December 23, 2016

Cookie Decorating in the Residence!

The residential students got a chance to spread some seasonal cheer - and frosting! They baked cookies during Culinary Arts classes, then got a chance to decorate them with their own snowman design using frosting and icing tubes. Great job to the teachers and residential activity leaders for making such a fun activity possible!

Check out the photos on our Facebook page

December 22, 2016

Winter Music Festival Brings Laughter and Light

Our annual Winter Music Festival was possibly the best attended holiday event in recent memory, as friends, families and loved ones packed the gymnasium to help us celebrate. From Christmas standards and Hanukkah classics, to brand new traditions, this year's festival was a delight to all who attended. We even got some press in the Boston Globe the day after the performance! (Read the article here)  Thanks to all the teachers and staff who made this event possible, and especially to our students who tried their very best, both on stage and in the audience. Happy Holidays!

Check out the photos on Facebook

Residential Overnight Appreciation!

The residential overnight staff really enjoyed the overnight smorgasbord of delicious food provided by our Parents Association both on December 18th and 22nd! The feast began at midnight, and the residential instructors had so much food that they were able to snack all night long! 

What a great way to say "thank you" to the staff that work so hard "behind the scenes" making sure the children sleep well and are watched over throughout the night. No staff are more deserving! 

Happy Holidays to one and all!

December 21, 2016

Dr. Stephen Shore visits Higashi

                On Wednesday, December 21, 2016, Dr. Stephen Shore took a break from his many trips around the world to visit the Boston Higashi School. Along with being a world-famous presenter and self-advocate, Dr. Shore is a long-time member of the BHS's Advisory Board and is involved in research projects at the school. The Research Team was excited to meet with him and share updates on the many projects that are going on.

                Dr. Shore also met with Residential Staff from Japan. Many of these staff are not only new to BHS, but also to the United States. They shared many laughs with Dr. Shore and even snapped a quick photo before heading back to rest up for their afternoon shifts.
The Residential Staff are all smiles with Dr. Shore!
Dr. Ann Roberts, Principal Deb Donovan, and Dr. John Maina present
Dr. Shore with a copy of the department's first Strategic Plan.

December 16, 2016

Tiny Tumblers - Elementary Gymnastics Recital

We're so proud of our youngest division's hard work! On Friday they held their second annual PE Gymnastics Recital where they showcased their rolling, tumbling, and ability to follow group directions in front of an audience. From pencil rolls to crab, bear, and duck walks, our youngest Higashi students showed focus, effort, and lots of pride after a successful performance. Congratulations to all the students and teachers who worked so hard to make this event a success, and a special thanks to PE teacher Kristen Cook for organizing the event. Great job, Elementary!

View the photos on our Facebook page

December 14, 2016

Winter Dance & Residence Party - Holiday Happiness!

We were feeling festive on Wednesday night at our annual Winter Dance and Residence Party! The halls of Higashi were packed after hours, with a party for the younger Residential students, and a dance for the older crowd that was also open to Alumni, families and friends. Several Santas even made an appearance!

Check out our Facebook page for photos from the event

Happy Holidays!

December 13, 2016

Research Team Visits CARE at BU

The Boston Higashi School Research Team had a wonderful time visiting Dr. Helen Tager-Flusberg, Daniela Plesa-Swerer, Steve Meyer, and Brady Eggleston at the Center for Autism Research Excellence (CARE) on Tuesday. Housed in the quietest part of Boston University’s campus, the CARE lab is a meticulously clean, secure base for some of the world’s greatest research undertakings in Autism studies.

During the visit, the team had the opportunity to tour the entire facility and learned a great deal about developing research space for maximum utility. Much of the time, however, was spent in the Electroencephalogram (EEG) Center, where many BHS students will be participating in research this spring. We can’t wait to bring our students, staff, and parents to this amazing lab!

December 05, 2016

Smilies Abound at Winter Sibling Day

On Saturday, 21 siblings joined us for our Winter Sibling Day - a morning of friendship and festive fun! From a scavenger hunt and "snowball" fight, to everyone's favorite, gingerbread house decorating, the gym was all smiles. 'Tis the season!

Check out the photos on our Facebook page!

December 02, 2016

Emergence Program Delivers Care Packs for our Troops

On Friday, students from the Emergence Program visited the Care Packs Inc. Warehouse in Weymouth, MA. Thanks to the generosity of Higashi students and families, we were able to donate a wide variety of hygiene and leisure items to be sent to troops serving overseas. Emergence students worked hard to compose Thank You letters during their November academic unit using picture symbols, visual topic boards, and augmentative communication devices. These letters not only gave students a greater awareness of community involvement, but also brought a message from home to their recipients. Great job, EP!

December 01, 2016

Jazz Band Performs at EMC

For the second year in a row, the Jazz Band performed at EMC as part of the "International Day of People with Disability."  

