All Around APS

News from the Andover Public School District

Wednesday, January 8, 2020- vol. 9

Best when viewed in browser.

Happy New Year!

Big picture

Students' Spotlight- AHS TV News

Every eight days, students and staff at Andover High School spend a few minutes of their H1 block watching a newscast with stories specific to AHS. The program is fully produced by students in the AHS Broadcast Journalism class. Through their news broadcast, Broadcast Journalism students have the opportunity to bring the school’s 1,800 students together for a few minutes of unity.

“Our school is really big and showing the newscast is a great opportunity to be creative and contribute to something the whole school can enjoy,” says AHS junior Missy Seifer. “We are a lot more alike than we think.”

The class is taught by Dan Brennan, Multimedia Production Teacher, and is open to all students as an elective. Students produce and broadcast the AHS News program in a hands-on and collaborative environment. Throughout the semester, students learn production, story selection, writing, reporting, interviewing, camera work, editing and directing.

Editing is one of the skills the students like the most; they realize it can change the entire way they tell a story. While AHS junior Vanessa Pierni isn’t shy in the spotlight, editing a final news story requires thought. “Editing requires patience. You never want to change too much of what someone said,” says Vanessa.

Students also learn the skills involved and the value of interviewing others students, faculty and staff. “The class has been helpful in improving my public speaking,” says junior Olivia Broderick. Senior Carly Dyer, who produces a “Motivation of the Week” segment with Coach Dave Fazio, agrees, “The whole process really helps with self-confidence. When you watch back the final product, you see things that work and some things about your presentation that could change the next time around.”

The students are always looking for good story ideas. Anyone can submit a story idea! If you have suggestions just sent them to… The show is a great way to stay in touch with happenings at the high school through the eyes of students. If you are interested, you can watch previous AHS TV newscasts here.

Featured Educator- Sanborn Elementary's Susan Hunter Jones

“All my days at school are pretty great; the best days are spent laughing with our students,” says Susan Hunter Jones, a Licensed Social Worker at Sanborn Elementary. Susan takes pride in APS because she believes that the staff at every school are so dedicated to the emotional support of our students. Susan has been in the district for 21 years and elementary students are her primary focus.

“I am honored to be part of a dedicated team who support students’ social and emotional well-being. Social workers join forces every day with psychologists, Board Certified Behavioral Analysts, teachers and administrators with the goal of wrapping our students in support, so they can achieve the best for themselves.”

Susan started a friendship group at Sanborn where students come in groups of six to meet together and learn to develop communication skills. “I aim for the students to have some time to look beyond the classroom and connect with their peers on a more social level.” The groups meet for six weeks at a time and Susan aims to have every student in the school welcomed into the group at some point.

Susan has seen so many changes in her two decades of work at APS. “How we approach students has changed over the years,” she notes. “We now look to identify the strengths in each student and see our children as whole people. We are more connected to their social and emotional health than we have ever been, and this helps set our children up for success.”

While Susan’s positive energy is admirable, she does recognize there are difficult times and situations for everyone. “Even when things get dark and you might be feeling defeated, all you need is one pinprick of light reflecting back on you to give you hope.”

“Finding your voice” is this year’s theme at Sanborn. Susan has fully embraced the concept and encourages students to listen to each other. “Principal DiCarlo has focused us on the power of true and authentic listening. Listening is a really powerful skill and when we are able to achieve it, our students’ voices can be truly heard.”

Students’ Story- No Idling at Bancroft Elementary

Before the winter break, students from Bancroft Elementary met drivers in the drop-off/ pick-up area of Bancroft to raise awareness of the dangers to the environment of idling automobiles. Fourth graders Romy Obbard and Sofia Rouse took up the cause with their peers, holding posters and handing out a summary of the Massachusetts Idling Law.

“We learned that idling is wrong and people should not idle, because it is not safe for the environment. If you want something to change, you have to get up and do it, because someone else might not. We want people to see what we are doing and realize that they can do this too and save the earth. Someday this (idling) will affect the world and knowing that we did something about it makes me proud.”

Superintendent’s Message- DESE Reviews APS’s Special Education and Civil Rights Compliance

I am pleased to share Andover Public Schools has received a positive result from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) most recent “Tiered Focused Monitoring” report. The finding in the report reads: “The Department is pleased to report that the school district was found to be in compliance with all criteria reviewed; no corrective action is required at this time.”

All Massachusetts school districts and charter schools participate in the public school monitoring process every six years to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations in three categories: special education, civil rights and English language learning. Each district and charter school also receives a mid-cycle review after three years.

In 2014, APS began significant work to address DESE’s findings of multiple issues needing corrective action in special education, civil rights and English language learning. APS made significant progress in all areas in the years leading up to the 2019 report.

The findings of this report is a result of the hard work and efforts of Dr. Sara Stetson, assistant superintendent of Student Services, Sandra Trach, assistant superintendent of Teaching and Learning, and World Language Program Coordinator Jorge Allen.

APS is required to submit extensive documentation to DESE prior to an on-site visit and review. In December 2019, representatives from DESE visited APS for their “on-site” verification process. After the review of documentation and the on-site visit, DESE concluded that APS was found to be in compliance with all criteria reviewed and, importantly, no corrective action on the part the district is required at this time.

