Category Archives: For Seniors

Reminder: Senior Parent Coffee Tomorrow Morning

Please join us for the Senior Parent Coffee tomorrow morning (Jan. 13) at 7:45 AM in the Newton South Faculty Dining Room.  We will be joined by members of the guidance staff, House Dean Charlie Myette, and the class advisers.  Refreshments will be served.  Feel free to come for whatever time fits your schedule.

Fall Guidance News Specific to Seniors

The counselors are pleased with the progress students are making in the college application process. While many students have filed applications for Early Decision, Early Action or rolling admissions, just about all student planning to attend college are now finalizing their lists, completing applications and should be working hard to maintain strong academic records. In addition to our senior guidance seminar session, nearly all seniors have met individually with their counselors to discuss application procedures, essays, and interviews as well as any other concerns. Parents should feel free to call with any questions at any time.

This is a good time to review an application check list with your senior; most colleges provide such a check list as part of the application materials. Students need to be sure they have met all requirements for each application; that they have completed the entire application and essays; that they have requested their SAT and/or ACT scores be sent to any colleges requiring admissions testing; that they have followed procedure and given teachers who are writing their recommendations the required forms; that they have submitted their transcript release form to Ms. Astone in the main office; and that if they are interviewing, the interviews have been scheduled. It is often helpful for all students expecting to apply to college to file at least one application by January 1st (no matter what the dead- line may be) to get the process moving and help make the end of first semester a little less stressful.

Colleges are still visiting South

We encourage the seniors to attend these meetings to meet (sometimes for a second time) the representatives who may be reviewing South students’ applications in their admissions committee meetings. Juniors are welcome to attend these college visits if they do not have a class. The upcoming visits for the week can always be found here.

Applications, Transcripts, and College Lists

As students submit applications in the next several weeks, we urge you to remind them (as we have) that a student’s first transcript release form must be submitted to the Guidance Office by specified deadlines. In the case of a January 1 deadline, we require the transcript release be submitted by December 11. Once your child’s first transcript has already been sent, additional transcript release requests need not meet this two week requirement for notice.

In developing or expanding lists of colleges, it is important for students to apply to colleges in all ranges of selectivity: reach, 50/50, realistic and likely. It is crucial that all the schools on their list be ones the students would gladly attend. Seniors should investigate all of their college choices with careful thought and consideration. For a number of reasons, students sometimes decide to attend a school that is not the most competitive on their list. Therefore they need to make sure that they have given themselves good choices in all ranges. Students should have multiple colleges in their likely range if they want to have several choices in the spring.

Naviance and Application Submission

The Naviance website is available at Naviance is a web-based platform that allows students and counselors organize information around the college search and college applications. Students applying to Common Application schools must be sure to “match” their Naviance and Common Application accounts and must be sure to complete the FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act) waiver.

Tips for Parents of Students with Learning Disabilities

If your child will be looking for academic support in college, his/her search should include an investigation of the support services offered by the colleges your child is considering. When you visit colleges, it is most important to visit the academic support center to see the facilities and meet the staff. Whether designated specifically for learning disabled students or not, many colleges offer very helpful services. It is important to know who will be providing the services — peer tutors or professionally trained LD specialists — and to keep the needs of your child in mind as you choose what colleges would be most appropriate.

It is also important that you are aware of what extra materials are required for admission for students with learning disabilities. You will need to be in communication with your child’s counselor and special educator if he will be applying to colleges as an LD student. If your child is applying to colleges as an LD student, s/he will need to provide any evaluation/assessment information requested to the disability services office at the college or university. Typically, colleges may request a WAIS, a Woodcock-Johnson or WIAT, a writing sample, a copy of your child’s IEP and/or other tests and reports.

NCAA Eligibility Requirements

Any student who is planning to participate in Division I or Division II athletics must be certified by the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse was established as a separate organization by the NCAA member institutions in January 1993. It is the students’ responsibility to make sure that the Clearinghouse has the documents it needs to certify them.

