Neshaminy School District / February, 2020
New mentoring program creates classroom "families"
Students play a card game during #FamilyFriday at Maple Point.
At the February 11 School Board Public Work Session, a group of students, teachers and administrators from Maple Point Middle School delivered a presentation on the school's new mentoring program. To build more meaningful and sustained relationship with students, the school initiated this program at the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
The program is based around the WIN (Whatever I Need) class period each day, during which students complete assignments, get individual help from their teachers, and work on group projects. Maple Point has decreased the size of WIN classes by involving all staff members, and created mentoring possibilities by including students from each grade in every WIN class. As students proceed through their middle school career, the teacher and students in their WIN class remain mostly the same (except those who are entering or leaving the school), offering a level of stability for students, even as their other classes change each year. The staff is committed to a goal that each student will, at all times, have an adult who can advocate for him or her and to whom he or she can turn to in a time of need.
These WIN classes are likened to families, where members can support each other, educationally, socially and emotionally, throughout the school year.
Maple Point concludes each week with #FamilyFriday during WIN. This is a time to bond, play, socialize and, most importantly, have fun. Students play board games or create their own games, hold friendly competitions and trivia contests, cook pancakes, and enjoy a variety of other bonding activities.
As a relatively new program with long-term goals, it will take time to measure the success and make adjustments to meet the needs of students. But so far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive among students and staff.
Video: Maple Point MS students and staff talk about the mentoring program during a School Board meeting on February 11
Art project reaches across the grades
On February 12, Middletown Township opened a Teacher-Student Art Show at the Township Building. Included were artworks by four of students of Hoover ES art teacher Justin Burske and four of Neshaminy HS art teacher Terry O'Neill. Justin's students created collages which were scanned and sent to the high school. The HS art students then created their own interpretation using colored pencils or pastels, and the two artworks are exhibited side-by-side at the show. For this exhibit Faith Kula (2nd) is matched with Gabi Ellis (12th), Dylan Mott (2nd) is matched with Luke Kaliashivili (10th), Aubrey Belanger (2nd) is matched with Hannah Dulee (12th) and Kira Sutton (2nd) is matched with Maya Murry (12th).
Additional artworks from the Middletown group Artists at the Barn are also part of the show, featuring 3-D works by Linda Reboh and her students. The works will be on display through April 17.
Seminar offers parents of pre-teens info, substance abuse prevention tips
#StandUp Neshaminy is sponsoring a special seminar for parents and guardians of 5th and 6th grade students in conjunction with a movie night for their children on Friday, March 6 at Carl Sandburg Middle School. While the students enjoy a viewing of the hit animated movie Zootopia, the adults will be offered a wealth of valuable information about teenage substance use and abuse, prevention, available services, and the current social climate in our schools.
The seminar will feature speakers including Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub, representatives from the Southeast Council of PA and Family Services Association, the Bensalem Police Department "Mock Teen Bedroom" trailer tour, and stories from recovering substance abusers about the gateways that led them into addiction when they were teenagers.
According to #StandUp Neshaminy organizer and Neshaminy HS physical education teacher Jan King, this information is of special importance to families of 5th and 6th graders as this is the age when their children and their friends will start to face challenges from their peers and society. Understanding these challenges, maintaining good communication and knowing the signs of addiction and substance abuse will give parents and guardians the tools they need to help their kids make good decisions in school and beyond.
To RSVP this event, please click the link below:
Policy proposal reconsiders class rank reporting
Last spring, the Neshaminy School Board discussed a new policy that would eliminate the concept of "class rank" during a student's high school years. Though it would not change the method of calculating a student's grade point average (GPA), it would eliminate the naming of a Senior Class Valedictorian and Salutatorian. This is not a new idea in education; currently Neshaminy is in the minority among surrounding Districts who have already adopted this type of policy.
