Teachers Weigh in on PowerSchool

Last week, students shared their thoughts on PowerSchool, an online service that allows students to access their grades anytime they please. This week, three Old Rochester Regional High School teachers gave their opinions on the website which, for teachers, goes under the moniker of PowerTeacher. The main services of PowerSchool for teachers include managing their gradebook, sending in attendance, and coordinating lesson plans.

Olga Surpless, who teaches several different levels of Spanish at ORR, is a fan of PowerSchool and uses it throughout her school day.

“Whenever I do any work of a professional nature, like grading or planning lessons, it happens on PowerSchool,” said Surpless.

Although she was vocal in her support of the program, she acknowledged that it could have its drawbacks.

“Some students let PowerSchool direct their life and it shouldn’t,” she said. “It has to be used carefully, and students shouldn’t lose track of what it means.” She described PowerSchool as an “interactive, instant way for students to connect with their grades.”

History teacher Erich Carroll praised PowerSchool’s accessibility and the way it makes a teacher’s job easier.

“It calculates the grades automatically, and it makes it easier when I look at a student’s performance.” He agreed with Surpless, saying that a ‘hyper-focus’ on grades is one of the negatives about PowerSchool. To combat this, he proposed an alert system that would send students and/or parents text messages when grades were updated to avoid constant checking.

When questioned about whether PowerSchool improves the relationship between teachers and students, Carroll responded by saying it should help, because “it quells problems that came up before PowerSchool.”

Carroll addressed the cons by saying, “Controversy could arise if students want their grades immediately, and teachers have lots of papers to grade.”

Colleen Foster, who teaches subjects like Health and Anatomy at ORR, had an interesting perspective on PowerSchool.

“PowerSchool allows teachers to access students’ grades in other classes, so that we can guide them in directed study,” Foster said. When asked about what could be improved, Foster did not necessarily point out anything specific, reinforcing that the program works pretty well.

“PowerSchool creates a dialogue between teachers and students, allowing kids to come up with more specific questions than just, ‘How am I doing?’”

PowerSchool is a fixture in both student and teacher life at ORR, and although changes have now been suggested and could occur, the website itself does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

By Patrick Briand


Mother Begs, “Give My Son a Chance!”

It was a fairly emotionally charged meeting on January 8 when a mother was pleading on behalf of her child for abutters to allow her son to have a dog-breeding kennel – a rather dramatic sight to behold.

Brian and Cheryl Goguen of 181 Braley Hill Road came before the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals with an application to open a dog kennel. Their son Dillon, a student at Bristol County Agricultural High School, is seeking to breed dogs for the balance of his high school career. He plans on pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine and has a keen interest in dog breeding.

Rochester’s bylaws do allow for ten or more dogs to be kept for ‘hobby kennel’ purposes. In spite of the fact that Goguen will be selling the puppies from his hobby, the board, after reading the bylaw carefully, felt he was within his right to request a kennel license.

Several neighbors expressed concern over potential dog barking noise disrupting the peaceful enjoyment of their property. That incited Cheryl Goguen to turn to her neighbors and plead that they give her a son chance asserting, “…this is for him!” versus for herself or her husband.

After some discussion and the promises of father, mother, and son that they will be vigilant in their effort to ensure the dogs do not trouble the neighbors, the board voted to approve a six-month license to “…see how it goes…”as Chairman Richard Cutler explained.

Goguen will keep the puppies indoors, which will minimize noise pollution, and keep adult dogs indoors overnight.

Also coming before the ZBA were Sean and Jennifer Crook of 201 Neck Road with an application for a special permit and variance for the construction of a garage in excess of 1,000 square feet, hot tub, and pool. They presented a certified plot plan and were approved.

The next meeting of the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals will be announced pending hearing appointments.

By Marilou Newell


Marion Art Center Members Show

Members of the Marion Art Center showcased their work during the opening reception of the MAC Annual Winter Members Show on January 9. Members were allowed to submit up to three pieces, and MAC Executive Director Deborah Bokelkamp said members not only have artistic skill, but they possess the skill of self-expression. “The person doing it feels it,” said Bokelkamp. “It’s not just the act, it’s the expression.” The show runs until February 28. Photos by Jean Perry

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Gateway Youth Hockey

Mites H: The Gateway Mites H team had a great game on Sunday defeating the Lower Cape 3 team, 9-6. They came out strong and took an early lead, which they were able to maintain throughout the game. It was a total team effort with six different players scoring goals. Jack Langlais, Paxton Jones and Charlie Carroll each scored two goals, while Kevin Place, Lilia Lopez del Moral and Colin O’Connor each scored one goal. Padraig Carrier was a great team player, contributing to both offense and defense. Nate Wilson had one of his best games of the season as goalie with numerous saves.

