Neshaminy Update June 2017
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Welcome back for the 2017-2018 school year, we hope everybody had an enjoyable summer!

Neshaminy administrators and staff have been busy preparing for what promises to be an exciting  and fulfilling year for our staff, students and their families. The district is quickly moving forward with a number of initiatives at all levels outlined in the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan adopted last year. You can read about some of these in the articles below, and look for updates throughout the year in future newsletters, on the Neshaminy website, and on the Neshaminy District Facebook page.

Neshaminy has a long, proud tradition of support for education by the community but depends on the active partnership between parents, guardians, our staff and the entire community to thrive. We encourage you to read the Strategic Plan, communicate regularly with your child's teachers and counselors, volunteer for school and district activities, discuss the day-to-day classroom experience with your children, and encourage their participation in the many co-curricular activities available at all levels.

All Neshaminy residents are also encouraged to participate in School Board Committee and Public Board Meetings held throughout the year at the District Administration offices in Maple Point Middle School. Meeting schedules, agendas and relevant documents can easily be found and downloaded at the District's BoardDocs website.

1:1 Technology program grows

Chromebooks at Hoover ES

There is little doubt among experts that future workplaces, from manufacturing plants to hi-tech start-ups in Silicon Valley, will include a heavy integration of technology into just about every job description. Neshaminy is continuing to meet the challenges of preparing our students for the future by integrating collaborative, cloud-based technology at every level of our curriculum.

For the 2017-2018 school year, students in grades 5 and 8 will be receiving Dell Chromebooks, which will be theirs to use both at home and at school throughout the year. The middle schools will be gradually moving toward an all-Chromebook environment in subsequent years, but for this year students in grades 6 an 7 will continue to use the iPads issued last year. iPads are moving to grades K-1, and future middle school classes will be issued the Chromebooks. This year, all kindergarten classes will have iPad carts with 12 available for each class. Though the iPads are a tremendous resource for collaborative student learning, the Chromebooks offer the advantage of a built-in keyboard, Google Docs comp ability and a lower per-unit cost. Younger students who are not yet fluid with typing will benefit the most from using iPads and the many apps designed for their level.

Students in grades 2 through 4 will each be issued their own Dell Chromebook to use while they are in school. This distribution began last year, and will be completed with the start of the new school year. The long-term goal of the 1:1 Technology Program at Neshaminy is to expand to every grade, including the high school. Though students at NHS currently have expanded access to computers at multiple locations, the 1:1 integration will offer them the chance to expand their learning to any location.

Dell Chromebook

Many full-sized laptops at the end of their life cycles have been replaced with Chromebooks at the high school, offering the processing power needed for most web-based and text applications at a fraction of the cost. Certain applications such as graphic arts, music and engineering still require full-sized desktop machines, which will remain.

This integration of technology is feasible due to the completion of a district-wide wireless gigabyte network installation over the past couple of years by the Neshaminy Information Technology Department. Each school building has been outfitted with the latest wireless network technology, designed to handle the intense data load generated by thousands of devices running concurrently during the school day. In addition, security controls have been built in to each device to restrict student access to appropriate material and apps, whether they are using their devices in school or at home. These controls are monitored and updated constantly by our IT staff to keep up with the ever-changing nature of the internet.

Chromebook crew

Neshaminy High School students Andrew Schmitz (left) and Rebecca Bertel (center) were hired as summer interns to help prepare 5,300 Chromebooks for distribution throughout the district over the summer. Shown here with Technology Support Specialist Christine Gancarz, they and many other IT support personnel were responsible for preparing the Chromebook carts behind them for delivery to the elementary schools. Their work included powering up each Chromebook and running a configuration routine on each of them, organizing them, and wiring up the carts, some of which were recycled and reused from previous full-sized laptop computers. In addition to the Chromebooks they helped prepare student iPads and cleaned staff desktop computers throughout the district.

Video  Chromebooks in the classroom at Hoover

AVID boosts college preparedness

Twenty-two Neshaminy educators attended the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Summer Institute in Philadelphia in July to prepare for the program implementation at Neshaminy HS this fall. AVID is a system that helps our staff promote college and career readiness for our students, and will begin as a pilot program for 9th-graders at NHS.

The AVID elective course targets students in the "academic middle" -- students who have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard to get there, but could use a boost in their efforts and added support to reach their full potential.

AVID places these students on the college track, requiring them to enroll in the most rigorous courses that are appropriate for them, such as Honors and Advanced Placement classes. To support them in the rigorous coursework, AVID students learn organizational and study skills, develop critical thinking skills, learn to ask probing questions, receive academic help from peers and college tutors, and participate in enrichment and motivational activities to make their college dreams a reality. Interested students completed an application process last year and those selected are scheduled to be in an AVID elective class that will help support them in achieving maximum success in their high school experience.

