Life as a Hawk

Official blog of the Xaverian Hawk

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Xaverian Science Lecture Series Welcomes Dr. John McCoy

Editor’s note: In a previous post, Mr. Howard discussed the Science Lecture Series, a great program produced by the Xaverian Science Department. So far this schoolyear, the Science Lecture Series has hosted presentations by Dionisio P. Bernal on Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Dr. Mark Vesligaj on Engineering and Medical Collaboration. The latest presentation was by Dr John McCoy, Associate Professor at Stonehill College. Dr. McCoy is well known in the field of behavioral neuroscience, and gave a great presentation on sleep study. Here are some photos from the event. Enjoy!





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Science Lecture Series Welcomes Professor Dionisio P. Bernal

Editor’s note: In a previous post, Mr. Howard discussed the Science Lecture Series, a great program produced by the Xaverian Science Department. Last week the Science Lecture Series hosted a presentation by Dionisio P. Bernal, Professor of Civil and Environmental  Engineering at Northeastern University. Senior John Morton was in attendance, and was kind enough to share his thoughts with us. Enjoy!


By John Morton ’11

Xaverian held the second edition of the science lecture series featuring Dennis Bernal, a professor of engineering at Northeastern University. Professor Bernal presented the concept of placing sensors on buildings to alert engineers if there is a structural problem thereby preventing accidents. This corresponded to one of the topics that we covered in Physics II deals with oscillating motion and the principles of period, frequency, amplitude, and resonance.

Professor Bernal first provided an overview of structural dynamics of many buildings and bridges around the world. He explained that buildings and bridges need to be built to survive environmental problems. He showed how they are built using precise mathematical formulas. Following this concept, he moved into the courses that a structural engineer would take in college. Statics was one such course which is taught at Xaverian!


By introducing the principles of structural dynamics and oscillating motion, Bernal moved into discussing the sensors themselves. One of the challenges of working with sensors is that buildings and bridges can oscillate back and forth because of wind. The wind can trigger sensors with a false alarm. The accuracy of these sensors thus needs to further improvement to prevent future disasters from occurring.

This lecture series truly helped me as it aided in my understanding of oscillatory motion by giving us a practical application to what we were learning in Physics II. Thank you Professor Bernal for coming to speak to Xaverian!

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Mr. McCready Demonstrates An Exothermic Reaction

Students in Mr. McCready’s Chemistry class observed an exciting demonstration yesterday. The topic was exothermic reactions. In the video, Mr. McCready explains that heat is generated by dissolving zinc dust in water. The heat was enough to ignite the other chemicals, which caused a small explosion (in a safely controlled environment, of course!).

This demonstration is an example of the “hands on” learning that makes science a popular subject at Xaverian. In a time where digital technology is king, students are still drawn to the science labs and apparatus. Mr. McCready says that he’s “found a good balance between completely hands-on experiments, and computer-based experiments” in his curriculum.

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Marine Biology Class Visits Mystic Aquarium

Editor’s Note: Mr. Connolly’s Marine Biology Class made its annual visit to Mystic Aquarium in Mystic Connecticut. Senior Nick Rampino photographed the day’s events.

Students get an underwater look at a Beluga Whale

Steller Sea Lions power themselves with their front flippers

A good look at a Steller Sea Lion's whiskers

Steller Sea Lions also have external ears

Temperate penguins at the Penguin Pavillion

Temperate penguins cannot stay outdoors in temperatures below 25 degrees

These penguins prefer moderate climates with cold water.

Venemous Lionfish

A Puffer fish

Students hope to attract sharks at the touch-tank

A Bamboo Shark

Students gather around the shark touch-tank

Students encounter a Bamboo Shark

An octopus hiding in a corner

Puffer fish swimming through coral

A fluorescent jellyfish exhibit

Moray Eels lurk at the bottom of their tank

A Gobie pokes out from under a rock

A Spider Crab in the touch-tank

A blue lobster

Students at the crab touch-tank

An injured Sea Turtle lives safely at the aquarium

A Stingray soars by

California Sea Lions put on a show

California Sea Lions can be pretty loud


External ears, long necks, power themselves with their front flippers, which differ from seals


From The Archives

Editor’s note: Thousands of photos have been taken since Xaverian Brothers High School was founded in 1963. Many are in storage at here at Xaverian, and many are sent to us from alumni and friends. Here are some of those photos!

Mr. Connolly is helping students study the human skeleton...or practicing a ventriloquist routine

Xaverian football team ready to compete (before the days of the X helmet logo).

Xaverian's lunch menu has definitely improved over the years...

Technology at Xaverian has improved quite a bit as well!

The original Xaverian bookstore featuring Mr. Higgins

The Xaverian hockey team moves the puck through the neutral zone

A rare shot of Mr. Lewis standing still!


Interview With Ryan Howard, Science Teacher

Editor’s Note: Ryan Howard, Science Teacher sat down with Assistant Director of Admissions Kevin Loftus to talk about  the new schoolyear, and some great events produced by the Science Department.

Kevin Loftus (KL) : I’m here with Ryan Howard, Science Teacher here at Xaverian. Mr. Howard, how long have you been a member of the Xaverian community?

Mr. Howard helping a student after school

Ryan Howard (RH) : I came to Xaverian in 2002, upon the completion of my master’s degree in chemistry from Boston College.

KL: Has a lot changed since then?

RH: Yes! The science department has worked hard to improve our curriculum, and increase the amount of technology in our labs. The Vernier digital probes have really enhanced our lab curriculum.

KL: How about the students? Have they changed at all?

RH: I’m amazed at the passion many students have for science. That’s why we started the Science Lecture Series.

KL: What is the Science Lecture Series all about?

RH: The goal is to show our students the exciting things that are happening in the world of science.  These aren’t career talks, they’re research based lectures.  It’s important for students to hear that people outside Xaverian share their enthusiasm for science.

KL: How long has the Science Lecture Series been going on?

RH: Well our first lecture was by Dr. Brian Wecht of MIT in 2006.  He did a lecture on string theory. His talk was so successful that we decided expand the program to a full series. Now we have three lectures a year.

KL: So who attends these lectures?

RH: All students can attend the lectures. Seniors get the most out of them because they’ve taken more science classes, but anyone can attend.

KL: Are the lectures open to the public as well?

RH: Yes, anyone is welcome to attend. General public will need to check in at the main office.  If anyone has questions about the science lectures they should contact Mr. Tassinari.

KL: What notable speakers have you had in the past?

The Xaverian Science Lecture Series drew a crowd last year

RH: The strength of the program is the diversity of the speakers and their topics.  Last year we had Tim Crowley, who coaches world class triathletes, discuss the use of technology in training.  We also had Dr. Joyce Sackey, Dean for Multicultural Affairs and Associate Professor of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine discuss medical service trips in Africa.  We’ve also had lectures about financing pharmaceutical research, and also the use of robots in science.

KL: So what do you have planned for this year?

RH: Mr. Tassinari has been planning this year’s lecture series.  He has lined up three speakers: Dr. Mark Vesligaj, Dr. John Graham McCoy and Dr. Dennis Bernal

KL: When is the first lecture?

RH: The first one is Thursday, October 14th at 1:50 PM in the theater.  Dr. Mark Vesligaj of Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson, CT is the speaker.

KL: And what is the lecture about?

RH: Dr. Vesligaj is going to talk about Engineering and Medical Collaboration. His talk will highlight the importance of two different fields of science working together to solve a problem. More specifically, engineers and doctors combining their efforts to improve diagnosis and treatment for patients with Hemodialysis.

KL: Sounds interesting, I’ll see you on the 14th!