April Blog 2017
Our vision is to connect, engage, and inspire all students in the Ayer Shirley Regional School District to reach academic excellence. We, the educators of the Ayer Shirley Regional School District, will instill habits of reflection and inquiry to challenge our students in setting ambitious academic and personal goals. Students will develop a strong voice to express thoughts and ideas in the community and the confidence to showcase their talents and successes in preparation for entry into college and the world of work.
Greetings ASRSD Families,
We returned from spring break last week, and we have approximately eight weeks to go to the finish line. The last day of school is Tuesday, June 20, and it is a half-day. As they say, time waits for no one and it did not disappoint this year. It has to be the fastest school year yet. We will soon miss the sounds and sights of students filling our halls. Schools are heartwarming and abuzz with activity. They are very busy places, and no two days are alike. Students are moving from class to class to lunch to recess and home. In the offices, you hear phone lines ringing, quiet chatter, and the doors are buzzing to say, “I want to come in.” The sounds of the teachers’ voices can be heard throughout the day along with the sight of their warm and embracing smiles. Schools are a great place to be!
This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. We appreciate our faculty and staff everyday of the year, but this week is set aside nationally to honor our teachers. We are fortunate to have the most dedicated and caring educators. They work hard and want every child to be happy and successful. Please join me in thanking our outstanding teachers.
Last week we were informed that, once again, the district was awarded a silver medal. For the 3rd consecutive year, the high school has received a silver medal in the 2017 US News High School Rankings. These rankings are based on 22,847 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Schools are awarded gold, silver, or bronze medals based on their performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college. ASRHS is in the top 21% of MA high schools and top 12% in the nation’s high schools. There are 692 high schools in the state and 20,000 in the nation, and we rank 75 out of 692 in the state and 2492 out of 20,847 in the nation. Only 6,041 high schools received medals. Congratulations to all of the educators in this school district, and a special congratulation to the high school staff and students. We are going for the gold in 2018!
District Strategy Plan
1. Curriculum & Instruction
Long Range Goal: Strengthen and deliver research-based high quality curricula, instruction, and assessments to improve student achievement for all students.
New Literacy Program
In November, I informed you of a new literacy program in Grades K-5. It is a research-based comprehensive approach to teaching reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The main components are read aloud, guided reading, shared reading, independent reading, interactive writing, shared writing, independent writing, reading mini lessons, writing mini lessons, and phonics/word study. The goal is to build phonics, reading comprehension, and writing skills through an integrated approach. Strong readers are strong writers and strong writers are strong readers.
If you recall, we received a substantial donation from the Norton Family to purchase the books for this program. After reviewing several programs, we have selected Scholastic Books. We will receive approximately 6240 books, 3120 for each school. A Scholastic Leveled Bookroom helps children acquire a wealth of information and ideas, and fosters the invaluable skills, knowledge, and strategies students need to read a short or long text with deep understanding. The bookroom includes leveled readers in all genres to support small group, differentiated instruction. This extensive library of books facilitates personalized learning ensuring equity, equality, and access for every student. We are so excited and grateful for our donor, and for the time and effort the teachers have put in to ensure this will be a successful reading program for our students. We continue to strive for academic excellence for every student every day.
On the Parent Satisfaction Survey for the middle school, we asked families a few questions on the math program, Eureka. We learned that many families did not know a lot about this program. This is the second year of the program and it is used in Grades 6-8. It is aligned to the 2011 MA Curriculum Frameworks. The emphasis is on problem solving and helping students understand how and why math connects to the real world. The Eureka Math Program is used by many school districts in MA and it is used in districts throughout the country.
The Eureka math program focuses on the following topics in Grades 6-8:
Ratios and Proportions
Expressions and Equations
Statistics and Probability
The program components include online and print materials and class sets of student texts. All of the instructional materials and presentation videos are available online. The student text is not your typical text; it consists of sets of problems for students to solve subsequent to instruction. Students may bring these texts home or a worksheet from the text. Each student maintains a math notebook that is their guide to understanding the math concepts taught in class. Your student should bring this math notebook home to assist in completing homework. During class time students use math tools and manipulatives to support problem solving such as student size whiteboards, card decks, cubes, inch and meter sticks, tape measures, compasses, protractors, and calculators.
Parent Tip Sheets are available for parents to help their child at home. Parent Tips Sheets provide an overview of several lessons, strategies for solving problems, key vocabulary, and examples of problems worked on in class.
For parent tip sheets, click here.
Click the grade level sample you are interested in.
Click Add to Cart.
A window will open showing a quantity of 1 in the cart. No money is needed. Click Checkout.
If you do not have a Eureka parent account, please enter your contact information to create a free parent account. If you have an account click place order.
Click the title of the parent resource document(s) that you now have access to in your cart.
In the list of documents, click the Parent Tip Sheets to download or view using the symbols on the right.
For more information or should you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher, principal, or Mrs. Hamel, Assistant Superintendent.
Parent Satisfaction Survey
Thank you to the 355 respondents to the Parent Satisfaction Survey. Please take 10-15 minutes to complete the survey. You can find the survey here.