EMC also held their 7th Annual Pinball Wizard Contest & Vendor Fair, and our students even got a chance to practice their pinball skills after a pizza lunch.

Thanks to Higashi parent Kristine Biagiotti-Bridges, President of the Disability Employee Resource Group at Dell for arranging this great opportunity!

November 22, 2016

Our Research is On The Move!

This summer, the Boston Higashi School Research Department teamed up with Dr. Ashley Woodman from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Dr. Miriam Evans from CAST-Wakefield to examine the effectiveness of our school's jogging program. The findings were very promising and showed that a daily morning jogging routine not only reduced the number of problematic behaviors (e.g., self-injurious behaviors, disruptive behaviors) displayed by our students, but also increased academic performance (e.g., time on task).

BHS in UMass Amherst Newsletter

The Boston Higashi School Research Team is excited to announce our collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMA). Boston Higashi School was recently mentioned in their Department of Developmental Brain Sciences' monthly newsletter. We owe special thanks to Dr. Ashley Woodman, of UMA, and Dr. Miriam Evans of CAST-Wakefield for helping us to complete a very exciting study about our jogging program! Please stay tuned for results.

November 21, 2016

Check out our Fall 2016 Higashi Highlights

Check out this quarter's edition of Higashi Highlights!

Fall on campus brought with it a renewed enthusiasm for learning and fun, as we ushered in a new school year full of possibility!

In this issue: Our fall Gala was truly "A Night to Remember," Sports Illustrated comes to campus on Sports Day, and Higashi is part of a piece on Autism and Sports (SI's November 14th issue), a research update for our ongoing studies, the new greenhouse project takes root, and much more!

Read this Issue

November 17, 2016

Film "Life, Animated" a Compelling Story of Family Triumph

Today some of our staff headed into Boston to attend a preview of the film, Life, Animated, sponsored by the ARC of Massachusetts, and we even got a photo op with star Owen Suskind and his mom! 

A synopsis from the Life, Animated website:
"LIFE, ANIMATED is the inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. This emotional coming-of-age story follows Owen as he graduates to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence. The subject of his father Ron Suskind’s New York Times bestseller, Owen was a thriving three year old who suddenly and inexplicably went silent – and for years after remained unable to connect with other people or to convey his thoughts, feelings or desires. Over time, through repeated viewings of Disney classics like THE LITTLE MERMAID and THE LION KING, Owen found useful tools to help him to understand complex social cues and to re-connect with the world around him." 

Our friend Dr. Stephen Shore was one of the co-authors of the social skills curriculum that is available for free download on the film's website! Check it out here:

November 15, 2016

New Consul General of Japan Visits

We were honored to welcome the new Consul General of Japan, Mr. Rokuichiro Michii, new Consul Mr. Yasuhiro Yamauchi, and Mr. Matt Krebs, the Executive Director of the Japan Society of Boston. Our special visitors came for a school tour, and heard our Jazz Band perform during assembly time. We hope they will join us at more Higashi events in the future!

November 14, 2016

Sports Illustrated Comes to Higashi!

**Read the Sports Illustrated article online here**

Higashi at the Intersection of Autism and Sports

As some of you may already know, Boston Higashi School was recently featured on the tv program 60 Minutes Sports (which airs on Showtime), and also in the November 14th issue of Sports Illustrated. What an exciting opportunity this was! You may be wondering, how did this all come about?

Back in April 2016, Heather Katz, Director of Training, received a voice mail from Stephanie Apstein, a researcher for Sports Illustrated. She was researching information on autism and sports, and had interviewed a doctor at Mass General Hospital who mentioned our school. Stephanie looked our school up online and called. After interviewing Heather on the phone for about an hour, Heather was told that she would hear back later once the story was getting ready for print to verify the facts. Months went by with no word. In August, Stephanie called Heather with “good news” and “bad news.” The “good news” was that the story was going well. The “bad news” was that the story was being pushed back because CBS had picked up interest in it, and wanted to have permission to come and film on location at our school for their piece! (It was the best “bad news” we have possibly ever heard!)

Rome Hartman, Producer, and Jack Weingart, Associate Producer at 60 Minutes Sports, flew out to BHS the last week of September and filmed for 2 days. They filmed PE classes, morning jogging, and a few academic classes. On their final day of filming, Jon Wertheim, Executive Editor of Sports Illustrated, flew into town to visit and record an interview of Heather. He is also responsible for initiating this entire project, as it was his brainchild to write the original story on the intersection of autism and sports. Jack and Stephanie enjoyed the feel of Higashi so much, they came back for Sports Day to videotape, photograph and interview some of our parents.

Overall, this was such a great experience for our staff, our students, and our school. The students were “pros” even with the cameras and microphones in their faces - they kept the smiles on their faces, and remained focused on their tasks. As we are the only school mentioned in the tv piece, the on-line article, and in Sports Illustrated, it goes without saying that Boston Higashi School is, without a doubt, the premier school for educating children with autism. Our focus on sports is just one example of how we educate the whole child, instead of just “fixing” deficits. In a world where autism numbers continue to climb, we are glad that our emphasis on fitness is beginning to reach a wider audience in a way that parents and families can embrace. 

