Neshaminy School District / January, 2021
IMPORTANT NOTE: Information in this newsletter is current as of Friday, January 29, 2021.
Please check the District website or school emails for updates.
$100K DEP Grant award boosts Idlewood repairs
(Left-right) Neshaminy HS Principal Ryan Staub, teachers Brian Suter and James Murray, Superintendent Dr. Rob McGee and teacher James Maloney in one of the affected areas of Idlewood.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has awarded Neshaminy School District an Environmental Stewardship and Watershed Protection Grant (also known as the Growing Greener Grant) in the amount of $100,339.00.
This grant was established under the Commonwealth’s Environmental Stewardship and Watershed Protection Act (1999) with the goal of restoring impaired waterways and protecting them from nonpoint source pollution throughout Pennsylvania. Three science teachers at Neshaminy High School (James Maloney, James Murray and Brian Suter) applied for the grant with approval and assistance from school and District administration in 2020. They proposed to use the grant funds to repair and improve the 120-acre Idlewood Environmental Station, a forested area between the high school and Neshaminy Creek.
Established in the 1970’s, Idlewood has been used as a classroom extension for science and physical education classes. Multiple trails run through the area, which are used by students and the community for activities such as hiking, mountain biking and environmental studies. The NHS Environmental Action Club uses it for bird watching, maple sap collection (and maple syrup production), and tree planting as part of a reforestation and species diversification effort. Students have planted over 100 trees over the last several years and maintained a database which includes growth rates and tree variety. The area was closed for use in 2017 due to hazards presented by standing dead trees, the result of extensive damage caused by the invasive emerald ash borer beetle. This not only presented a safety issue for those visiting the area, but also environmental issues related to soil stability and water runoff in affected areas. Many of the dead ash trees are in areas on trails that lead downhill to the creek.
With funds from this grant, the District will be able to fell and remove dead timber, plant new native trees and shrubs to stabilize the soil and prevent soil loss into the creek, and improve trails to prevent additional soil loss and safely open access to Idlewood once again. The trail improvements will also contribute to improved water quality by reducing surface water runoff. A ten-foot wire fence will be added to keep deer out of the area and protect the new plantings. The area will be treated as an “experimental forest” that environmental science classes and clubs at the high school can use to study growth rates, biodiversity and soil characteristics.
The three teachers are working with District administration to secure bids and contractors to complete the work within the scope and guidelines of the grant. The work could start as soon as this spring and summer, with the hope of opening the area for student use in the fall once safety issues have been mitigated.
This grant proposal received support and pledges of assistance from a number of local groups and individuals including Pennsylvania Rep. Frank Farry, community member Joseph Franks, the Middletown Township Environmental Advisory, the Bucks County Conservation District and the Neshaminy Creek Watershed Alliance.
Air purification system installation complete
The installation of an air purification system in all Neshaminy school buildings was completed in January. Bipolar ionization units were installed in HVAC systems in every classroom, and in larger HVAC units that cover common areas in all schools and classrooms at Maple Point Middle School and Neshaminy High School.
The system works by adding positive ions to circulating air, which bond with allergens, dust, mold and virus particles that are then ingested and trapped in replaceable filters. This leaves the air in the rooms measurably cleaner and reduces the concentration of airborne viruses, including Covid-19. Even after the pandemic emergency has passed, the system will promote healthier air quality and reduce the presence of seasonal viruses throughout the year. The majority of the cost of the $1.8 million add-on will be covered under the state-sponsored Guaranteed Energy Savings Act (GESA), which covers the cost of energy-saving upgrades, mitigated by resulting future energy savings.
