All Around APS

News from the Andover Public School District

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - vol. 2

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Students’ Spotlight- Students Against Destructive Decisions at AHS

It takes courage and resolve for students to make positive decisions in today’s world. It’s even more admirable for students to lead an organization that encourages their peers to make positive choices. At Andover High School, the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) board members are getting ready to welcome new members for the 2019-20 school year.

In its 39th year, SADD is a national foundation founded on the philosophy that young people, empowered to help each other, are the most effective force in supporting a healthy and safe environment for students. The AHS SADD group is a member of the Massachusetts chapter of SADD.

This year’s board has members returning from previous years. Juniors Taylor Madden and Sophie Rainville are in their third year, and Kirk Hillson returns for his second year. Additional board members are: Angelina Archambault, Concetta Archambault, Julia Bardetti, Kelly Carzo, Regan Grygiel, Ashley Hardock, Brooke Hardock, Olivia Hodge, Shea Krekorian, Anna MacDonald, and Elyse Peterman. SADD advisors at AHS are Meredith Emery and Patrick Murnane. Meredith takes pride in the students’ commitment, “They are a dedicated group and participate in training and community service events across the state to align with the Massachusetts chapter. Their commitment to their peers’ well-being is inspiring.”

Taylor, Sophie and Kirk believe in the power of community. Through their time with SADD, they have learned how to have difficult conversations without judgement and to speak calmly with fellow students about the impact of their choices. This year, their focus is on the dangers of vaping and of texting while driving. AHS SADD will hold events and fundraisers that raise awareness of these issues throughout the school year.

On Wednesday, October 2nd, all high school students are invited to join the SADD board for an informational meeting of new members after school in the cafeteria. Taylor, Sophie and Kirk are hoping for a great turn out of interested students.

Featured Teacher- Michael Dowd at High Plain Elementary

Leaps of faith run in Michael Dowd’s family. When Michael was three years old, his parents left Ireland to move to the United States. Years later, Michael left behind his long-time career in the hospitality industry and began studying to become a special education elementary school teacher at APS. Deep down, Michael always knew his passion was helping students succeed in school, having been influenced by his mother’s and aunt’s work with children.

This year marks Michael’s first year of teaching full time at High Plain Elementary. He focuses on students with special needs from kindergarten to second grade. He knows his work as a teacher has a significant impact on a student’s future and he looks to identify the connection that will encourage students to be inspired to learn and excited to come to school. Michael embraces social emotional learning (SEL) and incorporates these concepts into his lesson plans.

Principal Pam Lathrop is excited to have Michael join High Plain Elementary this year. “Michael never gives up, he stays the course until he finds that engagement with each student. He is a kid’s teacher and we are happy he’s joined us.”

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A Student’s Story- A student’s firsthand experience at APS

Max Doran is a fifth grader at Bancroft Elementary School. Max is the winner of the “Hike for Hope” t-shirt design contest. “Hike for Hope” will be held on Sunday, September 29, 2019.

“I learned about the race because it always ran near my house and my family knew about it. I knew what the race was about and that all the money would go to the Lazarus House to buy food and supplies to help people in need. Now that the weather is getting cold, there are people that need clothes and food and supplies.”

“I liked the idea of the t-shirt contest because I thought it would be really cool to have something I drew on my own shirt, but then to have hundreds of people wearing it would be awesome. My mom gave me the idea to enter. We started with a bare tree and then I added the hearts to show respect and love. I drew the people of different colors to show that it doesn’t matter what color you are, that we are all people and we should all respect and help each other.”

Superintendent's Message

It’s been a busy few weeks at APS. On Friday, September 20th, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley spent the morning at Andover High School touring personalized learning initiatives and innovative projects across the district. The tour was hosted by APS Director of Strategic Innovation Steve Chinosi, faculty and AHS students involved in the IDEAStudio, CAPStone Global Pathways, and the Global Portal project. The students did an articulate job explaining to the Commissioner what makes attending the Andover Public Schools such a unique experience and the positive impact these programs are having on their learning and will have on their future. The Eagle Tribune covered the event; their story can be found here.

On Tuesday, the state released its 2019 MCAS results. As a district, Andover Public Schools is classified as meeting or exceeding targets, the highest classification a district can receive. DESE has named High Plain Elementary as a School of Recognition for high growth and exceeding targets. South Elementary is also recognized by DESE as a School of Recognition for high achievement. High Plain and South Elementary are two of only 67 schools statewide to receive these honors. Last year West Elementary was selected as a School of Recognition.

Our students’ 2019 MCAS results are very positive, and build on the progress from last year’s scores. Our elementary students, in all subgroup categories, are showing major gains in reading. Through investments in our core reading program, as well as strategic interventions and diagnostics for struggling readers, we have seen great return on the investments in professional development and program implementation that we made over the past three years.