Teachers from both Ferderbar Elementary School and Poquessing Middle School also participated in the AVID Summer Institute. The plan is for each school to use this 2017-18 school year to prepare for a pilot program at those levels during the following school year.

BCCC partnership offers NHS seniors a full college experience

Bucks County Community College logo

Neshaminy High School is excited to offer a brand-new pilot program to seniors this year, the NHS / Bucks Senior Year Experience. Students enrolled in this program will be able to enroll in up to two college classes each semester for NHS and college credit. These classes are actual BCCC course offerings taught by the college faculty on the college campus. Neshaminy students will be transported from NHS to the college in Newtown to join classes there. The goal of the Senior Year Experience, which is unique in Bucks County, is to provide a real-world transition for our seniors to become accustomed to the workload and discipline of an actual college class, giving them an advantage as they pursue post-secondary education. Classes begin August 23.

Neshaminy continues to offer college-level classes taught at NHS in partnership with Gwynedd-Mercy University. Students can earn college credit through this program as well.

MS, ES STEM initiatives expanding

Last year, the 6th and 7th science curriculum adopted the Amplify Science program, a partnership with Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkley, using Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), developed by top leaders in the technology field. The approach of this program is to encourage exploration of real-world phenomena through inquiry-based projects, digital simulations, and evidence-based research using current scientific and engineering methods. Students in each grade will complete performance tasks as part of an engineering unit. This year the science program will be expanded to the 8th grade as well.

Neshaminy is also ensuring exposure to new STEM concepts in the elementary schools. First and second grade students are learning about the engineering design process through a new program from the Boston Science Museum, Engineering is Elementary. Each grade conducts experiments and builds projects that take them through the design process that includes imagining, creating, testing, and improving their designs. This program will be added to grades three and four for 2017-2018.

Genre Lab builds a love for reading

Book return
Here is a problem any librarian would like to have -- students at Neshaminy High School were checking out and returning so many books last year that an extra book return stations were added outside the main office and in the English hallway. Some, if not all of this increased interest in reading was thanks to the Genre Reading Labs from American Reading Company in the 9th and 10th grade. This program, first introduced at Neshaminy two years ago, uses the concept of ‘genre theory’ which involves reading texts from such teen-friendly genres as dystopian fiction (think Hunger Games) and  non-fiction of their own choosing to learn how to respond to literature in verbal analysis and writing. Teachers use these books as the basis for research projects and teaching critical analysis of literature.

The program has been such a success that it will be expanded to 8th and 11th grades this year, while continuing in 9th and 10th grade.

Changes enhance elementary progress reports

Starting this year, Neshaminy is changing the K-4 report card frequency and grading system. The goal is to improve communication and understanding of progress in a way that is more student-centered and aligned with current evidence-based practices. The changes include three notable shifts from the previous report cards:

  • Reporting periods will transition from quarters to trimesters.
  • Performance indicators will be specific to skills aligned to the Pennsylvania Core State Standards (PCSS) in each subject for each grade.
  • Academic Performance Level for Standards Achievement indicators will change from the current number system to a letter-based set as follows:
    • E: Exceeds Standards / expectation
    • M: Meets standards  expectation
    • A: Approaching standards / expectation
    • I: Improvement needed
    • N/A: Not assessed this marking period
There are notable benefits to this style of standards-based report cards for students, parents, and teachers:
  • Teachers are able to use ongoing assessments as a way to guide classroom instruction.
  • Students are able to practice skills and content knowledge until they demonstrate mastery of standards.
  • The process of re-teaching creates an opportunity for both teachers and students to continually learn.
  • Standards-based reporting allows teachers the opportunity to clearly communicate with students and parents.
  • Provides opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery in a variety of ways.
  • Regularly gives students ‘second chance learning’ opportunities.
If you would like to learn more about this grading system, we encourage you to visit the website below and / or attend one of the Parent Universities scheduled for Tuesday September19  at 2:30 pm in the District Board Room at Maple Point, or 6 pm that evening in the Harry M. Dengler, Jr. Performing Arts Center at Maple Point Middle School.

Pre-K Counts expands

Pre-K Counts logo
The state-funded Pre-K counts program at Neshaminy won an expansion grant in July to add an additional class to supplement two existing classes. This increases the capacity of preschool at Neshaminy from 34 seats to 53 seats. The program will be operated by the Bucks County Intermediate Unit at Lower Southampton Learning Center (the former Lower Southampton Elementary School) and the additional seats will be hosted at Albert Schweitzer Elementary School in Levittown.

The program benefits low-to-moderate income families who are looking for a quality preschool program but may earn too much to qualify for a program such as Head Start. Though all the classes are currently filled, interested families can contact Neshaminy Pre-K Counts Coordinator Dr. Christine McKee for information about other sites or to be put on a waiting list.

