Mustang Moments

Peer Leadership Club Works to Enhance Caring, Support and Service

The IHS Peer Leadership Club has been very busy this year working to "create a school climate that is about caring for one another." The club already sponsored various activities to bring students closer together and educate about substance abuse.

For example, in October Peer Leadership conducted Red Ribbon Week, a substance use prevention campaign, and held various activities in homeroom and classrooms that focused on helping students discover and rely on their own "natural highs." The program was based on Natural High, a group whose mission is "to inspire and empower youth to find their Natural Highs and develop skills and courage to live life well."

For Thanksgiving, the club asked students to make gratitude chains by writing what they were grateful for on slips of paper used to make the chains, which decorated the school's hallways. And on December 11, Peer Leadership kicked off the IHS Kindness Campaign week by hosting "Mix It Up" Day during extended lunches. The day was designed to "mix kids up" at lunch so that no one sits alone and gave students an opportunity to get to know students they normally wouldn't meet. "Students consistently identify the cafeteria as a place in their schools where divisions can be clearly drawn, so we asked students to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch," said Kelly Collier, School Therapist and club advisor.

The new IHS Kindness Campaign from Dec 11 - 21 encourages students to participate in random acts of kindness within IHS and the larger community. A list of suggested acts of kindness was provided to students, and if students choose to participate and reflect on their experience, they will be eligible to earn community service hours.

"The goal of the Peer Leadership Club is to increase school connectedness, to help enhance a community of caring here between the students," said Mrs. Collier. "All of our activities are designed to remind students about what is important besides academics, such as caring for and supporting each other, and taking care of themselves physcially and mentally," she said. Mrs. Collier and the club have also designed a "relaxing room" for students to drop in to de-stress and decompress during midterm and final exams. The Peer Leadership Club meets Thursdays at 2pm in room 209A (off the Learning Commons).

IHS Gets Its Own Weather Station with Plans

To Be an Official Reporting Station

Ever since a student in Mr. Mertens' Physics class, Aidan Kuroski '12, showed interest in installing a weather station at IHS, it has been a goal to purchase one. Thanks to a generous $1,000 grant from BFGoodrich as a result of Aidan's and Mr. Merten's hard work, IHS was able to get its very own weather station! Mr. Mertens installed and calibrated the unit on the school roof and currently is working to make IHS an official reporting station for To view results from our station page go to: Aidan graduated from the State University of New York, Brockport with a double major in meteorology and water resources and is currently in his final year of graduate studies in Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

IHS Weight Room Revamped to Support All Athletics

The IHS Weight Room was recently revamped with six new benches, one new power rack and some fresh paint. The baseball, football and ice hockey teams will use the weight room and athletic trainer Keith Deyo and Paxton Ballard, TEPT Certified Performance Coach, will be available. There is also open gym time on Tuesdays from 2:15-3:30pm for anyone who would like to use the weight room, including non-athletes and people who are not a member of any sports team. Students can use the weight room during this time for extra work-outs or to make up a work-out.

Staff Profiles: Meet the Newest Teachers

Patricia McKernan, Science Teacher

Ms. McKernan joined Immaculate this year to teach Chemistry and Biology. She earned both a degree in General Biology and a Master's Degree in Secondary Education in Science from the University of New Haven. During grad school Ms. McKernan interned at the Engineering and Science University Magnet School, where she shadowed many different teachers as well as co-taught Chemistry and Biology and was also an assistant coach for the Science Olympiad as well as the men's recreational soccer team. She completed her student teaching at the Sound Vocational Agricultural Center (the Sound School) in New Haven.

Austin Cirella, Technology Teacher and Assistant Director of Technology

Mr. Cirella joined Immaculate this summer as Technology Teacher, teaching computer applications to students such as Microsoft Word and Excel. He is also Assistant Director of Technology, responsible for hardware repairs, troubleshooting student hardware issues and the general technology needs of students and staff. Mr. Cirella is also Assistant Coach for the IHS Cyber Patriot teams. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and a Master's degree in History from Eastern Connecticut State University.

David Quesnell, Math Teacher

Mr. Quesnell joined Immaculate this Fall and teaches Algebra 2, Math 4 Trigonometry and Calculus Honors. He also serves as the IHS Student Council advisor. Mr. Quesnell received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics Education and his Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the College of Saint Rose, Albany NY. Before coming to Immaculate he taught in a charter school in the Bronx.

Congratulations to the IHS Mock Trial team, which successfully presented cases at a competition recently! Students on both prosecution and defense won their trials for a murder case at the Danbury Courthouse on December 5 and will go on to the next round. The team competed against Bethel, St. Joseph Trumbull, Wilton and St. Bernard High Schools. The Mock Trial club is advised by Social Studies teacher Wendy Neil and coached by State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky and State's Attorney Kelly Masi. The competition is sponsored by Civics First.

AP US History and AP US Government classes travelled to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia November 16-18 to explore important places in American history and government. In Washington D.C., students visited the Capitol for a tour guided by Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty's staff, then went on a walking tour of the memorials and monuments. In Philadelphipa they visited museum exhibits. Students were excited to see their daily lessons in history and government put into action and memorialized.

Our International Students were busy during International Education Week. The IHS International Club, under the direction of Cindy Zhao '19, designed and decorated a bulletin board. See the time-lapse video, produced by Cindy, of the process posted above. The International Culinary Club students brought in some international specialties, including Irish soda bread, Coca-Cola chicken, candied sweet potatoes, sliced potatoes with vegetables, tofu with spicy sauce (mapo tofu), mocha sponge cake and flavored dried tofu. Pictured here (from l to r) are Isabella Liu '19, Lily Zeng '19, Tracey Cui '19, and Kate Mitchell '21.

Thirteen students raised $425 for the non-profit agencies Prevent Cancer, St. Judes Hospital and Fight Cancer as part of No-Shave November. Devin Broggy '18, Jameson Brown '18, Kyle Buzzi '18, Andrew Chiodi '18, Anthony Dascano '19, Jimmy Fahey '18, Jake Guydan '18, Connor McNerney '18, Jake Payton '18, Mason Peraino '18, Chris Smith '18, Bradley Thayer '19 and Alex Werdann '20 all grew beards during the campaign. Pictured here (from l to r) are Alex Werdann '20, Conner McNerney '18, Chris Smith '18, Kyle Buzzi '18 and Physics teacher Mr. Tom Mertens.

Immaculate's Guitar Ensemble, a cappella group "Immacupella" and other IHS singers performed at the Danbury Fair Mall on December 2 and art students provided free henna tattoos to help spread Christmas cheer and the spirit of giving.

The Key Club raised funds for the United Way of Western Connecticut's Ready Set Let's Read program, which supports preschools serving low-income families in preparing children for kindergarten by fostering a love of reading. The Key Club raised over $1,900 and purchased over 700 books for the program, allowing the preschool teachers to present every child in the Ready Set Let's Read program with their own book for Christmas. Thank you to everyone who participated in this effort!

The Immaculate High School track team ran a special marathon on December 14 to honor the 26 children and staff who lost their lives five years ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The student-athletes started with a prayer circle, then ran a total of 26 miles, one mile for each person lost, on the IHS track holding signs with the names of each person. The memorial marathon took more than three hours to complete on a cold, snowy afternoon, as the student-athletes were determined to show their reverence for the deceased.