A November message to Medfield HS

Dear Students, Parents and Faculty of Medfield High School:

I hope this letter finds you well and excited for the upcoming Thanksgiving break.  It’s a great time to take a breath, escape work, and spend time with family and friends.  The time away also provides an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how fortunate we are to study and work in such a vibrant learning community.  Our students work very hard and their efforts should never be overlooked.  Perhaps during this Thanksgiving break, we should make sure to give them the opportunity to share their dreams and optimistic thoughts.  Our young adults are indeed the most valuable resources we have and it’s important that we listen to their perspectives and points of view.   It’s a reminder that all opinions do matter.

Here at Medfield HS, the discussions we’ve had with students regarding this past presidential election have extended beyond our Social Studies classrooms.  It’s clear that our students appeared aware of the policies that shaped each of the candidates (perhaps more aware than ever before).  It was also evident that the results of this past election struck a chord with many.  As is sometimes the case, teachers are challenged with events that take place outside of the school and certainly this past election provided moments when we had to check our own political beliefs at the door.  As a staff, we’ve had many discussions regarding our roles as this campaign began to enter its final stages over the past few months.  We challenged our students to take the time to become well-informed before forming opinions, which has become difficult in this age of social media where information posted is not always accurate.  We will continue to emphasize how important it is to listen respectfully to others who may have differing views – something that was not always evident throughout the presidential campaign.  Over the past two weeks, there have been reports of incidences involving hateful comments in schools across the country and in neighboring communities.  In our discussions with students, we’ve reminded them that comments that demean, insult or threaten individuals or groups of people, no matter their race, gender, religious beliefs or sexual orientation, will not be tolerated.  I know you will join us in standing up to such divisive behavior.  As we move forward, I share the words of Winston Churchill who once wrote, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”  At Medfield HS, we will continue to hold our core values close to heart. Those values include Respect, Honesty and Integrity.

Tomorrow we will hold our annual pep rally.  This event will highlight school spirit and provide our students the opportunity to demonstrate their Warrior pride.  This year’s theme is Community, and many student groups and special guests will be well-represented. I want to offer a big thank you to our Student Council for all their hard work in preparing for this event.

As a staff, we’ve decided that this weekend will be a No Homework weekend (AP classes are excluded). I do hope this short break provides an opportunity to relax and recharge as we head into December.  I want to sincerely wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving, and for those of you traveling, please do so safely.

Happy Thanksgiving Medfield!

Medfield High School Italy trip…days 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Here is a quick synopsis from the second half of our trip.  We were unable to access wifi in Rome and Sorrento so I’ve included the blog entires from those days…

Day 6 – Rome…Roma was fantastico! We were very excited to get up early (6:30am) and head into the ancient city.  Our first stop was the Colosseum.  Completed in 80 AD, this stadium was the center of the Roman Empire.  Despite the destruction over the years (mainly earthquakes and pollution), it didn’t take much to imagine what it looked liked 2,000 years ago.  We had a guided tour of the Colosseum starting in the upper level and eventually making our way down to the floor.




Next stop, the Forum, located across the street from the Colosseum.



From here, half of our students went on the Roman Catacombs excursion and the rest of us took a walking tour of Rome, eventually ending up at the Pantheon.  Built just years after the Colosseum, the Pantheon is an active church and an architectural masterpiece.  Our photo students had a blast shooting from inside the building.



Our night ended with dinner and an evening tour of Rome.

Day 7 – The Vatican…We were lucky to be part of the Papal Audience.  Standing 300 or so yards from Pope Francis, we were able to experience this service which takes place on Wednesdays in St. Peter’s Square. There were 10,000-15,000 people in attendance.


After the service, we stopped at the Vatican gift shop then it was on to lunch.  The afternoon tour included the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s basilica.  The Sistine Chapel is Michelangelo’s masterpiece and our AP Art History students have spent a great deal of time studying his work.  No photos allowed in the chapel so our students simply took it all in…pictures couldn’t do it justice anyhow.

