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Denebola » Denebola http://www.denebolaonline.net The Award-Winning, Official School Newspaper of Newton South High School, Newton, MA Fri, 17 Jun 2011 02:00:19 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.2 View from the Top: Sam Dorfman http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/14/view-from-the-top-sam-dorfman/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/14/view-from-the-top-sam-dorfman/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 03:50:21 +0000 Denebola http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5833 You know it’s “Guys’ Night” when it’s the night of Sophomore Sleepover… so here we are with this school year’s View From The Top. Now, first off, let’s get things straight – age is just a number. Laugh all you want guys, but if it’s one thing Dorf got right, it’s go young or go home.
As customarily seen in other versions of the View From The Top, we have compiled what we feel are some good rules to follow as you underclassmen proceed with your high school lives. And so from the six of us seniors we offer six pieces of advice.
One: As the weekend approaches, make sure you are making as many plans as you can so that when plan D fails you, you always have plans E and F. Don’t feel bad for having ditched plans C through G when plan B actually turns out ok. It’s all right Dorf, we still love you.
Two: Always have a minimum of three sophomore girls walking you to class, trust us it looks really cool.
Three: When she says “your turn” … It’s never your turn… run and hide.
Four: Under any circumstances, even if you are “tryin-to-beat” “tryin-to-take-em-out-to-eat”, “tryin-to-meat?” do NOT double text.
Five: Always bring your sophomore girlfriend to Chill, because as Dorf always says: “Just chill! It’s good for you, that’s genius!”
Six: When you find everyone either puking or crying at the end of the Semi after-party, don’t worry, it was a good party! Just ask Curtis… Or call Jakerides… He’ll get you home safe.
And now to give all you different grades some more broad advice
Freshman: Dorf managed to have four great years of freshman year, but not all of us are fortunate enough to have that opportunity, so cherish it while it lasts.
Sophomores: I’m sure you know us all pretty well by now. To all you guys, we’re sorry Dorf took all your girls, tough break. To all you girls, Harrison Douglass is single and ready to mingle.
Juniors: You got a lot of growing up to do. Individually we know some of you are good kids, but you really are a brazen bunch that likes to get a little too frisky at Tori’s house. Guys, sorry Dorf took every member of the naughty nine. Girls, just because we just told the sophomores, doesn’t change the fact that Harrison Douglass is indeed single.
To all the fellas out there, it is encouraged that you start on Jake’s workout plan, guaranteed to get you a great arms and a sophomore girl (or you can just drive a 60,000 dollar car and shop at Bloomingdales.)
To our very own Senior Class TWENTY ONE ONE LET’S GOOO. Its been a long time coming, who’s ready to get the hell out of this school? We are that’s for sure! 8 more weeks… Let’s make the most of them right?

You know it’s “Guys’ Night” when it’s the night of Sophomore Sleepover… so here we are with this school year’s View From The Top. Now, first off, let’s get things straight – age is just a number. Laugh all you want guys, but if it’s one thing Dorf got right, it’s go young or go home.As customarily seen in other versions of the View From The Top, we have compiled what we feel are some good rules to follow as you underclassmen proceed with your high school lives. And so from the six of us seniors we offer six pieces of advice.One: As the weekend approaches, make sure you are making as many plans as you can so that when plan D fails you, you always have plans E and F. Don’t feel bad for having ditched plans C through G when plan B actually turns out ok. It’s all right Dorf, we still love you.Two: Always have a minimum of three sophomore girls walking you to class, trust us it looks really cool. Three: When she says “your turn” … It’s never your turn… run and hide. Four: Under any circumstances, even if you are “tryin-to-beat” “tryin-to-take-em-out-to-eat”, “tryin-to-meat?” do NOT double text.Five: Always bring your sophomore girlfriend to Chill, because as Dorf always says: “Just chill! It’s good for you, that’s genius!”Six: When you find everyone either puking or crying at the end of the Semi after-party, don’t worry, it was a good party! Just ask Curtis… Or call Jakerides… He’ll get you home safe.And now to give all you different grades some more broad adviceFreshman: Dorf managed to have four great years of freshman year, but not all of us are fortunate enough to have that opportunity, so cherish it while it lasts.Sophomores: I’m sure you know us all pretty well by now. To all you guys, we’re sorry Dorf took all your girls, tough break. To all you girls, Harrison Douglass is single and ready to mingle.Juniors: You got a lot of growing up to do. Individually we know some of you are good kids, but you really are a brazen bunch that likes to get a little too frisky at Tori’s house. Guys, sorry Dorf took every member of the naughty nine. Girls, just because we just told the sophomores, doesn’t change the fact that Harrison Douglass is indeed single.To all the fellas out there, it is encouraged that you start on Jake’s workout plan, guaranteed to get you a great arms and a sophomore girl (or you can just drive a 60,000 dollar car and shop at Bloomingdales.)To our very own Senior Class TWENTY ONE ONE LET’S GOOO. Its been a long time coming, who’s ready to get the hell out of this school? We are that’s for sure! 8 more weeks… Let’s make the most of them right?

