News from the Andover Public School District
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Students' Spotlight- Andover Middle School Students to Compete in GeoBee
Aneesh Ratnala, a seventh grade student at Doherty Middle School, and Abhinav Bapanapalli, an eighth grade student at West Middle School, have qualified as semifinalists eligible to compete in the 2019 National Geographic GeoBee Massachusetts State Competition. The competition will be held at Elms College in Chicopee on Friday, March 29, 2019.
Aneesh is excited for the competition and also a bit nervous. His passion of geography began with a study of flags across the world. Aneesh says each flag tells a story of the country’s history and culture. Aneesh has spent the last few months studying for the GeoBee at Doherty Middle School, then taking the qualifying test. To prepare for the state competition, Aneesh has elevated his studying, using resources on YouTube and flashcards to make sure he’s ready to compete. All at Doherty Middle School are rooting for Aneesh at the state competition. Principal Robin Wilson notes, “Aneesh is a dedicated student and all of us at Doherty are confident he will shine at the next level of the GeoBee.”
This year, Abhi is returning to the state GeoBee for the second time with a bit more confidence. While he feels more relaxed this time, he is still diligently preparing for the next stage of the competition. Like Aneesh, Abhi was inspired by the study of flags. Abhi wants to become a world traveler and has visited 22 U.S. states and the Middle East a few times. West Middle School Principal Becky Franks says, “Abhi is committed to his studies of global geography and the entire school is excited to watch Abhi as he moves forward in the competition.”
The GeoBee was developed by National Geographic Society in 1988 to promote geographic knowledge among young people in the United States. Students in grades 4-8 from nearly 10,000 schools participate annually for a chance to win college scholarships and the opportunity to compete at a national level.
We wish Abhi and Aneesh the best of luck in the competition!
Featured Teacher- Stacey Harrison to run Boston Marathon
While it might not be her first Boston Marathon, Shawsheen integrated preschool teacher Stacey Harrison knows the value and importance of running this year’s race. Stacey ran Boston almost a decade ago, and returns to the starting line this year knowing her 9 year-old daughter will be waiting for her at the finish line. Showing her daughter that hard work and determination can accomplish anything is only one of Stacey’s motivations.
Stacey has been a runner for most of her life. She has memories of running with her father as a child. They ran their first race together when she was 12 years old. Stacey’s father passed away from cancer when she was 15, and her love of running and doing so in his memory moved her to run competitively throughout high school. She ran races and marathons through her twenties, raising money for cancer research.
In her thirties, she took time away from running to raise her family, and last spring returned to her running club, Winner’s Circle Running Club. She was inspired by the dedication of her fellow runners. Through their encouragement, Stacey says she has grown into a grittier, stronger and smarter athlete.
Similar to what she tries to instill in her students, teamwork and resolve are the keys for Stacey to finish this marathon. Running Boston isn’t about a personal best or how fast she runs this year, it’s about crossing the finish line with her fellow runners in her club.
We wish Stacey and all APS runners who lace up on Marathon Monday the best; your commitment and drive are great examples for us all!
Superintendent’s Message- Preparation for MCAS
MCAS testing for 2019 testing begins soon and I wanted to share some thoughts in preparation for the weeks ahead.
Although standardized tests such as MCAS offer us only one snapshot of students’ performance, the results help our teachers, schools and the district better understand how effective we are in enabling students to reach targets. The results also provide us with information to improve our instruction and our programs.
Our MCAS results in 2018 were positive. Our schools performed well and exceeded targets across multiple indicators. Thanks in part to the intensive work in the area of literacy over the past three years, our district demonstrated significant gains in reading achievement for all elementary students, and especially for students with disabilities. In addition, West Elementary School was one of only 52 schools in the state to be named by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) as a School of Recognition—the highest designation a school can receive for academic growth and exceeding targets. High Plain Elementary placed in the top 5% of all elementary schools.
