Student Feature Fridays

Madeline Cerulli

Maddie CerulliThis week’s Student Feature Friday is junior Madeline (Maddie) Cerulli. Maddie is an active participant in Best Buddies, “The world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). BESTBUDDIES® builds one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), through school and community friendship programs that provide socialization opportunities to help erase the invisible line that often separates students or adults with and without IDD. Friendship programs include Best Buddies Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, and e-Buddies.” (

Maddie is currently the Best Buddies chapter president and takes the responsibility very seriously. She helps to match Buddies, looking for common interests that will develop into strong, dedicated 1:1 friendships. She also organizes events for the group including a basketball clinic with the Holliston Boys Basketball team, bowling events, and trips to the aquarium. This month the group is planning several events surrounding the “spread the word to end the word” international movement, focused on ending the use of the “r” word, instead choosing “respect” and acting respectful without judgment. Maddie is truly a caring a remarkable person who is leading by example.

Q: Why is Best Buddies such an important organization for you to be part of?

A: Best Buddies is such an important group to be a part of, as it advocates for the inclusion of our amazing peers in the special education program who we may not have the opportunity to meet otherwise and form really strong relationships with. For me personally, I got involved because of my younger sister. As she is a part of the special education community, I have witnessed some of the challenges she has faced in feeling included in her school and community, and so I wanted to make sure that she and all my friends in the program have the best high school experience possible.

Q: It was clear during our conversation that you have found your passion working with Best Buddies and that you love talking about the group. What advice would you have for others who are still trying to find their passion?

A: I’m lucky enough to have found something that means so much to me, and I think for other people to find their passion, it’s important to have different experiences and be open minded. You never know when something can strike you as something that truly connects to who you are, and make you want to continue with it for the rest of your life.

Q: During our conversation you mentioned educating people about “people first language.” Can you explain what this is and why you feel it is critical for people to be aware of the language they use?

A: “People first language” is using vocabulary that puts the person first, ahead of the disability, or in general, just ahead of any label that might take away from who someone is beyond being part of a specific group. An example I love is if you’re introducing a friend of yours who broke their arm, you wouldn’t say “this is my broken arm friend”, because their broken arm is not more important than who they are as a person. It’s critical to realize that even this small change in language matters. It shows that you are seeing someone as more than that one characteristic, and in this case, as a person, not just their disability. This doesn’t mean that a disability isn’t a valid, respectable, part of who they are, but more that a disability does not solely define them.

Q: Not only are you a leader for Best Buddies but you also participated in the Rotary Youth Leadership conference last year. What was this experience like and what did it teach you about your own leadership style?

A: The Rotary Youth Leadership conference was an incredible experience that allowed me to meet other student leaders from around the state and learn skills that expanded our confidence in leading. I learned so much about using a platform to speak on behalf of a group, and also that leadership doesn’t just come in one form. I learned that my leadership can go past being a vocal presence, but I can also lead through quiet example.


Student Feature Fridays

Kelsey Logan

Kelsey Logan SFFThis week’s Student Feature Friday is sophomore Kelsey Logan whose maturity and varied writing experiences far surpass her age. Kelsey is clear that she wants art to be a part of her life now and in the future and is currently focused on exploring various forms of writing. After being introduced to poetry in 6th grade, she realized the complexity and ability to dissect the poetry was something that she loved and she continues to develop her own style by taking classes at HHS and online through other organizations.

In April, Kelsey will be competing with her team in the Louder Than A Bomb poetry competition. After taking a slam poetry class she auditioned for the competition by reading two of her pieces and was chosen to compete on a team with 3 other individuals from the Boston area. Kelsey gravitates towards free verse poetry because it provides the most mobility in her writing.

Kelsey is impressive in her ability to intentionally step outside her comfort zone and participate in other experiences that push her to develop her skills, challenge her thinking and grow as a person. Her goal as next year’s co-editor in chief of Enigma Literary Magazine is to highlight all different art forms, thus allowing her to highlight the work of so many different students. There is no doubt that the literary magazine is in good hands.

Q: As the soon-to-be co-editor and chief of Enigma Literary Magazine, what leadership responsibilities will you take on and why is this something you are interested in doing?

A: As a co-editor in chief, it will be my responsibility to understand, teach, and be involved in the process of developing the Literary Magazine. I will teach newcomers how we operate as a club, how we create the school’s magazine, and how to apply the skills built by the club to our daily lives. I hope to inspire and push the editors to publish a diverse collection of student work that demonstrates the voices of our peers.