Students should apply for certification before graduation. The Clearinghouse will issue a preliminary certification if a student appears to meet the requirements and will make a final certification decision after reviewing the final transcript. Information explaining the GPA and SAT/ACT requirements, the student release forms, and answers to frequently asked questions are available online at

Financial Aid Information

In October, we hosted the Massachusetts Education Financing Authority (MEFA) for a College Financing workshop in the NSHS Auditorium. Carla Berg Minchello of MEFA and Brown University gave an overview of the entire financial aid process and the financial aid application forms. MEFA is a resource that South families can reach out to at any time. You are also able to reach out to financial aid officers at any college or university for assistance. Please be mindful of financial aid deadlines for the FAFSA, CSS/Profile, and/or institutional financial aid forms to give your child the best opportunity to maximize financial aid awards.

Need vs. Merit

As seniors are completing their applications for college, parents are likely to be focusing on the issue of college costs. Financial aid consists of grants, loans and campus jobs which are provided to students whose parents have demonstrated that they cannot afford the total cost of their child’s college education. Ninety-five percent of the money students receive is awarded on the basis of need, not merit.

Don’t lose heart, however, if you think you may not qualify for need-based aid. There is an increasing amount of merit aid available, particularly from private colleges. These funds are awarded to students in recognition of a particular talent or skill, or to reward them for a high level of academic achievement. Some students find they are eligible for merit scholarships at the colleges in their 50-50, realistic and likely range, as offering money is a way for colleges to draw students who might not otherwise matriculate there.

 Options other than college

If you and your child are considering technical schools/colleges or prep schools for a post-graduate year, he or she should meet with his or her counselor to discuss these options. For technical schools and prep schools, the application process is essentially the same as it is for colleges.

Some other students may be considering taking a year off before attending college, and it is important for them to know that they can apply to colleges at this time, be accepted and then defer their matriculation for a year at most colleges. In this way, the student completes the process now when they have all the resources around them and need not go through the application process next year. In addition, should they change their minds, they would have the option to attend college in September 2016. You should be aware that there are many positive options for students who take a year off before college — adventures such as travel, community service, foreign study, or work.

Joining one of the military services may be a good option for some students. They too should work closely with their counselor throughout the year in order for them to be as informed and prepared as possible for the transition to their post-high school experience. It is very important to help your child to consider what is really the best next step for him or her.

Reminder: MEFA College Financing Seminar on Thursday, October 6th

There will be a MEFA College Financing Seminar in the Newton South High School auditorium on Thursday, October 6th from 6:30 to 8:00pm. Topics covered will include :

  • Applying for financial aid
  • How colleges make financial aid decisions
  • Financial aid award letters
  • How families can pay their share of college costs
  • Free resources available to help families

Reminder-Senior Parent Coffee is Tomorrow, September 30th

The senior parent coffee will be held tomorrow at the home of Gloria and Philip Plottel at 50 Roslyn Road in Waban from 8 to 9:30am.  Feel free to come late or leave early as your schedule allows. There is some parking on Roslyn Rd. but you may also park around the corner on Ashmont or Gammons Rd.

Reminder: Senior Parents’ Night Tomorrow, Sept. 15th at 7pm

REMINDER: The Guidance Department, faculty and administration are looking forward to hosting Senior Parents’ Night on Thursday, September 15th at 7:00PM in the Field House. At this meeting Principal Joel Stembridge, College and Career Counselor Kathy Sabet, and Director of Guidance Dan Rubin will provide a brief overview of what to expect in your daughter or son’s senior year. After our brief program is completed, parents will meet in smaller groups with their child’s guidance counselor to hear more specific information about the college application process and other post-high school options.

There are a limited number of paper copies of the College Planning Guide available for purchase in the College and Career Center for $5 . Online copies of the Guide are available here for free.

