Ornithology with Mr. Maguire Popular Among SHS Students


Every spring, ducks occupy the SHS courtyard

Jack Ryan, Staff Writer

For many years, Scituate High School upperclassmen have looked for a fun and engaging class to fill their otherwise busy schedules. For many of them, the semester-long Ornithology class with Stephen Maguire has been a positive experience. 

Maguire, who has been teaching at SHS for over a decade, knows everything you could want to know about birds. Developing his love for birding at a very young age, Maguire said, “My father used to bring me out to help him fill the bird feeders when I was a kid, and I loved it.  One of my older brothers was into it and it got me hooked as a kid.” The memories and impact of Maguire’s childhood help guide young students toward similar passions and hobbies at SHS. 

Every semester, Maguire meets over forty new students, and by the end of his time with them, he hopes to have left a lasting impression on their life. In fact, Maguire sets that goal for himself every time he teaches a new class. Maguire is aware of the impact he has on his students even after they walk across the stage at graduation. He commented, “There are a few former alumni that are going to go into it as a profession, but my hope is a general awareness for birds in general as people go into the rest of their life.” 

Students currently attending the highly praised ornithology class agree that the class is a great way to learn and gain new experiences they wouldn’t have in a regular core subject class. Scituate High School senior Ben Reforsado currently attends one of Maguire’s Ornithology classes. Reforsado notes, “It gives me a good break and a good sense of fun while mixing in my academics almost every day. I enjoy the offsites as well. They give me a good chance to get out and see outside of the school.”  Reforsado excitedly pointed out it is “probably my favorite class right now.”  Despite not wanting to pursue a career in ornithology after his time at the high school, Reforsado says he has a newfound interest and love for birding–and he will not be able to see birds as passively as he did before after spending two months in Maguire’s class. 

Being able to see birds that are very rare hooks some students into taking ornithology. Maguire tells The Scituation some of the rarest birds he’s seen while working at Scituate High School have been the rusty blackbird, glaucous gull, black-billed cuckoo, pileated woodpecker, and peregrine falcon.  

Furthermore, Maguire is aware of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, which was recently labeled as extinct by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Services. The southern species was at one point considered to be back, according to Cornell University; however, it is officially extinct. Maguire noted that New England has a similar variation: the Pileated Woodpecker. 

According to Patrick Newton, SHS science department chair, the benefits of studying ornithology are extensive: “It is super important that students get outside and see the world around them. It provides a very unique opportunity to foster an interest in students’ ability to participate in environmental stewardship.” He is not surprised by the line of people waiting for a chance to take Maguire’s class because of the “hands-on” nature of the fieldwork. Noting Maguire’s enthusiastic and engaging teaching style, Newton commented, “Who wouldn’t want to spend an hour a day in that environment?”