Avonworth School District News

December 2020

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Big picture

Avonworth School District Holiday Card

With so much artistic talent in our school district, we always enjoy having one of our students create the artwork for our annual holiday card. Thank you to Nico Watts (Kindergarten) for your beautiful artwork and for allowing us to use it for this year's holiday card! Thank you to high school graphic arts teacher, Mrs. Shelby James, for adding the border and text to Nico's incredible artwork!

Holiday Message from Dr. Ralston

Family Holiday Message 2020

Holiday Concerts and Performances

Did you really think the pandemic would keep our amazing music and choral programs from producing wonderful holiday performances for all of us to enjoy? Nothing can keep our talented band and choral directors and students from sharing their talent and hard work.

Elementary Band Director, Mr. Ronnie Ziccardi is thrilled to share the Avonworth Elementary Virtual Winter Band Concert featuring members of our 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade bands!

Mr. Ziccardi encourages everyone to make it a special night for the students when you watch the concert. Gather everyone up in your household, play the concert on the biggest laptop/device in your house (or on your TV if you can), eat some tasty snacks, drink some hot chocolate, and enjoy! Please feel free to share the concert video with loved ones, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and more!

Please watch the entire concert (below); especially for some heartfelt messages near the end.
Avonworth Elementary Virtual Winter Band Concert
Avonworth's Director of Bands at the middle and high school, Mr. Will Guess, brought together current students and alumni to create this beautiful Brass Quintet Holiday Performance!
Avonworth Brass Quintet Holiday Performance
Avonworth's new Choral Director, Mr. Joseph Bandi, is proud to share the following High School and Combined High School/Middle School 2020 Virtual Choir Winter Concert! Enjoy!
ASD Virtual Winter Concert 2020

2020 Fall Play, A Christmas Carol

This is a reminder to take some time to enjoy the 2020 fall play A Christmas Carol. The 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 video link is provided below. Tune in for this extraordinary special event—maybe listen to the audio-only, just like in the days of radio!! Holiday fun for everyone!!

Click this link to access the 2020 Fall Play A Christmas Carol.

Big picture

Student, Staff, & School Recognition

Dr. Thomas Ralston, PMEA's 2020 Outstanding Superintendent

You may recall that back in March, Dr. Ralston was named PMEA's 2020 Outstanding Superintendent. PMEA had intended to hold its annual award ceremony in April, but it was cancelled due to the pandemic. On December 17, PMEA finally held it's annual award ceremony virtually. Please take a moment to watch the conversation between Dr. Ralston and PMEA's Director of Public and Government Affairs, Mark Despotakis. Also, schedule some time to enjoy the 2020 PMEA Awards Ceremony as you will see Dr. Ralston receive his award and be able to enjoy the amazing student performances woven throughout the award ceremony!

Congratulations, Dr. Ralston!

2020 PMEA Awards Ceremony
2020 PMEA Outstanding Superintendent - Dr. Thomas Ralston, Avonworth School District, Pittsburgh, PA

Avonews Co-Editor In Chief Listed in National Year-In-Review of Student Journalism

Co-Editors Keyaira Cameron and Danica Raich were listed in The Poynter Institute's Year in Review for scholastic journalism. Danica interviewed Keyaira about her experience covering Black Lives Matter protests in downtown Pittsburgh over the summer.

To see the full list, go to Full List: The work student journalists are proud of from 2020.

Please visit https://www.instagram.com/official_avonews/ for a special year-end issue as well as ongoing coverage of news, viewpoints, and interests of the Avonworth High School student body.

Avonworth Instrumentalists and Vocalists Qualify for PMEA District and Region Band and Choir

Congratulations to the following twelve Avonworth instrumentalists for qualifying for PMEA Districtt Band/Orchestra. The seven students with an asterisk next to their name also made the Region level and will audition for States! Congratulations to each of you on this amazing accomplishment!

Liana Simmons

Cam Marshall

Emelia Houser*

Lea Helsel*

Emma Hudnall*

Kassie Mcgibbney*

Ciara Anderson*

Ava Zahn

Alex Flynn

Jay White

Jessie Reed*

Hugo Eadie*

Additionally, choral student, Mya Hennigan, made it into the District and Region level and has qualified to audition for the All-State Choir festival. Congratulations Mya!

