Warrior Wednesdays

News from the Andover Public School District

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - vol. 35

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In Case You Missed It

AHS Seniors Last Day!

AHS seniors are only a few days away from graduation! Last Friday, seniors marked their final school day with a breakfast in their honor, received their caps and gowns and attended a presentation of senior awards. The celebration continued as students took a visit back to their elementary schools wearing caps and gowns. Elementary students greeted them with banners, parades and well wishes for the future!

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Students' Spotlight- Executive Board at West Middle School

What a great year it’s been for the West Middle School’s Executive Board of Student Council. The leadership of Avanthika Suryadevara, Jessica Xu, Anthony Morgante, Sadie Rooney and Oscar Gillette is one of the strongest Principal Becky Franks has seen in recent years at WMS.

As the Executive Board of Student Council, this eighth grade team plans events that foster school spirit and service learning, or as they call it- “giving back to the school and community.” They have created and organized theme days, collected paper products for the MSPCA, organized pasta drives for food pantries, and sponsored book swaps.

Their accomplishments are impressive. They have also developed valuable leadership skills throughout the year. Sadie says they learned that being a good leader also means that you are a good follower. They focus on inclusivity and listening to all students’ ideas with an open mind. This year’s Board has honed their communication skills and understanding of the importance of collaboration. The entire group has developed a sense of teamwork. They recognize the lessons learned as leaders are preparing them for their futures. The goal, says Principal Franks, is for students to emerge as responsible members of a community who treat each other with respect.

Before they head to high school, they are working on an end-of-year event for all at West Middle with food, games and music. The Board has taken the lead on organizing the event for the whole school to celebrate the last day of school and the start of summer!

Featured Teacher - Norma Villarreal

For almost two decades, Norma Villarreal, a World Language department leader at Wood Hill Middle School, has brought her love for teaching and world languages to APS. She aspires to not only teach students the language, but to love and live with a new culture.

Norma is a seventh generation Villarreal from south Texas and moved to the northeast for college. Although she experienced some teaching while in college, she pursued a career in corporate law. A colleague encouraged Norma to explore opportunities at APS, knowing Norma’s enthusiasm for teaching would make her an excellent foreign languages teacher. And once she tried it, she fell in love with teaching.

Norma’s energy is infectious. She loves to be involved with her community and volunteer her time. She welcomes the chance to support her students and to mentor new APS teachers. Norma serves as a mentor to Fulbright Scholar teachers from Nicaragua and El Salvador through a program at UMass Lowell.

She is also the program coordinator of the WHMS after-school programs, which has been a great success. At the start of the after-school program, Norma was thrilled by how many colleagues and students offered to share an interest with each other. WHMS after-school club offerings include knitting, speech and debate, pop orchestra, the gay- straight alliance, the homework club, origami and countless more options for students. Recently, the Go Global series kicked off at WHMS, which offers workshops on different cultures. Last term, Go Global featured customs from Korea, China, El Salvador and Italy.

One of Norma’s goals as a teacher is to embed fine arts into her curriculum. This year, Norma collaborated with WHMS music teacher, Gina Murray, on a student performance of Man of La Mancha in both Spanish and English, featuring multiple actors in the role of Don Quixote. The project and play were a huge success, and enabled students to engage in research, Spanish language development, play production, and performance of the musical this past March.

Norma says it has been a privilege to teach students at APS every day. Through Norma’s hard work and dedication, students at WHMS have the opportunity to think globally and to connect their language and culture to the broader community that awaits them in the future.

Superintendent's Message- Class of 2019

Last Friday morning, after the academic awards ceremony for graduating seniors, the soon-to-be graduates piled onto school buses dressed in graduation caps and gowns and headed to the elementary schools. Enthusiastic cheers greeted the seniors from the elementary students and teachers who lined the halls.

For many of these seniors, they were returning to their alma mater elementary school and found their way to their teachers to thank them and share stories of the past and plans for the future. For some of these seniors, their parents are elementary schools teachers and there were a few joyful tears during the visit.

It was a wonderful and affirming experience for the seniors, and even more special for the elementary students. Seeing the seniors in their caps and gowns, they could visualize their future and many asked what year they would graduate. Others were thrilled to the have the seniors’ attention and to feel that they, too, were part of the graduation experience. And others asked if they could do this when they were seniors.

This was the first time for this event—and, given its success, it won’t be the last! It reflects so much about the joy and celebration of graduation. There are many events of passage in senior week, and the graduation itself is a particularly poignant moment of transition and success. As with graduating classes before, this class has excelled in academics, athletics, the arts, and service to the community. They are well prepared to be leaders of tomorrow in whatever direction they decide to go. As a staff, we are proud of these graduates and all they have accomplished. But we are even prouder of who they have become as individuals. We want to wish them the best for a bright future. Congratulations to the class of 2019.

Shelley Berman


APS Community News

Observing Ramadan at APS

Walk into the lobby at Wood Hill Middle School and you will see a display of decorations celebrating Muslims’ holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the 9th holy month of the Islamic calendar.

Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection and devotion. During this month, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. It is a time to connect with family and be generous. As part of the celebration of Ramadan, Muslims donate money, food and time to charity and focus on performing good deeds.

WHMS parent Sajda Elahi-Gdihi spoke at an event last week educating the Wood Hill community about Ramadan. Ramadan will end on Tuesday, June 4th with the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr, the “celebration of breaking the fast,” or Eid for short. On Eid, Muslims give a special charity to the poor, go to Mosque for prayers, exchange gifts and spend time with family and friends. Ramadan Mubarak (Blessed Ramadan) to all who observe!

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West Elementary Math Olympiad Ceremony

West Elementary held their annual Math Olympiad ceremony this week, recognizing fourth and fifth grade math students! Every Tuesday from October to March, these students arrived an hour early for school and spent an extra 45 minutes studying math to compete nationally. West El’s team is one of 5,122 teams from the United States and 120 teams from thirty-four foreign countries competing.

Principal Roos credits these students for their tenacity and hard work demonstrated each week at practices and at the five competitions. The students, coached by Liz Roos, Elaine Pineault, Debbie Fullam, Steve Hunt and Cathy Gerroir, work in collaborative teams during practices to share a myriad of ways to solve math problems.

West El’s fifth grade team scored in the top 10% in the world, and received the Highest Team Achievement plaque at the ceremony. In a rare example of extraordinary performance, four of the fifth-graders achieved perfect scores! Those four were Cindy Yang, Margi Gao, Yui Takeuchi, and Junyi Ye. They each received a trophy and the George Lencher Medallion (founder of Math Olympiad). Also, fourth grade Saanika Agarwal shined in competition, achieving 20 out of 25 correct in competition.

School Start Times Community Forum- June 11th

We encourage you to join us for this community forum on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 from 7- 8:15 PM at West Middle School. You will have the opportunity to hear from key members of the School Start Time Working Group, ask questions and provide feedback.

Following community feedback through forums, meetings, and surveys, the School Start Time Working Group plans to make recommendations to the School Committee in the fall of 2019.

The School Committee is considering the implications of the Andover Public Schools' schedule on adolescents’ well-being, and potential impacts of changing start times within the district.

For more information on the School Start Times Study, please visit our website.

APS Welcomes K-12 Visual and Performing Arts Program Coordinator

Andover Public Schools is pleased to announce the appointment of Sean Walsh to the position of K-12 Visual and Performing Arts Program Coordinator. Sean currently serves as the Interim Director of Humanities in the Malden Public Schools where he oversees the World Languages, Social Studies, ELA, and Music and Art departments K-12.

Prior to his current position, Sean has worked in Malden High School as English Lead teacher and Drama teacher for 13 years. Sean has built a successful and state-recognized Theater program, led the school-wide 1:1 technology initiative, and partnered with many universities and community groups. We look forward to welcoming Sean this summer.

Evolution of iAndover at the Middle School- Forum Tonight!

APS’s Office of Digital Learning and Town Information Technology Department will host an evening for incoming grade 6 parents/ guardians to discuss the changes to iAndover Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program at the middle school. Join us on Wednesday, May 29th from 7-8 p.m. at the Doherty Auditorium.

AHS Summer Reading

The Andover High School English Department is excited to announce the 2019 selections for summer reading. All high school students, including incoming 9th graders, are required to participate in this important activity. Students should be prepared to begin the school year ready to address their reading selection in English class and through H block.

Boston 25 Zip Trips comes to Andover!

Boston 25 Morning News will kick-off the 16th season of Zip Trips with a live broadcast in Andover at The Park at Town Hall on Friday, June 21st from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Neighbors, residents and kids of all ages are invited to be part of Boston 25’s live audience in Andover. The festival-like atmosphere also includes activities for kids, games, concert ticket giveaways, fun and music. Attendees are encouraged to bring a box of healthy cereal to benefit local food pantries.

Parents: APS students need your help!

School districts in Massachusetts have a parent advisory committee focusing on special education initiatives. Currently, Andover does not have a Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC). Like many parent advisory committees, SEPAC is driven and initiated by parents within the community. If you are interested in establishing a parent advisory council, these links may be helpful: Federation for Children with Special Needs and DESE Guidance​.

Volunteers Needed for Senior Safari!

Planning is well underway for this year's Senior Safari all-night graduation celebration which takes place on June 3rd. It takes an army of adult volunteers to successfully pull this night off and make it an amazing "last" night for our seniors. We need help in setting up, chaperoning, serving food, donating refreshments, and cleaning up after the big night. Grab a friend or two and sign up at this link- parent or guardian volunteers of all grade levels are welcome!

School Bus, Van Drivers and Monitors Needed!

NRT Bus, Inc. is currently looking for drivers and will train CDL and 7D drivers, with bonuses upon completion of training.

For more information, please call Beth Paulino at 978-697-1174 or email: epaulino@nrtbus.com