Saturday, December 13, 2014

FHS Principal Peter Light's letter to the parents and community

December 2014

FHS Community,

Last evening, Fox News ran a segment regarding ongoing discussions at FHS about moving to gender neutral robes for our commencement ceremony. The purpose of this communication is to clarify the issues and discussion process in which our school is currently engaged so that all members of our educational community including students, parents, alumni and involved citizens can develop a deeper understanding of the issue and how the school is working through it with our students.

This is not a discussion brought about by a minority opinion of Franklin High School students who wish to impose personal views on the majority of students as may be portrayed or misunderstood inside and outside of our school. Instead, this is a discussion that has its foundations in legal, educational and moral issues that our students and community should and deserve to understand.

In 2011, the Massachusetts Legislature, passed An Act Relative to Gender Identity (Chapter 199 of the Acts of 2011). In summary, the act sought to include gender identity as a protected class against discrimination, specifically with regard to access to all aspects of public schools. In essence, beginning July 1, 2012, schools were prohibited from discriminating against students on the basis of gender identity (also included under the law is discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin or sexual orientation). This was an important piece of legislation in that it sought to further ensure that all students are treated equally within the educational setting.

Subsequent to this legislation being enacted, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released an advisory entitled Guidance for Massachusetts Public Schools: Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment. In this advisory, the DESE discussed in detail the pertinent issues for public schools and recommended steps schools and districts should take in order to adhere to the new law.

In the advisory, the DESE clarified specific issues that high schools may face in responding to the need to adopt gender neutral practices. Some issues described discuss access to restrooms, locker rooms and treatment of student records. The document also includes high school-specific examples relative to school-based activities. Specifically, the DESE advises that
“As a general matter, schools should evaluate all gender-based policies, rules, and practices and maintain only those that have a clear and sound pedagogical purpose. Gender-based policies,rules, and practices can have the effect of marginalizing, stigmatizing, and excluding students,whether they are gender non conforming or not. In some circumstances, these policies, rules,and practices may violate federal and state law. For these reasons, schools should consider alternatives to them.”
The DESE also offers a specific example within the document:
“For example, some schools require students to wear gender-based garb for graduation or have gender-based dress codes for prom, special events, and daily attire. Schools should eliminate gendered policies and practices such as these. For example, one school that previously had blue graduation gowns for boys and white ones for girls switched to blue gowns for all graduates. The school also changed its gender-based dress code for the National Honor Society ceremony, which had required girls to wear dresses.”
As the Principal of the school, it is my obligation to act with the best interest of our students in mind ensuring that every student has the opportunity to be included in the culture of the school, and to ensure that my decisions are consistent with applicable state and federal laws as well as district policies. Based on the guidance from the DESE and the specific example provided within the document, it is clear that the issue of Franklin students wearing blue or white dress on the basis of sex or gender identity is inconsistent with the intent of the law and runs the risk of alienating students. As such, the school must take action to address this issue.

While there is a legal basis for the school taking action on this issue, there is great educational opportunity afforded to us as a community in teaching our students valuable life lessons. First, that an individual or group can raise an issue, follow process and effect change through rational discourse and communication with appropriate parties (in this case students, faculty and administration of the school). Additionally, we have an opportunity as a community to demonstrate to our students a willingness to seek to understand all facets of an issue, how the issue and proposed resolution can impact others, and work together toward a common goal, despite having begun with an adverse situation.

Graduation attire is clearly an issue that holds a place in our students’ and community’s mind at the moment. Today, I asked a group of students “when you talked to your friends last year around graduation, how many of them told you that they were excited because they were wearing a blue or white gown?” The answer I received… zero. I also asked our students that if we were not currently discussing graduation robes, and I were to ask them to list the top ten things they looked forward to about graduating from FHS, would the color of their robe have made that list? The overwhelming answer.. probably not. Instead, having been through 6 commencements as Principal, four as an assistant principal and having worked as a member of the faculty for 17 years, I believe that our students value things like senior week, all night party, coming together as a class throughout their senior year, and ultimately the memories they have made throughout their four years at FHS.

