrase President Kennedy’s inaugural address, “The glow from that fire can truly light the world.”

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BHR Cuts for a Cure Lop-Off is a big success

Student Taylor Little shaves Sarah Kiefer’s locks during the Cuts for a Cure Lop-Off.

Student Mariam Shittu shaves Dean of Students Tom Cavanaugh. 

Photos by Judy Bass

by Judy Bass

BHR’s Cuts for a Cure Lop-Off on Tuesday, November 25 was a big success, raising both funds and awareness about cancer.  Sponsored by the National Honor Society, whose advisor is Mrs. Rebecca Ray, students donated $5 to watch members of the staff have their heads shaved.  All proceeds went to the American Cancer Society.

Among the participants was teacher Sarah (Bohannon) Kiefer.  ”Cancer research is a cause that is very close to home in my case. My godmother, Faith Snow Ackley, my mother’s twin sister, Marie Dejesus, and another aunt, Barbara Snow, all died of cancer in one form or another. My husband’s father, Kenneth Kiefer, also died of cancer. I participated in Cuts for a Cure in honor of their memories, and in the hope that the money we raised will bring us one step closer to a cure.  Cancer is one of those ailments that affects whole families and whole communities.  I donated the yard or so of hair (obviously this is an exaggeration) they cut off my head to make a wig for someone who is still fighting for his or her life. If my donation makes that person’s struggle even a little easier, then it is well worth it.”

Dean of Students Tom Cavanaugh also joined in.  ”I do it because the kids ask and I like to participate in as many activities that have nothing to do with discipline as I can. I believe it shows the students that I am not just the guy who assigns detentions and suspensions. Plus it is for a very good cause.  I also know a number of the kids get a kick out of seeing me in situations where I am not in charge. To that end I do things like this, the dunk tank and play in student faculty games, to name a few.”

In an email to the staff, Mrs. Ray graciously thanked the BHR administration, Mrs. Julie Woods and the Cosmetology department, Mr. Cavanaugh and Mrs. Kiefer, and everyone who “participated in, donated to, and supported” this worthy cause.

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MEFA Financial Aid College Information Night is Jan. 7 at 6:30 pm in the cafeteria

Please attend this FREE event for some very useful information from MEFA.

All are welcome.

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BHR Winter 2015 Continuing Education…check out the great classes we offer!

Blue Hills Cont Ed Brochure Winter 2015

Click on above link to see all courses or go to learnmorebhr.com

Hello,

Just a reminder that our courses are open for enrollment. These courses make a great gift this time of year. We run 50 courses ranging from Automotive to Medical. Just click the link www.learnmorebhr.com and browse. Most classes will start in early January so enrollment will end December 23rd. Please make every effort to sign up early. Those classes that have different enrollment dates will stay open so check back often. Feel free to send this email along to those that may be interested in our courses. Our courses are easy to sign up for and pay online.
Thank you,
Dwight Seaman

Continuing Education Coordinator
Blue Hills Regional Technical School
800 Randolph Street
Canton, MA  02021
fax:       781.828.0794
cell:    339-237-8316

 

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Parents Pages November 2014

Parents Pages Nov 2014    click here for document

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Jill Rossetti discusses what it’s like to be the principal of Blue Hills Regional

Principal Jill Rossetti (Photo by Judy Bass)

By Judy Bass

“So far, I love it,” says Jill Rossetti of her new job as principal of Blue Hills Regional Technical School, a position she has held since July 1, 2014.  Barely four months into her tenure, it seems like being at the helm of this school with over eight hundred students from nine towns is hectic, productive, and ultimately rewarding for Rossetti, who apparently thrives on the often stressful pace and myriad responsibilities she juggles daily.

Rossetti, 44, recently talked about her philosophy and approach to the job, emphasizing the fact that she is now involved in virtually every aspect of what happens at Blue Hills, including helping to craft the high school’s budget, attending sports matches, interacting with parents and students, and observing teachers in their classrooms.

“I throw myself into whatever is going on,” Rossetti said enthusiastically.  “There’s no typical day.  There’s all sorts of things going on.  Everything comes through me” – for example, plans for the annual Open House on November 19, permission to have student assemblies, overseeing reporting of data about Blue Hills to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, extra-curriculars, and much, much more.

