Neshaminy School District / March, 2021
IMPORTANT NOTE: Information in this newsletter is current as of Monday, April 5.
Please check the District website or school emails for updates.
Musical performances shine on video
After weeks of set-building, memorizing lines and songs, lighting and sound checks and rehearsals, the two casts of the 2021 Neshaminy High School musical, Little Shop of Horrors took to the stage on Saturday, March 20 in front of a small audience of close family members spread out in the auditorium and several video cameras. For the first time ever, the show was recorded and streamed on the internet one week later for an online audience to enjoy. Since pandemic restrictions severely restricted the number of audience members that could see the show in person, a license to broadcast the show online was purchased and four dates were scheduled (two shows for each cast). Under the terms of the license, the show could only be viewed at specific times as though it were broadcast live.
Wearing special transparent masks while on stage for Covid-19 protection, the cast members performed the show four times, with the final two performances captured on video. This musical comedy is an adaptation of a 1980's film, which itself was based on an off-Broadway musical based on a 1960's Roger Corman film. It features a fast-growing carnivorous plant with an appetite for human blood. The Vocal Music Boosters at NHS held a successful GoFundMe campaign to raise money to rent several Audrey II puppets for the show, the final one of which is large enough to swallow cast members whole. The show was directed by Vocal Music teacher and NHS Choir Director Kristin Nichols.
The three Neshaminy middle schools are also planning on holding virtual musicals later this spring. Carl Sandburg Middle School will be performing the Disney hit, High School Musical and sharing it on video during the month of May. Poquessing Middle School will perform Schoolhouse Rock Live, an adaptation of the retro Saturday morning educational cartoons. Their performances will also be recorded and shared with the public on streaming video also in May (at times to be coordinated with all the middle schools). Maple Point Middle School is currently assembling cabaret-style musical that will feature selections from several shows. Using a everything from green screen technology to choir performances brought together on multi-track software, the show will also be presented as a video that will be shared with the community in May.
Welcome back, we're All In!
For the first time since March 13, 2020, students in all grades at Neshaminy School District have returned full-time to their classrooms. Beginning April 5, all grades will be in class five days a week. While the return to a more normal schedule is welcomed by educators, students and their families, Covid-19 safety procedures are still in place and schools have adapted classrooms and common areas to maintain as much social distancing as possible. Mask use is still mandatory in most situations, though students are given "mask breaks" during the school day and can remove them during meals. Desks are spaced out in classrooms, cafeterias and other areas. The custodial staff in every building is continuing with extensive disinfecting procedures.
Neshaminy teachers, support staff receive vaccinations
In an effort to ensure that schools are properly staffed and can remain open as Covid-19 vaccines are administered, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe announced in early March that educators and educational support staff in the Commonwealth would be prioritized to receive the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 single-dose vaccine, which was approved for emergency use by the Food & Drug Administration on March 1. Plans were rolled out to deliver vaccines to educators across Bucks County through a clinic set up at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit in Doylestown as part of this effort.
The "first wave" of vaccination appointments was completed in March and included teachers and support staff at elementary schools, as well as staff members with high-risk medical considerations. A second wave that included secondary school staff and support staff throughout the district was completed a couple of weeks later. All Neshaminy staff members or contractors that requested a vaccine dose have been able to get one.
Superintendent Dr. McGee said this vaccination program has been a positive step in moving the District toward having all students return to in-person instruction on April 5. Staffing has been a big challenge for Neshaminy and schools across the country during the pandemic due to absences caused by the Covid-19 virus and contract tracing quarantines. At the same time, support staff needs have increased due to social distancing guidelines and class schedule challenges throughout the District.
Last day of school, NHS graduation announced
The last day of the school year for all students will be Wednesday, June 16 according to the modified calendar that was approved at the meeting. The District closed five times during the school year for inclement weather during this school year.
The Neshaminy School Board voted to set a graduation date for Neshaminy High School for Tuesday, June 15, 2021 (with a rain date of June 16). The current plan is to hold a single graduation ceremony for the entire Class of 2021 if Covid-19 crowd restrictions at the time permit. Guest and ticketing procedures will be announced at a later date.
Ready for kindergarten? Register now!
Important Reminder!! If you have a child who will be attending kindergarten (or is new to the district in any grade) in the fall, please begin the registration process online at www.neshaminy.org/register. Also please reach to any other families that you know of with eligible children to complete their registration!