It is clear that what has been held as a tradition at FHS is about to undergo change. Some of our faculty and students have offered wise opinions that our country has previously held traditions based on race, color, religion and sexual orientation that today we would universally deem inappropriate for the educational environment.

In the 1970’s FHS students wore one color of graduation robe at commencement. At some point thereafter, they wore two. Our students today have an opportunity to work together as a school to determine which tradition FHS will adopt for its next generation of students.

One thing I do know about students at FHS is that for a long time, our school community has worked to create an inclusive environment for all of our students and I believe we have one of the most caring, accepting environments of any high school in the state. Our students in Best Buddies advocate for their peers with disabilities, and a multitude of our student organizations work throughout each year to serve those less fortunate in the school, community and around the world.

We have an opportunity to take a small step that will result in not just some or most students, but every student feeling included and comfortable with who he/she is in our school’s final activity… Graduation. We also have an opportunity to work through the process in a way that values the opinions of all and does not alienate any group. Finally, we have the opportunity to show our students that as a school community, we may not all agree on every issue, but that we can work together to find a solution that we believe benefits our kids and represents our school in a way that reflects all of the pride and passion we always have.

Thank you for your sincere understanding and support of our students as they continue to learn from each other and work toward a solution that meets their needs.


Peter Light

the entrance to the new FHS
the entrance to the new FHS

Note: the only change to Mr Light's text was the switch from an underline to BOLD in one sentence. The underline for internet use indicates a link elsewhere and BOLD in this case was to mark the sentence for emphasis

Pipelines to Powerlines - The Climate Minute Podcast

New post on Mass Climate Action Network (MCAN)

Pipelines to Powerlines- The Climate Minute Podcast

by massclimateaction
As a leader in the fight against climate change, Massachusetts often has to deal with problems at the leading edge. Is a natural gas pipeline through the state a good idea? Is it wise to import hydro-power from Quebec in order to achieve our emissions goals? We discuss these topics, along with a review of the proceedings down in Lima.
Kinder Morgan re-routes it's controversial pipeline. We talk with Rich Cowan about what is happening on the front lines of the struggle. Better Futures Project's Craig Altemouse provides a run down of reasons to oppose the pipeline on the Huffington Post. For even more info, check out the MA Pipeline Action Network . The next hearing on the low-demand scenario is scheduled for December 18th.
The Globe's Business Page gives a somewhat unclear discussion of the Hydro-Quebec question. But the Op-Ed page has a simpler explanation. Alternatively, the State could save emissions by adjusting our thermostats or using tidal power.
In Peru, the COP20 in Lima has been on-going. ThinkProgress gives an update , and DemocracyNow talks to Pablo Solon. If you do nothing else, watch John Kerry's remarkable speech.
Because we recognize the necessity of personal accountability for our actions, because we accept responsibility for building a durable future and because we believe it is our patriotic duty as citizens to speak out, we must insist that the United States put a price on carbon.
Thanks for listening.
…Ted McIntyre
Trouble clicking? Copy and paste this URL into your browser: 
Thanks for flying with

screen grab of MASS Climate Action webpage
screen grab of MASS Climate Action webpage

You can click through to the Climate Action page or listen to the podcast here:

Senator Spilka is looking for Your Feedback

Karen Spilka, State Senator

We have had a great year in the Senate. Working with my colleagues, I took the lead on several key pieces of legislation including:
  • Led the conference committee on domestic violence legislation. We took important steps to improve protections for victims and increase penalties for perpetrators.
  • Sponsored The Electronic Privacy Act, ensuring our rights against unreasonable search and seizure extend to laptops, phones and other electronic devices.
  • Created the Massachusetts Tech Hub Caucus, facilitating conversations between legislators and leaders in tech industries, helping create good, high paying jobs here in the Commonwealth by growing our innovation economy.
As we look forward to the next year, I need your feedback on top priorities for my office and for the Senate next year.
I look forward to hearing your take on the issues most important to you, together we can keep the Commonwealth moving forward and build on our past successes!
Thank you for your support!
Karen Spilka
State Senator & Majority Whip
Paid for by the Spilka Committee

