Avonworth School District News

November 2020

Happy Holidays

We hope everyone is having a safe and happy holiday weekend. As a reminder, the District's buildings are closed for students through December 11. December 1 - 11 students will attend school virtually. Each Friday we will be sending out an update regarding the instructional model for the upcoming two weeks. Please visit our COVID-19 webpages for current information and updates as well.

Avonworth School District COVID-19 Webpages

Avonworth Elementary Honors Veterans

One tradition that had to be put on hold this school year is the amazing breakfast held at Avonworth Elementary School to honor Veterans of students' families. Since the breakfast couldn't occur, the students at Avonworth Elementary celebrated Veterans Day by creating a Wall of Fame. Students designed and decorated stars to honor a Veteran in their life. The stars were hung on the wall for the entire school to view. The wall is a wonderful way to thank our Veterans for serving our Country. The Wall of Fame was organized and executed by the Avonworth Elementary Game Changers.

Mr. Will Guess Plays Taps to Honor Veterans

Each Veterans Day, students and staff at our middle and high school honor our Nation's Veterans by placing flags on the hillside along Josephs Lane that spell out the word HONOR. Because this event requires students and staff to congregate, the middle and high school honored our Veterans this year by asking our Band Director, Mr. Will Guess, to play taps. This was a special moment in which staff physically distanced outside the school to take a moment to remember and show appreciation for our Veterans!
November 11, 2020 Taps by Mr. Will Guess
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Children's Grief Awareness Day Recognized at Avonworth Middle School

For the past three years, the students and staff at Avonworth Middle School have celebrated Children’s Grief Awareness Day. Children’s Grief Awareness Day, a day created by the Highmark Caring Place, is observed on the Thursday before Thanksgiving every year. On this day, students are asked to wear blue to show every grieving child and teen that they are not alone. This year, since we cannot be together for our annual butterfly picture, students and staff submitted pictures of them wearing blue. Although grief is a long, winding road, we will never walk on that road alone.
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Avonworth Elementary School Recognizes Children's Grief Awareness Day

Students and staff at Avonworth Elementary School showed their support for children experiencing grief by wearing blue on November 19, which is Children's Grief Awareness Day. Students were also able to participate in creating a Wall of Hope by decorating a butterfly in remembrance of someone special in their lives that they have lost.
CGAD Recap Video 2020 AES
AES Butterfly Wall of HOPE 2020

Nothing Stops the AHS Drama Department from Performing

The fall play cast and crew take us back to the Golden Age of Radio in this staged version of Charles Dicken's eternal holiday favorite, A Christmas Carol. The show will be posted to the district website FOR FREE during the first two weeks in December. This performance was hastily recorded in rehearsal, with only a moment’s notice, the night before the district had to pivot to virtual learning. Although students scrambled to get their show shirts, many are still dressed in shorts and jeans for rehearsal—but that didn’t stop them!

Due to pandemic restrictions, the cast and technical crew rehearsed virtually and then came together using masks, gloves, and only symbolic costume items for tech week. Set in a Pittsburgh studio on Christmas Eve in 1943, the show also boasts a commercial for Kaufmann’s Department Store.

The costume staff created custom singers' masks for our performers and pleated masks for the sound effects crew. The biggest challenge was combining live sound effects on stage—like footsteps in the snow, door slams, and Marley’s chains—with many recorded tracks broadcast from the booth.

Tune in for this extraordinary special event—maybe listen to the audio-only, just like in the days of radio!! Holiday fun for everyone!!

Student Recognitions

Harris Robinson Recognized by the College Board as a 2020-2021 African American Scholar

At the November 9 School Board Meeting, Harris Robinson was recognized for her excellence in academic achievement. Superintendent, Dr. Thomas Ralston, presented Harris with a certificate from the College Board recognizing her as a 2020-2021 African American Scholar.

