February 2018
Neshaminy Update March 2018
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Students educate the educators during Instructional Rounds

Classrooms Rounds at Herbert Hoover Elementary School
Instructional Rounds at Herbert Hoover Elementary School

You have probably heard of Hospital Rounds - where doctors, specialists and medical students visit rooms to evaluate patient progress. The goal is to ensure the patient is getting the best treatment possible and that the outcome matches or exceeds expectations.

This year Neshaminy has instituted Instructional Rounds, based on the same principles but geared toward education. This is an evaluative tool pioneered at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. A team of teachers, principals and administrators visited three district schools this year (Ferderbar Elementary, Herbert Hoover Elementary and Neshaminy High School) to observe normal activity in selected classrooms. Each visit was followed by an evaluation meeting, where the group analyzed and discussed their observations, then began developing a plan of action to increase success in the areas studied.

Instructional Rounds analysis
The Instructional Rounds group analyzes their real-world observations
  Instructional Rounds is not a teacher evaluation tool but rather a way to encourage best practices in classrooms throughout the district using real-world data. Each of the three schools was asked to define an area of interest that they wanted to explore. One school chose questioning -- how questions are asked and what is the level of questioning in the classroom. Another theme was resilience, exploring how resilient students actually are and how to best teach resilience.

 Four Neshaminy staff members attended Instructional Rounds training at Harvard University in December -- English Language Arts Curriculum Supervisor Bob Boffa, STEM Supervisor Margaret Monahan, Neshaminy HS teacher Tara Huber and Schweitzer ES Reading Specialist Kimberly Maurizi. There, they were able to meet with educators from around the country to learn the process.

 The final Instructional Rounds of this school year was held at Herbert Hoover Elementary School in March, and a wrap-up session is planned for early April. At that session, the group will create a summary that can be shared to improve best practices throughout the district. The program is scheduled to be continued next year in three additional schools.

Calendar changes following tough winter

A grand-slam of four nor'easter storms brushed the east coast this winter, and the Neshaminy area found itself on the snow side of the rain-snow line enough times that the 2017-2018 school calendar needed some adjustments.

The district builds in several inclement weather days to the calendar every year, but even those could not account for the total of seven snow days that piled up by the end of March.
Snow crew at Tawanka
Tawanka ES snow crew

The Pennsylvania Department of Education requires 180 school days per year as well as meeting guidelines for the number of instructional hours taught. Waivers to these rules are normally only granted in extreme circumstances, and no blanket waivers have been declared so far this year despite the weather.

At the March 27 School Board meeting, the Board approved the following changes to the 2017-2018 district calendar:

  • Monday-Tuesday, June 11-12: Full day for all students.
  • Wednesday-Thursday, June 13-14: Full day for K-4, half day for 5-12.
  • Friday June 15: Half day for all students. Last day for grades 5-11.
  • Monday June 18: Half-day for grades K-4, last day for grades K-4.
  • Neshaminy High School graduation: Thursday June 14 (rain date 6/15)

Board seeks healthcare alternatives

The School Board Business Operations Committee heard two presentations at their March 23 meeting from two healthcare consulting firms. The conclusion of both was that the district could see a significant savings in employee healthcare costs without decreasing benefits by changing providers for primary healthcare and prescription plans.

Neshaminy joined the Bucks and Montgomery County Schools Health Care Consortium approximately 6 years ago, and had a deadline of the end of March to inform that group if the District was leaving the Consortium. Changes in the healthcare insurance landscape made the alternatives more attractive, and several other districts left the Consortium this year as well.

At the March 27 Board meeting, the School Board voted to leave the Consortium and retain Newtown-based Stalker and Associates as a consultant to find the best plans for the district.

Kids Club donates gym equipment

The long-standing partnership between the district and Neshaminy Kids Club, an external group that operates the before and after-school care programs in several Neshaminy schools as well as summer programs, was given a boost with recent donations of equipment that will benefit district students both in and out of the program.

In February the School Board voted to accept a Kids Club donation of two basketball backboards at Walter Miller and Albert Schweitzer Elementary School for $2,224. In March Kids Club donated a cover for the Rock Climbing Wall at Joseph Ferderbar Elementary valued at approximately $2,850.

STEAM Expo ready to rock technology

STEAM Expo 2017

The robots are programmed, the drones are charged, the science labs are stocked...it's almost time for the 4th Annual STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Expo at Neshaminy High School!

The Expo will be held Thursday, April 19 from 6:30-8:30 pm.

