Week of May 31, 2016


Consider attending the last monthly PTSA meeting, including the Executive Board, on June 6 at 7 p.m. in Room 153.  One aspect of the meeting will be to elect the Executive Board Members.  Committee leads are still being pursued for the following positions:

  • Back-to-School Packets
  • Baccalaureate
  • Advocacy (2)
  • Membership
  • Community Service Fair (shadow)
  • Auction (shadow)

If interested, please contact George Nyfeler at gnyfeler@nyfelerassociates.com

Thanks for your support. See you on Monday June 6!


Final reminder: Seniors who are a member of the National Honor Society (NHS) must turn in all documentation of their required service hours by tomorrow (Wednesday, June 1) in order to received their cord for graduation. Students who still need hours have received multiple reminders and no further extensions can be granted. It has been an amazing year with NHS which has made many positive contributions to the school and community. Questions about the service requirements or would like to inquire about how your rising junior or senior can become a member? Please contact Rachel Loving (School Counselor and NHS Advisor) at rloving@gsgis.k12.va.us. Applications for next year will be available the first week of school and will be due September 29, 2016.


Do you love books and libraries?

Do you have skills in customer service, marketing, online research, or video production?

Will you have a study block in your schedule next year?

Consider applying for a library assistant position!

Since this role will include tasks typical of library assistant positions in college and public libraries (e.g. customer service, circulating and processing books, etc.), being a library assistant at MLWGS may give you an edge when seeking a work-study assignment or part-time work in a library. In addition, a special facet of this role at MLWGS will be for each library assistant to adopt a section of the collection that interests them (e.g. psychology, economics, poetry).

Library assistants may also propose special projects related to an identified need in the library or to their adopted section, such as producing video tutorials, marketing the library on social media channels, facilitating a book discussion, designing a book display, writing book reviews or producing book trailers, or organizing a related activity.  Similar to student ambassadors, they may earn community service for any hours during which they are actively engaged in completing library assistant duties.

Through an application and interview process, Ms. DeGroat will select a small team of assistants for the 2016-2017 school year.

If you have questions about this opportunity or would like an application, please see Ms. DeGroat.  Applications from current 9th, 10th, and 11th-grade students are due by June 7, 2016.


Thanks to a $5,000 grant from Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, and, more specifically, the Jamin Fund, GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program, Inc. (GRASP), a college-access organization, can continue to provide its financial aid services to high school students in the Central Blue Ridge area of Virginia during the 2016-2017 school year.

“GRASP is delighted to be providing its financial aid services to students in the Central Blue Ridge region,” said Bettsy Heggie, GRASP CEO.  “This grant, in particular, shows community support not only for the GRASP program but also for the region’s students as they take their next steps toward education after high school and the opportunity for a better future as a result of that education.”

GRASP, a Virginia non-profit, implements its services via advisors who provide free, confidential, one-on-one counseling to students seeking financial aid and scholarships for continuing education after high school – whether that is technical school, community college or a four-year university.

GRASP advisors now serve students and families in 76 Virginia schools, from the greater Richmond area, to the Central Blue Ridge region, to Lancaster County in the east, and to Sussex County in the south.  The highly trained, GRASP advisors are adept at navigating the complexities of the college and post-secondary education financial aid process.  They also have a passion for helping today’s youth grasp infinite opportunities.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, GRASP advisors overall met with more than 6,800 students individually, helping them with a game plan for education after high school.  Additionally, GRASP awarded 124 Last Dollar scholarships totaling $125,000 to students, providing additional financial assistance toward their educational goals.

GRASP was co-founded in 1983 by Senator Walter Stosch and Dr. Ray Gargiulo.  GRASP advisors work one day per week at each school.  Appointments, which are free of charge, can be made through the schools’ counseling offices.  More information about GRASP is available at the website, www.grasp4va.org.

“Reliable Tools for Data Exploration in Healthcare”

Dr. Doshi-Velez, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University and MLWGS alum, will talk about some work she’s doing to understand non-identifiability in the context of non-negative matrix factorization (NMF).  NMF is a popular tool to do data exploration, and recently she has been doing work to see how robust it is: that is, can there sometimes be two very different explanations for the same data?  And if so, how can researchers expose them so that clinical scientists can use them to generate the next study?  She will start with some concrete examples, talk about some underlying math, and touch on what students might want to study if they want to do machine learning/data science in the future.

Doshi-Velez is excited about methods to turn data into actionable knowledge.  Her core research in machine learning, computational statistics, and data science is inspired by—and often applied to—the objective of accelerating scientific progress and practical impact in healthcare and other domains.  Specifically, she is interested in questions such as: How can we design robust, principled models to combine complex data sets with other knowledge sources?  How can we design models that summarize and generate hypotheses from such data?  How can we characterize the uncertainty in large, heterogeneous data to provide better support for decisions?  Doshi-Velez is interested in developing the probabilistic methods to address these questions.  Prior to joining SEAS, Doshi-Velez was an NSF CI-TRaCS Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School.  She was a Marshall Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge from 2007-2009, and she was named one of IEEE’s “AI Top 10 to Watch” in 2013.”

Doshi-Velez graduated from GSGIS in 2001 and earned her PhD from MIT in 2012.  She is currently an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.


Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, Smoke and Scales will not be using Constant Contact, the e-marketing product that is currently used, to blast your email inbox every Tuesday morning in the wee hours. Don’t worry though! You can still receive Smoke and Scales every Tuesday by subscribing to the newsletter by email. How? At the top of this page on the right-hand side is a “Follow by Email” subscription option. Simply enter your email address, hit submit, and you’re subscribed!