Print in "Landscape" mode

Student and Teacher Champions Score Many Awards

Mr. Charles ‘Chip’ Collins Named Best Buddies Advisor of the Year Award Recipient

High School Concert Band and 8th Grade Chorus Win Gold Medals

 “We just win” ~ Lauren Blake, Science Fair Award Winner


By David Hamacher


April 6, 2007 — Among the many award winners recognized last night at the Hopkinton School Committee meeting, High School Special Educations Teacher, Charles ‘Chip’ Collins was named the Best Buddies High Schools’ Advisor of the Year for his outstanding service as a volunteer.

            “Best Buddies is designed to pair up students with intellectual disabilities with other high school students so they can be included in the social arena,” Mr. Collins explained. “The slogan for the organization is taken from an old African saying, ‘I See You,’” Mr. Collins said. “When Best Buddies greet each other, they say ‘I See You’ because it’s just like saying ‘I recognize you as a person’.”  File photo.

            “Mr. Collins has led the program for the past three years at the high school and is now starting a new chapter at the middle school,” Mr. Christopher Arienti who serves as the High School Director of Special Education. “He is truly a gem of a teacher, and an even better person. He should be recognized for receiving such an honor.”

            High School Principal, Mr. John McCarthy announced recently that Matt Surka has been named a Finalist in the 2007 National Merit Scholarship Program.

            Science Teacher, Ms. Valerie Lechtanski was introduced as the Hopkinton team champion for the Regional Science Fair held recently at the WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), where Hopkinton won a total of 10 out of a possible 42 awards. Of the 14 schools and 122 projects participating, five schools had no winners. Sophomore, Archana (Arch) Vananrao took home the top prize for her work studying the anti-oxidant qualities of four different spices that could be used to reduce disease in the future.

            “This is the sixth year in a row where we’ve have the largest number of award recipients per school in the entire competition, Ms. Lechtanski announced. “It seems like it’s getting to be an annual event. Arch has been lucky enough to land an internship for the summer at WPI”

            Team partners Gabby Choi and Heather Freeman studied the ‘Evolution of Video Games and their influence on heart rate and elevated blood pressure. When asked to explain the practical application, Ms. Freeman explained, “With the power of the new video graphics, our study concluded that, “Yes there is a measurable increase in both the heart rate and elevated blood rate.”

            2nd place winner, Mr. Zach Perez explained his study of polyester versus a brand new fiber, Poseidon, for the use in bathing suits. “The thoughts going into the study was that polyester would be the strongest fabric, but the new material may prove a better overall material to use,” Mr. Perez explained.

            Lauren Blake’s winning project involved the study of the effects of blueberry juice for the use in treating urinary tract infections (UTI). “It is well known that cranberry juice is a good treatment for UTIs, Ms. Blake said. “And because 90% of all UTIs are caused from the e-Coli bacteria, the properties of blueberry juice was found effective,” she said.

            When asked by the committee members if eating blueberries was as effective and whether or not blueberry juice was more effective than cranberry juice, Ms. Blake replied, “We didn’t study the effectiveness of blueberries themselves, so that would have to be another study. We did find that in order for blueberry juice to be as effective as cranberry juice, you would have to consume a very large amount of the juice.”

            In her study of the anti-oxidant qualities of the four spices, the audience wanted to know the final tally. “Clove was overall the best,” Arch said, “with turmeric #2, cinnamon #3, and oregano was the least effective in our tests.”  Ms. Vananrao will go on to represent Hopkinton at the International Science Fair in May where students from around the world will present their scientific research.

            Mr. Perez has been offered an internship at Natick Labs, and Ms. Blake has accepted an internship at WPI for the summer as well.

            “It’s not very often that a 16 year old gets the opportunity for her dream job,” Ms. Blake said. When asked how they were able to be so successful, Ms. Blake replied, “We just win, she said. “We couldn’t have done all this without the incredible efforts of Ms. Lechtanski. She’s here after school, morning, noon, and night, even on weekends and vacation. That’s incredible.

            Ms. Lechtanski replied, “I’m never here alone, I wouldn’t be here with out you students.”

            “This is the first since 1995 and 1996 that one school has repeated as champion,” Ms. Lechtanski said, “and we’re real proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

            Ms. Lechtanski and all winners present and absent were awarded citations from the School Committee.

            Students from five Hopkinton Schools won prizes as winners in the Statewide Massachusetts PTA Reflections contest winners for the 2007 Theme, ‘My Favorite Place’. State winners will be recognized at the HPTA general meeting on June 12th, and the first place winners will move on to the National Competition.

            First place Hopkinton winners include: Rachel Ansell, 8th Grade Visual Arts Middle Division; Brandon Hall, 1st Grade Photography Primary Division; Grant Gendron, 12th Grade Photography, Senior Division.

            Second place winners were: Matthew Paolucci, 3rd Grade Literature Intermediate Division; Juliana Cole, 1st Grade Visual Arts Primary Division; Mia Coutinho, 3rd Grade Visual Arts Intermediate Division; Danielle Hall, 8th Grade Photography Middle Division.

            School Committee Chair, Rebecca Robak said, “What I like about this list of winners is that it includes students from 1st grade all the way up to 12th grade, so we’re making strides across the board.”

            The Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association (MICCA) held its Choral and Concert Festival this past weekend with more than 144 bands and orchestras, and 88 choruses competing during the festival. Hopkinton High School Concert Band and 8th grade chorus each received Gold Medals representing superior performance.

            6th and 7th grade choruses and Chamber singers all received Silver Medals representing excellent performance. 9th grade repertory band, and the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade bands all received Bronze Medals representing good performance.

            Both the 8th grade chorus and High School Concert Band have been invited to the MICCA “Stars at the Symphony Showcase event where they’ll have the opportunity to perform at Boston Symphony Hall.

            The 5th grade Destination Imagination team won 2nd place in its category at the tournament held last weekend at WPI. Coached by Margie Sellman and Tracey Cassidy, the team will now travel to Knoxville Tennessee to compete in the global competition.



School committee members present at last night’s meeting, (Rebecca Robak, Chair, Phil Totino, Vice Chair, and Nancy Burdick [Member Dave Stoldt was out of town, and Lyn Branscomb was out for medical reasons]). reviewed the proposed revised contract between the school committee and the MetroWest Symphony Orchestra (MSO) that had been offered at their last meeting. They noted several minor changes and voted to approve the agreement with the noted changes. Now, the MSO will be known as the MSO of Hopkinton.

            The next scheduled regular committee meeting is for Thursday, April 26th at 7:30pm in the Middle School library.


The Hopkinton News TM   online only at

©2007 All Rights Reserved.