Neshaminy Update banner October 2017
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New devices increase the focus on Digital Citizenship

Students using library media center at Pearl Buck ES

Pearl S. Buck Elementary School Library Media Specialist Tracy Humbert works with third-grade students using Digital Passport, a software application from Common Sense Media that teaches digital safety, respect and community.

What makes a good digital citizen? Certainly many of the same values taught every day in our classrooms also apply to the virtual world, such as respect, ethics, honesty, caring, empathy and safety. There is little doubt, however, that technology changes the pace and style of social interaction so much that these values can be quickly forgotten in the rapid-fire world of social media and instant access to the collective thoughts of the entire planet.

While the iPads and Chromebooks used at Neshaminy have strong web filtering and safety features, teaching good digital citizenship still needs to be an integral part of the curriculum.  Even a filtered device requires guidelines for sharing, privacy and ethical use. Students may also have unfiltered access to the internet on non-school devices at home and need to learn to operate safely and responsibly in an increasingly connected world.

To that end, Neshaminy's new Instructional Technology Coach Kathryn Maguire has been thinking a lot about digital citizenship this year and has been busy sharing resources and ideas with teachers and library media specialists on the best ways to build good digital citizens. In October she held six seminars -- one in each elementary school -- to share best practices and resources in digital citizenship. As a former second-grade teacher and special education teacher from Hoover Elementary School, she has a good understanding of how the positive behavior programs work in the schools and believes lessons in online safety can be easily integrated into those programs.

Starting in kindergarten, students are taught the basics of internet safety, such as not sharing personal information online. Students can participate in online programs such as NetSmartzKids or BeInternetAwesome from Google which feature videos, games, and other activities that promote responsible sharing and browsing.

Students using Chromebooks at Pearl S. Buck ES  Students at Pearl S. Buck Elementary School are using a program called Digital Passport from Common Sense Media, which rewards students for completing digital citizenship lessons online. Maguire expects lessons like these to be integrated into multiple subject areas as students learn to avoid fake or poorly-sourced websites, avoid and report cases of cyberbullying, and protect their reputations as they create their own identities on social media and elsewhere.

Maguire is also building resource lists for students, teachers and parents in all grades to help them navigate the complicated world of social media, gaming, texting and screen-time management. She is planning to share those resources through a variety of means - many of them online.

District policies get a makeover

The Neshaminy District Policy Manual covers every aspect of operations including curriculum, staffing, business practices, administration, financing, student expectations, advertising and more. The manual is going through a makeover. The purpose of this change is to re-index policies, update certain policies, retire those that are no longer relevant, and adopt new policies where needed.

The effort is handled through the School Board Policy Committee, chaired by School Board Vice-President Irene Boyle and includes members Bob Feather, Steve Pirritano and Robert Burnett. With input from District administration and the public at Policy Committee meetings, all proposed policy changes must be approved by the full School Board at their regular meetings before they are adopted. Various sections will be updated over the next several months and the project should be completed by June 2018.

Policies will be now be organized with support from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, enhancing compliance with current federal and state laws and regulations. These guidelines will also include a common numerical indexing system that will make them compatible with many other districts throughout the state. As the new policies are approved, they will be posted in the District's online BoardDocs website, which will also make them easier to navigate and search.

GMU program enrolls 76

Neshaminy High School partners with Gwynedd Mercy University to offer college credit for specified courses. These courses are offered through the Business, Computer and Information Technology Department at the high school where students may choose to participate in the Dual Enrollment Program. This year, 76 students are participating in the program and will receive three undergraduate credits from Gwynedd Mercy University in June for each specified course.

Gwynedd-Mercy University logo
Students may enroll in more than one BCIT Dual Enrollment course and graduate high school with a maximum of fifteen college credits. Since some students do have multiple BCIT classes, the total Dual Enrollment processed this year is 100 classes among 76 students. These credits are transferable to other colleges and universities.

The high school courses offered for dual enrollment are:

· Accounting III, Honors
· Accounting II
· Information Technology II
· Microeconomics, Honors
· Macroeconomics, Honors

Students pay a fee for the courses, and the grades are reported both for college and high school transcripts.

The Gwynedd-Mercy partnership is separate from another college program that debuted this year. A group of Neshaminy High School seniors is taking classes at Bucks County Community College and also earning college credit. In that program the students are physically transported to BCCC to participate in the classes each day.

