Warrior Wednesdays

News from the Andover Public School District

Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - vol. 27

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In Brief

It’s a busy spring for APS! A few, quick items for your consideration; more information is below in APS Community News:

  • Learn Different Day at West Middle School- March 31, 2019
  • School Committee Informal Forum- April 6, 2019
  • Intelligent Lives: Film Screening and Dialogue with Dan Habib- April 9, 2019
  • The APS Policy Manual is now on-line to provide improved accessibility to the district's policies.

Students Spotlight- Andover Robotics Club to Compete Globally!

In April, Andover High School’s Andover Robotics Club Team 5273 ARC Thunder will compete on a global level at the 2019 FIRST Tech Championship in Detroit! The FIRST Tech Championship brings together tens of thousands of students from across the world to participate in the K-12 robotics programs for a celebration of STEM inspiration and space exploration.

This will be the first time a team from Andover will compete since the club’s inception nine years ago. The club’s other two teams, Team 4410 ARC Lightning and 10331 ARC Hailstorm, are now working collaboratively to make Team Thunder’s robot the best it can be to compete. The group typically meets every Wednesday, but since getting into the global competition, they are on deadline and meet almost daily to prepare, build, and work on the logistics of getting the team and the robot to Detroit.

In addition to the team’s competition, AHS junior Jolene Pern was recently named a FIRST Dean’s List Finalist and will learn if she will receive the FIRST Tech Dean’s List Award in Detroit. The award celebrates outstanding student leaders who have led their teams and communities to increased awareness of FIRST and its mission, while achieving personal technical expertise and accomplishments. Jolene serves as vice president of the Andover Robotics Club.

To learn more about the Andover Robotics Club and their mission to compete in Detroit, click here. Best of luck to Team Thunder!

Featured Teacher- Minda Reidy, ARC Club Advisor

Behind every great team is a great leader and the Andover Robotics Club is no exception. Club Advisor Minda Reidy is encouraging her team as they prepare for the competition in Detroit. Minda teaches math, computer science, and engineering at AHS and is the founder and mentor of the Robotics Club. She is also a recipient of the FIRST Tech Challenge Compass Award.

The Compass Award is given at the state championships and recognizes an adult coach or mentor who has given outstanding guidance and support to their team throughout the year and demonstrates to the team what it means to be a “Gracious Professional.”

Minda was nominated by her students, which makes the achievement even more special. The club’s students say Minda is a great teacher and mentor. They know her approach to coaching allows them to discover and explore solutions. She guides the teams to work collaboratively, offering helpful wisdom, while allowing the students to take the lead. She is proud of the work the teams have achieved this year, and looks forward to seeing them compete in Detroit. Congratulations to Minda, her hard work and dedication has clearly impacted her students!

Superintendent's Message

At the March 21st meeting, the School Committee voted unanimously to resubmit a Statement of Interest (SOI) to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for renovation/ replacement of Andover High School. The Board of Selectman also approved this initiative 5-0 at its meeting on Monday, March 25th. Andover High School was built in 1966 and was originally designed for grades 10-12. In 1995, the school was renovated to accommodate grade 9 students, with a capacity of 1,600.

In resubmitting the SOI, the Andover High School Facilities Study Committee renews its efforts for MSBA funding and continues its work to address overcrowding, aging building systems and limitations at AHS. A partnership with the MSBA can result in significant financial assistance for design and construction for AHS. This is the district’s seventh time asking the MSBA for consideration of state assistance, beginning in 2008.

The Andover High School Facility Study Committee has developed several scenarios that include potential renovations and/or an addition to the existing high school and a possible construction of a new high school. There is a warrant article for $210,000 on the 2019 Annual Town Meeting Warrant to fund continued study by the Committee, which will be of value whether or not we are accepted into the MSBA program.

The submission to the MSBA is due in April, and will focus on five key areas concerning the high school: existing conditions that constitute severe overcrowding; conditions expected to result in increased enrollment; issues surrounding school facility systems that require repair or replacement; and programs not currently available due to facility constraints.

Reapplying to the MSBA shows our commitment to providing the best possible educational options to our students. Regardless of the feedback from the MBSA, expected later this year, the ultimate decision on future improvements at AHS is up to the residents of Andover. We are appreciative of the work of the AHS Facility Study Committee and their commitment to exploring funding for this project that minimizes the impact on our community.

Shelley Berman


APS Community News

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Do you know the woman who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 for her work on NASA missions that helped Americans walk on the moon? Or the woman who founded the American Red Cross after helping reunite families in the years following the Civil War? Students at High Plain Elementary know!

