Henry Turner

NNHS Principal Letter

As we near the end of the year there are many events that showcase our immense student talent as well as celebrate our student’s transitions both within and onward from Newton North. Please note that in addition to highlighting some new awards and accomplishments there is detailed information regarding graduation, post-prom celebration, Educational Excellence and the Newton Schools Foundation in this email.

On a recent Friday morning in May student artists of all types showcased their work at Art Morning. Main Street was filled with the live music from Jubilee Singers and our own jazz band and the art wing displayed more than 400 student works and exhibited the learning that has taken place during the year in all areas of the North program – printmaking, photography, ceramics, painting, drawing, and a vast array of sculpture. Additionally, a large chalk drawing was created during the day outside of the Art Studios for anyone who wanted to participate. The Music Department recently held their annual Pops Night. It was a terrific evening of food and music featuring many of North’s ensembles.  As always, the evening culminated with the recognition of our seniors and the presentation of awards and scholarships.  Don’t miss the Jubilee Singers final performance which will be held on June 3rd at 7:00 PM in our Performing Arts Center. From June 6th to 10th the Theater Department will hold their Playwright’s Festival and Cabaret Troupe. And finally, both students and faculty members of the Theatre Department will be heading to London at the close of the school year for a Theatre Arts excursion.  

Awards season at Newton North takes place in May and this year was no exception! In addition to the 11 annual awards ceremonies that are held in May, the World Language and ELL departments at Newton North and Newton South high schools collaborated to implement a Newton Public Schools Seal of Biliteracy. This award recognizes students for proficiency in two languages – English and a partner language.   At Newton North, 58 seniors earned a Seal of Biliteracy at the silver, gold or platinum level, and each school honored its recipients at a ceremony on the morning of May 4. Photos compliments of Sally Brickell on the PTSO website.

In addition to the Seal of Biliteracy, The Ty Vignone Prize was also given for the first time this spring.This prize honors long serving history teacher Ty Vignone, who died this fall. Mr. Vignone was especially dedicated to civic education and global understanding. This prize goes to a graduating senior whose love and passion for history and politics shows beyond the classroom, and is manifest in active civic engagement and global citizenship. The winner should demonstrate the qualities of generosity, enthusiasm, and openness to other people that were the hallmarks of Mr. Vignone’s life. The 2017 winners of the Ty Vignone Prize are Carolina Fernandez-Londono and Jacob Sims Speyer.

The History and Social Science awards which are given annually include The Kennedy Prize. The Kennedy Prize was established after the assassination of president John F. Kennedy to recognize the best research paper on U.S. history in the school.  Over time this research paper assignment has taken on great cultural significance here at Newton North and as you may know it is itself a graduation requirement for Newton North High School. Every year 10-15% of all the research papers are nominated for the Kennedy Prize. Reading the papers anonymously, the department chooses a winner and a runner-up on each curriculum level.  The topics are unique and each of the papers selected as winners are incredibly well thought out and thoroughly researched. Below is a synopsis of the topics and the students who were selected as winners.

CP runner-up Alexandros Skretas

Alexandros’ paper dives into the legal politics of affirmative action, and argues that the Supreme Court decisions in the case of University of California v. Bakke and Fisher v. University of Texas demonstrate a shift in public opinion regarding racial preferences in higher education. While these two cases do not contradict, they do show differing interpretations of the fourteenth amendment, and Alexandros argues that this difference is due to growing public acceptance of the role of diversity in college education.

CP Winner Benjamin Cohen

Benjamin’s paper is titled Freedom of Speech: An Endangered Liberty. In this clearly written and well-argued paper, Ben suggests that the United States federal government has become more hostile to the free speech rights protected by the first amendment since the late twentieth century. He contrasts the Supreme Court ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines, a 1969 decision that upheld the rights of high school students protesting the Vietnam War, with the 1984 flag-burning case Texas v. Johnson. Although the court did rule that flag burning was protected speech, Congress quickly made efforts to overturn the ruling with new legislation. Ben suggests that this reaction is symbolic of a new danger to our free speech rights.

ACP runner-up Noah Klavens

Noah’s paper is about the comic books code of 1954. This was a voluntary agreement by comic book publishers to establish strict standards for illustrations and plot, that came about in response to congressional pressure. Noah did a tremendous amount of research, including a large number of primary sources, and especially focused on New York City psychiatrist Frederick Wertham, who provided much of the data to show that comic books were leading children into lives of vice and crime. Noah explains that Wertham falsified much of his testimony to Congress, and that the code was built on faulty pretexts. Noah does however include some pre-code comic book covers in his appendix, which made members of the Kennedy Prize Committee perhaps more sympathetic to Congressional concerns than Noah seems to be – but the paper overall is an excellent history of a topic that was extremely controversial in the 1950s.

