Category: Student Life

Operation Gratitude

The MacDuffie School recently participated in Operation Gratitude.

Operation GratitudeOperation Gratitude 2

We collected over sixty-five pounds of Halloween candy to be send to the military troops overseas. Accompanying the sweets are tooth brushes, toiletries and letters, which will be included in care packages.

Operation Gratitude 3

Thank you to the MacDuffie Community for participating in this event!

Math Madness Enters Bracket Rounds

MacDuffie’s Math Madness has competed in four regular season matches this year and will have its first bracket match this Thursday. So far the team is 2 and 2. We had a solid victory to start the year against Elko High School (Elko, Nevada) : 29 to 18. We followed that with a narrow loss to The Oakridge School (Arlington, Texas): 20 to 23. We ended up with a tight win against Hackley School (Tarrytown, New York) : 27 to 24 . Most recently we suffered a loss to Highlands Ranch High School (Highlands, Colorado): 22 to 30. This last match we played in pairs – which was a fun chance for students to work together.

We have had top scoring performances from Guo (Daisy) Cheng, Hongtao (Parker) Jiang, and Zixuan (Camellia) Liu. In the pairs match, two sophomores made the highest score: Yuanjin (Jane) Lu and Suchen (Dollar) Zhu.

Jane and Dollar
Yuanjin (Jane) Lu and Suchen (Dollar) Zhu, top scorers in most recent Math Madness Match.

Math Madness is a competition hosted by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) based on the March Madness college basketball tournament (NCAA). MacDuffie has been assigned to a bracket and has its first match on Thursday against BASIS Tucson North (Tucson, Arizona).   A victory that day will allow us to advance in the bracket to play the winner of another match.

MacDuffie’s quarter of the 64 team six round bracket competition.

The Flame that Keeps Burning

Submitted by Gina Napolitano ’16

After a day of festivities, the MacDuffie community came together to welcome its newest members in the nearly seventy-five year old tradition of Candlelight. This ceremony closes out the school’s annual Mountain Day- a day in which students and faculty members participate in Club Fair and hike up Mount Holyoke together. The point of this celebration is to make everyone feel as though they are included and comfortable by having new members of the school stand in a circle inside of a circle of returning members and eventually becoming one giant circle. After several speeches made by student leaders, a musical selection, and a dance piece, the inner circle is asked to step into the outer circle, officially making each new student and teacher a part of our community.

Photo courtesy of Ms. McNerney

After a brief explanation of what Candlelight was and what it meant, each student and faculty member was asked to take a candle as they processed out of the gym, led by the seniors. As I walked past lit torches to the open field where the ceremony would be held, it sunk in for the first time that this would be my last of seven Candlelights. But as I looked around, I saw ninety-six students and twelve faculty members who were just experiencing the joys of this day for the first time. This reminded me of my very first candlelight in sixth grade at the old Springfield campus; I remember being nervous, confused, and just not knowing what to expect. I also recall how welcomed I was when I first came to MacDuffie. How, even over the course of my first week here, it felt like a second home. That feeling of acceptance and lack of judgment was so comforting, and, as a senior, I want nothing more than to spread it around the rest of the community.

Photo courtesy of Tira ’17

When we approached the field and formed two circles, I was already getting teary eyed. Flags of each country represented at MacDuffie waved in the cool breeze and a large stack of wood sat in the middle of the meadow. Beautiful music played on the violin by Charlie Lee, ‘16, seemed to beckon and sooth the mass of people. After several speeches by our valued student leaders about the school’s six CIRCLE values, (Community, Integrity, Respect, Creativity, Leadership, and Excellence) an impressive musical performance of Stand By Me by the MacDuffie Singers, and an elegant, well-choreographed dance by the MacDuffie Dancers, Dean of the Boarding and MacDuffie Alumni Dina Lyman stepped forward and asked the inner circle to step into the outer circle. It was such a breathtaking spectacle- I was lucky enough to be able to stand back and see a circle of over three hundred and fifty people holding lit candles and lanterns in the darkness. I then stepped forward to lead the school in singing Summer Suns as everyone made their way to the grotto behind school for final remarks.

Photo courtesy of Tira ’17

It was surreal to me, taking that last walk back to the grotto with all of my friends and teachers. So many people here have become family to me over the years, and Candlelight, as Mrs. Lyman always says, is one of the seniors’ first goodbyes. But I also got that same feeling of comfort that can only be described as pure happiness, knowing that everyone at the ceremony was now a part of this community that I have come to love so much.

Photo courtesy of Tira ’17

After we arrived at the grotto, Mr. Steven Griffin, Head of School, gave an eloquent speech that only furthered my sentiments. In the minutes during which we sang our Alma Mater, The Magnolia Song, I realized how proud and privileged I am to be part of such a strong, unified, diverse group. I knew that, even when we dispersed, graduated, or moved on from the school, everyone could say that they were once part of a school as close-knit, unique, and welcoming as MacDuffie.

Learning the Art of Acting

Submitted by Ian Soares ’16
I heard about the Berridge Conservatory thru my acting teacher, Ms. Benedict.
the berridge crew
I like to travel and love to act, so this opportunity seemed perfect as it was a four week acting program over the summer in Normandy, France.
A Winters Tale
The conservatory started eight years ago, with only a few students and now consists of around thirty actors including myself, and five professional actors who lead the courses.
greg ainsworth, A Winters Tale
I was surprised and fortunate enough to work with professionals in the film, television and stage industry.
Laban technique
I left Berridge with a more complex understanding of acting, new techniques, and new connections.
IMPROV group
If someone is looking for a place to be creative, explore their passion for theatre, and have a ton of fun, Berridge is the place to go.
host- performance night

Fostering Community in the Great Outdoors

Submitted by Katherine Heffernan, Residential Assistant

To relax after a week of orientation, unpacking, and recovering from jet lag, new and returning boarders headed to Aloha Camp run by the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont. Students and residential staff packed their sleeping bags and bathing suits for a weekend of classic summer camp activities and community development.

on the lake

Taking place before Labor Day weekend, the camping trip is becoming a boarding tradition, with the trip to Vermont in its second year. Located on crystal-clear Lake Morey, Aloha Camp offers traditional camping atmosphere complete with tents, family-style meals, and campfires, as well as more modern amenities such as hot showers and electricity – in some buildings, that is!


For both new and returning boarders, however, the camping trip is always a learning process: each year, Hulbert staff promote a “Challenge by Choice” mentality by presenting students with new activities and games from which to choose during their stay.


Boating and rock wall climbing were some of the most popular activities among the students and residential staff, although many also grappled with a bow and arrow during archery.

archery 2

Others tried – and tied – their hands while making wire jewelry and friendship bracelets, which could be seen more on the wrists of RAs than of students. Nearly all campers and Hulbert staff cooled off in the lake for open swim before returning to team building in camp groups.

jewelery making better

For all its entertainment and leisure, the boarding trip served a larger purpose: to foster a sense of community, care, and engagement among students and residential staff. Throughout each day, students played icebreaker games and critical thinking challenges with Hulbert staff, interspersed with free choice activities and communal meals.

group shot edited ice breakers

These team building activities created camaraderie which carried into singalongs and s’mores around evening campfires.

team building activity

Peals of laughter rang out into the night as students raced against one another in egg tosses and partnered cereal eating competitions. Lit only by twilight and the occasional flashlight beam, the camp glowed with the exhaustion of a day in the summer sun, and the beginnings of a strong boarding community in the coming academic year.

roasting smores editedcereal eating contest edited