Category: MacDuffie Community

Neighbors Helping Neighbors and Community Service Updates

Originally published on The Magnet by Derrick Cruz

MacDuffie’s student-led community service organization, The Key Club, recently experienced a change in leadership with ELL teacher Dana Katz accepting the role as its advisor. Katz has expanded Key Club’s curriculum to include frequent food bank and rehabilitation center visits as well as some visits to soup kitchens. Among these was Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

In November, Neighbors Helping Neighbors took place. It was presented to the entire student body as an opportunity to serve at a local food bank in South Hadley. Students prepared and served meals to the homeless population in South Hadley. Katz was pleased to see many students participate.

“There’s always way more students than I can accommodate, and that is always a good problem to have,” said Katz.

Katz also shared some of the more recent opportunities for community service. Katz mentioned VERO, a rehabilitation center that has allowed students to help out seniors during craft hours. Some work that Key Club members are doing or have already done includes Senior Madeline LaChance’s Toy Drive, The Winter Coat Drive and Socktober. As the year goes on, Katz urges students and parents to reach out to the Key Club if they have any ideas.

As a club, Key Club has increased its membership and the amount of community service opportunities they have been offering. Katz reflects on how 11 students participated in the River Clean Up and in Neighbors Helping Neighbors there were even more.

Katz hopes that the entire MacDuffie community is affected by these opportunities. She hopes that all of them go out and open community service opportunities of their own, whether it be in our school community or whatever is closest to home.

This year, Katz has taken her particular role seriously. She also shared that her intentions and future plans for the Key Club would be to establish two monthly activities which she hopes will have longevity within the MacDuffie community. When she reflects on what she called “a growth edge,” or a particular area where she sees Key Club going or improving upon, she claims Key Club could provide “a connection for Boarders to do work in their own home as they experience community service in America.”

Key Club is an organization where students can individually pursue leadership. At MacDuffie, students are encouraged to participate in the activities that the club provides access to.  Students and the beneficiaries of these services both stand to benefit.

MacDuffie’s New Clubs 2019

Originally posted on The Magnet by Alison Jackson, Ian Hua and Vincent Buono

ASL Club

This year, senior Savannah Richard created a new club at MacDuffie for learning American Sign Language, or ASL. Richard wanted to introduce ASL to the community because MacDuffie does not offer it as a class, and most people at the school are unfamiliar with the language.

Richard’s goal for the end of the year is to have members be able to “turn to each other and have a conversation… in ASL,” she said.

Richard originally picked up ASL around second or third grade. Recently, she also took an ASL class at the Palmer Public Library. According to Richard, the class focused on “how to begin communicating” rather than accumulating vocabulary, and she will use a similar style when teaching ASL in her club.

“I want to focus on having basic conversational techniques and also helping people to watch and be able to understand signs,” she said.

For the “basic foundation” of ASL, Richard plans to use companies called Signing Savvy and Signing Time, both of which she said she will utilize more for learning vocabulary. To teach more complex skills such as understanding signing at a realistic speed and having conversations, Richard will use other resources including movie clips.

The club will be “relaxed and open,” with meetings once every two weeks at different times to accommodate members’ schedules. Richards added that since much of what she will be teaching can be found online, missing meetings is not a serious issue.

Art teacher Jena McNerney is the club’s advisor.


Barbershop Club

Senior Hanghe “AC” Cao has built up a reputation as the local barber among the boarding community, and he has recently created a new barbershop club at MacDuffie to spread his expertise even further.

To run the club, Cao partnered with senior Alex Nguyen who will schedule and plan meetings for the club while Cao teaches and demonstrates. Nguyen will also demonstrate how to perm and dye hair.

Because of his experience, Cao hopes he can positively impact the community by making something as common as haircuts more accessible (while helping them save money).

The two have other goals besides cutting hair, however. One of the issues Cao recognized as he cut hair for boarders was communication, and he hopes to solve that.

“They cannot get a good [haircut] not because the barber is bad…they don’t really know how to talk with the barber- they haven’t ever learned that,” Cao said. He gave several examples of instances when he was cutting hair and only received vague instructions like “trim my hair just a little bit shorter” and even “I don’t know what kind of hair I want.” As a result, improving communication with barbers is one of their main goals, though Nguyen specified others.

“We want this to be a thing that carries on to next year when we’re gone… our goal is to maintain this club for as long as possible. We want this to be a part of MacDuffie, where you can get good haircuts here,” he said.

In meetings, Nguyen said his plan will be to start at the basics, including “how to talk to barbers, what are the types of cuts that are the most popular…” and later on the club will move on to “more technical stuff like perming hair making the hair curly and dyeing hair,” he said.

Anyone can join the club, however, the club will focus on cutting men’s hair, since Cao and Nguyen are most experienced in that area.

Cao and Ngyuen will hold meetings in room 1309. Head of School Steve Griffin is the club advisor.


Light Art

At last week’s Club Fair, a MacDuffie tradition in which all of the school’s clubs hold booths to give students the opportunity to join these clubs, one booth literally stood above the rest—a large tripod with an attached video camera sat atop the table, and several cameras were scattered around it. Curious students would discover that this club was none other than Light Art, which provides students with the opportunity to pursue photography and videography outside of a classroom setting.

