School Trips and News

2016-17 News

Students Learn About French Cheese Making At Vermont Creamery

They got up before the crack of dawn to embark on a 3-hour drive to Websterville, Vermont with their French teacher, Ms. Smith and Italian/French teacher, Ms. Chalifoux. The excitement was palpable as the group boarded the mini-bus and enjoyed breakfast – an assortment of bagels and cream cheeses brought by classmate, Claudiegh DeColine from her workplace.

What warranted such a lengthy trip for this group on a drizzly Friday morning? A visit to Vermont Creamery to see for themselves the cheese making techniques that they had studied in class! Indeed, this year cheese-making and cheese tasting were part of the French curriculum. Vermont Creamery exceptionally agreed to open its doors to this small group of high school students for an educational trip. The company was founded in 1984 by Allison Hooper and Bob Reese who are widely credited with having pioneered the cheese industry in the Green Mountains state. Most of their cheeses are made from goat’s milk and follow traditional French techniques.

Sam Hooper, the founder’s son, met with the group upon arrival and dedicated his entire day to guiding the students. First, he took the group, clad in coats and hairnets, through the fresh cheeses section of the building, where they got to observe how chèvre logs, cultured butter, quark, mascarpone and crème fraiche are made on a semi-industrial scale. Before entering the second area of the facility, students had to change into full protective suits, to avoid contaminating the precious aged cheeses. Here, the group watched artisan processes such as hand-ladling, the pressing of curds and the aging of the cheeses or affinage.

The afternoon was spent at the farm. The sky had turned blue by then and the sun was shining. The students partook in a meal composed of no less than 12 cheeses both young and seasoned, pizza garnished with goat sausage – made by one of Mr. Hooper’s local chef friends – and ended it on a sweet note with ice cream drizzled in goat milk caramel from nearby Fat Toad Farm. In a bucolic setting of mountains and red barns, the students played football and patted the family dog. The highlight of the afternoon for many was discovering the living quarters of the goats. The students were especially taken with the newborn kids who curiously stretched their heads to greet their visitors.

The entire day was a true opportunity to connect the curriculum with real life applications, as reflected in the students’ own comments:

Anderson Michel: “My personal favorite cheese was Bonne Bouche because it had a strong taste at first, then it grew an exotic flavor following with a variety of aromas. Before leaving we got to see the goats in their sheds from babies to fully grown and we ended up eating some goat sausage pizza as a farewell. This was a field trip to remember.”

Zach Khan-Reed: “Not only was this my first time in a cheese factory, but it was also my first time being in Vermont. Hearing the birds chirp, and smelling the freshness of the air was probably my favorite part. Sam was very courteous and explained everything in detail. Hopefully in the future we’ll get a chance to retake the same trip!”

TJ Elysee: “When I asked other students what was the highlight of their day, most of them answered the pizza and the cheese tasting. Anderson one of the students really liked the goat pizza he said, ‘that was the best pizza ever.’ I personally thought the highlight of the day was when we were at the farm and I got a chance to feed the goats and play ball with Anderson and Zach. I enjoyed the view and loved the butter and ice cream with caramel they made.”

Motina Pierre: “My favorite part of the trip was the goats because they were pretty interesting. When you try to pat them, they would raise their heads up to smell your hand first before they let you touch them. Overall, it was a fun and educational day.”

enjoying pizza with goat sausages

learning about the process and techniques of cheese making

learning all about cheese making

students in full gear so not to contaminate cheese

saying bye to the goats

Italian Students Learn Lessons in Computing & Electronics Using Arduino

At the end of the mini-course on Arduino, students pose with Italian teacher Armando Zona; Professor Domenico Teker from the Italian Consulate; Foreign Language Director, Ms. Rita DiCarlo; Arduino instructor, Andrea Centorrino; and Science Director, Rocco Cieri

What is Arduino?  –  “Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. Arduino boards are able to read inputs – light on a sensor, a finger on a button, or a Twitter message – and turn it into an output – activating a motor, turning on an LED, publishing something online. You can tell your board what to do by sending a set of instructions to the microcontroller on the board… Over the years Arduino has been the brain of thousands of projects, from everyday objects to complex scientific instruments.”   (

Professor Domenico Savio Teker, Director of the Education Office of the Consulate General of Italy brought to Medford High School an Arduino expert from Italy, Andrea Centorrino to teach Italian students how to use Arduino to create electronics projects.  Centorrino is completing his degree in Computer and Telecommunications Engineering at the University of Messina, Italy and is in Boston for his internship at the Italian Consulate.  In addition to dealing with a data processing system to speed up the issuing of passports to Italians living in the Boston Area, Centorrino has been going to local high schools to introduce Arduino to students of Italian.  