Karen Spilka | | Office of Karen Spilka | Committee to Elect Karen Spilka, P.O. Box 2323 | Framingham, MA 01702
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Families Helping Families

A Free Community Event to Support our Local Food Pantries

Saturday December 13, 6-8 pm at Living Buddha Nature

All monetary donations go to our local food pantries in Millis and Franklin to directly support local families.

Enjoy a free concert by international Virtuoso guitarist Aaron-Larget Caplan

Raffle at event for prizes including yoga and tai chi classes, massages, gift certificates, and surprise gifts! Share free refreshments and time together as a community during this event.

screen grab of Living Buddha Nature webpage
screen grab of Living Buddha Nature webpage

Living Buddha Nature 969 Main St. (Rt. 109) Millis, MA 02054

The flyer for today's event:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Upcoming Events in Franklin, MA Area: FRI 12/12/14 - THU 12/18/14

FRI 12/12   7:30pm   Humbug! A Beggar’s Opera at The Black Box

SAT 12/13   9am-4pm   Book Sale at Franklin Public Library
SAT 12/13   9am & 10am   Breakfast with Santa at the Franklin YMCA (and other Hockomock branches), registration required.
SAT 12/13   1-3pm   Winter Event with Santa at KinderCare Learning Centers in Franklin
SAT 12/13   4-7pm   Beer and Bling: Fundraiser for Cameron Liberatore at Pour Richard’s Franklin
SAT 12/13   7:30pm   Humbug! A Beggar’s Opera at The Black Box

SUN 12/14   9am-12pm   Bag Sale at Franklin Public Library
SUN 12/14   2pm   Humbug! A Beggar’s Opera at The Black Box

MON 12/15   3:15-5pm   Cookies and Cocoa with Santa - Franklin Recreation - register HERE.

TUE 12/16   6am-8pm   Special Town Election in Franklin, location Franklin HS

WED 12/17  6:30pm   Doggie Tales at Franklin Public Library, registration required.

For all the Town of Franklin Public Meetings click HERE.

For event details click HERE.

*If you have any suggestions or events for the calendar, please email

Graduation gown discussion

From Pantherbook, their editorial written by Sammy Croteau
Recently the Franklin High School (FHS) Student Government was approached by the Gay Straight Alliance with a proposal to do away with the white and blue graduation robes, that are assigned by gender, and to adopt one robe color for all graduating students. This proposal has sparked much controversy and division within the student body. Even outside news agencies have come to the school to highlight the issue. 
I have spoken with many of my classmates who feel strongly of keeping the blue and white graduation robes. With all due respect for those who are petitioning for a change, we need to give voice to those who seek to preserve the blue and white tradition. 
In order for our school to be together as one we need to start considering what unites us rather than what separates us. We are all Franklin Panthers whose school colors are blue and white. Changing our school’s traditions to soothe the feelings of a few seems drastic and unnecessary. Tradition is important and so is representing our true school colors on the day we graduate. 
Individuals who feel uncomfortable having to choose between graduation gowns of blue and white should not be afraid to choose the color that best suits them. Today’s student body has learned to welcome the quality of our diversity and the traditions that unite us. 
I believe the student body should all have the freedom to choose what school color they would like to wear on their graduation day, despite their gender. Shouldn’t we promote freedom of choice for all students at FHS? This compromise can be achieved by opening up a vote to the whole student body on whether or not we should be free to choose. 
The power of the democratic process will allow us to rise above the politics of division and make any changes adopted acceptable to the majority.

