Tag Archives: 2020-2021

invention, curiosity Are formula for success

By Ashley Stracco, ’24

Staff Writer

In a year dominated by science and its efforts to fight a new deadly virus, Hanover High School revealed a few of its own budding scientists while having one of its best Science Fair performances in recent memory.

HHS sent three students to the Regional and State Science Fair. They were  Freshman Ashley Stracco, Junior Jamie Parry and Sophomore Daniel Nguyen. Dan went the farthest that an HHS student has gone in a very long time, winning the third place Moderna award, a huge accomplishment. 

Dan’s project was called “The Implementation of Independent Finger Movement in Forearm Prosthesis.” He worked on creating a 3D printable design that was practical as well as affordable. Electromyographic sensors detect electrical signals from muscle contractions in the forearm and send those signals to the Arduino microcontroller, which actuates the servo motors in order to move the finger mechanisms. In other words, flexing muscles in your forearm controls the prosthetic hand’s fingers. Dan thinks that competing in the fair was a valuable experience for him because he developed his skills in CAD design and 3D printing. He also was able to implement his knowledge in programming. In regionals, he won second place and in states he obtained the Modern Award for third place. 

Ashley’s project was the effect of Vitamins A, C, D, and E on E. Coli bacteria. She grew cell food in Petri dishes and put the liquid bacteria on the plates. She then added drops of liquidized vitamins onto each of the plates, making sure to keep track of the control plates. She plans to continue her project next year and experiment with things like antibiotics versus vitamins. 

Jamie’s project was called “The Effect of Goggle Tint on Light Transmission.” Jamie explained that goggle lenses vary in both tints and colors. His experiment was designed to test the difference in light transmission between different tinted lenses. He set up an apparatus that held a goggle lens tightly around a light sensor. This ensured he would receive accurate data and no light could enter the sensor. The results of the experiment showed that the best goggles were those with either a blue or blue/red tint.

All three students said they had great experiences with the Science Fair, advised by Mrs. Emerson. We look forward to seeing what they, and other HHS students, come up with next year.


Mr. Wheeler strives to inspire his ‘nation’

By Abby Van Duyn, ’24

Staff Writer

Mr. Wheeler is a 6th grade Math and Social Studies teacher at Hanover Middle School who has been teaching for 21 years. When he was in school, Mr. Wheeler saw how important teachers could be in the lives of students. He chose this career because he wanted to be the type of teacher that inspired students to do and be their best. 

“When I went through school, I felt that many teachers just went through the motions and did not take advantage of the opportunity to be a positive role model for their students,” he said. “I felt if I became a teacher, I could be a positive role model for students and motivate them to work hard at any type of goals.”

Mr. Wheeler’s inspiration also stemmed from a positive experience with one of his teachers named John Hopkins, a longtime Hanover English teacher who retired just a few years ago. “He was so passionate about teaching and he was great at making connections with students,” Mr. Wheeler explained.

Mr. Wheeler is famous at HMS for having a strong and unified homeroom and for bringing all of his students together throughout the year. Being part of “Wheeler Nation” is a special experience where everyone is inspired and connected. For students who are lucky enough to go to Camp Squanto as a part of Mr. Wheeler’s homeroom, it’s often a highlight of their four years at HMS.

“Some of my favorite memories about teaching are setting high expectations for my students and seeing them reach those goals later on in the year,” he said. He also loves “witnessing my homeroom students work together and come together like a big family.”

Mr. Wheeler has not always taught 6th grade in Hanover. In his earlier years, he taught one year in Hingham as well as the 5th grade at HMS. In addition, he started out as an English teacher in his first year at HMS and then switched to teaching Math.

Throughout his years of teaching 6th grade, he has grown to love the age of the students. 

“They are still young enough that you can still spark the majority of the students to be invested in their education and have them engaged in whatever crazy lessons I have planned,” he said. “In addition, they are mature enough to work independently on many things.” 

As we all know, this year has been extra challenging for teachers and students because of Covid-19.  When asked how it impacted him, Mr. Wheeler said, “With the start of COVID, I have learned more about technology in one year than I had in the previous five years.” He’s also had to modify many of his projects. 

Although it might seem that Mr. Wheeler is always working on plans for his students, he has a life and family outside of school too. When the school day is over, Mr. Wheeler enjoys playing basketball and skiing.  He describes himself as a big sports fan and enjoys doing anything outside and taking vacations with his family.

