Neshaminy Update
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AVID gives a boost to academic and social success

AVID class at NHS
Avid students at Neshaminy HS participate in a team-building exercise during which they build a 'web' of yarn by sharing information about themselves with their classmates.

Students in two classes at Neshaminy High School are getting a taste of what it takes to succeed in college -- and in life -- with the help of a new program started this year.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a global non-profit organization that has created a program to provide students with tools and strategies for academic and social success in school, higher education and beyond. According to the organization, AVID is more than just a program, however. "At its heart, AVID is a philosophy: Hold students accountable to the highest standards, provide academic and social support, and they will rise to the challenge.”

Though any students were allowed to participate in AVID, the program is especially designed for students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education. This year, two 9th grade AVID classes are meeting every morning, one taught by teacher Siri Sammartino and the other by Chuck Deal, for a total of about 40 students. A pilot implementation of the program is planned for Poquessing Middle School and Ferderbar Elementary School for the 2018-2019 school year. It will be offered as an elective for the 8th graders and integrated grade-wide for the 4th grade students.

A team of teachers and administrators prepared for the roll out last year by visiting Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School last November and Woodbury School District (NJ) in March to see their implementation of AVID. The team also attended the AVID Institute in Philadelphia over the summer.

In the high school AVID class, students are learning skills and behaviors that will help them succeed with their academic subjects. They are encouraged to take high-level college prep courses which they might have otherwise avoided without the support provided by AVID. During the AVID class, students get intensive support via tutorials, develop positive relationships with their peers through a variety of team-building activities, and develop a sense of hope for personal achievement gained through hard work.

AVID graduation excercise
AVID graduation exercise
During the first days of the class, students participated in an exercise where they held a mock graduation ceremony at the stadium, complete with having their names read over the loudspeakers. The goal was to focus them on graduation and thinking about what it takes to get there.

An academic framework of the course is known as WICOR Strategies (writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading).
This is a learning model that lets teachers guide the students to comprehend materials and concepts and articulate ideas at increasingly complex levels, which they will need to succeed in their other classes, in higher education, and in the 'real' world of working and living.

WICOR projects can include anything from tutorials on organizational methods or social skills to writing, math or literacy exercises. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively, ask questions, and work in group settings with the teacher acting more as a facilitator rather than as a lecturer. The students are encouraged to analyze their progress through reflection and writing, and to develop interpersonal skills such as maintaining eye contact, listening, paraphrasing another's ideas before responding and using each others names during conversations.

The AVID students will be encouraged to stay with the course as they progress through high school and the program expands. AVID methods and skills will become more integrated with the curriculum in future years as the program expands into the elementary and middle schools.

Community rallies against intolerance and hatred

March at Hoover ES

The Neshaminy community is not a place of hatred and intolerance, a fact that was made abundantly clear following a pair of graffiti incidents in early September.

The sign in front of Hoover Elementary School was vandalized with racist graffiti in early September by an unknown perpetrator. Families of a youth soccer league that uses the Hoover fields and District maintenance staff cleaned it up early on a Saturday morning, but in another incident in a nearby apartment complex, a car owned by an African American family was also tagged with racist graffiti.

The community responded loud and clear with a message of unity against intolerance during a pair of Town Hall meetings organized by the Langhorne Peace Center, and a candlelight rally and walk outside Hoover on September 13. Community members, clergy, students, teachers, and administrators all joined together at the rally and walked from the school, through the apartment complex and back with help from the Middletown Township police who closed Trenton Road.

On September 15 students and staff in each Neshaminy elementary and middle school gathered in the hallways at exactly 9:15 am for a Hands Across the Halls event reminiscent of the 1986 Hands Across America. The purpose of the activity was to strongly reinforce messages of tolerance, respect and diversity taught in the School-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support programs (SWPBIS) in light of the incidents. Hands Across the Halls was the brainchild of the staff at Maple Point Middle School, which launched their new SWPBIS program, MP3 at the start of this school year.

Hands Across the Halls

Board members honored

Three Neshaminy School Board members were honored by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) recently for their long-term commitment and volunteer service to the community through the Honor Roll of School Service Program. Board Vice-President Irene Boyle was honored for 12 years of service, while Board President Scott Congdon and Board member Mike Morris each received certificates marking 8 years of service.