We achieved a perfect report on the 33 areas DESE reviewed in addition to the federal requirements. I am very proud of the work our department coordinators, educational team facilitators, teachers, and specialists put into a deep review of their practices, processes and procedures. The professionalism with which they took on this work has been commendable.

By engaging in Tiered Focused Monitoring, DESE’s Office of Public School Monitoring (PSM) works with school districts and charter schools to promote positive student outcomes. PSM monitors the implementation of special education and civil rights requirements to support improved and sustained outcomes for students in the Commonwealth.

We’re proud of all our staff and the efforts they make on a daily basis to not only comply with regulations but to ensure the success of our students. Thanks to all for your efforts on our students’ behalf.

Shelley Berman


APS Community News

Big picture

Andover Robotics Club Team Thunder Wins the Inspire Award!

Last weekend, the Andover Robotics Clubs participated in the FIRST/FTC (First Technical Challenge) event in Lexington and Team Thunder won the Inspire Award. The team that received this award is chosen by the judges as having best represented a “role model” FTC team. ARC Team Thunder is a top contender for all other judging categories and a strong competitor on the field. This is the first time in over 10 years of competition that a team from ARC has won the Inspire Award. Winning this award automatically advances Team Thunder to the state competition.

Congratulations to Team Thunder: Aadarsh Arasu, Emily Chen, Joseph Collins, Anderson Hsiao, Dan Ivanovich, Kevin Lee, Krishay Murthy, Naren Savkur, Nalin Sinha, Armaan Vasowalla and Vincent Xu.

The Andover Robotics Club will host a FIRST/FTC Qualifier

The Andover Robotics Club will host students from around Massachusetts on January 11th and 12th. This is a competition between robots from 41 teams within the FIRST/FTC (First Technical Challenge) Massachusetts Program. Opening ceremonies start at 10 a.m., and competition continues each day through 4 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public, and anyone who is even slightly interested in robotics or engineering is encouraged to come and check it out, any time during the day!

Both events are run by the Andover Robotics Club at AHS, in conjunction with Massachusetts FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). The club’s own three FTC teams will not be competing in the events because the club members, parents, and mentors make up a large part of the volunteer force that organizes and facilitates the competition. The events are a fantastic way for members of the community to see what the FIRST Robotics programs are all about, or just to have fun watching really cool robots compete.

Adult English Language Classes for 2020!

Adult English Language Classes begin again this year at High Plain Elementary and are available for all parents and guardians at APS!

We focus on school-based communication activities that help improve speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. The goal is to help immerse parents in our school communities and assist with understanding school guidelines, activities, Parent Teacher Organization events, field trips, etc. We welcome all levels of English skills.

Meetings will be at High Plain Elementary School at 333 High Plain Rd. at 10:00 AM on January 21st, February 4th, February 25th, March 10th, March 24th , April 7th, April 28th, May 12th and May 26th.

Classes are led by Mellissia Walles, Wood Hill/AHS parent and language teacher, Sara Hinchey, Wood Hill/AHS parent, Edee Foster, English language teacher, and Marika Lyons, Assistant Principal at High Plain.

All parents/ guardians interested in English Language Classes are welcome to join us at any meeting. You do not need to register for meetings and we welcome you at any time. If you have younger children, please bring them with you. Please contact Marika Lyons at 978-247-8600 or with any questions.

Volunteers needed for CAPStone Literature Review

The 2019-2020 CAPStone Cohort has come to a critical point in the course, when students are required to present their Literature Reviews on their given topics. The Literature Review is a crucial step in the Capstone experience; it defines the jumping off point from secondary to primary research, which is a new learning experience for most of the students.

Last year 54 CAPS students presented their Literature Reviews to a group of administrators, School Committee members, town officials, teachers, and parents, who then offered critical feedback on their secondary research. This proved a vital experience in the development of their research projects.

This year 73 CAPS students will be presenting their Literature Reviews on Thursday February 6th from 8:00-11:00 in the Media Center at AHS.

The Cohort is in great need of adults, who would be willing to read through a small selection of Literature Reviews and sit on panels to offer feedback to students. If you are able to participate, please fill out this Google Form by January 31st to register.

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.

Calling all AHS Seniors!

The deadline for payment for the Class of 2020 yearbook is fast approaching! Families should log on to the Senior E-Funds site to place a yearbook order. The price of the yearbook is $100.00.

If you want a yearbook in June, orders must be placed by the January 15th deadline. Once the final yearbook order is placed, we cannot go back and change it.

Log on to e-funds and order your 2020 Yearbook. Don’t miss out!

School Committee Informal Forums for 2020!

The School Committee welcomes the community to join us for an informal forum on the top floor of Memorial Hall Library on Saturday, February 1, 2020 at 9:30 AM.

These forums have no set agenda, and the community is welcome to drop in at any time to speak with two members of the School Committee on any topics related to our schools.

Because these session are attended by only two School Committee members, they allow an interactive dialogue outside of the Open Meeting Law legal parameters. Issues raised at the forum that might require further discussion with the entire School Committee will be communicated during a regular business meeting.

Additional dates & times for 2020:

  • Tuesday March 3rd at 7 PM
  • Wednesday April 8th at 9:30 AM
  • Saturday May 9th at 9:30 AM
  • Tuesday June 9th at 7 PM