The argument for eliminating class rank centers on past assumptions that all students are on a standardized path to graduation, and that they would each take the similar courses at the same time during their high school career. This is no longer the case as student choices have expanded significantly over the past decade. Some Neshaminy students begin high-school level courses in middle school, some enroll in partnership programs with local colleges and universities, and some participate in internship and apprenticeship programs. Others have passions and excel at courses that were not once considered as important in an academic class-ranking system.
In the present system of ranking, these choices could give some students an advantage over others, or cause them to forego meaningful educational opportunities for fear of lowering their class rank.
If adopted, the new policy would take effect with the Class of 2024. The next step is consideration by the Board Policy Committee and eventually the full School Board.
Kindergarten registration is open
New kid-friendly waiting area at the Central Registration office at Maple Point
Do you have or know a pre-schooler ready for kindergarten next year? Kindergarten registration is now open, and Neshaminy School District encourages all families to register before March 1, 2020, to ensure placement at their neighborhood school. The process begins online at www.neshaminy.org/register. Once that is complete, registrants will then be contacted to schedule an appointment at our brand-new, kid-friendly Central Registration office at Maple Point.
Sunset Challenge registration open
The second annual #StandUp Neshaminy Sunset Challenge 2K and 5K running race at Maple Point MS will be held Friday, May 1, 2020, starting at 6 pm (6:45 pm course start). Registration can be completed at www.sunsetchallenge.org.
At the inaugural race in 2019, nearly 500 runners competed. The course will expand this year with the addition of a new paved path at the edge of the Maple Point MS property connecting the driveway across from Core Creek Park with the existing path leading to Middletown Community Park. The race will coincide with the annual Sports Block Party at the park that involve teams from Neshaminy HS and other activities.
School Board leadership roles change
At the January 28 School Board Public Meeting, Board member Stephen Pirritano was appointed as School Board President after current President Marty Sullivan stepped down from that role. Mr. Pirritano was the School Board Vice-President, a role that will now be filled by School Board member John Allen. Mr. Sullivan is still serving as a school board member, only the leadership roles have changed.
Search for new Superintendent begins
At the School Board Public Meeting January 28, the Board accepted the resignation of Superintentent Joseph Jones III, effective at the end of this school year (June 30, 2020) Mr. Jones had announced his decision in a letter to School Board members and a message to District staff. After 31 years as a school administrator in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, he plans to return to his roots as a classroom mathematics teacher, possibly in Philadelphia or elsewhere. Mr. Jones joined Neshaminy School District in August, 2016.
At the meeting, School Board President Stephen Pirritano said, "Mr. Jones has served the Neshaminy School District and community with distinction. Joe came to Neshaminy during a transitional period and helped guide this District forward in not only educational improvement but also how we interact as a school community. While we were all surprised at his announcement, we wish Joe well in his future endeavors. We will always be grateful for his service and leadership."
The Board will commence a search for a new Superintendent.
The Harlem Wizards are coming back!
The 4th annual Harlem Wizards game will be held at Neshaminy HS on Saturday, April 18 at 7 pm. This family-friendly, action and humor-packed game pits our Neshaminy Dream Team of staff members against the Wizards. This popular game is a fundraiser for the Neshaminy Education Foundation. Tickets are on sale and can be purchased online at www.neshaminy.org/wizards.
The 2020 Neshaminy Dream includes: Brian Kern, Jenna Grupp, Cara Gulden-Buttari and Amanda Arner from Pearl S. Buck ES; Marc Mednick from Joseph Ferderbar ES; Jennifer Gaft and Walter McGee from Herbert Hoover ES; Leslie Maxwell from Walter Miller ES; Meagan McHugh and Jodi Kurley from Albert Schweitzer ES; Robert Wright, Scott Blaydon, Perry Finkel, Megahan Fedele and Kati Burke from Tawanka ES; James Legette and Coach Skip Mason from Maple Point MS; Assistant Coach Bill Barnes from Poquessing MS; School Resource Officer Melissa Robison; Joe Rischow and Jim Gosser from the District offices; and Barb Hershowitz from the Neshaminy Education Foundation.
