Cardinal Notes

information and reflection about Joseph Case High School

Volume 14, No. 1 *** August 21, 2017 *** 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 under From the Principal's Desk.

Dear Students and Families:

Each morning this summer, I got up around 5 a.m. so that I could have some quiet time to read. I chose one of the most celebrated books – and lengthy tomes – as my summer goal: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, completed in 1880. In the version I am reading, translated from the Russian by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the adaptors describe this novel as “a joyful book.” This is strange given that most of the narrative deals with “greed, lust, squalor, (and) unredeemed suffering.”

What they find joyful is the book’s energy and curiosity.

This sums up my feelings about being an educator at Joseph Case High School. It’s a place of boundless energy, unquenchable curiosity, and unmitigated joy.

We ended out 2016-2017 school year by cancelling final exams, and tapping into the passions of our teachers and students in our quest to continue to build relationships. The bonds that were forged or strengthened in the final school days of June will continue to be built upon when we return to school on the last week of August.

I’ve said it loud and clear for many years: Joseph Case High School is a place that prioritizes relationships. Teachers will take the time to get to know their students in the first days of classes so that the work ahead is collaborative, profound and joyful. All stakeholders need to make a conscious decision to approach this new school year with positivity, embracing the possibilities that our partnership brings each day.

Over the summer, the school was refreshed, new carpet installed throughout the first floor, and long-needed paving completed in the parking lots.

For the third consecutive summer, Advanced Placement teachers in math, science, English and computer science went back to Bridgewater State University through our partnership with Mass Insight Education. Also, for the third year, all students who enroll in AP classes in these disciplines will attend three Saturday morning experiences during the school year, with the chance to take part in a mock exam and receive feedback prior to the actual national assessment in May.

• English: Oct. 14, Jan. 20, April 7

• Math/Computer Science: Oct. 21, Jan. 27, March 2 (FRI)

• Science: Nov. 18, March 17, April 28

AP contracts will be submitted to guidance by the end of September.

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I stumbled on Fredrik Bachman’s A Man Called Ove in a strange way: from my 78-year-old mother. Whenever her book club meets and a new title is revealed, she will call me to see if I have the book. When she suggested this strange book to me in early 2017, I hadn’t heard of it and even found the title silly. But after my mom brought it to my attention, the title kept popping up in other random conversations in my life over the next month. I finally read it in a day during February break and loved it. Yet it wasn’t until early May that I decided on it for a school-wide title: what resonated for me was not the tragic suicidal intentions of the title character, but his ultimate quest to find a sense of purpose, even at his late stage in life. Ove has a lot to do with our mission in Swansea to find engagement, challenge and inspiration no matter if you are entering high school, approaching college, or mid-career as an educator.

Ove also reminded me that I need to always listen to my mom.

As I have published in past years, every Case High teacher again volunteered to read A Man Called Ove over the summer. Please note that Friday, September 22 will be dedicated in every class at the high school to some activity that incorporates or complements some element of Ove.

After four wildly successful years, the school-wide title and cross-curricular follow-up reflects the high school’s dedication to innovation, collaboration and interdisciplinary learning. As your building lead learner, it is thrilling to witness our students experience a novel from seven different perspectives in one day making the journey vibrant and robust. Congratulations to all who make this an authentic, meaningful experience for children.

In a similar manner as I have presented for more than a decade as the high school’s principal, here are some highlighted Joseph Case High School informational items. For new members of the community, these policies are an introduction to the high school experience. For others, these are affirmations of what families and their students can expect at Joseph Case High School. This information will also be published as my first issue of the school’s blog. Any update to information will occur digitally.


The Cardinal Notes continues this school year as the principal’s 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 being 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.

Paper vs. Electronic Mailings

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.

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.

Student Information

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 at any time during the school year, please contact the school immediately.

Opening of School Procedure

The fall term of the 2017-2018 school year begins on Tuesday, August 29. 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.

Student Schedules

The school portal will not be open to teachers, students or families until Monday, August 28. You may use your child’s user name and password from last school year to access information.

Students will have access to a draft paper version of their schedule beginning Thursday, August 24. 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 29. Students in grades 10-12 should pick up a copy of their latest schedule on Tuesday, August 29 between 9:15-9:45 a.m. in the following locations:

sophomores - library

juniors - cafeteria

seniors - in front of gym

Guidance Counselors

Through September 1, this bulleted timeline will be followed for student access to guidance:

· August 24,25, 29: Students may see a counselor on first come, first-served basis for intervals not exceeding 15 minutes. Students who are new to the district and are registering for school will have priority during this three-day period.

· August 29: seniors only 8:30 a.m. until 1:45 p.m.; no appointment necessary.

· August 30 and 31: seniors, juniors and sophomores; see guidance secretary for appointment.

· September 1: freshmen; see guidance secretary for appointment.

Course Drop/Add Protocol

Students may drop/add a course at Joseph Case High School through Friday, September 15. 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 5. Student requests dictated the number of specific sections that are offered in the 2017-2018 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 30. 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.

Student Advisories

Now in its tenth 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

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 Lunch Program

Chartwells School Dining Services will continue school lunch and breakfast for its fourth 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 2017-2018 school year is October 12, 2017. If you have more than one child in the Swansea school system, only one comprehensive application is needed.

Student Handboook

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 2017. 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 Informational Items within the From the Principal’s Desk link.

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.

High School's Attendance Policy

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.

Students Who Are Tardy to School

Students who arrive to their first period class after 7:35 a.m. are considered tardy for school. 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.

Incentives To Be on School On-Time

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.

Senior Privilege

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.

Mandatory Visitor Identification

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.

Student Dismissals

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.

Bullying/Harassment Law

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 or consider using the high school’s hotline number: 508-675-7483.

Opioid Legislation

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 initiate 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 will 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. Results of the screening will not be included in your student’s school record.

More specific information will be provided to you by the school nurse before the screening period commences.

No Smoking on School Grounds

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.

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).

Dress Code

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.

Main Office Hours

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.

Important Fall Release Dates for Faculty and Students

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

September 26: Accreditation Late Start Day (10 a.m.)

October 6: In-Service Day – No School for Students

November 10: In-Service Day – No School for Students

College Fair / Financial Aid Night

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

• College Fair, Joseph Case High School, October 5, 6-8 p.m.

• Financial Aid Night, Somerset-Berkley Regional High School, October 18, 6 p.m.

School Council

The first School Council meeting is scheduled for September 26 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. Charlene Orton, Eleanor Deschenes, Trish LePage and Melissa Soper currently represent Case families.

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.

School Website / Parent-Student Portal

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.

Residency / School Choice

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.

Legal Reminders

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.

Tentative Last Day

The Swansea School Committee established that the tentative last day of school for the 2016-2017 school year is Tuesday, 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.

Joseph Case High Athletics

Athletic Director Andrew Crisafulli maintains an active Athletics link on the left side of the high school’s webpage. This comprehensive link contains most of the information you need regarding fall athletics, starts of fall practices, as well as important documents for the student-athlete. You can also follow all Case High athletics on Twitter @casesports. 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.

Open House

Mark your calendar for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7 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.

As of mid-August, I am 70 percent finished with The Brothers Karamazov. This morning, I came upon a sentence that also reverberated the possibilities of high school: “So do not be like everyone else; even if you are the only one left who is not like that, still do not be like that.”

I hope students and teachers find connections in this building that helps them blossom, find their uniqueness, and, like Ove, a positive sense of purpose in your community.

Here’s to continuing building these relationships. Cheers!

Brian McCann, Principal

Twitter: @josephcasehs @casehighprinc