All Around APS

News from the Andover Public School District

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 - vol. 1

Welcome back APS families! We hope you enjoy the first issue of All Around APS for the 2019-20 school year. All Around APS, formerly Warrior Wednesdays, will be published two times per month.

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Students’ Spotlight- Green Thumbs at Bancroft

Fourth graders Annabelle Weisman and Caroline Rosselli know their way around the student garden at Bancroft Elementary. Annabelle and Caroline have been harvesting fruits and vegetables for two years at school and they welcome any Bancroft family to join in the fun.

They plant during the spring months and keep a close watch throughout the summer, making sure to water and tend their crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, green beans and strawberries. Any fruit or vegetable ready during the summer gets donated to a local pantry and when school begins again, the crops are brought to the cafeteria at Bancroft to share with faculty and students.

Annabelle and Caroline say gardening is fun and credit their mothers for teaching them the best ways to get a garden to grow. “The soil can be pretty hard to work with,” say Annabelle and Caroline. “We are trying composting as a way to help the garden.”

Principal Michelle Costa enjoys seeing the girls take initiative. “They are diligent about making sure the garden is the best it can be,” notes Mrs. Costa. “It’s taught them a lot about responsibility and the importance of caring for things if you want to see results.”

Bancroft families are invited to volunteer as gardeners; if you would like to participate check out their Facebook page here.

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Featured Teachers- Literacy Lab Teachers at APS Elementary Schools

Elementary families at APS are seeing renewed enthusiasm for reading from their children, thanks to the Readers’ Workshop initiative led by Assistant Superintendent Sandra Trach and PK-5 Literacy Program Coordinator Sara Calleja, with help from a team of Literacy Lab teachers at all elementary schools. The Reader’s Workshop is part of the district’s investment in 2018 for a new, comprehensive reading program at the elementary grade levels.

Elementary Literacy Lab teachers have participated in professional development centered on the importance of reading and literacy and will support their colleagues by opening their classroom to share the professional development experience, with the goal of providing exciting literacy experiences for students. Each elementary school has one lab classroom for K-2 grade teachers and one for 3-5 grade teachers.

The team is excited to partner with their colleagues as they implement the literacy initiative across the district. Literacy Lab teacher-leaders are Sarah Boari, Maura Bresnahan, Courtney Cole, Lexi Donahue, Krista Galligani, Kate Gerry, Julie Lovejoy, Nancy Lundgren, Jill McCarthy, Marie Messina, Alia Mohammed, Evan Protasowicki, Michelle Thorner, Sherril Tjalsma, and Michael Votto.

“Teachers know their students best, and they are able to assimilate all the new resources with their students in mind in order to create the most engaging experiences,” notes Sara Calleja. “We are so lucky to have such a talented, collaborative team of teachers in Andover who are invested in taking the time to shape our literacy program.”

The Readers’ Workshop experience brings hundreds of new books for classroom libraries. Books were chosen specifically with the students in mind, with themes, stories and characters that reflect students’ interests, cultures and experiences.

“It’s enriching for the students and helps them find their voice,” says Nancy Lundgren, first grade teacher at Sanborn. “Students finding their voice gives them confidence in their reading and the enthusiasm to share their ideas.”

Kate Perry, first-grade teacher at Bancroft, agrees. “Watching students gain autonomy through reading gives them a great foundation for learning. The fact that we are able to create a vision for literacy across the entire district is an incredible opportunity.”

Julie Lovejoy, fifth-grade teacher at Bancroft, embraces independent reading time for her students. Julie works to make her classroom environment welcoming to encourage the students’ interest in reading. As a Literacy Lab teacher-leader, she is encouraged that all elementary teachers have the support of the district to create a program that fosters high levels of literacy. “It’s great to share what we’ve learned with all K-5 teachers and to contribute as teacher-leaders through professional development. It makes us all better at inspiring students to embrace reading.”

“We are now asking our students to think like the character in a story when we have classroom discussion and challenge them with critical thinking,” says Mike Votto, fifth-grade teacher at Sanborn. “The new resources we have engage our students to think about topics and themes that they relate to, which inspires them to read. The Literacy Lab professional development we share with all elementary teachers at APS gives teachers a voice and the flexibility to personalize our lessons. That kind of opportunity is groundbreaking.”

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

My name is Nathan Conforti and I am a senior at AHS.

