Newton North High School
Newton North High School, formerly Newton High School, is the larger and longer-established of two public high schools in Newton, Massachusetts, the other being Newton South High School. It is located in the village of Newtonville. The school from 2009 to 2010 underwent controversial reconstruction of its facility, making it one of the largest and most expensive high schools ever built in the United States, with a price tag of nearly US$200 million. The new building opened for classes in September 2010.
In the 1850s, high school classes in Newton were conducted in buildings shared with grammar schools in the villages of Newton Centre, West Newton, Upper Falls, and Newton Corner. In 1859, Newton’s population topped 8,000 residents for the first time, a threshold that required the town under Massachusetts state law to construct a separate high school. Newton High School’s first principal was Mr J.N. Beals, for whom the current Beals House was named. Beals also served as one of new school’s two teachers along with Miss Amy Breck. Beals left the job for health reasons after only one year and was replaced by Mr. E. D. Adams, for whom the current Adams House was named.
The first Newton High School building, located on Walnut Street in Newtonville, opened in September 1859, and modified in 1875. In 1898, the original building was replaced with a new building, also on Walnut Street. This building, The Classical Newton High School, eventually became known as Building I. The next building (Building II, circa 1906) was the Vocational High School and the third building of the Newton High School complex (Building III) opened in 1926 on Walnut Street. A field house/gymnasium building (also known as “the drill shed”) adjacent to Building I, was also part of the complex, as were the athletic fields. Buildings I, II, and III were connected to each other via a series of maintenance tunnels. Newton High School was Newton’s only public high school for more than 100 years until 1960 when Newton South High School opened.
Newton High School was renamed Newton North High School in 1973 when a new building opened on Lowell Avenue. The first graduating class as “Newton North High School” was in the spring of 1974. After Newton North was built, all of the former “Newton High School” buildings were demolished.
By 2003, the ‘old’ Newton North building was 30 years old and aging poorly, with leaks, poor ventilation and crumbling stairs. After extensive community debate and a citizen review panel, a decision was reached to construct a replacement high school, with the final cost ultimately totaling $197.5 million, making it one of the most expensive high schools ever built in the state. A project consultant explained that the project’s relatively high cost was partly due to demolition of the existing 450,000-square-foot (42,000 m2) building, hazardous material abatement in the existing building, and the new school’s complex program, which includes a natatorium, vocational technology education program, and culinary arts facilities.
At a public hearing in June 2006, community residents criticized the plan for its cost and for creating a new four-way intersection at Walnut Street and Trowbridge Avenue. Others claimed the proposed north-south orientation and lack of a basement level would waste energy as compared to the current structure. Nonetheless, after a public referendum and vote in January 2007, Newton residents approved the current plan for a new building.
Gund Partnership designed the new building, and Dore and Whittier Architects was the Architect of Record. Dimeo Construction Company was the construction manager and general contractor for the project. The removal of the asbestos, laden throughout the existing building, was priced at $10 million. The building was dismantled, with contaminated construction debris packaged in lined cardboard boxes and shipped out in 650 trailer loads.
The new building is oriented on a north–south axis on the eastern side of the current lot with athletic fields to the west and a soccer field on the east side. The main entrance has returned to Walnut Street, as was the case from 1859 to 1973. The new building places the school office in a more accessible location – it was on the third floor in the old building – and ensures that most classrooms have natural light and windows to the outside.
The 413,000-square-foot (38,400 m2) school incorporates many features that improve energy efficiency, and is among the first LEED-certified schools in the state. Green features include rooftop solar panels, systems to reuse rainwater, interior materials with low emission of volatile organic compounds, and occupancy motion sensors. Unlike the previous school building, where 50 percent of the classrooms did not have windows or access to daylight, classrooms in the new school receive natural light; light fixtures are dimmed based on the amount of daylight to conserve energy.
