HomeWeekend Wrap-UpMoose in Graniteville, Apple Blossom Festival: Weekend Wrap-Up

Moose in Graniteville, Apple Blossom Festival: Weekend Wrap-Up


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WESTFORD — Welcome to the May 14 edition of Weekend Wrap-Up. Here, we highlight the most important news you may have missed this week in Westford. Don’t forget — our weekly news show will be included in the Weekend Wrap-Up going forward.

Moose spotted in Graniteville

A number of residents spotted an unlikely visitor in their backyards as a moose wandered through Graniteville Friday morning.

Officials respond to early-morning sighting

Residents sighted the moose as early as 6:30 a.m. according to Westford Animal Control.

“We got reports at 6:30 a.m. at River St where she later made her way to St. Catherine’s,” Westford Animal Control Officer Kirsten Hirschler told WestfordCAT. “She was definitely stressed and overheated.”

She continued, “she attempted to jump a fence and was unsteady on her feet and collapsed.”

The Massachusetts Environmental Police, Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife, Westford Police Department and Westford Fire Department were on site near St. Catherine’s of Alexandria Church to assist with the moose.

“We hosed her down with the help of the fire department,” she said. “She was tranquilized and loaded into a truck.”

Moose expected to recover

According to MassWildlife State Deer and Moose Biologist Martin Feehan, the moose is expected to make a full recovery.

“She’s doing pretty well,” he told WestfordCAT. “She did also have a pretty bad case of winter tick, which can be lethal. She’s pretty lethargic from it but will likely recover. We were able to administer medicine that will help with the tick issue as well.”

Feehan says the moose is an approximately two-year-old female weighing 400 pounds. This moose, according to Feehan, may have traveled across state lines.

“She appears to be a moose that was likely captured in N.H., she has out-of-state tags. But they are either from N.H. or Maine, but we will have to confirm that with their state biologist,” he said.

Moose have historically roamed Massachusetts, but their populations began to decline in the 1700s from unregulated hunting and extensive deforestation.

Feehan says a moose wandering in the area is not a rare occurrence.

“This is not a unique situation,” he said. “There are others in and around Westford. We’re on the edge of their range, so there isn’t a high abundance, but almost every one of the surrounding towns has a resident moose that keep to themselves.”

According to officials, the moose has been treated and will be released to an undisclosed location outside of Westford.

PHOTOS: 2023 Apple Blossom Festival

  • Members of the J.V. Fletcher Library float. (Photo/Melanie Duronio)
  • Members of the Westford Academy Marching Band. (Photo/Melanie Duronio)
  • Members of the Westford Education Association. (Photo/Melanie Duronio)
  • Members of the Westford and District Pipes and Drums. (Photo/Melanie Duronio)
  • Members of Dream Ballet School. (Photo/Melanie Duronio)
  • Flowers to Empower. (Photo/Melanie Duronio)
  • Goldfish Swim School. (Photo/Melanie Duronio)
  • Nashoba Youth Hockey. (Photo/Melanie Duronio)
  • World Class Martial Arts. (Photo/Melanie Duronio)
  • Live for Liv. (Photo/Melanie Duronio)
  • Westford Fire Department. (Photo/Melanie Duronio)
  • Westford Sportsmen's Club float. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)
  • Westford Sportsmen's Club float. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)
  • 2023 Apple Blossom Queen Olivia Olszowy (left) is crowned by 2022 Apple Blossom Queen Ragini Kannan. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)
  • 2023 Apple Blossom Scholarship nominees Meghna Kumar (left), Mia Clark, Aria Chambers, Lauren Smith, Mia Burns, Ellie Tweedie, Olivia Olszowy, Alanna Saunders. (Photo/Melanie Duronio)
  • Dream Ballet School. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)
  • Westford Youth Soccer. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)
  • Person of the year Everett "Bill" Olson. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)
  • Westford Rotary Club member Patti Mason presents the "Roudenbowl" for the best Apple Blosom Parade float to members of the J.V. Fletcher Library float. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)
  • 2023 Apple Blossom Queen Olivia Olszowi. (Photo/Melanie Duronio)
  • Person of the year Everett "Bill" Olson (right) receives a commemoration from Rep. James Arciero. (Photo/Ben Domaingue
  • Mambers of the Westford Police Department and Honor Guard. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)
  • Westford Minutemen fire their muskets. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)

Westford Academy students relay to end cancer

Three Westford Academy students have one thing in common — their dedication to ending cancer, one step at a time.

