Riding into that summer sun. Townies, we’re taking a little break for the summer months, but we’re always accepting story submissions. If you’ve got a moment this summer, make sure to write and share your story so we can start sharing when August comes around!
Finally, our last survey. We asked students what they thought of TOWN mag, and we won’t lie, we LOVED the responses. We think we'll keep on doing what we're doing. Are you an alumni and interested in inspiring WHS students? Share your story today. #townmag #whs
We came up with a list of 5 classes that we think would be beneficial for all students to take in high school. Many of these classes are offered at universities throughout the country, but what if all students were exposed to them in high school? We focused on classes that would help broaden the mind, benefit a community, and give students a upper hand when it comes to the world outside of school.
Philosophy teaches you to think, question, and wonder about this complex world. It invites conversation, debate, and serious questioning of our perception of reality and morals. It also allows students to learn humility and vulnerability. Just how big and important are we? What is justice? What is truth? What is virtue?
In Italy, history and theories of philosophy are taught throughout Italian high schools. The result is a culture that allows it’s people to really engage in their feelings without being ashamed. They are not alone in their quest for truth; many countries throughout the world make teaching philosophy a priority.
Teaching philosophy to our students could lead to a more empathetic and understanding community. It would give students a tool to use for better self-awareness, which can result in better decision-making and a happier society. Let’s give our students the opportunity to learn about deeper thought and understanding, something that would make Plato and Socrates proud.
2. Personal Finance
Personal finance classes should be mandatory for all students. Great money habits are critical, especially right now. The reality of student loans, taxes, credit cards, and credit score can really become overwhelming if you don’t understand the system. Additionally, it would be great to teach high school students to have simple saving skills. We can expose some financial secrets that Wall Street bankers don’t want you to know, and it would allow students to get ahead of the game to understand the big picture. Although high school students may not be thinking that far in the future just yet, having access to that knowledge is critical when big decisions on personal finance do come up.
3. Culture and Religion
Understanding, appreciating and respecting each other’s thoughts and beliefs teaches empathy and tolerance, which is vital for a growing and diverse community. There are many different beliefs systems and cultures throughout the world, and it would be beneficial for high school students to gain more exposure to each. Though some of this is covered in world history, it may be more interesting and beneficial to learn about current cultural events and religious traditions in this global society to give students a more solid outlook on how the world works. To be clear, there is a difference between teaching religion and teaching about religion. Read more here.
4. Logic and Mathematical Thinking
It seems like Logic and Mathematical Thinking would be covered in your conventional algebra class, but surprisingly, it’s not. Logic and Mathematical Thinking covers how to think like a mathematician, versus how to actually do the math. In these studies, only variables are used (no numbers) and it lays a base for a mathematical thinking process. This class could be beneficial in many aspects of a high school student’s life; it would be helpful for students struggling with basic algebra to students preparing for SATs. Read more about logic and mathematical thinking here and here.
5. Environmental Studies/Science
The impact humans have on the environment is very real, and yet we don’t learn about it until we are in college. Creating ecologically literate students would benefit our future and our children’s futures. Environmental education is not only facts and figures about the natural world, it’s a deeper understanding of how dependent we are on nature, and how dependent nature is to us. By exposing students to environmental studies when they are in high school, they could pursue a degree in that field, and eventually could help reduce waste or curb CO2 emissions or change the world! Whether we like it or not, climate change is happening and we need to arm the next generation with the knowledge to help combat it. Read more about AP Environmental Science here.
We also asked Juniors at WHS what classes they would like to see added to their curriculum. The results somewhat crossed paths with ours; some students said they wanted to see environmental studies and personal finance classes. The most popular class they wanted to see in the cirriculum: Cooking.
What classes would you like to see taught and why? We’d love to hear from you!
We had a little fun asking Juniors at Watertown High School about life in Watertown. The results were pretty hilarious to read and brought us back to our high school days. Some were really positive responses, but a lot were negative outlooks on Watertown (we asked students to make a hashtag for Watertown and one response was #dontcomeheretohavefun).
Of course, the negative responses make us question how the town and community can step up it's game. We are all for adding a skate park (one request from the survey), which has been something townie teenagers have dreamed of for years. We guess the town budget would have to pass first before we think the town will get a skate park, but hey, a townie can dream. On a serious note, we think that more things for teenage townies to do would really be a benefit the community overall and we're all for supporting these type of community initiatives.