From the Principal: Reminders for Seniors

With graduation just around the corner (can you believe it?!?), I want to thank the PTSO for helping us convey important information about seniors’ last days and culminating activities. The PTSO website has an archive of all of the information that we have shared this spring – please do take a look at the Graduation FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for the details.

The next several weeks will be filled with wonderful events. I urge you to talk to your children about unsafe behaviors, especially those that may involve drugs and alcohol. I ask that families join with the school in discussing and promoting safe choices at all times, but especially during the days and weeks ahead. Just so that we are all on the same page: failure to follow school rules may result in the removal of the privilege of participating in prom and/or graduation

Below I am going to share a few key reminders and requests:

Senior Prom and Southfest

The senior prom will be held on Tuesday, June 7 at The State Room, 60 State Street, Boston from

7:00 p.m.– 11:00 p.m.. Following the prom, the PTSO and SouthFest Parent Committee have organized an extravagant after-prom celebration at Newton South from 12:00 midnight – 4:00 a.m. SouthFest is for ALL seniors (whether they have attended the prom or not), and prom dates.

Students who have signed up to take the school-sponsored coach buses to the prom should arrive in the breezeway at 5:30 p.m. for check-in. Buses will depart at 6:00 p.m. All students who take the bus to the prom are also expected to take the bus back from the prom. Likewise, only students who took the bus to the prom will be permitted to take the bus back from the prom. If you have signed up for the bus and do NOT plan on taking the bus, please contact the senior class advisors, Divya Shannon and Alex Palilunas, as soon as possible.

Students who are taking the bus to prom and planning to attend Southfest may wish to bring a bag with a change of clothes. Upon arrival for the bus, student bags will be searched by school staff and then students will be given the choice to check their bag for storage with a PTSO volunteer or to take their bag with them to the prom. A changing area and secure storage area will be provided during Southfest.

The senior prom is an event that many seniors have been looking forward to since entering South and students make many preparations in anticipation of the evening. Please join us in ensuring that this night lives up to its promise for our students by helping to keep each one of them safe and sober. No student under the influence will be allowed into the senior prom; we will have random breathalyzer checks. Any student found to be intoxicated or otherwise under the influence will have his or her parents called and will not be allowed to stay at the prom. There will be no exceptions made to this rule. School leaders have also been clear with students that substance use or possession at the prom could result in that student being barred from participating in the graduation ceremony.

Senior Check-Out

“Senior Check-Out” will be Friday, June 3rd. Seniors should come to Gym B between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. to fulfill any final obligations. This process takes about 30 minutes. At this time, seniors will receive their caps and gowns, graduation tickets, graduation parking pass and their cumulative records folder. They will also complete the final senior survey through Naviance, if they have not done so already, ensuring that South has the appropriate information regarding any final transcripts that need to be sent to the students’ chosen schools.

Graduation Rehearsal

Graduation rehearsal is required for all who wish to participate in the ceremony and will be held in the Newton South Field House, at 12:15 p.m. on June 3. Following rehearsal, students can pick up their yearbooks. Then all seniors, faculty and staff are invited to a Senior Send-Off Lunch sponsored by the PTSO. The lunch will be held in the Student Center beginning at 1:30 p.m.


Graduation for the Class of 2016 will be held at the Newton South Field House, on Thursday, June 9 at 5:00 p.m. Doors to the Field House will open at 4:00 p.m. and close at 4:45 p.m. for the processional of graduates. Seniors should arrive at 4:00 p.m. to line up in Wheeler commons. The ceremony lasts two hours; a professional photographer will take a picture as each individual graduate receives a diploma. Parents should not come down from the stands to take pictures during the ceremony. We are excited to announce that 2016 Graduation will be live-streamed so that family members who are not able to attend can view the graduation as it happens at this link The ceremony will also be recorded and shown on NewTV; and you may order a DVD. While we, as a school, value individual expression, graduation is a ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of the entire Class of 2016. It is important that individual behavior honors the group and does not take the focus away from the class and event as a whole. We expect that students will dress appropriately. We do not think that shorts, jeans, hats, T-shirts and sneakers are appropriate for this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

Graduation Tickets and Parking

Each senior will receive 6 tickets and one parking pass for parking in one of the school lots. These will be given to seniors at Senior Check-Out on June 3rd. If you need additional tickets, see if a friend has any extra or email your child’s house secretary to be put on a waitlist for extra tickets. During check-out, we will be collecting back any extra tickets that students do not need and will redistribute those tickets to families on the waitlist.