Avonworth High School Featured in the Canopy Project

Avonworth High School was nominated for The Canopy project. One hundred forty-four schools were nominated to show what COVID-era learning looks like in innovative schools around the country. The project focuses on student-centered schools and how they are filtering through the noise created by the pandemic and remaining focused on student-centered practices. The hope of this project is to act as a resource for education leaders across the country and to help them build student-centered practices in their buildings and school districts.

The following links will take you to information about The Canopy Project.

Distilling the essence: The practices student-centered schools say are core to their model

Analysis: What COVID-Era Learning Looks Like in 144 Innovative Schools Around the Country

Avnoworth High School Canopy Profile

Elementary Teacher Named Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching State Finalist

Enacted by Congress in 1983, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th-grade mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Sixth grade math teacher, Melissa Costantino-Poruben, has been named a state finalist for the third time for the PAEMST award. Melissa was a state finalist in 2014, 2017, and now for 2020. The National Science Foundation (NSF) administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Congratulations Melissa!

What's Been Happening Across the District?

Avonworth Primary and Elementary Holiday Drive-Thru Parade

Avonworth Primary and Elementary teachers and administrators wanted to provide an opportunity for students and their teachers to wish each other a happy holiday. Given that we are currently remote, a drive-thru parade took place on December 22. Students stayed in their cars while having a chance to drive through each building's parking lot. This event gave teachers, administrators, and students a chance to send a happy holiday wave to each other before the winter break began. Over 250 cars drove through each campus during the parade! Thank you to all of our amazing parents and students that participated.

JAM Sends Thank You to Health Care Workers

JAM wanted to do something special for the health care workers so we made this video we also made 90 gift bags for our local Meals on Wheels and 90 gift bags for the Light of Life Rescue Mission.
JAM -Thank You Health Care Workers!

First Grade Learns about Holidays Around the World

First grade has been busy during the month of December learning about different holidays celebrated around the world during November and December. Students discussed and learned many new unique traditions about Diwali, Hanukkah, Las Posadas, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. During our discussions, the students learned that each holiday is special because it brings people together in different ways. While learning about these new holidays and traditions, the students also found similarities and differences between these holidays and the holidays they celebrate with their families. It was so much fun learning about other countries' cultures and why these different holidays are important to the people who celebrate them.

Grant Helps Primary Students Start Their Own Business

Avonworth Primary teacher, Mrs. Frew, recently applied for $2,500.00 from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit to spark creativity in her students and successfully secured the grant. Through this grant, Mrs. Frew is able to provide 25 students with $100 worth of supplies to teach their own online classes. Through their making website - www.growingupmaking.com, each student has their own spotlight classroom where they recorded a video of their activity. The students organized the kits independently. Once a kit is purchased, the kit is delivered and a video link is provided to the buyer. The maker receives 70% of the profit and 30% is donated to the PTA. Students are sharing their making skills while also learning how to run their own business. So far, eight students have their own spotlight classrooms. Classes include - Kitchen Concoctions - Make a Corkboard - Micro-Bit Classes - Dog Pull Toys - Yoga/Relaxation - Monster Gloves. The students range in age from 6 - 18.

If your student is interested in becoming a part of this program, please email - growingupmaking@gmail.com

Pictured below is 5th grader Hadley Reid and her dog. Hadley's spotlight classroom makes two different versions of Dog Pull Toys.

Big picture

News from Mrs. Schlumpf's Gifted Class

First-grade gifted students are in the process of concluding their Meg Mackintosh independent mystery novel study using Seesaw. Second-grade gifted students are drafting their report on a "Who Was" person of interest using their iPads and google docs. Third-grade gifted students are working in their chosen strength area studying several number systems in math or creating a poetry book in creative writing.
Big picture

12 Days of School Spirit at Avonworth Elementary School

We might be virtual, but Avonworth Elementary School (AES) still has some awesome school spirit. Since December 8th, the students at AES have been participating in the 12 Days of School Spirit. Every day they dress for the theme of the day. The spirit days include crazy hair/hat day, cozy day, ugly sweater day, patriotic day, buddy the elf day, and much more!