I was welcomed into Enigma last year by the amazing co-editors in chief, editors, and club advisor, Mr. Murphy. I was inspired by all the club members and the kindness and laughter that we shared at each meeting. I was intrigued by the concept that by publishing the magazine, we were illustrating the innovation and creativity of our peers. I hope that as a co-editor in chief, I inspire other members of Enigma, as well as readers of the magazine, to find and express their voices.

Q: During our conversation, you described writing as your passion. What is it about writing that resonates with you?

A: I think that art allows us to connect to and understand each other. It enables us to share our stories and shed light on the aspects of society that we wish to change. I believe that writing is a form of art, and as an artist, writing allows me to share my experiences and develop my perspective of the world.

Q: You talked about this year (sophomore year) as an experimental year, trying winter track, taking an online writing class and taking a class at Mass Art. What have you learned about yourself through this process?

A: One of the hardest decisions that I’ve made was taking a break from dance. I’ve grown up with dance as a major part of my life and developed a bond from this art between my teammates. As my sister and I were on the same team, and held dance as something we shared, I was hesitant to leave the team and lose this connection. The commitment of being on a competitive dance team absorbed my time tremendously and I realized that if I continued to solely focus on this one aspect of my life, I wouldn’t be able to further develop other passions.

This year, I decided to leave my dance team and invest in my passion for art and writing. I took an online writing class that connected me with teens from around the world, receiving feedback from an instructor living in Paris at the time. The online class, as well as the writing electives I took at HHS this year, strengthened my skills and craft and gave me the confidence to audition for GrubStreet’s slam poetry team that represents the Boston area. On top of this, I was able to send my work to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and the outcome was being recognized as a gold key medalist. If I hadn’t had taken this year to pursue in this passion and dedicate myself to the craft, my writing abilities wouldn’t be where they are now.

The class that I took at Mass Art introduced me to various mediums of art. This class brought a group of people together that encouraged self-expression through the process of art – reminding me that life is a process, and that taking time to try new things is so important to discovering who you are and who you can become.

At winter track, I was surrounded by positive encouragement to push myself both physically and mentally. It was inspiring to see my teammates engaged in their event/s and be so supportive of each other.

By participating in these different activities, I realized that I am empowered by being around people that share a passion for a certain pursuit – whether that be a sport, art, or writing – as the energy of a shared love unites those involved.

This year has brought me to the realization that my future does not have to be as rigid as I envisioned it. But that I can branch out into other realms of activities and still appreciate and respect the path I came from. Looking back, if I had not taken this risk, there are so many connections to inspiring students from Holliston, and other towns, states, and even countries, that I would not have been able to make. I am so thankful that this experience allowed me to navigate my way by pursuing in my passions.

Q: When asked what advice you had for others just starting out as writers, you mentioned that it is important to find your voice. How did you go about finding your voice and how is that displayed throughout your writing and other forms of art?

A: Anyone that is just starting out as a writer should understand the importance of their perspective on society. Writing, as well as other forms of art, allow an individual to convey how he or she feels about a certain aspect of the community. Writing is a process that allows one to observe the world around them and illustrate and portray its beauties and flaws. I think that ‘voice’ is a process about taking a step back from society to understand your reaction to the constant change we are faced with. All of my life experiences come together to form the perspective that my work is produced from.

Slam poetry offers a platform for me to express my views of society and how I think we should change. The Louder Than A Bomb competition that my slam team will participate in is a place for our community to hear the voices of our youth.

Student Feature Fridays

Morgan Perry

IMG_2093This week’s Student Feature Friday is senior Mogan Perry who exemplifies leadership skills in both the academic and athletic settings. Morgan is a mature, responsible, kind and caring person who believes in the importance of strong, positive role models. She goes out of her way to assist others and works hard to create an open and welcoming atmosphere. As a result of her patience, compassion and competence she was promoted to “Chief of Early Learning” at Kumon in Natick. Morgan works with 3-7 year olds instructing them with carefully designed individualized programs. Her face lights up when she describes the rewarding experience of working with these students and knowing that she is helping them progress at their own speeds.

In addition to her devotion to her students, she is devoted to the athletic arena, playing both club hockey and lacrosse (earning a spot as captain during her junior year). When asked how she became interested in hockey, she described her early experience in learn-to-skate. Her parents had enrolled her starting at a young age, 6-7 years old, and after the class she would see the boys enter the ice for hockey. Her response: “why can’t I do that?” Years later, she continues to play club hockey, taking on the role of captain when her team went to Nationals and won. Although the leadership role may be different on and off of the ice, she continues to model high expectations for those around her.