As we move into the testing cycle for 2019, we recognize that MCAS may add tension to the school environment; “test stress” is a very real challenge for some students. The schools will be assisting students to review and prepare, but we hope you will also help reduce the stress by encouraging your students to get ample rest before the tests, eat well, and see the tests as an opportunity to take on a challenge and do their best. The more we express confidence in our students and reassure them of their ability to work hard and persevere through challenges, the better they will do. Students are welcome to speak with teachers in the days leading up to the tests for help with any questions or concerns.
The APS Office of Digital Learning has provided resources to help students prepare. Additionally, DESE’s website provides MCAS information for parents and students. Having a positive attitude and a willingness to tackle challenges is the best approach to making this a worthwhile experience.
The Andover Public Schools 2019 MCAS calendar can be found here. Andover High School begins MCAS the week of March 25. Please do not hesitate to contact your child’s principal or teacher(s) with any questions or concerns. We are here to help in every way we can.
APS Community News
Eminent Person Project at South brings a Surprise Guest
South Elementary third graders recently completed their Eminent Person Project; each student selected a celebrated person and researched their life. As part of their projects, students created a “living museum” presentation and dressed up as eminent people. Parents and peers were invited to walk through the museum and interact with each character.
Third-grader Katelyn Kavka selected U.S. Hockey Olympian Chanda Gunn as her eminent person.
Chanda has epilepsy and serves as an Athletes vs. Epilepsy ambassador for the Epilepsy Foundation. Katelyn really connected with Chanda’s message of not letting seizures discourage people from chasing their dreams. Katelyn’s mother invited Chanda to come to the living museum at South to see Katelyn’s presentation, and she did! Chanda even brought her Olympic hockey jersey and her bronze medal for Katelyn to wear.
Sanborn Travels Around the World!
Everyone wants the chance to travel the world! Sanborn Elementary students and parents had the opportunity to do just that last week at Sanborn Around the World Night. The celebration began with parents and student grabbing a “boarding pass” and embarking on a journey to experience cultural activities.
Students and their families passed through Customs, where they received their passports and choose four destinations to visit during the evening. They traveled from room-to-room at Sanborn to take part in a variety of international experiences, including making a Chinese paper lantern, listening to a famous Indian folktale, playing a popular Brazilian sport, or tossing potatoes while learning about the Irish Potato Famine. The event was formerly Sanborn’s Heritage Night, and the PTO and Principal Jason DiCarlo redesigned the event this year to honor the diversity of cultures within the Sanborn community through active engagement with cultural traditions.
New England Show Choir Showdown- March 22nd & 23rd
The New England Show Choir Showdown (NESCS) is coming to the Collins Center at Andover High this weekend! What is NESCS? NESCS is the one and only show choir competition at Andover High School. It is the largest competition in the New England area and this year will feature 33 middle and high school groups from throughout New England as well as Canada, Ohio, Illinois and Connecticut.
NESCS is a two-day event: On Friday, March 22 the middle schools will compete between 5:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. and on Saturday, March 24 the high school groups will take the stage from 9:00 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. If you enjoy live music and want to see some fabulous singing and dancing, come join us! This will also be your chance to see Andover High’s own show choirs in a showcase performance.
Cradles to Crayons Drive at Wood Hill Middle School
Matthew Webber, eighth-grade student at Wood Hill Middle School and Project 351 Ambassador, is participating in a spring service clothing drive for Cradles to Crayons. He will be collecting new and gently used clothing and shoes newborn through size 18.
There are two location drop off sites at Wood Hill Middle School and The Real School of Music Andover. At the middle school, there will be a competition between grades to see who can collect the most clothes. The clothing drive runs until April 5th. For more information, contact Matthew Webber at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.cradlestocrayons.org or project351.org.
BioBuilders Final Assembly
Congratulations to the BioBuilder teams who presented last week at LabCentral in Cambridge! 29 teams from around the world presented a spectrum of creative projects. AHS has 40 students working on nine projects this year; three of these projects were presented at the final assembly. The BioBuilder club at AHS is led by science teacher Lindsey L’Ecuyer.
