Cardinal Notes

information and reflection about Joseph Case High School

Volume 15, No. 1 *** SUMMER EDITION

The following is a digital version of the August Parent and Family Newsletter mailed to your home. The digital version does not include Student Information Form, Emergency Notification Information, Handbook Acknowledgement, Release of Student Information, and School Lunch Program info. These forms can be found at Choose the high school's website and look under School Announcements.

Dear Case students and families:

In preparing for a presentation at the National Principals Conference in Chicago this past July, one of my principal friends posed a question to me that began with the question “WHAT IF….?”

These two words have followed me, even haunted me for the remainder of the summer.

WHAT IF has many connotations: Change. Innovation. Growth mindset. Disrupting the status quo.

  • What if a traditional high school was more open to doing things differently?
  • What if students had more voice in the school? What would happen if there was more student agency?
  • What if we asked students what they needed to learn more about? What if we asked professionals in the work force what skills they are looking for in their workforce? What if we looked at all our students as future employers rather than employees?
  • What if teachers were given the autonomy to design and implement change? Joseph Case High School is already moving in this direction: our spring FedEx Day for teacher innovation became the spine of this year’s School Improvement Plan with many teacher-driven goals to make our school a better place for all stakeholders.
  • WHAT IF allows us to dream and empower us to be actionable. I would like the 2018-2019 school year to be inspired by this question.

As part of being one of the NASSP Digital Principals of the Year, I was asked to write a blog for the beginning of the school year that was published nationally last week. The article celebrated Joseph Case High School’s commitment to relationship-building with all stakeholders and recognizes that it needs to happen right from the first moments of school. I would like to share with you my tribute to building strong bonds between and among students and adults:

It’s taken me nearly 15 years to get the opening of school “right.”

And in all of the summer planning I did for more than a decade: the refreshing of the building, the supplies ordering, the school’s master schedule, I forgot the most important stakeholder of all: the children.

It wasn’t until I was engaged in a summer Twitter chat a few summer’s back that Craig Vroom, an Ohio middle school principal, introduced me to the #1st3days.

The philosophy of #1st3days has a laser focus on relationship-building and brands from the opening bell that people are the heart of this high school.

Starts with the Opening Moments of School

Freshmen arrive at Joseph Case High School before any of their peers on the first day and are immediately welcomed by all faculty in the auditorium who flank the aisles clapping and cheering as the eager students enter. Immediately, freshmen are placed in their advisories: small learning communities that will meet regularly with the same teacher over the four-year journey. They are introduced how to read a rotating schedule, given a personalized tour of the building, and shown how to access their locker.

Mid-morning, students return for their first formal class meeting to review some highlights from the student handbook, then begin an abbreviated Day 1 schedule as the rest of the school joins us for a 10 a.m. start.

Momentum Continues Each Period

Teachers are asked to spend the first three days of school building relationships with their students. We provide tons of information on different ice breakers: some allow the teacher to get more info on children; others let the students know a little more about the teacher on a personal level.

There are three important guidelines for the faculty:

1. Desks CANNOT be in rows.

2. Avoid the LIST OF RULES.

3. No direct instruction should occur

Why these three guidelines? Seating must reflect relationship-building rather than a “you versus me” mentality that rows of desks convey. Some teachers may even change up seating period by period depending on the student cohort. Rules and regulations have negative connotations. How would you like to begin a four-year adventure by learning NO…NO…and NO? Finally, teachers have the rest of the year to make sure that students are moving along their curriculum map. The #1st3days might sneak in some learning through relationship-building activities, but it’s a long way from notes, lecture and hours of homework on Day 1.

We even do a “field trip” on Day 1 with all students. Teachers bring classes outside during the extended lunch period to show them alternate routes off the main campus in the event of an evacuation. Why wait until an emergency or a drill to disclose these important egress options?

Digital Twist

Parents, families and the community also are part of the #1st3days. So many of the stakeholders in our building share out this experience on social media, particularly Twitter. Because of our common school hashtag #casepride, we provide families with a glimpse of their child’s initial experience of the school year. Our school takes pictures — LOTS of pictures — of students and teachers. I like to welcome freshmen with a personalized sign on the first day of school as they get off the bus and promote our #1st3days initiative digitally.

The Big Finish

We repeat the #1st3days philosophy on Days 2 and 3 and end our first week with a school-wide pep rally celebrating all the activities that our school offers. We encourage everyone to wear maroon and gold. We cheer on all student activities from current sports teams and our performing arts groups to the Automotive Club and our Chess and Games Club. We showcase students who are part of each activity and bring them to center-court. Students learn when and where each activity next meets. We even give a shout-out to the adult supervisor and point of contact. Week #1 ends on a high note for all!

