Spring Health and Wellness

Message from Mr. Joncas

May 18, 2020

Fellow Martlets, welcome to a new week. Like most springs, it is hard to comprehend where the time has gone. However, this spring has been anything but ordinary; under different circumstances today would mark the final week on campus for our Sixth Formers. I know I speak for all of my colleagues when I express how much the class of 2020 will be missed, but we are so grateful for all you have given to the Westminster community. Your impact was felt in the dorms, Armour Academic Center, Hamilton Art Studio, on the stages, fields, pools, rink, track, courts and all the spaces in between. Not to mention your impact and outreach outside of the community in places like Tariffville School, Loaves and Fishes and beyond. Your talents are remarkable and it has been a pleasure to observe the depth and breadth of your reach as a class. You embraced your role as the leaders of our school and led with both Grit & Grace. While your individual talents are unequivocal, your impact as people will be the most cherished of your legacy. We wish you all the best in the next chapter and look forward to a time in the future when we can all be together again on Williams Hill. 
Our school motto of Grit and Grace has never resonated more with me than it has this spring. Grit has enabled all of us to find the silver linings in our days. It has given us the necessary reserve to punch back against COVID-19. The virus has taken so much, and so many, but our own resilience, our own grit, has enabled us to claim back even more. Grace has given us the patience to control the things we can and relinquish control of those we cannot. It has illuminated the things in our lives that we once took for granted. We have had to adapt, and change, in order to move forward. We have found new ways to connect, new ways to exercise, to communicate and to persevere. Just last week I came across an inspirational quote from Viktor Frankl that seemed pertinent. Viktor, an Austrian neurologist and Holocaust survivor, once said: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” While it seems like we have lost so much this spring, we have also gained a new level of resiliency, flexibility, creativity and a heightened sense of perspective and purpose that will serve us the rest of our lives. I hope all of us approach the weeks and months ahead with continued Grit and Grace. The sun will continue to rise and set each day on Williams Hill — a campus filled with eager faculty and staff awaiting your return.
Fitness with Faculty
Don’t forget to check out the athletics Instagram page this week to see which faculty are sharing their workouts or to go back and see the workouts from past weeks. Thanks to Mr. Pringle, and Mrs. Keough and Mrs. Keyo, for their efforts last week. Also, remember that Mr. Doucette will help you with mindfulness Friday mornings at 8:40 a.m. Please click here to join him for peaceful meditation. 
Thanks to Ms. C, and Bae of course, for all of her efforts this spring keeping us flexible and agile. Remember to keep up with your mobility training over the course of the summer. 
Thank you to Gina Valles ’06 for all of her work this spring bringing us the weekly workout. Gina is excited to see you all back on campus and has offered to come up next year to check in on all of us periodically.
Healthy Recipe of the Weeks: Mrs. Philip’s Mini Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
(recipe courtesy of the “The Meatball Shop Cookbook”)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ⅓ Cup Frank’s Redhot sauce or any other favorite hot sauce
  • 1 pound ground chicken 
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ celery stalk, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle the oil in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the surface. Set aside.
Combine butter and hot sauce in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking until butter is melted and fully incorporated. 
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Combine hot sauce mixture, ground chicken, egg, celery, bread crumbs and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.
Roll the mixture into round, ¾ inch balls, making sure to firmly pack the meat together. Place the balls in the baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.
Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until firm and cooked through (if using, a meat thermometer should read 165 degrees).
Allow meatballs to cool for five minutes in baking dish before serving.

Remember to check out the Westminster Athletics Instagram each Monday and Friday to see some of your faculty members moving and grooving.

Previous Communications

List of 5 items.

