Principal's Office

James Cook

A Message from the Principal

August 2016

Dear Gloucester High School students and families,

“In dreams begin responsibilities.” This epigraph from W.B. Yeats’s poetry collection Responsibilities has been a spur and a guide throughout my life as an educator. First, we envision the best possible educational experiences for our students; then, we must work together to make them happen.

At Gloucester High School we are diligently and enthusiastically preparing for the 2016-2017 school year. Teachers, counselors, and others have been revising curricula, updating lessons, taking classes, attending workshops, and organizing classrooms and work spaces. Custodians have been cleaning, stripping, and waxing. Secretaries have been learning several new district-wide systems and keeping me on track.

All of our preparations are motivated by a three-part vision: purposeful and engaging instruction in every classroom every day, support for social-emotional and intellectual growth for all students, and inquiry-based learning that fosters connections, curiosity, creativity, resourcefulness, and resilience.

To achieve our shared vision we’ll rely on a strong core of caring and committed returning educators (some of whom, like me, will be performing new roles). We will also be fortified by new faces: Julie Smith, Athletic Director; Yolanda O’Neill, English teacher; Daniel Fleury, Music teacher; Jessica Boardway, Special Education teacher; Richard Bedard, Biology teacher; Rachel Aiello-Goncalves, Physical Education teacher; and Jessica Bean and Elizabeth Tarr, Educational Support Professionals. Also, as the year begins, we will be joined by  a new school psychologist.

Another change you will notice during the coming year is SchoolBrains, a new system to handle grades, attendance, scheduling, and more. This means that in the short term, while we learn the new system, teachers will communicate updates about student progress through term progress reports and, when necessary, emails and phone calls. Then, later in the year, we will open a portal that will allow parents and guardians to use SchoolBrains to track progress.

Also, I’d like to remind students and families about our summer reading program. Students at each grade-level are expected to read at least one book that addresses GHS core values: health and food for 9th graders, kindness and compassion for 10th graders, creativity and careers for 11th graders, and resilience and resourcefulness for 12th graders. Near the beginning of the school year students will use their knowledge of the reading to complete an assignment in English classes and to participate in a discussion with peers. More information about summer reading, including book titles, can be found at

I hope you have a restorative and invigorating end of summer vacation, and I look forward to seeing students on Wednesday, August 31, the first day of the new school year. We will start in homerooms at 7:30 AM.


James W. Cook


Gloucester High School