Bus drivers and aides shift gears to lend a hand in schools
Transportation Department drivers Allison MacMath (left) and Joan Disharoon assist with lunchtime in classrooms at Herbert Hoover ES
Approximately 40 Neshaminy school bus driver and bus aides are temporarily trading in their wheels for desks for part of the week by helping out as cafeteria and recess aides during the school day. With the District on a four-day (Monday-Thursday) per week in-person learning schedule during the pandemic, the drivers are shifting their unneeded Friday hours to help meet an increased need for staff to help supervise students at lunchtime (in classrooms and cafeterias) and at recess. A number of building aides and clerks are also helping in the effort.
Covid-19 has caused support staffing challenges at Neshaminy and in schools throughout the country as the need for aides has greatly increased due to pandemic-related absences, social distancing guidelines and schedule alterations. Covering this supervision need was the last hurdle to re-opening the elementary schools in the Blue / Red Hybrid model that started on October 5. The District is still looking to hire additional lunch and recess aides; more information can be found at the link below.
Neshaminy School Board Update
The next scheduled Work Session is Tuesday, February 9, 2021, 7 pm in the auditorium at Maple Point Middle School. The meeting will also be livecast on the District website at www.neshaminy.org/meetings.
The Educational Development Committee met on January 5. Among the highlights:
- Discussion of Covid-19 statistic updates and plans for the rest of the school year.
- Discussion of the replacement of iPads in kindergarten and first grade with Chromebooks. This took place during the week of January 11. With this change, all grades are now using Chromebooks in the District's 1:1 Technology program.
- The committee discussed the new elementary iReady math program, which was fully implemented this school year for grades K-5. A new reading program for the middle school level will be implemented in the 2021-2022 school year.
The Facilities and Planning Committee met on January 20. Among the highlights:
- The NHS library / media center project is under way. New furniture has been ordered and will be shipped and installed within a few weeks. The facility will also get a fresh coat of paint.
- The installation of a bipolar ionization system throughout the District was completed in early January (see the article and video above).
- The committee heard a presentation by Spiezel Architectural Group about conceptual designs for a possible new elementary school building situated next to Maple Point Middle School. These are preliminary discussions; no plans for this proposal have yet been approved by the School Board.
At the Board Public Meeting on January 26, the Board approved the District calendar for the 2020-2021 school year, which can be viewed here.
Livestreams and archive videos of the Board Public Work Sessions and Public meetings can be viewed at www.neshaminy.org/meetings.
Re-opening information resources
2-1-1 Service: If you are looking for non-educational community resources such as food pantries, housing assistance, help with utility bills, unemployment information or crisis resources, the United Way of Bucks County offers a centralized information service which can be accessed by calling 211, texting your area code to 898-211, or visiting www.pa211.org. This service is available 24/7 and is available in 42 languages.
Meal distribution continues
The free meal distribution program is still available. Meals can be picked up for any child under the age of 18 every Friday between 11 am and 1 pm at Tawanka ES, Poquessing MS, Hoover ES and Sandburg MS. Both the grab-and-go meals and meals served in our school cafeterias will continue to be free of charge for the rest of the 2020-2021 school year.
Time to register for kindergarten
Kindergarten registration for the 2021-2022 school year has begun. The process can be started online at www.neshaminy.org/register. Register your child by March 1, 2021 to ensure that they will have a spot in your neighborhood school for the new school year!
Get your NEF raffle tickets online!
The 2020 Neshaminy Education Foundation Spring Basket Gift Card Raffle was never completed due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. But now it's time to get these awesome prizes donated by local businesses into the hands of two lucky winners! Raffle tickets are $5 each, or 3 for $10. The drawing will be held Monday, February 1 and the winners notified by phone. Tickets can now be purchased securely and easily online.
For a prize list and to purchase tickets, please visit https://www.neshaminy.org/Page/42428
Help Wanted! Recess, Cafeteria Aides and more
Neshaminy School District has multiple immediate part-time employment opportunities for cafeteria and recess aides throughout the District. Visit our employment website for more information and online application links. Additional opportunities for substitute teachers, instructional assistants, paraprofessionals, and more can be found at the ESS website here.
