BBA Receives Update on Schools
Lucas Giguerre and Lynn Myatt
The Bellingham Business Association (BBA) gathered on a frigid January evening for their monthly meeting, this month at Rock ’n Coal, Coal-fired Pizza, 799 S. Main Street in Bellingham. The focus of the evening’s meeting was the Bellingham School System. Superintendent Peter Marano, High School Principal Lucas Giguerre, Director of Guidance Dr. Jan Chiappone, and Career Specialist Lynn Myatt all spoke and took questions from the group.
Marano thanked the BBA for the group’s continued support of Bellingham students through the scholarship program the BBA offers each year. Two $1500 scholarships are awarded to graduating Bellingham residents (students do not have to attend Bellingham High School to be eligible).
The superintendent spoke about a new grant Bellingham was recently awarded that will provide training, coaching, and school supplies to the elementary school staff. “This is a four-year grant, really great stuff,” Marano said. He noted that the transition in closing Macy, as well as sending fourth-graders to the middle school and eighth-graders to the high school, has gone well. “We have some excellent teachers who support our kids,” he said. “Stall Brook has seen a 7% increase in its ratings—you expect a 2% increase—so this is huge. We’re expecting big things from our students in the coming days. We need the business community’s support.”
Marano announced that the Bellingham High School Band will be playing in Boston for the Red Sox on May 9 at Fenway Park. “Ms. Marie Forte had to send in an audition tape—we’re very proud of them.” For information and to order tickets for the game, visit www.bellinghammusic.org.
A Franklin resident, Lucas Giguerre joked with the group that his position as high school principal is the fourth job he has had in Bellingham. “I’ve worked at the Chowder Bowl restaurant, Home Depot, and the New England Country Club,” he said. On a more serious note, he announced that fifty-one high school seniors had qualified for the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship, which provides free tuition to any state college for four years.
Dr. Jan Chiappone talked about the school’s efforts to work with their students on career-readiness skills. “We work with them to help them understand why their academics matter. We receive feedback from employers that there are skills gaps. And so we come to you and ask, ‘What can you do for us? And what can we do for you?’” She continued, “We try to help kids make a connection with what they’re going to do in the future—not just 4-year college, but 2-year college, trade school, or the military.”
BHS Career Specialist Lynn Myatt described an internship program that sent high school students to work at the fire department. “We stress work-readiness—showing up for work, not simply calling in sick when it’s not convenient.” She noted that the school is looking for additional internship opportunities for students. “I pre-screen students for these positions. They do not have to be paid internships,” she explained.
Each administrator present at the BBA meeting talked about the availability of scholarships for graduating seniors. The Guidance Department has multiple scholarship applications available for all graduating students, but students have to take responsibility for filling out the applications. Marano noted, “It’s frustrating for us that so many students don’t take advantage of this opportunity.”
At the end of the meeting BBA President John Orthman urged members to support the Shaw family in their efforts to raise funds for a splashpad at Silver Lake Park. Jon and Wendy Shaw recently lost one of their infant twin sons, Alex, who died suddenly at six weeks of age. “The Shaws are working to create a memorial for their son, something that will be a positive celebration of their son’s short life,” Orthman said.
The next meeting of the BBA is their annual networking meeting, which will be held on Wednesday, February 17, at 140 Pub & Club. More information about the BBA is available at www.BellinghamBusinessAssociation.org.