Harris Robinson is a 12th-grade student at Avonworth High School where she is a respected Class Officer, talented Volleyball and Basketball player, a role model for younger students, and a very successful Advanced Placement (AP) & College In High School (CHS) student. Harris has earned this distinguished award from the College Board Recognition Program based on her high performance on the PSAT and high achievement in Advanced Placement (AP) classes. In the words of the College Board, this is award showcases the potential of the student's curiosity and his or her commitment to learning. What makes this recognition even more amazing is that Harris has earned this accomplishment during a pandemic, learning in a virtual environment, and also a hybrid environment. This very special award is advised by the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

Congratulations, Harris!

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Avonworth Students Named Officers of the National Technical Honors Society

The National Technical Honor Society is an honor society for outstanding career and technical students of workforce vocational education institutions in the United States. This year, Avonworth's Sean Boaks, an Emergency Response Technician student at A.W. Beattie Career Center, has been named the President of the National Technical Honors Society. Additionally, Sean has been named the President of Skills USA 2020-2021. Avonworth's Michael Kohl was named the Treasurer and Makenna Kohl was named Parliamentarian of Skills USA 2020-2021.

Congratulations Sean, Michael, and Makenna!

Avonworth Grad Honored by Local Firefighters

Emsworth resident and 2020 Avonworth graduate, Patrick Gross, woke up to the smell of smoke early on a Saturday morning this past June. After putting out the initial location of the fire, Patrick noticed that the smell of smoke lingered. Fearing that the fire may not be completely out, Patrick alerted his brothers Tyler (11th grade) and Skylar (9th grade). Together, the brothers made sure that the rest of their family members and pets were able to get out of the home safely.

On November, 6, Patrick and his brothers were honored at the Forward Township Volunteer Fire Department. Each was presented with a plaque to acknowledge their bravery and actions.

(Photo Credit: Tom Steiner)

The History of the Avonworth Band

The Avonworth Band Boosters recently partnered with the high school Film Club to produce a film showcasing the history and growth of the Avonworth band program. This project was produced and edited by film student Keyaira Cameron. Please take a moment to admire the amazing work of Keyaira Cameron and learn about the history of our incredible band program.

Avonworth Band history 2020

December 1st is Giving Tuesday - Support the Avonworth Band Program

The Avonworth Bands organization supports marching, concert, jazz, honors, and elementary band students across grades 4-12. The various bands compete in local adjudications, band festivals, parades, games, and exhibitions across the nation. In addition to our regular festivities, every year the marching band takes a trip where over 100 students, faculty, and chaperones travel to perform. In the spring of 2022, like it does every three years, the Avonworth band will again travel to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The cost associated with this trip can be a challenge for some students.

The Avonworth Band Program's goal is to ensure every student is able to attend this trip. Please help our band reach this goal by supporting the Avonworth Band Program on Giving Tuesday, December 1, 2020. Use the link below to make a donation!

What's Been Happening in Our Schools?

Second Grade Book Club Pivots to Virtual Book Club

A group of second graders has not let virtual learning keep them from getting together to talk about books! This month over 60 students joined Mrs. Gould for a virtual book club. Due to the wonderful response, students were divided into four groups which met once a week. The discussions really came to life as the children shared their thoughts and impressions of characters and events as they tried to solve the mystery in The Milo & Jazz Mysteries. The students were able to access the book through MackinVIA, our new ebook platform.

Same Teachers - Different Classrooms

While the month of November has brought challenges and change, our primary and elementary teachers have successfully transitioned their reading instruction to the virtual space!

In kindergarten, students completed module one by creating a book about their five senses. They began module two virtually, by listening to the informational text Farm Animals through a streaming read aloud, and then noted key details to create an animal trading card on Seesaw.

In first grade, students have had many opportunities to interact with text. They began

their final module one book, Green Eggs and Ham. Through google meet, they are

listening to modeled retells, using virtual story stones to create a story map, and creating

their own detailed summaries of the story.

As second grade finishes module one, they have transitioned their study of changes to the

virtual space. Through the informational text Why Do Leaves Change Color? students

collaboratively generated an informational paragraph during a live google meet and then

wrote their own copies at home.

Third grade capped off module one by creating a didactic wall panel about an undersea

creature accompanied by an informational paragraph. As fourth grade leaves the ocean, they are heading into outer space for module two. The students are exploring the text Starry Messenger by Peter Sis, while researching information about Galileo and his contributions to our knowledge about space.

