All Around APS

News from the Andover Public School District

Wednesday, December 18, 2019- vol. 8

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Students Spotlight- Esports at AHS

“Sports are what you define them to be,” says Ben Tannenbaum, a junior at Andover High School. “Esports are competitive, and require teamwork and leadership. It’s not much different than traditional sports.”


Esports are in their first official season at AHS. Esports was recognized by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) last year and there are now 32 teams across the state. Esports, which stands for electronic sports, shouldn’t be confused with video games. The competitions are organized gameplay between two teams and requires critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity from players to win.


The AHS Esports teams play two different games: League of Legends (multiplayer battle arena) and Rocket League (vehicular soccer game). Over 20 students are part of AHS Esports and Coach Eliud Felix makes sure everyone is involved. “Each student brings a unique skill,” says Coach Felix. “Working together is what strengthens them as a team.”


AHS juniors Cassandra Texter and Madison Redler play in the League of Legends competitions. Cassandra’s father is a gamer, which encouraged her interest in Esports. Madison loves music, especially the music used in games and was curious to find out about Esports. Cassandra and Madison like competing, especially because it requires communication and strategy.


The AHS Esports teams have two seasons; they meet in the fall and the spring. No travel is required, as they play from a room on the third floor of the high school, which buzzes with energy when Esports meets a few times a week.


As Esports gain recognition in Massachusetts, the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) has awarded millions of dollars in Esports scholarships and aid for students that compete. NACE also believes that Esports majors and careers are becoming increasingly more accessible.


AHS Esports are currently in first place in the state for both the Rocket League and League of Legends teams. The AHS teams are hopeful of reaching the playoffs, which take place in February 2020.

Featured Teacher- Ken Matteucci- Doherty Middle School

Doherty Middle School social studies teacher Ken Matteucci is full of energy as he sets up his classroom for his after school students. These students aren’t the eighth graders he teaches during the workday, but teachers from across APS ready to take his “Improv in the Classroom” class.


In his 23rd year at Doherty, Ken’s Improv work is the result of his incorporating elements of theater with his students and years of teaching theater classes. He recognized the value of Improv for his students and thought teachers might be interested in learning new techniques to bring to their classroom.


“It takes courage to do Improv. It requires teamwork and opening yourself to trying new things,” says Ken. “I love watching our teachers learning about themselves and each other as the classes progress.”


Ken has created these professional development opportunities for teachers for the last seven years and focuses on the basics of Improv: Risk taking, commitment, trust, spontaneity and learning from failure. Teachers with different professional backgrounds from all across the district have the opportunity to meet and learn from each other through activities Ken has developed to foster engagement.


“There is such joy and laughter during these classes,” adds Ken. “Having a group of adults try something completely new is an incredibly powerful experience. I am often amazed that as teachers we ask kids to learn and do new things every day, and we often don’t take advantage of that opportunity for ourselves.”

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A Student's Story- Clear Ocean Project at Doherty Middle School.

Doherty Middle School student- organizers of the “Clear Ocean” project recently presented their research for National Recycling Day. Seventh graders Kaitlin MacAllister, Claire Mounts and Sofia Duran-Clark, explain why keeping our oceans clean is so important.


Our project was focused on keeping our oceans clean, our beaches free from plastic and helping the environment. We made a sculpture of a loggerhead turtle and a jellyfish out of plastic to symbolize that turtles mistake plastic bags with jellyfish, which is their main source of food. In doing this project, we learned that most people don’t take recycling seriously and, as a result, we are really hurting the earth and the animals that live here. This project was important to us, because we are helping to save the earth and we are proud that so many kids in our school care about saving it too.

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Superintendent’s Message- Kaleidoscope Collective

This fall has brought many accolades for the achievements of our students and teachers, including significant improvement in MCAS scores districtwide, two schools receiving state recognition for strong MCAS achievement, a published profile of our district’s personalized learning initiative as a Massachusetts leader, national recognition from Special Olympics for our unified sports program, an outstanding theater production of Legally Blonde, and the success of our sports teams. As we enter the holiday season, we have just received from the state another very important recognition of the innovative efforts of our teachers and administrators.


Andover Public Schools is honored to have been accepted into the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning pilot program. Under the leadership of DESE Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley, the Kaleidoscope initiative was created to nurture deeper learning in public schools across Massachusetts. The Department’s rationale for the approach is to support students taking a deeper interest in learning and to understand the meaningfulness of what they are learning as it is applied to the real world around them. Their rationale begins, “In order to meet the demands of the modern world, students need to be able to research, create, and apply concepts in new formats and in collaboration with other people…. In the deeper learning model, expert teachers help students demonstrate fluency in a given academic area so that students can identify themselves as participants in and contributors to that area.”


Over 500 districts, schools and collaboratives applied to take part in this groundbreaking initiative, and APS was among 22 schools and districts chosen to be part of the initial cohort that will provide leadership for others in the state to deepen student learning through the kinds of authentic learning experiences we’ve been providing to our students. The pilot program begins in January 2020, and will give individual schools and entire districts the chance to continue to rethink and advance classroom instruction around deeper learning.