Andover High School has shown improvement in the state’s accountability system classification. In its second year, the accountability system looks at additional factors beyond test results, including graduation rates, attendance, advanced coursework and chronic absenteeism. Andover High School rose overall from 67% progress toward improvement targets in 2018 to 84% in 2019. Additionally, chronic absenteeism at the high school improved dramatically, earning a full score (4/4) in 2019. There are areas where we can continue making improvements. We are in the process of digging deeply into the data to learn how we can best improve student performance.

Watching the students engage with Commissioner Riley and reviewing our 2019 MCAS scores, we are off to a great start to fall. I look forward to continuing the momentum throughout the school year.

Shelley Berman


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APS Community News

APS by the Numbers

Andover Food Services

From September 9th to 13th, Andover Food & Nutrition Services served 7,885 elementary school lunches, 4,776 middle school lunches and 7,696 high school lunches for a grand total of 20,357 school lunches!

Wood Hill Students pay respects to U.S. Navy Veteran

Last Friday, Wood Hill Middle School seventh grade students from Katie Ray’s social studies class traveled to Methuen to pay tribute to Eileen Robichaud, 84 year old U.S. Navy Veteran from Methuen. Eileen served as an aviation mechanic in the Korean War. Aaron Mizen, a veteran and director at Kenneth H. Pollard Funeral Home, invited the public to honor Eileen, who had outlived most of her family in the area. Ms. Ray’s students were among 300 members of the public who attended the services.

In Case You Missed It- Eagle Tribune: Teen learns nitty-gritty of song writing

Andover High School sophomore Tessa Barcelo welcomed her musical coaching team from New York City earlier this month. Tessa is a regional winner of the National Endowment for the Arts of the 2019 Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge.

Tessa worked with her team at the School of Real Music to refine her song Queen. Through the workshop, the team prepared Tessa's song to be recorded this fall by professional musical theater artists in New York City.

School Committee Workshop on School Start Times

The School Committee is currently considering the implications of Andover school schedules on adolescents’ mental health and well-being, and potential impacts of changing school start times within the district. The Committee recently held a workshop to review survey results and plan next steps, including the opportunity for community feedback. To view the meeting, check out Andover TV’s broadcast or to view the presentation, click here. Please keep an eye on your in-box for more information or email the School Start Time Working Group at

Special Education Parent Advisory Council Workshop- Monday, October 7th at 7 p.m.

A local Special Education Parent Advisory Council, or SEPAC, is a parent-driven group that provides input to the local school district in special education matters and the safety of students with disabilities. An effective SEPAC has parents in the roles of advisors, using families’ experiences and perspectives to help shape programs and policies at the district level.

Leslie Leslie, project director for the Federation for Children with Special Needs, will present a workshop on how best to form a SEPAC. This workshop will outline the purpose and function of a SEPAC and provide an overview of outreach strategies to solicit diverse input from the community. The workshop will be held on Monday, October 7, 2019 at 7 p.m. in the School Committee Room, 2nd floor of Central Office.

Flu Vaccines at APS

Andover Public Schools is offering flu vaccine to all students in middle and high school this year. Both injection and flu mist are available. If you would like your child to receive the vaccine in school, please read the information and complete the necessary forms that are available on the Andover Public Schools website.

All completed and signed forms must be handed to your child’s school nurse by the deadline to ensure adequate vaccine is available. All students are eligible to receive vaccine regardless of insurance. Students in elementary grades may attend the town-wide clinic in November to receive vaccine.

School Committee Informal Forums

The School Committee welcomes the community to join us for an informal forum on the top floor of Memorial Hall Library on September 25, 2019 from 7- 8:30 p.m. This will be the first forum for the 2019-20 school year.

Dates for 2019:

  • Tuesday, October 29th at 9 a.m.
  • Saturday, November 16th at 9 a.m.
  • Monday, December 9th at 7 p.m.

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. Dates for 2020 will be announced when scheduled.

EEE Update- from Andover Public Health

The Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus has affected a number of communities in Massachusetts, including the town of Andover. In August, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health elevated the risk level in town from “moderate” to “high.”

Based on this designation from the state, the Town of Andover and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health are advising residents to conclude all outdoor events by 6:45 p.m. The outdoor activity restriction will be in effect until the first hard frost, and will be lifted after consultation with mosquito control and state health officials.

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APS offers Adult English Language Classes

Adult English Language Classes begin again this fall at High Plain Elementary and are available for all parents 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 held at 10 AM on October 1st, October 15th, October 29th, November 12th, November 26 and December 10th in the High Plain Elementary Teacher’s Room.

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.