A statement from the PSBA about the recognition remarked, "Today, school districts are expected to offer more services along with world-class instruction, with limited resources. These expectations provide a tremendous challenge for school directors who are unpaid volunteers who work tirelessly, giving of their free time, away from their families to contribute to the schools and communities they serve."

New award recognizes staff efforts

Neshaminy introduced a new recognition program this year to honor those staff members who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to further the district's Strategic Plan. The We Build Futures award made its debut over the summer, at the year-opening teacher convocation, and at the School Board Work Session in September. Future recognitions will be given out on a regular basis and the Neshaminy community is invited to submit nominations. Just email the name and details of who you would like to nominate along with a brief explanation of what they do to Build Futures to We Build Futures award pin

Tech school plans renovations

The Bucks County Technical High School (BCTHS) is planning on approximately $30 million in renovations to its facilities in Bristol Township. School representatives will be presenting the plans to the Neshaminy School Board at a future meting. Neshaminy is one of six area school districts that support the school. Approximately 300 Neshaminy students attend BCTHS in grades 9-12.

The proposed renovations include a new health and physical education wing to replace the current gymnasium, which doubles as a cafeteria. Other upgrades include major upgrades to air conditioning, electrical and fire safety systems. The building was constructed in 1958 and the last major renovations were made in 2000. The financing for the current plan must be approved by the School Boards in each sending district before work can begin. Neshaminy contributed approximately $4.6 million to the school this year.

Comprehensive plan draft posted for public viewing

A draft version of the District Level Comprehensive Plan 2018-2021 has been posted on the District website and can be downloaded for viewing. Neshaminy School District is required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to submit a Comprehensive Plan every three years. This draft plan will be available for public viewing until October 24, 2017 after which time the School Board will consider it for approval. The PDE requires plans to be submitted by November 30. Though the plan covers the period of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021, elements of the plan are already being implemented throughout the district during the current school year.

This plan was created last year through the work of participants from the Neshaminy administration, teaching staff, support staff, the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, parents, community members, and students. Targeted implementation teams will continue to meet to oversee how to bring the plan to life, and the community is invited to participate in that process.

The three major strand areas of the plan include:
  • Strand I: Student Achievement / Curriculum & Instruction
  • Strand II: Student-centered and Community-focused
  • Strand III: Financial Responsibility & Fiscal Resiliency

Chromebooks rolled out

The Information Technology staff at Neshaminy was busy over the summer preparing over 5,300 new Chromebooks for students, plus working on existing systems and iPads. In September, the 1:1 Chromebooks were distributed to students in grades 5 and 8; students in grades 6 and 7 will continue to use the iPads that were issued last year. Over the next several years, the iPads will gradually be repurposed for grades K-1 and all students in grades 2-12 will be using Chromebooks. The older students will benefit from having a keyboard for writing projects as well as full integration with Google Classroom, which provides multiple tools for collaboration, individualized instruction and monitoring student progress.

This year students in the elementary grades are using their devices in school only, while middle school students take their devices home with them each night. Students at the high school are using a combination of Chromebooks, laptops and desktop computers throughout the school depending on the needs of particular courses. As Chromebook use expands in upcoming years, some desktop or laptop computers will remain for specialized purposes such as graphic design, music, and video editing.

Coming up

  • Thursday October 5: Back-to-School Night, 7pm NHS
  • Saturday October 7: Instrumental Music Mattress Sale, 10am-5pm, NHS
  • Thursday October 12: PTO Leadership Forum, 6:30pm, Maple Point Board Room
  • Friday October 13: Pink Out at NHS, raising money for cancer research (donations accepted at the varsity football game, 7pm at NHS)
  • Saturday October 14: PSAT exam, 7:30am, NHS
  • Saturday October 28: Kaleidoscope of Bands, 7pm NHS
  • Sunday October 29: Middletown Community Foundation 5M Run & Walk, Core Creek Park
For complete calendar listings please visit

News from our Schools

Pearl S. Buck Elementary School

Buck-aneers celebrate Pirate Day


First grade students had fun on International Talk Like a Pirate Day (yes, that is a real thing). It was a day for some fun pirate-themed activities and stories, and a chance to practice their best pirate voices. The children even needed to read and solve rhyming clues on a treasure hunt to find a hidden treasure chest.

