Category Archives: GHS

BookSmart, English Summer Reading list for students entering grades 9-12.

To Students Entering Grades 9-12:

This year marks the second annual BookSmart: a book club-style one-day discussion of (mostly) modern literature. This year also marks a strange time for education, but one in which many students, in their own spaces, have started to read more on their own. We hope to encourage the continuation of this new trend.

Students will choose and read ONE of the books on this list and participate in a book discussion about it in September (students taking honors or AP English will have other books to read in addition). While there is great value in the classics, we have chosen books for BookSmart that are more modern, diverse, and speak to different perspectives on the human condition.

Read the descriptions carefully before choosing a book. Feel free to ask any English teacher questions about the books–we can help you choose.

  • Sign up via the Google Form between June 7- June 11.
  • Those who do not choose a book will have one assigned to them by June 15.
  • Every student needs to read at least one book.
  • Please choose a book you have not previously read.
  • The public library has been notified of this list as well, and they plan to order additional copies so everyone can participate easily. **Please email any English teacher if hardship is preventing you from obtaining the text.In September, a member of the GMHS faculty/staff (not just English teachers!) will facilitate discussion and activities on students’ chosen books. We hope that this day will bring students together, build new connections, and get everyone thinking about how stories can play a role in the decisions we make and the lives we lead.Sincerely,
    The English Department*If a student misses the BookSmart discussion, he/she will need to participate in an alternate writing assessment.

A goodbye message to the class of 2020, from the class of 2021… Thank you Seniors.

Please use this link, looks better in You Tube. 🙂

COVID-19 Update – May 30, 2020

Hello Georgetown Friends,

I hope your weekend is off to a lovely start and you are enjoying this early summer weather. The end of the year is starting to get real and we have 15 more days to go with remote learning for everyone except our seniors who had their last day on Friday. They cleaned out their lockers, returned any school belongings and picked up their caps and gowns in anticipation of their graduation which will happen on Saturday June 13th at 9:00 in the Saint Mary’s Church parking lot. We are so grateful to the sponsors who are helping us make this dream come true for our seniors. This week we received generous donations from the Senior Celebration Committee and the G, Mello Transfer Corporation which will allow us to videotape the event and allow the spectators to view the ceremony on a large screen, hear the ceremony clearly from their car radio and allow for better viewing as students walk across a higher stage. I want to thank them all very much from the bottom of my heart!

I also want to thank everyone who came by the school to pick up student belongings this past week. A lot of planning and organizing went into that project as you could probably tell but I really want to recognize our Director of Buildings and Grounds Mike Anderson who was the brains behind the operation along with the support of the custodial/maintenance department employees and the teachers and other staff who came in and retrieved items from desks, lockers, walls etc so everything could be ready for pick up day. I wish we were not under the constraints of social distancing and would have loved to have the students come in and say goodbye to their friends and teachers but that was just not meant to be this year in order to keep everyone safe. I know it has been hard for all of us. I keep believing that better days are coming and if we all keep being smart and careful, we can deal with this virus and still enjoy doing the things we love in time. I hope you are keeping the faith as well and beginning to enjoy some of the opportunities that are opening up using safety precautions. Enjoy the first week of June!

1. Phase 2 Massachusetts Reopening
I have started to receive a number of questions about what will be opening up in the schools during Phase 2 of the Governor’s Plans, in particular the fields. In his plan, it mentioned that fields and parks may open in Phase 2 hopefully on or around June 8. It also mentions that organized youth sports and competitions can begin in Phase 3 which if all goes well should begin at the end of June. This appears to be very positive news for our local sports teams and leagues that they might be able to have an abbreviated season in July and August. What we are waiting to hear is about the guidance for using fields in Phase 2 for organized group activities. I expect that information to be coming out next week and I am aware that the Board of Selectmen will be discussing opening up Georgetown facilities as soon as they get the OK from the Governor and the local Board of Health. The school district is part of the Emergency Management Team in town who has been accepting proposals from town groups who wish to use the fields and other local facilities. I think we all agree that we are excited for our kids to have the chance to see their friends and expend some physical and emotional energy which has been limited with stay at home orders. The plan is to open the facilities as soon as safely possible and in line with the Governor’s guidelines to protect the liability to the town. While the opening of the fields most certainly is going to look different, from what I have heard from the folks who are speaking with me, there is an understanding about the necessary modifications and changes that will have to be made and a commitment to doing them. Look forward to more information next week but if you are interested in tuning into the meeting of the Board of Selectmen discussion about reopening Georgetown on Monday night. It is a public meeting on Blue Jeans. You may need to contact the Town Hall of GCTV to get the access code. I checked and did not see one.