Think about personalizing and recalibrating your #1st3days of school. When students know their teachers care on Day 1, it makes the remaining 179 days even more valuable, more meaningful, and more awesome.


The Cardinal Notes are the principal’s digital blog to deliver news and updates to the Case faculty and families. Cardinal Notes is published more than 20 times during the school year to provide you with current information, initiatives and celebration of our school’s successes.

Case families receive Cardinal Notes via email with addresses culled from our Aspen X2 database. Our Cardinal Notes continues to provide families with a perspective of public education in our quest for greater transparency.


This newsletter will be the only scheduled document to be mailed traditionally to Case families this year. All other information will be emailed. Information is also posted to the school’s website ( and on Twitter @josephcasehs. This specific mailing is also published in blog format and emailed to families

The high school has a robust presence on Twitter. Follow us @josephcasehs for timely announcements and celebration of students!

If you are unable to access a computer or smart phone for electronic mailings, please contact the high school guidance department at 508-675-0568. Paper mailings can be facilitated, but must be requested annually so that our database remains current. Non-custodial parents should also make annual written requests to the guidance office so that the school remains current on pertinent legal agreements.


Enclosed are required forms for families to update/confirm student contact information. This information is crucial to the school so that we have accurate phone numbers and addresses to reach you, especially in the case of an emergency.

Included in the information packet is parent/family acknowledgement of the student handbook that will be issued to your child on the first days of school. The handbook is available electronically online on the high school’s website. This is also an opportunity to document relatives that your child may be released to in the case of an emergency.

Also, the high school will not release your child to any neighbor, relative or sibling in an emergency without your prior written consent. See details under Student Dismissal Protocol.

If you change addresses or phone numbers during the school year, please contact the school immediately.


The fall term of the 2018-2019 school year begins on Tuesday, August 28. All ninth grade students will report to the school by 7:30 a.m. Freshmen should be at the bus stop at least 10 minutes earlier on the first day of school.

All sophomores, juniors and seniors will report to school by 10 a.m. Students in grades 10-12 who take the bus should be at their bus stops by 9:20 a.m.


The school Aspen X2 portal is open. You may use your child’s user name and password from last school year to access information.

Please note that all schedules remain works-in-progress until the opening of school. Students should email their guidance counselor with concerns. Please keep in mind that schedules were designed based on student course selection data from this past spring.

Students will have access to a draft paper version of their schedule beginning Thursday, August 23. The high school will be open from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Students can submit their updated, three-page student information packet in return for a draft schedule. Only completed, signed packets will be accepted.

Finalized freshmen schedules will be distributed during orientation on August 28. Students in grades 10-12 should pick up a copy of their latest schedule on Tuesday, August 28 between 9:15-9:45 a.m. in the following locations: sophomores - learning commons juniors - cafeteria seniors - in front of gym


Through August 31, this bulleted timeline will be followed for student access to guidance:

· August 23, 24, 27: Students may see a counselor on first-come, first-served basis for intervals not exceeding 15 minutes. Students new to the district and are registering for school will have priority during this three-day period.

· August 28 seniors only 8:30 a.m. until 1:45 p.m.; no appointment necessary.

· August 29 and 30: seniors, juniors and sophomores; see guidance secretary for appointment.

· August 31: freshmen; see guidance secretary for appointment.


Students may drop/add a course at Joseph Case High School through Friday, September 14. If students begin a new course after the start of school, they are responsible for all work from the beginning of the academic year.

We will not consider dropping any AP course that was requested last spring until Tuesday, September 4. Again, student requests dictated the number of specific sections that are offered in the 2018-2019 school year.

Please keep in mind that one change to a student’s schedule can alter the entire schedule. Students will need the signature of the teacher, department chair and a parent/guardian to initiate the drop/add process.

Level changes will be reviewed beginning October 29. All changes in academic levels will begin the first week of Term II. The final deadline for level changes is November 14. Guidance may consider level changes at the end of the first semester as well in rare cases.

Please note that if a level change does take place at the end of Term I, the student’s transcript will reflect a grade for Term I in that specific course. Extreme situations may necessitate WP (withdraw pass) or WF (withdraw fail) on a student’s transcript if a term is not completed in accordance with these protocols.