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Recession hits Newton Center businesses long and hard http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/recession-hits-newton-center-businesses-long-and-hard/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/recession-hits-newton-center-businesses-long-and-hard/#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2011 05:28:33 +0000 Denebola http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5680 Recessions hit hard. Every couple decades when the economy takes a swan dive, casualties are seen everywhere.
Due the economic downturn in recent months, small businesses such as the Pie Bakery, the Starbucks on the Centre T Station, Tess and Carlos, and the Cold Stone Creamery have been forced to board up their windows and close their doors for good.
Although these stores went out of business, new stores step in to take their place.
With a new diner, a restaurant taking the place of Pie, a Panera Bread, and a cupcake store opening soon, Newton Center is getting a new look, as well as a new feel.
What used to be mostly takeout restaurants have become more upscale, sit-down eateries.
“Unlike Tango Mango or Subway, the new food places like [the diner] are becoming more of a sit down and stay place, rather than just run in, get food, and leave,” sophomore Eliza Spiegalman said.
Although more stores are now available for a wide range of tastes, Newton Center might not feel a difference in business. “
I don’t think I’ll go there more than I already do, which is at least a few times a week, but what could be bad about cupcakes?” sophomore Jessie Rosen said.
Bringing a unique look to Newton Centre dining, the Deluxe Station Diner on Union Street opened its doors with high hopes that have been met well.
“There is not anything like this anywhere,” said manager Jerry Ullman, “You can come here and have breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just breakfast all day if you want. It’s awesome because that sort of thing appeals to all demographics.”
Unlike Rosen, however, senior Bryan Cheng feels differently about the renovation’s effect on business. “I may go just to try some of the new places out, like the diner or the cupcake place, but as for places like Panera, I doubt it because it’s kind of on the expensive side,” he said.
With all the excitement, it’s easy to forget that other places in Newton have also been hit hard by the economic recession. Rugged Bear, a clothing store for young boys, is closing after many years in business.
The economics woes, however, do
not stop there. Places that have been in Newton for many years, like the Atrium Mall, are closing too.
South students agree that they have outgrown the Atrium Mall, but they still miss certain things about its presence. “The Atrium Mall hasn’t really been the place to go since middle school, but I’ll be sad about Bertuccis closing,” junior Aafreen Rajani said.
Other eateries that have become an institution for Newton have stayed strong throughout the economic downturn.
Cabot’s, an exteremly popular ice cream shop around the Newton North areas has refused to shut down due to their wildly supportive customers; “Cabot’s has been a neighborhood business for too many years to shut down,” North graduate Bohan Leng said. “It’s a big part of the Newton community and everyone knows it.  It just wouldn’t shut down.”
Although the economy may have turned sour, and stores that have been in Newton for years have left, new stores have come to take their place. They have transformed the rustic old Newton Center into a new, nuanced, and very promising atmosphere.