When junior Raymond Xia first came to MacDuffie, he was eager to join a photography club, but soon found that there was no such club at MacDuffie. Thus, Xia decided to take matters into his own hands and create one himself, which would become Light Art. Along with senior Pitt Pongpittayapa, who specializes in video editing, and senior Clarke Cui, Xia created a photography and videography club where students could “share ideas about taking pictures” and “have fun,” in the words of Xia.

Students do not need any prior experience with photography and videography in order to join Light Art, as Xia said that he is “thinking of teaching all members basic rules and how to use cameras.” Due to the high volume of sign-ups for Light Art, Xia plans to separate club members into a group of those who have photography experience and a group of those who have never tried photography.

When speaking of his motivations for creating Light Art, Xia said, “There’s a lot of people in the school that have the talent to capture the moments in life. However, they just don’t have the opportunity, so I want to provide it.” Xia also mentioned that he hopes to create a photography exhibition for the projects of Light Art members, considering MacDuffie already has a similar showcase for visual art and dance.

In addition to a possible photography showcase, Xia would like to take Light Art club members on field trips to take photos in nearby towns, as he hopes to make a documentary-style photo series that features pictures of local individuals.

Those interested in joining Light Art can contact Xia, Cui, or Pongpittayapa with any questions.


Unity (Tap Dance) Club

Although different styles of dance classes, such as hip hop and jazz, are being offered for the first time this year at MacDuffie, it seemed that there were no opportunities for those who are interested in tap dance. Yet this is no longer the case, as one of MacDuffie’s newest clubs will offer tap dancers of all abilities the chance to hone their skills.

Unity Club began as an idea of junior Belle Yang, who began tap dancing in the third grade and won a championship for the dance style as a sixth-grader. While she took a break from tap dancing for several years, Yang said that she wanted to resume dancing by creating a tap-dancing club at MacDuffie. Yang began Unity Club with the hopes of helping students “build confidence on the stage,” as she said that “most people didn’t have the opportunity or chance to perform on the stage.”

In addition to building confidence, Yang’s goals for members of the Unity Club include learning a “short amount of tap dancing skills” as well as being able to show their skills to others when asked if they are tap dancers.

Though she may be a champion tap dancer herself, Yang intends to create a laid-back atmosphere in Unity Club and welcomes dancers of all skill levels. Yang believes that clubs at MacDuffie serve as informal opportunities to “develop people’s interests,” and emphasized that the dancers in her club do not have to be “very serious about tap dancing” or have “extensive training.”

“I just want people to relax,” Yang said and mentioned that she will begin her tap dancing instruction with the most basic skills. Specifically, Yang plans to show club members an instructional video and then teach them the tap-dancing techniques herself. Depending on the amount of improvement that club members make, Yang is considering choreographing a dance for club members to perform.

At the moment, Unity Club will meet once or twice a week in MacDuffie’s dance studio, and those interested in joining must purchase their own pair of tap shoes. Those with any questions about Unity Club can contact Yang at


Environmental Club

Junior Charlie Nguyen decided to make a new club that would help our environment. “I started this club with the hope to find people that are interested in protecting and creating a positive impact on the environment around us,” Nguyen said. This club is for people who would like to give back to there community. Nguyen’s main goal is getting people together so they can sign up for volunteer projects.

“Together, our club can volunteer in environmental projects such as river cleanups, raise awareness about environmental pollution, and fundraising for nonprofit environmental organizations to create a bigger positive impact on the community,” Nguyen said.

Ukulele Club

Senior Mike Nguyen decided for his leadership practicum that he was going to start a club on how to play the Ukulele. He also had another reason why he wanted to help teach people to play this instrument.

“Last year, I got to perform Pachelbel’s Canon during the Spring Concert in April. Then, Mr. Kaminski told me that this was the first time the ukulele was performed during the concert. I felt rather shocked because the ukulele is such a popular instrument,” Nguyen said.

Director of Information Technology Ed Gray has experience in playing the Ukulele. Starting a club here at MacDuffie is to teach people about it.

“I created the club to inspire others to play and to appreciate this underrated instrument,” Nguyen said.

Boarder Trip Bonding

Originally published on The Magnet by Megan Jacques

MacDuffie day students were treated with an invitation to Big E and Six Flags boarding trips this year after Assistant Dean of Boarding Lucy Tew shared a form for students to sign up.

In prior years, due to concerns around how the students would pay for the trips, day students were excluded from boarding trips. Since boarding students pay a different activity fee compared to the day students, the big issue with enacting this plan was ensuring that the day students would not break the bank to join their boarder friends, while still having these students pay for the activities they are attending.

The decision to allow day students to join the boarding trips is “something that [the boarding department] had been talking about for a while,” said Tew.

“We opened things up to day students, and we let them choose. It’s like an a la carte menu, you get to pick. We have space on a trip, we let you sign up, and then we give you the information on what you pay, if you pay, and who you give it to,” said Tew.