Last stop before dinner was St. Peter’s basilica.  Known as the most famous of the four basilicas in Rome, this church is impressive in its size and design.  We enjoyed our guided tour.



Dinner on Wednesday night? Pizza!  Need I say more?

Day 8 – On the road to Pompeii – We left our hotel in Rome and headed south to the ancient city of Pompeii.  When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, this once thriving city along the Amalfi Coast simply disappeared.  Now almost fully excavated, it provides an unbelievable setting for what Pompeii looked like 2,000 years ago.  With Mt. Vesuvius in the background, we walked the original stone streets and entered homes and other buildings…simply breathtaking!




After Pompeii, we made a quick stop in the little town of Sorrento before heading to our hotel located on the cliffs of the Mediterranean Sea.


Tomorrow, we’re off to the island of Capri then back to Rome…it will be our last full day in Italy.

Day 9 – Our last full day was spent on the island of Capri.  We took a 20 minute ferry to the island which provided the most beautiful views we had all week.  Once we reached the island, we boarded a smaller boat for a private tour.





Day 10 – Early morning wake-up call (5:45am), breakfast then it was off to the Da Vinci International Airport.  Our flight was on time and we landed at Logan Airport at 8:00pm.

What a great trip!  Our students were fantastic and enjoyed the many historical sites and works of art in Florence, Orvieto, Rome, Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri.  Add in the delicious food and it’s fair to say this trip was a resounding success and one we’ll likely offer again. Big thanks to our chaperones, Anna Lall, Meg Drew, Heather Gonzalez, Jessica Safer, Kate Jones and Chris Faust.  I appreciate their willingness to spend time away from their own families.

On a personal note, it was wonderful for me to experience this trip with my son, Nick. He loved every minute and it will be memory he’ll always have.  I want to sincerely thank our students and teachers for being so welcoming…you all truly made this a special trip for him. Grazie & ciao!!


Medfield High School Italy trip…day 5

After several days in Florence, we packed up and headed south for Rome.  First stop today was a visit to the town of Orvieto.  This town set high above the cliffs in southwestern Umbria, was once conquered by Julius Caesar and later fell under papal control.  The town is now home to approximately 20,000 residents.  We had the opportunity to have lunch in Orvieto and spend several hours exploring this beautiful hilltop city.




The Cathedral of Orvieto was an amazing structure built in the 1500’s.




Tomorrow, we’ll explore ancient Rome.

Medfield High School Italy trip, day 4

Our last day in Florence was fantastic.  We started our day at the world famous Galleria Uffizi home of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Michelangelo’s Holy Family among others.  The students enjoyed time in this three story collection of treasured art work.DSC00520.jpgDSC00519.jpg

After lunch, we walked across the bridge to the Pitti Palace, the former palace once owned by the Medici family.  The palace was also used at different times by Napoleon and King Victor Emmanuel III.  There is a beautiful garden on the grounds which provides an incredible view of Florence.DSC00545.jpgDSC00557.jpg

Dinner was once again unbelievable, pasta, beef, roasted potatoes and dessert.  The restaurant, Osteria dei Baroncelli was located right off of della Signoria Plaza.  After dinner, we had some time in the square where the kids played hackey sack (a regular occurrence for many of the boys) and of course, more dessert!DSC00580.jpgDSC00586.jpg

Tomorrow, we head south to Rome with a stop in the town of Orvieto.

Medfield High School Italy trip…day 3


We enjoyed our first full day in Florence.  Wake up call at 7am, breakfast at the hotel at 7:45, then off for a walking tour of historic Florence.  We saw il Duomo, the Baptistery of St. Giovanni then walked down to the Arno River.DSC00489 (1).jpg


DSC00495.jpgThe highlight of the morning was the visit to the leather and jewelry store.  We saw a demonstration of local craftsmanship and the students got to witness the details that go into this skill/craft/art.  The visit included a fashion show where yours truly had the opportunity to participate (pictured here with Allie Newlon).DSC00504.jpg

After lunch, we had the opportunity to visit the L’ Accademia Gallery, home to Michelangelo’s famous statue of David.

