Principal's Message

Where is ‘Walden’ for our students?  We hope it can be found at school. Our goal as a staff is to create an environment in which students are both challenged and supported because their individual talents are appreciated and cultivated. Of course, school looks different to each student.  Where is the ‘Walden’ that students pursue in their brief time at Nashoba Regional High School?

Although we are in the midst of the current school year, in a short time students will begin choosing courses for the 2018-2019 school year. For many students, looking through our Program of Studies is akin to flipping through a holiday catalog. There are a great many offerings, a great many opportunities to explore. In creating a schedule, a student builds her own Walden, so to speak. When deciding where to spend their time in school, students express their values.

What lies behind these decisions? Certainly, graduation credits play a big role. Requiring students to earn credits in various academic departments is an attempt to turn out well-rounded graduates. Another factor is an attempt to appeal to admission officers at colleges and universities. With over 90% of our students heading off to post-secondary institutions, students are conscious of the need to build a transcript and a resume. Loading up on academically challenging courses is one way that many kids try to make themselves more appealing. While it is natural for a student to want to make themselves look good on paper, we must remind students that they are more than a transcript and a resume. Overloading a schedule with demanding courses is a tricky business. Naturally, we want students to challenge themselves. However, they must be careful not to lose themselves in an effort to build an impressive academic transcript. When discussing course selections with your child, it is reasonable to ask if they are choosing a course out of a genuine for the material or because they imagine they are in a race against others for prized spots at the perfect college. Does such a place exist? And if it does, does it ensure a perfect job after college and a perfect life? Of course not.

Academic challenges help our students grow and deal with challenges. But as the adults in students’ lives, we must help them find that elusive balance between reaching for the stars and accepting personal limitations. It seems to me the best way a student can present herself to a college is to follow her interests, get involved with the community and work hard. And by interest, I mean more than the interest of getting into some exclusive four-year college. By and large, Nashoba students have shown themselves to be inquisitive, hard-working students who are capable and courteous. These are the very kids that colleges and universities want on their campuses.

Nashoba students should keep in mind what attracted them certain activities in the first place. The young men and women involved in robotics are surely aware of how this activity looks on their resumes. However, they put in far too much time after school and on weekends to simply be doing it because of a resume. Rather, they love the competition, the trial and error of spirited creation and working as a team to solve challenging problems. This is why they do what they do and these skills will serve them well in life. Thoreau’s Walden speaks to us today because he sought to come to terms with himself, not please others. His writing about that pond in Concord was a genuine expression of an individual, not something created to appeal to the masses. Of course, the irony is that in expressing his truest self, he created a classic that still speaks to us more than 150 years after it was published.  

So, students of Nashoba, “Where is your Walden?” In what classrooms can it be found? If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an open-ended question such as this one may be worth a thousand answers. I only hope each student comes up with a response that reflects both self-awareness and self-worth as they choose their academic schedule for the upcoming year.