The purpose of this popular event is to showcase  technology-oriented curriculum that crosses subject areas throughout the district. Targeted primarily at elementary and middle school students, the STEAM Expo offers them a preview of the many opportunities they will have to pursue technology-related courses and clubs in middle and high school, preparing them for some of the fastest-growing career fields in the world.
STEAM Expo 2017
A hovercraft at STEAM Expo 2017

Visitors will be invited to participate in a variety of science experiments in the high school labs, operate robotic vehicles, create unique artworks, explore the world of digital graphics, visit the Starlab portable planetarium, see Science Fair exhibits from the elementary schools, and even create their own t-shirts. A number of outside groups will join the Expo with demonstrations, exhibits and more.

District plans a virtual academy

As part of the district’s Strategic Plan to offer students and their families more educational choices, Neshaminy is drafting plans to operate its own online academy starting in the 2018-2019 school year.

During the Educational Development Committee meeting in March, plans for the Neshaminy School District Virtual Academy (NSDVA) were presented. The goal of the program is to have students who have selected various cyber-charter school options to return to the Neshaminy School District -- switching to a similar, but locally administered program within the District. The students would be assigned a Personal Learning Coach (PLC) who would oversee their progress and serve as a mentor. The PLC would work directly with the students and their families and provide weekly reports on work completion. The curriculum would be provided through a partnership with the Brandywine Virtual Academy (BVA), which is available 24 hours a day and also provides technical support.

By providing a locally-administered online alternative the district expects to see a cost savings with the added benefit for the students of having various local supports and activities available to them. Currently 95 students are signed up for external cyber-charter schools at a per-pupil cost to Neshaminy of $12,658 for general education and $32,966 for special education. The savings would vary depending on the number of students enrolled.

T-shirt celebrates art at Neshaminy

Art t-shirt design
T-shirt and hoodie design
Thirty years ago, Neshaminy held its very first district art show. To celebrate this showcase of student talent, the district art teachers are sponsoring a t-shirt sale with the proceeds benefiting art programs, student scholarships and clubs.

The 2018 District Art Show will be held in Gym 1 and other locations at Neshaminy High School on May 23-24, 2018 from 7-9 pm each night.


The Wizards are back April 14!

Harlem Wizards team photo

The world-famous Harlem Wizards are coming back to Neshaminy and tickets are now on sale. Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 14, 7 pm in Gym 3 at Neshaminy High School when the Neshaminy Education Foundation proudly presents a benefit game between the Wizards and our own Neshaminy Dream Team made up of staff members from each of our schools. The excitement and fun last year was way over the top, and we expect even more on-court (and off-court) antics, tricks, alley-oops and pure skill on display this year. It's a great show for a great cause -- supporting classroom grants and scholarships through the non-profit Neshaminy Education Foundation. Tickets are still only $10 (plus a $0.99 / ticket online ticket purchase fee) and a limited number of Courtside Plus tickets will be available for $25 (these sold out last year!). Prices go up at the door so don't wait. For tickets, visit the website below, click on Schedule & Tickets, then navigate to Langhorne PA on April 14.

Title 1 program rescheduled to April 11

At 6:30 pm on Wednesday, April 11, a Title 1 Parent University will be presented at Maple Point Middle School. District Technology Instructional Coach Kathryn Maguire will share internet safety tips, and she will also review some instructional resources for elementary students. This meeting will be followed immediately by the Title 1 District Level Parent Advisory Meeting, during which will have the opportunity to review the Neshaminy School District Parent Involvement Policy. Childcare will be provided for children three years old and older. Light refreshments will be served.

News from our Schools

Pearl S. Buck Elementary School

First grade is a zoo

Buck First Grade Zoo projects

The first grade team presented zoo-animal dioramas and information throughout the week of March 12-16. Each first grade homeroom was assigned a day when they shared their knowledge and wonderful displays to other students and visiting family members.

Class celebrates the Winter Olympics

Students in Mrs. Boyle’s first grade class enjoyed following the Winter Olympics and even participated in their own Academic Olympics! They created Olympic shirts,  competed in five events, and held opening and closing ceremonies. The events included ABC Order, Place Value, Map Skills, Number Sense, STEAM, and Trivia. Students also wrote biographies about Olympic athletes and tallied the medals for the U.S.A. Team.

Joseph Ferderbar Elementary School

Puttin' On the Kids showcases student talent

Ferderbar show

On Friday March 9 the talents of Ferderbar students shined during their annual talent show held at the Poquessing Middle School auditorium. Individuals and teams of costumed students performed with team names such as Pink Unicorns, First Grade Rebels, Pirates and this team -- 4th Grade Feel the Thunder.

Author joins Barnes & Noble Night

Visiting author Laura Magaziner joined the Ferderbar community for a reading night out on March 15. Magaziner is the author of humorous books that include Pilfer Academy and The Only Thing Worse than Witches.

Herbert Hoover Elementary School

Choir performs at the Globetrotters

Hoover Choir performs at a Globetrotters game

The Fourth Grade Choir under the direction of music teacher Holly Waterson performed at a Harlem Globetrotters game during March  at Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton.