The three students are organizing an event for Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society that is dedicated to “helping communities attack cancer,” according to the organization’s website.

Westford Academy hosts its own Relay for Life club, where students fundraise for cancer research, treatment and outreach. This year, a number of participants will circle the track at Westford Academy to bolster their fundraising efforts.

One student involved in Relay for Life, Ali Pantoja, was diagnosed with cancer in 2020.

“I was diagnosed with [Acute Myeloid] Leukemia in 2020,” Pantoja, a sophomore at Westford Academy and Student Ambassador for Relay for Life told WestfordCAT.

Fortunately, Pantoja says she has “been in remission for two years this June.” She hopes to “give back” the support she received after her diagnosis in 2020.

“When I was in the hospital, I was there for nine months,” she said. “I rarely got to see people when I was there, so I saw how this really impacts families. Being able to do things after to help people is a nice way to give back like they did for me.”

Pantoja is joined by two of her peers, Sarah Foley and Megan Piendack, who lost her grandmother four years ago.

“I know five people who have been impacted by cancer. One of them was my grandmother, who I was close with,” Piendack, a sophomore at Westford Academy and Student Ambassador for Relay for Life told WestfordCAT. “She died when I was 12 years old.”

Foley, meanwhile, joined to support friends and family.

“I joined to support Ali and my grandmother, who was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2020,” she said.

Get to know Nabnasset School’s next principal

Nabnasset School is getting a new principal.

As Susan DuBois leaves Nabnasset School for retirement, long-time Massachusetts teacher Nina Balfe will serve as Nabnasset’s next principal.

Balfe attended Endicott College for undergrad, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education. She then obtained a Master of Education in Special Education at American International College and completed a Principal Licensure Program through Curry College.

As a teacher, she taught students in kindergarten through second grade in Reading Public Schools between 2008 and 2018 and then for Middleton Public Schools from 2018 through the end of this school year.

“The fact that Nabnasset is [also] a PreK-2 school pulled me in immediately,” Balfe told WestfordCAT. “Our youngest learners are such a special population and I am so looking forward to being a part of the community.”

Balfe credits her first principal, Catherine Giles, as her inspiration for working with kids, whom she is “so grateful for.” Balfe notes that the two are still in touch to this day.

“She taught me so much of what I know. Cathy instilled the value of supporting the whole child and not only focussing on academics, but the social-emotional as well,” Balfe said.

Outside of the classroom, Balfe enjoys golfing and spending time on Cape Cod in Falmouth. Recently, she rediscovered her love of skiing and is looking forward to “a chance to get outside and be active in the winter.”

As for DuBois, she recently told Superintendent of Schools Christopher Chew and WestfordCAT that she is looking forward to “an awful lot of traveling.”

DuBois plans to travel to Italy during this fall where she will explore Florence, Venice, and the Amalfi Coast. Back in Westford, she will spend her time biking along local trails as well as skiing, gardening, and spending more time with her friends and family.

DuBois will remain at Nabnasset until July 1 and will assist Balfe during their transition.

“Thank you to Principal DuBois who has been truly amazing and so supportive of me as I begin this new role,” said Balfe. “I look forward to working alongside her this summer during the onboarding process. The Nabnasset was so lucky to have her as their leader.”

Staff writer Aubrey Benoit assisted with the reporting on this piece.