  • May 11, 2020

    Fellow Martlets, welcome to a new week! It is hard to believe that we have entered the final stretch of this school year. Last week was a beautiful week on Williams Hill with temps hovering at or just above the 60-degree mark. Last Tuesday, I found myself sitting at the overlook for a few minutes with my kids during our evening walk. I was glad to take a seat, catch my breath and reflect on the past several weeks. Staring at the vacant fields below, I was reminded how important our athletics program is to our school. The relationships that are forged during the afternoon program are powerful and lasting. These social connections with our friends and teammates are critical for both our physical and mental health. As this virus has backed us into our homes, and limited our interactions with our peers, it has stifled our ability to connect with one another. These relationships have been altered by our new set of circumstances but it is imperative that we maintain them as best as we can given the parameters. Zoom will never be able to replace face-to-face, in person connection but it, along with other virtual platforms, will have to suffice for now. We need these social connections, arguably more than ever and I would encourage all of us to reach out to our friends, teammates or extended family to just say hello, see some familiar faces, tell stories and hopefully, laugh! 
    As many of you know Ms. Ciarleglio ran her first 100-mile ultramarathon last summer in the grueling Vermont heat. What you might not have known is that she had a few other Martlets flying by her side that day, and during her preparation, to help her achieve her goal of finishing the race. You see, success happens when three things come together: opportunity, preparation and grit. For Ms. C, her own success on that day would not have been possible without her teammates. Enjoy her video, which highlights how powerful and necessary teammates are during challenging times. In many ways, we are all running our own version of the 100-mile ultramarathon right now. Lean on your teammates when things get a little sticky and always, always, be ready to do the same for your teammates and anyone else who may need a hand. As Ms. C says in her video, “when you look back at your experiences it is always the people who you shared them with that will either make or break the experience.” Take the time to stop, connect, reflect and appreciate the relationships you have created at Westminster. These relationships will endure this tough time. 
    Health Tip of the Week: Nutrition/Sleep
    A healthy diet will always help us be more effective students, athletes and human beings. Our friends at Harvard have shared some nice tips on why a healthy diet is very important now more than ever. Sleep also allows for our brain to clean itself. Check this article out. 
    Fitness with Faculty
    Don’t forget to check out the athletics Instagram page this week to see which faculty are sharing their workouts or to go back and see past workouts. Thanks to Ms. Vailas and Mr. Curtis for their efforts last week. Also, remember that Mr. Doucette will help you with mindfulness Friday mornings at 8:40 a.m. Please click here to join him for peaceful meditation. 
    #MartletMobility with Ms. C
    In case you haven’t checked out Ms. C’s #MartletMobility take a second to do so here. A little extra mobility work each day will pay dividends over the long haul.
    As the weather continues to improve, we hope that you are able to move some of your workouts outdoors. Remember that if you are spending time outside apply sunscreen. The workout challenge this week is to complete the workout with someone else. This can be a family member, a teammate, neighbor, etc., but remember to social distance. 
    Healthy Recipe of the Week
    Ms. Powel’s Granola (adapted with gratitude from my mom, Mrs. Powel)
    • 1.5 cups of rolled oats
    • 1 cup roughly chopped raw almonds
    • ⅓ cup of sweetener (I usually use maple syrup or honey)
    • ¼ cup of oil (I usually use canola oil, but olive oil would kick it up a notch)
    • ½ tsp. of salt
    • ½ tsp. of cinnamon
    • 1 tbsp. egg white (optional, but it binds the granola — so do it if you like your granola in chunks)
    Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Combine rolled oats, chopped almonds, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Then add your sweetener(s), oil and egg white. Stir until the fixings are coated and well combined. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet (lined or unlined with parchment paper, either works). Bake at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally every 20 minutes (do not stir much if you prefer it in chunks). I tend to keep checking to make sure it’s toasting up nicely, but your granola will be done once it’s toasty, brown and has your kitchen/apartment/house smelling good. I like to sprinkle it on yogurt or oatmeal, but mostly I just snack on it as is. This recipe can easily be gluten-free if you use gluten-free oats and nut-free if you ditch the almonds. Enjoy! Ms. Powel
    Remember to check out the Westminster Athletics Instagram each Monday and Friday to see some of your faculty members moving and grooving.
  • May 4, 2020

