School Committee Summary

January 30, 2020

Official Meeting Minutes

Minutes are published when approved and voted on by School Committee. Click here for official Meeting Minutes.

Bridge the Gap Initiative

The Bridge the Gap initiative started in early 2017 when one of Alison O’Hara’s Informational Reading and Writing students expressed an interest in NASCAR, and Mrs. O’Hara told the student that her father was a race car driver at the Norwood Arena in the 1950’s. From this brief exchange, Mrs. O’Hara realized that her students could benefit in so many ways by hearing the fascinating life stories of senior citizens. Working with Walpole’s Council on Aging board member, Richard McCarthy and director, Kerri McManama, students were paired up with seniors, and email interviews were conducted.


This project serves as means of bridging a generation gap, brought history to life for the seventh graders, and gave senior citizens the opportunity to share important life experiences. Moreover, the students benefit from:

  • Engaging in the writing process: brainstorming, drafting, revising and publishing
  • Learn the characteristics of a human-interest story
  • Ask open-ended interview questions via email
  • Make decisions concerning paraphrasing vs. direct quoting
  • Apply research skills such as “keyword” searches, selecting credible sources, citing sources
  • Have access to primary sources (senior citizens) to learn history


The students, staff and senior citizens all enjoyed and greatly benefitted from this experience.

Certificates of Academic Excellence

Walpole High School students Andrea W. and Steve C. have been chosen to receive the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendent’s (M.A.S.S.) Certificates of Excellence. This award is given to high school students who have distinguished themselves in the pursuit of excellence during their high school careers.


Andrea has been a member of Student Council since her freshman year. Andrea now serves as President, but she has been an integral member throughout her four years on the council. She has run many events including the Pink Walk, Freshmen Orientation, and the Special Olympics Unified Bocce tournament. Aside from Student Council, Andrea plays ice hockey, has worked on multiple films for the Film Festival, is a member of National Honor Society and Green Team, as well as working part-time at Comella's in Westwood. She hopes to study public relations, business and communications in college.


Steve is a captain on both the indoor and outdoor track teams. Last June, he was part of a SMR relay team that won a national championship. Steve is a high achieving AP and honors student who continuously goes above and beyond to help his fellow classmates. Besides track, Steve is a member of the Math Team and National Honor Society. He plans to run track and study physics or engineering at Boston College.

Walpole High School Student Report

Scotty C., Walpole High School (WHS) Student Representative to the School Committee, gave a full report on the academic, athletic and extracurricular activities at WHS. Scotty reported that WHS is very busy now, as always as they continue to strive for excellence in all aspects of education and enrichment. Scotty also mentioned that:
  • WHS sports teams are battling with many teams eyeing playoff spots.
  • The boys' basketball team continues to work hard. Their next game is Friday at Braintree.
  • The girls' basketball team record is 8-4 and also play their next game Friday against Braintree at Walpole.
  • The boys' varsity hockey team is 5-4-4 and they play in Braintree on Saturday.
  • The girl's hockey team is also challenging hard and plays Braintree on Saturday at home.
  • The boy’s wrestling team has a winning record thanks to their hours of work and practice.
  • The girl's gymnastics team has faced some very skilled competition and are hoping to get a few wins for the end of the season starting Friday at Braintree.
  • The boys and girls track teams both won their leagues which is the first time in school history that both teams have done so on the same year in winter track.
  • Last Friday, the Best Buddies club went to Norwood Sports Center.
  • The Best Buddies Club collaborated with the Student Council to host a Special Olympics Bocce tournament a few weekends ago, hundreds of people participated. The Bocce competition unifies students with disabilities and their peers to have fun and play Bocce. This event promotes an inclusive school community and is a fun event to watch and play.
  • The Math Team is currently 5/30 schools in Massachusetts.
  • Next Wednesday, the Speech and Debate team is hosting a fundraiser at Conrad’s where 15% of the bill goes to the team.
  • Many student musicians are trying out this weekend for the all-state band, which is one of the hardest musical groups to get into in the entire state. If they get in, the students will play at a music festival in late February.
  • The Green team is running a textile collection in the bins outside of WHS.

Scotty thanked the School Committee and Administration for investing time in every student. We appreciate all that you do for us!


Thank you to Scotty for the insightful reporting as well as staying and participating in the full School Committee Meeting!

School Committee Regular Business Items

The School Committee approved two out-of-state field trips:

  • Grade 2 Boyden School students to the Performing Arts Centre, Woonsocket, RI on June 3, 2020.
  • Walpole High School students involved with the Close-Up to Washington, D.C. from November 1 – November 5, 2020.

Michael Donohue, Social Studies Department Chair, outlined civic engagement and curriculum updates for students in grades 6 through 12. He detailed the courses available in each grade including Geography and Ancient Civilization (I and II), Civics, World History, United States History and U.S. Modern World classes. Mr. Donohue also discussed the civic engagement projects that students are require to complete. He explained the six stages of this project which include:

  • Examining self and civic identity
  • Identifying an issue
  • Researching and investigating the issue
  • Developing an action plan
  • Taking action
  • Reflecting and showcasing the work


An update was provided with respect to Goal 3 of the Strategic Plan. Goal 3 is as follows:

3. To develop thoughtful, responsible, and engaged citizens.

  • 3.1 Provide students with opportunities to engage in an inclusive, positive and respectful school culture.
  • 3.2 Establish local relationship by connecting our students with community stakeholders.
  • 3.3 Develop ethical students who value multiple perspectives and demonstrate responsible citizenship.


School Business Administrator, Michael Friscia, provided a mid-year FY '20 budget review.


The School Committee voted on a FY '21 tentative budget in the amount of $48,302,835.


Mrs. Gallivan indicated that a Curriculum Subcommittee Meeting was recently held. Much work is being done and Mrs. Gallivan remarked that both Dr. Gough and Mr. Hahn deserve credit for their efforts.

2020-2021 Calendars

The School Committee voted on the school year calendar for the 2020-2021.


The calendar proposes that teachers will return to school on Monday, August 31; students in grades 1 through 12 will return to school on Wednesday, September 2, 2020; PreK and Kindergarten students will return to school on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. The last day of school for Grades K- 11, without snow/emergency days would be Thursday, June 17, 2021. This calendar can be found by clicking here.


The School Committee also voted to approve the School Committee meeting date calendar for the 2020-2021 school year.

Superintendent Report - Entry Plan

Dr. Gough developed a Superintendent Entry Plan as a component of the Massachusetts New Superintendent Induction Program. In order to continue the focus on teaching and learning, this comprehensive plan was developed to gain a deeper understanding of the district, identify areas of strength and recognize opportunities for growth. This Plan was discussed in detail. Dr. Gough expressed thanks to all of the people who gave their time to provide such open and honest feedback.

Next Meeting

The next regular School Committee Meeting will be Thursday, February 13, 2020 at Walpole Town Hall, Main Meeting Room.