Pre-K Counts is just one option for Neshaminy families looking for subsidized or low-cost preschool programs for their children. The Head Start program provides free preschool for qualified families at the Lower Southampton Learning Center and other locations.

Neshaminy High School also hosts a preschool program for the community at their Preschool Learning Lab, which meets during the school year at NHS and is part of the Family & Consumer Science curriculum for students interested in a career in education.

LINK: Pre-Kindergarten resources for Neshaminy families

Vaccination requirements updated

Vaccinate image

The vaccination requirements for all students in Pennsylvania have changed, and these changes could potentially affect all students. Letters were sent to all affected families in the spring, and district nurses are sending out reminders this month to ensure that all students meet the new requirements. Please review these and other changes by reading the document from the PA Department of Health found here. If you have further questions, please consult your family health care provider.


Neshaminy honored for financial reporting

The Neshaminy Business and Financial Services Department has once again been honored with a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA). This certificate is the highest level of achievement given by the organization honoring the district's annual CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) which can be found on District website:

Budget and CAFR reports

According to the GFOA, "The CAFR has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive 'spirit of full disclosure' to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR."

In addition, the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International also recognized Neshaminy by awarding a Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for the fiscal year ending 2016. ASBO is a professional organization founded in 1910 that provides programs and services promoting the highest standards of school business management practices and effective use of education resources.

Summer programs offer academics, creativity and fun

Walking through the hallways and classrooms of Neshaminy High School on any weekday morning from the last week in June through mid-August, you might have thought school never let out for the summer. Hundreds of students from almost every grade participated in a variety of summer programs, from academic remediation and English language learner classes to theater workshops and robotics camps. Among the offerings:

Anything Goes at NHS

Neshaminy Summer Stock: This 53-year-old program was filled to capacity this year. Students in grades 6-12 staged five energetic performances of the classic musical Anything Goes while at the same time the younger students in grades 2-5 performed three matinée shows of Peter Pan, Jr. The students and staff worked feverishly with only four weeks to pull together dance routines, sets, lighting, costumes, programs, ticket sales and more. Both shows were rewarded with nearly sold-out performances each day.

Video  Anything Goes         Video   Peter Pan, Jr.

Video   NHS graduate, Miss Saigon cast member visits Summer Stock

Forensics Science Camp

Summer STEM Academy: Budding engineers in elementary and middle school had the opportunity to build and program their own robots during four sessions of this week-long camp, now in its fourth year. New this year was the addition of a Forensics Science workshop, which proved very popular among the participants who had to use a combination of modern technology and old-fashioned detective skills to solve a mystery involving stolen cookies.

Video  Summer STEM Academy Basic Camp

Video   Forensics Science camp

Summer PASS: 60 students in grades 5-8 participated in a three week, grant-based program that offered them the opportunity to boost their academic skills, participate in confidence and team-building activities, and build relationships with the teaching staff and their fellow students. Counselors at each middle school choose students for the program who they feel will get the most benefit. Summer PASS is offered free of charge with the exception of a small meal fee thanks to a number of grants including those from Bucks County Children & Youth T.R.A.C.K. Coalition, Lower Southampton Rotary, the Middletown Community Foundation, GIANT Food Stores, the Bucks County Commissioners, and Lower Southampton Township. Students were able to work with teachers on their summer math and reading assignments, participate in team-building activities in classrooms and the gymnasium, and join in small group discussions about issues they face every day in school and in their lives. They were treated to a number of educational field trips, including a visit to Lincoln Financial Field, the Philadelphia Art Museum, Bucks County Community College, movies and bowling. The camp finished with a picnic at Tyler State Park where the students enjoyed canoing and fishing.

Video  Summer PASS program

English Language Learner camp: Some of the students involved in Neshaminy's English Language Development program completed a five-week summer program at Maple Point Middle School that enabled them to focus on improving their English language speaking and reading skills while enjoying some fun activities with their fellow English language learners from throughout the district. In this video some of the younger students (grades K-4) enjoy some of the program activities and present a play for their families during the final week.

ELD class

Video   Summer Language Learner camp

Secondary Summer School: Now in its 60th year, the Summer School at Neshaminy HS offered students the chance to complete classes they may have struggled with during the school year and complete their requirements.

Elementary Tutorial Program: Like the Summer PASS program, this five-week program held at Neshaminy HS offered students the opportunity to bolster their academic skills and keep them on target to succeed during the school year. Students were invited to participate by recommendation of their teachers and school counselors, who chose those that could most benefit from this sort of supplemental program. Each morning students split their time between reading and math and science, while also enjoying some fun activities such as watching the Summer Stock production of Peter Pan, Jr.