    Welcome to the first full week of May. The temperatures continue to inch closer to the mid-60s. The trees are showing signs of spring and the grass has turned a more friendly shade of green in the last week and a half. With all that is going on, I take comfort in knowing that nature carries on. These symbols of spring have an even greater level of importance this year and have helped restore a sense of balance for me. Everyone, at some level or another, has been knocked off balance by these uncertain times. Ms. Powel shared this article that her college lacrosse coach wrote for Inside Lacrosse. There are so many unknowns right now that I find myself turning more and more toward nature for reassurance that brighter days are on the horizon — things will get better. There is something restorative about being outside in the fresh air, surrounded by nature and its sounds. Wendell Berry’s Poem, “The Peace of Wild Things,” has long been one of Mrs. Joncas’ favorite poems and has, subsequently, become one of mine as well. 
    Health Tip of the Week: Hydration
    Hydration is critically important. Drinking enough water can be a challenge. I have found it helpful to always have a water bottle on my desk or in close vicinity to my workspace. This article does a nice job of explaining the benefits of drinking water as well as answering questions about how much and how often we should turn to H20.
    App Recommendation of the Week: Way of Life
    Developing healthy habits like exercising, getting enough sleep each night, brushing your teeth, eating a balanced diet and of course drinking enough water will help us to become better versions of ourselves. The better we feel, the better we perform. Sometimes these habits can be hard to develop and even harder to stick with. Thankfully, there is an app for keeping you on track.
    Fitness with Faculty
    Don’t forget to check out the athletics Instagram page this week to see which faculty members are sharing their workouts or to see workouts from past weeks. Thanks to Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Huguley’s efforts last week and Mr. Desjardins and the baseball captains for their rendition of #WorkoutWednesday. Also, remember that Mr. Doucette will help you with mindfulness Friday mornings at 8:40 a.m. Please click here to join him for peaceful meditation. 
    Gina’s Workout of the Week
    Gina has whipped up a good one for this week. This week’s challenge is to try and find the time to complete this bodyweight workout twice a day.

    Healthy Recipe of the Week
    Ms. Spencer’s Easy Salmon with Old Bay
    • Put a little olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish
    • Add a fillet of salmon
    • Squeeze fresh orange juice over the fish until entirely covered 
    • Sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning (a Maryland thing: right, Mr. Curtis/Mr. Batten?)
    • Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes or until fish is firm
    • Enjoy!
    (You can do this on the grill too. You can also make this with chicken breasts.)
    Remember to check out the Westminster Athletics Instagram each Monday and Friday to see some of your faculty members moving and grooving.
  • April 27, 2020

    Martlet faithful, welcome to a new week! As we enter the final week of April I hope that you, and your families, continue to stay safe and healthy. I hope that you enjoyed last week’s workouts and health tips. Thanks to Mr. de Kanter and Ms. Powel for their faculty workouts, and also a big thanks to Girls’ Lacrosse for the first edition of #WorkoutWednesday. I hope that the variety of workouts has been helpful and that you are finding the time each and every day to move. We miss you guys!

    The benefits of how exercise can boost our moods is well documented but I thought that this article does a nice job explaining why we feel so good while we are exercising and why that feeling sticks around even after we have finished working out. Exercise has a dramatic impact on the brain both in the short and long term. So, not only are you taking care of your body by exercising, you are also taking care of your mind. The mood enhancing chemicals (endorphins, dopamine and serotonin) that are released during exercise play a big role in why we feel awesome after just 30 minutes of exercise. These chemicals can stick around in the brain hours after exercise and can help with both anxiety and depression. A sustained exercise routine over time has shown to actually change the structure and function of the brain. These changes have been shown to increase memory and learning. Bottom line — exercise! Your body and mind will thank you.

    Health Tip of the Week: Laughter
    As we all settle into our own daily routines I also hope you are finding the lighter moments in your day. With McKenna ripping around the house each day there is no shortness of laughter in our house! She entertains us all with the wacky things that come out of her 3-year-old mouth. These short bursts of laughter are wonderful for us as a family. Laughing just feels good. Laughter has been proven to have countless health benefits. Some of those benefits include lowering stress hormone levels, boosting immunity, decreasing muscle pain from your workouts and even can help prevent heart disease. Laughing together has been proven to strengthen social relationships. This article will help you understand the countless benefits of laughter. Find the time to laugh each day and if you need help just tune in each Friday for “For The Birds.”

    Fitness with Faculty: Mr. Greenwald
    Mr. Greenwald is our featured faculty member today. To view his video, click here. It was an active week last week for your faculty. Thanks to Mr. de Kanter for his workout and Ms. Powel for leading #WorkoutWednesday as well as her own bodyweight workout this past Friday. Don’t forget to check out the athletics Instagram page this week to see what faculty members are sharing their workouts or to go back and see past workouts. Also, remember that Mr. Doucette will help you with mindfulness Friday mornings at 8:40 a.m. Please click here to join him for peaceful meditation. 