If you need seating on the floor for people with limited mobility or handicapped parking, also contact your house secretary. We allow one additional family member to sit with those who need special seating. Guests using special seating can use regular graduation tickets, but should approach an usher upon arrival to be shown to the special seating area. All guests using special seating will be on a list with the ushers. Guests using handicapped parking will be put on a list for entry into the handicapped lot (opposite the tennis courts). You will need to use your ONE parking pass for this lot. Parking attendants will have the graduate’s name on their list.

We will have an ASL interpreter at graduation, please contact Ms. Beermann if you or a family member needs this service.

As per agreement with Newton Police and Fire Departments, Brandeis Road will be one-way eastbound from the Parker Street entry to the Greenwood Street end on the afternoon and evening of graduation. This one-way restriction will begin at 3:30 p.m. and end after the Newton Police deem it appropriate. Parking will be permitted on both sides of Brandeis Road where appropriate. You will not need parking permits for the spots along Brandeis Road.

Congratulations to the students and parents of the Class of 2016! I look forward to honoring all our graduates at the fifty-sixth annual Newton South High School commencement ceremony on June 9th.

Thank you for your help in managing this wonderful event.

REMINDER: Senior Parent Night TONIGHT at 7PM

As the school year begins to wind down, there are many activities for parents and seniors to look forward to. Please join us tonight, May 11 at 7PM in the NSHS Auditorium to learn more about prom, SouthFest, Senior Awards Night, checkout day, senior picnic, graduation, and more. We will also discuss helping our seniors make healthy decisions and stay safe at this time of year, as well as information about the transition from high school.

Seniors: Cap and Gown Deadline is This Thursday, March 31

The following message is from Mrs. Stonehill, who is in charge of caps and gowns for graduation:

It’s time for Seniors to order their cap and gown for graduation.  If you have not already ordered a cap and gown, click here and download the order form.  Please fill out the form, and bring the form and payment to the Student Center during F Block this Wednesday, March 30. If a student is unable to come during this time, please email Julie Stonehill as soon as possible.

You will be required to pay the graduation fee when the order is placed. This covers the cost of the cap and gown. The fee is $45. Payment may be cash or a check made out to Newton South High School with “graduation 2016” written in the memo space. You may NOT put a check/cash in Mrs. Stonehill’s mailbox. Mailbox orders will not be processed and there is a risk of being charged a $25 late fee.

Other important things to remember:

  • You MUST have a cap and gown to walk in graduation.
  • You must have your order in by April 1
  • If you do not have your order in by April 1, you will be charged a $25 late fee.
  • If you have cap and gown from a sibling or friend who graduated from South, you may use it, however you will still need to order a tassel ($15.00) You may also order a cap and tassel ($25)
  • No orders will be placed without payment.
  • Financial support is available on a need basis. Please notify your guidance counselor, your house dean, or Mrs. Stonehill if you need financial assistance.

If you do not need a cap and gown for any reason, you must contact Mrs. Stonehill. Anyone who has not contacted Mrs. Stonehill by April 1 will have a cap and gown ordered for him/her and will be obligated to pay for that cap and gown, plus a late charge of $25.

Winter Guidance News Specific to Seniors

The Great Unknown

Seniors are on a moving walkway toward the end of high school. Some students are cruising full-steam ahead toward their inevitable destination. For these students it is important not to lose sight of what got them to this point in the first place. Even those students who have already been admitted to college must continue to produce their best academic work, as college acceptances are contingent upon a student maintaining their level of achievement.