Class pens letters to veterans

Students in Mrs. Williams 2nd-grade class took time to write letters to veterans in September. Thanks to a Buck parent, these very special letters were given to veterans living in a York, PA nursing facility including one of the original Tuskegee airmen, Henry Baldwin, who is 90 years old.

Joseph Ferderbar Elementary School

Ferderbar Bucket book
This bucket list encourages positive behavior

As part of the Ferderbar School Wide Positive Behavior Program (Paw Power), Principal Judy Brown visited the primary classrooms in September to read one of her favorite books, Have You Filled a Bucket Today. This book encourages positive behavior by using the concept of an invisible bucket to show children how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love by 'filling buckets.'

Summer readers celebrate

On September 26, Ferderbar's top summer readers assembled in the 'Ferdrock Café' for their Summer Beach Party celebration. It was a culmination of the hard work the students did over the summer months to avoid 'summer slide.' Those who completed the summer packet, filled with reading, writing and comprehension activities, were invited to attend the celebration which included music, food and fun.

Herbert Hoover Elementary School

Two students honored for saving a life

Peyton Gray and his sister Nina were commended during a recent meeting of the Penndel-Middletown Emergency Squad for saving the life of their father, Chris, after he suffered a severe respiratory attack which put him into a three-day coma.

Student videos enhance academics, projects

Elementary students across the district are using their new technology to create unique projects. Hoover Reading teacher Ben Welwood has been working with the fourth grade team to introduce the Flipgrid program to his students. This program allows them to create short videos as a response to challenging questions from the teacher.

Students are also creating their own playground games with YouTube-style tutorials using iPads and Chromebooks to demonstrate and teach the game to other students. Each team also created a game card that Physical Education teacher Tara Ring will place in a binder for the recess cart.

Walter Miller Elementary School

Summer-themed party celebrates reading

Summer reading group

A record-breaking number of Miller students participated in the Summer Reading Program this year and were treated to a tropical-themed celebration in September.

Miller to celebrate walking & cycling to school

Miller will be celebrating National Walk to School Day in October along with some friends from the community. Students who walk and bicycle to school will be accompanied by staff members from the school and officers from the Middletown Police Department. This program is made possible by Safe Kids Bucks County Coalition at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, which is providing grant-funded material support. The purpose of this event is to raise community and global awareness about walking safety and promote healthy behavior.

Albert Schweitzer Elementary School

Picnic celebrates a CARE-ing community

Students and their families had the chance to get together for a evening picnic on September 15 along with their new principal, Dr. Amy Orlando. The annual picnic is part of Schweitzer's School-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program which is called CARES (which stands for Cooperation, Attitude, Respect, Empathy and Safety). A number of other events are planned during the school year to build community both during school and after.

Tawanka Elementary School

Subaru loves Tawanka with a book donation

Subaru Tawanka donation Two representatives from Colonial Subaru in Trevose visited Tawanka on September 18 to deliver boxes of brand-new books for the library media center. The donation is part of the automakers Subaru Loves Learning campaign. The books included some fiction, non-fiction and book sets. They will be available at the school's Library Media Center.

Constitution Day celebrated

Student throughout the district celebrated Constitution Day on Monday, September 18, one day after the actual 230th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. Among the activities at Tawanka were craft projects for kindergarten students, and a unique project in the fourth grade where students used their Chromebooks to download the preamble to the Constitution, looked up definitions of some of the more difficult language and rewrote the passage using words more easily understood by elementary school students.

Maple Point Middle School

Guests bring Constitution Day to life

US Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick at MP

As part of an ongoing celebration of Constitution Day (which was actually Sunday, September 17), students at Maple Point MS were treated to a number of presentations by local politicians, officials and media. Each spoke about the U.S. Constitution and how it impacted his or her job during hour-long assemblies in the auditorium.

5th grade students heard from PA Rep. Frank Farry; seventh grade students heard from from Middletown Township Supervisor Amy Strouse and U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and 8th grade students heard from LevittownNow publisher Tom Sofield and Middletown Township Police Chief Joseph Bartorilla. Sixth grade students completed the series when they enjoyed a visit by Pennsylvania Sen. Tommy Tomlinson.

