Good Luck, Pranav! Poetry Out Loud Semifinals are Tomorrow!

Good luck to Pranav Menon as he returns to the statewide semifinals of Poetry Out Loud tomorrow, March 1, in Framingham. We will give an announcement of how he did as soon as we are able.

If you would like to go support Pranav, the address of the semifinal round is:

Framingham Lodge of Elks
450 Union Avenue, Framingham MA 01702

Shovel the sidewalk clean, Pranav! Shawcross.

Pre-Sales of 2014 Collab Are Underway

The sales drive for the 2014 edition of Collab is underway – the magazine, which recently won the Highest Award in the NCTE national contest for high school literary magazines, costs $10 and features original artwork, poetry, essays, and fiction created by BHS students. And between now and the end of March, all students and staff who pre-order the 2014 magazine will receive a copy of the 2013 edition (while supplies last).

To order a copy, find one of our student head editors: Irina Grigoryeva, Lena Keown, or Pranav Menon, or see Mr. Lally, the Collab advisor.

And to check out the contest winners from the upcoming edition of Collab, check out their website.


The 2014 Ruth Berrien Fox Poetry Contest is now open for submissions. This contest is open to all Massachusetts high school students, and is free to enter. Students may submit ONE poem (any length, style or topic) to the competition, and the top entries receive cash prizes.

Last year, BHS senior Dora Kadish became the first-ever winner from Burlington in the 13-year history of this contest. This year, who’s going to be the second? (or the third? – the contest awarded 11 prizes last year!)


To submit, please follow these instructions, which can be found on the New England Poetry Club website and their promotional poster:

Submit in duplicate, with the following on one entry: (feel free to cut & paste this into your own document)

[Your Name]
[Your Grade]
[Your non-BPS email address]
Burlington High School
c/o [Your English Teacher]
123 Cambridge Street, Burlington MA  01803

Send to: Children’s Contests, Longfellow National Historic Site, 105 Brattle St., Cambridge MA 02138

Please note that the website for the contest has some outdated information on it, including the deadline.

And a reminder:

The ODE TO BURLINGTON poetry contest closes on March 1. See our previous post on the contest for more details.

Curious About PARCC? Try out their sample test

Later this year, BHS is going to be one of a few schools to test-pilot the new PARCC exam. Their website has posted a 17-question sample test that looks at a possible ELA and Math section from the Grade 10 test. The main differences between the PARCC exam and the MCAS that seem to be in play for the ELA exam are:

* Complexity of material – Granted, the sample size is awfully low, as the PARCC exam has not been fully released to the public, but the reading passages seem suitably challenging, as opposed to some of the MCAS reading prompts, which seem easy in retrospect

* Depth of understanding – the PARCC exam follows up their reading comprehension questions with a question asking students to support their original answer. Although this raises the stakes on the first question somewhat (a student cannot get credit for the second question if the first one is wrong), it reinforces what we teach in our PIE paragraphing across all 4 years at BHS

* Active selection of supporting quotes – Most MCAS close reading questions pull a quote and ask the student to interpret it. Some of the PARCC questions invert the process – they suggest an interpretation, and then ask students to select the best support quotes from a short list

* Online implementation – This part, in the ELA test, is underwhelming. The instructions on how to navigate the quiz were poor – nothing indicates that you need to scroll down to complete the reading, the button to proceed to the next question is positioned in an awkward spot, and figuring out how to proceed through the test felt like a needless test in itself. For a timed exam, there should be no lost time wasted on figuring out how the exam ought to work. Also, the drag-and-drop sections are cumbersome and pointless, as the checkboxes in the previous questions served the exact same purpose, but more intuitively. We strongly suggest that students browse through the sample exam to get accustomed to how the test works.

If you would like to practice their sample section, CLICK HERE, and then select the “High School” link, which is slightly more than halfway down the page, just below where it says, “Try the sample test items”

BHS Students: Enter the New York Times Editorial Contest

Students, do you have something you want to get off of your chest? Well, the New York Times wants to heard about it. They’ve recently opened up their first-ever student editorial contest, where students are encouraged to write an editorial for the Times, weighing in on any one of dozens of controversial topics, from gun laws to whether or not technology is improving out social lives to gender expectations or the dangers of pop culture trends. To check out the rules for this contest, GO TO THEIR WEBSITE, and good luck!

Or, if you’re just feeling like touching base with your own opinions on significant contemporary matters, check out their list of 200 thought-provoking questions, and browse through the topics that you like.

Check out the Latest from The Devil’s Advocate

The latest edition of The Devil’s Advocate – the BHS student newspaper – is now out, featuring articles on why Poetry Out Loud is so excellent, the new breakfast initiative at BHS, features on local music, the boys’ varsity hockey team, student council plans for the upcoming months, and much, much more.

An online edition can be found HERE, and if you’d like a copy of the original edition, please see Ms. Graham, the newspaper advisor.

Congratulations to Ms. Graham and the Devil’s Advocate staff for another excellent edition of the school paper!

Writers – Enter the “Ode to Burlington” Writing Contest

Attention all Writers – The Burlington Public Library is running a dual contest, looking for the best poems that commemorate “a place, person, event, or memory relating to Burlington”. There is a contest open specifically for students (age 13-18) and one for all poets, regardless of age. The deadline for this contest is MARCH 1, 2014, and the winning entries will receive prizes and will be read at a poetry celebration on April 17th, as a part of National Poetry Month.

To enter the contest, you can find the entry form HERE

BHS students, you may also enter by bringing your submissions to Mrs. Bernard, the advisor to the BHS Poetry Club, in the English Department. Good luck, writers!

BHS English Department Page: Where Google Looks For Education

The word is getting around out there…

This website now lands as the top result on Google when searching for analytical verbs and how to explicate a quote, and is a first-page result when searching for explanations of 1st, 2nd & 3rd person pronouns, unclear pronoun antecedents, the difference between “recurring” and “reoccurring,” and for recommendations for Poetry Out Loud poems. In some cases, our page is listed higher than Yahoo Answers and the popular Grammar Girl podcast and website.