Final Road Map projects completed

Security vestibule at Miller ES

Construction equipment and materials were to be found at three Neshaminy buildings this summer as the district wraps up its three-year Road Map project to modernize all of its schools and match capacity with student needs. The biggest project was the installation of air-conditioning and other HVAC upgrades at Walter Miller Elementary School. Once this is  complete, every Neshaminy school will now have air-conditioned classrooms and libraries. The funding for this project and similar projects previously completed at Hoover, Schweitzer, Sandburg, Ferderbar and Poquessing came from the federal GESA program (Guaranteed Energy Savings Act). The energy savings that the upgrades provide will offset the cost of the work to install the new HVAC, roofing, insulation, windows and electrical upgrades, guaranteed, as the name implies, through GESA.

Another project saw the addition of security vestibules and online visitor registration systems to Walter Miller ES and Pearl S. Buck ES over the summer. Each Neshaminy school now features secure entrances and computerized entry systems that allow for instant background checks and visitor registration before entry is permitted.

The School Board approved a separate summer project to replace portions of the roof over the music wing and auditorium at Neshaminy High School, as well as the replacement of a 20-year-old air conditioner in that area of the building with new, more efficient unit.

District pools open

Sandburg pool

Both swimming pools at Poquessing Middle School and Carl Sandburg Middle School are in full operation after renovations over the past year. The filtration system at each pool was upgraded, and ventilation was improved to ensure that users are getting a steady supply of fresh air as they swim. Additional work was also required at the Carl Sandburg pool to replace grouting, and that is also now completed.

Both pools are used extensively by physical education classes, the 8th grade boating certification program, the Neshaminy HS swim team, as well as the Neshaminy Aquatics program which offers swim classes for kids, adult exercise classes, and Friday night open swims for the community.

Neshaminy welcomes two new principals

Tawanka Elementary School and Schweitzer Elememtary School will be starting their school year off under new leadership:

Robin Klaiber

Robin Klaiber is the new Principal of Tawanka Elementary School. She replaced Acting Principal Donald Palmer, who is returning to his former position as Assistant Principal at Poquessing Middle School. Ms. Klaiber comes to Tawanka from her last position as Assistant Principal at Penn Valley Elementary School and Cynwyd Elementary School in Narberth.

Amy Orlando

Dr. Amy Orlando joined Albert Schweitzer Elementary School in August. She comes to Neshaminy from the position of Assistant Principal at Simmons Elementary School in the Hatboro-Horsham School District. Dr. Orlando is replacing Clarke Stoneback, who is returning to the classroom as a music teacher at Schweitzer and other elementary schools.

Pioneer journalist Claire Smith inducted into MLB Hall of Fame

Claire Smith at MLB Hall of Fame

Neshaminy HS grad Claire Smith ( Class of 1971, center) was joined by classmates (from left) Janet Frock Bassett of Quakertown, Ruth Celins O'Malley of Langhorne, Kathleen Press Wismer of Perkasie and Pam Collins Stec of Medina Ohio during induction weekend at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on July 29. Claire is the recipient of this year's  J.G. Spink Taylor Award, given for meritorious contributions to baseball writing. She is the first female recipient of the prestigious award.

Claire's career spans 40 years and includes publications ranging from the Courier Times and Philadelphia Bulletin to the New York Times and her current position as a news editor for ESPN. During that time she covered major changes to the sport while breaking down gender barriers in sports media with her consistent resolve, deep knowledge of the game and journalistic skill.

Coming Up

Saturday 9/16: The Day We Remember Walk & Run, Harry E. Franks Stadium
Saturday 9/23: Homecoming football vs. Truman HS, 1 pm at Harry E. Franks Stadium

Neshaminy High School
Class of 2017 Interesting Facts

Number of graduates: 581
Scholarships awarded: 186
Scholarships amount total: $1,657,305.
National Merit Scholarship Finalists: 2
National Merit Scholarship Commended: 2
Military recruits: 10
Average SAT (new - 1600 scale): 1127
Average SAT (old - 2400 scale): 1577
Average ACT: 28
Top 10 colleges attended post-graduation (in order from #1):

Bucks County Community College
Temple University
Pennsylvania State University
West Chester University
University of Pittsburgh
Drexel University
Millersville University
Arcadia University
Bloomsburg University
Delaware Valley University

Top five states for those attending college (in order from #1):

New Jersey
New York

 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 District
2250 Langhorne-Yardley Road
Langhorne, PA 19047
Joseph Jones III
(215) 809-6000
Neshaminy School Board
of Directors
Scott E. Congdon - President 
Irene M. Boyle - Vice President 
Bob Burnett
Bob Feather
Tina Hollenbach  
Mike Morris
Stephen Pirritano  
Ron Rudy
Marty Sullivan

Mission Statement
The Neshaminy community builds futures by empowering each child to become a productive citizen and a lifelong learner.