Warrior Wednesdays

News from the Andover Public School District

Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - vol. 36

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In Brief:

A busy spring continues at APS! A few, quick items for your consideration; more information is below in APS Community News:

  • School Start Times Community Forum on June 11th
  • AHS Summer Reading List is available
  • School Bus Passes for Middle/ High School Students are available
  • Boston 25 News Zip Trips comes to Andover On June 21st

In Case You Missed It: Class of 2019

The Andover High class of 2019 graduated on Monday, June 3rd at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. Kate Ivanovich and Omkar Savkur were co-valedictorians and the AHS Orchestra, Choir and Band performed during commencement. Congratulations to all graduates and families!

Student Spotlight- Aaron’s Presents at Sanborn Elementary

Each Tuesday, students at Sanborn Elementary create quite a buzz in the library as they crowd around Leah Okimoto, the founder of Aaron’s Presents. For the past four years, Leah has encouraged Sanborn students to give from the heart. Students find projects that serve the community, and Leah facilitates these projects for about 60-70 students in grades 3, 4 and 5.

The students chose projects that are of interest to them that can benefit or help someone in their community. These service learning projects foster teamwork; many times students work in groups that create a shared experience. Enabling Sanborn students to experience what it feels like to impact others’ lives for good, creates empathy, generosity and a sense of purpose from an early age.

This year’s Sanborn students were ambitious with their projects! Fifth grader Jasper Nicholas decided that delivering Meals on Wheels to senior citizens in the community would be his project, and he is thrilled that he can provide a service for those who might not have access to good food, or to be able to cook for themselves.

Fifth grader Anushka Choudhary teamed up with her friends Emma and Anna to visit the Lowell Association for the Blind, and interacted with visually impaired children for an afternoon. Hannah Newman has been working to raise money through bake sales for the MSPCA. She’d like to make her contribution more permanent and, with her team, hopes to begin a foundation called “Meow & Woof” to benefit the animals at Nevins Farm in Methuen.

Through his work with Aaron’s Presents, fifth grader Luke Fugere began “Games to Make a Difference” over April vacation. With assistance from the Tyngsboro Sports Center, Luke lead a program where children could experience all sorts of games and sports, hoping to inspired physical activity and teamwork. Luke says he really loved seeing the benefits of his project; he knows it’s important to give back as some children might not have the same opportunities as he does.

One of the most impressive things about Sanborn students’ participation in Aaron’s Presents is how the children decide to get involved. Each student volunteered their time because one of their friends had a great experience doing their project. Being a part of Aaron’s Presents is strictly volunteer and many of the students return year after year to participate. Katie Barry is on her third year at Aaron’s Presents. She says she returns because “Doing good, feels good.”

While the program began at Sanborn, Leah welcomes students who are interested to apply on-line. If you’d like more information on Aaron’s Presents, they hold an annual Ice Cream Celebration on June 22nd! The free event celebrates the end of the school year and all students who volunteered! It’s an event that will inspire anyone who attends, especially kids!

Featured Teacher- Alison DiBenedetto

Last month, AHS senior Ethan Coyle was named a 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholar. As part of the program, Ethan was given the opportunity to recognize his most influential teacher. AHS Computer Science teacher Alison DiBenedetto was the individual he chose to honor as a 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholar Distinguished Teacher.

Alison is in her fifth year teaching at Andover High School and is the advisor for the Computer Fusion Club and Computer Science Club. Prior to teaching computer science, Alison was a software engineer and wants her students to understand the importance of computer science in today’s world. According to Alison, computer science jobs are consistently listed as the most in-demand jobs.

Students in her classes learn to become comfortable not knowing how to solve a problem right away, and gain confidence by applying problem-solving skills to develop knowledge and capacity with computer science. Alison’s goals are to teach her students the fundamentals of programming. They learn that concepts in computer science can be adapted and applied to other languages and situations they might work with in the future. For Alison, an important take-away from all the classes is the practice of thinking logically and being able to break down large problems into their manageable subtasks in order to complete a project.

Alison teaches four classes of computer science at AHS and works to incorporate ethics and responsibility, which play a major role in today’s on-line world. Alison teaches students that computer science has an impact on all of our lives through social media, cybersecurity, and the vast amounts of data that are currently being collected about all of us.

Alison’s favorite part of teaching comes when students are working on their own original projects, applying the skills and concepts they learn in class. Under her guidance, her students are invested in what they create. She is thrilled when the bell rings at the end of class and her students don’t move from their seats; they are so absorbed in their projects.

While she is humble about her recognition as a Distinguished Teacher, Ethan is appreciative of Alison’s mentorship. In a recent article, Ethan notes that Alison gives all her students the freedom to explore their passions and the drive to succeed. Congratulations Alison!

Superintendent's Message

We celebrated the class of 2019 earlier this week and the last day of school is within sight. It takes an entire community for our students to succeed, and I want to take a moment to thank all our partners who make Andover Public Schools a wonderful community. Andover Coalition for Education (ACE), Andona, and our PTOs and PACs work tirelessly to create opportunities for our students. Their commitment to provide resources and experiences enriches our students learning and prepares them for the future.

