The first day of school for students in the Abington Heights School District is Wednesday, Sept. 3. Abington Heights teachers will participate in in-service sessions on Friday, Aug. 29, and Tuesday, Sept. 2. Parents of afternoon kindergarten, first-graders and students new to the district are encouraged to have their children wear tags indicating the child’s name, address, home telephone number, bus number and bus stop during the first week of school. In addition, parents and guardians are encouraged to accompany children as they await the arrival of school buses.

The Abington Heights teachers’ union has informed the district there will be a strike beginning Thursday, Sept. 11, with no indication when it will end.

Students and parents may access bus information and elementary enrollment boundary lines from the school bus locator tab on ahsd.org, which allows parents or students to look up bus stops, bus times and eligibility at our elementary schools by inputting their home address.

Class lists for elementary and middle school students will be displayed prior to the start of the school year in the front door windows of each school building commencing Friday, Aug. 29, after 3:30 p.m. As usual, high school students will find their homerooms (first-period classes) posted in the school’s lobby and hallways on the first day of school. High school students, including transfer students, have already received their schedules. Students who do not receive their schedule in the mail should contact the high school’s main office at 570-585-5300.

A back-to-school carnival will be held on Friday, Aug. 29, from 5-8 p.m. at the high school. This free carnival is open to the community and will include music, games and fire truck rides. It is rain or shine and food will be available for purchase. The “Meet the Comets” program will start at 8 p.m.

The Abington Heights School District offers healthy meals every school day. Elementary and middle school breakfasts cost $1.65; high school breakfasts cost $1.70. Elementary and middle school lunches cost $2.15; high school lunches cost $2.30. Children may qualify for free meals or for reduced-price meals. Reduced price is 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch. Applications for free and reduced meals may be downloaded from ahsd.org under the “Food Service Program” tab. Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov to view an illustration designed to help make better food choices. The illustration incorporates the five food groups — dairy, fruits, grains, vegetables and protein — into every day.

Abington Heights students requiring any food or beverage substitutions may download the form to be completed by a family physician and returned to Abnington Heights Food Service Director Joanne Pesota, 222 Noble Road, Clarks Summit, or call her at 570-585-5309 prior to the opening of school.

Parents are encouraged to set up free mealtime accounts for receiving all information regarding their child’s cafeteria account. Parents receive email notifications when their child’s balance reaches a pre-determined level.

There is no charge for parents viewing their child’s account or for receiving these email notifications. Parents will need their child’s school student number in order to use this software. To obtain a student number, email pesotaj@ahsd.org with the child’s name and the school they will be attending.

Abington Heights School District Dress Code

• All upper body attire (blouses, tops, dresses, shirts, sweaters, etc.) should cover from the collar bone to the base of the torso so as not to expose any midriff, cleavage or chest. Blouses, tops and shirts are to have a collar.

• Sweaters, sweatshirts and hoodies are acceptable outer attire.

• Wording, phrases or other representations, with the exception of Abington Heights-approved attire, are not permitted on clothing. Manufacturers’ insignias, such as a Nike swoosh on the chest or sleeve, are acceptable.

• All lower body attire (pants, shorts, skirts, skorts, dresses, etc.) should be worn at the waistline and extend to at least the knee.

• Exposed underwear of any kind, including through clothing, as well as tears in clothing, are not permitted.

• Sneakers or shoes that are appropriate and safe for school activities must be worn at all times.

• Hats, hoods, spiked jewelry, sunglasses or anything deemed disruptive or unsafe by administration will not be permitted.

• Special group attire may be worn on designated days with administrative permission and must conform to all rules of decency. Students are expected to wear a visible traditional fold-down collar or turtleneck each day to school unless otherwise noted.

School hours for the 2014-2015 school year for Abington Heights students are as follows:

• Kindergarten morning session: 8:35-11:20 a.m.

• Kindergarten afternoon session: 12:10-2:55 p.m.

• Elementary schools: 8:35 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.

• Middle school (grades five through eight): 7:45 a.m. to 2:12 p.m.

• High school (grades nine through 12): 8:15 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.