    #MartletMobility with Ms. Ciarleglio:
    Thanks to Ms. C for another edition of her #martletmobility. We hope you are taking advantage of these each week. The challenge this week is to perform these movements three times daily. 

    Gina’s Workout of the Week:
    Gina is back with her workout for the week. I challenge everyone to try and complete the workout a minimum of four times this week. 

    Healthy Recipe of the Week
    Mrs. Babbidge’s One Pot Pasta
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 14.5 oz. can unsalted diced tomatoes, do not drain
    • 1 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock
    • ½ tsp. dried oregano
    • 8 oz. whole grain spaghetti
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • 10 oz. fresh spinach
    • 1 oz. grated parmesan cheese (about ¼ cup)

    Add oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook three minutes or until onion starts to brown. Add tomatoes, stock, oregano and pasta (in that order). Bring to a boil. Add pasta, stir to submerge. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook pasta for seven minutes until pasta is almost done. Uncover, stir in salt. Add spinach in batches, stirring until it wilts. Remove from heat, let stand five minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve. You can add any protein you want and substitute any pasta you have at home. Enjoy!

    Serves four, serving size 2 cups, 333 calories per serving.


    Remember to check out the Westminster Athletics Instagram here Monday and Friday to see some of your faculty members moving and grooving.
  • April 20, 2020

    Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great week last week and also a nice weekend with your families. I hope that everyone enjoyed last week’s content and found the time to get up and move.

    The temps are starting to climb, sort of, here in Simsbury and the grass is really trying to green up. Simsbury Public Schools announced last week that students will not be returning to their schools until May 20 at the earliest. This means more homeschooling for all of us with little kids through the end of May, hooray! All kidding aside, the silver lining of all of this has been allowing us to spend more time with our family. While there are plenty of days where I’m exhausted from trying to teach math to Finley, or help Riley with counting, I am grateful for the time we all get to spend together. Our nightly routine has been putting puzzles together as a family. Finley likes to hide one piece of the puzzle so that she is always the one who puts the final piece in. I’m not sure where she gets that competitiveness from!
    We would love to see what your family routine is so please snap a pic and post it to your Instagram page with #MartletMemories. Enjoy the week, and keep moving!

    Health Tip of the Week: Mindfulness
    Last week our health tip talked about “neurobics.” I hope everyone had fun trying to brush their teeth with their other hand. This week’s tip is about mindfulness. This article from helpguide.org does a great job of explaining what mindfulness is and how it can really help us all, especially during these times. Just a few minutes of practicing mindfulness meditation daily has proven to increase physical and mental health. The mindfulness challenge of the week is to carve out five minutes per day of mindfulness meditation. The Headspace app is one of my personal favorites.
    Also, remember that Mr. Doucette will help you with mindfulness on Friday mornings at 8:40 a.m. Please click here to join him for peaceful meditation.

    Fitness with Faculty: Mr. de Kanter
    Mr. de Kanter offers a 9-minute workout you can do anywhere, even in your bedroom. Click here to watch his video. And, if you missed Ms. Wos’ workout posted on our athletics Instagram on Friday, click here to see her workout and enjoy special appearances by Yogi and Hank. Remember to check the account this Friday to see which faculty member posted the “workout of the day.”

    #MartletMobility with Ms. Ciarleglio
    Ms. C is “back” at it again this week with another great episode of #martletmobility with some ways to improve lower back mobility, which is very important since we all spending more time sitting at our computers. Please check out the movements for this week here. I would recommend doing these movements each morning as well as in between your classes, and also right before you get ready for bed.

