Parent Update: Jan. 10, 2019

Happy New Year from NMH
Head of School Charles A. Tierney III P’16, ’19, ’20 shows how to ring in a new year filled with humanity, purpose, and light. View video.

Academic Help Is Available; Just Ask.
Every semester offers an exciting fresh start with new teachers and subject areas. Whether your student is tackling a higher-level class in an area where they thrive or is stepping out of their comfort zone to explore new areas of study, there are tools available through the Center for Academic Strategies and Achievement (CASA) if they need a little extra help along the way.
If additional help is needed, the first and best step is to encourage your student to set up a time to meet with their teacher. All teachers offer extra help; your student just needs to ask.

Students may be advised to attend the free help sessions offered during study hall time through the writing, math, and science centers. Add the help sessions schedule to your calendar. 

Two types of subject-specific tutoring are also available: peer tutors ($13.50/hour) and adult tutors ($60/hour).
NMH also offers support for developing academic skills that—if built now—can serve them well for a lifetime. If your student needs growth in “executive skills” such as time management, planning, and organization, support from an academic coach might be just what they need. CASA offers two academic coaching options; you may select either, but not both. 

  • CASA tutorials (one-on-one work with an academic coach for 60 minutes per week)
  • CASA lab: One academic coach works with up to 12 students, dividing time among the students for a total of four hours per week. 

Please keep these options in mind as the semester progresses. If you have more questions regarding CASA options, please contact Kathleen Pillsbury, acting director of the Center for Academic Strategies and Achievement while Margaret van Baaren is on sabbatical.

Fighting Teen Juuling and Other Drug Use
Nearly every week, vaping is splashed across news headlines. We are concerned about this trend among adolescents. As more data about teenage vaping makes national headlines, we know that NMH students are not immune to marketing temptations and social pressures. In fact, our own data from last year’s health survey conducted by Dr. Suniya Luthar suggests that students at high-achieving schools, including NMH, have rates of use slightly higher than national averages.  

Often referred to as “Juuling”—which refers to a specific brand of Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS)—liquid nicotine is heated, turned into an aerosol, and inhaled. Appealing flavors of ENDS are often marketed in sleek, attractive packaging. Though long-term data on the health risks of vaping are not yet available, lifetime addiction to nicotine (including a higher likelihood for cigarette addiction) and cardiovascular disease are among the greatest concerns with ENDS use. Devices that claim they do not contain nicotine are still of concern, both because of their socialization of vaping and because the product is an inhaled aerosol. New reports say that 2018 was the biggest year for vaping among adolescents, with increases in all teenage age groups.

As you know, the use or possession of nicotine and any related delivery devices are a major school rule violation at NMH. Students in violation of this rule are subject to suspension and disciplinary probation, both of which are reportable to colleges. 

To combat these destructive trends, education about media advertising and vaping is included in our ninth-grade health course, and conversations about the dangers and social allure of vaping occur during the spring semester in Student Life Seminars and dorm meetings. For students who are already experimenting with vaping, the health and wellness center team offers confidential, non-disciplinary support. Additionally, if a student possesses nicotine or other drug products or paraphernalia, they may dispose of these items confidentially through the “amnesty box” in the health center. 

We are more focused than ever on engaging NMH students in conversations about the risks of drug use, including vaping. Dean of Students Nicole Hager P’17, ’20 is convening a Drug, Alcohol, and Nicotine Working Group on campus to discuss the ways we can educate and support students better around substance-use issues. 

Please join the conversation by talking directly to your student. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact the O'Connor Health and Wellness Center at 413-498-3407.

Planning Ahead for Spring Exams 
As we start the spring semester, we encourage you to plan for your student's return home in May after their final exams. We urge you to take a moment to look ahead to the final exam schedule and plan accordingly. Families should ensure that flights home, family vacations, doctors’ appointments, camps, etc. do not require a student miss a final exam, as these requests are usually denied.

Our teachers start planning the semester by thinking about how it will end. Thus, NMH teachers structure their curriculum to culminate in a final exam, project, or essay. This is a crucial part of every class, and it is essential for students to be present during the exam period for this assessment.  

The charter bus schedule is a helpful guide as you plan travel. If you have already booked travel, now is a good time to confirm that your flight arrangements align with the final schedule and make any necessary changes. 

Thank you for your attention to this now; it will ensure a smoother end-of-the-year for your student.


Family Days are coming: Winter Family Days will take place Friday, Feb. 1, and Saturday, Feb. 2. You will soon receive an email with links to register and sign up for teacher conferences. View a preliminary schedule and tips for attending Family Days.

Admission volunteers needed: The admission office is seeking volunteers to contact parents of accepted students. Will you help them in March? This commitment would involve sharing your great satisfaction about the experience your student is having at NMH and answering questions from the prospective students’ families. If you are interested in supporting this effort, please contact Justine Brown.

The passing of David Bolger ’50: NMH mourns the death of David F. Bolger ’50, a dear friend and benefactor. We are forever grateful for David’s humanity and purpose; he influenced countless lives at NMH.

Partnership continues with researcher Suniya Luthar: As you read in a December letter from Nicole Hager and Johanna Callard, NMH continues to partner with leading researcher Dr. Suniya Luthar. If you do not want your student to take the upcoming survey, please complete this waiver and return it to the O’Connor Health and Wellness Center by Jan. 11.

Host families still needed: We need your help! NMH still needs six day families to host Uruguayan exchange students in February. Learn more about this enriching program, and please consider hosting.

Travel to South Africa or New Zealand: Applications are now open for the sophomore interdisciplinary travel program in South Africa and the semester exchange program at Scots College in New Zealand. Applications are due by March 25. Please contact Jensi Rovang with questions.

Follow NMH athletics: Some athletic teams were still competing even during the academic break. Follow the NMH Athletics Facebook page to see athletics contest results, and click here to see a summary of winter-break play.

Sugaring over spring break: Students interested in working in the maple sugaring program to earn workjob credit over spring break must submit their applications to Kensey Batchelder by Friday, Jan. 11. To learn more, please attend the information breakfast on Saturday of winter Family Days. 

New on NMH’s Flickr site: Since the last Parent Update, we’ve added photos and/or videos about holiday celebrations, winter athletics, theater, our new video makerspace, a painting exhibition, and images from these classes: Painting I, Humanities I, Statistics and Social Justice, Precalculus, and Human Physiology. And the latest news is always on the NMH Social page.

Upcoming Events

1/14 Admission class visit day
1/14 College counseling classes begin
1/16 Extended advising
1/20 Vocal music concert by the Da Camera Singers
1/25 NMH Dick Peller Hot Stove Night
1/26 International Carnival
1/27 Learning Through Action Summit 
2/1–2/2 Winter Family Days
2/2–2/5 Long Weekend

A bird's eye view