DSC00506.jpgThe day was capped off with another traditional Italian meal at Casa Toscana, located in the historic district.  Tomorrow brings another full day in Florence.


Medfield High School Italy trip…Days 1 & 2

Ciao from Florence, Italy!  I’m pleased to report that we’ve had two great days traveling from Medfield to Boston to Charlotte, NC, to Rome and finally to Florence.  I believe we’re all a bit jet lagged and sleepy as we check in for the night.  Our journey started on Thursday morning, 45 students and 7 chaperones (#52strong).  Here is a photo as we were departing  Charlotte:


Our 9 hour flight to Rome was delayed a few minutes, we landed at 9:50am, Italy time.  Some of us slept on the overnight flight, some didn’t, some read while others did school work.  After checking through customs in Rome, we met our tour guide Giuliana who has been fantastic!  At 11:30am, we started our journey three hours north to Florence.  We stopped for lunch along the way indulging in our first Italian meal.  We arrived in Florence, checked into the hotel then regrouped for dinner.  We had a great meal, pasta with meat sauce, pork, roasted potatoes, salad and topped it all off with desert.DSC00467.jpg

Before and after dinner, we walked around the beautiful city of Florence. DSC00457.jpg




Unbelievable architecture!  Curfew, 10pm tonight then tomorrow is a full day here in Florence.  Ciao!


Over the past several weeks, our students and their parents have had discussions regarding course selections for the next school year.  There are many factors to consider, including: which levels to take, electives, extracurriculars, after-school jobs, internships, and social interests.  The right balance is important in order to create what we often refer to as the well-rounded student. With this in mind, I started to give thought to what a well-rounded school should look like.

I’m often asked, What is the right balance for a high school student?  This varies from student-to-student (and it should!).  We want our kids to have a schedule that meets their individual needs and interests.  At Medfield High School, we review our course offerings each year.  This process starts with meetings I have with each content specialist (department head) to review the courses offered.  We look at course sign-up data, identify trends and discuss possible new courses that might be of interest to our students.  At times, we have removed courses which we’ve determined to be no longer relevant or those that students have shown little interest in.  These courses have included Keyboarding, Desktop Publishing, Introduction to Drama, and Television/Video Production, among others.  With that in mind, we’ve replaced some of the above-mentioned courses with new electives, courses such as Ballroom Dance, Introduction to Guitar, Video Production, Clay Art Studio, Activities for Life, and App Development. This does not represent the entire list of courses removed or new courses offered in the MHS Program of Studies.  What it does represent is our concerted effort to develop a range of courses that meets the needs of all learners AND to provide opportunities for students to blend core academic courses with other areas of interest.  MHS Guidance Content Specialist Stephanie Worthley said, “We are pleased to offer a variety of classes for students to explore interests outside of their requirements.  We also want students to take courses that are fun and can provide some stress relief during the day.”

Many of our students take an array of Honors and AP courses.  The AP courses in particular can help develop skills and be good preparation for the amount of work (and time management) expected at the college level.  We monitor the number of AP’s our students take because we believe finding the right balance in what we offer is important.  In addition to a schedule that is both challenging and exciting, we want students at MHS to have time to participate in theatre, music, athletics and clubs.  These programs all play a vital role in providing our students with different ways to demonstrate their many talents.  It’s important that we continue to keep the well-rounded school in mind as move forward.

Comments?  Feel free to share your thoughts with me on Twitter @MedfieldHS or email at rparga@email.medfield.net




Senior captains John Maclean, Matt Treiber, and Nigel Reiff

The weekend of March 19-20 proved to be exciting for Medfield High School.  Our Jazz Band won the Gold Medal at the All-State finals and earned a spot in the big concert that will take place on May 15th at the Hatch Shell.  And congrats to our Boys Hockey team for winning the state championship for the first time in school history!  The game took place at TD Garden and junior Faith Samson delivered an amazing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.  #warriorpride


Junior Faith Samson