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Denebola editors oppose the proposed student activities http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/denebola-editors-oppose-the-proposed-student-activities/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/denebola-editors-oppose-the-proposed-student-activities/#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2011 05:10:59 +0000 Denebola http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5626 As part of the plan to mitigate the effects of the FY12 budget cuts, the Superintendent is proposing a $125 student activities fee.
This fee, intended for middle school Triple E programs and high school clubs, would help the district to counteract the consequences of insufficient funds to maintain and grow the programs and services provided district-wide.
Denebola recognizes the gravity of this year’s budget dilemmas and commends the central office for seeking creative solutions to a difficult situation.
But as students who devote significant time to an extra-curricular activity – the school newspaper – we fear that the proposed activities fee will negatively affect student activities – and the students involved in them – throughout the city.
It’s long been common practice to charge such fees for athletics, so it may seem fitting to impose similar fees for other after school programs.
The proposed fee concerns us, however, since there does not seem to be a correlation between the addition of fees and an increase in funds available to support activities, like advisor, coach, and director stipends.
Nor does this fee account for the varying degrees of interest, participation, and time-commitment in different clubs.
For example, some clubs meet during Wednesday J-Blocks, but others – like theatre and publications – work into the evening and on weekends.
Why should a student’s family be obligated to pay the same amount to participate in a once-a-week club as for a clearly more intense and involved activity? For us it is a problem that the proposed plan for the FY12 fees do not address what is effectively inequity.
Furthermore, we worry that an activities fee – even with a mechanism for addressing special financial circumstances – will discourage students from joining activities that would end up being beneficial to them.
We know firsthand the positive impact of activities like Denebola – activities that not only provide us with an important community of friends and colleagues, but are also key to defining who we are as learners and as people.
The $125, no matter how logical a fee or how fundamental to maintaining Newton’s high academic standards, will likely stand between a student with potential interest and the activity he or she wants to participate in.
If we were freshmen with interest in joining Denebola, this fee would certainly influence our enthusiasm to join the newspaper – and we can only imagine this is the same case with prospective speech, theatre, mock trial, and student union participants.
Denebola is, for the reasons outlined, opposed to the implementation of a student activities fee.
But we appreciate the financial climate in which this idea was proposed, as well as the central office’s effort to maintain as many academic programs as possible.
We nevertheless stress that this type of fee will almost certainly impact the ways in which students think about extracurricular participation – commitments that, in our experience, are a significant part of a Newton South education.

As part of the plan to mitigate the effects of the FY12 budget cuts, the Superintendent is proposing a $125 student activities fee. This fee, intended for middle school Triple E programs and high school clubs, would help the district to counteract the consequences of insufficient funds to maintain and grow the programs and services provided district-wide.Denebola recognizes the gravity of this year’s budget dilemmas and commends the central office for seeking creative solutions to a difficult situation. But as students who devote significant time to an extra-curricular activity – the school newspaper – we fear that the proposed activities fee will negatively affect student activities – and the students involved in them – throughout the city.It’s long been common practice to charge such fees for athletics, so it may seem fitting to impose similar fees for other after school programs. The proposed fee concerns us, however, since there does not seem to be a correlation between the addition of fees and an increase in funds available to support activities, like advisor, coach, and director stipends. Nor does this fee account for the varying degrees of interest, participation, and time-commitment in different clubs.For example, some clubs meet during Wednesday J-Blocks, but others – like theatre and publications – work into the evening and on weekends. Why should a student’s family be obligated to pay the same amount to participate in a once-a-week club as for a clearly more intense and involved activity? For us it is a problem that the proposed plan for the FY12 fees do not address what is effectively inequity.Furthermore, we worry that an activities fee – even with a mechanism for addressing special financial circumstances – will discourage students from joining activities that would end up being beneficial to them. We know firsthand the positive impact of activities like Denebola – activities that not only provide us with an important community of friends and colleagues, but are also key to defining who we are as learners and as people.The $125, no matter how logical a fee or how fundamental to maintaining Newton’s high academic standards, will likely stand between a student with potential interest and the activity he or she wants to participate in. If we were freshmen with interest in joining Denebola, this fee would certainly influence our enthusiasm to join the newspaper – and we can only imagine this is the same case with prospective speech, theatre, mock trial, and student union participants.Denebola is, for the reasons outlined, opposed to the implementation of a student activities fee.But we appreciate the financial climate in which this idea was proposed, as well as the central office’s effort to maintain as many academic programs as possible. We nevertheless stress that this type of fee will almost certainly impact the ways in which students think about extracurricular participation – commitments that, in our experience, are a significant part of a Newton South education.