Next Generation MCAS Assessment
The assessment in Grades 3-8 is well underway in our schools. Most schools have finished the ELA test and have begun the math test. Grades 5 & 8 will finish off with the science test. We have had good attendance and the testing has gone very well. Thank you for your support and cooperation.
Grade 10 students will take the MCAS math assessment on May 16 and May 17. High school students will be taking various Advanced Placement exams from May 1-12.
The School Committee voted to discontinue reporting class rank to colleges and universities on high school transcripts beginning with the class of 2018. Class rank will still be available for those students where it is required by the college or university.
Students participated in the Special Olympics at Fitchburg State University this past Friday. Congratulations to Jack Hillman, Nick Dutton, DJ Cibor, and Zoe Alberga for their excellent performances.
Several ASRHS students and chaperones, Mr. and Mrs. Capasso, traveled to Costa Rica over spring break. The trip was about challenge, discovery, and learning than simply a "vacation." They left Ayer as classmates and fellow travelers, but returned enlightened and humbled citizens of the world. Never a dull moment as they hiked the rainforest and cloud forest, kayaked in lakes, zip lined above the canopy, and battled howling monkeys. And in their quiet moment, they honored a beloved family member by planting a tree, adding to the ecological corridor. It is safe to say that the trip was memorable for all the right reasons. We want to thank Mrs. Capasso for taking the lead and making it possible for ASRHS students to participate in the rich, cultural experience of a global tour. Next year’s trip is already being planned, and the tour will take them to Italy. For more information, please email Mrs. Capasso at email@example.com.
Students’ Literary Work Published
Five ASRHS students had their worked published in ‘The Marble Collection’. A big shout out to English teacher, Mrs. Wittmier, for her work and guidance in encouraging and assisting students to submit their literary work for publication in the magazine. Congratulations to the students! Many literary pieces are submitted from students throughout the state, but only those judged to be outstanding are published. The Marble Collection is the only statewide print and online magazine of the arts featuring jury-selected artwork, photography, poetry, and creative writing by students in Grades 8 to 12. Congratulations to Katherine Blood, Jillian Folger, Christian Hoffman, Alexander Steeves, and Hann Tu.
ASRHS DI Team
The Destination Imagination team won 1st place for the instant challenge and 1st place for the challenge. They were also awarded the Da Vinci Award, which is the best award any DI’er can receive!!! A special thanks to DI Coach, Mrs. Messcher, and the team: Ryan Messcher, Ryan Martone, Alex Patano, Jake (Jacob) Miska, Savannah Pyatt, Liam Noonan. The team will compete in the National Competition in Tennessee, May 23-May 28. Good luck!
ASRHS Concert Band and Choir
The concert band and choir performed at the MICCA Festival at the end of March. They each were awarded a silver medal, which signifies an “excellent” performance based on the rubric. Congrats to the students and Mr. Bloch.
Elizabeth M. Haskins Mathematics Competition
Students from ASRHS attended this math competition at Fitchburg State on April 28th. Hadassah Flagg received honorable mention for placing in the top 10% of participants in Grade 10. Congratulations to Hadassah! All the students who participated were very enthusiastic and are already looking forward to next year’s competition.
Baseball: The baseball team has weathered their toughest stretch of the season with a record of 2-3 playing up a division this season. They now begin league play and are looking to make another strong district run with senior leadership of Noah Watson, Jarrod Oberg, and Devin Sawyer. Junior Steven Lawton is also a major contributor to the team. The boys have a strong team of veteran players that are doing well under new head coach Billy Wright.
Softball: The softball team has started the season 2-2 and will look to make a strong push in league play this year. Seniors Natalie Carroll and Jen McGrath lead the team and have the girls playing good softball. The team is in good standing this year to make another post-season run.
Girls’ Track: The girls' team is a strong contender to win the league title this year. They are currently 2-0 and will take on Maynard in a key league matchup this Thursday at home. We have a strong MS group that is participating at a high level and helps the team out greatly. The team is lead by Hayley Sheriff, Julianna Nealy, Taylor Wright, Anna and Erin Norton who are all big point earners for the girls.
Boys’ Track: The boys' team is also undefeated this year and will take on league opponent, Maynard, on Thursday. The boys are looking to regain the league title this year with strong performances from Ethan Matthews, Tim Holmes, Dan Fleming, Leo Rosales, and Jimmy Robinson. The boys' team has a promising future with many MS athletes learning the sport and excelling.
MS Softball: The MS Softball team has a very talented team this year and is looking forward to another great season. They begin play this week due to rainouts. Good luck girls!
MS Baseball: The MS Baseball team has a strong group of players that will look forward to begin play this week. They are eager to get going and start off the season.
You can go watch any of the MS home games at Pirone Park. Please go and support the future and Go Panthers!
Enjoying Costa Rica!
Ayer Police Department serving lunch to the students at Page Hilltop.
Grade 1 students presenting their animal habitats at Page Hilltop.
Just an ordinary day in band class at middle school.
Kudos to the actors in the middle school spring play "Singin in the Rain Jr."!
The 5th grade D.A.R.E. graduation at Page Hilltop.
High school biology class.