Now in its eleventh year, our advisory/personalization program is regularly held during the entire school year under the following four-year philosophy: Grade 9 - orientation, grade 10 - exploration, grade 11 - preparation, and grade 12 - application. Freshmen will have their first advisory experience on the opening day of school. One of the tenets of the program is for your child to have the same building professional over a four-year period to guide your student’s Case High experience. The advisory is one venue the high school uses to roll out information to students in small groups and using the time to strengthen digital citizenship and other soft skills.


Chartwells School Dining Services will continue school lunch and breakfast for its sixth year in Swansea. A letter of introduction and free/reduced lunch applications are included in this newsletter. The cost of student school lunch is still $2.85. Gail Oliveira is our Chartwells liaison. Specific questions can be forwarded to her at 508-646-4401.

Free and reduced lunch applications are also available via the school’s website: Click under Departments for school lunch information. Monthly menus are online as well.

Both the main office and guidance have free/reduced lunch applications for your convenience. The last day to carry over the prior school year’s eligibility for the 2018-2019 school year is October 11, 2018. If you have more than one child in the Swansea school system, only one comprehensive application is needed.


The Joseph Case High School Student Agenda Book is disseminated to each student on or about the first day of school. Each agenda book contains the Joseph Case High School Student Handbook approved by the school committee in the spring of 2018. Students sign for these books documenting receipt of a handbook.

Parents have additional access to this handbook via the high school’s website on www.swansea Check For Parents and Students tab.

Important information will be reviewed with all students during opening of school assemblies for each class. It is strongly suggested that parents and families read through the handbook together. The handbook contains all rules, regulations and requirements regarding students at Joseph Case High School.

Graduation requirements are included. Incoming freshmen must understand that credits must be earned before officially moving to the next grade level.

A parent or guardian must return the student information form that documents acknowledgement of all policies in the student handbook, including the Computer/Internet Use application.


Massachusetts state law (M.G.L. Chapter 76, sections 1 and 2) requires regular attendance at school. Any student who has accumulated seven absences in a six-month period is subject to action by the school. This includes disciplinary or legal action, parent conferences with the administration, guidance counselor, school nurse, and/or the supervisor of attendance. Swansea Public Schools identifies this six-month period as the first day of school through Term II, and the first day of Term III through the last day of school. Joseph Case High School will allow up to six unexcused absences each semester with a loss of academic credit in the specific term when the seventh unexcused absence occurs.


First period begins at 7:35 a.m. Students are allowed only four (4) tardies to school each semester. Detention is assigned on the fifth unexcused tardy, with additional consequences resulting on each subsequent tardy. The high school’s administration continues to be committed to aggressive enforcement of tardiness and truancy. Excessive tardiness may result in court intervention, loss of high school parking privileges, or appropriate disciplinary action by the high school, including Saturday School.


Any student who comes to school tardy after Period 1 and fails to check in at the office will be considered absent for that day. All students must check in at the office if they come into school after Period 1. If a student is late more than five (5) minutes in any class, it will be considered a class absence. The tardy student can do the class work or make up the worked missed. If work is made up the student does not receive a “0” for the day. On the 5th – 7th unexcused tardy the student will receive an office detention. On the 8th and 9th unexcused tardy the student’s parents/guardians will be notified and the penalty will be Saturday School. A tenth unexcused tardy will result in one (1) day of in-school suspension. This policy pertains to each semester.


In an attempt to alleviate traffic congestion at the start and conclusion of each school day, all seniors who are scheduled for directed study in either time slot one or seven on any given school day have the option of arriving late or leaving early. Seniors will not be penalized for any tardy to school before 8:20 a.m. on a day when they have study time slot one. Students who accrue ten unexcused (10) tardies in a semester or receive a suspension from school may have this privilege revoked for the remainder of the semester. Seniors must be academically eligible in order to have Senior Privilege. Parents or guardians will be required to sign a Senior Privilege permission form indicating an understanding and acceptance of the aforementioned privilege.


Joseph Case High School continues to utilize the software, School Gate Guardian, to document all visitors to the high school. Any visitor to the high school will have to present formal identification, such as a driver’s license, to process a visitor’s pass.


Parents and families are reminded of the school policy that is part of your child’s handbook regarding dismissals of students by phone. The policy states, “Students should not be dismissed by phone except in cases of extreme emergency.”

Student dismissals are not excused unless documentation is provided to the school within the parameters established in the student handbook. As well, parents and families must be the guardians of defining an emergency situation. Dismissing a child from school in order to go for lunch is not an emergency.

If a child is dismissed, he or she should only return to school with appropriate medical or legal documentation explaining the absence.