Joyce Kulchinsky, Bookkeeper, Neshaminy School District Business Office
Lisa Rutledge, Administrative Secretary, Pearl S. Buck Elementary School
Paul Saraullo, School Board Member, Neshaminy School Districdt
Danni Tryon, Third Grade Teacher, Tawanka Elementary School
- Friday-Saturday, February 28-29: Gym Night at Neshaminy HS, times vary
- Thursday, March 5: PTO Leadership Forum, 6:30 pm, Maple Point District Office
- Thursday, March 5: College Night for Parents & Guardians, 7 pm, Neshaminy HS
- Friday, March 6: #StandUp Neshaminy Movie Night & Parent Seminar, 6:30 pm, Carl Sandburg MS
- Wednesday, March 11: Spring sports season begins, Neshaminy HS
- Saturday, March 14: Senior Citizen Ball, 3-6 pm, Neshaminy HS
- Wednesday, April 1: STEAM Expo, 6:30 pm, Neshaminy HS
- Saturday, April 18: Harlem Wizards, 7 pm, Gym 3 at Neshaminy HS
- Thursday, April 23: Sunset Challenge packet pick-up, 6:30 pm, Neshaminy HS
- Friday, May 1: Sunset Challenge 2K / 5K
Please check the District and school websites for additional events and changes.
Museum brings local history to Buck
During the week of February 13, students at Pearl S. Buck Elementary School were treated to a pop-up exhibit from the African American Museum of Bucks County. Museum volunteers presented information to each class at the school about local African American history and prominent historical figures as part of their outreach program.
Fourth-grade builds mini mag-lev system
High-speed magnetic levitation trains are the transportation of the future, and fourth-grade students at Pearl S. Buck ES are learning about this technology today. Working in small groups, students designed their own mag-lev track and adjusted magnets on the track and model trains that were created on a 3-D printer to make the train glide smoothly along the track. They had to work together to solve technical challenges and document their work in a presentation.
Ferderbar celebrates National Kindness Week
February 17th was National Random Acts of Kindness Day. To promote kindness at Ferderbar, the school decided to celebrate the entire week. Each day, they announced a kindness challenge and recited a kindness pledge on the morning announcements. That kindness pledge was posted on a wall and students were encouraged to sign it. Students also received “Kindness Shout Out Slips” during lunch and recess time to catch students being kind. Students created kindness posters to put around the school as well. The themes each day were:
- Monday: Manners Monday
- Tuesday: Take a Turn Tuesday
- Wednesday: Warm-Hearted Wednesday
- Thursday: Thank You Thursday
- Friday: Friendly Friday
Fourth-grade navigates an "Escape Room"
Fourth-grade students at Ferderbar ES participated in an "Escape Room" activity in the library in February. While they may have been disappointed to hear that there were no lasers or trap doors involved, they enjoyed working with their teams to solve a series of library-themed puzzles. Teams followed a QR code trail, discovered a secret code made of library shelves, unscrambled mirror-image words, and found the final key.
100th Day celebrated with games, math and chocolate chips
February 11-12 marked the 100th Day of School and elementary students in grades K-1 celebrated by dressing up as 100-year-olds; playing a wide variety of counting games; building structures out of 100 of things from cups to legos; solving math puzzles; and enjoying snacks consisting of 100 food items such as raisins, mini-pretzels and chocolate chips.
Visiting author, literacy advocate inspires young writers and readers
In February students at Herbert Hoover were treated to a visit from author and publisher Janet Wong. She is the author of 21 children's books and collections, and has been featured as a literacy advocacy speaker across the country and world, appearing on the Oprah show, CNN and at the White House. After her presentations at school on February 6, she also signed books during the Hoover Book Fair at the Barnes & Noble store at Neshaminy Mall.
Interviewing Shaq? It's all in a day's work for visiting author
Ellen Labrecque is a local children’s author who writes for the popular Who Was? series. Recently she shared with the third and fourth grade students the steps she uses in the writing process when writing nonfiction. Mrs. Labrecque incorporates a Story Arc to help her decide the important events in a person’s life. After learning about the Story Arc, a youngster in the crowd commented, “Now, I know how to get started with my writing.” She stressed to her young audience how vital researching and rewriting is to writing well.