Andrea Centorrino introducing Arduino to Medford High School students of Italian 

Professor SavioTeker and Andrea Centorrino worked with students in Italian IV Honors and Italian V AP.   “It was a fun learning experience,” said Natalie Giurleo, “where we incorporated technology and the Italian language to develop our projects.”  The comment of another student, Leena Ziane was, “The organizers of the Arduino event were engaging and kind with all the students, and truly sparked a passion for both Italian and learning more about the new technology that continues to develop every day.” For the first lesson, Andrea Centorrino explained to students that Arduino was born in Ivrea, Italy, but originally it got more attention abroad than in Italy.  In fact, he mentioned that he first learned about Arduino and then found out that it was made in Italy.  Today it is used worldwide.  Each student got a free Arduino starter kit, a great opportunity to work with coding and electronics. Centorrino explained to the students that he would show them a few things, and then they could use their imagination, “only the sky is your limit on what you could build with Arduino.”  He told them that they could build a project and sell it anywhere in the world, but one needs to remember to give credit to Arduino.  The kits included a project book with directions for 15 projects (written in Italian of course), a USB cable, a Breadboard, push buttons, sensors, LEDs, transistors, resistors, etc. By the end of the first lesson, all students were able to build their Breadboard using buttons, connectors, transistors, resistors… and were able to make an LED light go on with the push of a button.   Success!

Opening up the Arduino kit.

Professor Domenico Savio Teker and Andrea Centurrino returned for a second lesson and the day’s project was to build a Theremin.  At the beginning of the lesson no one knew what a Theremin was, but Centorrino explained that it is an electronic musical instrument invented by a Russian inventor, Leon Theremin.  He then showed a clip of “The Big Bang Theory” where Sheldon is playing the Theremin, and then students started working on their project.  The interesting thing about this instrument is that it is played without any physical contact by the performer. 

Giulia Fabrizio and Catarina Barros-Correa smile for having succeeded in making their LED
light go on with the push of a button.

Matthew McCarthy and Gino DeSimone

Leena Ziane and Saida Osman collaborating on their Arduino project.

Saida Osman explains to Mrs. DiCarlo what she is creating with Arduino as Kelly Lam reads
the directions in Italian to her.

Domenico Savio Teker helping Isabel Cadel-Garcia and Zoe Salvato-Cutter

6 AP Italian Students Receive Awards

Six Medford High School Seniors in AP Italian were awarded the newly established Lucille Gaeta Matricaria Scholarship.

Joshua Crespo and Natalie Giurleo were awarded $2,500 each and Emeline Antunes, Deborah Ciaramitaro, Saida Osman and Leena Ziane each received $500.

Mrs. Lucille Gaeta Matricaria was born and raised in Medford and graduated from Medford High School in 1963.

“There are many of us ‘Gaetas’ who were raised in Medford as first generation Italians,” says Lucille, who remembers Medford fondly. “My entire family was raised in the city.”

She is now a resident of Arizona and divides her time between Chicago and Arizona. She wanted to establish an Italian language scholarship at Medford High School. Her intentions are to perpetuate the Italian language for deserving students, hoping to defray some of their college expenses. Mrs. Matricaria was very generous for this first year of her scholarship, and the six students are very happy and grateful for the generosity.

MHS AP Italian students
Left to right: Joshua Crespo, Emeline Antunes, Leena Ziane, Deborah Ciaramitaro, Saida Osman, and Natalie Giurleo

Medford wins 2nd place at “La giornata della lingua italiana” at Brandeis University

On April 7, 2017 a group of Italian students won second place in a competition with local high schools at Brandeis University. “La giornata della Lingua Italian” (Italian Language Day) is organized and sponsored every year by MITA (Massachusetts Italian Teachers Association) in collaboration with a local university. It is a friendly completion among high schools and this year it was held at Brandeis University. Students had to present live an original piece written and performed by them on a topic determined by the organizing committee. This year there were five performances and they were all magnificent! Congratulations to the Medford group for their amazing performance which placed second.

MHS Italian students

Our Medford team posing with the judges at Brandeis University

MHS Italian students

Medfprd students in “Ma che buon caffè” (What a wonderful expresso)

MHS Italian students

Medford “actors” posing with some teachers after their performance of “La sfilata di moda a Brandeis” (Fashion show at Brandeis).