The responses really brought us back to the days when we used to say, “I can’t wait to get out of this town.” Now that we are out.. well.. we love going back.
We asked students about the crazy, scary, amazing Real World. They told us about their dream jobs and if they are ready for world outside of the classroom. We’re excited to report students feel very ready for the Real World and have high hopes and dreams!
We asked students about money and their understanding of loans, interest, and finances. We won’t lie, these results weren’t exactly straight A’s. We found that many students feel confused or unconfident when it comes to finances. We’re now wondering how the community can help make information about money, finances, and loans more accessible and understandable to all students so that they can make solid financial decisions. Let's get to 100% of students who understand loans, interest, and feel confident in their finances.
In January of 2017, Juniors at WHS took a survey from TOWN Mag in their SSP class. Our goal was to get a picture of who students are, what they want to be, and where they are going. The answers we received were positive and inspiring. We can tell from their interests they are a diverse set of students, but many share the same hopes and dreams for a bright future. They are a confident, determined group of students and we are excited that they’ll soon join us in being WHS alumni.
We think diversity can serve a community and allow it to be more prosperous, interesting and empathetic. Also, who wouldn't want ten delicious pizza shops to choose from? At some point in time, our ancestry leads us back to immigration (for most of us in the US). Ancestry is one's family or ethnic descent (the evolutionary or genetic line of descent of an animal or plant). A few weeks ago we asked Juniors at Watertown High School about their ancestry and ethnicities. We were curious to hear about the diverse set of students that walked the halls and the families that have helped shape our community.
We asked how many generations of family have lived in Watertown. Exactly 50% of students surveyed said they are second or third generation living in town. The chart to the right represents our findings. We also asked students about their ancestry and an overwhelming amount of students come from Italy, Ireland, and Albania. Also, around 33% of students reported having multiple ethnicities. Now we are wondering, are you a WHS alumni and where do you come from?
Matt Frappier, 2001, New York, New York
What are you up to? I work as a Vice President in charge of Earned Media at Edelman, a global PR firm based in New York City. To break it down, I work with consumer brands that we interact with every day (think Dove, AXE, Porsche, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HEINEKEN, the list goes on on and on...) and develop strategies to generate coverage in the news.
How'd you get here? It's been a long road getting here! After high school I entered Iona College as a journalism major. I was going to change the world writing stories for the New York Times.. until I took a copy editing class that nearly killed me. My academic advisor suggested I switch my major to Public Relations and the rest was history. Given that my college was so close to NYC I was able to intern throughout my last year in school and kickstart my career. After graduation I looked high and low for jobs LITERALLY pounding the pavement all summer going on interview after interview until something finally came up. Sadly, what I thought would be my dream job wound up with me being laid off. So, I regrouped moved back home and figured everything out.
Little did I know that six weeks later I would get an offer that would literally change my life and actually get me on the right path. Since that fateful day in April 2006 I have done anything you can possibly imagine - plan hotel openings on New Year's Eve in Las Vegas, handle programs on behalf of people like Arianna Huffington and even take celebrities to the secret 103rd floor of the Empire State Building! I am thankful for everything I have done and where my career is headed.
What are your goals? I want to continue to evolve and grow in my career. Even though I have been doing this for over a decade now the industry is changing and to stay relevant I need to continue to grow with it.
Advice for WHS Students? NEVER GIVE UP. After I got laid off I was so disappointed and depressed, but after a couple days I got myself up and started interviewing for jobs. If I had never done that I doubt that I would be anywhere near as successful as I am today.
What do you feel grateful for today? I am grateful for everything I have achieved, it's been a long, crazy ride and I am thankful for everything that has been and that will be.
We've received responses from Saudi Arabia to South Africa to Australia. Have you let us know where you are? Take our quick survey now and let us know where you are at! Where In The World Are WHS Alumni?
Ellie Miske, 2011, Washington, D.C.
What are you up to? I'm currently in my second year of law school at University of Connecticut Law School. I'm participating in the "Semester in D.C." program. In this program, I'm working on the Judiciary Committee portfolio for Senator Blumenthal. The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over federal judges and other issues regarding the federal courts. For example, handling the Attorney General appointee (Jeff Sessions) hearings, as well as the upcoming hearings for the Supreme Court nomination. I also do a variety of other projects (many of which are regarding current events).
How'd you get here? After graduating from WHS, I went to University of Massachusetts Amherst, where I double majored in Political Science and Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies. I graduated a semester early and interned in the Northwestern District Attorney. I started law school the following fall.