Under the guidance of APS Director of Strategic Innovation Stephen Chinosi and Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Sandra Trach, APS teachers and administrators will join a coalition of teachers, schools and other districts around the Commonwealth to build upon the leadership the district has provided with such initiatives as capstone projects, AHS’s Innovation Lab, the Global Pathways program, maker spaces, and so many others and work with other districts on new approaches to teaching and learning.


We are proud to take part in DESE’s Kaleidoscope initiative. We have been diligent to create innovative programs that are unique to Andover, and we look forward to sharing our experience and learning from our Kaleidoscope cohorts on how best to support our educators and students.


This is a special gift to the district that will benefit our students for years to come and a nice way to launch our winter vacation. I wish you the best for this holiday season.


Shelley Berman

Superintendent

APS Community News

Angst: Raising Awareness around Anxiety

Andover Public Schools will hold a special screening of the documentary Angst on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 at 7 PM at the Collins Center, 100 Shawsheen Road, to open up a dialogue between local families, community leaders and experts about anxiety and anxiety-related disorders.


The event will feature a viewing of the 56-minute film, followed by an informative panel discussion, led by APS Director of School Social Work Joe Yarid, with special guests Dr. Bubrick, a senior clinical psychologist in the Anxiety Disorders Center and Director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Service at the Child Mind Institute in New York, NY. Click here for more information and to RSVP to the event.

Bancroft Fills Massachusetts State Police Cruiser with “Toys for Tots”

This December, Bancroft Cares Club celebrated the Bancroft school theme “Gift of Giving” by hosting its 8th annual “Toys for Tots” collection. For the past 8 years, fourth and fifth grade Care Club members, under the guidance of teachers Corie Little, Michelle Mallon, and Beth Murphy, have collected toys throughout the month of December to donate to the Andover State Police Barracks' Toys for Tots collection.


Students make posters, announcements, videos, and chart their toy collection to promote the fundraiser. Their goal each year is to “fill” Trooper MacAllister’s State Police vehicle. This year, the Bancroft community donated over 250 toys and filled his vehicle completely! This is one of the student council’s favorite fundraising events of the year and it is something they are very proud of. Thank you to everyone who helped make this event a success!

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Women of Science Competition

Andover High School juniors Rohini Josh, Gabriella Castro-Rovira, and Anusha Handa earned first place in the 17th annual Women of Science Scholarship competition held at Bedford High School on Saturday, December 7, 2019. The competition involved 36 teams of junior and senior high school women competing in four science and engineering events. All events require skill in the areas of biology, chemistry, engineering, environmental science, math and physics. Teams compete as a group, and Rohini, Gabriella and Anusha represented AHS as Andover Team B.


This is the second year a team from Andover High School won the competition. AHS was represented by a second team who placed fifth at the competition. Andover Team A is comprised of AHS seniors Mitali Gupte and Julianna Barbaro and junior Emily M. Chen. Mitali Gupte was on the 2018 winning team.

Scholarships available to college bound AHS students

Scholarship information is available for students heading to college. Check here for a list of available scholarships.

Service Club of Andover Night of Appreciation recognizes AHS Students

The Service Club of Andover’s Night of Appreciation was held last week at the Andover Inn. Andover High School junior students Praitheek Kuimanda and Jonathan Chang were recognized for their work with the Future Medicals Professionals Club. They organized and participated in a field trip to see a robotic surgery demonstration at Andover Country Club earlier this fall.


Junior student Colleen Shay was recognized for her work with students with special needs through her leadership of the Happy Feet Dance Program. The Happy Feet Dance Program holds two performances each year, the first to be held at the Cormier Youth Center on Sunday, 12/15/19, at 3:30 pm and the second in the spring.


Finally, the Service Club recognized Scott Darlington for all of his hard work coordinating the efforts of the teachers and the staff in support of the Service Club of Andover's annual Credit for Life Fair for seniors at Andover High. Next year’s fair is scheduled for April 16th.

School Start Times Parent Advisory Group

APS is convening a School Start Times Parent Advisory Group to provide feedback for additional consideration to the School Start Times Working Group.


The purpose of the advisory group is to:

  • Work within the parameters and guiding principles set by the School Committee to provide objective feedback as to the benefits, drawbacks and additional considerations of school start time options to the Working Group.
  • Evaluate the feasibility and receptivity of the school start time options and attempt to develop consensus on viable school start time proposals.


There will be one parent/ guardian delegate from Shawsheen, each K-8 school, three delegates from the high school, and one delegate representing special education. School principals, in consultation with the school’s PTO or PAC leaders, will recommend parents/ guardians to serve as delegates to the Parent Advisory Group. Individuals who are selected are not representatives of their schools but serve as delegates, and are not obligated to a school-based process.


CRITERIA FOR SELECTION

Delegates to the School Start Times Parent Advisory Group must:

  • Be available to attend all meetings
  • Be open-minded to potential solutions
  • Have a willingness to exchange ideas with other parents and offer feedback on the proposals to the facilitator
  • Able to problem-solve and work toward consensus for the greater good of students


MEETING TIMES

The parent advisory group will meet every other week on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm beginning on January 14, 2020. Meetings will potentially continue through March. Please click on this link to submit your information if interested in serving on this Parent Advisory Group. If you have more than one student at APS, we ask that you apply only one time.


Applications are due by December 19, 2019. Parents/Guardians will be notified by their child’s principal by January 8, 2020 if selected.