Cardinal Notes

information and reflection about Joseph Case High School

Volume 14, No. 2 *** September 6, 2016

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Opening of School

One hundred and forty young adults entered Joseph Case High School on August 29 as the Class of 2021 were greeted by the entire faculty and staff in the auditorium before going into advisories for the ninth year in a row, commencing their high school experience in small learning communities.

To date, Joseph Case High School’s numbers are up from the beginning of school last year. This year’s student population has 7 more students with the total enrollment to date at 540.

The high school welcomed three new teachers to the building. Kathleen Golden-Bernier (science), Taylor Butts (English), and Greg Bazzinotti (math). Dr. Liz Janson transitioned to the Learning Commons as our new media specialist and instructor of our brand new AP Capstone course. As one of the newest members of our high school leadership team, Dr. Janson is joined by Jeff Hetu, who has taken over as the high school's director of Physical Education and Health.

Although the school year began with traditional class assemblies to review high school expectations and address new policies, week one was anything but commonplace. Relationships were prioritized over regulations. For the third consecutive year, teachers were instructed to get to know students and their passions while easing into instruction. Wednesday through Friday were celebrated on social media via #1st3days. A school-wide pep rally welcomed all students to celebrate fall athletes and artists while informing students of when clubs and activities will begin for the year.

The high school continues to offer a variety of non-traditional programs for the success of its students:

  • A full complement of students (25) who take Virtual High School (VHS), an on-line program for students and staff interested in courses and curricula areas not offered onsite at Joseph Case High School.
  • Saturday School continues for both credit recovery for students and as an alternative to suspension.
  • Year Ten of an Advisory Program for all student members of our school community in four grades.
  • Chartwells Food Service continues in the cafeteria in Year Four. We will continue to offer breakfast throughout the morning after a successful pilot and partnership with Gail Oliveira and her staff last year.


With four school days under our academic belt, today marks our second week of the 2017-2018 academic year. Since the first minutes of school, Joseph Case High School has prioritized relationship building as our initial focus this year. Complementing our mission, we also brand relationship-building on Twitter using the school-wide hashtags #1st3days and #casepride. Our first week of school ended on a robust positive note with an all-school pep rally celebrating fall athletes and artists, as well as extra-curricular opportunities. Here's to looking forward to the joys of this week!
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Celebrating students

I presented at two national conferences this summer in San Antonio and Philadelphia about our local initiative that celebrates students through signs and positively embraces social media. Follow @josephcasehs on Twitter to check out #postivesignThursdays each week. The first week of school allowed me two celebrations!

Open House this Thursday

Our annual traditional Open House will be held this Thursday evening , September 7 at Joseph Case High School. We begin in the auditorium at 6 p.m. for opening remarks by Principal McCann (annually calling it the best 30 minutes of your week!!), followed by a modified Day 1 schedule where you can attend your child's classes and meet our awesome teachers.

You can copy your students' schedule from the Aspen X2 portal. Counselors will be in front of the guidance office at 5:45 p.m., to distribute schedules if necessary.

Open House is perhaps the most important evening of the year. It's not about textbooks, restrictions and rules.

It is an opportunity for you to meet teachers face-to-face, received an understanding of the classes' academic adventures for the year, and begin to build relationships between these two important groups of stakeholders.

I'm hoping it's the best 150 minutes of your week.

Advanced Placement at Joseph Case High School

After an intensive third summer of professional development, Advance Placement (AP) courses have expanded again at Joseph Case High School. We continue to be one of the only high schools in our area to offer AP Computer Science Principles, taught locally by Tommy Whalen. Where many high schools struggle to run one Computer Science AP course, we continue to offer our students two computer science opportunities.

Our partnership with Mass Insight Education allows us to broaden the scope of AP offerings while employing strategies to allow more students to have a college experience while in high school. We will celebrate Year 3 of the expansion of the AP courses on Thursday, September 14 with a morning assembly to celebrate all students who took Advanced Placement risks this year.

Other offerings running this year are AP English Language/Composition, AP English Lit/Composition, AP Calculus, AP Statistics, AP Computer Science, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, and AP Biology. As previously stated, we are also running one section of the new AP Capstone: Seminar course.

Class Rings on sale

Balfour will be in the main lobby during Open House Night from 5:30-6:30 p.m. to take ring orders. After our annual Sophomore Ring Assembly during the first week of school, formal orders can also be placed during all three lunches on September 8 and 11. Sales reps will be available to discuss options and payment plans.

I hope to wear my high school ring to this week's Open House. It is a Balfour product that lasted 40 years since I ordered it in the fall of 1977. By the way, it still fits!

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Drop/Add ends

Please note that the close of school on Friday, September 15 concludes our drop/add period at Joseph Case High school. Level changes may be considered at the end of Term I in all classes, except Advanced Placement.

AP Kickoff next Thursday

The second annual AP Kickoff will take place during Timeslot 2 on Thursday, September 14. Our in-school event will celebrate all students currently taking an Advanced Placement course that is taught in-person by a Case High teacher. Hosted by Mass Insight Education, we will honor students, faculty, and enrollment data increases. I have invited sophomore and junior classes to bear witness as well to this tremendous opportunity for ALL STUDENTS at Joseph Case High School. Thank you for taking an academic risk while being a high school student.
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Friday's Interdisciplinary Day: September 22

After the successes of our 2013 school-wide pilot event focused on Thorton Wilder’s Pulitzer prize-winning 1927 classic The Bridge of San Luis Rey followed by the 2014 study of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, the controversial Zeitoun by Dave Eggars, and last year's dystopian Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, our annual interdisciplinary day is almost here.

For the fifth consecutive year, faculty members at the high school volunteered to read Frederik Bachman's popular A Man Called Ove over the summer in preparation for an interdisciplinary event on September 22. Teachers were challenged to come up with an activity linked to this atypical coming-of-age novel of a grumpy elderly man figuring out his place in the world. Some classes will spend the period focusing on the work; others looked for supplementary or complementary activities to be done in class, ranging from an entire lesson to one question within the given period.

By the end of the school day, Joseph Case High School will provide students with multiple opportunities to participate in and bear witness to a true, varied, collaborative and profound interdisciplinary experience.

We are blessed to offer students a unique and profound interdisciplinary experience based on a community read. I could not do it without the support and trust of our faculty and staff.

Follow us @josephcasehs on Twitter using the common hashtag #CaseOVE.

Student Information Forms

Updated student information forms must be returned to the main office as soon as possible. The forms were mailed to all Case families in August. Blank copies are also available at under From the Principal's Desk. You may also stop by the main office for these crucial forms. Updated Student Information Sheet enable the school to safely contact you in the event of an emergency, inclement weather, or when family contact is needed by a teacher.
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I began the year sharing with students about a recent time that I thought I failed, and how ultimately I turned this initial disappointment into success. I work to model a growth mindset: sometimes the word no is only the beginning of not yet! Hard work and perseverance does pay off!

I will be blogging in the next few weeks about my adventures over the summer: presenting at two national conferences for the first time, learning about profound updates to the NEASC process, and sharing some of the strategies we use at Joseph Case High School with schools across the Commonwealth. I am forever grateful for the constant support of the superintendent of schools and the school committee to embrace opportunities to celebrate the students, faculty and programs in Swansea.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this village.

Here's to the best school year...YET!