Friday, February 15, 2008


Isabella Lubin and Finola Prendergast (class of 2008) write: Shakespeare’s play, produced at HHS in mid-February, deals with the wacky mishaps that ensue when two pairs of identical twins, separated at birth and mysteriously dressed in identical outfits, end up in the same city. Except for the fact that Aegeon (the noble twins’ father) was unable to speak through his laughter at the end of the evening, the performance was wonderful. We particularly enjoyed the comedic stylings of Dromio of Syracuse (Eleanor Reid), who, as servant to the foreign twin, was slapped and thrown across the stage in the name of art. We liked the enormous schnozz Tom Mellert wore as Pinch, a quack doctor charged with banishing a demon from one of the twins. In a stroke of casting genius Hannah Levinger played a nun and a mother of two children, ecumenically dressed in a habit/burqa hybrid. Her fellow players seemed as amused by this as her friends, and this led to the aforementioned laughter.

We also enjoyed the costumes, which contemporized the production and allowed the always-fashionable pairing of a gray suit and All-Star Converse sneakers. The director, too, overcame the problematic exposition in the first scene with appreciable ingenuity: namely, inject action with puppets. What play cannot be improved by puppetry?

All those who missed this show, missed out.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008


WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! The Pen of Iron is a fun, student-run activity that focuses on creative thought and writing. We invite any and all students to join us during activity period Tuesdays to work on new pieces of writing and get feedback from one another. Every spring we publish a book of student writing and artwork. We are accepting submissions for the 2008 edition through March 14. Students should send their poetry, essays, stories, and artwork to the Pen of Iron Drop Box on HHS e-mail. Questions? Contact Amy Wyatt at here is the rest of it.

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Bill Hammond, who has taught mathematics, English and theater at HHS for 25 years, writes: The United States is often castigated for preparing students in mathematics and science poorly. During my sabbatical year I wanted to determine whether that's true. And if we do teach ineffectively, what can we do to change? So I traveled to math classrooms in four Asian countries and six US states. Everywhere I traveled, I filmed the teachers and students in an attempt to elicit what qualities of teachers are most effective in helping students learn.

In the fall of 2006 I spent time in schools in New Delhi, India where students compete for university admission. According to teachers there, 5% will succeed. I spent time in Singapore, where students are separated into a college-bound track after eighth grade. I went to Seoul, South Korea where the top 1% to 3% of the high-school students are removed from the regular high-school program and sent to special math-and-science high schools to prepare as the nation's scientists and engineers. And I went to Tokyo, where students have a 231-day school year (the US averages 178 days before construction waivers are accounted for) and a rigorous program of study.

From December to March, I traveled to visit award-winning high-school math teachers in Belmont, NH; Baltimore, MD; Columbus, MS; Phoenix, AZ; Los Angeles, CA; and Evanston, IL. Along with the traveling, I read contemporary research on learning, including The Art of Changing the Brain, What the Best College Teachers Do, The Teaching Gap, and Qualities of Effective Teachers.

I've edited my films into three separate documentaries: one illustrates the teaching strategies of the Asian countries I visited; the second focuses on the most effective techniques of US teachers; and the third-in some ways my favorite-incorporates interviews of students from around the globe. Students reflect on their own attitudes about mathematics, and about what they want and need from a math teacher to help them understand mathematics better. It's no surprise to me that students speak insightfully about the teaching techniques that best help them learn, techniques that are supported by the research.

You are welcome to watch my documentaries on DVDs (available at the Howe Library and the HHS Library) or on the web at these two links: and

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Friday, February 8, 2008


Joe Bonfiglio (shown here at HHS with seniors) is the senior class advisor and a longtime English teacher. He writes: Thanks to a fellowship at St. Andrew’s University and the generosity of Hanover High, I spent January-March 2005 in Great Britain on a sabbatical studying Shakespeare and other English poets.

At St. Andrew’s in Scotland I took courses on Tragedy in the Age of Shakespeare, Shakespeare & Film, Tragic Forms, and Comedy & Society. I also visited Scottish secondary schools to compare literature-instruction techniques. In London I visited the Dickens Museum, the Globe Theater and the British Library in connection with classes I teach at Hanover High. At the Globe I attended a full day workshop. I got to spend time in each area of the theater and worked with teachers from all over the U.K. Then in Stratford-on-Avon, I filled out my lifelong study of Shakespeare with visits to The Swan Theatre and Shakespeare’s birthplace. At the Centre for Shakespeare Studies I used the library for a day of study. This special library houses the complete catalogue of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production materials. At the Swan Theatre I saw 2 productions and toured the theater.

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Monday, February 4, 2008


Nine students earned over 90% correct on January’s National German Exam, sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of German. The best HHS results were 99% by one non-native speaker and one native speaker of German. Two qualified to apply for the Association’s Study Trip Award, which HHS students have won twice in the past. Twenty-two HHS students joined 26,000 high-schoolers nation-wide in taking the annual exam.

“These are very good results and we can be proud of our students’ academic achievements,” said German teacher Uwe Goodall-Heising. He also credits the excellent teaching of Heddy Fantl (retired in 2007) and Penelope Prendergast.


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Four HHS students represented Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at a mock presidential debate sponsored the Junior State of America and the Young Republicans Club. Students and Social Studies faculty asked the debaters to represent the candidates' opinions on immigration, the war in Iraq, energy policy and other issues. The audience voted on who they thought best represented their candidate. The results were as follows: Obama 57%, Clinton 24%, McCain and Huckabee 3%.
"This excellent debate shows how HHS prepares students to speak in public," said Social Studies chair Pam Miller. Ninth graders give speeches called Affirmation of Principles, sophomores take part in the Lillian Bailey recitation contest, and American History students defend their research papers under faculty and student questioning. In many other classes students present projects regularly, and students can volunteer to take part in annual contests such as recitation of foreign-language poetry.

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