2. Town Meeting June 15 at GMHS- 100 People Needed for a Quorum
Town Administrator Mike Farrell has let me know that the town is planning to go forward with its annual town meeting on June 15 at 7:00 pm in the GMHS auditorium. There was discussion about the legislature lowering the number of citizen’s needed for a quorum to as low as 10 people but that has not been passed so the town is asking for help in making sure that at least 100 people plan to attend the town meeting. Citizen’s will be asked to wear face coverings and seats will be marked off to all for proper social distancing. If the crowd is larger, seating will also be provided in the cafeteria.

3. Commissioner of Education Preparing Options for Opening Schools
We are anxiously awaiting a plan from the State Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education detailing the options for a return to school in September. I am expecting this in the next couple of weeks but it may be closer to the end of June. I feel confident in saying these guidelines will include a plan for frequent sanitizing of the buildings, no large gatherings such as assemblies, community gatherings, large group lunches or gym classes, regular taking of temperatures, social distancing in classrooms, traffic flow patterns in the hallways, staff wearing PPE, mask wearing, smaller class sizes working together at one time and significantly limited access to the school by parents and community members. Logistically, many of these things can be done but , most challenging, will be managing the class size guidelines and ensuring that all of the safety protocols can be put in place by September. While beginning the year continuing with remote learning is still a potential option , the Commissioner and his task force are focused on a return to school in some form or manner in the fall. At least one of the options includes a “hybrid” model which combines in class teaching with remote learning. In the end, any hybrid model will pose a challenge to working families but it is one way to deal with the issue of fewer students in the building at one time. There is concern about a second wave of the virus in the fall so they are preparing us that a return to remote learning may be necessary although I personally hope this will not be the case. In my opinion, remote learning will have to change and improve to make that an option in the coming year. As I said, we want your opinions on remote learning and we will begin making more concrete plans to open as soon as we learn what the guidelines will need to be. First and foremost our goal will be the safety of our staff and students and I will keep you informed as this process unfolds. Please do not panic and things will make more sense as we have more real information. Stay tuned!

4. SEPAC Zoom Meeting
Since the closure, the Board of the Special Education Advisory Committee ( SEPAC) has been hosting Zoom sessions with Director of Student Services Jack Tiano and myself to share information and answer questions. The overall goal is to keep the lines of communication open. These meetings are open to the public and the next meeting is scheduled for June 3, 2020 at 6:30PM. Here is the meeting information if you would like to join the meeting.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 833 0143 2961
Password: 019185

5. Board of Health Seeking Volunteers
As the state begins to reopen and the availability of testing becomes more readily available, the Board of Health is seeking practicing or retired nurses or medical personnel to assist with managing the workload in the department. They will have a need or people to assist with contract tracing and administering the vaccine process once one is ready for use. If interested in finding out how you or someone you know might help, please contact Health Agent Deb Rogers at 978) 352-5720.

6. Theater In the Open to Feature Margaret Maher, Carol Jacobs and Mike Walsh This Sunday Night May 31st at 4:00 PM
The PTA came up with an idea that they think will be super fun for families. Theater in the Open, aka TITO is a theater group in Newburyport. Every spring, they do a “panto” in Maudslay Park , which is an interactive, silly, fun re-telling of a story or a fairy tale. In response to the quarantine, TITO has been performing an online “Zoom Panto” called “Adventures in ZoomLand” on Sunday afternoons at 4:00. This Sunday, the Adventures in Zoomland (which last approximately 30 minutes) will include three families from Penn Brook and three staff ( Mike Walsh, Margaret Maher and me) in the performance. It should be lots of fun. Tune in to

7. Senior Flags Displayed at Harry Murch Park
If you haven’t already done so, check this out! Thanks to the hard work of a group of senior parents and the financial support of the Georgetown Light Department, there is a flag with the picture of each graduating senior displayed on the grounds of the Harry Murch Park. It is a wonderful tribute to a great group of young men and women who have achieved so much and are completing their formal education in Georgetown on June 13th. Much appreciation also goes out to the Veterans Groups and the Historical Society for allowing us to use the space to display this tribute so prominently in town. It is just wonderful!

Addendum to Summer Reading for Honors English and AP English Courses, 2020-2021

In addition to BookSmart Day, students taking the following courses should read the following books over the summer and be prepared to discuss and write about them…


AP English Literature*

Oresteia, Aeschylus

Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Eugene O’Neill

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

*Along with the reading of these works, a summer assignment is required, due on the first day of school. There is a mandatory meeting in June to clarify expectations for this assignment. 