By having the high school work together with families, we can be proactive in avoiding accidents or injury that may result from unnecessary travel to and from school within the school day.

All dismissals will be in writing. You must present valid identification to pick up a student at school.

Since the school is legally responsible for the safety of children during the school day, each Joseph Case High School student, parent and guardian will observe the following procedures to validate requests for early dismissal:

Dismissal by Parent Note


All Joseph Case High students – regardless of age – wishing to be dismissed from school must have a note from a parent or legal guardian stating the reason for dismissal, the time of dismissal, and phone number where a parent or guardian may be reached. The high school administration recognizes its obligation to keep parents and families informed as to students’ attendance, academic progress, and disciplinary status. All dismissal requests should be presented in the main office prior to 7:45 a.m. on the day of dismissal.

Office Staff will:

• verify the dismissal request by contacting the parent or guardian of record.

• inform the principal or assistant principal if the request is not validated.

• document the dismissal for attendance accountability.

Dismissal by Walk-in


Children of estranged parents will be released only upon the request of the parent or guardian whom the court holds directly responsible for the child and who is the parent or guardian listed on the school record.

Office Staff will:

• attain written documentation of the dismissal for school’s accountability.

• verify the identity of the individual making the request.

• check the student’s parent/guardian contact record.

• inform the principal or assistant principal if the request cannot be validated.

• inform the student (only after verification or administrator approval) of the dismissal.


In accordance with the legislation, “An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools - Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010,” the administration and faculty of Swansea Public Schools will continue its anti-bullying / harassment prevention and intervention plan. The administration and faculty shall respond promptly and consistently to such discrimination and/or harassment when they have knowledge of its occurrence.

The students of Swansea Public Schools shall be provided with a safe, nurturing educational environment and will not be denied the “advantages and privileges” of a safe school. The goal of our anti-bullying / harassment plan is to effectively alter the culture and climate in our schools as well as change the attitudes of the adults and students thereby making bullying behaviors socially unacceptable. Please contact Assistant Principal Chris Costa if you have bullying or harassment concerns: 508-675-7483.


On March 14, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed opioid legislation that included a mandate to screen one grade in each Massachusetts middle and high school. Subsequently, Joseph Case High School will continue a second year of a screening program in Grade 10 related to the use of alcohol, marijuana and other substances. The goal of this program is to let the students know that we are available to reinforce healthy decisions and to assist them in obtaining support if needed for substance use related problems.

Twenty-eight percent of teenagers reported in a national survey that drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are the most important issues they are facing. Nearly nine out of ten students also reported that their classmates use drugs, drink and smoke during the school day. Recent research has also shown our brains are not fully developed during adolescence and substance use in the early years substantially alters brain functioning for a lifetime.

The Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program screening process will be incorporated into our annual state mandated screening program. This year we continue to screen all tenth graders. All screenings will be conducted confidentially by our school nurse in private one-on-one sessions. The nurse will utilize the CRAFFT II screening tool, the most commonly used substance use screening tool for adolescents in Massachusetts.

Students who are not using substances will have their healthy choices reinforced by the screener. The screener will provide brief feedback to any student who reports using substances, or who is at risk for future substance use. If needed, we will refer students to our counseling staff for further evaluation. This program focuses on harm prevention and does not generate disciplinary action. Screening results are not included in your student’s school record.


A reminder that in accordance with state and federal laws, there is no smoking at any time on school grounds. This includes athletic and extra-curricular events. Mr. Costa will review this policy with all Case students at the beginning of the year and will define the school’s boundaries. Vaping and electronic smoking devices are included.

General Rule: Massachusetts requires that all public schools through high school prohibit smoking within school buildings, on school grounds, and on school buses. MGL c. 71, §§2A, 37H; c. 90, §7B(10). A federal law bans smoking in kindergarten, elementary, secondary educational or library services to children under the age of 18 years when federal funds are used in the school. 20 U.S.C. §6083(a).


The primary responsibility for appropriate dress lies with the student and his/her parents or guardians. However, in the interest of maintaining the required school climate essential to meaningful teaching and learning, the principal may ban dress that is inappropriate due to health, safety and/or disruption to the educational process. Student dress should encourage healthy lifestyles and decision-making. Partner with us so that your child is attired for school success, rather than the beach!