Calling all Alumni

The Neshaminy Education Foundation is forming an Alumni Committee to encourage and plan activities, partnerships, mentorships, events and improve communication between the district and its graduates. The committee will begin meeting in early 2018. If you would like to contribute your time and ideas, please fill out the online information form found at the following website:

Visit a class for American Education Week

American Education Week logo
In this era of media overload, it can be easy to overlook the many day-to-day accomplishments of our educators as they meet the challenges of providing a quality 21st-century program for our students. During American Education Week -- celebrated November 13-17 this year -- the families of our students are invited to visit their schools and see first hand how our classrooms are changing to meet the rapidly-changing needs of modern society. Each school will be posting a schedule on their website with visitation information, and parents and guardians are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to see what an average day in a Neshaminy school looks like.

American Education Week was created in 1921 by the National Education Association. Since then it has gained support from a number of educational organizations "for the purpose of informing the public of the accomplishments and needs of the public schools and to secure the cooperation and support of the public in meeting those needs."

Tawanka parking lot project underway

Tawanka families and neighbors will be saying good-bye to the large dirt pile near Brownsville Road which is being removed to make way for a much-needed 59-space parking lot expansion. The goal is to finish the project by the end of the year. The paved lot will be adjacent to the baseball field in front of the school. Additional work to a retention basin behind the school will also be completed as part of the project.

Senior Tax Assistance Program turns 40

Neshaminy will once again be offering a Senior Citizen Tax Assistance Program starting in January, 2018. This program is entering its 40th year, and has returned over $2.5 million since it began in 1977. 230 senior citizens participated in the program last year. To qualify, homeowners must reach the age of 65 by December 31, 2017, and have a household income of under $20,000. This includes reporting half of Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits and 100% of any other income.

The application forms will be available on the District website in January and also at local tax collectors offices. Forms can also be ordered via US Mail by calling the Business Office at 215-809-6250.

New elementary progress reports debut

The first new elementary school progress reports will be coming out shortly after the first trimester ends November 9. These new standards-based reports will be issued in time for parents to review them prior to parent conferences, scheduled to begin November 21. The Curriculum & Instruction Department has prepared a video version of their 'Parent University' explaining the changes in these reports and how they can help families and teachers better identify learning targets and areas of need for support. All parents and guardians of elementary school students are urged to watch this video to better understand these new reports.

Coming Up

Events of interest to the Neshaminy community

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News from our Schools

Pearl S. Buck Elementary School

Buck collects supplies for hurricane relief

During October Buck families collected supplies to assist schools and students who have been drastically affected by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. First grade teacher Leanne Raab connected with the United Methodist Committee on Relief, an organization that coordinates school supplies and sends them to areas in need. The items collected will be sent to U.S. schools affected by the hurricanes. Retired Neshaminy Middle School teacher Lynn Wallace assisted by supplying cloth bags to hold the supplies.

Fourth grade creates a class of scarecrows

Scarecrows created by the fourth grade on display at Buck Elementary

Among the many Halloween decorations that filled the walls of district schools in October were some unique creations made by students as part of collaborative class projects. As part of a reward activity for Buck fourth-graders, teams worked to create a variety of scarecrows. Their boo-tiful creations were on display at the school's annual Monster Mash.

Joseph Ferderbar Elementary School

Walking Club tops 1,000 miles

Students at Ferderbar are making strides - lots of them -- as they participate in the school's Walking Club. As of October 20, they have already logged 1032 miles -- 65 for the 4th grade, 167 for the 3rd grade, 487 for the 2nd grade and 312 for the 1st grade. The purpose of the club is to reduce stress, enhance creativity and increase academic performance.

Pencil sales power hurricane relief

Students raised over $300 in October to benefit schools affected by the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Profits from pencils sold at the school store were among the items that  supported the effort.

Herbert Hoover Elementary School

Omegaman visits Hoover

Students watch Omegaman program at Hoover Elementary

Omegaman -- an anti-bullying superhero -- visited Hoover on October 4 thanks to funding provided by the Hoover PTO. Omegaman shared anti-bullying strategies with the students, and helped them learn how to be a H.E.R.O. (Helping Everyone Respect Others). Some first-grade students even showed their school spirit by dressing as superheroes on the day of the assembly. Principal Dr. David Glennon rode one of the buses with the students a couple of days later. Many were still discussing the assembly on the bus, saying that they were going to be 'Dream Makers' instead of 'Dream Breakers.'