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South turns 50 – Principals lead the way http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/south-turns-50-principals-lead-the-way/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/south-turns-50-principals-lead-the-way/#comments Tue, 15 Feb 2011 13:25:11 +0000 Denebola http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5419 Davidson
1960-1965

From an Appreciation by Social Studies chair Wayne Altree published in Denebola:

[He was] a man  whose virtues were those worth having and whose faults were venial.
He was the quintessential New Englander – a true-blue Yankee, prideful of his seafaring Cape Cod forebears. He was a great confabulist and his mise-en-scene has to be in the gathering of locals about the proverbial cracker-barrel of a Vermont general store. He was a passionate believer in the American way; and, despite attempts to be broad-minded, he traced its validity to New England roots. Sadly, in his later days, he grew uneasy in a country where Howard Stern, Michael Milkan, and Newt Gingrich waxed large, and Bill Gates became the richest man in history.
Davidson emerged from the usual New England hardscrabble background. At the age of eight he lost his father, and his widowed mother was left to rear, without assistance, four young children in the midst of the Great Depression. Don managed a university education, and in the job-scarce 1930s, took a position as a teacher. Thus began a long professional career as a teacher, coach, counselor, principal and university academic.
Not by temperament an intellectual, Davidson, nonetheless, respected the life of the mind. He read discursively and knew well the writings of Emerson, Thoreau, and Melville. His hero, of course, was John Dewey, our greatest philosopher. Davidson came to be powerfully affected by Dewey’s vision of the promise of American life and the role of education in its achievement. Davidson’s abiding guiding star was Dewey’s thought.
In Dewey’s model school, the student was not an empty vessel to be filled with inert ideas or received wisdom. Life was change and transformation, and the task of the learner and the teacher, together, was to find experimentally and pragmatically the insight and methods of thought to cope with the exigent future in a modern, democratic society.
No idea, value, principle was sacrosanct, all was open to rigorous, scientific probing. Survival demanded knowing and wrestling with a real world. The operative terms were growth and development. All this was axiomatic to Davidson.
Naturally, neither Dewey nor Davidson did much to change schooling in this country. Education has always been an intractably conservative institution to fortify the status quo. Davidson was saddened by the eclipse of Dewey’s reputation by a new current of “realism” in American thought which questions the possibility of man-made progress. However, he lived long enough to see a revival of interest in Deweyan ideas awakened by Richard Rorty, a Neo-Pragmatist and probably our foremost contemporary philosopher.
Donald Davidson was a rara avis, a remnant of a vanishing species. He was not an amoral hustler, fixer, careerist, elitist, zealot, inside dopester, nor meritocrat, but an honest man, un honnete homme, whose friends, in happy memory, cannot imagine him guilty of a cruel or unworthy act. —Wayne Altree, Chair NSHS Social Studies

“Of the transition from Newton High to Newton South Davidson writes, ‘We made minor mistakes. We tried many new procedures and rejected some, we had to adapt to the buildings, and it took a while for the many teachers and students who had been at Newton High to dispense with old loyalties and to form new ones. Newton [North]…had been, and is, one of the great secondary schools of American and it was not easy to branch off and leave cherished associations behind…However, very soon, we formed our own identity.’
* * *
“a group of students, teachers, and parents [under Davidson’s leadership]…conducted a series of Saturday morning colloquia on various political and cultural problems. Many outstanding authorities were invited over a period and in an informal setting an excellent exchange resulted.”
* * *
“Davidson also enjoyed a strong relationship with the faculty, ‘[They were] outstanding, grand, dedicated people—during a great period in education when we felt that we were moving in directions of national importance and that we were having an impact on bettering the educational process—and that NSHS was a national leader in all of this. It was a period of great enthusiasm.’