Mrs. Labrecque wrote six titles for the series and is in the midst of writing several more, most notably, Who Was Kobe Bryant? The highlight of the day may have been when she described an interview with NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and was gifted one of his size 22 sneakers which she brought with her (see the photo above).
Miller celebrates 100 Days of School
Letter carrier picks up Valentine greetings
On February 12, kindergarten students at Albert Schweitzer ES enjoyed a visit from USPS letter carrier Terry McHugh, who talked about his job and gave a tour of his truck. This wasn't just a social visit, however - he was also picking up Valentines Day letters the students created to be delivered to their families later in the week.
Schweitzer celebrates National Go RED Day
Albert Schweitzer Elementary joined in National GO RED Day (celebrated on the first Friday of each February) to celebrate National Heart Month and build awareness for Women's Heart Health. Students and staff wore red and participated in activities promoting heart health, all while raising money for the American Heart Association.
Healthy Me Club promotes a positive mindset
What a better way to start Valentines Day than with the "Healthy Me Club" at Tawanka Elementary School on February 14? This new fourth-grade club meets twice a month before school, and empowers students with the knowledge, skills and the mindset of making healthy choices; physically, socially and emotionally. The goal is to better prepare them for middle school, high school and real-world situations. Each meeting includes a variety of activities including group discussions, reading, writing, art, team-building activities, and even yoga! The club adviser is Tawanka teacher Andrea Piccinetti, who created Healthy Me in conjunction with #StandUp Neshaminy and a grant funded through Today, Inc.
Paper groundhogs call for an early spring
Tawanka kindergarten students in Mrs. Piccinetti’s class learned about Groundhog Day on January 31, including shadows, predictions, and bar graphing. They created paper groundhogs which they took outside, which did not see their shadows. This was a conclusion shared by a somewhat more famous (and real) groundhog out in Punxatawney a couple of days later.
Little Mermaid production has legs
The seventh and eighth grade musical production at Maple Point this year was The Little Mermaid, based on the classic Disney movie. The show featured a variety of stellar performances and energetic dance numbers including "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl," and "Part of Your World."
CONNECT program promotes special interest clubs
Maple Point is excited to announce the launch of the CONNECT Program, which began on February 6. CONNECT is an opportunity for students to meet with peers who have similar interests, hobbies or ambitions. Examples of some of the student-led clubs currently underway are a Dance Club, Tech Deck Club, Environmental Club, Minecrafters, Creative Club and a Model Car Club. CONNECT once a week in the cafeteria and is open to students in all grade levels. Ideas for new clubs are welcome!
Shrek musical goes on despite challenges
Not everybody would be happy having their school described as a swamp, but that was exactly what happened at Poquessing the week of February 19-22 and the response was completely positive. The annual musical production this year was an adaptation of the hit Dreamworks film Shrek. The show was a success with 4th-grade visitors, Poquessing students, and the community on Wednesday and Thursday. A round of illness among the cast members caused the cancellation of the Friday evening show, but by Saturday the students were back on stage and made up for it with an extra performance Saturday evening.
Music students attend Musical Theater Festival
On February 5, seventh and eighth grade music students from Carl Sandburg MS attended the first ever Middle School Musical Theatre Festival at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. Upon arrival, students were broken into groups and instructed to choose a hat, and the hat determined the musical number they would perform. Groups had approximately 45 minutes to learn a segment of a song and choreography which they then performed on the Kimmel Center stage. At the end of the day, students had the opportunity to sit in on a master class with two local Broadway actors. The students were able to keep their hats, and they learned some valuable tools for the stage.
Sandburg celebrates Read Aloud Day
On February 5, Carl Sandburg Middle School celebrated World Read Aloud Day for the fourth year. This event celebrates the importance of vocally sharing written stories.
Students and staff celebrated in a variety of ways including guests reading picture books, grade levels teaming up with students reading to each other, students bringing in blankets and their favorite books to share, and teachers selecting favorite poems, books and short stories to share with their classes.