For students whose future plans are not as clearly developed, the unyielding countdown to June 9th may be creating a great deal of anxiety. This anxiety can manifest itself in a lot of different ways. Students may become irritable or moody and they may not have the life-experience or vocabulary to explain their fears. Graduation from high school is a clearly demarcated transition point in a young person’s life and brings with it a new beginning. It is healthy to talk with your children about that new beginning and what it represents to them.

If you are concerned about your son or daughter, please encourage them to see their guidance counselor, and as always, it may be appropriate to consult outside counseling resources.

Parent as philosopher

You can help by encouraging your children to keep up their good work and by being as philosophical as possible; we learn from every experience in life, and we grow more confident in our abilities as we deal effectively with adversity. Remember this ugly truth – selective college admissions is a numbers game in which the needs of the college as well as the applicant pool change from year to year.

In the case of disappointing admissions decisions, remind your children that there is no “one perfect school,” and that a person can be happy and successful at any number of schools. Remind them, too, that a denial from a college does not necessarily mean that the student was not wanted by the school of their choice, but simply that there were many more applicants than spaces available. It helps to reassure students that although they may not understand why certain decisions are made, the schools to which they are accepted will present them with excellent opportunities for growth and development.

If students have researched their college list well and made sure that they applied to a range of schools; they should have several offers of admission from which to choose. It is still helpful to be realistic, prepared and philosophical about the process and the results. Your children will benefit from any reassuring influences in their lives during this time! The hard reality is that life is filled with disappointments, and being denied admission to a college may be the first disappointment that some students have experienced. The positive side, however, is that the vast majority of students find that they are quite happy at the colleges they attend and the concept of first choice seems to fade with time! 

End of First Semester

Midyear grades will be sent to all schools to which students have applied. While much mythology exists about “Senior Slump,” students should be reminded to maintain high personal and academic standards second semester as college acceptances are contingent upon the successful completion of course work for the entire year. While rare, each year we hear of instances where a college rescinds admission, or more likely begins a student on academic probation, on the basis of a sharp decline in a student’s academic record during second semester.

Application Deadline Reminder

Students who are still interested in applying to schools or colleges, but who have not filed any applications, or those who would like to apply to more colleges, should see their counselor as soon as possible. There are still many colleges with application deadlines of March 1 and later.

Any students with remaining application deadlines who have not already submitted an application and transcript request to his/her counselor must be do so at least two weeks prior to the deadline in order to allow appropriate time to process each application. Any students adding additional applications to their lists must also allow this two-week processing time.

Is Your Child Being Recruited by College Coaches?

If so, please accept a word of caution. Do not be deceived by the claims of some coaches who promise admission. Generally, students must meet the academic standards of a college to be accepted. Possessing a special talent is an advantage in the admissions process (sometimes a very big one!), but if a student would not be eligible under regular circumstances, it is rare that s/he will be accepted to a college based solely on his/her athletic ability.

Teenagers are very impressionable and extremely vulnerable at this stage of their lives. It is easy for them to believe coaches who assure them of acceptance at a college that we would consider to be a reach for them. Remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it may be. Too many students have had their hopes dashed when they find out late in the process that they are not accepted to a college, even after a coach has said that the student was among the top recruits and would definitely be accepted.

Coaches do have some influence in the admissions offices of many colleges, but admissions officers will generally accept the athletes who have the best chance of being successful at the college. Coaches must recruit enough prospective athletes to complete their teams, but they recruit many more than will be accepted. Students and parents should consult with their high school coaches about the students’ ability to play at the various colleges to which they are applying. Your coaches may be helpful in determining the validity of the colleges’ recruitment offers.

