WHS Guidance News

April 26, 2021

Read on for information about:

  • MCAS Testing
  • Scheduling for Next Year
  • Special Opportunities (including the Watertown Community Foundation internship program and the Race Amity Conference)
  • College Rep Visits in May
  • Financial Aid Resources
  • AP Exams

MCAS Tests

Due to the pandemic, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has modified the MCAS graduation requirements for students in the classes of 2021 and 2022. Students in these classes will not need to take the MCAS in ELA, Math, or Science in order to graduate as long as they have demonstrated competency by passing and earning credit for an equivalent course in high school. For example, a student must take and pass a Physics, Biology, or Chemistry course at WHS in order to demonstrate competency in Science.

Students in the class of 2023 (10th graders) will take the ELA and Math MCAS this year, beginning with the ELA test on Tuesday, May 4 and Wednesday, May 5. The Math MCAS will follow on Wednesday, May 19 and Thursday, May 20. These two tests require that students be in school in order to take the test. If a student is fully remote, they are allowed in the building for MCAS testing. If your student is fully remote and you are concerned about having them in the building, please contact your student's school counselor. The MCAS Science graduation requirement for students in the class of 2023 has been modified as well, meaning 10th graders will not need to take the Science MCAS as long as they demonstrate competency by passing and earning credit for an equivalent course in high school.

Students in the class of 2024 (9th graders) will take the Science, ELA, and Math MCAS as is typical, beginning with the Science test this June (June 8 and June 9). As 10th graders, students will take the MCAS in ELA and Math.

It is important to note that while students in grades 11 and 12 are not required to take the ELA or Math MCAS this year, current juniors and seniors may still take the test this spring to qualify for the Seal of Biliteracy as well as the Adams Scholarship and Koplik Certificate of Mastery. The Adams Scholarship and Koplik Certificate of Mastery offer eligible students a tuition credit to students who enroll in a Massachusetts public university after graduation. Juniors who do not participate this spring will be able to test for scholarships during the retest period in fall 2021.

If 11th graders would like to participate in the MCAS this Spring for the purposes of qualification for the Adams Scholarship and Koplik Certificate of Mastery, they must complete this MCAS Registration Form by Thursday, April 29.

If you have any questions about these changes or wish to speak further about the MCAS requirements for your student, please reach out to your student's school counselor.

Scheduling for Next Year

Most 9th, 10th, and 11th graders have had an opportunity to meet with their school counselor to review their course requests for the next school year. Students can also review their requests by logging into the PowerSchool Portal and clicking on "Class Registrations". Students should expect to be scheduled for the classes listed. As a reminder, there is a one-week add/drop period at the start of the school year. At that point, however, it is more difficult for students to make changes to their schedule, so we encourage students to get their questions answered and make any necessary changes before the end of this school year.

Special Opportunities for Students

Watertown High School students have access to a number of exciting opportunities, including summer programs and community programs. For a full list of special opportunities, including summer programs, please review our Special Opportunities Hub. Three opportunities which we are very excited about are detailed below:

The National Race Amity Conference will be held virtually this year on May 21-23. This three-day event promises to be an exciting opportunity for participants to engage in conversations and presentations with nationally renowned speakers on issues of access, equity, and social justice. A reduced rate for students is available. For more information, visit the conference website.

The Watertown Community Foundation will again be sponsoring the Summer Internship Program for Watertown students. This "build-your-own internship" requires that students work to develop an internship experience that allows them to explore a career or college major they may be interested in. After securing the internship site's approval, students are eligible to apply for a stipend through the WCF program. Students are expected to work for 120 hours over the course of the summer (20 hours/week for 6 weeks). Past internship hosts have included Live Well Watertown, Mass Audubon, WCA-TV, Watertown Business Coalition, private law offices, Watertown Children's Theatre, Watertown Housing Authority, and many more. Interested students should contact Ms. Eaton in Guidance. Parents/guardians who are interested in learning more about hosting an intern can also reach out to Ms. Eaton.

In addition to the summer internship program, the Watertown Community Foundation is seeking two current 10th or 11th-grade students to join their Board. In this position, students will participate in a range of activities, but will not be voting board members. Each intern will receive a $1,000 stipend upon successful completion of the intern positions and each intern will have a board mentor from one of the board committees they join. The position will run from September to June of an academic year (10 months) and will entail a time commitment of 2-4 hours per week on average, though this contribution will likely vary considerably depending on the board's activities and students’ interests. Activities will include:

  • Attending monthly board meetings
  • Serving on the Grant-making and Events committees (two active committees)
  • Assisting the WHS administrator with the WCF summer intern program

Interested students should submit the following items to Ms. Eaton in Guidance by June 1, 2021:

  • A brief, one-page essay explaining why they want this position and how they see themselves contributing to the board
  • A letter of recommendation from a teacher or community member (not a family member)
  • A resume or list of previous activities (paid and unpaid)
  • Acknowledgment of the number of hours (or an average number of hours) they expect to contribute)
  • Applications will be due on June 1

Virtual College Rep Visits

We are excited to be able to offer additional Virtual College Rep Visits this Spring! These visits are held on Zoom during the school day (students can get permission from teachers to attend). These visits, for WHS students only, are often run by the admissions officer for our area and allow for excellent, individualized conversation as well as an opportunity for students to get all of their questions answered. Students must register in advance on Naviance. The current list of scheduled visits is below, with more schools being added regularly:

University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth - Friday, April 30, 12:30 PM

University of Rhode Island - Friday, April 30, 12:30 PM

Lasell University - Friday, April 30, 1:15 PM

Stony Brook University, State University of New York - Friday, April 30, 1:15 PM

Simmons University - Friday, May 7, 12:30 PM

University of Tennessee, Knoxville - Friday, May 7, 12:30 PM

Saint Joseph's College of Maine - Friday, May 7, 1:15 PM

Financial Aid Resources

Students and families who are evaluating financial aid packages and making decisions about paying for post-secondary options may find these resources from the Massachusetts Educational Finance Authority (MEFA) helpful:

  • After the College Acceptance webinars, which provide an explanation of financial aid offers, explain how to calculate the balance due at each college, and suggest options to pay for college costs.
  • College Cost Calculator, which allows students to compare their financial aid offers and calculate the net cost of each school
  • Loan Payment Calculator, which shows details of different student loan options, including monthly payment amounts and total loan cost.

Additional information about the FAFSA and events to assist with completing the FAFSA can be found here.

AP Exams

During the month of May and the first week of June, students will be taking the AP exams at Watertown High School. AP exams offer students the opportunity to earn college credit based on their exam scores. Each college and university has different requirements, so students are encouraged to review school-specific policies here. These exams can be an excellent way for students to test out of an introductory level course in college or save on tuition.

All exams will be administered in person at WHS unless a student has opted to remain remote for the remainder of the school year. Those students will take the test digitally from home. It is important for students and families to review the AP exam terms and conditions for information about digital requirements for online tests as well as requirements for in-person testing. Students are responsible for bringing pencils, pens, and calculators on exam day and must arrive at the exam location 30 minutes prior to the start of the exams. For 8:00 AM exams, students should report to WHS no later than 7:30 AM. For 12:00 PM exams, students should report to WHS no later than 11:30 AM. Most exams will be held in the high school library.

Students should contact Ms. Eaton in Guidance or their AP teacher with any questions.

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