Standards of dress for students shall comply with the following guidelines:

1. Attire must not interfere with the educational process or the rights of others to secure an appropriate education. (examples: see-through garments, low-cut blouses, clothing combination which allows an exposed midriff, beach tank tops, shorts or micro mini-skirts with a revealing hemline, strapless tops, spaghetti straps, backless tops, low-cut pants that display the top of the buttocks, exposed underwear)

2. Attire should not be destructive of, or damaging to, any person or property.

(examples: cleats, steel-toed boots, chains)

3. Attire or jewelry with offensive / profane symbols, language or pictures is not to be worn.

(examples: T-shirts with nude caricatures, T-shirts with 4-letter word messages or sexual innuendo)

4. Attire or jewelry with pictures or logos that promote or advertise alcohol, drugs, or tobacco is not to be worn.

(examples: shirts with beer bottle pictures, chains with marijuana medallions)

5. Any clothing or apparel item that a student wears to identify with a particular gang is not to be worn.

(example: red shirts with red bandanas)

6. Headwear is prohibited. Hats should be removed when entering the building and stored in a locker.

(examples: hats, hoods, bandanas, visors)

The administration is authorized to send offending students home to change their clothing if such clothing is determined by the principal or designee to be inappropriate for educational purposes. Only the principal or designee may allow for dress code exceptions.


The main office at Joseph Case High School is open from 7 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. A high school administrator is routinely available until 3:45 p.m. Please call for an appointment if you have an administrative need.


Please mark your calendars with the following fall release time dates for faculty at Joseph Case High School:

Sept. 25: Accreditation Late Start Day (10 a.m.)

Oct. 5: In-Service – No School for Students

Nov. 6: In-Service – No School for Students


As well, mark your calendars for the following informational events:

• College Fair, Somerset Berkley Regional High School, October 4, 6-8 p.m.

• Financial Aid Night, Somerset Berkley Regional High School, October 17, 6:30 p.m.


The first School Council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the main office conference room.

As required by Massachusetts General Law, the School Council is comprised of parents, teachers, administrators, students and community members.

Parent members are a vital part of the council. Trish LePage and Melissa Soper currently represent Case families. We are looking for two Case parents who will represent grades 9 and 10. I will provide more information during my meeting with families before Open House on September 6.

Faculty school council members include Karen Fisher, Christopher Kenyon and Anthony Palladino. The community representative is Janice Partridge. School Council meetings are open to the public


Swansea Public Schools’ website is a resource for school email addresses, district calendars, school schedules, and other up-to-date information. You can also access the high school’s link through this webpage. Check us out at: The parent-student portal for access to student information, schedules, attendance, conduct and grades can be accessed through this website.


If any family moves within the town of Swansea during the school year, the guidance office needs proof of residency. Contact Mrs. Cronin at 508-675-0568 for more information about the required documentation. Swansea is a school choice district that accepts non-Swansea students. Contact the Office of the Superintendent for more information on school choice.


Swansea Public Schools strives to provide a safe, respectful, and supportive learning environment in which all students can thrive and succeed in its schools. Swansea Public Schools prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation and ensures that all students have equal rights of access and equal enjoyment of the opportunities, advantages, privileges and courses of study. Massachusetts General Law, M.G.L. Chapter 119, Sec. 51A, identifies all school officials/employees as mandated reporters who are legally obligated to contact the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) if they suspect the neglect or abuse of a child under the age of eighteen.


The Swansea School Committee established that the tentative last day of school for the 2018-2019 school year is Wednesday, June 12. This does not include any snow day. The school calendar includes five additional snow days that could move the school’s final day up to June 19. Please do not schedule a family summer vacation for next year before June 19. The final week of school is crucial to your child’s school success. Each school day counts towards your student receiving full credit.


Athletic Director Andrew Crisafulli maintains an active Athletics link on the top of the high school’s webpage. This comprehensive link contains most of the information you need regarding fall athletics. All fall athletes must register online before they can participate in pre-season practices. Information on sports registration is available as well on the school’s athletics website. You can also follow all Case High athletics on Twitter @casesports.


Mark your calendar for 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 6 in the auditorium for my annual pre-Open House address to Case families. I am hoping it will be the best and most informative 30 minutes of your week as I share with you my joy and passion for the possibilities at Joseph Case High School.


Traveling to the airport via train when leaving Chicago, my wife and I happened upon a college billboard that read:

Come here and do well.

Leave here and do good.

WHAT IF we could embrace this at Joseph Case High School?

With a recalibrated sense of purpose and a mission to be awesome every day, I look forward to all of the WHAT IFs of this upcoming school year. Cheers!

Brian McCann, Principal

Twitter: @josephcasehs @casehighprinc