Q: During our conversation you mentioned that you were promoted to “Chief of Early Learning.” What responsibilities do you have with this role and what leadership qualities do you feel are necessary to be successful when working at Kumon?

A: In my role as “Chief of Early Learning” I believe I am held to a higher standard and must make sure that I follow the “Kumon Method” strictly. I am always trying to answer any questions the other instructors may have or give advice and tips on making the process more efficient. I also train new hires and make sure that I observe how they are learning and correct them if I notice anything that they may not have mastered yet. I always have to be at the top of my game because with the children’s individualized learning plans it is very important to stay on task. To work at Kumon you must be patient, focused, passionate, hardworking, and creative. Over the years, I have gotten to observe the style in which each student learns and I adapt the way I approach each child accordingly. I have developed “games” that I use to get the students through the worksheets quicker and reward them with an extra sticker when they follow along. It is also really important that when you get to Kumon you are patient and kind. My boss who has become a great role model for me has always said “it doesn’t matter if you just failed a test or had a horrible day, when you walk through that door you put a happy face on”. This has stuck with me because kids will not understand if you divert any negative energy towards them. It can be hard to control two energetic 5 year olds, but being patient and kind makes it much easier.

Q: While instructing students through your work at Kumon, you mentioned that it has “sparked a passion for teaching.” What is it that you love about teaching and how has it changed your perception of your own teachers?

A: I have always been good with children and I enjoy anything that involves interacting with people. When I am with a student at Kumon I understand that it may be challenging, but I believe it is so important to begin to develop good learning habits even at a young age. My love for teaching was actually sparked at one particular moment in my first month at Kumon when I was helping a 1st grader in math. He looked down at his classwork and noticed “new symbols”: subtraction signs. I began to explain to him what subtraction was, gave examples, and by the end of the class he knew how to subtract. Seeing his attitude shift from the start to end of that class was one of the best feelings. Although just a basic thing like subtraction, I went home that day feeling so proud that I had just taught him something. I have so much respect for my teachers because now I can see truly how much effort goes into teaching. Explaining things can be so hard especially when a student is frustrated or confused, so when my teachers take that extra time to explain it makes me realize how much they care. Some students at Kumon will draw me pictures, give me a hug, or just tell me that they are so happy to see me. I always feel so much joy when this happens to me so I make sure to always thank my teachers for everything they do. I try to make close connections with my teachers and tell them how much I appreciate them because I know how much it can affect their days, just like it affects mine.


Q: The students you work with have individualized programs that are customized to their needs. Are there ways for teachers to bring this individualized approach into the high school setting?

A: At Kumon, each student has an individualized learning plan tailored to their learning level, style, and pace. Students are more successful when they can learn in a way that works for them, and I have seen this countless times throughout the years. Kumon also stresses independence because it allows students to get a real feeling for what they are and are not comfortable with. Naturally, it is easier for high school teachers to teach in the same way to each student because it is more efficient for the class as a whole. However, without completely changing the way their class runs, teachers could develop more choices. For example, some students are better working alone but some excel in collaboration with others. Some can spit out facts verbatim while others aren’t strong test-takers. Offering various types of assessments: essays, exams, projects, presentations, etc. is the best and easiest way to make sure that each student has an opportunity to showcase their strengths. The teachers that typically lecture and use PowerPoints could give a group assignment one day and those who tend to give lots of classwork can show a video. I think with assessment variation and different levels of courses, Holliston High School is doing a great job with trying to adapt to different learning styles while moving at the right pace.

Q: What is your leadership style and are there differences for you when leading in an athletic setting versus an academic setting?

A: I have always believed that there are many different types of leaders and I have learned this to be true through my leadership roles in academic and athletic situations. There is the strict “bad cop”, the spirit lifter, and the one who leads by example. My leadership style in athletics tends to be the hard worker and I strive to set an expectation for others to follow. I try to be a role model and take underclassmen under my wing because that makes a huge difference in team chemistry. In difficult situations I stay very positive and never give up because it only takes one person to bring a whole team down. In athletics you are leading your peers and it is your responsibility to earn the respect from your teammates. Sometimes captains have to make a decision for the team and not everyone will agree, but you have to get past that. I have found that being positive and kind is the best way for me to lead in an athletic setting. At Kumon, it is easy to lead because the kids know that I am the instructor and they automatically look up to me. In academics you have to create an authority for yourself which makes it easier to lead. Being a leader is a learning process, and sometimes you have to take on different leadership styles based on the situation.