ACE not only raises funds to support innovation in APS, but seeks to build community through its Scarecrow Festival in the fall, its March Madness Gala, and the Showcase in spring that exhibits students’ projects for the community to appreciate. And, as the year draws to a close, ACE’s initiative, Teacher Tribute Giving Program, encourages the community to recognize any member at APS—a teacher, aide, custodian, staff member, or administrator—who has had a special impact on their children’s year. This initiative recognizes the value of all members of the APS team, and their positive impact on the student community.

Andona sponsors Clown Town in the spring and Shine the Light Andover at the winter holiday season to raise funds for schools, scholarships, support for youth organizations, and summer camp participation.

And of course our schools’ PTOs and PACs not only raise funds to sponsor and support school activities, but build parent involvement and a sense of community within each of our schools. All of these organizations provide the support, encouragement, and positive environment that enables us to do our best work for students.

APS also has wonderful corporations within the community that are invested in our students’ learning by providing support in innovation, digital learning, and student services. Andover and its surrounding communities are home to some of the most technologically advanced companies in the world. Through the generosity of organizations like Schneider Electric, Pfizer, Raytheon, Fresenius Medical, Embr Labs, Northbridge Companies, Capitol Seniors Housing, Energize Andover and many others our students benefit from their mentorship, knowledge and financial contributions.

We are grateful for all who work so hard to bring unique opportunities to our students. Thank you for the contributions you’ve made to enrich our students’ learning experiences.

Shelley Berman


APS Community News

Boston Bruins cheered on by Bancroft Elementary Students!

Bancroft Elementary students are cheering on the Boston Bruins in their quest for the Stanley Cup! Bancroft instructional assistant Mindy O’Neil sent along posters created by fourth grade students to relay some luck to the team. The posters were featured on the Bruins’ Instagram page with Brad Marchand and Charlie Coyle!

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan ended on Tuesday, June 4th with the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr, the “celebration of breaking the fast,” or Eid for short. Ramadan Mubarak (Blessed Ramadan) to all who observe!

APS Receives $100,000 Cummings Grant

Andover Public Schools (APS) was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from the Cummings Foundation “100K for 100” program. The Cummings Foundation annually provides $100,000 to local non-profits. This year, Andover Public Schools was chosen from 574 applicants following a competitive review process.

The grant will enable all five APS elementary schools to focus on social studies, cultural proficiency, identity and introspection through professional development opportunities for teachers. Additionally, elementary students will have the opportunity to explore their own identities through literature and the arts, service learning, and experiences within their communities. The grant will be managed by South School Principal Tracy Crowley and Assistant Principal Kathy Caron. More information can be found here.

High Plain Elementary Holds Annual Fun Run

High Plain Elementary held its annual Fun Run last Friday, where students raise money by running laps around the school! This year’s Fun Run marked the first time the entire student body used the new Athletic Field Accessibility ramp to access the fields behind the school!

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Alex's Lemonade Stand

South Elementary students Lyla, Alexis and Nora Carli raised $1,210 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation on Saturday! This year, the girls have chosen to raise funds for a program called SuperSibs, which is dedicated to comforting, encouraging and empowering siblings during their family's battle against childhood cancer. Great job girls!

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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

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.

Doherty Middle School Pottery Fundraiser

Doherty Middle School is holding the 8th Grade Legacy of Giving pottery sale! Over the next two weeks 8th graders have exclusive access to purchasing their pottery. On June 10th, all pieces will be available to the entire school community for purchase.

Each clay vessel is priced at $1 with additional donations welcome. All proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society. The collective efforts of 8th grade artists will be memorialized with a plaque and the total of their earnings will be announced at our farewell ceremony. For more information or to purchase a piece, please contact the DMS main office at 978-247-9400.

Parents and Guardians: 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​.

SeaPerch Update!

Exciting news from the 2019 SeaPerch Nationals Competition, held this past weekend at the University of Maryland. APS SeaPerch teams joined 299 high and middle school teams from across the U.S.

AHS Orcas, led by graduating seniors Sarvesh Handa and Aadith Arasu, won third place in the Mission Rescue & Recovery event for the high school division. In addition to Sarvesh and Aadith, the Orcas team consists of Henry Chen, Yashash Honnavalli, and Aadarsh Arasu. The Mission Rescue & Recovery event was inspired by the rescue of a soccer team from underwater caves in Thailand in 2018.

The AHS Sharks represented by graduating Seniors Curtis Lee, Bill Chen, Omkar Savkur and Alex Zeng, were one of twenty teams selected out of the 299 submissions, to present their engineering notebooks and engineering process at the 2019 Nationals Competition. Congratulations to Advisor Dan Donovan and Andover SeaPerch on a successful season!

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 is now accepting bus pass payments for the 2019-20 school year for middle/high school students

For students entering grades 7-12 only. APS provides transportation for students K-6. All bus pass forms and online payment options can be found by clicking on the Transportation section of our website; forms are on the left hand side of the page. For the 2019-20 school year the deadline date is July 26, 2019.

South School Heritage Night

Last week, South School held its second annual Cultural Heritage Night. Students grabbed a passport and joined in for a “Trip around the World” provided by our own South families, learning about cultures from a variety of countries including India, China, Mexico, the Netherlands, and many more!

The audience was enthralled by our “Parade of Nations” fashion show. There were dances by The Irish Step Dancers, a martial arts demonstration, and an amazing Indian cultural dance to name a few. Many thanks to all of the families that shared their cultural traditions and the South School Elementary ESL Team: Noelle Matara, Tish Pellegrino, and Sarah Rose for organizing this wonderful family event!