Featured image: https://wasatch.provo.edu/we-really-think-youre-grand-chris-fuhriman-spotlight/

students reflect on covid changes, including some they’ll miss

By Natalie Mowbray, ’22

Staff Writer

With all the new measurements adopted this year to stop the spread of Coronavirus, students and staff at HHS have had to acclimate to a lot of changes. Now, students do things at school that were previously unheard of, such as taking mask breaks and eating lunch with plexiglass barriers between them and their friends. From one-way staircases to socially distant seating, there are many things that students cannot wait to bid goodbye as this unprecedented school year comes to an end. But, perhaps surprisingly, there are some provisions that students would like to see carried into the fall.

One of the most common complaints was about the bathrooms, which have been restricted and monitored to keep groups of students from gathering in small spaces.

“I don’t like how there are now only two bathrooms open to the entire school,” said Rachael Meehan. “I have to figure out which ones are open and it ends up taking a lot of time and wandering around to figure it out.”

Molly McGlame agreed. “I can’t wait for all of them to be open,” she said. “I can’t stand never knowing which ones are open and having to walk around the arrows to figure it out.”

The arrows, dictating which ways traffic can flow in the halls and which stairs can be taken up or down, were another thing students can’t wait to get rid of.

“I feel like it’s going to be a huge improvement once the arrows are gone,” said Libby Hutchins. “There’s nothing more frustrating than walking around to get to class just to find out that you are on the wrong stairs, especially for the upperclassmen who have been in the building already and have seen the normal flow of students. It’s definitely something that we all want to go away.”

Ava Toner won’t miss the plexiglass in classrooms and the lunchroom. “Nobody enjoys talking to someone through a screen,” she said. “It can be super hard to hear people talking and the glare makes it hard to keep a conversation going. I just want us to be able to go back face to face.”

As much as students disliked many of the new implementations this year, there are some changes they would like to make permanent. Many grew to enjoy the mask breaks twice a day, which gave them a chance to get outside. As the weather warmed up, the mask breaks became like a quick recess, a chance to play wall ball or cornhole and stretch your legs.

“Before, we would be stuck in the building all day even when the weather was beautiful,” said McGlame. 

Meehan seconded that, saying she believed the mask breaks helped students stay more focused. “In the morning, just getting some steps in and fresh air has helped me stay awake and alert.” 

Since the doors in the cafeteria have been opened, people also have liked using the courtyard more frequently.

“Eating lunch outside is a lot better than eating in the cafeteria sometimes,” said Hutchins. “The fresh air on a nice day out and being able to step outside of the crowded cafeteria can be really relieving on a stressful day.

grateful for Final(s) break

By Grace Van Duyn, ’22

Staff Writer

As HHS students entered the final stretch of the school year, one of the main topics of conversation was the issue of finals. With so many students and teachers being in and out of school due to quarantine or switching between remote and in-person learning, would the usual end-of-year exams take place? In the past, students would take two exams each morning and get dismissed after, so the last week of school would be half days. Many students liked this plan, especially since they wouldn’t have to come in for some days. Others were stressed by having to take a series of big tests to finish the year.

Recently, the administration decided to eliminate traditional final exams this year. Instead, students will follow a full-day class schedule through June 17th and have a half-day on June 18th. That being said, teachers still have the option to give their students some sort of final exam in class if they choose to do so. 

This challenging year was experienced differently by everyone in HHS, and no matter how you were impacted, it was something none of us have seen before. Many students applauded the decision to cancel finals.

“I am glad we are not having finals because I have never liked finals,” said junior Morgan Taylor. “I am so happy to finish this year on a happy and more relaxed note than usual.”

“We all deserve a break after this year,” agreed Ian Sullivan, a senior.

“It’s less stress defininitely,” added sophomore Connor Mansfield.

Sophomore Maeve Sullivan is taking an AP class with a late exam this year, so she’s glad she doesn’t have to worry about exams for her other classes. “I feel like I would be too stressed if I had to study for the AP test and take finals too.”

Freshman Ashley Stracco spent the first half of the year fully remote and had a big adjustment  when she returned to in-person classes. She also was grateful that finals were cancelled.