Student Feature Fridays

Sarah Kennedy

Sarah KennedyThis week’s Student Feature Friday is senior Sarah Kennedy whose passion for music has become a major part of her life. In addition to singing, Sarah plays flute, guitar, piano and ukulele. She is a member of the band, participates in Act Two & Harmonics, and for the second year in a row, is representing Holliston at the All-State Festival. The Massachusetts Music Educators Association hosts the annual District and State level music festivals allowing high school music students to participate in advanced ensembles during the year. Through an audition process, the students first audition for their district’s festival (of which there are 5 districts across the state) in November. Half of the students who are accepted to either the band, chorus, orchestra or jazz band, are then recommended to audition for the State level festival. That festival happens in March and involves two days of concentrated rehearsals in Boston and then a concert in Symphony Hall.

Sarah described her first experience at the All-State Festival last year as a little nerve racking, as she was the only one chosen to represent Holliston. However, she also described the experience as pretty incredible and is looking forward to returning this year. She enjoys expressing herself through music and being able to put emotion to the notes. To Sarah, singing in the choir is the best feeling because it allows for everyone’s voices to come together to make one big, beautiful sound. She looks forward to continuing music in college and is thankful for the teachers who have strongly encouraged her to pursue her musical interests and talents.

Q: During our conversation we discussed your participation in All-States last year. What was your biggest take-away from this learning experience?

A: For me, the biggest take-away was the fact that I was constantly surrounded by people who loved making music just as much as I do.  Because of this, I gained great friends that I still keep in contact with now.  It was amazing to meet others who had such strong passions in not only music, but other areas as well.

Q: When did you first begin participating in the choir and how has your experience in the choir shaped your love of music?

A: I first started participating in choir in fourth grade when my music teacher urged me to audition.  I ended up earning a spot in the choir and I’ve performed in singing groups since then.  Choir has shaped my love of music by allowing me to work with others in such a different way than I was accustomed to and pushing me to become the best musician I can possibly be.

Q: When given the choice of describing music as a hobby or a passion you chose passion. Why is this so powerful for you?

A: Music has always been in my life and has constantly surrounded me, between family, friends, and myself.  It became a passion once I started performing with school groups and beyond school and I’ve also met some of my greatest friends through it.  It used to be a hobby, but has become such a huge part of my life that I wouldn’t be complete without it now.  While I’m pursuing science as a career, music is just as strong of a passion for me that I will continue to keep it in my life in any way I possibly can.

Q: What advice would you give to students who want to become more involved in music but are hesitant about their skills?

A: The advice I would give to those students would be to just go for it.  With music, you can’t be afraid to try new things, whether that might be joining a new music group or learning a new instrument.  If you don’t go for it, you could potentially miss out on a new passion within music and lose opportunities.  This didn’t come naturally to me-I had to constantly push myself to try things that I never thought to attempt.  Though it was hard at first, I discovered new things about music that I love and became more confident in my abilities as a result.

Student Feature Fridays

Nathan Rutberg

Nathan RutbergThis week’s Student Feature Friday is junior Nathan Rutberg who has found a passion for architecture and city planning. Nathan sees architecture as a tool to solve problems and describes it as tying art and function together in a cohesive way. His term project in Stress Management and Psychology focused on the connection between parks and mental health (his project can be seen below), specifically how city parks decrease the stress levels of individuals residing in the city.

In addition to pursuing his passion for architecture, Nathan is involved with music, sound engineering and running sound for school performances. Nathan is able to marry his love of architecture and design with his work in theatre. His theatre teachers states that, “He combines technical and analytical thinking with his creativity, which is perfect for the areas he works in at Theatre 370.” His sketches and set designs for the theatre Festival were, “well thought out, addressing the needs of the show, the feel of the piece and also trying to incorporate some historical architectural touches!”

Q: You described having a passion for architecture since you were young. What is it about architecture that interests you or speaks to your passion?

A: It’s really interesting to me that in architecture so much has to be considered in the design of the building. No detail can be left unnoticed. Architects have to consider not only will a structure stand up, but will it be functional? Is it energy efficient? Is it within a budget? Does it follow the building code? It fascinates me how architects use their art to solve so many different problems at once.

Q: Why did you choose Parks and Mental Health for your Wellness project and what was the most challenging aspect of putting this project together?