Mites C: The Gateway Mite C team defeated the Lower Cape Coyotes, 7-0, playing at the Providence Bruins game. Gateway came out strong and never looked back. Ben Hebble led the team with three goals and an assist. Brayden Cannon, Tommy Clavell and Jack Langlais were the other scorers for Gateway. Bree Killion had two assists with one a great pass from behind the net. Charlie Carroll picked up his first shutout of his career.

The Gateway Mites defeated YD, 22-8, on Saturday avenging an earlier 13-13 tie. Gateway came out speeding from the start and never took their foot off the gas pedal. Jarrod Frates scored off the opening faceoff on a great pass from Hebble. In previous games, the Mites would secure a lead and then take the pressure off a bit, allowing their opponents to slowly get back in the game and take the lead. There would be none of that in Saturday’s game. Gateway played a total team game by back-checking, fore-checking, and making several great passes resulting in goals. The best part of their game on Saturday was their passing. By spreading out and stretching the ice, YD was unable to contain them and for most of the game Gateway was in possession of the puck. Frates led the team with seven goals and Hebble ended with six goals. The other scorers were Pat Tripp with four, Cannon and Clavell with two and Paxton Jones with one. Killion had two assists on the night. Carroll was sharp in net, stopping 40 shots including a great kick save on a penalty shot. This was Gateways best game of the season so far, who have lost only once in their last eight games.

Middle School 1: The Middle School 1 team took on the first place Mansfield team on Friday and skated away with a 4-2 victory and a share of first place in their division. The Jr. Vikings had come up short the first two times the teams played, but on Friday, they were skating hard from the first puck drop. Mansfield got on the board first, late in the first period, but that would be the last time they would have a lead. Quirino doCanto tied the game up with 45 seconds left in the first period, beating the goalie five hole, assisted by linemate Tyler Lovendale. The Jr. Vikings would score two goals in the second period, both by Vyper LaTulippe, with assists coming from Matthew Maloney, James L’Heureux, and Lovendale again on the second goal. The defense and goal tending kept Mansfield scoreless in the second period. Robert Ramsay found the back of the net, late in the third, off a nice feed from Maloney again. Mansfield added a late goal, but couldn’t recover from the early deficit. Jake DeMoranville had an outstanding game in net for the Jr. Vikings, ending the day with 15 saves and the victory.

UCT Financial Aid Help

Every high school senior, college student, and adult student who will be attending college during the 2015-2016 academic year needs to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to apply for federal, state, and institutional financial aid. FAFSA Day Massachusetts, part of the national College Goal SundaySM program, provides FREE help statewide to students and families looking to complete the FAFSA.

The eleventh annual FAFSA Day Massachusetts is being held on Sunday, January 25 at 1:00 pm at Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School located at 220 Sandwich Road, Bourne, MA. Families are encouraged to visit www.FAFSADay.org to register, to see a list of what to bring, and to view additional locations, dates, and times.

The services are FREE and available to anyone attending college for the 2015-2016 academic year; low-income, first-generation students are especially encouraged to attend. Many locations will have services available in various languages; for a list of available languages, please visit www.FAFSADay.org.

FAFSA Day is staffed by volunteer financial aid and higher education experts available to provide families one-on-one assistance. FAFSA Day is a non-profit program sponsored by the Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, MEFA, American Student Assistance, and USA Funds. Over 13,000 students have been served during FAFSA Day events.

To register or find more information on FAFSA Day, please visit www.FAFSADay.org. For questions or additional information, please call 877-424-7627 or e-mail massinfo@fafsaday.org.

Seawolves of Tabor

Junior Lily Blouin has been uniting the Tabor community one photo at a time.

Blouin, an international student from Canada, is involved in a number of activities at Tabor, especially the photography program.

Over the summer, Blouin was inspired by Brandon Stanton’s “Humans of New York” project, one in which he approaches random people in the city, takes their photo, and talks to them. Stanton then posts the photo with a quote from the person. Each quote is unique to the person while some are comical, some are sad, and some are very deep and personal.

The concept of “Humans of New York,” which is extremely popular and published in books and on social media, is to demonstrate the diversity of people in the city and to show the variety of pleasures, struggles, and passions of each person.

As a follower of this project, Blouin said, “I always thought it was so interesting how Brandon Stanton was able to approach complete strangers and have them talk about their beliefs, hardships, and other subjects that most people wouldn’t normally share with strangers.” She admires mostly the outcome of such a project, which unites the community as well as a follower base of about 11.5 million people.

Blouin recently created a “Seawolves of Tabor” account to hopefully have the same effect on our smaller Tabor community.