Dean of Boarding Dina Lyman added that, “Some of it has to do with vehicles. Such as, do we use a five star bus or do we use our own? That is why the sign up is so important. Because that is what tells us what vehicle to use. If we have a lot of students sign up, we have to order a larger bus.”

The new invite is not strictly limited to boarding trips that go off campus. Over the weekend of October 26th, day students were invited to attend the haunted house run by the boarding department on Saturday Evening.

“We haven’t been able to open it up before, which we are really excited about,” Tew said.

The trips that day students are invited to are not strictly local trips that only last only a few hours. Day students are invited to all trips, such as those to New York City. However, day students were not invited to the Salem trip due to overwhelming numbers from the boarding population.

The boarding students this year have shown high interest in the boarding trips, which is unusual for the boarding department to see.

“And it’s awkward because now we have 50 boarders interested in a trip, where that might not have been the case a few years ago, but now we don’t have room to offer for a day student,” said Tew.

There will be more opportunities for day students to join these trips as the year goes on, but as of now the trips have been in high demand by boarders, so having room for day students is slim.

So what should you expect while on a boarding trip?

Regardless of where the trip is going, students are required to stay in a specific area. If the trip is to a bowling alley, the students are expected to stay in the bowling alley, and not wander off.

If the trip is to a larger location like Six Flags, or even a city, the same expectation applies. Although there is more room to roam, you are required to stay inside the location you are in and not leave the area for any reason.

Ms. Tew says that “the big important rule for any free time we give in a city or exploring is don’t be by yourself.” In places like Six Flags, it is less crucial as you cannot go very far without running into someone from the trip. In larger cities, it is important to stay with students who have a cell phone and can contact the duty phone if necessary.

What the boarding department expects from any student on these trips is that everyone will be respectful and continue to uphold the values that the school expects from everyone.

“What I’m really looking forward to is having the day students come in and have the experience of going out be this special thing for the borders because ‘oh, it’s not the same group of people. Now my day friends are here’,” said Tew.

“Boarding interactions is one of my favorite things and I really like seeing that happen on these trips. So I am really looking forward to that kind of community building between the boarding and our day communities, because it’s nice to have more people on campus over the weekend.”

Fall Sports Awards Night

Last night’s Fall Sports Awards was a great time to reflect on the many successes of the fall season. Our student-athletes received both individual and team recognition for their dedicated work on the field, on the court, on the course and for their attitudes as teammates. Congratulations to all!

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Fall team achievements:

Girls’ Varisty soccer, SENE Champions

Girls’ Varsity Volleyball, New England #6 Seed and Quarter Finalists

Individual Awards, Cross Country:

SENE-All League

Ian Hua ’20

Alison Jackson ’20

Matt Jiang ’22

Marie Hua ’21

Judy Zhu ’21

Clara LaChance ’23

CISAC Championship Award Recipients

Ian Hua ’20

Alison Jackson ’20

Matt Jiang ’22

Madeline LeChance ’20

Individual Awards, Girls’ Soccer

New England Junior All-Star

Kasia Ludkiewicz ’21

Jillian Ouimet ’21

Western New England All-Star

Grace Drost ’20

Jordyn Shepard ’20

Kasia Ludkiewicz ’21

SENE All-League 1st Team

Grace Drost ’20

Jordyn Shepard ’20

Kasia Ludkiewicz ’21

Jillian Ouimet ’21

SENE All-League 2nd Team

Madeline Niedbala ’22

Sara Avery ’23

SENE All-League Honorable Mention

Cassidy Lu ’20

Individual Awards, Boys’ Soccer

New England Senior All-Star

Sarvar Akhmedov ’20

Western New England All-star

Sarvar Akhmedov ’20

Alberto Duque ’21

SENE All-League 1st Team

Sarvar Akhmedov ’20

Adael Alarcon ’22

SENE All-League 2nd Team

Alberto Duque ’21

SENE All-League Honorable Mention

Adam Stetson ’24

Individual Awards, Volleyball

New England All-League 

Kacey Deecher ’20

New England Honorable Mention 

Maya Levine ’20

New England All-Star 

Kacey Deecher ’20

Chloe DeAngelis

Most Valuable Player

Kasia Ludkiewicz ’21, Girls’ Soccer

Alberto Duque ’21, Boys’ Soccer

Alison Jackson ’20, Cross Country

Ian Hua ’20, Cross Country

Kacey Deecher ’20, Volleyball

Most Improved Player

Akana Nakamura ’21, Girls’ Soccer

Paul Biernat ’23, Boys’ Soccer

Pitt Pongpittayapa ’20, Cross Country

Lal Yuksel ’22, Volleyball

Coaches Award

Jillian Ouimet ’21, Girls’ Soccer

Adam Stetson ’24, Boys’ Soccer

Matt Jiang ’21, Cross Country

Chloe DeAngelis ’20, Volleyball

Player’s Choice Award

Megan Jacques ’20, Girls’ Soccer

Sarvar Akhmedov ’20, Boys’ Soccer

Daiki Akita ’20, Cross Country

Maya Levine ’20, Volleyball