“When I came back it was like I had transferred schools for some of my classes,” she said. “If we had finals, I was going to have to learn the entire school year for all of my classes in a month. That would have been awful.”

McKenzie Bottomley, a junior, had been looking forward to a week of half days to end the school year. Since she had taken several AP classes, she wasn’t going to have many finals.

“I am happy that we don’t have finals this year. But, I am kind of bummed that we don’t get the finals schedule and have classes until the official last day,” she said.

Personally, I agree with the decision to cancel finals since students had such unpredictable and uneven learning experiences this year. I am happy that we can all get a more relaxing end to this year than we experienced at the beginning. I think that even though we won’t be studying for finals this year, there is no doubt that we have all learned so much about ourselves, our classmates, our teachers, our school, and our community this year.  

Featured image: https://explorehealthcareers.org/which-health-care-education-tests-do-you-need-to-take/

Students react to state’s mask rule changes

By Paulina Leskow, ’24

Staff Writer

After about a year of COVID restrictions, Governor Charlie Baker announced that the mask mandate and other emergency rules would be lifted on May 29th. These rules included limits on the number of people in stores or restaurants, and the requirement that masks be worn indoors and out. Schools, hospitals, doctor offices and train stations must keep the mask rule, but many indoor businesses including Target and Walmart will no longer require them. Massachusetts schools dropped the mask rule outdoors and during sports just a couple of weeks ago. State and federal officials still encourage non-vaccinated people to wear masks, but there is no requirement to show proof of vaccination.

Some HHS students are relieved to take off their masks, while others expressed doubt about the decision. 

“It’s a little more normalcy,” said Connor Mansfield, a sophomore.

“I’m excited about not wearing masks, but there is some hesitancy,” said Olivia Campo, a freshman. Although the lifted rules will bring the community one step closer to normal life, she said, she worries whether COVID-19 has been contained. “I just hope we don’t go back into lockdown.” 

Junior Daniel Leskow also has mixed feelings. Although having no masks would be great, he said, he is not sure if it is the safest option as the virus continues to spread in some areas. 

“I feel like it’s a really big step, it’s a huge jump and I don’t know if the world is ready to remove masks,” he added. “But a lot of people are getting vaccinated so the risk is going down.” 

The world is fighting back the Coronavirus but some wonder if it would be best to keep the restrictions in place for a while longer. This new lifting of masks and other restrictions will change our daily lives. Will it help us return to normal faster? Or will it only give the virus another chance to surge?

Featured image: https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/confused-about-latest-mask-rules-read

The Show goes on for HHS drama

By Caris Mann, ’22

Staff Writer

After an unexpected year that provided many plot twists and turns, HHS Drama is ready to present its newest one-act play: 4 AM. The play by Jonathan Dorf is a “dramedy,” meaning that there are some dramatic and comedic moments throughout the piece with a varied cast of characters. There’s Frankie, the radio DJ, and Jane, the girl writing a letter to a knife company about why their product has failed her. There are two pairs of friends at sleepovers: Anne and Monica and Simon and Hale. The Monster Under the Bed runs into trouble with some Police Officers who storm a sleeping kid’s bedroom. The play also has a kid who witnesses a fire and a teen out for a morning jog. To top it all off, there’s Romeo and Juliet, two teenagers in love with each other but are afraid to make the wrong move. However, this odd group of characters all have one thing in common and that is the fact that they are all awake at the dreaded hour of 4 am. The play provides insight into how different people lead their lives during that last hour of darkness before sunrise and it does so with many comedic and heartfelt moments along the way. 

The play will be entered in the annual Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Drama Fest. This year, with COVID guidelines, the Drama Fest had to be conducted differently. The process began with Zoom auditions and callbacks in January. This was quite different from the in-person auditions of the past. Students had to select a scene or a monologue to read and perform it over Zoom. After the cast list was announced, rehearsals began the following week — once again on Zoom. For a month, rehearsals were conducted via Zoom as it was the safest way to practice. Then, in March, it was announced that rehearsals could be conducted in-person and in the auditorium. This was a huge step forward because now the actors could have a space to work in and be able to interact with each other. However, guidelines were still implemented with actors having to work within their own set boxes on the stage and remain six feet apart. Google forms were also filled out for contact tracing before every rehearsal. In addition, the entire cast was not able to be in the theater together so different groups of actors were brought in at different rehearsals to work on specific scenes. For two months, rehearsals continued in person, with the cast unsure whether the final performance would be in-person or virtual. In the end, Drama Fest officials decided upon virtual performances, and cast members performed separate scenes that were filmed and then edited together. With the hard work of the cast, crew, and HHS Drama Teacher Mr. Fahey, recordings ended on May 12th with the video set to premiere next week.