While in undergrad, I was involved in student government and campus activism. I was working on women's issues such as combatting campus sexual assault and domestic violence. I also worked at our women's center as a rape crisis counselor.
I became interested in law while working on these initiatives. I worked closely with our Title IX Coordinator and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. Both of these women had law degrees even though they weren't practicing lawyers. One of my favorite professors at the time also had a law degree. I started talking in depth to these mentors about a law degree and realized how flexible it was. I realized with scholarships (and especially UConn's in-state tuition) this could be an option for me.
What are your goals? I want to work in a position where I am making a difference. I'd love to work in government, public policy, or at a non-profit. I am also interested in labor law and will be working at AFSCME's International headquarters in Washington, D.C. this upcoming summer.
Advice for WHS Students? Don't be afraid to ask to grab lunch or a coffee with people who have jobs that you find interesting. Getting to know people helps you learn what your options are and then when opportunities come up in the future, they'll already have you in mind. "Networking" is a buzz word, but it is also a really helpful skill and the earlier you master it, the more opportunities you will have.
What do you feel grateful for today? I feel grateful that I have been able to continue my education and have had guidance from people who went out of their way to support me. Which is exactly why I want to "pay it forward" and reach out to help any students at WHS who wants to learn more about my career path.
Two weeks ago Juniors at Watertown High School were introduced to TOWN Mag in their SSP classes. Students read TOWN stories and took the time to answer survey questions. We’re excited about the feedback we received and think it will be helpful for not only TOWN Mag but WHS and the community in general. It’s important to us that we understand the thoughts and aspirations of current WHS students and not make assumptions. Thank you future alumni. Also, thank you to Michelle Baim and Nicole Lewis for allowing us this opportunity!
We asked if students had any comments or questions about TOWN Mag and this was one of the questions that stood out to us. We'd love to answer it.
“Why did you care enough to make this? It seems strange for random adults to care about some angsty teenagers.”
We care because even though we are random adults, we were once angsty teenagers. Except we didn't have a resource to tell us what was out there in the world after WHS, we didn't have a variety of role models who stuck around town and we truly didn't have a clue what we were getting ourselves into. We've seen graduates live life to the fullest, pursue careers that we would never have been exposed to at WHS, live around the world, and follow their dreams. But we've also seen graduates spend a ton of money transferring schools, change majors and take extra classes, fall down and not get back up, become unemployed after receiving a very expensive degree, or go into extreme debt. We realized that if we had heard any of these stories while we were in high school we may have made different decisions or we may have been more motivated and inspired. These stories aren’t shared to younger generations and we decided they needed to be. As a community we need to learn from each other.
We sat in those same seats staring out the same windows while the teacher spoke in the front of the classroom, having no idea what was about to come next.
Colleen Murphy, Class of 2009, WTN -> BOS -> FLO -> SF -> CLT
What are you up to? I recently made a dramatic change in my life and moved from San Francisco, California to Charlotte, North Carolina (I’m always down for an adventure) so that I could kick it with one of my favorite humans and my high-school sweetheart, Chad. After 5 years of being apart, we reconnected via e-mail. Soon enough, Chad flew out to visit SF last November and we’ve been back together since.
When it comes to my career, I feel like I have a ton going on right now. I’m the lead creative on the marketing team for a tech company in San Francisco. My employer allowed me to work remotely from North Carolina. Since I work from home, a lot of my day is spent on the computer designing, meeting via Skype, or e-mailing. Working from home is a love/hate relationship; it can be so lonely that I talk to my plants but it also allows me to have a flexible schedule and to travel more often.
In addition to my full-time job, I run TOWN Mag. I started working on TOWN in January of 2016 but it’s been an idea long before that. I had been sitting on the idea since college and with the support from some creative Watertown friends, I started doing the work. I love being able to combine art, design, technology, and social impact. I want to give back to my roots and include everyone in the conversation; everyone’s story truly does matter.
I’m also teaching graphic design and photography to amazing high schools students at Behailu Academy here in North Carolina. My main goal is to use my creativity to make positive change and inspire others. I’ve always been interested in social change and activism, and now more than ever I’m determined to create community, teach empathy, and use my skills to shed light on certain causes, whether it be through photography or graphic design.
How'd you get here? It’s a long story. I am so lucky, I feel as though I’ve lived a lifetime in my short 25 years on earth.
