Neshaminy School District / February, 2021
IMPORTANT NOTE: Information in this newsletter is current as of Friday, February 26, 2021.
Please check the District website or school emails for updates.
Board considers long-range facilities plans
Neshaminy HS, Maple Point MS, Pearl S. Buck ES
District administrators and School Board members have started discussions in Board committee meetings surrounding concepts to upgrade and/or possibly replace aging facilities. A big part of that discussion is the long-term physical plant needs at Pearl S. Buck Elementary School.
Superintendent Dr. Robert McGee and Business Administrator Don Irwin have asked both the Business Committee and the Facilities Operations Committee members to investigate the administration’s recommendations, that plans for overdue facilities projects be accelerated, and to further consider bundling other needed future projects. The purpose is to not only meet the current and future needs of our students and staff, but to do so while taking advantage of a historic low borrowing rate and advantageous bond markets. This is a unique opportunity to carry out needed facility improvements while retaining fiscally responsible budgeting.
The Board Facilities Committee, chaired by Mr. Marty Sullivan, recently completed preliminary meetings during which the following were discussed:
- Building a new elementary school on the Maple Point Middle School property as compared to extensive renovations at Pearl S. Buck Elementary School.
- Bundling other District-wide building physical plant needs - HVAC, roofs, parking lots, etc. - to accelerate completion.
- Athletic field and outdoor facility renovations at Neshaminy High School.
A letter outlining these plans and the procedure for investigating the best course of action was shared with the Neshaminy community and can be found at the link below.
Re-opening plans move forward
The School Board approved plans to move forward with an expansion of in-person learning in March and April at the February 23 meeting. On February 26, the hybrid plan for students in grades 5-12 was expanded to include rotating in-person learning on Fridays (Red / Blue) in addition to the hybrid schedule. Synchronous online instruction continues for all students joining classes online.
Approved upcoming modifications (subject to change due to conditions at the time) include:
- Week of March 8: students in grades K-4 will begin attending school five days a week instead of the current four.
- April 5: the hybrid schedule for students in grades 5-12 will be eliminated and all students will attend in-person classes five days a week.
Options for synchronous online instruction and Neshaminy Virtual Academy will continue to be available.
The Board emphasized that these plans will only move forward if the Covid-19 data supports the safety of doing so. Details of all re-opening plans, online learning options, archived communications to families and updated Covid-19 data can be found at www.neshaminy.org/reopen.
Neshaminy School Board Update
The next scheduled Board Public Work Session is Tuesday, March 9, 7 pm in the auditorium at Maple Point Middle School. The meeting is open to the public and will also be livestreamed on the District website at www.neshaminy.org/meetings.
At the Board Public Meeting on February 23, the Board approved the following:
- Approval of a feasibility study for possible construction of an elementary school on the property of Maple Point Middle School. This is one of the options under consideration in a long-range Facilities plan (see the article above for details).
- Continuing updates to the Board Policies. This month, changes to Section 247 (hazing), Section 249 (bullying / cyberbullying) and 907 (school visitors) were approved. Policies can be viewed here.
- The Board approved moving forward with modifications to in-person learning Plan A on March 8 and April 5 (subject to conditions at the time). See the article above for details.
Upcoming Committee meetings (open to the public), all held in the District Board Room at Maple Point MS:
- Tuesday, March 2: Policy Committee, 6:30 pm
- Wednesday, March 3: Facilities & Planning Committee, 6:30 pm
- Tuesday, March 16: Educational Development Committee, 6:30 pm
- Monday, March 22: Business Operations Committee, 6:30 pm
- Tuesday, March 30: Facilities & Planning Committee, 6:30 pm
Livestreams and archive videos of the Board Public Work Sessions and Public meetings can be viewed at www.neshaminy.org/meetings.
Re-opening information resources
2-1-1 Service: If you are looking for non-educational community resources such as food pantries, housing assistance, help with utility bills, unemployment information or crisis resources, the United Way of Bucks County offers a centralized information service which can be accessed by calling 211, texting your area code to 898-211, or visiting www.pa211.org. This service is available 24/7 and is available in 42 languages.
Over 400K free meals served and counting
As of the third week in February, Neshaminy Food Services has served 401,536 free meals to children in the community since the start of the pandemic. The Food Services staff has been busy preparing and distributing the meals every week, which are available to any child under the age of 18. Meals can be picked up every Friday between 11 am and 1 pm at Tawanka ES, Poquessing MS, Hoover ES and Sandburg MS. Both the grab-and-go meals and meals served in our school cafeterias will continue to be free of charge for the rest of the 2020-2021 school year.
Time to register for kindergarten
Kindergarten registration for the 2021-2022 school year has begun. The process can be started online at www.neshaminy.org/register. Register your child by March 1, 2021 to ensure that they will have a spot in your neighborhood school for the new school year!
Pre-K Counts: A Smart Start at Neshaminy!