'Pigcast' tops PTO fundraiser

The students had a lot of fun on October 13 during the PTO Race for the Resources Event. They walked and ran around a makeshift track set up outside the school to raise funds used to support a variety of field trip programs during the year. The students also enjoyed Pig Races -- each class was issued a mechanical toy pig and a series of races was held on the playground. The final Pig Race heat of the day was video broadcast to every classroom in the school from the library media center.

Pennies for Paws benefits local animal shelters

The lobby at Hoover was once again filled with pet supplies in October -- everything from bags of dry dog food and cat toys to leashes and pet beds -- as the annual Pennies for Paws community service project proceeded. The proceeds, including PetSmart gift cards and monetary donations collected in coin drops, will be donated to local animal shelters. Pennies for Paws student fundraiser at Hoover

Walter Miller Elementary School

Grant funds Walk to School Day safety program

Students walk to school outside of Miller Elementary

The neighborhoods around Walter Miller ES were busier than usual on Wednesday,  October 4, 2017. Thanks to some community partners, the school celebrated International Walk to School Day with a group walk from three neighborhood locations to the school along with two assemblies that featured safety tips for both pedestrians and bicyclists. The purpose IWTS Day is to create safer routes and promote both driver and pedestrian safety to fight alarming statistics.

The event was made possible through a grant coordinated by Safe Kids Worldwide through Saint Mary Medical Center. Representatives from the hospital, joined by several Middletown Township police officers, AAA Mid-Atlantic, and Fedex, were all on hand to join our walking students and their families on the way to school. They greeted all the students as they entered school.

Two assemblies followed, one for K-2 and the second for grades 3 and 4. Students received valuable lessons about pedestrian and traffic safety, including a fun exercise where they simulated a traffic situation posing as cars, bicycles and themselves.

Albert Schweitzer Elementary School

Unity Day celebrated

On October 25, Schweitzer celebrated Unity Day, a national day of activities that promote kindness, acceptance and inclusion. Students participated in activities that reinforced the school's CARES program (Cooperation, Attitude, Respect, Empathy and Safety) both inside the school and around the community, and learned specific methods to identify and avoid bullying.

Firefighters visit for Fire Prevention Week

The youngest students in all six elementary school were treated to safety presentations and firetruck demonstrations by local fire companies to mark Fire Prevention Week October 8-14. At Schweitzer, kindergarten and first-grade students learned about fire safety and the importance of having a family evacuation plan courtesy of the Middletown Township Fire Marshal's office and the Langhorne - Middletown Fire Company.

Tawanka Elementary School

Math and science meets cookies, marshmallows and tissue paper

Tawanka students dressed as mummys
Tawanka teachers have been employing some creative methods to teach various concepts this month. What appeared to be a standard Halloween mummy wrap was actually a math project for some Tawanka second-grade students. They had to measure squares of tissue paper and determine by area how many they would need to create a mummy wrap. Third-grade students built towers out of marshmallows and toothpicks, and fourth-graders learned about the phases of the moon by selectively licking the filling off of Oreo cookies. That's a delicious lesson that won't soon be forgotten!

Firefighters teach essential safety skills

Kindergarten students at Tawanka celebrated Fire Prevention Week with a visit by the Lower Southampton Fire Company, who gave tours of a ladder truck, demonstrated their firefighting gear and talked about fire safety.
Firefighter speaking to students at Tawanka Elementary

Maple Point Middle School

8th grade prepares for Veterans Day ceremony

8th-grade students at Maple Point MS are busy getting ready for the annual Veterans Day Ceremony on Thursday, November 9. In October, students made 'Flag your Bag' patriotic decorative tags, which were be sold for a $1 donation. That money was then be used to create similar gifts for our veterans attending the ceremony. All local veterans are invited to this moving ceremony. If you are a veteran or know of one who would like to attend this moving ceremony, please contact Maple Point Middle School to reserve a spot: 215-809-6230.

Staff recognized with We Build Futures Awards

Superintendent Joseph Jones III and Maple Point Principal Andy Sokol visited a classroom at Maple Point MS on October 20 to deliver the latest We Build Futures Awards to teacher Tedri Paris-Powell and Instructional Assistant Gail Gallagher. Both are advisers for the school's No Place for Hate Club and were instrumental in starting the recent Hands Across the Halls event and spreading it beyond the walls of Maple Point to all the elementary and middle schools in the district in September.

Earlier in the month, Neshaminy HS Assistant Principal Colin Trickel and teachers Dr. Gail Park and Chris DiCicco, were also recognized with the We Build Futures Award. They were instrumental in the 3-year design and implementation of the Genre Labs reading program at the high school, which was expanded this year. Additional We Build Futures recognition was given to District Director of Administration Paul Meehan and Community Relations Coordinator Chris Stanley for their work on the district's Strategic Plan.