Student artworks on display in Harrisburg

Youth Art Month is an annual observance each March to emphasize the value of art education for all children and to encourage support for quality public school art programs. Youth Art Month is celebrated each year at the Department of Education in Harrisburg with an art exhibition. This year Hoover is represented with two 4th grade relief prints created by Kayley Murphy and Meghan Glass.
Artwork from Hoover Elementary School

Walter Miller Elementary School

Miller offers a helping hand

Operation Helping Food photo

The Walter Miller community joined several other schools in the district participating in the annual United Way of Bucks County Operation Helping Hand on March 14.

Science Fair explores the universe

Aspiring scientists had an opportunity to show off their talents at the school's Science Fair on March 1. Teachers and volunteers helped the children find tables to set up their displays and answered questions. Projects included everything from 'Electromagnetism' to the 'Life Cycle of a Bull Frog'. Those attending the event learned 'How Arctic Animals Survive in the Cold Weather',  'Which Bridge is Stronger', and about sound frequency and waves.

Albert Schweitzer Elementary School

Jump Rope for Heart raises over $5,500

Many of our schools participate in the annual American Heart Association Jump Rope for Heart. Our students not only raise money for a very worthy cause, they also learn about healthy heart-friendly lifestyle habits while participating. The students and staff at Albert Schweitzer Elementary School raised over $5,500 during their event in March - double their total from last year!

Lucky Leprechauns enjoy an Irish breakfast

Schweitzer Lucky Leprechaun celebration
Each year the students at Albert Schweitzer Elementary School celebrate Saint Patrick's Day with a fun breakfast. Besides dressing up in appropriately-green outfits, the students enjoyed games, crafts and, of course, some chose Lucky Charms as their cereal of choice. Proceeds from the breakfast benefited the 100 Book Challenge program.

Tawanka Elementary School

Tawanka celebrates reading

Tawaka mascot reads

Tawanka families and staff gathered at the Barnes & Noble on March 7 for a night of reading, games, food, crafts and fun.

First grade proves weather can be fun, really

Tawanka first-graders learned about weather in a Project Based Learning unit in March. For a week, students created informative posters about the weather and hung them at the bottom of each stairwell. They solved the problem of knowing what to wear to recess!

Winter clubs foster a variety of interests

First Responders Club
Junior First Responders Club
During the winter session of Student Interest Clubs, Tawanka students discovered new talents and interests, made new friends across grade levels, and established connections with Tawanka staff.

Among the activities were a Board Games Club, a Running Club, a Basketball Club, a Yoga Club, an Osmo (robot) Club, a Fun with Food Club, and a Junior First Responders Club which enjoyed a visit from local emergency medical technicians who demonstrated their lifesaving techniques and equipment.

Maple Point Middle School

Coaches vs. Cancer raises over $15,000

Coaches vs. Cancer

The Maple Point Student Council announced that their annual Coaches vs. Cancer basketball tournament on March 9 raised over $15,000 for cancer research -- an astounding amount, especially for a middle school! The sellout crowd enjoyed two games between the Maple Point and Carl Sandburg basketball teams, along with food, raffles, and other activities. Congratulations and thanks to all those that organized, donated, attended and played in this terrific fundraiser.

Poquessing Middle School

Interact clubs serve up Easter fun

Poquessing Interact Club

Members of the Poquessing and Neshaminy Interact clubs enjoyed helping out at the Feasterville Rotary Club’s Annual Pancake breakfast on Sunday March 25. The high school students served up the delicious pancakes and painted faces, while the middle school students made crafts and played games with children in attendance, and even helped out the morning’s honored guest, the Easter Bunny!

Music Boosters sponsor after-school music clinic

Poquessing orchestra
Poquessing string orchestra
In March the Poquessing Orchestra enjoyed an after-school pizza party thanks to the school's Music Boosters and other parent volunteers. After eating, the young musicians broke into different rooms grouped by instrument. three guest clinicians worked with the students to help them learn new techniques, better ways of practicing and how to prepare for upcoming performances. Other Neshaminy music teachers also pitched in to help supervise and coach.

Also in March, the Poquessing Middle School Jazz Band welcomed a special guest instructor.  Dr. Gary Fienberg, the Director of Jazz Studies at The College of New Jersey, taught a Master Class on the history and styling of swing music.

Carl Sandburg Middle School

Pi Day celebrated in a most delicious way

Students across the district celebrated Pi Day on March 14 (3.14, get it?) with a variety of fun activities to boost their math skills. Two 5th-grade classes at Carl Sandburg MS celebrated 3.14 by calculating the radius, diameter and area of cookies and crackers using Pi mathematical formulas. Once that was completed, they ate their delicious math project.

