Students from the finished the school year with an impressive tally of success at several different competitions. Check out the stats:
- On May 29, students from prevailed on High School Quiz Show, topping Mt. Greylock Regional High School after rising to the top from a field of 70 competitors.
- At the Massachusetts State High School Science and Engineering Fair at MIT, district students took home four individual and three team awards, among them first-prize winner Thomas Grimshaw’s $60,000 scholarship to Northeastern.
- Teams from Hamilton-Wenham shone at 2011 National History Day, as Elizabeth Perrotta and Laura Jennings of took third place in the Group Documentary category for their work on the topic of capital punishment.
The accomplishments came despite such administration headaches as the snow-on-the-roof debacle and the departure, after only 10 months, of the school superintendent.
While every student is not a science fair winner, quality education is no accident and you may wonder what produces the mojo that makes Hamilton-Wenham stand out. There are a few consistencies.
Strong parental involvement. Education director Katherine Scheidler said of the two towns; “Parents here offer tremendous support of schools. They’re active in parent groups, in our local education foundation, and in the day-to-day workings of the schools at all grade levels."
A culture of achievement. By and large, Hamilton-Wenham residents are well-educated, and so, by extension, are their children. About 20 percent of parents in each town have a graduate degree or higher. With parents paying close attention to their studies, Scheidler said, “the children blossom, they really do, and that’s the beauty of this symbiotic relationship. It contributes to a culture of achievement.”
A culture of collaboration. Ian McLean, Conor Schmidt and Brian Rodgers won second place and a $500 award from Lincoln Labs at the science fair for “WiFi Interference: The Effects of Various Materials on Signal Strength.” McLean named collaboration as one motivation for him (beyond, for example, getting good grades or earning acclaim), an observation not lost on science teacher Wendy Campbell. Of the trio, she said; “They are like a well-oiled machine...what set their project apart was not necessarily the topic, but the thoroughness with which they researched that topic."
Elbow grease. Explaining the science-fair success, Campbell said, “Our students may not have as much access to university labs and technology companies as students from other towns, but they learn how to do science well here at the Regional.”
Finally, there is the education of the everyday. McLean touched upon it in explaining his interest in science.
“Science has always been something of great interest to me. From the start of science classes in elementary school we learned the scientific method. This was a method in which I saw a very large application. I would see problems in my life from a very young age and consistently use the scientific method to attempt to solve those problems.”