ACP winner Sydney Reynders

Sydney’s paper is titled Evolution of Abortion: The Effect of Advancing Technology. In this deeply thoughtful and well-researched paper, Sydney argues that advances in medical technology have complicated the nation’s approach to the abortion issue by making it ever more difficult to determine when fetal life actually begins, and by providing parents with ever more information about their unborn children. She links the invention of ultrasound and amniocentesis to the intensified political and legal conflicts over abortion rights, and concludes that “In a perfect world, new technology should only create benefits,” but in our current situation “technology leads a race that ethics cannot compete to win.”

AP runner-up Jacob Jampel

Jacob’s paper is titled Violence Alone Was Not Enough, and it argues that African-American voters in the Reconstruction South eventually had to be denied their voting rights through legislation, because simply using violence to intimidate them was not effective. What really impressed the committee about this paper was the methodology and the level of research Jacob had to complete to carry it off. Essentially, Jacob scoured county-level voting records to show that African-American turnout was suppressed only marginally after violent events against black voters – but substantially after voter suppression laws were put into effect. Jacob prevailed upon a University of Michigan professor to get him into the voting records database he used, and his bibliography of over thirty sources included email correspondence with the Cal Tech professor who has written one of the major works on this subject.

AP winner Gershon Gilman

Gershon’s paper is short – only fourteen pages and a bit. His bibliography has only twenty-four sources. But it is a dazzlingly sophisticated analysis of an obscure but fascinating topic: the establishment of quasi-public monopolies over the making and distribution of electricity. In order to complete this paper, Gershon needed to understand and explain a number of sophisticated economics concepts, including the difference between “monopoly” and “natural monopoly,” and the political science concept of “regulatory capture.” Gershon does so successfully, and explains how through the early twentieth century the electric system that we’ve some to see as “natural” was actually built by “self-serving industry titan” Samuel Insull. The end of the story is that “big utilities…became untouchable. Their profitability no longer depended on technology, efficiency or business innovation, but on the skill of their lawyers and relationships with the regulators” (14). Gershon holds out hope that deregulation and home production of electricity may yet break the monopoly.

The NNHS Envirothon Team

The team took home first place in the grueling Massachusetts Envirothon Current Issue presentation at this year’s competition at Drumlin Farm on May 18. The topic was urban agriculture, and one of the judges remarked that she thought she was “listening to NPR” as the students described the results of their research into soil and water quality and farming in our Garden City. The team also put in excellent showings at the four field stations in the competition: water, soils, wildlife, and forestry, to finish in third place overall. Please congratulate captain Iris Liao (’17), Colin Kaids (’17), Christina Cong (’17), Einat Gavish (’18), Cody Kotake (’18), Tony Sun (’18), Ethan Gahm (’19), Laura Schmidt-Hong (’19), Gus Betts-O’Rourke (’19), and Ben Borhegyi (’19).


End of Year Events and Reminders


We write in advance of graduation to outline a few important topics to ensure a smooth event.

•    First come- first served seating.

•    Only graduating seniors and faculty on the field.

•    Ceremony starts at 5:00 pm sharp. Seniors must arrive by 4:00 pm.

•    Find your graduate on Elm Road  after the ceremony – do not try to meet them on the field.

•    Safety first – our staff will direct you.

A few other important things to know about graduation:

Location @ NNHS:

Graduation will take place at Newton North on the multi-purpose field and stadium behind the school on Wednesday, June 7th 2017 at 5 pm.  Students should be at Newton North by 4:00pm to assemble for the processional.  

IN CASE OF RAIN DURING THE CEREMONY-We will follow the procedure that we have used in the past for all outdoor graduations at North. The principal will make the call to cease ceremonial proceedings and direct seniors ONLY to the SOA to receive their diplomas. Families and their guests will proceed to their cars and plan to pick up graduates on Lowell Ave., Tiger Dr. and Hull St.

Location at Conte Forum @ Boston College:

The decision to move graduation to Conte Forum at Boston College will be made the morning of Monday, June 5th. Communication regarding a change of venue due to weather will be sent out via phone and email through our SchoolMessenger system on Monday, June 5th.


Elm Road is closed at 3:30 – 7:30pm to all vehicles and is unavailable for parking.

Handicap parking and drop off will be available on Tiger Drive off of Walnut Street. Parking for handicap-labeled vehicles will also be available in designated areas in the Walnut Street lot next to the school. Please enter the lot by turning on to Elm Road from Walnut Street.

Parking is difficult and is mostly available on surrounding streets.  The police will mark the streets in terms of appropriate parking.  In general, parking will be restricted to one side of the street.  See attached map. Please remember to give a 5 foot clearance for all driveways.

You can drop off anyone needing to be close to the venue on Tiger Drive, but you cannot park on Tiger Drive.


All guests will enter the event via the Tiger Drive building entrance, which cuts through to the field and stadium. All other entry points to the field will be closed.


There is plenty of seating for everyone at graduation, so there are NO tickets or limit to how many guests you can bring

Graduation seating opens at 3:30 pm. All seating is first come – first served. Guests may sit in the bleachers on both sides of the field and in chairs set up on the track. In order to keep the event focused on the graduates, and to protect the turf, no guests at any time will be permitted on the field. Graduates and faculty only will be allowed on the field. Handicap seating will be available. Staff and student leaders will direct guests upon arrival.