See more at:

entrance to Franklin High School
entrance to Franklin High School

From Fox25 their video summary

Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

"One would assume I’d be moving forward with the project after that"

Town planning officials received just one response to the request for proposals to develop a town-owned property at the corner of Emmons Street. 
While potential uses for the one-acre property had been hotly debated - with residents, downtown business owners and even Dean College officials all pitching ideas - only Franklin developer Roger Calarese submitted a proposal by the Dec. 2 deadline. Calarese is best known as the developer behind the Franklin Village Mall. 
His plan for the 150 Emmons St. site calls for a 5,300-square-foot commercial property that would include a bank with a drive-through service. He described it as being a Colonial-style building, designed to mesh with the downtown's aesthetic.

Continue reading the article in the Milford Daily News here (subscription may be required)

150 Emmons St, the building under discussion
150 Emmons St, the building under discussion

In August, the Calarese proposal for the "express of interest" was captured here

From the March public meeting, the handouts provided can be found here

Thursday, December 11, 2014

'Tis the Season for Giving!

“We make a living by what we get.
We make a life by what we give.”
― Winston S. Churchill

Giving is as easy as 1, 2, 3

1 - You can give to help provide cupcakes for our December holiday meal. Visit The Cake Bar today to help out with the cupcake order.

2 - Make a reservation with Nice Car Care for your vehicle to get serviced. 5% of the profits from the services they provide during the month of December will come to the Food Pantry.

3 - The Franklin Food Elves are making it easy for you to help your neighbors in need during the "12 Days of Donating" campaign. From December 1 through December 12, volunteer Food Elves will be coming to your neighborhood, or you can donate goods at a local participating business.

And if you prefer, you can also give directly via this secure online donation link

Donate securely here
Donate securely here

This post was shared from the Food Pantry page here

"Franklin will be among the heavy favorites"

Hockomock Sports has the boys hockey preview for the Kelly-Rex Division which includes Franklin

2013-14 Record: 14-7-1, 8-1-1
2013-14 Finish: Lost in the Division 1 South quarterfinal to Framingham
Head Coach: Chris Spillane

The Panthers are a perennial Hockomock power and are looking to build on last year’s league title and their first foray into D1 hockey, which included a win over Weymouth in the playoffs before a loss to Framingham in Bourne. 
Franklin had a strong senior class but, in a sign of the strength of the program, returns 18 juniors from 2013. The top scoring line from last year is back with Joe Bourque, Alec Borkowski, and Ryan Spillane expected to once again be the top line. 
Also, the Panthers return three of the top four defensemen from last year in Kyle Filbert, Nick Morris, and Mason Saunders, who impressed on both sides of the ice with a powerful shot from the point. 
The question mark for Franklin is in goal. The loss of talented goalies Devon Maloof and Mike Donadio leaves a big hole to fill and head coach Chris Spillane is counting on senior Ryan Shea, who saw limited action last season, and junior Nick Jasinski to step into the No. 1 spot.  
Once again, Franklin will be among the heavy favorites to bring home a league title, but is also looking to be a challenger in D1 and added strong opponents like Super 8 contenders Springfield Cathedral and Malden Catholic. 
“We have a veteran team returning that will be challenged with a very strong schedule,” said Spillane.

Alec Borkowski (3) and Franklin will once again be the favorite to take home the Hockomock League title coming into the season. (Josh Perry/
Alec Borkowski (3) and Franklin will once again be the favorite to take home the Hockomock League title coming into the season. (Josh Perry/

Read the full hockey preview article here

The Davenport Division hockey preview can be found here

Blackstone River Theatre - Christmas Celebration Shows Saturday AND Sunday!!



This year's Solstice Fest was our biggest yet... stay tuned for more on the 2015 festival set for
June 20th...

Zumba with April Hilliker on Mondays, 6:30 PM
NO CLASSES 12/22 OR 12/29 

Saturday, Dec. 13, 8 PM
Sunday, Dec. 14, 7 PM
$18 adv / $20.00 day of show
Quick Links...
BRT Website    

BRT Classes      
Join Our Mailing List!

Tickets often available at door but to ensure a seat


Please understand that
when a show is SOLD OUT,
it truly is!
We must adhere to fire codes and it truly is not possible to fit "just one more"... especially when we have had several people ask to do
the same!