With the help of their scientist mentor Jason Boock, sophomores Rohini Josh, Katherine Song, Gabriella Castro-Rivera, and Jenny Yu presented an electronic poster board about their design to further enhance a nutritious species of algae as a possible space-efficient food for astronauts on a future mission to Mars. (Ishaani Sharma and Namya Saini also worked on this project)
With the help of their scientist mentor Patrick Holec, AHS students Puloma Bishnu, Veni Dole, Sydney Tran, and Yashvi Gosalia presented an electronic poster board about their design to use a spore-forming bacteria to coat the labels of plastic bottles to assist in breaking down the plastic.
Laurie Condon- Hodges Memorial Run- Walk 5k
The 2nd annual Laurie Condon- Hodges Memorial Run- Walk will take place on Saturday, April 6th, 2019. Laurie was a teacher at Doherty Middle School for eight years, retiring in 2013 to focus on her battle with cancer. The event was created to honor and celebrate Laurie’s memory. Laurie was a dedicated educator at APS, wife and mother of three. She lost her battle with cancer in December 2015. Click here for more information on how to participate.
School Committee Policy Manual
In December 2018, the Andover School Committee completed a comprehensive review of each district policy, making the necessary modifications to address new issues requiring a policy position, updates to remain in compliance with legal requirements, and other considerations of the sitting committee.
The School Committee, with assistance and recommendations from its policy subcommittee, is tasked with ensuring that the APS policy manual remains current and, with the assistance of the Superintendent's office, that policy changes be communicated to the Andover Public School community. In conjunction with the policy review project, the Andover School Committee has adopted this online, searchable manual. to provide improved accessibility to the district's policies.
Learn Different Day at West Middle School- March 31, 2019
APS and Eye to Eye welcomes all to a fun-filled afternoon of art, mentorship and community for students with learning differences like dyslexia and ADHD on Sunday, March 31, 2019 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at West Middle School.
Eye to Eye Learn Different Day is designed with the family in mind. Students spend the afternoon teaming up with college and high school-aged mentors who have a similar learning and attention issues. Together, the pair will create hands-on projects, focused on building social-emotional skills. The program is designed for students age 10-14, but it’s fun for all ages! Registration is now open! More information can be found here.
Intelligent Lives, a film screening and dialogue with Dan Habib
APS and the Office of Student Services invites you to a free screening of Intelligent Lives, a film by Dan Habib followed by a dialogue with Mr. Habib on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at 7 p.m. in the Collins Center at Andover High School.
Intelligent Lives stars three pioneering young American adults with intellectual disabilities, Micah, Naieer and Naomie, who challenge the perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. Academy Award-winning actor Chris Cooper contextualizes the lives of these central characters through the emotional personal story of his son, Jesse, as the film unpacks the shameful and ongoing track record of intelligence testing in the U.S.
Dan Habib is the creator of the award-winning documentary films including Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, Mr. Connolly Has ALS, and many others on disability-related topics. Habib is a filmmaker at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. In his recently released documentary, Intelligent Lives, he examines society’s narrow perceptions of intelligence.
The event will be held at the Collins Center at Andover High School and is free and open to the public. Following the screening, filmmaker Dan Habib will take questions from the audience.
Andover Parent to Parent
Andover Parent to Parent is pleased to present “Managing Stress and Anxiety: Education, Resources and Strategies for Children, Adolescents and their Families” on Thursday, March 26, 2019 from 7-9 p.m. at Wood Hill/ High Plain Auditorium.
Clinicians from the McLean Anxiety Mastery Program including Julia Martin Burch, Taylor Wilmer, and Abi Stark will address the topic of anxiety and the many ways it can present in children and teens. Concrete strategies for supporting your child (and yourself in tough moments!) will be offered, as well as ways to approach and partner with your child’s school for continuity and reinforcement.
*Parent to Parent and the presenting clinicians respectfully request that this be an “adults only” evening.