The Pre-K Counts program at Neshaminy is enrolling students for the 2021-2022 school year. This state-funded program operates in several Neshaminy school buildings, and offers a quality, free preschool program to families that meet age and financial eligibility guidelines. For the upcoming school year, the income guidelines based on household size are as follows (based on 2020 Federal tax returns):
- 2 family members: $52,260
- 3 family members: $65,880
- 4 family members: $79,500
- 5 family members: $93,120
- 6 family members: $106,740
- 7 family members: $120,360
Students must turn 3 or 4 years old by September 1, 2021 to qualify. To learn more about Pre-K Counts at Neshaminy or to apply for enrollment, please visit the Neshaminy PKC website www.neshaminy.org/pkc.
NEF holding alumni fundraiser
During February and March, the Neshaminy Education Foundation is asking alumni to show some love for your alma mater with a donation in any amount to the NEF. What did you love about your school years? Clubs, games at The Ridge, hanging with friends, Gym Night, proms, concerts, favorite teachers...
If you are a Neshaminy alumnus, please visit the NEF website linked below to find out more and show your Neshaminy Pride by helping the next generation of Neshaminy students.
We need you to help keep our schools open!
Neshaminy School District has multiple immediate part-time employment opportunities for cafeteria and recess aides throughout the District. Visit our employment website for more information and online application links. Additional opportunities for substitute teachers, instructional assistants, paraprofessionals, and more can be found at the ESS website here.
ESS will be holding a series of Virtual Job Fairs during the month of March to interview for support staff positions. For information please email KMcGettigan@ESS.com.
Kindergarten - first grade celebrate 100 days of school
One thing that we can always count on is celebrations marking the 100th day of school in kindergartens and first-grade classes throughout the District. On Monday, February 22 students participated in several fun activities that used the occasion to teach them about counting by tens - to 100 and beyond. In the video above which was shared across the District, several building and District administrators shared some creative ways they counted by tens.
And as always, students and teachers around the District had fun dressing up wearing clothing, jewelry and even hair coloring to simulate what they might look like as 100-year-olds! These photos are from Tawanka Elementary School.
Positive behavior program promotes kindness, cooperation
Joseph Ferderbar Elementary School has been recognized and acknowledged by the Pennsylvania Positive Behavior Support Network (PA PBS) for successfully implementing School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS).
The SWPBIS program at District elementary and middle schools involves continuous activities throughout the school year. Hybrid scheduling and pandemic protocols are a challenge to these efforts, but teachers have continued to share behavior expectations and acknowledge students for their good behavior both online and in-person. At Ferderbar, they kept a sense of community within the building by announcing student’s birthdays and having Spirit Days such as Pajama Day and Sports Shirt Day. They also celebrated Kindness Week, focused on acts of kindness to each other. They plan to return next school year with a Panther Pride acknowledgement board and the very popular monthly all-school Minute to Win It reward games.
Maple Point Middle school started a new incentive activity, "Caught on Camera" this year as part of their SWPBIS program, called MP3. Administrator selected random Zoom classes and chose random students to check attendance. If the students were present and their cameras were turned on, they received a chance to win a gift card. This rewards program has increased attendance and participation for a virtual and Zoom students.
Staff prepares for Read Across America week
Library Media Specialists and teachers across the District are preparing to celebrate Read Across America Week during the first week of March. The national event, which revolves around the birthday of iconic children's book author Dr. Seuss on March 2, has expanded to inspire a love of books and reading in all grades.
The District library media specialists have been working on topical virtual libraries to introduce books and authors to students. Students in the secondary schools will be encouraged to dress in themed "spirit wear" for each day of the week. Students at Hoover Elementary School will be creating read-aloud videos which will be gathered by Library Media Specialist Keri Phelan in a Canvas module and shared with younger students.
head custodian shares a love of hiking
Penny Meller, the Head Custodian at Pearl S. Buck Elementary School, dropped into a class at the school to share her love of the outdoors and trail hiking with the students. She has hiked portions of the Appalachian Trail, and has the goal of one day completing the entire trail. She spoke to Mrs. Miller's 4th grade class about her experiences on the trail, and showed the class all of hear gear and explained how and why each item is used. She ended with a video she had compiled of a 10 day hike that she had completed. The students were absolutely enthralled!
Marshmallow and toothpick skyscrapers? Students tackle challenges
The Ferderbar Elementary School second graders in Mrs. Athey’s, Mrs. Cariola’s, Mrs. Chakler’s, and Ms. Weston’s classes worked on several engineering projects during February. They used a variety of "building materials," including index cards, tape, toothpicks, and marshmallows to design towers. The children learned that solving an engineering problem can be creative and fun!
Newsletter shares tips to keep kids healthy, active
Students at Walter Miller Elementary enjoy a game during a snow shower in late January.
With pandemic-related precautions in place, getting kids to exercise and enjoy healthier foods can be a challenge. But the physical education teachers throughout the District have been busy coming up with creative ways to keep their students active, even while staying socially-distanced.
As part of this effort, Tawanka Elementary School physical education teacher Bob Wright created a newsletter which offers ideas to promote healthy eating and an active lifestyle. Mr. Wright is a strong believer in outdoor activity for kids, and encourages them to try healthy snack foods through a fruit and vegetable donation program at Tawanka.