“I wanted to create an Instagram account and share the stories of the Seawolves,” says Blouin of her idea. She created the account in September and began posting a month later. Blouin has interviewed and published eight community members since, varying in both interests and ages.

Although the account is based off of Stanton’s, Blouin sees it as different in some ways.

“I’m not approaching strangers, but instead, peers of mine who I know on a surface layer.”

Blouin has been getting the hang of her unique project; however, she still faces challenges.

“Trying to break down the barriers and getting people to talk is still a struggle that I have, and I’m working on improving my conversation skills to make it easier for people to share,” she says of the start of her account. Blouin also has found it difficult to post regularly, given her busy academic and extra-curricular schedule.

“My goal for the second half of the school year is to start posting more regularly, even if it’s just one or two more posts per week,” says Blouin looking toward the future of her account.

Overall, the community is very accepting of the project and everyone that Blouin has asked has said yes to being photographed and interviewed. The account currently has 257 followers and the popularity is growing quickly.

As far as deciding who to post and what questions to ask them, Blouin says, “A lot of the time, I think about people who I’ve talked to a few times and who I want to get to know better so I start thinking about what makes them interesting and normally continue with that course.” She continued, “However, I’m hoping to start making more impromptu posts and just walk up to anyone I see.”

Anyone can follow Blouin’s Instagram account at “seawolvesoftabor” to watch Blouin’s project develop and to get a glimpse into the minds of members of the Tabor community.

By Julia O’Rourke


Bay Club Lot Line Shuffle

Over the history of the Bay Club, developers have come and developers have gone. A recent addition to the list of homebuilders is Aerie Homes of Waltham, whose Ted Gowdy came before the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission on January 12.

Having purchased 36 lots on Fieldstone and Split Road Drives in an area of the Bay Club known as the Preserve, Gowdy and his team reconfigured the lot lines to maximize land use for new home construction. By doing so, one additional lot was added. But this comes with some legal complications – what to do about an existing conservation order of conditions and plans of record. Those were not cleared up prior to the land sale from one developer to the other.

Chairman Bob Rogers explained that Gowdy had several options for the four lots his new application for minor modifications requested on the meeting agenda.

Rogers cited a letter he had received from town counsel that noted the developer could request certificates of compliance for the lots in question, clearing orders of condition from the Registry of Deeds and clearing the way to request new Requests for Determination of Applicability. But Gowdy said two of the lots were already sold, thus making time of the essence.

“We should probably abide by town counsel’s recommendations,” said Rogers after considerable conversation. It was decided that Gowdy would withdraw his request and re-file in a manner that clears up the paperwork moving forward.

Earlier in the evening, David Davignon of N. Douglas Schneider & Associates, representing Robert Brack of 18 Water Street, met with the commission members for a Notice of Intent filing for the construction of a private residential pier.

In 1881, the property was licensed by the state for a stone jetty and pier structure. Today, only archeological remnants remain on the site. After discussion of the proposed pier, the commission asked Davignon and the applicant to consider building the new 116-foot long by 4-foot wide structure over the old pier, a position that would give the neighbors equal distance from the structure.

They also asked that the applicant consider using environmentally friendly pilings in the form of hardwood timbers versus chemically treated materials, and that the design set the height at 30 inches above the sea floor versus 24 inches. At the present time, the design situates the pier in a manner that would allow beach access under the structure at low tide. No shell fishing has been permitted at this location since 1947.

The applicant received a continuance for two weeks to review all suggestions.

William and Kristin Durbin of 21 Bay Road received a Certificate of Compliance for the replacement home they built after a fire destroyed the prior structure and for landscaping.

Ann Leibowotz of 1 Brandt Island Shores received a Certificate of Compliance for work that was completed in 1995 – the installation of a well.

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for January 26 at 6:30 pm in the Town Hall conference room.

By Marilou Newell


Students, Staff Recognized for Excellence

For three years in a row, the Mattapoisett School District – Center School and Old Hammondtown School – has been recognized as a commendation school by the Massachusetts Department of Education, one of 42 schools receiving commendation status, and one of only five schools in the state to receive the status three years in a row.

Commendation school status is given to schools for MCAS scores reflecting the closing of achievement gaps in English and Math.

On January 12, school administrative staff celebrated this achievement during an assembly at Old Hammondtown School, when students and staff were congratulated for their exceptional work, treated to a special dessert, and commemorated with a banner to be hung at the school.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” said Superintendent of Schools Doug White to a cafetorium of students seated on the floor. “I’m proud of each and every one of you.”

White led the students in a round of applause for each of the three grades at Old Hammondtown and then presented the official DOE certificate to Center School and Old Hammondtown School Principal Rose Bowman.

“It is a gift to be here with you every single day,” Bowman told the students. “And when you go home … please say ‘thank you’ to your parents because they helped you…. Your family has stood behind you.”

Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos asked each student to turn to their right and tell the person seated next to them, “Thank you for being exceptional.”

“Because that’s what you are,” said Frangos. “Exceptional.”

Vice Principal Kevin Tavares unveiled the new banner on the stage and raised his arms in the air victoriously.

“You like it?” White shouted to the students. “Yeah!” they shouted back. “You gonna go for four?” said White. “Yeah!” the students roared.

“We may be here next year,” said White.

After school, staff members and several town officials gathered at Old Hammondtown for their own celebration, when teachers were given a small gift of appreciation and recognized for their performance.

By Jean Perry

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Bobola Tapped to Revise Flood Zone Codes

Mattapoisett Director of Inspectional Services Andy Bobola was recently honored with an invitation to work on revisions to the Massachusetts State Building Code; specifically, those sections focused on structures in flood plains. Bobola was the only building inspector asked to participate on the code revision panel headed up by Michael Guigli, technical director for the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards.

“We are very excited,” said Town Administrator Mike Gagne of Bobola’s appointment. “He’ll be able to bring new insights to the table with his knowledge and practicality.”

“It’s nice when your efforts over the years are recognized,” said Bobola. He has been Mattapoisett’s building inspector since 1987.

For the next two months Bobola, along with Rick Charon, will be developing building code language that will be applied to flood plain chapters.

Charon, an engineer and Rochester resident, has been Bobola’s go-to person over the years when faced with questions beyond his own scope of expertise.

“Rick and I, along with a couple of architects, have worked closely together for years helping each other,” said Bobola.

The task force Guigli put together will eventually find their work absorbed into the ICC, or International Code Council, another group that seeks uniformity. The ICC website states that its function is to “[provide] technical, educational, and administrative support to governmental departments and agencies engaged in building codes administration and enforcement.”

Another topic that Bobola believes is important and related to issues around buildings in flood zones is comprehension of the ’50 percent rule.’

“We don’t want to see residents spending vast sums of money to renovate a home that might get destroyed by a storm,” said Bobola. He explained that the 50t rule limits what a property owner may spend (up to 50 percent of the assessed value) on an existing structure in a flood zone. That benchmark attempts to stop excessive construction on buildings that do not meet flood zone building requirements imposed on new structures, such as pillars and fortified windows.

To shed further understanding on this point, Bobola has begun partnering with local real estate agencies to develop free training seminars to extend flood zone building code knowledge to professionals working in this field.

“When I started in 1987, I had one code book of about 260 pages that I had to enforce,” Bobola said. “…Today, I have 14 different code books, about 10,000 pages that I have to use on a day-to-day basis.”

Bobola said his goal is to bring clarity and ease to text that can oftentimes be tough to comprehend and enforce.

“A lot of things I hope I never have to use,” he said. “But if we do, Mattapoisett will be okay.”

By Marilou Newell


Breakfast Put on Hold at RMS

Rochester Memorial School students just weren’t hungry enough to participate in a school breakfast program, despite the efforts of RMS staff to entice enough kids in order to make the venture viable.

RMS Principal Derek Medeiros told the Rochester School Committee on January 8 that some kids he polled did express interest in having breakfast served at school, but not enough to get the program off the ground.

“It just didn’t reach significant numbers,” said Medeiros. “But it doesn’t mean that the idea is lost.”

Maybe next year, said Medeiros, the school will muster enough participation by varying the breakfast program a bit to include more social interaction and exercise opportunities for students, such as a walking program in the gymnasium in addition to breakfast with a rotating schedule.

Until then, Medeiros and his staff will continue to brainstorm ideas and update the School Committee on their progress.

Also during the meeting, Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos said Rochester Memorial School will receive $20,000 from the Digital Connections Partnership Schools Grant, a state-funded technology grant aimed at expanding Massachusetts schools’ technology resources.

“Receiving that $20,000 in Rochester is an honor,” said Frangos. “We’re very, very thrilled.”

As Rochester is designated a rural school district, the grant is a 50/50 match grant; in order to collect the state funds, the district will have to put forward $20,000 of its own funds to go towards technology.

Superintendent of Schools Doug White said the funds should be expended by summer 2015, and new purchases will be available when the next school year begins in September.

In other news, Business Manager Patrick Spencer said the pre-school that has been renting space at RMS is now defunct, after the program fell short on enrollment.

Back in December, the School Committee approved renegotiating the pre-school’s lease to delay incremental increases in the monthly rent amount. The program officially shut down on December 31, despite the lease amendment.

“I’m really sorry that it didn’t work out,” said Spencer.

The next scheduled meeting of the Rochester School Committee is February 12 at 6:30 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.

By Jean Perry