    Workout of the Week with Gina Valles ’06
    Gina has a good workout cooked up for this week that will get you moving, sweating and feeling awesome. Please click here for the workout.
    Healthy Recipe of the Week: Dean Rasheed’s Protein Lunch Booster

    • 1 piece of salmon
    • cauliflower rice
    • low salt pistachios
    • Blueberries
    • Strawberries
    • baby spinach
    • ¼ avocado
    • Prepare the salmon however you like to prepare salmon — I grill or pan sear
    • Cook the cauliflower rice according to the package
    • Put rice in the bowl
    • Top with slivered baby spinach
    • Slice a strawberry
    • Throw in a ¼ cup of blueberries
    • Throw in a handful of pistachios
    • Top with salmon
    • Put in a ¼ of an avocado
    • Lightly dress with balsamic vinegar
    • Thank me later!

    Remember to check out the Westminster Athletics Instagram here Monday and Friday to see some of your faculty members moving and grooving.
  • April 13, 2020

    Good morning and welcome to a new week! I hope that everyone had a nice weekend. As promised last week in my Instagram post I will be sending out an email each Monday with some resources that we hope you will take advantage of each week. These are not easy times but it is essential that in addition to taking care of your academic work you are also carving out time to take care of yourselves. Finding time to exercise, eat well, making sure you are drinking enough water and taking a few moments to stretch, reflect and recenter yourself are very important. Make sure you are prioritizing your own health as much as you are prioritizing your school work.

    The new schedule has created nice pockets of time during the day for exercise. Some of us may prefer to exercise before the class day, after the class day or at night. Find a time a day that works best for you and stick with it. All recommendations from the CDC point to how important having a routine is during this pandemic. Remember, if you were all here you would be engaging in exercise for an average of 60 minutes each afternoon for six days. Your body, and your mind need exercise.

    These emails, along with all of the videos, articles and other content will be posted on this page so that you can access them whenever, and from wherever, works best for you. Our hope is that you will find 30-45 minutes at least four times a week to take advantage of some of the workouts that we will post on the website and on the Westminster athletics Instagram.

    Fitness with Faculty
    Check out our athletics Instagram every Monday and Friday (@westminster_school_athletics) to see some familiar faces post their own “workout of the day.”

    Fitness with Gina Valles ‘06
    We will post a workout from Gina Valles, class of 2006, each week. After Westminster, Gina went to Roanoke College where she was a three-time All-American lacrosse player, as well as a Team USA finalist before graduating in 2011 with a degree in exercise science. She has been in the health and fitness space since graduating from Roanoke, currently runs three very successful businesses, has over 120,000 followers on her ginavallesfit Instagram and is a big advocate of exercise and living a healthy lifestyle. She has kindly offered to share with us a workout that can be followed four days a week. Click here to watch the video for this week.

    #MartletMobility with Ms. Ciarleglio
    In addition to Gina’s workout link, our very own Ms. Ciarleglio, and maybe Bailey too, will share with us a weekly mobility sequence that will help us before, in between, or after classes to help with flexibility, mobility and blood flow. This will help us work out the kinks from sitting in our chairs during classes, wake up our bodies for a day or learning or prepare our bodies to sleep better at night. Click here to watch the video for this week.

    Post your workouts to Instagram with #martletmuscle or film your mobility exercises and post with #martletmobility.

    Article of the week
    Thanks to Mr. de Kanter for passing along this article from the New York Times. These are anxious times and all of our routines have been altered. We are forced to spend more time indoors. This article explains why a four-day a week exercise routine will boost your mood, brighten your day, keep you energized and keep you positive.

    Health Tip of The Week
    “Neurobics” is a term for tasks which activate the brain’s own biochemical pathways and can bring new pathways online that can help strengthen or preserve brain circuits. These tasks will increase your mental agility and can help you stay mentally more alert. For this week’s “neurobics” task try brushing your teeth with your other hand. Other “neurobic” challenges can be found by clicking here!

    Healthy Recipe of the Week
    Mr. Joncas’ Morning Starter
    • Better Oats Organic Instant Oatmeal (it’s a mix of barley, oats, wheat, quinoa, and rye)
    • Open packet, empty it into a bowl
    • Fill the packet with water and pour over the oatmeal
    • 1 TBLS of Cinnamon
    • 1 TSP of Nutmeg
    • Cook in microwave for 2 minutes
    • Add your favorite fresh fruit (my go to is a frozen berry medley of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries,) and some nuts (I go with walnuts) if you want.
    • Splash of milk to cool it down a touch
    • 1 TSP of either brown sugar or maple syrup

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