Westford students tackle energy issues one LEGO brick at a time

A group of students aims to solve real-world issues through their shared love of LEGO and invention.

The Gummy Bears are a group of seventh and eighth-grade students from Westford learning to build and program their own LEGO robots.

“It can teach us a lot of different skills that test our innovative thinking. It teaches us more about STEM,” seventh-grade team member Mia Li told WestfordCAT. “It’s because it’s STEM and we’re interested and we wanted to try this. We all liked to build LEGO.”

They have competed in competitions with each other since 2018, completing challenges and service projects in FIRST Lego League.

FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is a non-profit dedicated to inspiring young people to be science and technology innovators through leadership and community engagement.

Students in their league, between the ages of 9 and 14, were tasked with solving a problem in the field of energy generation. The Gummy Bears built a self-sustaining generator that relies on water and gravity.

“There’s a potential to help out the community and encourage kids to go into STEM,” the team told WestfordCAT. “We’re very proud of the vertical idea. No one else has done that, so we could get a patent. We are planning on sharing it so a lot more people can work on it.”

The team interviewed scientists from Hong Kong, researched a number of academic papers and shared the idea with Mack Technologies in Westford and Shell TechWorks, a research subsidiary of Shell Global.

The team was invited to present to a number of industry professionals at Shell TechWorks to promote their project and its potential use around the world.

“We see potential in using it in unused spaces or rural areas to generate electricity,” eighth team member Arjun Aravind told WestfordCAT.

Volunteers host appreciation event for first responders, public safety officials

Organizers and volunteers have rallied to show their appreciation to Westford’s first responders and public safety personnel.

Members of the Westford Fire Department, Westford Police Department and Public Safety Communications Department were in attendance with their families.

“These guys see us at our worst. So we said let’s feed them, have gifts for them, it makes me feel good to do something like that,” Nancy Cook, one of the event’s organizers, told WestfordCAT.

Organizers raised over $2,400 in donations to sponsor the event. A number of organizations and families, such as Westford Remembers, the See a New Sun Foundation, Kimball Farm, the Westford Women’s Club and the Masalehdan family among others assisted with the event, gifts and catering.

Select Board Vice Chair Tom Clay gave a brief address to attendees.

“You encounter us at our worst and you see us with grace and dignity,” Clay said. “Please bless their families with all of the support they provide and thank you all for helping to keep us safe.”

Retiring public safety personnel in attendance 

A number of public safety personnel set to retire were in attendance, including Lieutenant Donald R. Parsons, who has served on the Westford Fire Department since 1976.

“Back then, I started with my dad. I served on Westford Fire and as an EMT,” Parsons told WestfordCAT.

During his 47-year career with the town, Parsons focused on fire prevention, where he dedicated himself to preventing tragedy in his community.

“When the Rhode Island nightclub fire happened, I swore I would never let that happen here. Even though we lost a life one night, we never had a situation where we had 100 people lose their lives,” he said. “I kept that in the back of my mind all of the time.”

He continued,” the bottom line was keeping our community safe.”

Parsons said working for the Town of Westford was a “blessing,” but noted disappointment that a number of public safety personnel live outside of town as a result of the rising cost of living.

“What’s sad today is that the people that are serving on our department aren’t from here because they can’t afford to live here anymore,” he said.

He continued, “but what’s important is that even though we all have separate jobs, we’re all in for the town.”

A number of other personnel, including Captain Mark Valcourt and Joe Delpapa will be retiring from the Westford Fire Department as well. Parsons, Valcourt and Delpapa have a combined 111 and a half years of experience.

The seventh annual First Responders Appreciation Day celebration was held at the Franco-American Club. The event was originally hosted on May 7 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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Ben Domaingue
Ben Domainguehttps://www.clippings.me/bendomaingue
Ben Domaingue has previously worked at newspapers in New Hampshire and is the Managing Editor covering Westford. He’s passionate about community journalism, photography and hiking. Email him at bdomaingue@westfordcat.org.

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