Feather art takes flight
Virtual visits highlight family interests
Students assemble and play hand-made instruments
Third-grade students at Joseph Ferderbar Elementary School assembled and decorated their own instruments, as part of the culminating activity of a sound unit in science. They made drums, guitars, tambourines, and water bottle flutes. They were able to show how to change the pitch of their instruments. Those attending class virtually joined the activity by creating instruments from items found around their homes. Mrs. Dillon’s class even performed a wonderful rendition of Jingle Bells with their new instruments.
Student's fundraiser is for the dogs - and other animals
Carl Sandburg MS student Addie Klauder has been busy recently raising $1,300 for a local animal shelter by selling home-made dog treats through social media. On Wednesday, January 13, she and some classmates made some treats in class with help from Middletown Township School Resource Officer Missy Robison and Animal Control Officer Cheyenne Keen.
Counselors create a digital mental health resource for students
In November, the Maple Point Middle School Counseling Department started sharing, “Mental Health Mondays” (MHM) on “The HUB” (an announcement center on Canvas). The purpose of MHM is to educate students and offer resources on a variety of mental health and wellness topics. Each week a topical video is distributed over the HUB in the modules section along with the usual Monday morning announcements. Topics have included: Anxiety, Depression, ADHD, Holiday stress management, and the body’s chemical response to ‘Helpers High’ and Gratitude. In January, students started recording introductions for videos on self-esteem and the effects of social media.
Former Maple Point student keeps a 16-year-old promise to his teacher
In 2004, a student in Stacey Flaville-Boop's 8th-grade English class at Maple Point started working on an independent writing project. The aspiring author, Hank Curry, shared his novella one chapter at a time with his teacher, who offered constructive feedback and encouragement. Ms. Flaville-Boop, who is still teaching English at Maple Point, says that she recognized his talent as a writer, even when he was just 13 years old. She was honored that he shared his work with her, and joked with him that he should remember to dedicate his first novel to her.
Fast-forward to 2020, and Hank Curry is now an actor, writer and director who attended Temple University after graduating from Neshaminy High School, and has been busy since then with a multiple theater and film projects in Philadelphia. His first novel, Body of the Crime: A Tiffany St. Clair Mystery was just published and, as promised, contains a dedication to his teacher which reads, "For Stacey Flaville-Boop / Just like I promised."
"This was the first time anyone had singled me out as having a specific talent, and it had a big effect on me," Mr. Curry said when asked about the dedication. "Emboldened, I attempted to write a novel and would show her chapters to get her opinion, which she patiently did. Although that book didn't end up going anywhere, I did manage to finish it by the end of the year, and on the last day of class she took me aside and said that one day I was going to write a book and I'd better be sure to dedicate it to her."
"She was joking about that last part, but it always remained buzzing around the back of my mind any time my thoughts drifted towards the notion of writing again. I just thought she'd get such a kick out of it, and I felt she deserved it," he added.
MLK Day of service day goes virtual
For the past three years, the Maple Point MS community has gathered together on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for a day of service to support Philadelphia-based Angels in Motion (AIM). Angels in Motion is an organization that is changing the way those suffering with the disease of addiction are treated, one life at a time. Unfortunately, that wonderful event could not be held in person this year due to pandemic concerns. Maple Point students and families still found ways to contribute by purchasing gift card donations, creating supportive cards, and donating online through an Amazon "Wish List" page.
"Little Shop of Horrors" rendition is a musical delight
Neshaminy HS musical announced
Neshaminy High School will stage the hit rock musical Little Shop of Horrors as their 2021 main stage production. According to director Kristin Nichols, due to pandemic restrictions, the show will be staged by students in Theodore Kloos Auditorium without an audience for a video, which will be presented on a streaming platform for several nights in late March. Viewers will be able to purchase tickets to unlock the stream and watch it on any "smart" screen (computer, mobile phone, TV). As with the live musicals at NHS, two casts will perform on different nights.
