Westfield Middle School teachers mark the end of 2020

Westfield Middle School teachers gathered in the courtyard for their December faculty celebration this week. (AMY PORTER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

WESTFIELD – The Westfield Middle School faculty gathered in the courtyard after school on Dec. 15 for their December faculty meeting, traditionally a time to celebrate the holidays and connect with each other before year’s end.

Teachers (L-R) Brianna Sullivan, Anna Antropova, Marie Szenda, and Jessica Skorupski warm themselves around the fire pit lent by Shaker Farms. (AMY PORTER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

The weather was brisk even in the school’s interior courtyard, and Principal Jessica Kennedy was grateful for Manny Sardinha’s donation of coffee and hot chocolate from Dunkin’ Donuts and the fire pit borrowed from Shaker Farms Country Club. Masks were worn and social distancing was observed throughout the festive gathering.

Band and music teacher Ryan Emken on sax and Tech teacher Patrick Dufraine on trombone entertained their colleagues with holiday tunes, and the Police Cadets led by Chris Coach and Rick Mazza were on hand to collect Toy for Joy donations “For the past three years, we have donated over 500 toys to Toys for Joy,” Kennedy said.

Band and music teacher Ryan Emken on sax and Tech teacher Patrick Dufraine on trombone entertained their colleagues. (AMY PORTER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

Some faculty members joined the festivities by zoom, and were included in a drawing led by Kennedy and Assistant Principal Karoline Kells of ornaments handmade by the Parent Teacher Organization.

This year the December faculty meeting merged with the solstice celebration, normally held off site on the longest night of the year. Dufraine read the “ship’s log,” the annual recounting of the year’s events, the welcoming of new members and remembering those who are gone.

Police Cadets James Coach of Westfield Technical Academy, Chris Gage of Westfield State University and Tucker Carey of Westfield High School with teachers’ donations. (AMY PORTER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

Dufraine said the tradition was begun by Joseph Knapik, who served as a guidance counselor from the 1960’s to the 1990’s, and they wanted to keep it going despite the unusual year. This year’s reading marked the “maelstrom” when schools closed on March 13, presumably at the time for two weeks, and kept up the ship at sea analogy throughout, looking for brighter skies in 2021.

Westfield Middle School Assistant Principal Karoline Kells, Principal Jessica Kennedy and Assistant Principal Peter Lurgio. (AMY PORTER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

“This was an opportunity for us to maintain some normalcy, preserve some tradition, support our community, and come together to focus on joy and gratitude. We have such a beautiful staff and school,” Kennedy said.

Westfield Middle School Principal Jessica Kennedy and Assistant Principal Karoline Kells included zoom participants in drawing for ornaments handmade by the PTO. (AMY PORTER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

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