By far, this has been the craziest year in HHS Drama. But even though this has been a long and unusual process, the end result is something to look forward to. This has been the first production in over a year, which is truly something to celebrate.

“At the beginning of the year, we were all missing the element of performing as a group,” said  Stage Manager Maggie Godin, a senior. “Getting to come in every day and seeing people in the theater again, building sets after school, and rehearsing scenes together has been really great.” 

Mr. Fahey shares the excitement, noting that many school drama programs were unable to perform at all this year. Pulling off 4 AM, though, took a huge commitment from everyone involved. While in typical years the Drama Fest one-act play comes together in about a month, this one took five months.

“We have spent this extra time creatively trying to figure out what to do and hitting roadblocks and trying to adjust,” he said. “We have also spent this time nitpicking every scene which is extremely important in theater. I am excited for the community to see it and I think that those who are involved are excited and believe 4 AM to have been a good experience.” 

However, 4 AM is a bittersweet moment for some in the cast such as senior Elise Falvey because this is her last show. “I’m extremely grateful that we were able to at least put on one show this year, even though it’s being done in a more nontraditional or unconventional way than usual,” she said. “I’ve had so much fun rehearsing and I’m really happy to finish senior year out with such an incredible and touching show.”

Make sure you tune in to watch 4 AM when it streams on Youtube!

My experience with remote school

By Norah Kelley, ’24

Staff Writer

In this unexpected year, sometimes it feels like everything has changed, even the one thing I thought would never change – school. Instead of going back in person for the 2020-2021 school year, my classes were completely online. It was a big adjustment at first, but Virtual Academy has turned out to be a great experience for me. There have been ups and downs, but it all worked out in the end. 

About 60 students were part of Virtual Academy at the high school this year. Some, like me, started from day one, while others went remote or returned to in-person learning at different points in the year. The fully remote program used two online platforms: VHS Learning and Edgenuity. With VHS Learning, you have a teacher and classmates somewhere in the world who you work with in discussions and projects, but everything is asynchronous. You get a schedule of assignments each week and can work anytime you want as long as you meet your deadlines. Edgenuity classes are more individual and self-paced. Lessons are delivered through videos and reinforced through assignments and assessments, some graded by the system and some graded by Virtual Academy teachers. The system estimates the time needed to complete assignments, but if you fall behind one week, you can make it up the next.

Taking some classes on each platform worked really well for me. At the beginning of the year, making sure that all the assignments got done was a little difficult. But as the year went on, I got into my swing and figured out the perfect schedule for me. Each day, I made sure to do all of my classes for at least 50 minutes, with scheduled breaks throughout the day. Balancing screen time with the work I needed to get done was a struggle. I did not prefer one platform over the other, since they were both very different. With Edgenuity, I liked that I could work at my own pace, but I liked that VHS had a teacher and deadlines that kept me on track.  

One challenge for Virtual Academy students was taking AP tests. Since VHS Learning classes started a week later than usual, lining up with our mid-September return to school, the classes ran into AP testing weeks. Luckily for AP students, many assignments were exempted, so there was more time to study. AP students taking Edgenuity classes could take advantage of the flexibility that system provided; if they needed time to study, they took some time “off” from their course and made it up later.

While VHS Learning had a more rigid schedule than Edgenuity, its classes ended much earlier. Our last day for VHS classes was May 19th, giving those students a head start on a well-deserved long summer break. Edgenuity classes will run right through June 17. 

Next year, I’m excited to go back into school, and see everyone again. I have enjoyed my time in Virtual Academy, but going back to school in person will be exciting! I will miss not having as much flexibility in my schedule, and it will be a challenge going into high school for the first time as a sophomore. For me, Virtual Academy was a great decision giving me a great freshman year, but I am hopeful for an even better sophomore year!

class, community come together for Senior prom

By Callia Gilligan, ’22

Staff Writer

The Class of 2021 is finally having a prom! After a Junior prom cancellation last spring, months of hybrid learning and a sometimes-bumpy return to in-person classes, the seniors are capping off their final year at HHS with a long-awaited prom on Saturday, May 15th. 