MHS French Student Competes at Club Richelieu Concours Oratoire

Early in March the Francophile Club Richelieu held its annual French Oratory Contest at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem. Zach Reed, accompanied by his French teacher Lina Smith and classmate Enzo De Palma, attended the competition as Medford High’s candidate. Mrs. DiCarlo, Director of Foreign Language was also present at the event. After dinner, songs and lively conversation in French, the candidates took on the podium. Reed had prepared an interesting speech on the theme “Why did you choose French as a 2nd language, and what do you plan to do with it in the future?”. He talked about his background, including his time spent in Morocco, of how he came to become a French student and how he hopes to use French in his future business career. Having practiced in front of his classmates and family, his delivery was confident and flowed well. Reed came in second place, only 2 points away from the grand prize. He headed home $200 richer and with plans to return even stronger next year!

French students

French students
Left to right: Enzo DePalma, Lina Smith, Zachary Reed

Students of Italian Enjoy Concert at Everett High School

I CLASSICI, a musical trio from Italy is on tour in the United States. The Education Director of the Italian Consulate in Boston was able to arrange for a free concert for local high school students who are studying Italian. Two hundred Medford High School students were among the lucky ones to attend a special concert held on December 5th at Everett High School. Transportation to and from Everett High School was provided from the Michelina Pietrangelo Scholarship Fund. It was an incredible concert that featured arias from Giuseppe Verdi’s famous Opera, LaTraviata, and popular regional classic songs. Not only were students spectators, but some took part in the show either by being pulled onto the stage by the actors, like six MHS students from Italian 3 Honors class, or doing a presentation as MHS AP Italian students explained the story of La Traviata to the audience both in Italian and in English. All in all it was an unforgettable experience enjoyed by all those who attended.

Italian concert at EHS

Italian concert at EHS

Italian concert at EHS

Italian concert at EHS

Italian concert at EHS

Medford Foreign Language Department Attends 50th Anniversary ACTFL Convention

by Adriana Thomas, Foreign Language Teacher, Andrews Middle School

A quiet buzz fell over the Grand Ballroom of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The room was full; people were standing around the entrances waiting for the start of a special conference. Music and images of Boston flashed across the big stage. The excitement was palpable.

Six foreign language teachers from the Medford Public Schools were among this record breaking crowd of 8,500 educators attending the 50th anniversary of the ACTFL Annual Convention and World Languages Expo, an international four -day event, held on this occasion from November 17-20th, bringing together language educators and administrators of all languages and levels. Working as a team, Michael Skorker, Marie Nyland, Elizabeth Gomez, Emily Kammerer, Adriana Thomas and Department Head Rita DiCarlo attended various sessions to bring the most cutting edge ideas in language education into our classrooms.

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is dedicated to the improvement and expansion of the teaching and learning of all languages at all levels of instruction. ACTFL is an individual membership organization of more than 12,500 language educators and administrators from elementary through graduate education, as well as government and industry.

During the presentation Pete Swanson, the president of ACTFL, stressed the idea of “moving forward and giving back.” This is in the context of strengthening language education in the United States and globally, by having current teachers inspire students to become educators. He also talked about providing social and academic support for underprivileged and disadvantaged students, to ensure they succeed in the realm of higher education.

The keynote speaker and a futurist, Mike Walsh, spoke on advancing technologies and the need for teachers to adapt to them. He stressed that technology should not replace educators, but that they can use these emerging media to teach more effectively to students who are growing up accustomed to them.

“The ACTFL conference was an amazing experience for me because I learned so many more strategies and techniques that I can implement in my Spanish classes. I always strive to better myself as an educator, and part of that includes attending useful and content-specific professional development. It was truly an unforgettable experience that I was able to share with my colleagues,” Skorker explained.

“Attending the ACTFL conference was an eye-opener for my career as a world language teacher. I am full of fun and exciting ideas and can’t wait to implement some of them!” Nyland exclaimed.

“It was great to be surrounded by 100,000 [sic] professionals who share my passion for teaching foreign languages. I was inspired and I walked away with great new ideas to try in the classroom,” Gomez offered.

“We all gained so much from the conference, and attending with colleagues made it so much better,” said DiCarlo.

It was clear that Medford’s foreign language teachers as well as those from around the country were brought together by a unity of vision that was engendered by the ACTFL conference and, really, the organization’s underlying mission.

foreign language convention

Medford Public Schools’ foreign language teachers were among the 8,500 educators attending the 2016 ACTFL Convention

Medford foreign language teachers

From left to right: Emily Kammerer, Marie Nyland, Rita DiCarlo, Michael Skorker and Adriana Thomas (missing from the group picture is Elizabeth Gomez)