Neshaminy School Board Update
The next scheduled Board Public Work Session is Tuesday, April 13 at 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 Tuesday, March 23, the Board considered the following:
- The Board approved the plan to have students in grades 5-12 return to full-time, five-day, in-person instruction starting Monday, April 5. Options for synchronous online learning will still be available for the remainder of the school year. Students in grades K-4 are already on a five-day, all-in schedule. This will be the first time that all students are back in school on a regular schedule since the beginning of Covid-19 closures last March.
- The Board approved to retain Spiezle Architectural Group to move forward with creating a conceptual design for a new elementary school to be located adjacent to Maple Point Middle School. This is an incremental step toward the plan which can be modified by the Board pending results of Facilities studies and reports on student enrollment projections and renovation projections for Pearl S. Buck Elementary School.
- The Board approved submission of the annual Audit Report required by the Pennsylvania School Code.
- The Board approved a bond resolution. A new bond issue of $10 million has been completed and will fund various facilities maintenance projects around the District such as roof replacements, parking lots, HVAC system upgrades and more. The Board approved a refinance of existing bonds from 2016 (used for Road Map renovation and construction projects) and a portion of a 2007 bond (for the Neshaminy HS renovation) to take advantage of lower current interest rates. This refinancing will provide the District approximately $250,000 in savings.
Upcoming Committee meetings (open to the public), all held in the District Board Room at Maple Point MS:
- Tuesday, April 20: Educational Development 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.
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.
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 to interview for support staff positions. For information please email KMcGettigan@ESS.com.
Celebrate NHS seniors with a banner!
The Neshaminy Education Foundation is pleased to offer two garden banners for sale (your choice of red or blue) to celebrate the Neshaminy High School Class of 2021. The banners are screen printed on both sides in durable vinyl at a standard size of 12" wide x 18" long that will fit on standard holders. A portion of the proceeds from this sale will benefit the Neshaminy Education Foundation. For ordering information, please visit https://nefflags2021.itemorder.com/
Schools celebrate Read Across America week
Students across the District celebrated Read Across America Week during the first week of March. This annual event, centered around the birthday of famed children's author Dr. Seuss, included a variety of activities to promote a love of books and reading. Among these was dress-up days, guest readers (both in-person and on Zoom video), crafts, games, and more.
At Joseph Ferderbar Elementary School, the fun was extended for the entire month with a March Madness-style "Tournament of Books" competition. Students were encouraged to read 16 books which were listed on brackets posted on a bulletin board. Each week they got to vote for their favorites, and a champion book will be crowned at the end of the month. This activity was shared with parents via a newsletter and also included a school-wide Canvas class for students and teachers to access.
At Albert Schweitzer Elementary School teachers recorded video readings of their favorite books to share with students. Herbert Hoover Elementary School, Reading Specialist Keri Phelan challenged her 3rd and 4th grade students to read some of their favorite children's books on video to be watched by students in kindergarten and first grade.
Herbert Hoover Elementary students read books for younger children
fourth-grade artist honored at statewide art show
Congratulations to Walter Miller ES student artist Nikhisha Arjun, a fourth-grader who was chosen to have her work displayed at the 2021 Pennsylvania Art Education Association (PAEA) Youth Art Month Exhibit. March is nationally recognized as the month to celebrate and commend our young artists. This virtual exhibit displays artwork from children in grades K-12 from throughout Pennsylvania. The exhibit can be viewed via the following web link until April 4: https://tinyurl.com/YAMArtExhibit.
A virtual ceremony will be held on March 20 to honor all the artists included in this year's exhibit.
What a difference a few days makes!
Stacey Flynn's first-grade class at Albert Schweitzer ES took advantage or the snowfall on February 22 to go outside to observe snowflakes. They made “Snowflake Catchers”. Once the students caught snowflakes on their “catchers” they used magnifying glasses to observe the snowflakes up-close. They could see the crystals and some of the points on the snowflakes!
Less than a month later, students in Bret Wells first-grade class carried their chairs outside to enjoy reading in the courtyard of the school as temperatures soared past 70 degrees on March 10.
Science classes mix it up
Sixth-grade students at Maple Point Middle School are working on some fun science experiments that combined two chemical substances to make a completely new one. The "elephant's toothpaste" experiment is a crowd-pleaser, forming an expansion of foam out of hydrogen peroxide, potassium iodide and dish soap. Students were even encouraged to try some experiments at home (with parent supervision, of course!) involving common items found in most kitchens.