The fourth graders have wrapped up their investigation of the essential question “What makes a great heart?” As they transition to virtual learning, students have been tasked with writing an essay that summarizes their learning about literal and figurative language. Drawing on evidence from the non-fiction text Circulatory Story and the novel Love That Dog, students will compose an informative piece of writing that answers this module's essential question.

As the fifth-grade students finished, the novel Thunder Rolling in the Mountains, they connected the content to real-life events as they read the Lincoln Hall Speech by Chief Joseph. When participating in a virtual Socratic seminar, students expressed sadness and disbelief about the challenges that the Nez Perce Native Americans faced as they were

forced to move to a reservation.

Sixth grade is continuing to focus on resilience in the Great Depression, demonstrated by

characters in the novels Bud, Not Buddy, and Out of the Dust. Now that the students have

transitioned to virtual learning, they are working together through google meet and other

collaborative measures to compose a cause-and-effect essay about a character transformation.

Gifted Support Academic Investigations

Gifted Support students in grades 3, 4, and 5 recently completed their first Academic Investigation of the year. Students selected a topic, developed questions to focus their research, conducted research, took notes, and finally developed a product to share what they learned. Products included Google Slides, Google Sites, and hardcover books. Students enjoyed presenting their work to one another!
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AES Students use Morning Meeting to Grow Executive Functioning Skills while Learning at Home

Avonworth Elementary Students are joining together, virtually, every morning before the school day begins to get organized and prepare for the day. Inspired by her own "weekly review," School Counselor, Alaina Schrader, hosts a virtual gathering each morning to help students organize for success. The book & well-known productivity methodology, Getting Things Done by David Allen, encourages people to take time to review their schedules/calendar, get inboxes to zero, and externalize any looming "to-do's" as part of a regularly occurring habit. Seeing the payoff in her own life, and hearing of the many struggles families face with organizing at-home learning, Mrs. Schrader wanted to offer that time for students to do the same. In this quick morning meeting, students review their daily schedule, practice checking email, organizing assignments, and enjoy some music to get pumped up for the day!

Students Use Choice Boards in Elementary Library

This year in the elementary library, while teaching and learning virtually, we have been implementing Choice Boards in many of our lessons. Our Live Virtual Meet & Greets begin with playing a game based on books, reading a fun story, or introducing a book with a first chapter read aloud. Then, students get to make a choice in their follow-up activity to finish the rest of the lesson. Giving the students choices in their learning boosts not only engagement and motivation, but allows students to capitalize on their strengths while meeting their learning goals.

Discover SORA ebooks at the AES Library

The Avonworth Elementary library has been busy adding many new ebooks to the SORA Overdrive app/website this school year. Using SORA, students are able to borrow ebooks & audiobooks from our school's library. By now, the students at the elementary should have accessed their SORA accounts using their school google credentials. There are hundreds of wonderful book titles students can sample, borrow and place on hold. You can also add the SORA app to an iPad or tablet, and most books can be downloaded to kindles as well. Watch this video to learn more about SORA: https://youtu.be/_jdq5j2d0IU and reach out to Mrs. Sara Osborn at sosborn@avonworth.k12.pa.us with any questions.

Middle School Environmental Club Virtual Field Trip

The middle school Environmental Club visited Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens via Zoom to learn about carnivorous plants. The staff at the conservatory pulled a variety of plants from the greenhouse to show the students the differences in carnivorous plants. The most recognizable plant was no doubt the Venus flytrap. It is a type of active trap that has a trigger and hinge mechanism to capture insects. Other types of plants such as pitcher plants are much more passive.

The virtual field trip was a great alternative for members to learn more about biodiversity and the activities that are available at Phipps. They were able to watch the plants in action as they caught their prey. Also, members were able to examine the remains of prey that were found in the pitcher plants. With the help of the staff, the students were able to infer the types of insects that got trapped by the plant. The educator at Phipps was very engaging and the club members learned a lot from the trip.