Should you need additional time or need handicapped seating please plan to arrive by 4 pm.


The names of the seniors will be read aloud in alphabetical order as diplomas are presented. Official photographers will photograph each student as he/she receives his/her diploma. Graduates parents will receive a proof and ordering information from GradImages via e-mail and US mail. If you have any questions you can call GradImages Customer Service at 1-800-261-2576.  Also, NewTV is taping graduation and will show their video on Cable Channel 9 in late June. Check their website

Safety & Security:

We are working diligently with faculty, city and police personnel to make the event as smooth as possible for our graduates.  We will ask that all guests follow all directions of our team of student leaders, staff and police. We will try to have all off-limit areas clearly marked and attended by security personnel, but your cooperation in keeping young children safe and next to you in their seats will be much appreciated.

To maintain the integrity of the multi-purpose field no high heeled shoes are to be worn on the field, this includes students graduating.


We expect to conclude the event by 7pm.  

Thank you, as always, for being our partners in this process.  


Senior Prom & Celebration 2017: Please support Celebration–we need 140 more volunteers!

I am writing to ask for your support for Celebration 2017, the Newton North PTSO’s wonderful post-prom party here at North. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this parent and community endeavor to provide students with a safe place to look forward to and convene after prom for our teenagers.

Please review the information below and consider volunteer your time and making a donation.

What is Celebration?

Celebration 2017 runs immediately after the prom, on Monday, June 5, from 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. It provides a fun and safe environment for seniors and a guest to continue the party. All seniors and a guest are invited–whether or not they attend prom. Celebration is a popular alternative to unsupervised house parties, helping to keep our students off the streets and out of harm’s way. Admission is free. We have police and chaperones on duty throughout the event.

Celebration features a casino, prize drawing, photo booths, entertainment, food, music, and much more. If you are new to the Newton North community you may not realize the enormous scale of Celebration 2017. Several areas of the first floor will be decorated and transformed to reflect this year’s theme, “Hollywood Nights.”

The PTSO needs your help at all levels to continue this tradition of safety! There are many ways to help, from running a casino table to helping serve food to monitoring hallways for security to helping clean up.

Why should senior parents care?

Celebration 2017 provides a supervised and structured environment for seniors to continue the fun after the prom. This helps reduce concern about post-prom parties and late-night impaired driving. Students can change from their prom attire at the school and store their clothes and backpacks safely there. Once they check in, students are not allowed to exit without formally checking out and leaving the event for the night.

Why should non-senior parents care?

It may seem that Celebration 2017 should concern only seniors and their parents/guardians, but this is not the case. Before you know it, you will be the parent of a senior! It has become a great tradition for non-senior parents to pay it forward so that senior parents can breathe a bit easier on prom night.

Where can I go to get more information or volunteer to help?

To sign up, go to NorthPTSO.org and look for the “Hollywood Nights” logo.

Donations — Celebration 2017 is funded entirely from donations. We have two ways you can support the cause financially.

To donate online, go to NorthPTSO.org and look for the “Hollywood Nights” logo.

To donate by check, make checks payable to Newton North PTSO and note “Celebration 2017” on the memo line.

Send to:

Celebration 2017

Newton North High School

457 Walnut Street

Newton, MA 02460

Newton PTSO EdEx Campaign

This year’s PTSO Educational Excellence Campaign (EdEx) is focused on raising money for “Tiger Talks”.  This fund will allow us to support guest speakers with a token of appreciation and to expand our guest speaker program.  One of the true bonuses of  being a student at Newton North are the opportunities to attend our student run assemblies, such as BLAC Day, ToBeGlad Day, Feminism Day, Reality Fair and Kindness Day.   In addition to student and faculty presentaitons we regularly have guest speakers to help push our thinking on an array of topics.

Just recently at Kindness Day child advocate and stand-up comedian Pamela Schuller spoke with students about “Inclusion Done Differently” and she gave a workshop on improv.  Pamela has an inspiring story as a person who had one of the most severe cases of Tourettes Syndrome as a child.  You can watch Pamela give a speech here.

Our EdEx campaign will help us grow our speaker program and provide a small gift to thank the speakers who visit us as a gesture generosity.   If you’d like to support the “Tiger Talks” EdEx campaign please go to the following link http://www.northptso.org/node/2091.  A big thank you to those of you who have already provided a gift.

Thank you

There are so many ways that Newton North families give back to Newton North.    From the breakfast for TGIF breakfasts to volunteering at events such as Newton Serves to joining committees and support organizations such as PTSo, thank you so much for all that you do to help this school make it the incredible place that it is.  If you are ever looking for a way to give back to Newton North, please feel free to contact me or PTSO presidents Sally Brickel and Rex Clarke co-presidents@northptso.org

Please take a moment to review the attached message  from the Newton Schools Foundation regarding Honor Thy Teacher.

Senior Countdown photos are attached here.

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