Financial Aid: The only way to know is to apply

We encourage all parents who anticipate having difficulty meeting their children’s college expenses to apply for financial aid. Since home equity is not a factor (on the FAFSA) in determining eligibility, many more families will be eligible for aid. It is only through filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the PROFILE (for colleges that require it) that one can be considered for aid. Many colleges also have their own financial aid form which must be completed and submitted directly to their financial aid office. Information on each college’s specific financial aid requirements is included in your child’s application materials and on the college’s web site.

Half of all students enrolled in post secondary education receive some financial aid which usually includes a combination of grants/scholarships, loans, and work-study from federal, state and private programs. Also, remember to check with your employer to see if there are any scholarships available for children of employees. Remember that one must apply for financial aid each year, and that if you will have more than one child in college next year, you may now be eligible for aid even if you were previously ineligible.

Please see the following financial aid resources or you can always call college financial aid offices.

As your child hears from his or her colleges, you should be aware that students have until May 1, the Candidate’s Reply Date, to inform the colleges of their decisions. Using the May 1 reply date allows students time to consider the decisions and financial aid offers from all colleges to which they have been accepted and then make an informed decision about which to attend. Colleges will sometimes urge students to send in their deposit within 30 days of receiving the acceptance letter, often to guarantee space in a dormitory. If this occurs, the deposit should be fully refundable until May 1. Students should call the admissions office to clarify the policy and follow up with a written request.


Some may change their minds…

For some students, attending college immediately after high school may not be the best option, but they feel pressure to do so because most of their peers are going on to college next year. We all need to be open to other possibilities and give our children permission to do what is best for them. Such options require thought, research, discussion and planning. There are many options they will find intriguing and valuable to their growth before going on to college.

Be sure to let your counselor know….

Students should inform their counselors of the action taken at each college as they hear. Although some colleges do inform the Guidance Department, many do not.

Be sure to let your teachers know….

Students should also be sure to let the teachers who wrote letters of recommendation for them know how appreciative they are and keep them informed of the college decisions as well.

Reminder to recycle:

All the counselors would like to thank you in advance for any donations of college reference books or videos you no longer need. We are particularly interested in recent copies of the narrative/subjective reference books such as The Fiske Guide to Colleges, Princeton Review’ 311 Best Colleges, The Insider’s Guide to the Colleges, or others you found useful.

December Application Reminders for Seniors

Senior Parents: The following memo was sent out to students through Naviance. If your child has added your email address to their Naviance account, you may have received this yesterday. If you did not receive this email yesterday, please review the items below with your child. Thank you!

Dear seniors and parents – 

Just a few items to keep in mind as we enter the final days of school prior to the December vacation.

1) If you applied to any schools Early Action, Early Decision, or Rolling Admission, please update your Naviance account with the results as you hear back from schools.

2) Please remember to share outcomes with your counselor and any teachers who have written letters of recommendation on your behalf. While it is certainly easier to share our successes and you may want to keep any disappointing news you have heard private, in either case, a hand-written “thank you” note to acknowledge the time and energy your teachers have invested in your application process goes a long way.

3) If you have been accepted Early Decision to a school, please remember to withdraw all of your other pending applications. To do so, you can send a letter, an email, or a fax to the admissions office at each school notifying them that you have been accepted under another school’s binding Early Decision program and you are withdrawing your application from consideration. This is not only an obligation under the Early Decision Agreement that you, your parent, and your counselor signed, but it is also a courtesy to your Newton South classmates and other applicants from around the country and the world.

4) Please remember that beginning on January 1st, students and families are allowed to begin filing the 2016-2017 FAFSA application. Remember that you must meet financial aid application deadlines (FAFSA, CSS/Profile, and/or Institutional Applications) in order to be considered for financial aid.

5) If you have any January 1st or 15th applications due and you have not yet turned in a transcript release form for those schools, you must do so ASAP.

Thank you, and best wishes for a restful vacation beginning next week!

Dan Rubin

Director of Guidance & Counseling