The environmental club meets monthly. We have been utilizing Google Meet to get together at-a-distance. The next club meeting is scheduled for December 8 at 4:30 PM. We will be discussing projects and the Fairchild Challenge. To join the club, we use Remind text messaging. Middle school students and their families can text @amsenviron to the number 81010 to join the club and get updates and project information. There is also plenty of additional information on the club website https://bit.ly/3kbh5oA.

Math Explodes in Eighth Grade

One of the last concepts eighth-grade students learn in the module discovering linear equations is scatter plots. In the spirit of pumpkin season, students predicted how many rubber bands it would take to explode a pumpkin using scatter plot data taken from math classes all over the United States from the last 10 years - Pumpkin Time Bomb! Students discussed that as the diameter of a pumpkin increases, the number of rubber bands it takes to explode should also increase. Since Miss Potter could not be with her students for this activity, students joined a Google Meet to watch the pumpkins being exploded live. This year's pumpkin with a diameter of 35.56 cm took 198 rubber bands. This is a great activity to do with any of those leftover pumpkins and rubber bands you have lying around!

8th Grade Personalized Science Investigations

During the first quarter, 8th-grade students built their capacity as scientists to raise questions, solve problems, and construct arguments through the Personalized Science Investigation (PSI) Project. Students demonstrated their mastery of many NGSS Science & Engineering Practices (SEPs); these skills are essential for success in high school and beyond. Mrs. Campedel designed this project to teach and reinforce science process skills and allow students to investigate the science behind a topic of interest.

Students planned & conducted a variety of investigations asking questions such as:
  • Do dogs have a paw preference?
  • Do teens who participate in extracurriculars report higher stress levels?
  • What are the common traits among birds that eat the same type of seed?
  • How does age impact an athlete's heart rate recovery time?
  • How does the cost of a golf club affect the distance a ball travels?
  • Which sports drink contains the highest concentration of electrolytes?
  • How do the code statements in a website affect a person's ability to perform a SQL Injection Attack?

After collecting data at home, students analyzed patterns in their graphs to draw meaningful conclusions about the natural world. Great work, eighth-grade students!!
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Alumna Elizabeth Grambo (AHS, 2011) Leads Junior Pathway Mock Interview Seminar

All junior pathway students are required to participate in the Junior Pathway Seminar which focuses on preparing resumes and completing mock interviews. Liz Grambo (AHS, 2011) has been assisting in this endeavor for several years and in the past has hosted students in the Health & Medicine and STEM pathways at Creehan & Company headquarters in Southpointe. This year, she conducted an hour-long Google Meet session on 11-4-2020. Thirty-nine juniors participated along with five of the six pathway leaders.

Avonworth Cinematics Members Come to the Rescue for OTVFD

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that safety is an important part of living our everyday lives. Whether it be having a brake installed in your car, or wearing a mask to protect those around you, it is all for the purpose of maintaining your well-being and the well-being of others.

So, what happens when normal is flipped upside down and you can no longer provide safety tips and tricks like you used to? Well, that is the exact question that the Ohio Township Volunteer Fire Department asked themselves when they realized that Covid-19 restrictions hindered their ability to provide their annual fire safety tips to the children of the Avonworth Community. Thousands of people in the U.S. die every year due to fires that could have been prevented had they been given the tools to know how to deal with certain stressful situations that can arise if a fire starts in your home. It became clear that these safety lessons needed to happen, whether it was in person or not because it could truly be a matter of life or death.

Luckily, we live in an age of technology that allows us to reach people across the world. The Ohio Township Volunteer Fire Department noted this fact and reached out to Mr. Michael Lincoln, a teacher at Avonworth High School and the sponsor of Avonworth Cinematics (film club). Mr. Lincoln and Bill Thomas, a volunteer firefighter, came up with a plan to create a Fire Prevention and Safety video for the children at Avonworth School District. Mr. Lincoln saw the importance of this video and reached out to Avonworth Cinematics members, Sean Boaks, Keyaira Cameron, and Liana Simmons to help bring this video to life in a professional, fun, and educational manner.

