Warrior Wednesdays

News from the Andover Public School District

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 - vol. 37

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Student Spotlight- Brendan Davies

It’s been quite a few exciting weeks for Brendan Davies. On Monday, June 3rd, Brendan proudly joined his senior class (and twin brother, Nathan) at the Tsongas Arena for graduation. A few days earlier, Brendan was presented with the Andover High School 2019 “Perseverance and Most Improved” award at the Senior Class Breakfast.

Brendan’s teachers nominated him for this award. They say he won the award because of his progress over four years and his growth in self-advocacy and independent learning skills. Brendan’s English teacher Leslie Ganley notes his perseverance as well as his ever-present smile have been contagious in each of his classes.

Gretchen Cesar, Brendan’s learning specialist at AHS, says he has been an important part of the AHS community, and made connections everywhere he has gone. She adds that he is always willing to lend a hand to his classmates or staff, and sincerely looks out for the well-being of others. His colleagues and friends at the district’s transition-to-work program at Pfizer have seen him grow by leaps and bounds and are thrilled about the progress he’s made.

Principal Philip Conrad gave Brendan a “shout-out” at graduation for his passion for transportation; buses in particular. Brendan kept a watchful eye on arrivals and departures at the high school, and could always tell Mr. Conrad exactly which bus was on-time or not, including Brendan’s own bus- #31 driven by Brendan’s long time bus driver and friend, Gerry Parent.

Brendan’s fondness for transportation is also invaluable to Mary Lu Walsh, Transportation Coordinator for APS. Mary Lu says that Brendan has been her right-hand as she mapped out routes for the high school at the start of each school year.

All of Brendan’s teachers will miss him. They are so proud to see him graduate and move forward and join the Transition Opportunities Program (TOP), housed at the district’s central office building. Brendan is looking forward to possibly taking classes at Northern Essex Community College and continuing his work at Pfizer. Best of luck Brendan, we all know you have a bright future ahead!

Featured Teacher- Joan Veznaian at Wood Hill Middle School

Next week will be bittersweet for Joan Veznaian, eighth grade English Language Arts teacher at Wood Hill Middle School. Joan is retiring following 21 years and four months at APS.

Teaching is Joan’s second career. Right out of college, Joan was a computer programmer but always knew she wanted to be a teacher. When her daughter was in elementary school, Joan began volunteering in her classroom. Her daughter’s teachers encouraged her to take the more formal steps toward education. Joan began teaching at Doherty Middle School and moved to Wood Hill the day the building opened!

In over two decades, Joan says much has changed, but the “good days” have the same theme. Teaching is never the same from one day to the next. It’s never boring! She loves when her students come in smiling and leave smiling. Joan believes that in recent years students have become empowered to be more expressive and thoughtful. Being flexible in the classroom is important to Joan, and she knows education can be cyclical- you can invent the wheel, go around it, and then make changes to make sure students are getting what they need to succeed.

She is reflective of her time, and is grateful for all within the Wood Hill community, especially Principal Patrick Bucco. When asked what advice she would give a new teacher, she offered, “Give yourself time to absorb who your students are and what they need to succeed. And if it doesn’t fall into place right away, give yourself a break. It will.”

Retiring from a job she loves brings mixed feelings for Joan, but she knows it’s time to embrace a new stage of life. Her husband retired recently, and is encouraging her to travel and to celebrate new experiences. However, Joan is also willing to take some advice on how best to embrace retirement. Joan has a stack of books prepared and plans to keep busy within the community as she celebrates her future. Congratulations Joan!

Superintendent's Message

Andover Public Schools is so fortunate to have over 1,000 talented staff members committed to providing every student with opportunities for learning and achievement. As families prepare for summer vacation, many of our staff mark the end of a successful career with retirement. This year’s retirees bring over 444 years of expertise in total. We celebrate their time with APS and recognize the wisdom we are losing within our schools.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize and honor those who have given so much to the district. Each retiree has made an impact on students through their many years of work with the district. Typically, anyone who works toward retirement has a list of things to do once that day finally comes, and I wish you all the best in pursuit of your future plans.