As part of a month-long celebration of Women’s History Month, students at High Plain have been learning about the accomplishments of women from the United States and around the world. The main lobby welcomes visitors with a colorful display that shares facts, character traits and daily clues that are part of a very popular “Mystery Woman of the Week” challenge. High Plain’s IDEA team of parent volunteers (Identity, Diversity, Equity Alliance) has transformed the lobby to celebrate Women’s History Month.

Destination Imagination at Bancroft Elementary

Students from Bancroft Elementary participated in the Destination Imagination Region 5 tournament earlier this month. Destination Imagination is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and equip students to become next generation innovators and leaders.

The Bancroft team, the Fire Breathing Ninja Squirrels, won first place in the Elementary Level Game On! challenge, and will be competing to the state competition on Saturday, March 30th.

The team also won a Renaissance Award for outstanding approach to their problem by creating a container out of plywood and hinges that transformed to a Trouble game board. Best of luck this weekend!

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Learn Different Day at West Middle School- March 31, 2019

APS and Eye to Eye welcomes all to a fun-filled afternoon of art, mentorship and community for students with learning differences like dyslexia and ADHD on Sunday, March 31, 2019 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at West Middle School.

Eye to Eye Learn Different Day is designed with the family in mind. Students spend the afternoon teaming up with college and high school-aged mentors who have a similar learning and attention issues. Together, the pair will create hands-on projects, focused on building social-emotional skills. The program is designed for students age 10-14, but it’s fun for all ages! Registration is now open! More information can be found here.

School Committee Policy Manual

In December 2018, the Andover School Committee completed a comprehensive review of each district policy, making the necessary modifications to address new issues requiring a policy position, updates to remain in compliance with legal requirements, and other considerations of the sitting committee.

The School Committee, with assistance and recommendations from its policy subcommittee, is tasked with ensuring that the APS policy manual remains current and, with the assistance of the Superintendent's office, that policy changes be communicated to the Andover Public School community. In conjunction with the policy review project, the Andover School Committee has adopted this online, searchable manual to provide improved accessibility to the district's policies.

Community Service Day at Wood Hill Middle School- April 26, 2019

On Friday, April 26th students from the 7 East team of Wood Hill Middle School will take part in a community service day. This day of service aligns with 7 East’s study of the novella Seedfolks, a narrative which tells the story of a community garden and the individuals who founded it.

The students first began their study of community in January. They conducted field work and observed professionals in their fields and asked questions about the daily tasks accomplished by police officers, bankers, teachers, historians, and other town officials. These people helped the group to understand how their individual task form a community with common goals and missions.

Wood Hill Middle School 7 East Team needs your help! What community projects should the students take on that day? The students need ideas and input. Please contact WHMS Principal Patrick Bucco at pbucco@aps1.net and 7 East teacher Cameron Wood at cwood@aps1.net with your suggestions.

Intelligent Lives, a film screening and dialogue with Dan Habib

APS and the Office of Student Services invites you to a free screening of Intelligent Lives, a film by Dan Habib followed by a dialogue with Mr. Habib on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at 7 p.m. in the Collins Center at Andover High School.

Intelligent Lives stars three pioneering young American adults with intellectual disabilities, Micah, Naieer and Naomie, who challenge the perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. Academy Award-winning actor Chris Cooper contextualizes the lives of these central characters through the emotional personal story of his son, Jesse, as the film unpacks the shameful and ongoing track record of intelligence testing in the U.S.

Dan Habib is the creator of the award-winning documentary films including Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, Mr. Connolly Has ALS, and many others on disability-related topics. Habib is a filmmaker at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. In his recently released documentary, Intelligent Lives, he examines society’s narrow perceptions of intelligence.

The event will be held at the Collins Center at Andover High School and is free and open to the public. Following the screening, filmmaker Dan Habib will take questions from the audience.

School Committee Informal Forum- April 6, 2019

The School Committee is continuing its practice of holding informal forums with Andover families and the community. The next forum will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2019 at 9 a.m. As with previous informal forums, there is no set agenda and we welcome comments on any topics related to our schools. The community is welcome to join at any time during the forum, on the top floor of Memorial Hall Library.

Because these session are attended by only two School Committee members, they allow an interactive dialogue outside of the Open Meeting Law legal parameters. Issues raised at the forum that might require further discussion with the entire School Committee will be communicated during a regular business meeting. We hope to see you if you have an issue you'd like to discuss. The final informal forum will be held on Thursday, May 2, 2019 at 9 a.m.