Avonworth student Keyaira Cameron is the president and founder of Avonworth Cinematics. The club works to make videos that help the community, bring awareness to a variety of subject matter, and create captivating work that shows the talents of our club members. Once the club learned about this project, they jumped into action immediately by defining what roles and responsibilities each member would claim in order to produce, film, and edit this video. Club members attended a multitude of Google Meets to discuss and create the storyboard, which allowed them to map out each shot of the video. It also helped them visualize where the students would be, the B-roll footage needed, and the angles for the cameras to be positioned.

A week later, on a Monday afternoon, the club members went to the station to film the video. Sean Boaks took over as Cameraman 1, Liana Simmons as the audio operator, and Keyaira Cameran acted as the director and Cameraman 2. The shooting that day presented the team with various challenges and hurdles that they had to overcome. At one point, their main camera died three times during the shoot. Their audio device also had trouble, and they started to become extremely worried. Sometimes what you think is going wrong turns out to be a blessing in disguise. The team talked about the issues they were having and ways to overcome them.

Keyaira commented that "It was the first time in months that we were on our own, as student filmmakers, and I am proud to say that we persevered and problem-solved. The filming lasted about three hours, which includes the set up at the beginning of the day."

The longest part of the process was post-production editing that Liana Simmons and Keyaira Cameron did the following week. They showed up after school at 3:00 pm and some days did not leave until 8:00 pm. This schedule lasted over a six-day period, with only a weekend in between. They sat together and looked at the storyboard, the scripts, and geared their vision to what would be most enjoyable for the desired audience (young kids & families) to watch. On the fifth day of editing, they were scared when the video appeared to be corrupted. Once again, they problem-solved and found a way to save their long hours of work. On the sixth day, they finished the video with the final time adding up to 21.5 hours of editing. It goes without saying that they put a lot of work into creating the video believing in the message and the importance of the project.

Keyaira and Liana stated that "Creating this video was their pleasure because we helped the community and also gained film crew and editing experience. Thank you to the Ohio Township Volunteer Fire Company and Mr. Lincoln for allowing us to be a part of this project that will save lives through education. We hope to do more projects in the future that will help change lives in the community for the better."

"Fire Safety and Prevention" by the Ohio Township Volunteer Fire Company - Avonworth Cinematics

Students Study Drought Effects on Leaf Litter Ecosystems

Our region was in a moderate drought during the months of September and October. As part of the high school environmental science course, students examined the health of leaf litter that can be found on forest floors. Healthy leaf litter and soil should contain a variety of creatures from isopods to insects to earthworms.

This semester, the class examined the long-term effects of the drought on the small organisms that recycle forest nutrients. Students completed several different surveys of “bugs” that make up the detritivores. Typically, students should have observed these soil community organisms in abundance throughout the wooded lot near the middle/high school parking lot. The lack of insects and worms suggested that the drought was having an impact on the number of these creatures. Students completed a comprehensive look at the microbial life within the woods as well. Using leaf litter samples, students cultured single-celled protists and bacteria to observe the lifeforms that were aestivating (or dormant) in the leaf litter. Students found a variety of microscopic lifeforms that were inactive in the soil but were revived in the laboratory with the addition of watery environments.

As a capstone research project, students placed screened bags of leaf litter throughout the school property. Students measured the changes in mass of the detritus as the small organisms began to break down leaves, pieces of wood, and other dead plants. Students investigated the factors that promote decomposition by the various creatures. The screened bags were placed in a variety of habitats on the school grounds.

Learning about nutrient recycling is an important part of environmental science. This topic led students to consider the waste they produce. The concepts of composting, recycling, and reducing our use of single-use plastics were linked to the natural processes of breaking down waste. The decomposition and waste management provided by the creatures in the soil is free and environmentally friendly.

Fall Sports Roundup

Avonworth Girls' Soccer Team Plays for 2A WPIAL Championship

On Saturday, November 7th, the Avonworth Girls' Soccer Team headed to Gateway High School to take on North Catholic in the 2020 Class AA WPIAL Championship Game! With the Trojans being the defending champions, Avonworth knew this would be a battle from the first second to the last.

Earlier in the season, the teams finished in a 0-0 tie in their first matchup. In their second meeting, North Catholic handed Avonworth its only loss of the season. Early on in the championship game, Avonworth had an incredible scoring chance but was denied by the crossbar. Off a free kick a bit later, Ava Wert had an excellent opportunity to score but the ball sailed just over the crossbar.