The school is divided into administrative units called ‘Houses’. Each house has its own office, secretary, and Dean (formerly “Housemaster”), who deals with administrative and disciplinary matters for house students. The House system was designed to provide better communication, distributed administration, more personal attention to individuals, a smaller peer group for students, more practical social events, and intra-house athletic teams. The Houses are Adams, Barry, Beals and Riley, with each year group occupying one house. In the period of its largest population (≈3,000 students in the 1960s and later), there were six houses – the two additional houses being Bacon and Palmer – which also contained student common rooms and teachers’ lounges. Originally, students in the same class were broken up into different houses; at the present, the four houses correspond to the four grade levels. Students remain in the same house throughout their four years at Newton North. Houses are named for notable former principals, such as J.N. Beals and E.D. Adams.
Newton North offers both traditional college-preparatory academic courses along with technical and vocational training. Traditional courses in the humanities and the sciences are streamed, often with College Prep, Advanced College Prep, Honors and Advanced Placement options. Starting with the 2014–2015 school year, course levels will be renamed to College Prep (formerly CII), Advanced College Prep (formerly (CI), and Honors/Advanced Placement (no change). Non-standard courses range from video production to architecture to automobile repair and even biodiesel production. Newton North holds the sixth position in Boston Magazine’s 2010 rankings of public high schools.
During the academic year of 2009/2010 a Greengineering course was added in the Career and Tech. Ed. Department at Newton North High School. The course taught students how to produce biodiesel, make fused plastic bags, and grow algae that would later be processed into fuel. The biodiesel was sold to a recycling company as well as the community at large. This program was the first of its kind in both Massachusetts and the United States of America. Greengineering was renewed for the academic year of 2010/2011 with additions to curriculum for Greengineering 101 and a new Greengineering 201 course. They had started creating a styrofoam type material using mycelium. They planned to use it to replace the need of the non-green styrofoam and to create a surfboard made of fibreglass coated mycelium. During the 2016-2017 school year, greengineering had multiple new subject areas including pedal power and aquaponics. However in the beginning of the 2018 school year, Greengineering came to an end and was replaced with a new Sustainability course.
Partnerships and exchanges
Students studying foreign languages have the opportunity to participate in one of several international exchange programs. In addition, Newton North participates in the Newton-Beijing Jingshan School Exchange Program. The city of Newton hosts students and teachers for four months each fall and sends students and teachers to Beijing each spring.
Clubs and societies
Newton North students participate in a wide range of self-run extracurricular clubs and societies.
Competitive clubs include its History Team, Model United Nations, Mock Trial Team, Debate Team, Mathematics Team, Science Team, and a FIRST FRC team: The LigerBots 2877. Newton North’s Science Team has entered National and Regional competitions.
In the 2011–2012 school year, the science team placed first at MIT Trivia, Envirothon, and JETS. In 1993 the team’s Science Bowl division won the state championship and placed 3rd nationally. They won the Science Olympiad State competition in 1995, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2009 and have represented Massachusetts at the national competition.
In the 2013–2014 school year, the LigerBots won the WPI District Competition, were finalists at the Northeastern University District Competition, and placed for the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis. In the 2014–2015 school year, the LigerBots were semi-finalists and Chairman’s Award winners at the UMass Dartmouth Competition, finalists at the Northeastern competition, won the NE Regional Chairman’s award, and placed for the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis. In the 2015–2016 school year, the LigerBots won the Entrepreneurship Award at the WPI competition, as well as the Innovation in Control Award at both the Boston University District Competition and the New England District Championship competition. In the 2017-2018 school year the team won the Imagery Award and Engineering Inspiration Award at the District levels, and qualified for the FIRST World Championships.
The Chess Club has sent teams of four players to the tournament yearly for the past two decades. The school team won the championships in 2002, 2009, 2010, and 2012. In 2016 they placed second to the two time champions Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. In 2018 they once again placed second after losing in the final round to the eventual champions BBN 1.5 -2.5. The last time an individual player has won the state title was Jacob Fauman in 2012. The current school team has top 50 nationally ranked chess players in their age group and top 25 finishers at the last national grade championships. The club itself has USCF Club affiliation and a Club TD (who is a student), something that no other High School in Massachusetts has.
Newton North publishes a monthly student newspaper, The Newtonite, founded in 1922. The paper has a circulation of 2000 issues. Students contribute to The Newtonite through credited Journalism courses; The Newtonite has won crowns from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association – the Gold Crown in 2001, and the Silver Crown in 2002 – among other scholastic journalism awards. Students also design and publish The Newtonian, the school’s yearbook, which is currently in its 101st Volume for 2011. Thoughtprints, published once a year, is the school’s student-run literary magazine, featuring only student submissions. In 2010, the magazine included a CD of student-written music for the first time.