Young author wins national book award

Maple Point MS sixth-grader Megan Garrabrant was named the 3rd Place Grand Prize winner in the Library of Congress National Book Festival Summer Writing Contest. Megan is also the Pennsylvania State winner.

This is the sixth year that the Library of Congress held the contest, in which rising 5th and 6th graders are invited to submit essays on a book that has made a personal impact on their lives. Hundreds of young readers from five states submitted essays. The winners were honored at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. on September 2.

Locally, the contest is administered by the Bucks County Free Library, and Megan submitted her entry through the Langhorne branch. She wrote about the book Courage to Soar by Simone Biles.

Poquessing Middle School

Students pen letters for first responders, military

Poquessing letters

Poquessing added their own special touch to the Barkann Family Foundation Day We Remember Walk & Run on September 16 (see Neshaminy HS below) by creating letters the day before for the attending local first responders and military representatives. A group of Student Council members joined the event on Saturday and delivered the letters in person.

Carl Sandburg Middle School

8th grade lends a hand to hurricane victims

Hoops for Harvey event

2017 has been an devastating year for hurricanes in the United States, and the 8th graders at Sandburg wanted to do what they could to help out. On September 15 they held a 'Hoops for Harvey' event during their WIN period and raised over $400 to send to a school in Texas that was struggling to re-open after the hurricane there. Students and staff throughout the school contributed to the effort.

Walkathon raises awareness, celebrates life

On September 23 over 230 members of the Sandburg community joined together on the track outside of the school for a walkathon to benefit the Mason Chandler Allen Memorial Foundation (MCAMF) and their efforts to support pediatric cancer research. The event -- called Steps Toward the Cure -- included games, raffle prizes, activities and an information tent provided St. Mary Medical Center.

The Foundation was founded in 2016 by the family of Mason Allen Chandler, a Sandburg student who passed away after a battle with cancer. The walkathon was a way to recognize Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month in September while also celebrating Mason's life. Another walk is planned for September, 2018.

Neshaminy High School

Mattress sale to benefit music program

If you are in the market for a new mattress, check out the the 5th Annual Mattress Fundraiser in Gym 1 at Neshaminy HS on Saturday, October 7, from 10 am to 5 pm. This unique event offers great prices on name-brand mattresses, which will be available for inspection in the gym, all while supporting the instrumental music program at Neshaminy.

Jazz Band selected for state conference

The Neshaminy HS Jazz Band has been selected to perform at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association conference in Lancaster in April, 2018. About 130 bands applied for this highly competitive showcase, which will feature our talented musicians under the direction of Dan Weiner in a 40-minute concert for music educators from throughout the Commonwealth.

BCIT students recognized for summer program

This summer, 23 Business, Computer and Information Technology (BCIT) students attended the Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW) Program, earning the school a 'Platinum Award' for its large student participation.

PFEW is an educational experience designed for high school sophomores and juniors to learn about career opportunities while taking an active role in running a simulated business. Each student received a scholarship valued at $1,500 through the PFEW organization. The program was open to students from Pennsylvania and offered a college campus experience for one week at Lycoming College and Penn College. The PFEW program is also supported by the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce.

Day We Remember brings out the community

Barkann Run

The annual Barkann Family Healing Hearts Foundation Day We Remember Walk & Run was held at Neshaminy for the second year in a row on Saturday, September 16. The event is hosted by Comcast SportsNet host Michael Barkann and his wife Elaine and raises money to help families dealing with a serious illness or loss, especially families of military members and first responders. A number of NHS clubs and teams participated, including the NHS football team, cheerleaders, the National Honor Society, the Interact Club, and others. Local first responders and representatives from the military were on hand and were also honored during a ceremony that followed the 5K run and 1K walk. Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook was on hand along with the Phillie Phanatic to interact with the runners and volunteers and pose for photos.

College Fair offers info, inspiration

NHS College Fair

Students and their families once again had the opportunity to find out about life beyond Neshaminy High School during the annual College Fair September 27. Representatives from dozens of colleges and universities were on hand to provide information and answer questions from their prospective students. The Fair is sponsored by the Neshaminy HS National Honor Society.

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.