Students visit a battleship and wildlife refuge virtually
In February, students in Mrs. Wendling's first grade class at Tawanka ES were engaged in the virtual field trip presented by Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. They watched a presentation over Zoom and then got to ask one of the volunteers questions about the animals they rescue. The students learned that wild animals should never be kept as pets!
On Wednesday, February 10, Mrs. Fedele's first-grade class took a virtual field trip with the Intrepid Museum of New York City. The presenter showed them a model of the Intrepid that was built with 250,000 Legos. They also learned that the ship is as long as three football fields. They learned about how the different planes and capsules helped get humans to space and what life was like on the journey.
Try this at home: Make-your-own "mummies"
Poquessing Middle School 6th grade social studies teacher Becca Douglass turned a history lesson on Ancient Egypt into a kitchen science experiment - which she shared in the video above with her students as a fun activity to better understand the mummification process. Substituting apples for an actual mummy, the experiment explores how the process worked and the best way to keep a mummy -- or apple slices -- well-preserved.
Sandburg students send some love to help St. Jude Hospital
In honor of Valentine's Day, Carl Sandburg Middle School English students wrote from their hearts by sending virtual valentines to some very deserving children at St. Jude's Hospital, a renowned non-profit pediatric facility that treats children facing major diseases for free. In this virtual world, it's often difficult to connect with others and many feel isolated from the larger world. Sandburg teachers took this opportunity to teach students about the power of writing as a means of reaching out, supporting, connecting socially, and hopefully, warming hearts. These virtual Valentines are especially meaningful to the children at St. Jude's this year as restrictions due to the pandemic have isolated them even further. Sandburg students practiced their friendly letter writing and sent some Sandburg sunshine and warm well wishes to help the children of St. Jude's feel connected during this unprecedented Valentine's Day.
NHS MiniThon holds a virtual fundraiser
FTK, the pandemic won't stop the Minithon at Neshaminy HS! This year's edition of the hugely popular fundraiser to support Four Diamonds (fighting pediatric cancer) is being held virtually, with students raising donations as their "entry fee" to a Zoom event to be held on February 26.
The staff has also been getting involved - several male staff members are participating in a "No Shave February" (an event normally held in November), and others participated in a first-ever TikTok challenge (to be judged on the 25th by Minithon participants).
To see the TikTok Challenge videos and to donate online (donations can still be made after the Zoom event), please visit www.neshaminyminithon.com.
Bowling team takes SOL individual, team titles
Varsity basketball team takes division title
Swimmers representing NHS at Districts
On February 27 and 28, two Neshaminy HS swimmers will represent the District at the PIAA District One Swimming Championships being held in York, Pennsylvania. This Post-season meet includes 55 School Districts and is the largest in PA by 25 School Districts. This year, due to COVID, the PIAA reduced the number of invitees to the meet from an already competitive 42 to just 16 individuals per event. Congratulations to Senior Emily Colyar who will be representing us in the 200 yard Freestyle and Max Butkiewicz who will be represent us in the 100 yard backstroke.
FBLA competitors heading to states
The Neshaminy HS Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club had a different experience at the regional event this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. FBLA members from around the county took their event tests online in December. The results are in, and Neshaminy has 13 students that will attend the All-Virtual State Competition in April!
Please join us in congratulating the following students who placed and will prepare to compete at the state level:
Hannah Murray - Business Law
Aaron Lewis - Entrepreneurship
Sadie Wiley – Introduction to Business Communication
Skye Garber – Introduction to Information Technology
James MacDonald – Networking Infrastructures
Michael Somogyi – Introduction to Financial Math
Alyssa Gorman – Introduction to Information Technology
Jackie Regensburger – Spreadsheet Applications
Madison Heintz – Accounting 2
Nick Montero – Business Law
Aishani Komath - International Business
Nicolas Pardini – Introduction to Business
Matt Drapkin – Organizational Leadership
NHS Course Selection begins
Attention 8-11th grade students! The course selection process for the 2021-2022 school year is now underway. And this year, it will be completed totally online.
The first part of the process is informational. Students are urged to visit the website link below, download the Course Guide, and watch a series of informational (and entertaining!) videos created by teachers in each subject area. A timeline of Course Selection dates is also posted on that page. The next stage begins in March.
Neshaminy Update is published monthly during the school year and distributed to the Neshaminy community via email and web. To submit comments, suggestions or news items for consideration, please email Chris Stanley, Community Relations Coordinator.
Neshaminy School Board of Directors
Stephen Pirritano - President
John Allen - Vice President
Irene M. Boyle
Adam J. Kovitz
Neshaminy School District
Rob McGee, Ph.D.
Assistant to the Superintendent / Director of Elementary Education
Assistant to the Superintendent / Director of Pupil Services
Donald B. Irwin, Jr.
Director of Human Resources
Assistant to the Superintendent / Director of Educational Operations
Neshaminy School District
2001 Old Lincoln Highway
Langhorne, PA 19047