By Cindy Cantrell
Globe Correspondent / June 17, 2012
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HEAD OF THE CLASS: When Natalya Ozahowski of Hamilton hadn’t learned to read by age 9, doctors told her parents she wouldn’t be capable of graduating from high school. On June 8, the 19-year-old proved them wrong by earning her diploma.

Ozahowski said she initially resisted leaving her friends and classmates in public school and transferring four years ago to Learning Prep School in West Newton, which is designed for students with language and learning challenges. Despite her misgivings, however, she knew she had to make a change.

In her graduation speech, Ozahowski recalled her struggles in public school: “I had a difficult time learning until I was put in a separate classroom with my own one-on-one teacher. It was much easier to learn in that classroom, but I felt alone and separate from my friends. At LPS, everyone has their strengths and their weaknesses, and we all learn in our own ways, but we never feel separate. Here I have learned how to be confident, work hard, and to be the best student and the best person I can be.”

In addition to graduating alongside her fellow 53 members of Learning Prep’s class of 2012, Ozahowski passed the MCAS and fulfilled the requirements to earn her diploma from Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School. A summer camp counselor at the Greater Beverly YMCA, she will study early childhood development at North Shore Community College this fall, with the goal of becoming a child psychologist.

“It can bring down your self-esteem when professionals say you can’t do this or that, but you know the kind of person you are,” Ozahowski said. “You can overcome anything you set your mind to.”

HEALING THROUGH COMPASSION: In their new book, co-editors Ronald D.Siegel of Lincoln (above left) and Christopher K. Germer of Cambridge (above right) acknowledge the importance of a psychotherapist’s academic knowledge, training, and experience. When a client is suffering, however, the most important attributes may be empathy and an ability to understand and convey what is truly important in life — qualities that help us all to tolerate, accept, and grow from suffering.

In “Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy: Deepening Mindfulness in Clinical Practice,” Siegel and Germer share insights from 32 contributing scholars, scientists, and clinicians in treating anxiety, depression, trauma, substance abuse, suicidal behavior, couples conflict, and parenting stress through a combination of Buddhist practice and Western psychotherapeutic approaches. The foreword was written by the Dalai Lama.

Siegel said the idea for the book emerged from the “Meditation and Psychotherapy” conference they have co-directed at Harvard Medical School for the last six years. An assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, Siegel serves on the board of directors and faculty of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy in Newton. Germer is a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School, a founding member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, and in private practice in Arlington.

“Our hope is for the book to help ourselves and our colleagues be more present, open-minded, and flexible in our psychotherapy work,” said Siegel, who previously co-edited “Mindfulness and Psychotherapy” with Germer. “These practices have the potential to lead to profound transformation.”

For more information about the book, visit

A SPECIAL TOURNEY: After Robert Basile of Bedford lost his 38-year-old brother Joe to myelodysplasia in 1988, he searched for a way to keep his name alive. This month will mark the 23d annual Catania-Spagna/Basile Memorial Golf Tournament, which will take place on June 25 at Stow Acres Country Club.

Basile credits former Boston Red Sox player Rico Petrocelli, director of sports programs for the Jimmy Fund, with encouraging him to establish the annual golf tournament, which has raised $470,000 for pediatric and adult cancer care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. He is hoping to exceed the results of last year’s tournament, in which 160 golfers raised $50,000. The event includes a barbecue lunch, dinner, awards, and prizes.

Initially, Basile doubted “there would be any way in this world I could pull it off,” but he now encourages others to organize their own charitable events.

“Just seeing how Dana-Farber has used the money we’ve raised has helped me heal from the losses in my own family,” said Basile, emphasizing the support of countless sponsors, volunteers, family, and friends — including Petrocelli, who continues to participate in the golf tournament.

Registration begins at 6:30 a.m., with the official start time at 8 a.m. on the north course. For an application and more information, visit Basile’s company website at and click on Events.

GOING GREEN: Acton-Boxborough Regional High School has scored a trifecta of international, national, and state awards for efforts to go green.

Last month, Acton-Boxborough became just the fourth school in the United States to win the Eco-Schools Green Flag Award from the National Wildlife Federation. The green flag, which signifies the school’s inclusion in the Green Flag network adopted by 40,000 schools in 50 countries, now flies alongside the US and state flags at the school entrance.

At the State House, the school was presented with “First Honors” for the Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education. On Friday, eight students and two faculty members will travel to Washington, D.C., to accept the National Senior Level Rookie of the Year award from the National Energy Education Development Project for Acton-Boxborough’s Power Down Project.

According to Kate Crosby, energy adviser for the Acton Public Schools/Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, student leadership has driven sustainability initiatives. Results include 10 percent less electricity consumption at the high school over the past year and a half, a 250 percent increase in recycling at the cafeteria, the installation of a vermicomposting worm bin and 500-square-foot rain garden, and the promotion of water bottle refilling stations located throughout the school.

“I’m extraordinarily proud,” Crosby said, noting that credit goes to all cooperating students, faculty, and staff. “It has been tremendously exciting to oversee these efforts, which have resulted in cost savings for the district, a smaller environmental footprint, and immense leadership opportunities for students who have succeeded in creating a shift in culture within their school.”

FIGHTING CANCER: The Pancreatic Cancer Alliance will present the third annual Arturo’s Fusion Sunday — featuring food, music, auctions, and raffles — next Sunday from 3 to 7 p.m. at 50 East Main Street Plaza in Westborough. Proceeds will benefit the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund for research and clinical drug trials at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.

Tickets cost $45 at the door or $35 in advance, available at Arturo’s Ristorante and Sapporo Korean BBQ & Sushi Restaurant, both at 50 East Main Street Plaza. For more information, visit

People items may be submitted to Cindy Cantrell at

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