A GoFundMe is being held to rent the Audrey II, a large puppet plant (seen in the photo above) that is the centerpiece for the production. This fundraiser was necessitated by the reduction in revenues from tickets sales that a live audience would normally provide.
Neshaminy running back Chris James honored
Congratulations to Neshaminy HS Football varsity running back Chris James, who a winner in this year's Pennsylvania Mini Max High School Awards from the Maxwell Football Club. Players from schools from Districts 1, 3, 11 and 12 in the eastern part of Pennsylvania were chosen for this honor. Chris was one of only four players to be honored with the Mini Max in Bucks County. Players were nominated by their coaches throughout the 2020 season and were evaluated based on criteria that includes: football performance, academics, and community service.
NHS sophomore enters statewide science competition
Aishani Komath, a Neshaminy HS sophomore, is competing in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) fair this year. Her experiment focuses on the effectiveness of common antibiotics, as well as the use and effectiveness of natural products in reducing bacterial growth on agar—fighting bacterial infections. She conducted her experiments in a science lab at the high school during the week of January 25 and will submit a paper on her results and conclusions to the competition.
Since Aishani is a sophomore, she hopes that this first year experience with PJAS will serve her well as she looks to compete again in her junior and possibly her senior year. Thank you to Mr. Brian Suter for providing science teacher supervision and support during Aishani’s experiment process.
Drama students win awards at statewide conference
Screen capture from "12 Incompetent Jurors"
On the weekend of January 23 and 24, 35 Neshaminy HS drama students participated in the PA State Thespian Conference (held virtually this year) and picked up multiple awards for their performances. Grace McKenna was chosen as a Student Thespian Officer at last year's conference, and helped plan this year's event.
Below is a list of what our students and NHS Troupe #8046 accomplished:
- Neshaminy received the Gold Honor Troupe Award
- Eight students received Superior Ratings on their Individual Musical Theater Performance and have qualified for Internationals: Ryann Davis, Nick DeMatteo, Lily Gonglik, Brianna Kane, Cody Lewandowski, Grace McKenna, Shannon Mohan and Tommy Stacherski.
- Excellence in Theater Hall of Fame award: Cody Lewandowski
- Performing Hall of Fame award: Tommy Stacherski
- State Scholarship Winners: Brianna Kane, Tommy Stacherski
- Best Actor / "12 Incompetent Jurors": Cody Lewandowski
- Their fall show, "12 Incompetent Jurors," was chosen to represent the state of Pennsylvania at the (virtual) International Thespian Festival this summer.
- Congratulations to our talented student performers and NHS drama teacher Gina Chiolan for once again inspiring her students to theatrical excellence!
Roadies present "Help Desk"
On January 27 and 28, Neshaminy HS Drama Roadies are presenting the comedy, "Help Desk" on their YouTube channel.
From the show description: "When you call a help desk, you're looking for a solution - but your problems might just be beginning. Whether you're getting shamed about your inability to log in, giving your credit card information to a scammer, or having serious conversations with a clown, customer service calls spiral into absurdity for the customers and employees alike in this hilarious comedy!"
The show is free to watch and can be found here.
Playwickian Valentines are online
The NHS Playwickian newspaper will be continuing it’s Valentine’s Day "Love Line" tradition this year. Students can send a message to anyone at Neshaminy High School through the student newspaper by sending them a "Love Line." Messages only cost $1, should be short, and of course must be appropriate. Messages can be ordered using a Google form, and will be seen in the print edition and on the Playwickian app.
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
Rob McGee, Ph.D.
Assistant to the Superintendent / Director of Elementary Education
Assistant to the Superintendent / Director of Pupil Services
Donald B. Irwin, Jr.
Director of Human Resources
Assistant to the Superintendent / Director of Educational Operations
Neshaminy School District
2001 Old Lincoln Highway
Langhorne, PA 19047