Foreign Language Department Honors George Watson with Dedication of New Language Lab


Former and current foreign language department surrounds George Watson in the new language lab.

Aurora Hebner

The former and current foreign language department surrounds George Watson in the new language lab.

At the end of the 2010-2011 school year, Walpole High School said goodbye to beloved Spanish teacher and department head Mr. George Watson.  After being captain of the quirky foreign language team for thirty-one years, Watson decided it was time to leave Walpole High for bigger and better things, such as mentoring and training other teachers.  Mr. Watson will surely be missed as he was a valued component of Walpole High School, receiving the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year award in 2009 and helping the department reach its reputation as one of the best foreign language departments in the state in Boston Magazine.  Watson didn’t leave the department in complete turmoil though, as he introduced a new and improved language lab to the high school that underwent development over the summer.

As the 2011-2012 school year continues, Mrs. Lisa Osborne is taking the reigns as the new department head.  Although these are big shoes to fill, Mr. Watson has high hopes for Osborne and wishes her luck managing the budget for the department. Mrs. Osborne said she is definitely excited to take up the position. Although she is somewhat intimidated to replace a legend, Osborne said that “Mr. Watson [was] awesome, and so supportive.”  When asked about the plans for the new language lab, Osborne immediately referenced Mr. Watson as she admitted he would know much more than she would as he is the brain behind the whole operation.

With the current equipment in the language lab having been used for thirteen years, it is definitely time for a change.  Last year, the lab consisted of cubicle-like desks with a small television and a tape recording station for each student.  The technology allowed teachers to pair students up to do partner work or have one student talk to the whole class through their microphones and headphones.  The class was also able to watch movies on the televisions and listen through their headphones.  Most often used to record foreign language spoken conversations between students, this technology is useful but absolutely out of date.

Mrs. Osborne introduced the new lab as a “Sony 9000 Lab” that will provide students with computers with internet access and software in order to record their speaking activities.  Rather than recording their voices on ancient cassette tapes, conversations will now be saved on digital servers that teachers will have access to, so there will be no more problems concerning lost tapes and such.  The internet access will also allow students to watch broadcasts from around the world.  Besides out of date technology, one of the main problems of the old language lab is that many booths are broken in some way, denying use of the lab to classes with more students than available booths. The new lab is able to accommodate thirty students.  Funded by $135,000 tax dollars, this addition to the foreign language department is guaranteed not to disappoint.

On November 14, the town recognized the new language lab as the “George A Watson Language Lab” due to his tireless efforts put towards the lab.  Watson was “touched and absolutely overwhelmed” by everyone from superintendent Lincoln Lynch to retirees such as Mr. James Capone to current foreign language teachers who came out to honor him and help celebrate the new language lab.  Principal Stephen Imbusch, Mrs. Osborne, Mr. Lynch, assistant superintendent Mrs. Kenny and chairman of the school committee Brian Walsh all expressed their gratitude to Watson through speeches and the unveiling of a plaque in his honor. Superintendent Lynch said that “rooms are rarely dedicated to educators unless they’ve tremendously touched peoples’ lives,” which Mr. Watson certainly did.  Also, much to the crowd’s delight, Mrs. Kathryn Bacon and Mr. Richard Sturges used the new technology to display a humorous picture from Walpole High’s 1978 yearbook, about which the ceremony’s guests were asked to record, using the lab’s new technology, what Watson looked like in 78′ and why he was so happy.  Senior Justin Connolly joked that “Mr. Watson looked like he could have starred in Scooby Doo,” while other guests commented on Watson’s hairdo all the while being very impressed by the quality of the microphones.

Not only is the foreign language department updating to twenty-first century technology, the art department has also fought for their right to a refurbished art lab.  Over the summer, Mrs. Sandra Allison’s design room received eighteen iMacs with access to photo shop and illustrator in order to continue constructing film festival posters and printing out pictures for references on many different projects. As head of the art department, Mrs. Allison has admitted to trying for about five years to update the ten year old computers presently in the lab as her computers are in very bad shape–she lost four on the very first day of school last year. Mrs. Allison had primarily asked for twenty-two computers in order to boost class numbers higher than eighteen as some projects require every student to use a computer all class, but is grateful for the numbers she will receive and said “Imbusch was extremely supportive throughout the process of trying to get the lab updated.” As Mrs. Allison said she feels bad for all the hounding she had to do, she very enthusiastically said “We do it all for [the students]! It’s for the students!”

Though the school wishes that the loss of an admirable teacher, colleague and friend didn’t have to come with these steps toward a more modern way of learning, Mr. George Watson’s legacy will forever be solidified in the new language lab.