In the 35th minute of the match, North Catholic's Sharpless scored on a free kick to take a 1-0 lead. The remainder of the contest did not see any more goals and North Catholic took the WPIAL Championship.

Congratulations to Lady Lopes on an incredible season!

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Avonworth Girls' Volleyball Season Ends in WPIAL Semifinals

The Lady Lopes’ Volleyball season came to an end last week falling to Number 2 seed Ellwood City. Avonworth finished tied for 3rd in the WPIAL Class 2A Volleyball Championship.

In the semifinal matchup with Ellwood City, Junior Outside Hitter Maggie Colenbrander led the Lady Lopes in kills with 13. Senior Right Side Sasha Kosko added 12 kills, Freshman Outside Hitter Nora Kate Gavin contributed 7, and Sophomore Middle Hitter Sophie Culley had 6. This Avonworth offense was led by Junior Setter Abbi Holjes with 35 assists in the match. Colenbrander also led the Lady Lopes in digs with 24, while Senior Libero Sarah Neal followed with 11. Sophomore Defensive Specialist Sam Blose and Holjes trailed right behind with 10 digs each. Finally, Senior Middle Hitter Erin Farrah and Culley each finished the match with 4 blocks, and Kosko had 3.

Avonworth Athletes Named All-Section and All-WPIAL

Congratulations to these outstanding Lopes on their All-Section and All-WPIAL awards!




First Team:

Drew Harper

Kevin Felter

Ian Syam

Second Team:

Trevor Faulkner

Peyton Faulkner

Neo Miller

Honorable Mention

Stephen Ezar


First Team

Drew Harper – Linebacker

Trevor Faulkner – Defensive Line

Second Team:

Ian Syam – Defensive Back

Kevin Felter – Defensive Line

Honorable Mention:

Erik Studebaker – Defensive Line

Boys’ Soccer:


Addison Dexter

Michael Osekowski


Addison Dexter

Girls’ Soccer:


Ava Wert

Minah Syam

Joey Skillen

Emma Smith

Maggie Pappas

Jackie Lamperski


Ava Wert

Joey Skillen


Avonworth School Board Meetings

Each month, the Avonworth Board of School Directors has two public meetings. These meetings occur on the first two Mondays of the month (except for November into December) at 7:30 PM. Normally, these meetings occur in our District's board room. However, with restrictions in place due to COVID, Board meetings are occurring virtually. For each meeting, a link to register is placed on our website. Once registered, a Zoom link is sent to registrants on the day of the meeting prior to the meeting beginning (usually about an hour ahead of the meeting).

As mentioned above, with the shortened month of December, the first meeting of December, the Board Work Session, is held at the end of November. Therefore, there is only one meeting in December. The next meeting is our Board's Regular Meeting and will occur at 7:30 on December 7.

If you have an interest in attending a meeting, please visit our website using the following link.

School Board Meeting Attendance Registration Page

AES Events Planned for Computer Science Week December 7th-11th

Computer Science (CS) Week is December 7th-11th! Check Out the Virtual Events for this Week! We are kicking off CS Week on Monday, December 7th with a Family Code Night for Grades K-6th. Throughout the week, there are a variety of topics and interests for each grade level! We hope that you can Join in on the Fun and Celebrate CS Week with us!

Resources to Help Students and Families

Avonworth Middle/High School Assistant Principal, Mrs. Remensky, has created a resource to help students and families that may be facing a variety of situations due to the impact of COVID-19. We encourage families to review these resources (linked below) if they are in need of assistance in any way. Also, please remember to reach out to our counselors or administrators for help.

Important Dates

  • December 1 - School In Session (virtually)
  • December 1 - Giving Tuesday (Support the Avonworth Band Program)
  • December 1 - End of the First Trimester (K-2)
  • December 7- 11 - Computer Science Week
  • December 7 - Curriculum Committee Meeting, 6:30 PM
  • December 7 - School Board Work Session, 7:30 PM
  • December 24 - January 1 - Winter Break (Schools Closed)
  • January 4 - School In Session