Principal Letter to Parents

February 14, 2017

Dear Parents and Guardians of TMHS Students,

I am writing you this letter for two very important reasons.

First let me say that at TMHS we have much to be proud of! This year we had a NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation team visit that garnered an overwhelmingly positive report about our school, staff, students and academic program. We earned “Level One” status from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for our student’s excellent performance on the MCAS in both 9th and 10th grade. We also saw most of our fall sports team qualify for postseason play. One of our students was commended by the National Merit Scholarship Board for her exceptional scores on the PSAT’s compared to students across the nation. And we are currently hearing that our students are being accepted to some of the nation’s most competitive colleges and universities.

The second reason for this letter regards our growing concern around our student’s potential unhealthy decision making. This past fall we experienced some sombering incidences that underlined this concern and made us aware that we need to do more as a community to ensure that our students are making good, responsible and legal decisions. This means continuing to educate students about the long term effects of substance use, the legal ramifications of underage drinking, and the possible consequences of drinking and driving.

Our current 9th and 10th grade health curriculum specifically addresses the effects of alcohol and substance use. In October and in March, we have whole school assemblies addressing the issue and impact of drinking and drug use and positive decision making. In fact, this year we had Kevin Brooks speak to the entire student body about his drunk driving accident at 18 after attending an underage drinking party that paralyzed him and killed his best friend. Also, every other year we have our Students Against Destructive Decisions club collaborate with the Tewksbury Police Department to run a mock crash simulation involving drunk teenage drivers and the aftermath of the accident. However, we need to do more to educate the entire school community about underage drinking. And we need your support in order to do this important work.

After speaking with students on our Principal’s Advisory Council, all of our athletic captains, coaching staff, the members of the SADD club, parents at a Town Wide PAC meeting, members of School Council, the Wellness Committee and the School Committee via Superintendent Malone we took their suggestions and created a plan to better educate our school community about the effects of underage drinking and positive decision making.

● With input from coaches and athletes, we will work to create program for all of our student athletes to promote leadership and positive decision making.

● At the suggestion of our students, we will expand the Chemical Health Policy to all extracurricular activities. Starting next year any student who participates in both athletics and in clubs and activities will have the same consequences for violation of the Chemical Health Policy. This is the practice at many other area high schools.

● After working with students and parents and talking with other high schools, we have created a week of prevention/education activities focused on substance use and positive decision making for the week of March 27th- March 31st. The SADD club came up with a name for the week of March 27th-April 1st, The Tribe Project. The choice of the name for this week comes from the meaning of tribe. In Native American tradition, a tribe is a group or community of people. That is what we are at TMHS and this week is about learning and supporting each other as a community.

On March 27th, we have Marc Mero of Champion of Choices speaking to the entire student body. We are able to have Marc speak to our students as a result of the TMHS PAC.

On March 29th we will be having a speaker from Minding Our Minds talk with our 11th and 12th graders about substance use and mental health.

On March 29th from 5pm to 7pm, the TMHS School Council has organized a fair for the entire school community, including parents, to learn about the social emotional learning of our students. There will be speakers on mindfulness, depression and anxiety in adolescents and substance abuse in young adults. There will also be information available on yoga, fitness programs, healthy eating, internet safety, and counseling.

On March 30th our SADD Club is running a mock crash of a drunk driving accident at TMHS. In partnership with the Tewksbury Police Department, we hold the mock crash every other year. At the suggestion of students, we will be showing the mock crash to all students this year. Also, on March 29th at 7pm there will be a mandatory workshop on Social Host Law, underage drinking and the effects of alcohol and substance use . All junior and senior students and a parent/guardian must attend this workshop in order to participate in any senior week activities and/or attend the junior or senior prom. Students will not be allowed to purchase a ticket for senior week activities or for a prom, if the student and parent have not attended the workshop. If the student and parent/guardian cannot attend on March 29th, you will have to arrange to come to TMHS to watch recorded version of the workshop before purchasing tickets.

● In order to keep our students safe during prom season, we will be transporting seniors via coach bus to and from the senior prom starting this year. Juniors will continue to be transported via bus to and from the junior semi at the Tewksbury Country Club.

Our student’s health and safety is a priority. We will do all that we can to educate them when it comes to positive decision making around drugs and alcohol; this is hard work especially with adolescents. However, we can’t do this work without all of your support. We have so appreciated the input we have received from students, parents, coaches and teachers. Thank you in advance for all of your support!

Sincerely,

Kristen S. Vogel Principal

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