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Geer (1965-1973) http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/geer-1965-1973/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/geer-1965-1973/#comments Tue, 15 Feb 2011 13:23:59 +0000 Denebola http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5437 From a January 2011 interview:

It may seem odd that I came to public school Newton South from a private, boarding school experience.
I was raised in NYC, my Father had published Fortune magazine and was part of that early creative group that did Architectural Forum. He had become the vice president of Time, Inc and was also responsible for the influential film, Crusade in Europe.
Attending Harvard, I ended up for family reasons working my way, and becoming very interested in teaching young people but took the path of least resistance and accepted a position in English at the boarding school I had attended, Lawrenceville School, near Princeton.
* * *
Lawrenceville began in 1810. Good as the faculty was in many ways it was not all that aware of the school’s history. Like Princeton, it was more southern than it knew or acknowledged. For example. I discovered disconcerting ties to slavery persisting into the mid-twentieth century.
The Lewisville Road, behind the school was not a county or township road (only paved in the Sixties), it had been a dirt road since the Civil War with ramshackle houses on the edge of the Lawrenceville campus. Like Princeton where the Southern students’ slaves lived, the people who lived in these little shacks, all black were all employees of Lville.
We had a big laundry, black women did the hard work. Their children had no place in the hot summers, so I had the Lawrenceville pool opened for them and taught the kids to swim, despite the usual complaints.
* * *
Why Newton South? Well, I was a maverick from School Year 1– all my life, an odd ball in that sense. I came in the back door to residential education, but my experience there led me to believe with the resources private schools had, with few exceptions, the education they provided was a disgrace.
These institutions were not using their resources properly—in my judgment they were mis-educating youth, providing a very narrow, very uncritical, narcissistic experience. It seemed to me we could learn more if we were helping others.
We set up a Ford Foundation project in nearby Trenton, a summer school taking the worst (black) middle school kids and teachers. We
brought in interesting people, inspired and supported them. The project later expanded to make a larger summer school project supported by Ford, minority kids, mostly black in 1963 and 1964. We got private colleges like Princeton and Yale and Wesleyan to look at kids from inner city schools and poor rural black schools from the South.
It was a spectacular faculty – gave them a marvelous summer, read and wrote, gave them exposure they did not have in their high schools; so those Trenton kids hit that first year in college running, they had a chance.
The Trenton work got me to Newton because, as it happened, Dr. Charles Brown who had been a nationally-recognized superintendent had gone to the Ford Foundation, which had supported those Upward-Bound style programs, and when he heard his old system Newton was looking for leadership at South, Chuck had me for an interview.

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Seasholes (1973-1997) http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/seasholes-1973-1997/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/seasholes-1973-1997/#comments Tue, 15 Feb 2011 13:21:53 +0000 Denebola http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5438 From a January 2011 interview:

How did Newton South High School come into being?
Well, Newton High school, a classical high school that went back into the 19th century and had a national reputation, was getting too big, perhaps 3400 students. So the thinking was to build an even larger, a huge, a massive high school.
But Newton High was really two schools, Newton High and Newton Technical School. (The latter did what’s called VocTech, these days, but the students who attended and were trained were not just from Newton but came from other communities, and had their own, separate building.)
In any event the discussion moved to newer ideas about schools and social relations, the value of closer, more face-to-face contact in the teaching/learning experience.
The argument emerged that one school with perhaps 4500 students would be too big, and there were other pressures for a high school closer to the south side of Newton where the community there had been growing in the post-World War 2 period.
The School Committee decided to make the line Beacon Street, which many over the years thought unwise, reinforcing an artificial North/South mentality.
* * *
Newton High School had for each building—1-2-3—administrators but South gave the system an opportunity to re-think that organizing principle.
Why not combine what had become separate elements of the educational experience? Put together in a single unit academic, administrative and counseling aspects of student and teachers’ days?
If the thinking was vigorous in Newton, the practice had already begun in Evanston, Illinois; those public schools had a “house” system. (There had been smaller scale practice of this concept at Meadowbrook Junior High from the mid-1950s.) Newton educators visited Evanston, and a form was planned and partially implemented in the new South. Harold Howe, who was a legendary figure in American education and part of Newton then thought the houses would be independent and autonomous, each would have a House Master, a little principal, students would take all their classes within a smaller grouping of teachers and teachers and masters would really get to know each student as an individual. Well, Howe left for the Ford Foundation, the ideas had a hard time being put into practice, and many aspects simply couldn’t or didn’t happen.
*****
I grew up in a very good public school system, Shaker Heights, near Cleveland, Ohio. It was a three-year place with 750 kids, about 250 in a class. It was a demanding, academically challenging public school. Just to give you an idea of what its graduates were aiming for, in the mid-1950s, my Senior year, 11 were accepted and 11 went to Amherst College, including myself.
***
South has at times been referred to as the “Jewish” high school. Was it, or to what extent has it been? In the early days, the Sixties, for some people it was 110% Jewish. The numbers were less but in that first decade the numbers were well over 50 or 60 percent.
It is an important story, part of a much larger and equally important story of American demographics in the 20th century, before and during World War 2. A large group moved out to the south side of Newton from Boston after the war.
That fit the stereotypes, and at times was used in very negative ways. Parents would get me to try to say, well, South is much more academic, if their youngsters went to North they might not get this or that.
I didn’t see it that way, we had two very good high schools to my mind, each with their strengths.
On the other hand, I’m not Jewish but in Shaker Heights, a large Jewish population helped make those schools more positive in many ways. There were two important contributions —first, a culture of learning that began when children were very young, and second and also, a practical awareness of the connection between one’s school and the world, getting on, achievement.
Many of my friends were Jewish, I saw the same thing in Newton I had seen elsewhere, that positive effect of the two.
Also interesting was the way in which separate migrations had different effects, as with other ethnic and racial groups.
You have an older community, now in the north of the city, people whose families had come to America after the failed European revolutions of 1848, people from Germany and Central Europe.
And then a younger community, where my typical student might have grandparents from the 1890s, who had come from Poland, Russia, Galicia areas. They were born or lived in Boston, lived in an apartment in Brookline perhaps, then their parents moved to Newton – moved for the schools of course.
Positive, positive thing. In the classes I taught I would have them write up a short biography of their family, join in a group discussion which was a fine experience. So Newton was not just a “wealthy” suburb.
***
Is South just an academic powerhouse, do we all put undue pressure on kids? We can discuss it, but the reality is we are living in a competitive society, in a competitive global economy. People must work hard to get by but also to gain some of the experiences they want for themselves and for their children. So there’s good pressure and bad pressure, the one pressing to get important things done; all pressure isn’t bad. If a kid wants to spend time just studying or on something mindless, are those the only choices we can offer?
* * *
There are regional and sectional differences, as anyone will know taking a job in New York City or coming to Boston to study from the Middle West. One of the first things I noticed in Newton in 1958, while with the Harvard-Newton summer school program was at the old Weeks Junior High. The custodians there were always dealing with random forms of vandalism. At Shaker Heights, in the Middle West, if anyone made a mark anywhere, custodians rushed to clean it up. But there wasn’t much, yet I saw a certain kind of casualness in Newton, even in 1961.

We like to think of the school as being a home you would keep up, not as I saw the kids, at Fenway Park or down to see a football game, toss something on the ground, let someone else pick it up. A different mindset, if you will.

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Welch (2000-2005) http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/welch-2000-2005/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/welch-2000-2005/#comments Tue, 15 Feb 2011 13:19:15 +0000 Denebola http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5439 From the June 2005 issue of Denebola:

‘If you had told me I was going to be a high school principal some day, I would have said you’ve got to be crazy,’ [Mike Welch said].
He could not deny, however, his interest in assisting youth. ‘I love working with kids,’ he stated simply with a broad smile.
Welch was a teacher long before he came to Newton South, and it is a part of his past that he feels is easy for many people in the Newton community to forget. As a physics teacher at Belmont High School, Welch was voted best teacher by the students and in 1998 was a semi-finalist for Teacher of the Year in Massachusetts.
‘I’m more proud of that than a lot of other things I’ve done,’ he said.
In the spring of 2000, after being a housemaster at Newton North for about two and a half years, Welch received a very unexpected call. It was Superintendent Jeffrey Young on the phone with a proposition. ‘He called and said, “How would you like to be principal at Newton South?” ‘And I thought, What is wrong with you? Why are you calling me?’ Welch laughed at his initially dubious response.
* * *
‘I don’t want to say that things were broken when I got here because they weren’t. I think the school, and I still think the school, doesn’t do as well as I’d like in terms of serving all kids well,’ Welch said of a challenge he has faced throughout his time here. He found himself wanting to change the very culture of the school entirely.
He was against the attitude that distanced school administrators from students: ‘I want people out in the hallways, and I want people interacting with kids. But that isn’t the way this place operates. It operates like a little college.’
In the first months and years of his principalship, Welch also dealt with a bomb scare, a senior class tradition that got out of hand, and issues around parking. ‘I still have the rocks [seniors] threw through my windows…’
He holds up a Ziplock bag with several large rocks inside and says they pelted his old office for his first three years at South. ‘In a way, it’s a kind of badge of honor,’ Welch says, smiling.
More importantly, he had to try to close the gap between adults and students. ‘I felt that kids were disconnected from school,’ he admitted, thinking of the progress South has made in that respect.
* * *
…while he may be more strict than many in the South community perceive, he is also better able to let loose when away from work. ‘I’m a lot more fun than I can show. Being a principal means you can’t always be exactly who you are. You have to have some level of moral authority and presence,’ Welch said.
He expressed how uncomfortable it sometimes is for him to know that he must carry himself as a dignitary much of the time. Welch, with his healthy sense of humor, downplays the presumed superiority of a principal: ‘Who am I? I’m just a guy who was a teacher who now suddenly is calling the shots here. I’m no better than any teacher in this building…’
‘This principal job was a lot harder than [the military pattern of decision-making].’

