SHS Alumna Aurora Avallone Spends Day with SHS Juniors

AP Lang students were treated to a guest speaker on December 14th


SHS grad Aurora Avallone pictured on her high school graduation day

Molly Ryan, Contributing Writer

In the midst of final exam stress, Aurora Avallone, a 2nd-year student at Harvard University, spent the day at SHS on Tuesday, December 14th, where she met with AP Language and Composition classes. A member of the SHS Class of 2020, Avallone was invited to lead discussions about the writing of climate activist Terry Tempest Williams, as she had recently met the author during one of her classes at Harvard. On the final day of the SHS mask mandate, Avallone wore a matching Harvard sweatshirt and maroon mask as she offered college insight and shared her college experiences with SHS juniors. Intrigued students did not hesitate to ask Avallone about her courses at Harvard, her workload, the application process, and even her SAT scores.

At Harvard, where Avallone said she is surrounded by a diverse community of passionate people, she is concentrating in Environmental Science and Sociology. Having spent her high school years working with Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to create educational resources on climate change for students, Avallone is continuing her passion for climate activism. She plans to attend graduate school and gain a public policy perspective to work on innovative technologies to combat climate change and study the effects on society. Growing up along Scituate’s coast, Avallone highlighted how witnessing Nor’easters rip walls out of her own home was a “catalyst” in taking action in climate change.

Recently, while attending a 200-person lecture at Harvard, Avallone had the opportunity to meet author Terry Tempest Williams, who is a personal friend of her professor. At that moment, Avallone was transported back to Ms. Hall’s AP Language class, where, as a high school junior, she analyzed the rhetorical choices used by Terry Tempest Williams in her 1989 essay, “The Clan of One-Breasted Women.” Little did she know she would be lucky enough to meet the author during a college lecture just three years later.

In “The Clan of One-Breasted Women,” Tempest Williams passionately examines how she believes nuclear bomb testing near her family’s home caused breast cancer among her family members. The resulting surgeries created a “clan of one-breasted women.” Although she was raised to be a compliant, obedient citizen, Tempest Williams was compelled to activism after the deaths of her mother, grandmothers, and six aunts. Using her voice and writing to demand change, Tempest Williams is an acclaimed author and respected environmental activist in the climate change movement.

After Avallone met Tempest Williams and discovered her 2020 essay, “A Burning Testament,” she emailed her former SHS English teacher, Catherine Hall, to share the news. Upon receiving Avallone’s email, Hall recognized an opportunity to showcase her former student’s success and demonstrate to current students the connection between persuasive writing and real-world activism.

Hall invited Avallone to lead her classes in a discussion of “A Burning Testament,” an essay that Hall describes as “stunningly beautiful.” Avallone described the writing as a “eulogy to the earth and call to action to climate change” that “promotes unity” as well as “reparations for actions of humanity.”

Hall’s AP classes engaged in a lively conversation that brought new perspectives, realizations, and ideas about the way writers draw attention to societal crises. Avaallone’s insights and intelligence brought light to the power students hold in their future. She encouraged participating students to “stay true to yourselves” as they explore individual passions on their quest to college.