**Read the Sports Illustrated article online here**

November 04, 2016

An Afternoon of Jazz with the Berklee School of Music

We were delighted to welcome students from the Berklee School of Music for an afternoon of amazing music! Six musicians, three of them prestigious TOMODACHI Suntory scholars from Japan, performed several jazz pieces for an audience of captivated students, teachers, and staff. 

The concert opened with a song by the Higashi Jazz Band, and closed with a collaborative performance of the jazz standard, Watermelon Man, featuring both Berklee and Higashi musicians. In between, the Berklee musicians played a range of jazz favorites and even a Japanese song in honor of their visit to Higashi. 

The Higashi students were all smiles as they listened to such impressive music - the performers made it look effortless. Jazz Band member Antony even remarked “I hope that’s future me,” gesturing toward the Berklee musicians on the stage. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. 

October 11, 2016

Gronk's Message to Higashi Goes Viral

During a pretty amazing "Battle of the Jerseys" between the New England Patriots players Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski at the school's 2nd Annual Gala, Emcee David Wade brought the crowd of over 300 to a frenzy when he introduced a short video of the Gronk giving props to the Higashi School Staff. At that point, the battle was over as Gronk's Jersey out-dueled the Edelman jersey by $1,500. Many thanks to Gronk for bringing his great spirit and enthusiasm and making an already exciting evening, a greater success! 

September 14, 2016

An Afternoon of Golf to Benefit Higashi!

The Harvey Memorial Local 7 Retired Iron Workers’ Golf Tournament was held this afternoon at Presidents Golf Course in Quincy. Representing Higashi were Jason Hurlock, Mrs. Ebihara, Amy Carter, and Jamie Marshall. Jim Lawlor, grandfather of Higashi student Austin Linnehan, organized the event, and all the proceeds benefitted BHS! Thank you so much, Jim, for making this outing possible! 

September 08, 2016

Inventor of PARO Meets with Researchers

The Higashi Research Team welcomed Dr. Takanori Shibata, the inventor of PARO the robotic seal, to Higashi!  Our research team used PARO beginning in 2008 for a research study involving social interaction and representational play. The team discussed future studies involving PARO, and we look forward to a continuing relationship with Dr.  Shibata. 

June 30, 2016

29th Annual Celebration A Triumph

Our 29th Annual Celebration performance took place on Sunday, June 26th, to a packed house at King Philip Regional High School's auditorium in Wrentham. It contained performances ranging from moving, to joyful, to awe-inducing - and there was not a dry eye to be seen by the time the curtain closed! 

Check out photos from the event on our Facebook page!

Watch our year-end recap video, and discover what makes Higashi so special. 

March 28, 2016

Dr. John Maina to Speak at the U.N.

Dr. John Maina, Higashi's Director of Program Research, Evaluation and Development, will have the opportunity of a lifetime on April 1st, as he presents to the United Nations General Assembly as part of their observance of World Autism Awareness Day. 

In a recent interview in the Patriot Ledger, Dr. Maina shared his views on the importance of autism education around the world. “I want people to appreciate that all children count,” Maina said. “Regardless of where they live, they should not be stigmatized and should have an education that maximizes their potential. I want to make a case for bold and urgent action for equitable education.”

Photo by Gary Higgins, The Patriot Ledger

January 02, 2016

Acclaimed Pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii Performs

Inspired piano music wows children and staff alike; Higashi visit appears on Japanese TV

**UPDATE** - On January 2nd, the video of Nobu’s visit to Boston aired on BS-Asahi TV in Japan. His performance with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra is featured, along with a short clip of his performance and visit here at Higashi. (Higashi footage and interviews can be found beginning at minute 7 on the film).

Watch the video (presented in Japanese)

October 26th, 2015: 
We received a very special visit from Nobu Tsujii, and other special guests on Monday, October 26th here at Higashi. They included Nick Adams, Executive Manager for the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, Mr. And Mrs. Peter  Grilli of the Japan Society of Boston, Christopher Knott, Director of World Link, Mr. Naoyuki Asano, Nobu’s manager and three members from the Japanese television network Asahi.

Nobu Tsujii is a highly acclaimed blind Japanese pianist who performed with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra the day before at Jordan Hall in Boston. Higashi was one of the beneficiaries, and will receive half of the proceeds from that marvelous concert. His performance here at school delighted both students and staff. While Nobu was playing you could hear a pin drop in our gymnasium.  His music truly touched the hearts of everyone there.  It is not every day that we encounter such talent and genius up close and personally. Thank you to Yoshie Gordon and Mrs. Ebihara for coordinating this wonderful performance!
See more photos from the event on our Facebook page