Shelley Berman


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APS Community News

Elementary Families!

Join the Andover Police Department on Saturday, June 15, 2019 from 10 AM to 1 PM for the second annual Bike Rodeo and Wellness Fair!

This free event offers bike safety checks, helmet fitting, and wellness resources. The event is presented by Andover Public Safety, the Andover Board of Health and Andover Department of Community Services. Bring your bikes to the Center at Punchard (30 Whittier Street) for a day of fun including pizza, bounce house, face painting and more!

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West El- School of Recognition

West Elementary was honored at the State House last week as a School of Recognition for 2018 MCAS results by Commissioner Jeffrey Riley from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

A School of Recognition is the highest designation a school can receive for high growth and exceeding targets and West Elementary was one of 52 schools in the state to receive this title for 2018. Dr. Berman, West El Principal Liz Roos and Digital Learning Coach Kathy Fowler attended the event.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Andover High School senior Audrey Gallacher received two national gold medals and a silver medal for her works in the Drawing and Illustration category. As a double Gold Medalist, Audrey traveled to Carnegie Hall in New York City earlier this month to show her drawings and attend the national celebration ceremony. Audrey plans to major in Fine Art/ Illustration at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Career Day at West Middle School

On June 6th, eighth graders at West Middle School has the opportunity to interview volunteer professionals from the community about their career path and current career. The event has been held since 2006, and Chairperson Laurie Labrie says it’s an event that students look forward to all year!

About 180 students filled the cafeteria to speak with volunteers about their chosen profession, education needed, pros and cons of their fields, and the life skills they might need to be successful. The event is setup much like a job fair, and students welcome the chance to interview each professional!

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West Middle School competes in eCybermssions

The results are in for the 2018-2019 eCybermission, a national U.S Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) STEM competition! West Middle School’s top winning group is a seventh grade team, placing first in Massachusetts and becoming regional finalists. They were one of the top three 7th grade teams in the Northeast region of the U.S. Team members are Eva Routhier, Natalia Salinas, and Marianna Tasiopoulos. These girls also received a $5,000 STEM-in-Action grant to further develop their project, which focused on improving the lives of handicapped individuals in the Andover community. They will travel to Leesburg, Virginia, to participate in the National cCybermission Showcase and accept their award.

Another West Middle team took first place in the state for the eighth grade category. These girls focused on harnessing heat from global warming gases in order to help those who have lost power in times of emergencies. The team members are Jessica Xu, Avanthika Suryadevara, and Annie Song.

Additionally, another West Middle School seventh grade team placed second in Massachusetts! Destiny Spanos, Kerrin O’Brien, and Elizabeth Koral presented their project on teenagers and healthy diets. Finally, the team of Holly Smith, Gloria Igwe, Margaret McQuide, and Ella Vidoni placed honorable mention with an engineering project to monitor and alert of high carbon dioxide levels in enclosed places. Congratulations to all!

Open Circle Parade at South Elementary

Last Friday was a beautiful day for the Open Circle/Responsive Classroom Float parade at South Elementary. Over 300 parents and family members from the South Community cheered the kids on. Teamwork, kindness, cooperation, and diversity were the themes. Open Circle’s innovative program proactively develops children’s skills for recognizing and managing emotions, and developing empathy, positive relationships and problem solving. Open Circle helps schools build communities where students feel safe, cared for and engaged in learning.

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's 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.

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​.

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.

Editor’s Note:

This will be the final edition of Warrior Wednesdays for the 2018-19 school year. Our goal was to create a weekly overview of the good works within our community. I appreciate the opportunity to highlight our students, staff and faculty. Have a wonderful summer vacation. Warrior Wednesdays will return in the fall!

Nicole Kieser

Director of Communications