Tiger Magazine is Newton North’s video production class’s monthly cable television program. The show airs on Newton’s NewTV local cable station. The content of the program is generally a mixture of comedy pieces, news, and community based documentary, as well as experimental and dramatic video works. Several Tiger Magazine alumni have gone on to pursue careers in the film industry, and numerous pieces originally aired on Tiger Magazine have won awards in local and national video contests. Near the end of the 2011–2012 school year, the name of the show was changed to “Tiger Tube”.
Newton North competes in the Bay State League with other suburban Boston public schools. Since 1894, the Boys’ Football team has played rival Brookline High School in the traditional Thanksgiving Day Game. This is one of the oldest high school football rivalries in Massachusetts. Newton North offers football, boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ track and cross country, boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ and girls’ volleyball, golf, baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, field hockey, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, tennis, and many other sports.
Track and field
The track teams at Newton North have remained some of the top teams in the state since the inception of state-level competition. Beginning with Newton High School’s first state title in 1922, the boys’ track teams have won the Division I / Class A state championship twenty-four times outdoors and fifteen times indoors, including Newton High School’s record streak of eight in a row (1952–1959). Massachusetts added an additional all-state meet including all divisions in the 1960s outdoors and 1980s indoors; Newton North has subsequently won all-state titles in 1977, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018. The 2004/2005 season featured both Division I and All-State titles in cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track which completed a “Triple Crown” of championships. That year also featured a victory at the Penn Relays in the high school distance medley championship, which was the first relay victory by a Massachusetts high school in almost 50 years. In 2011, the Newton North sprint medley relay team and its four members were named All-American by the National Scholastic Sports Foundation. Newton High/Newton North athletes have won a high school national title (Warren Wittens in the 1936 intermediate hurdles; Carla Forbes in 2012 in the long jump and triple jump; Nick Fofana in 2014 in the decathlon Andrew Mah in 2018 in the 5000) an NCAA title (Carl Shine in the 1959 shot put) and run a four-minute mile equivalent (Tom Carleo ran 3:41 for 1500 and competed at the 1988 Olympic trials).
The Newton North girls’ track teams have had their share of championships as well and have consistently been one of the top high school track teams in the state, winning Division I / Class A titles in 1989, 1990, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Additionally, they captured the All-State title in 1990, 1992, 1998, 2004, 2005,2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Along with those successes, they won more than 40 Conference and League Championships in the past 22 years. Their top scoring athlete at state competition, Tanya Jones, won eleven individual Division I championships in the 300, 400, high jump, and long jump, and is the only athlete from either Newton North or Newton South high schools to score over 100 points at the state division / class meet level. Post-high-school, distance star Liz Natale finished 2nd at the 1986 NCAA Division I championship in the 3000m and was an All-American six times for University of Texas. The program has also had dozens of Nike All-Americans and New Balance All-Americans over the past ten years.
The girls’ soccer team has won five Division 1 State Championships, in 1989, 1992, 1996, 1999, and 2013, ranking as one of the top teams in the country. The boys’ basketball team won the 2005 and 2006 Division 1 State Championships, and is considered one of the state’s top basketball programs. They have captured the Bay State Championship five years in a row since 2004. The Newton North’s boys’ gymnastics team won four consecutive state championships from 1997 to 2000. The boys’ tennis team won the Division 1 State Championship in 2002. In the spring of 2007, tennis doubles team Dan Razulis and Mike Greene won the MIAA State Doubles tournament. The boys’ lacrosse team won three state championships from the years 1992–1996, ranking as one of the top teams in the country. In 2005–06, the boys’ football team won the Bay State league championship and went on to the Division 1A State Championship super bowl. In 2006 & 2007 the Boys’ volleyball team won the sectional title and went on to the Division 1 State Championship. In 2014, the Boys’ baseball team won the Division 1A state title by winning the first MIAA Super 8 state tournament. More recently, the girls’ volleyball team won back-to-back state championships from 2017-18 and in 2018 was honored by the MaxPreps Tour of Champions as one of the top 50 high school teams in the country.