As the self-described “instructional leader” of Blue Hills, Rossetti is truly at the center of the action.  Whatever happens, she is determined to be right in the midst of it, greeting students as they get off their buses at 7:45 am and sometimes remaining in the building until long after they and their teachers have left for the day.

“Being out there, being connected, and being approachable” are the three cornerstones of Rossetti’s strategy.

On Friday, October 24, for example, Rossetti said she was at Blue Hills from 7:00 am until midnight.  After putting in a full day of work, she went to the Blue Hills Warriors football game, the first one played on the school’s new multi-purpose athletic field, then she attended the annual Homecoming dance, lingering until the last student departed safely.

She adapts to the unexpected without missing a beat.  In the middle of giving this interview in the conference room adjoining her office, a procession of youngsters enrolled in Blue Hills’ Early Education Center (a preschool where Blue Hills students studying Early Education and Care can get experience working with children) strolls though clad in whimsical costumers for Halloween.  Rossetti quickly grabs a cardboard box filled with packets of Cheez-Its and gives one to each child with a smile and a friendly hello.

Unassuming and modest, with a refreshingly down-to-earth manner, Rossetti lived in Boston’s Mattapan neighborhood until she was 5, when her family moved to Stoughton.  A 1988 graduate of Stoughton High School, Rossetti attended the University of Massachusetts in Boston intending to become a teacher.  She student taught in English, became a part-time writing lab specialist at Blue Hills from 1993 to 1995, then was hired at the school as a full-time instructor in Computer Information Systems and Networking while earning a master’s degree in education at night.  She held that position until 2000.  Rossetti left Blue Hills for five years and switched gears to be a trainer in information systems and eventually returned to teaching.

After Rossetti’s daughter, Sophia, was born in 2005, she was hired back in her former position as a Computer Information Systems and Networking instructor at Blue Hills.  In 2009, Rossetti became the school’s Academic Coordinator for five years, all the while taking classes and garnering professional credentials that prepared her for the role she currently holds.

As both a former academic and vocational teacher, Rossetti feels that her credibility is enhanced with the Blue Hills faculty because, as the saying goes, she’s been there and done that.  “I understand both parts of the whole,” she explained.  “I’m homegrown.  I know the pros and cons, and the daily benefits and challenges of each side.  Being a [former] teacher, I understand curriculum, assessment and instruction.”

Although Rossetti said she is still getting acclimated to being principal, she has already thought about her priorities for Blue Hills.  “The main goal is safety first,” she said, “because we’re a vocational school.  My second goal would probably be to maintain and improve our reputation as a great technical high school.  My third goal is school-wide literacy – reading, writing and thinking – to prepare students for when they leave here for college or work.”

Concerning her aims for herself, Rossetti said, “I think my goal is to improve situations, find solutions to problems, and move forward.”

Superintendent Quaglia is highly confident that Rossetti will do all that – and far more.  “Jill is one of the most insightful and intelligent individuals I have ever known.  She’s strong, yet compassionate; and an unbelievably hard worker.  She will do amazing things for our students, staff, school and district.”

She also sees herself as a facilitator for others who are striving to realize their dreams.  “I chose this career because I wanted to help and inspire people to set goals for themselves and attain them.”

Rossetti graciously credits the school’s “wonderful and talented staff,” plus its leadership team, for supporting her and always being ready to help out.  She mentioned “that everyone on that team (which includes Director of Vocational Programs Frank Howley, Cooperative Education Coordinator Kimberly Poliseno, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Marybeth Joyce, Director of Special Services Angelo Dimitriou, Academic Director Geoffrey Zini, and Dean of Students Thomas Cavanaugh) works together, making tasks seem easy,” along with Superintendent Quaglia, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Personnel Moore, and Director of Facilities Services Gene Mastro, to name a few more key individuals at the Blue Hills Regional district level.

In fact, on Halloween, when Rossetti planned to go trick or treating with her nine-year-old daughter, she was able to ask Cavanaugh and Poliseno to stand in for her by attending the Blue Hills football game versus Hull.

To re-energize in her personal time, Rossetti favors serene activities such as taking long walks or reading a book.  But even when she’s off the clock, it’s likely that Blue Hills is still uppermost in her thoughts.

“It’s an amazing place,” she declared.  And if there is one message she wants to emphatically convey to students, their families and the public, it would be this: “Know that we care.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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