If a show at BRT has
an advance price &
a day-of-show price it means:

If you pre-pay OR call in your reservation any time before the show date, you get the advance price. If you show up at the door with no reservations OR call in your reservations on the same day as the show, you will pay the day-of show-price.

NOTE for prepaid tickets
or if reservations have been made but not pre-paid:
If you reduce the number of tickets requested or paid for at the box office on the night of the performance, that ticket must still be paid for! BRT requires 24 hour notice for cancellations or you will be charged for all seats reserved.
Dear Steve,

Thank you to all who came to our CRAFT FAIR AND HOLIDAY FESTIVAL Saturday... it was our best one yet!

And BOTH SHOWS of the TIR NA NOG IRISH DANCE CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR on Sunday sold out as well! Congratulations to Erika Damiani and the amazing dancers and proud parents and friends... fantastic shows!

Before we shut down for the Christmas break and New Year's we have two more great shows lined up for you.. don't miss a A BLACKSTONE RIVER THEATRE CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION this Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 7 PM. We have 23 performers and a bunch of new material as well as some old favorites! Call soon for reservations so you get YOUR seats...

Don't forget to LIKE us on Facebook to get late-breaking news and really expensive gifts. Well, not that last one but definitely the first part... Please share what we do with your friends!


Hope to see you soon...
Russell Gusetti, Executive Director  


Blackstone River Theatre will present our 7th annual Christmas Celebration featuring Aubrey Atwater, Erika Damiani, Elwood Donnelly, Bob Drouin, Kevin Doyle, Russell Gusetti, Josh Kane, The Miller Family, Mary Lee Partington, Torrin Ryan, and the Swamp Meadow Victorian Carolers. Audiences can expect the unexpected - familiar and unfamiliar songs, high energy clogging and step dancing, ancient carols, spoken word, jokes and more - as musicians and dancers perform in varied combinations or join together on beautiful Christmas and winter-themed pieces.

"That's one of the nicest thing about this show," explains Russell Gusetti, BRT executive director. "We all get a chance to perform with each other in several different configurations, something audiences simply do not get to see at any other point in the year." Special guest performers will include the Swamp Meadow Victorian Carolers from Foster, BRT's Irish step dance instructor Erika Damiani with five members of Tir Na Nog Irish Dance, award winning 20-year-old Irish bagpiper Torrin Ryan, and music and step dancing by the talented Miller Family - Ruby May, Evelyn and Samuel.

  Event Info
Saturday, December 13, 8 P.M.
Sunday, December 14, 7:00 P.M.
$18.00 advance / $20.00 day of show
Sponsored in part by Navigant Credit Union
at Blackstone River Theatre
549 Broad Street, Cumberland, R.I.
Call 401-725-9272 for reservations

Forward email to a friend!

Blackstone River Theatre | 549 Broad Street | Cumberland | RI | 02864

"she and the district began working together on a solution"

The school district’s opinion on a first-grader's service dog has softened after the boy’s mother mounted a public campaign to bring attention to his story. 
Ericha Flateau's 7-year-old son Austin has bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria, a rare brain malformation that causes seizures. Last month, Austin was paired with a service dog named Paris who can detect and respond to Austin's seizures: The milky-white golden retriever comforts the boy, alerts others to his seizures and stays by his side nearly 24 hours a day. 
Flateau, a 26-year-old single mother, had hoped the district would assign Austin's aide at Davis Thayer Elementary School, where he attends first grade, to handle Paris. The other options, she said, were to hire someone to travel to school with Austin or care for the dog herself, neither of which she can afford.
Continue reading the article in the Milford Daily News here (subscription may be required)

You can find 4 Paws for Austin on Facebook here

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

3 brief videos by FHS Students

From pantherbook, I find and share these three short videos by students. Animoto is a free internet based tool that takes photos, adds music and creates a brief movie that can be shared on the web.