A: I wanted to tie in my own personal interest to the assignment which was to choose and develop a project based on one of the 7 aspects of wellness. I knew I was interested in environmental wellness, or specifically how one’s surroundings affects their health. I chose parks specifically because I knew from prior knowledge that public spaces, especially green spaces, have a positive effect on people. Then through research online I was able to find specifics to back up that claim. The most challenging aspect of putting this together was finding studies and data on how specific landscape design choices affect mental health.

Q: You referenced a book that you read recently on sustainable cities (I may be wrong on the title). What resonated with you about the ideas in this book?

A: The book “The Well-Tempered City” by Jonathan Rose argues in great detail how to make a city sustainable. Sustainable meaning self-reliant and resilient for the future. It discusses the city as a system with thousands of interconnected parts like sewage, transportation, public education, low income housing, tourism, and much more all play a part into the well being of citizens. What resonated with me most was how policy decisions in any aspect of the city governance could make large positive changes on the citizens.

Q: Based on your interest in architecture and your wellness project, what suggestions would you have for creating more opportunities for students at the high school to enjoy the spaces around the building? Or are there other spaces you would create for students to enjoy?

A: I think there are some great outdoor areas around the school, especially the courtyard and the loading dock entrance near the cafeteria. But I think students could benefit from having more opportunities to go outside, like being able to relax around the perimeter of school during DSB, almost like an old fashioned recess. I think it would be interesting to turn the area by the Project Adventure course into a small park and garden that could be used for classes or just to relax in. It’s an especially good location because of its visibility and surroundings.

Student Feature Fridays

Gemma Sampas

FullSizeRenderThis week’s Student Feature Friday is 10th grader Gemma Sampas who describes finding her passion for writing while in the 8th grade. Whether it is going to Dublin by herself to take a writing course, taking on the role of Social Media Editor without having her own strong social media presence, or venturing into the world of the Holliston Cable Studio for the first time, Gemma is clearly willing to step out of her comfort zone on a regular basis. Gemma stated that these experiences taught her that “when you are put to the test you can rise to the occasion.”

Equally impressive is Gemma’s maturity and persistence. After attending the Harvard Crimson’s yearly seminar as a 9th grader, she was interested in attending the event again this year. The seminar is taught by Harvard students and Gemma described it as an amazing experience held in an environment with so much history and prestige. Typically 9th graders from the school attend this event so she independently contacted the organizers to see if she could attend as a 10th grader. Impressed by her persistence, they had her arrive early to assist with registering and orienting other students and then allowed her to attend the event for free. This type of perseverance, self advocacy and focus on goals is unique and something to be celebrated. For more information about Gemma’s progression as a writer, see our conversation below.

Q: During our conversation you described your 8th grade English class as a turning point in your writing. How did this class help you identify writing as your passion?

A: Prior to eighth grade, my sentences were swollen and rambled along, I would make references to movies I’d never seen and quote books I’d never read. I wanted to write, I wanted it badly, because something about the way it made me feel told me it could lead to something bigger. However, I wasn’t able to pursue creative writing in a school setting until eighth grade. My teacher for the year was Mr. Craft. He taught me how to write in a way that allowed me to keep my naivete yet develop a dependable set of skills. That year, I created a portfolio of work that was both completely my own yet indebted to him. Looking back now, I am truly grateful that I didn’t a let nascent passion pass my by.

Q: Journeying to Dublin on your own at 15 years old for a three week writing experience is pretty impressive. How did the program influence you as a writer?

A: The program taught me that security can be found in the most surprising of places, even in your own work. For some context, I left for CTYI a day after my last final, boarded a flight, and found my way to the Dublin City University campus. I soon learned I was the only student out of six hundred coming from the U.S.. The first few days were intense for me. My peers were all numbingly intelligent, charming, and interesting, and I worried I wouldn’t be able to show my genuine self. The course I took was Novel Writing, and was taught by a published young-adult author, Claire Hennessy. Once we began writing exercises in class, I knew that the “self” I thought I’d left behind in Holliston was still intact. Claire’s class taught me that I will always find my way back to myself through writing, and, consequently, the pieces I produced in her class are some of my most personal to date.


Q: In your role as Social Media Editor for the Holliston High School paper, what has been the biggest learning curve? Why is an online presence important to you as a writer?