Here is the full schedule of the 12 Days of School Spirit!

Block that Parking Spot Food Drive at AES

Avonworth Elementary students participated in their annual food drive this December. This year, given the pandemic and our current remote learning, they had to get a bit creative with how to collect food for the food drive. So, their goal was to block the parking spots of the office staff with as much food as possible. There was an overwhelming response and by the end of the day, four parking spots were completely blocked with non-perishable items for our local food bank! Another incredible year of donations!
Big picture

AES Participates in National Computer Science Week

Avonworth Elementary School celebrated National Computer Science (CS) Week December 7th-11th! We kicked off CS Week with a Virtual Family Code Night! In computer special, students participated in Unplugged Coding Activities, Design Thinking Projects, and Coding Games! AES students continued celebrating computer science throughout the week by participating in Virtual Code Byte Sessions hosted by Code.Org! Students were engaged in computer science fun all week and look forward to more Code-Ventures in the New Year!
Big picture

Step Afrika! with 4th Grade Virtual Academy!

This week, the 4th-grade students in the Virtual Academy took a detour to South Africa to learn the art of step dance! We learned about the history of step dance and how it is used as a performing art in high schools and colleges all over the world! We also learned how to do some steps ourselves! Take a look at the picture below of our own 4th-grade performers!
Big picture

Middle School Keeps Holiday Tradition Alive In Spite of Being Remote

Avonworth Middle School Student Council members put together a full-day of holiday activities again this year. In true 2020 fashion, their holiday activities were done virtually through Google meets. There were a number of break-out rooms including Holiday Pen Pal, Name that Tune, Holiday Kahoot, Virtual Escape Room, and the Price is Right! A raffle was held at the end of the day where Student Council members picked daily MVPs to win gift cards.

"In Pursuit Of..." Competition Inspires Artwork Calling For Change

Computer Graphics students focused on creating artwork centered around social change this month as part of the Amplifier Art "In Pursuit Of..." competition. Using the design process, each student chose a specific social movement that they felt passionate about before making their projects, researched that topic, collected creative commons sourced images, tested different messages they could layer on top of their images, improved their designs, and then created these amazing posters.

Avonworth PE Teachers Get Creative to Keep Students Moving

Avonworth Middle/High School physical education teachers have been challenging students to get outside and to keep moving. Students are meeting the challenge by finding creative ways to stay active during remote instruction.

Welcome to Avonworth Mr. Bandi!

Meet Mr. Joseph Bandi, Avonworth Choral Director

Mr. Joseph R. Bandi is the new Director of Choirs at Avonworth School District in Pittsburgh, PA, directing grades five through twelve. He joins our district after teaching for three years as the Choir Director at the Lakeview School District. Joseph has previously served as an Assistant Marching Band Director, Vocal and Assistant Director for Musical Theatre productions, and is the Music Minister and Program Coordinator at Church of the Beloved Disciple in Grove City, PA. Joseph is originally from the greater Pittsburgh area and is a graduate of Westminster College with a dual Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and Piano Performance. In 2018, he returned to Westminster College to serve as the Handbell Choir Director. Joseph performs extensively as a musician, and constantly takes on more teaching responsibilities and private piano students. He has also participated in several piano competitions and festivals, including the American Prize where he was a semi-finalist in the performance category, and the 2nd Annual Dublin International Piano Festival, where he was one of only sixteen accepted pianists from around the globe. As of January 2019, he is also an associate carillonneur of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America. Joseph is extremely excited to officially start as the new Choir Director at Avonworth! Go Lopes!


Kindergarten Registration Opens January 4, 2021

Click HERE for more information on Kindergarten registration!

Mark Your Calendar

  • 12/24-1/1 - Winter Break, Schools Closed
  • 1/4 - Schools In Session
  • 1/4 - Kindergarten Registration Opens
  • 1/11 - Athletic Committee Meeting, 6:30 PM
  • 1/11 - School Board Work Session, 7:30 PM
  • 1/18 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Schools Closed
  • 1/18 - Curriculum Committee Meeting, 6:30 PM
  • 1/18 - Regular School Board Meeting, 7:30 PM
  • 1/21 - End of Second Quarter/First Semester

Happy Holidays! See you in 2021!