The community itself proved to be one in Welch had to compromise his favored style of taking quick action and making bold decisions. ‘In Newton, it’s a lot of lobbying and arguing your point, trying to change decisions that have been made. I realized you had to go around and around, and talk and talk and talk, to make sure everybody is aware of what you’re thinking. And I found that frustrating, but that’s just the way it is.’

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Stembridge (2009-Present) http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/stembridge-2009-present/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/stembridge-2009-present/#comments Tue, 15 Feb 2011 13:17:36 +0000 Denebola http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5440 From Stembridge’s “This I Believe” essay presented on September 24, 2010:

I believe that South is a wonderful school. I also believe that we have some important work to do before our students will proudly proclaim “My school loves me!”
During my first year as Principal at South, I did a lot of listening to you – students, faculty, and parents – as you talked about South. I learned that you love many, many things about South: you love the incredible people here; you love the amazing opportunities; you love the excellent programs – from athletics to academics to music to art to theater to clubs to newspapers to traveling abroad; and, you love the respect for differences that we passionately maintain within our school.
Make no mistake, this is a wonderful school. No other school that I know supports a Sophomore Speech competition in which every student competes, the Spelling Bee where participants are loudly supported, “Passin’ Time” where the entire school strolls through the halls during a long advisory, Tertulia where students and teachers co-create an all-day talent show, – and today’s all-school event.
But, as I listened to you last year, I did not hear many of you say “I love South.” Although you seem proud to be students here, most of you describe South as full of stress that must be endured in order to get into a good college. And when I push you to explain, you say you don’t want South to lower its standards. You don’t want us to offer you a copper education and pretend that it’s gold.
Rather, the main issue seems to be how it feels to be a student at South. You want a South that understands the challenges you face as a student, and a South that actively supports you as you meet those challenges.
Well, the truth is that South is us! We create it anew each year. In too many of my conversations with you, South is described as an inanimate object – a thing that merely is. To be clear: the walls, halls, and classrooms do not give South its character. We the people make South what it is – and can be. We create – and can recreate – Newton South.
What an institution has been in the past, while informative, does not dictate what it will be in the future. Moreover, a group of people who are focused on a common goal can make a great difference. I’ve seen this happen with teams, theater productions, classes, and clubs.
South is a very good high school, but it can be better. I believe that if we, together, choose to act in a way that embodies the South that we want, we can transform our school. I have a couple of suggestions for each of you: students – first, go to a game, play, or concert and cheer for each other; second, say “thank you” to an adult; teachers – first, make it clear each day how your goal is to do all that you can to help your students succeed; second, maybe allow for an extension when a student comes to you with a difficult week; parents – first, give the wonderful adults working here the benefit of the doubt, and second, assume that we care deeply about your children; For me: first, I will get into halls and classrooms more, and second, I will continue to listen. If every person here commits to acting in one of these ways three times each day (that’s 6,000 individual acts each day; 1,080,000 acts for the year), we could powerfully transform South into a school that we could confidently say — we love.

So…THIS I BELIEVE: It is our responsibility – yours and mine and no one else’s – to transform South into a school where we can honestly proclaim… WE LOVE OUR SCHOOL. Thank you, Newton South, for the privilege of being your principal.