Theatre Ink is Newton North’s theater department. Students work as directors, stage managers, student producers, designers and in backstage roles, in addition to onstage roles. All sets, lights, and sound for productions are designed, built, and operated by students. Theatre Ink uses two performance spaces, the Performing Arts Center, which is a standard proscenium theatre and seats approximately 600, and the little theatre, a roughly 200-seat theatre-in-the-round.
A typical season has several productions:
- Approximately three to five student-directed plays, one of which is often a musical. These plays are directed by teams of two, or rarely three, seniors who applied for the opportunity during their junior year.
- A large-scale musical performed in the main auditorium in the month of March. This production is usually the largest of the year, featuring the largest team of student actors, musicians, and crew members. Past musicals include Les Misérables (2003), My Fair Lady (2004), Bye Bye Birdie (2005), Chicago (2006), West Side Story (2007), Grease (2008), Anything Goes (2009), Cabaret (2010), Curtains (2011), and Legally Blonde (2012), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (2013), Thoroughly Modern Millie (2014), Once Upon a Mattress (2015), Oliver! (2016), Fiddler on the Roof (2017), Cinderella (2018) and Rock of Ages (2019).
- A Shakespeare production in collaboration with Newton South High School’s theater department, South Stage, featuring actors and crew members from both schools. Past shows include Twelfth Night (2004 and 2012), Henry IV, Part I (2005), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2006), The Tempest (2007), Romeo and Juliet (2008), Macbeth (2009), The Comedy of Errors (2011), and Hamlet (2011).
- Performances by the school’s improvisation troupe, Spontaneous Generation, and sketch comedy troupe, Nitrous Oxide, and of contemporary musical theater, Cabaret Troupe, in concert style.
- The Playwrights’ Festival, an evening featuring short plays written, directed and performed by students.
- Freshman Cabaret, a showcase featuring ninth graders and directed by sophomores.
In 2016, Theatre Ink entered a production for the first time into the Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild‘s annual statewide theatrical competition. Theatre Ink entered its production of Oliver!, the musical based on the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist. There, Oliver! won several awards, including Best Acting Ensemble, Best Dance Ensemble, Best Hair & Makeup Design & Execution, and Best Overall Production.
- Katharine Lee Bates (1878) – composer of “America the Beautiful”
- Charles Bilezikian – co-founder of the Christmas Tree Shops 
- Percy Williams Bridgman (1900) – physicist and philosopher of science, 1946 Nobel laureate
- Louis C.K. (1985) – stand-up comedian, actor, producer, director, and writer.
- Jim Corsi (1979) – Major League Baseball pitcher, notably for the Oakland Athletics and the Boston Red Sox.
- Priyanka Chopra (2000) – actor in ABC’s drama Quantico, Miss World 2000, Bollywood Actress. (Moved before graduation)
- Joe DeNucci (1955) – boxer and state Auditor.
- Ronnie DeVoe (1986) – singer of R&B group New Edition.
- Dimitri Diatchenko (1986) – actor, notably in Chernobyl Diaries, and musician.
- Anne Dudek (1993) – actress, notably in Mad Men, House, The Book Group and Covert Affairs.
- Houry Gebeshian (2007) – artistic gymnast, former Iowa Hawkeyes team member, Armenia national team member.
- Stephen Greenblatt (1961) – Shakespeare scholar, academic, literary critic, pioneer of New Historicism.
- Peter Guber (around 1960) – Hollywood film producer and part owner of the LA Dodgers.
- Sean Gullette (1986) – writer, actor, notably in Happy Accidents and Requiem for a Dream.
- Pete Hamilton (1960), NASCAR Driver and 1970 Daytona 500 winner
- James Heywood (1985) – founder, ALS Therapy Development Foundation, co-founder, Patients Like Me.
- Stephen Heywood (1987) – artist, builder, and subject of documentary So Much So Fast
- Martin Karplus (1947) – chemist, winner of 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
- Matt LeBlanc (1985) – actor, notably in Friends and Joey.
- Florencia Lozano (1987), actress, One Life to Live.
- Elizabeth McCracken (1984) – author, Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination.