In 2014, I graduated from Northeastern University in Boston, MA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design and a minor in photography. My overall university experience was eye-opening, expensive, interesting, inspiring, and nomadic. Northeastern has a program called COOP and my career experience bleeds into my college experience. Throughout the past 5 years, I’ve lived in 4 different cities, 2 different countries, I’ve worked for 4+ companies, with so many different job titles. I worked for Reebok as a photography and graphic design intern. I worked in Florence, Italy working as a European tour guide/intern for a travel company. I nannied, freelanced, and worked at a daycare. I pedicabbed my way through senior year, giving rides to people in and out of Fenway during Red Sox games.
After graduation, I applied for 150 jobs in San Francisco, my next destination. All rejected. I decided to move to SF anyway. I nannied until I landed a design job at a start-up electric bike company. Pretty soon I was riding around San Francisco photographing an electric bike. Then, all of a sudden - bam! The love of my young Watertown life shows up at my door in San Francisco after 5 years of being apart. My philosophies and values started to shift. Fast forward a year later and here I am, living under the Mason Dixon line, learning to love, with my career fully in-tact, figuring out what is coming next.
I think these past couple of years I’ve felt the most confused and rejected. It has been a crazy ride. There have been such high moments like launching TOWN, or learning to ski in Lake Tahoe, or riding an electric bike down the Las Vegas strip. I’ve met amazing people from all over the world; from Kazakstan to Colorado to Florence (shout out to all of the inspiring friends I’ve met). But I’d also be lying if I said that it’s all roses and rainbows all the time. There are low moments too, like feeling completely alone on a snowy Boston night, or having coworkers who are complete bullies, or having a crazy roommate constantly threatening you with lawsuits. Would I trade it? No way. This is what makes life so fantastic and interesting. I’m always learning so much about myself and the world and I’m extremely lucky to have these opportunities, even the "low" moments (I've been really lucky and haven't had "lows" like some people have).
Throughout it all, Watertown has been my roots and support system. My parents have helped me financially and emotionally, and for that I am grateful and privileged. My friends from home remain as important to me as they did 10 years ago and although we have followed extremely different paths, we still know we're townies at heart.
What are your goals? I want to do everything. It’s kind of scary because it’s hard for me to really decide what I really want to do. I’m confused! First and foremost, I’d like to find a city that I really want to live in for longer than 1 year. I am interested in activism and social impact, and I’m thinking about going back to school for education, political science, or art. I also want to be a photographer for the New York Times or National Geographic. I want to hike in every country and I want to live in Japan for at least 3 months. I also have a few business ideas that focus on art, social impact, and international travel. For now, I’m riding the wave. Since I don’t know exactly what I’m destined to do, I’m following my heart and standing up for what I believe in and trusting the universe will show me the way.
Advice for WHS Students? There are no rules or limits in life, only consequences. You can do whatever you want. There are, of course, steps to be taken to get where you want to go, but as long as you have an end goal in sight, for years or decades, you can do it. If you are determined and focused, you can do whatever makes you happy. If you are confused about what makes you happy, be patient, it will come. If you feel like money limits you on doing what makes you happy - don’t let it. Save your money for your goals and only buy things that you need. If you feel like nothing really matters, you are kind of right. We truly are just floating in space. But a great teacher and friend of mine once said, “Nothing really matters. But why not make it matter?”
If you could have a superpower just for today, what would it be? TO FLY.
2016 was an amazing year for TOWN Mag and we couldn't have done it without you. We are excited for a successful 2017 and we hope you are too. Thank you for a great 2016!
Have you shared your story with us this past year? We have great news! Juniors at Watertown High School will be reading your stories in class on January, 25 2017. We are excited to finally share these stories with current students. We'd love to give you the opportunity to further your impact. First, you can submit your contact information to share with students. Second, if necessary, you can update your story. Thanks again for taking the time to write and submit your fantastic stories!
Students will have a ton of questions after reading your story. Submit your contact information so that students can e-mail or call you with questions about your story.
Time has gone by since you shared your story with TOWN and there may be parts you'd like to update. Update your story before January 25, 2017 and we will make changes for you.
Elizabeth Mendes, 2013, Evansville, IN
How'd you get here? Applied to college right out of high school and ended up choosing to go to the University of Evansville.
What are your goals? I want to eventually go to graduate school and get my PHD in Animal Physiology.
Advice for WHS Students? Don't give up. It doesn't get easier when you graduate and go to college and it probably never will, but the wisdom and experience you gain through the work you put into your future will pay off.
What do you lie about? I try not to lie.