Abington Heights School District 2014-2015 Calendar

Wednesday, Sept. 3: First student day

Wednesday, Nov. 26: Early dismissals for students

Thursday, Nov. 27: No school

Friday, Nov. 28: No school

Monday, Dec. 1: No school

Tuesday, Dec. 2: No school

Tuesday, Dec. 23: Early dismissal

Wednesday, Dec. 24: No school

Thursday, Dec. 25: No school

Friday, Dec. 26: No school

Monday, Dec. 29: No school

Tuesday, Dec. 30: No school

Wednesday, Dec. 31: No school

Thursday, Jan. 1: No school

Friday, Jan. 2: No school

Monday, Jan. 19: No school

Monday, Feb. 16: No school

Thursday, April 2: No school

Friday, April 3: No school

Monday, April 6: No school

Tuesday, April 7: No school

Friday, May 22: No school

Monday, May 25: No school

Tuesday, June 9: Last student day

Friday, June 12: Graduation day

The Abington Heights School District reserves the right to alter the calendar as circumstances require. Every effort will be made to keep graduation on June 12, 2015. Severe weather during the winter or unanticipated emergencies could require a change in the graduation date.

Abington Heights School District assistant superintendent Dr. Thomas Quinn reports that throughout the district, time will be devoted this year to efforts to improve the craft of teaching as practiced at Abington Heights. The district will undertake this effort via several different avenues:

Improving Teacher Effectiveness through the Charlotte Danielson Model: Public school teachers across the state of Pennsylvania will continue to participate this year in an ongoing professional development program in accord with Charlotte Danielson’s Framework For Teaching. The framework focuses on those aspects of a teacher’s practice that have been shown through both theoretical and experimental study to have positive impacts on student learning. In essence, the framework articulates those things that a high functioning teacher should know and be able to do.

New to the evaluation process for the coming year will be the development of student learning objectives. Teachers will set specific achievement and/or growth goals for their students and will plan the means of teaching and assessing that will enable students to reach those goals. They will work throughout the year to measure and assess student progress toward the goals. The collective success of all of a teacher’s students will contribute to the teacher’s overall evaluation score. As a result of another year’s worth of ongoing professional dialogue, self-assessment and reflection each of our teachers will be able to document improvements in their own practice.

• MOCTI: As the district prepares for the start of the 2014-2015 school year, it recognizea that many of the more traditional careers in which students may have interests are not likely to offer meaningful opportunities for employment in the foreseeable future. Further, many of the meaningful job opportunities of the future will be in positions whose titles do not even exist today. In light of these realizations, one of the district’s points of emphasis for the coming year will be its MOCTI initiative.

MOCTI is an acronym for “Meaningful Opportunities Connected To Interest”. It describes the district’s ongoing effort to help students identify interests not in specific jobs, but rather in career areas in which their ideal jobs, whether they exist today or not, may lie. The career areas that students will be encouraged to explore will be those likely to offer meaningful opportunities for employment in the economy of the future. The district will work to guide students toward elective opportunities, internship and job-shadowing opportunities that will further develop their interests and refine the skills that will serve them well in the future.

• Open Block: In connection with the MOCTI initiative, Abington Heights High School will implement the open block for its second year. The open block is a 90-minute period during which juniors and seniors will be free to pursue individual interests. Within the 90-minute period, they will be able to have lunch and work under the supervision of teachers on projects that interest them. They will have access to classrooms for support with their academic work and to science and engineering labs for extended time spent on assigned or original projects. They will have time for large class meetings and small informal study groups. They may also utilize the 90 minutes to pursue off-campus internship experiences.

• Call for internship opportunities: The primary goal of the open block at the high school is to provide upperclassmen with opportunities to explore their interests and to pursue an interest that they find to be particularly strong. One of the ways that the district envisions this pursuit unfolding is through internship opportunities with local entrepreneurs and professionals. In order to help the district connect students with opportunities that would be suitable for them, it is asking for any local entrepreneur or professional who may be willing to mentor a student intern to please contact the high school guidance office at 570-561-5306.

• Xerox School-to-Career program: The Xerox School-to-Career course is one of the curricular options that is offered for students to explore potential career interests. The School-to-Career curriculum was designed in collaboration with several industry leaders, including PrintEd, a national accreditation program for graphic arts industry standards, and the Department of Graphics Communications labs at Clemson University. The program is designed for students who enjoy hands-on classwork and have an interest in developing their technological skills. By working on actual job orders, students enrolled in this multi-year course will learn to operate all aspects of the district’s in-house printing service, from job design through production through quality control. The course is intended to prepare students for meaningful employment in the digital printing and/or graphic arts fields immediately after high school or for undergraduate study in graphic arts or business and entrepreneurial studies.

• Science notebooks: Following a successful implementation of science note booking in district middle school classes last year, it will implement science notebooks in elementary classes beginning this year. This will serve to reinforce efforts to teach critical thinking and writing in specific content areas across the district’s curriculum. It will also prepare students to learn the format and language of collaborative work on science laboratory based projects.