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50th Anniversary Edition – Why and How http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/50th-anniversary-edition-why-and-how/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/50th-anniversary-edition-why-and-how/#comments Tue, 15 Feb 2011 13:15:35 +0000 Denebola http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5454 Fiftieth Anniversaries only come once. That’s why Denebola could not – and would not – miss the opportunity to celebrate Newton South’s, as well as its own.
This paper – the 50th Anniversary Edition of Denebola – exemplifies the range of accomplishments that South is known for.
The 50th Edition surveys the five decades of our school’s existence; it identifies the trends, commonalities, and evolution of South as both an academic institution and a culturally, artistically and athletically rich community. And it serves to, in the way of the Mission Statement, encourage communication and personal connections amongst not only current students, but also across generations—as our ever-expanding Alumni base demonstrates.
Reading this issue, it is useful to understand the three types of content presented: archival content from five decades of Denebola, new content created by current students, and new content contributed by alumni. The combination of these categories results in a 64-page representation of our school community and its history that, admittedly and of necessity, leaves much out.
So in no way is this issue a comprehensive or complete history of Newton South. Rather, it is a starting point where we can begin to understand more about our school and those who were part of it. Selection and presentation of printed content was no simple task, but our goal was to provide a worthwhile tool for engaging in investigation and discussion of one of the arguably most “educationally aware” communities in America. In light of this, additional 50th-related content will be posted continuously on our website in Denebola’s 50th Web Exclusive section – www.denebolaonline.net – in an effort to broaden our discussion and deepen our understanding of what has made Newton South what it was and is.
Please take a moment to read the introductions to each section. We begin in News with a decades-based timeline of the major events affecting South over the last half century.

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18 months of labor pay off: Newton South born http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/18-months-of-labor-pay-off-newton-south-born/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/18-months-of-labor-pay-off-newton-south-born/#comments Tue, 15 Feb 2011 13:13:02 +0000 Denebola http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=5261 The Newtonite, Sept. 1960
The administration and the faculty of Newton South High School took a deep breath and opened the doors of a barely finished school on September 13.
“If this teacher puts us in alphabetical order, I’ll die,” commented one of the sophomores, first entrants into the new school. These new high schoolers were more concerned with the size and complexities of high school than they were with the newness of the building.
A large group of students was held up in one section of the building while a new pupil stood at the intersection of two corridors tossing a coin. “Heads I go right,” he said, “tails, left.”
The hurricane had not only damaged one gym floor, but had also succeeded in damaging the carefully worked out schedule. Wednesday was really not Wednesday at all but Tuesday, and there was no Thursday in the entire week. It was really not so confusing once your homeroom teacher had explained it several dozen times.
“We will not go by Eastern Daylight Savings Time today,” boomed the loudspeaker into every room. “The hurricane has set the clocks all back; there-fore it is now 8:35 instead of 9:05 and school will end at 11:35 Newton South High School time, approximately twelve o’clock Eastern Daylight time.”
On Thursday, which was really Wednesday, the full load of students groped their way through the seven buildings of Newton South. Guides stationed at all vulnerable points throughout the school, did not have a moment’s rest.
“Could you please tell me where building Five is?”
“Turn right at the next corridor, go straight through the library, and take a right. If the workmen won’t let you through, take the second door on the right, go outside, and bear right. If you give up, stand somewhere and holler ‘Help, I’m lost.’ Someone will rescue you.”
The juniors and seniors, used to standing in Elm Road and viewing the entire high school, took it hard when they discovered that the South High’s seven buildings can only be seen as a whole from the roof. Though every student was issued two maps, it only took first period to demonstrate how easily one can get tangled in the maze of buildings.
“Come on Charlie,” yelled a boy who late for class, “I think we can get to the gym this time. I just got complete instructions.” Little did he know hat the gym won’t be completely there for another month.
All was comparison to the juniors and seniors of Newton South the first few days.
“The lunchroom is better than the old school’s. The lunch lines are worse. The classrooms are more modern. Passing between classes is just as slow.” But some of the novelty wore off suddenly when the students discovered that homework and calsswork had not been modernly done away with.

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