Poquessing Middle School

Guest speakers build understanding of visual impairments

Fifth grade class learns about vision impairments at Poquessing Middle School

Thanks to the efforts of one fifth-grader, students at Poquessing now have a better idea of the challenges faced by the visually impaired and and learned some best practices for approaching them. Representatives from the Bucks County Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired spoke to fifth-grade classes at the suggestion of student Alex Schnee, who has a vision impairment, and his family. Several volunteers with varying levels of visual impairment spoke to the students and used special glasses to simulate what those with limited vision experience every day. By increasing understanding, the group hope to show that Alex and others with visual impairments are normal people who face some extra challenges in their daily life.

Carl Sandburg Middle School

NHS Science Club visits Sandburg

NHS Science Club member works with 5th grade students at Sandburg MS

The Neshaminy High School Science Club visited fifth-graders at Carl Sandburg Middle School on October 26 to share some spectacular Halloween-themed science experiments that involved lots of dry ice, liquids, balloons, and even pumpkins.

Sandburg goes orange with hope and inspiration

Students at Carl Sandburg participated in The Orange Project during the week of October 22. The project is a national outreach from the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention aimed at raising awareness and offering resources to students to help themselves and others combat depression, bullying and other issues. During the week, they were asked to write positive notes of hope and inspiration and to wear orange to show support for the project.

Neshaminy High School

National Honor Society induction held

The National Honor Society at Neshaminy High School held their induction ceremony October 10. To qualify for membership, students must maintain a 3.75 GPA and document at least 20 hours of community service work during the year. Congratulations to all the new inductees!

Kaleidoscope of Bands celebrates 25 years

All bands performing at the Kaleidoscope of Bands

The Marching Band presented the 25th Annual Kaleidoscope of Bands on Saturday, October 28, 2017. The weather was just about perfect for this annual event, which featured bands from Bensalem High School, Cherry Hill High School East, Council Rock High School North, Council Rock High School South, East Stroudsburg High School South, Easton Area High School, Harry S. Truman High School, Montgomery High School, and Pennridge High School. The evening concluded with an exhibition performance by our own award-winning NHS Marching Band.

In other Marchnig Band news, a contingent of band members also once again performed for veterans returning from a trip to Washington D.C. on October 2 during the annual Bucks County Tour of Honor at Parx Casino in Bensalem. Neshaminy has been a regular part of this program for several years.

Business students attend career seminar at Temple

Forty-one students from the Neshaminy HS Business, Computers and Information Technology Department traveled down to Temple University to participate in the PICPA (Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants) Accounting Career Day. This was a free program offered to students for the purpose of learning more about diverse career opportunities in the accounting profession, to discover the advantages of the CPA designation and gain exposure to a college environment. Students received valuable information from senior Temple accounting students (one being a Neshaminy HS alumnus) and interacted with professionals working in the field who shared life experiences and current career opportunities.

Pink Out across the district fights cancer

Neshaminy High School Student Council with Pinkout shirts

The district was awash in a sea of pink shirts, socks, headbands and more on October 13 as the annual Neshaimy HS Student Council Pink Out raised nearly $6,000 for breast cancer research and support. The main source of revenue for this annual fund raiser is the sale of Pink Out t-shirts, which were purchased by students, teachers, support staff and families throughout the district. The event concluded at the home football game against Bensalem Friday evening. This year the proceeds will be donated to breast cancer support facilities affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Roadies continue a Halloween tradition

Spooky Kooky performance at Pearl S. Buck ES

The Neshaminy High school Drama Club Roadies visited each district elementary school with their annual Halloween show, Spooky Kooky. The show is a combination of original humorous skits and dance numbers. A public performance was also held at Neshaminy High School on October 26.

In other Roadies news, the group has been busy over the past two months raising money for breast cancer research. Their efforts paid off on Sunday, October 15, as they participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia with a donation of $4,227. Their walk was dedicated to Michelle Wiatrowski, who works with the Drama and Vocal Music Programs, and is currently in the middle of her own battle with this disease.

Public librarians share resource information

Representatives of three local public libraries (Lower Southampton, Langhorne and Levittown) visited Neshaminy High School to share information about the many resources offered by their libraries to 9th-grade English classes. These include such digital resources as e-books, research databases, homework help, and even discount or free passes to museums. Students were encouraged to sign up for public library cards prior to the visit.

 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.