Musicians shine at Bucks festival

BCMEA musicians

Student musicians from Carl Sandburg, Poquessing, Maple Point and Neshaminy High School attended the annual Bucks County Music Educators Association Festival held at William Tennent High School in Warminster on March 15-17. The festival brings together the best orchestra, choir and band members from the county.

Neshaminy High School

Inaugural K-Hall Kraft Fair a sales and learning success

K-Hall Kraft Fair

Friday March 23 was a big day Mrs. Rippert’s and Ms. Bedesem’s students at Neshaminy HS who operated the inaugural K-Hall Kraft Fair. With some creative help from Snipes Farm and materials provided by a Neshaminy Education Foundation grant, they designed and created a line of personal care products called Neshaminy Naturals, and sold them to their fellow students, visiting parents and staff all day in the hub. The students even produced a commercial while preparing for the event to introduce their business to prospective customers. This project provided the students with experience in multiple areas including math, business skills, art, and even science.

NHS senior advances on American Idol

The Neshaminy community has been proudly  following the journey of NHS senior Catie Turner as she competes in the hit ABC-TV show, American Idol. Catie made it through the audition round, earning a 'golden ticket' to continue competing in Hollywood. She impressed judges Lionel Ritchie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan with her quirky, energetic style and amazing musical talent singing and playing guitar.
Catie Turner
Photo courtesy ABC-TV

MiniTHON returns to NHS April 14

Neshaminy MiniTHON 2017
The annual Neshaminy MiniTHON is set for Saturday April 14 between 11am-5pm in Gym 3 at Neshaminy High School. Last year this local version of the hugely successful Penn State THON raised over $15,000 and the MiniTHON team has their sights set even higher this year. They have already raised almost $3,000 online and held a car wash on Saturday March 24 at the Faulkner auto dealership in Feasterville. THON benefits the Four Diamonds Foundation, supporting pediatric cancer research.

Interact project honors US Navy sailors

The Neshaminy Interact & EarlyAct clubs are working on a joint service project to benefit A Soldier's Hands Along with students all over Pennsylvania, they are working to provide care packages to 3,200 sailors on the USS Reagan by the Independence Day. Each care package consists of Mary Kay sunscreen, hand lotion, lip balm, candy and handwritten notes of appreciation. On March 19, the students held a benefit night at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant.

Roadies hitting the road for International Thespian Festival

Collaboret 2018
The Roadies and the Select Choir presented the Collabaret, a collection of 15 Broadway show tunes, on March 23 in the Theodore Kloos Auditorium. Photo by Richard Saxton

Twelve members of the Neshaminy Drama Roadies group are heading to Nebraska at the end of June for the week-long International Thespian Festival  at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln campus.  At this festival they will have the opportunity to gain more experience at a craft they love while some members of the group will get the opportunity to perform their Superior-ranked Individual Events they had originally performed at the Pennsylvania State Thespian Festival. A fundraising drive is under way to help pay for the trip.

                            Link icon  The "Nebraska 12" Roadies GoFundMe page
                            Link icon   Photo Gallery: Collabaret 2018

Park bench project honors a Maple Point student

Neshaminy HS student Dylan Beegal was honored recently at a Middletown Township meeting for a park bench she built in memory of Maple Point MS student Patrick Gannon, who passed away last year. The bench is located at Detective Christopher Jones Memorial Park in Middletown Township.

Cinderella's Closet open for prom season

Neshaminy’s Cinderella’s Closet is back and still turning dresses into dreams. Each year students in Family & Consumer Science classes have been collecting, cleaning and repairing previously worn prom dresses and selling them at a deep discount for their fellow students. These dresses are in top condition and can be purchased in C117 for only $20.

Weather-delayed Gym Night 2018 spans the globe

Gym Night 2018
Winter weather delayed the 2018 edition of Gym Night by one day, but didn't dampen the enthusiasm or energy in the least. The colors were parted with the Saturday, March 3 afternoon show, and by the time they were rejoined on Sunday, March 4, Red edged out Blue 38-35.

The theme this year was InterNESHional, and featured elaborate dance productions from around the globe.

Neshaminy mourns teacher Leonard Alborn

Len Alborn
Leonard Alborn
The Neshaminy community was saddened to learn of the the passing of Neshaminy High School teacher Leonard Alborn, who died suddenly at his home on Saturday, March 3. Mr. Alborn had been with the district for 24 years teaching at both Neshaminy HS and the former Tawanka Learning Center. He had a Masters degree in History Education and was teaching freshman and sophomore US and Modern World History.

He is remembered by students and colleagues as a devoted teacher -- friendly, kind and caring in the classroom, around the school and in the community.

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
Marty Sullivan - President
Bob Feather - Vice President
John Allen
Cyndie Bowman
Irene M. Boyle
Tina Hollenbach
Adam J. Kovitz
David Marrington
Stephen Pirritano

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