Honors World Literature

The Life of Pi, Yann Martel


Honors English, Grade 11

My Antonia, Willa Cather


Honors English, Grade 10

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley 

(1818 edition is preferable to the 1831 edition)


Honors English, Grade 9

CHOICE: A Separate Peace, John Knowles, OR A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith

COVID 19 Update – May 16, 2020

Dear Georgetown Friends,

We are almost one month from the end of the school year which will end on June 19, 2020 unless you are a member of the senior class whose last day will be Friday May 29, 2020. I know you join me in congratulating them on completing their formal education in this unprecedented and uncertain time. When they began their senior year, there was no discussion about a global pandemic and they were enjoying their year of “lasts” until we hit March and then everything changed. I am so proud of this group of seniors. The word that comes to mind when I think about these wonderful young people is resilient. They have had to endure quarantining at home and separation from their friends, missing out on their senior activities, finishing their year learning remotely and missing the special connections with the staff that have been a part of their lives for the past six years. Through it all, they have remained close and relied on social media to stay connected. They have continued to finish strong and make us proud! In coordination with the senior class advisors and officers, we planned a graduation that will be unique, safe and addresses the two priorities they expressed (1) a live graduation and (2) one that their families can witness. We have been told that Governor Baker will issue guidance on graduation ceremonies on Monday, May 18th so we can either move forward with our plan or revise it. Principal Richards and I will be sharing the plan at the School Committee meeting on Wednesday, May 20th at 6:30 PM. We are Royally Proud of our Class of 2020 they will forever and for always be Georgetown Strong!

1. Camp Invention

Many of you asked me about Camp Invention so I want you to know that the program WILL run but they will not be operating the program at Penn Brook. The week long program will be offered completely online during the week of June 29- July 3. Heidi Begin has been in contact with the company and here are the details,

a. Camp Invention will be reaching out to anyone who signed up with a letter explaining how camp is going to run this year.

b. Campers are being sent a kit with 4 modules and how it will run online- for the week.

c. It will be offered at a reduced price, so there will be options for the parents or a total
refund if they do not wish to participate.

d. Three members of our staff will run the program. Jill Valli will be the leader and Liz Marchetti and Kevin Ford will be coaches. Three other coaches from Camp Invention will work with our staff.

e. Each coach will have a group of 20 kids. They will hold a morning meeting online at 9:00, an office hour at noon and a 3:00 wrap-up with their group.

2. Bus Registrations
This is usually the time when qualifying families are sent an online registration form to register their child/ren to ride the bus. This week, our district transportation staff had a meeting with representatives from the bus company. Due to the uncertainty about the fall and the opening of schools, we are delaying the registration process until further guidance is available.

3. Preschool Clarification
I have received a few comments about the decision not to refund one month of tuition to preschool families who pay monthly. The reason for our decision is two fold. One is that our preschool program is funded primarily from the revenue we receive from tuition. During this time of closure beginning in mid March, we have continued to pay our staff to work in accordance with our district guidelines for remote learning. This is a service we are providing to preschool families for three months in order to maintain important connections and to keep students engaged in fun learning activities. Just as in the case with all students in the district, the number of hours and the way remote learning works is not the same as it would be if students were in
school. It simply can not be. Realizing this, we made the decision that all preschool families would only pay for 8 out of 10 months and no additional money would be requested beyond what has already been paid. The district is absorbing the cost for the end of the year but we need the support of our families to absorb the cost of one month. I am not dismissing the concerns people have expressed about this affecting their finances and/or their expectations for a full reimbursement. I am hoping by providing this clarification, people will understand that we are asking parents to work with us since none of us expected the situation in which we find ourselves to happen. In exchange, we are delighted to provide three months of remote learning in exchange for two months of free tuition. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

4. Big Thank You to the PTA
A huge shout out to the PTA for recognizing all of our staff with a lovely Georgetown Strong pin and note of appreciation. This is such a lovely gesture and so welcome especially in these challenging times. It is an important and welcome reminder that we ARE all in this together and we are ALL Georgetown Strong. Thanks for the shot of motivation and encouragement to push through to the end of the year and as always we are so grateful for your partnership! We got this!

5. Our District Family is Growing
Please join us in congratulating Food services Director Sean Riley and his wife Heather on the birth of their second child, a son Grayson John Riley. Grayson is a beautiful reminder of the many positive things that continue to happen even during a global pandemic. Grayson joins big brother Griffin and we are all so excited for Sean and his family! Welcome to the world, precious Grayson John!

I hope you have a wonderful week! Stay strong, healthy and positive. One month to go! We got this!

Class of 2020, some of the places you’ll go (Video tribute).

Please follow this link… looks better on You Tube. 🙂