Matilda musical energizes the Neshaminy stage
What happens when a precocious 5-year-old girl with telekinetic powers and a love of books is sent to a tough boarding school? Audiences at the Neshaminy HS musical production Matilda found out during performances February 5-8. This emotional, energetic show is based on the book by Roald Dahl and featured some amazing choreography and powerful individual performances.
Business Leaders earn accolades at regional competition
Congratulations to 17 Neshaminy HS Future Business Leaders of America Regional Competition winners! The competition was held at Delaware Valley University on Wednesday, December 18. These students have also qualified to compete at the State FBLA competition in Hershey on April 6, 2020. The winners are:
FIRST PLACE: Neha Shirwalker --Database Design and Applications; Kieran O’Neill --Computer Applications; Jessica Manning --Spreadsheet Applications; Steven Muller --Sales Presentation; Ohenma Ofosu-Mensah —Introduction to Information Technology; Matt Schwab --Accounting 2
SECOND PLACE: Aaron Lewis & Kushal Patel --Banking & Financial Systems; Dan Gutman --Entrepreneurship; Sophia Capecci --Introduction to Business
THIRD PLACE: Michelle Wang --Agribusiness; Connor McQuibben --Business Communication; Madison Heinz & Jennifer Okawara --Business Ethics
FOURTH PLACE: James MacDonald --Accounting 2; Fred Miglo --Health Care Administration
FIFTH PLACE: Jacob Levin --Business Communication
TMA Bucks recognizes NHS Interact Club
Neshaminy HS Interact Club members received new Bucks County High School Seatbelt Safety Challenge t-shirts recently. They were provided by the local non-profit transportation advocacy group, TMA Bucks. The students promote safe driving habits throughout the year, and also took the AAA Mid-Atlantic pledge to save lives by being responsible drivers.
Business competitors excel at Dual Enrollment Day
Neshaminy HS Business, Computers and Information Technology (BCIT) students placed 2nd and 3rd in the Gwynedd Mercy University 5th Annual Dual Enrollment High School Case Study Competition February 13. The 2nd place team, named “Doc’s Orders”, consisted of Jack Brookshaw, Matthew Edwards, Jenna Muller and Matthew Schwab. The 3rd place team, named “Doc’s Protégées," were Steven Muller and Kieran O’Neill.
The students devoted time after school to analyze a case study and detail the business problems of a family-owned company. Each high school team delivered a presentation that elaborated on current marketing and financial problems. Teams also delivered a plan that made recommendations for future growth and offered managerial solutions. The teams were judged by a panel of four professionals who scored the quality of presentation, identification of key problems and turnaround plan.
The competition was open to all high schools who partner with Gwynedd Mercy to offer a Dual Enrollment program. Neshaminy is very proud of these outstanding BCIT students. These wins are dedicated to Janet Dougherty, a beloved NHS BCIT teacher who passed away recently.
Cheerleaders finish their season with a win
The Nehshaminy HS varsity cheerleaders took first place at the Suburban One League (SOL) Championship held at North Penn High School on February 15. This was the final competition of their season.
Swimmers excel at District Championship
Congratulations to our Neshaminy HS swimmers who excelled at the Suburban One League (SOL) Championship on February 15! AJ McClurkin is the SOL Champion for the 100 breast stroke, Lachlan Stay is the SOL Champion in the 100 Fly, and Maximilian Butkiewicz is the SOL Champion in the 100 Backstroke. Dan Sinagoga took second in the breast stroke, Jeremy Ho took 7th and Connor McClurkin took 8th.
Two NHS wrestlers are District champions
Basketball team celebrates a winning season, 1000-point scorer
The Neshaminy HS Girls Basketball team closed their regular season with a shared Suburban One League National championship (their 3rd championship in four years) on February 7. Senior Kristin Curley also scored her 1000th point during the game!
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
Joseph Jones III, Superintendent
2001 Old Lincoln Highway
Langhorne, PA 19047