A: When I was handed the role of Social Media Editor of The Holliston Vision I was really surprised. I had never thought of myself as any kind of newspaper editor, and don’t keep a prominent online presence. As Social Media Editor, I am assigned the role of maintaining our Facebook page, publishing articles, and trying to come up with new ways to keep ourselves relevant amongst our peers. Although I was hesitant at first to take the position, it has been such a rewarding experience. I now know how to manage a website and promote our new work over social media, two things I will need to be well-versed in when the the time comes for me to brave the writing world by myself. Keeping an online presence is so crucial for writers because it works as an interactive platform and a way to keep others posted on your work.

Q: Stepping out of your comfort zone and using the Holliston Cable Access Television studio to record your “talk show” is a big step. How did you come up with the idea for hosting a “talk show” with your friend and how did the first experience differ from your creative writing experiences?

A: Eric Salhaney and I shot the first episode of The Thing Is around a month ago. When coming up with the idea, we agreed that a high school talk show could help discuss topics important to us and our peers. I wasn’t nervous for it until the day came, and although I had no idea how it would turn out, I knew I had to go through with it to find out. The episode went really well, despite being much scarier than I had anticipated. We are in the process of editing it now, and, I have to say, the biggest difference from talking and writing for me is the revision aspect. We originally wanted the show to be one take, but now we realize that 9 minutes of witty, interesting content is hard to pull of, especially on the first time! With writing, I can revise the smallest sentence, I can go back and put in prettier words, I can have control over how I come across. There have definitely been multiple times in the editing room where I’ve shrunk in my chair out of embarrassment because of a bad clip of myself I have to watch over and over again as the team edits it out, but it’s all a learning experience. I know we’ll get better, but I’m also learning to appreciate the awkward parts of the process.

Student Feature Fridays

Tim Ringie

38958570932_9c7374c2dd_oThis week’s Student Feature Friday is senior Tim Ringie who is a three-season athlete and an all around great person. Tim is a captain for golf, a valuable member of the baseball team, and a captain for hockey (his favorite sport). I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Tim and was impressed with his maturity when describing how he handles very challenging situations as a youth hockey official.

As an official he is able to set his own schedule, develop his conflict-management skills and “keep up” his skating throughout the year. He is often in difficult situations as a youth official but this role has taught him a lot about himself and about handling difficult conversations with a calm but confident approach. Tim has definitely brought these leadership skills to his high school teams.


Q: What impact has participating in athletics (specifically hockey since you describe that as your favorite) had on your life?

A: Participating in athletics has had so many wonderful benefits on my life. I have created life long friendships with the players on my teams throughout the years. The camaraderie we have on our teams is something really special. From going out to eat after practice, to horsing around on long bus rides, overnight tournaments, seeing them every day at practice and games. All of the teams I have been on have created a special bond between us and I think it will last for years to come even after we are done playing sports. I have learned the benefits of hard work and sacrifice paying off. From playing injured and sick, to the practices at 10pm and 5:30 am, and to have them finally pay off with a satisfying win is just a wonderful feeling. I have learned to celebrate wins and accept and learn from losses, no matter how hard it may be, going to practice after a tough loss to work on what we didn’t do in the game.

Q: What was the process like to become a youth hockey official?

A: To become a USA hockey official, I first signed up for a seminar that lasted about half a day, with a long information session and a short on ice session. Once I completed that I was required to complete a set of online modules which were short videos followed by a small quiz, in total they probably took about 12 hours. After that came a 70 question open book test, which is harder than one might think. After all of that is completed, the reffing association sent my official patch and once that came in all I had to do was get a reffing sweater and they could assign me games.

Q: When discussing your role as a youth hockey official you stated that “even if you are a good ref, one side is always not happy.” How are you able to handle making these challenging calls on the ice and maintaining your professionalism in the face of criticism?

A: Dealing with angry coaches, players, and parents is never easy. To handle making calls while under these circumstances I have to be able to control my emotions when normally I would want to yell at somebody who is being ridiculous, I need to be able to keep calm and explain to them the call or the situation without coming off as hostile or annoyed. I also need to be thick skinned because I’m going to face criticism from one side or the other no matter what, even if I made the perfect call for the situation. Yet at the same time I need to be able to tell a coach or player if they are stepping out of line, I need to be able to calmly hand out the proper penalties if the coach or player becomes vulgar or belligerent.

Q: What skills have you learned in your role as an official that will help you in other areas of your life?

A: As an official, I have learned to work under a stressful situation as I need to be able to make the right call without letting an angry player, coach, or my own emotions get in the way. I have learned to do my best to control a situation before it gets out of hand so that later in the game things don’t get out of control. I also have learned to keep my emotions from influencing my decisions.