The event will look a bit different this year, taking place in a tent outside the school, the trees in the courtyard decorated with lights. Advisers Mrs. Mia Gallagher and Mrs. Kathy Gallagher have been working hard with the class officers to preserve the traditions, which will include dinner, dancing and even red carpet photos. Everything will take place outside, and the weather is expected to be beautiful.

That the prom is happening at all is a grand accomplishment in this year of uncertainty. Planners had to navigate frequently changing COVID rules, but pulled it together with tremendous help from the community. That community, according to Mrs. Kathy Gallagher, includes:

  • Class officers Fiona, Shamus, Sean, Nick, Jack and Caroline, “who sold their vision of the night to the classmates”
  • Mrs. Curtis, Mrs. Curley and the Dirty Works Club, who spent “hours getting their hands dirty cleaning and planting the flower beds”
  • Mr. Faria, Mr. Amonte and the engineering students, who have been “integral” in building ramps, a giant decorative wall and more
  • The prom chaperones for the evening:  Mrs. Collins, Mrs. Aborn, Mrs. McHugh, Mrs. Curley, Mrs. Parry, Ms. Doyle, Mrs. Keefe, Ms. Corbett, Mrs. Mann, Officer John, administration and our class advisors
  • School nurse Roz Davis and the HPS health team for conducting several rounds of COVID testing over two weeks to ensure the event could be held safely
  • Parent volunteers Brenda Maver and Daryce Morris, “our resourceful and creative prom decorators”
  • Grill 43 and HHS parent Joe Hiffa, for catering dinner
  • Mr. Steve Ryerson of HPS for capturing the memories of the evening, including on the red carpet
  • The Hanover DPW Facilities and Maintenance Departments, for mowing, weed-wacking, moving tables, and getting everything into place – including the giant wall!
  • The Senior boys who literally picked up that giant wall and the other numerous decorations – “too many to name, but a big shout out to them!”
  • Principal Mr. Paquette “for everything”

Due to the lingering pandemic, there are several regulations that students will have to follow in order to ensure that prom can operate safely. In addition to requiring COVID testing, the event has been limited to just HHS seniors, no dates from other grades or schools. Students must wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking and stay socially distanced during dancing; that means no slow songs this year. Finally, students have been advised not to gather in groups of more than 10 people before or after the dance.

“It’s going to be pretty nice,” said class secretary Sean Dever. “We could really only start planning two to three weeks ago, but I’m happy with how it all came together.”

For Class President Fiona Hutchison, the prom is a much-needed way to bring together a class that lost many of its milestones and was even split in two for half of the year.

“Everyone is starting to get excited and it’s making me so happy,” she said. “It means the world to me. The seniors have something to look forward to and a way to come together as a grade. It’s a great way to reconnect and celebrate our senior year.”

Mrs. Hughes shares her love of lit with students

By Ashley Stracco, ’24

Staff Writer

If you had known Mrs. Hughes as the HMS assistant principal, you might have been surprised to see her in a classroom this year at HHS. But Mrs. Hughes has returned to teaching English, a subject she has loved since her own time in high school.  

As an English teacher to freshmen, sophomores and juniors, Mrs. Hughes teaches many different pieces of literature to her students. Her favorite book to teach is “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, a collection of stories about soldiers in the Vietnam War. She loves how the stories can connect to people in subtle ways and how the author describes how we all live through stories. However, she does not have a favorite book to read herself. She says that would be like choosing a favorite child!

While Mrs. Hughes does not have a favorite book, she does have a favorite TV show and favorite place to travel. She really enjoys the improv comedy show “Whose Line Is It Anyway.” Her favorite place to travel is Poland. She has a 13-year-old son.

Mrs. Hughes wanted to become a teacher after she took an education class at Brandeis University and found it instantly interesting. She loved her foreign language and English classes in high school. She says her teachers were both challenging and fun. 

In a year many students and teachers have found challenging, Mrs. Hughes says her students have had a great impact on her. One of her favorite moments this year was seeing a student who was extremely shy overcome her fear of public speaking and give one of the best student speeches that she has ever seen. Another was coming back to school after being very ill for a few weeks; one of her classes made her a giant card with all of their names and many get-well messages. She still has the card!