This year I am excited to continue my work in the IDEAStudio and build it into a space where anyone can come in and work on a project. I am also excited to continue my work at the Cormier Youth Center in building a fully-fledged MakerSpace and begin to teach more middle school and high school students the skills required to operate the machines and tools.

Additionally, I am looking forward to the 2020 season of FIRST Robotics Competition, which is a global competition where the teams get a game they have to design and build a robot that they will compete with.

Superintendent's Message

While we have had a great start to the 2019-20 school year, I would like to take a moment to reflect on a few somber milestones we observe this week. Today is the 18th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. This morning, the town paused to honor those lost that day, including four victims from Andover. Students from Doherty Middle School took part in today’s ceremony—eighth graders Austin Williamson and Erin Workman sang the National Anthem and eighth grader Fiona Veletzos read the poem “Nation of Survivors” by Jack Foshee Jr.

Friday will mark one year since the gas explosion tested the Merrimack Valley and its residents. The incident, and its aftermath, was extraordinary in many ways. We saw the impact these explosions had on our community; the devastation and destruction was a reality for our residents for many months. Resilience and commitment to our neighbors brought us together as we worked through the recovery process. Many in the APS community gave the best of themselves in the months that followed, tirelessly coordinating relief efforts.

I hope that we can begin to put the events of last September behind us and look toward a new school year with promise and enthusiasm.

Shelley Berman


APS Community News

APS by the Numbers

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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. On Monday, August 26, 2019, 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 7:15 p.m. The effective time will roll back as the time of sunset changes as we enter fall. 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.

APS has taken a number of preventative steps due to this advisory, including the adjustment of the times of outdoor activities, such as athletic games and practices. Coaches and advisors have been instructed to end activities well before sundown for the protection and safety of our students. Updated APS student-athlete schedules can be found here.

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Together in Andover- One Year After the Gas Crisis

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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! Focused 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 September 17th, 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.

In Case You Missed It! Andover High School is a National Unified Special Olympics Champion School

Over the summer, Andover High School received national recognition from the Special Olympics as a Unified Champion School. A Special Olympics Unified Champion School demonstrates an inclusive school climate and sense of collaboration, engagement and respect for all members of the student body and staff. Andover High School is one of 16 schools in Massachusetts and 173 nationwide recognized for their work in the 2018-19 school year.

In order to become a Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition, a school has to demonstrate commitment to inclusion by meeting ten national standards of excellence. The primary activities within these standards include Special Olympics Unified Sports teams, where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates, inclusive youth leadership and whole-school engagement. Unified Champion Schools are also able to demonstrate they have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.

Automatic External Defibrillators installed at town and school fields

You might notice a few new additions to town and school playing fields this fall. At last spring’s town meeting, the community voted to approve funding for the installation of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and solar powered radio call boxes. The initiative is led by Mimi Lebrun, Santina Wilson, and Stephanie Driscoll in coordination with the town and Andover Fire Chief Mike Mansfield. Several units are now operational at Doherty, upper and lower Shawsheen, Lovely and Wood Hill/ High Plain fields.

According to the American Heart Association, sudden cardiac arrest affects 7,000 student athletes in the United States annually. The call boxes and AEDs are directly connected and monitored by the Andover Public Safety Communications Center. Andover Fire Rescue is responsible for the oversight and maintenance of the systems. Additional systems will be installed as funding becomes available.

For more information, please contact Fire Chief Mansfield at

Eye to Eye co-founder, Jonathan Mooney visits with faculty and staff

APS faculty and staff celebrated opening day for 2019-20 school year with a visit from Jonathan Mooney, co-founder of Eye to Eye and motivational speaker. Jonathan is an award winning writer, entrepreneur, and activist who, as a result of his dyslexia, did not learn to read until he was twelve years old. His presentation celebrates educators as change agents, inspiring APS faculty and staff to see the potential for all students who live and learn differently. Jonathan took some time to speak with students in APS’s Eye to Eye program: Emily Hamby, Sofia Goldman, Meghan Arpin and Lauren McCrimmon.

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Historic Mills District- Community Survey

Did you know the Department of Public Works recently moved out of the old Town Yard into a new facility off River Road? What would you like to see developed on the three acres in the Historic Mill District? Help determine the future of the Town owned land by taking a five minute survey and have your voice heard! The survey is open until September 25th.