Community supports Poquessing Food Pantry
The Poquessing Middle School Food Pantry is busy! They are currently partnering with local members of the community to stock the pantry. Over 40 families in the Feasterville / Trevose area receive bi-weekly support, and have been since last spring. The school has been accepting donations and gift cards (for the purchase of perishable dairy items).
The photo at the right shows a donation from local Realtor Tracy Siler Morgan. The Lower Southampton Board of Supervisors (including Maple Point MS teacher Ray Weldie) facilitated the donation.
There will be a food drive on Saturday, April 17, 2021 at the Feasterville Giant. This is a co-sponsored event coordinated with the Lower Southampton Police Department and Giant foods --- the objective is to fill at least 4 (!) police cars with donations.
This effort is making a difference in the community, and has lots of outside help, including ongoing support from Giant foods, Staples of Feasterville, Tracy Silver Morgan, and Pastor Don Keller from Scottsville Methodist Church.
March Madness games keep students engaged
This month is March Madness at Carl Sandburg MS! Students attending in-person are enjoying some lunchtime games, including "Sandburg Showcase Spectacular" where randomly chosen students can win some fun prizes each day. Virtual and hybrid students are also in on the fun with "Sandburg Screen Shot" - school administrators are dropping in on classes throughout the day to pick random students attending via Zoom. Those students will be eligible for more prizes to be drawn on Friday. The goal is to keep students engaged and attendance levels high no matter where they are learning. And to have fun!
snowy egg drop tests engineering creativity
In early March, 8th-grade students at Maple Point MS braved the falling snow to see the results of their science / engineering experiment. A raw egg was placed inside a container that they had designed and built to protect it from a fall of about 40 feet. The containers were tossed from the roof of the building by their teachers. This time-honored activity, which was repeated in science classes at all three middle schools, not only involves an understanding of materials and structure, but also teachers the design engineering process.
NHS musicians earn all-state selections
The Neshaminy High School Music Department would like to recognize and congratulate five of their students on their selection to the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association All-State Music Festival (which will be held virtually this year). Ryan Scott was named to the 2021 PMEA All-State Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Kaylee Zimmerman and Micah Miles were named to the 2021 PMEA All-State Concert Band. Kate Bilenko and Cody Lewandowski were named to the 2021 PMEA All-State Chorus Roster. Congratulations on this outstanding achievement as they represent Neshaminy HS in this prestigious event!
NHS artists share their impressions of the pandemic year
Students in an advanced painting & drawing class at Neshaminy HS were asked to share their impressions of the past year in an expressionist artwork. The results captured a wide range of emotions and observations. In this video, four of the student artists talk about their year and their art.
Environmental Action Club taps maple trees
With temperatures slowly rising as we approach spring, the maple syrup has started running in trees situated in Idlewood Preserve behind Neshamimy HS. In late February and early March, members of the Environmental Action Club at NHS brought their taps and buckets out to the woods to gather some of nature's sweetener, which they later boiled down to maple syrup.
symphony orchestra posts video concert
The Neshaminy HS Symphony Orchestra recorded their winter concert and shared it on video this year for the entire community to enjoy.
NHS winter teams excel in regular season, playoffs
Congratulations to NHS varsity bowler Shelby Wolstenholme, the Suburban One League National Conference Singles Champion, and the entire Girls Varsity Bowling Team who are undefeated and Team Champions for the 2020-2021 season! Shown in the photo at left are Shelby, Liza Rosenwald, Mackenzie McMullin, Dakota Banach and Riley Ratcliffe.
- Boys Basketball: Suburban One League (SOL) Champions, qualified for District One tournament
- Girls Basketball: SOL Champions, qualified for District One tournament
- Wrestling: Andrew Pokalsky and Zack Martin qualified for Southeast Regionals. Zack was Southeast PA Regional Champion, Super Regional Runner-up and 8th in the state championship
- Swimming: Two swimmers qualified for District championship): Emily Colyar (200M Freestyle) and Max Butkiewicz, (100M Backstroke). At the SOL championship, both teams achieved 34 season best times, Max won both the 100 yard Free AND 100 yard Backstroke. Connor McClurkin for won the 100 yard Breaststroke and placedin the 200 Individual Medley. Emily won the 200 Freestyle AND placed 2nd in the 100 yard Freestyle.
- Cheer: The NHS cheer team was the SOL Champions, and are competing in District championships
NHS Color Guard holding clinics
- Mondays, April 19 & 26 from 6-9 pm
- Mondays, May 3 & 17 from 6-9 pm
- Saturdays, April 10 & 24 from 10 am - 2 pm
- Saturdays, May 1 & 15 from 10 am - 2 pm
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