The free tool provides a limited selection of music to 'match' the photos. You can also upgrade to a 'premium' or business version to enable more music choices and video length options.

It is good to see students using this kind of tool in their class work.

Everyday Life at Franklin High School by Sammy Croteau

Behind the scenes at FHS by Lucy Hemingway

A day in the life at Franklin High School by Lauren Robinson

screen grab of Animoto home page
screen grab of Animoto home page

If you would like to explore Animoto for some family holiday videos, you can find them on the web here

2 Original FPAC musicals, Humbug! A Beggar’s Opera and ’Tis the Season!

The Franklin Performing Arts Company (FPAC) presents two original FPAC musicals, Humbug! A Beggar’s Opera and ’Tis the Season!, for the holidays this year.

A family favorite since debuting as part of FPAC’s 2008 season, Humbug! is an original musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol starring the script’s writer, Nick Paone, as Scrooge. With musical hits of every genre and live accompaniment by a 10-piece band of professional musicians, Humbug! transports audiences from Dickensian England to contemporary America as the novel’s characters and storyline are cleverly reimagined with modern setting and dialogue. Newly restaged for THE BLACK BOX, FPAC’s new home and performance venue in downtown Franklin, Humbug! delivers a holiday gift of hilarity with a timely and timeless message.

FPAC's Humbug!
FPAC's Humbug!

Paone has reinvented the Dickens story for a modern audience, producing satire with updated references to current events and pop culture. As Scrooge embarks on his transformative journey of self-redemption, he faces his nighttime visitors with unexpected twists and hilarious turns along the way. The plotline is supported by an entertaining and accessible score that includes creative treatments of Broadway and pop hits. A talented cast of 40 brings Paone’s fresh interpretation of Dickens’ work to the stage.

’Tis the Season!, an original large cast musical first presented by FPAC in 1995, returns by popular demand to entertain audiences with great merriment, fanfare and fun. The upbeat, jazzy extravaganza features members of the Kenny Hadley Big Band with contemporary arrangements of favorite holiday classics in musical styles ranging from swing, R&B and gospel to rock, pop and Broadway.

The show spotlights over 100 singers and dancers. Musical arrangements include Andy Williams’ It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year and Happy Holiday, songs from several popular television Christmas specials, Quincy Jones’ sensational version of the Hallelujah Chorus, and many surprises. Notes Director Raye Lynn Mercer, “’Tis the Season! is reminiscent of a good old-fashioned Christmas special with great singing, dancing and holiday fun. The show is guaranteed to entertain audiences of all ages.”

  • FPAC presents ’Tis the Season! on Saturday, December 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 21 at 2 p.m. at the Thomas D. Mercer Auditorium, 224 Oak Street, in Franklin. 
  • Performances of Humbug! are on December 12 at 7:30 p.m., December 13 at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m., and December 14 at 2 p.m. at THE BLACK BOX, located at 15 West Central Street.

Big Y and Waters Corporation are 2014 FPAC Holiday Performance Sponsors. For more information and tickets to FPAC holiday shows, visit or call (508) 528-3370.

Franklin Downtown Partnership: Murphy Business Holiday Gathering

Murphy Business invites you to a holiday gathering

Knock Off Early -
Party at Murphy Business!
Please join us at our office for some holiday fun next Thursday, December 11th!  We're wrapping up  two weeks of collecting for the Franklin Food Pantry  that day and will be serving up whoopie pies from 3 - 6pm  (made by our friend Kerri at Making Whoopie).  

Not into dessert?  

Then come have a drink.  Just please make sure you bring along 
a can of tuna, or better yet a couple of bottles of shampoo, 
which is the pantry's #1 need

No regrets necessary; just please advise if you're coming so we get enough Cheez Doodles (crunchy - duh).  Thanks! 
PS: Please visit Making Whoopie on Facebook to see why so 
many people like what they do...
Chris Bond
Murphy Business
15 East Central St.
Franklin, MA 02038
D: (508) 440-5670
C: (508) 380-7997