- Andy MacDonald (1992) – professional skateboarder
- Seth Mnookin (1990) – contributing editor, Vanity Fair, author of Hard News.
- Julie Palais (1974) – Antarctic researcher, glaciologist, climate change researcher
- James Remar (1971) – actor, notably in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and Dexter.
- Michael Rosbash (1961) – biologist, 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- Josh Roseman (1985) – musician, composer and producer
- Mark Sandman (1970) – musician, bassist and vocalist of Morphine
- Dana Adam Shapiro (1991) – co-director, Murderball, writer for Icon, Spin and New York Times magazines, author, The Every Boy.
- H. James Shea Jr. (1957) – member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, anti-Vietnam War activist
- James Harris Simons (1956) – founder of Renaissance Technologies and the Simons Foundation.
- Julie Taymor (1970) – theater director, The Lion King on Broadway, film director, notably of Across the Universe, Frida.
- Michael Thomas (1985) – writer, author “Man Gone Down“.
- Edward Chase Tolman (1904) – psychologist and prominent theorist of behaviorism
- Richard Chase Tolman (1899) – physical chemist, physicist, and scientific advisor to the U.S. government
- Liesl Tommy (1990) – theater and television director.
- Setti Warren – mayor of Newton and gubernatorial candidate
- Jesse Wegman (1991) – The New York Times editorial board member
- George T. Whitesides (1992) – CEO of Virgin Galactic and former chief of staff at NASA and former director of the National Space Society.
- Laura Zigman (1980) – author, Animal Husbandry (adapted into the film, Someone like You); Dating Big Bird, Her, Piece of Work.
Note: Alumni who graduated prior to 1974 are graduates of Newton High School.
- “Newton North High”. National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
- “Most Expensive High Schools in America”. June 15, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
- McDonald, Michael (June 6, 2008). “Boston Suburb’s ‘Taj Mahal’ Brings Ban on Luxury High Schools”. Bloomberg. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
- “Student Days at “A Pure High School““. Newton History Museum. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
- Atkinson, Dan (July 6, 2006). “Newton North site Plan Vote Unlikely Before September”. Newton Tab.[permanent dead link]
- Lebeaux, Rachel (October 29, 2006). “Gund: North “Will Be Exciting”“. Newton Tab.
- Mesothelioma News.
- Newton North High School project, Costello Dismantiling
- Black, Daniel E. (May 11, 2006). “Site picked for new school”. Newton Tab.[permanent dead link]
- Long, Chrissie (September 23, 2008). “Newton North LEEDs in green”. Newton Tab.
- “Public Schools Chart”. Boston Magazine. 2009. Archived from the original on July 8, 2010. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
- Newton North Students Probe Future of Fuel, Environment Archived November 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Newton Tab.
- Souza, Scott. “Newton track athletes take on Manhattan at Indoor Nationals”. The Newton Tab. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
- Paine, Laura (November 2, 2010). “History repeats with ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’ at Newton North”. The Newton Tab. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- Annear, Steve (May 25, 2011). “Curtains open Thursday for “Sunday in the with George Park” at Newton North”. The Newton Tab. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- Danseyar, Susan (November 2, 2010). “Improv comedy at Newton North High School”. The Newton Tab. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- “‘West Side Story’ performance sealed with a kiss”. The Newton Tab. March 7, 2007. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- “Grease!”. The Newton Tab. March 12, 2008. Archived from the original on May 21, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- “Coming Up”. The Newton Tab. March 11, 2008. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- “Coming Up”. The Newton Tab. May 6, 2008. Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- “MET Musical Awards Nominations & Winners 2016”. metg.org. June 13, 2016. Archived from the original on June 26, 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
- “Charles Bilezikian, 79; created the Christmas Tree Shops empire”. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
- “Newton North High School Newtonian, 1961”. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
- “Martin Karplus – Biographical”. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013. Nobel Foundation. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
- “CEO of Virgin Galactic (NNHS ’92) to visit”. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- Newton North High School Official Website
- State Department of Education “Adequate Yearly Progress”
- Newton North’s Main Page at Great Schools
- Newton North High School Building Project
- Theatre Ink Homepage
- The Newton North Greengineering Website
- Newton-Beijing Jingshan School Exchange Program
- Photos of the new school on the Boston Globe website