Abington Heights Back-to-School News


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The first day of school for students in the Abington Heights School District is Wednesday, Sept. 4. Abington Heights teachers will participate in in-service sessions on Friday, Aug. 30, and Tuesday, Sept. 3. Parents of afternoon kindergarten students, first-grade students and students who are 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.

Students and parents may access bus information and elementary enrollment boundary lines at www.ahsd.org from the "School Bus Locator" tab, which allows parents or students to look up bus stops, bus times and eligibility at the district's 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 starting on Friday, Aug. 30, at 5 p.m. High School students will find their homerooms (first-period classes) posted in the school's lobby and hallways on the first day of school.

A back-to-school carnival hosted by the National Honor Society will be held on Friday, Aug. 31, at the high school from 5-8:30 p.m. Admission to the carnival and all activities and games is free of charge and food will be available for purchase. All ages are welcome and there will be activities to suit each age group.

The Abington Heights School District offers meals every school day. Elementary and middle school breakfasts cost $1.60; high school breakfasts cost $1.65. Elementary and middle school lunches cost $2.10; high school lunches cost $2.25. Students 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 www.ahsd.org under "Food Service Program." 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 appropriate form from the district website, which is to be completed by a family physician and returned to food service director Joanne Pesota, 222 Noble Road, Clarks Summit. Call 585-5309 for more information. Parents are encouraged to set up free mealtime accounts for receiving all information regarding their child's cafeteria account. Parents will 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 e-mail notifications. Parents will need their child's school student number in order to use this software. To obtain a student number, email Joanne Pesota at pesotaj@ahsd.org with the child's name and the school they will be attending. The food service department no longer sends home paper notices of students' accounts.

District Dress Code

If a dress code violation occurs, the student will be given the opportunity to change into appropriate attire or be restricted to the school office until appropriate clothing can be brought to school from home. Refusal to do so will result in a detention. Repeated infractions will result in suspension.

The Abington Heights School District dress code for the 2013-2014 school year is as follows:

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, is 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

School hours for the 2012-2013 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 5-8): 7:45 a.m. to 2:12 p.m.

- High school (grades 9-12): 8:15 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.

Abington Heights School District 2013-2014 Calendar

Thursday, Aug. 29: New teacher day

Friday, Aug. 30: In-service day no. 1.

Tuesday, Sept. 3: In-service day no. 2.

Wednesday, Sept. 4: First student day.

Wednesday, Nov. 27: Act 80 day/ early dismissals for students.

Thursday, Nov. 28: Thanksgiving Day/ no school.

Friday, Nov. 29: No school.

Monday, Dec. 2: No school.

Tuesday, Dec. 3: In-service day no. 3/ no school.

Friday, Dec. 20: Act 80 day/ Early dismissals for students

Monday, Dec. 23 through Wednesday, Jan. 1: Winter break/ no school.

Monday, Feb. 17: In-service day no. 4/ no school.

Friday, April 18; Spring holiday/ no school.

Monday, April 21: Spring holiday/ no school (Act 80 day make up).

Tuesday, April 22: Act 80 day/ no school (Snow day make up no. 5).

Friday, May 23: No school (snow day make-up no. 6).

Monday, May 26: No school.

Friday, June 6: Last student day.

Monday, June 9: In-service day no. 5/ Last teacher day (sSnow day make up no. 1).

Tuesday, June 10: Snow day make up no. 2.

Wednesday, June 11: Snow day make up no. 3.

Thursday, June 12: Graduation day (Snow day make up no. 4).

Note: Graduation is scheduled for Thursday, June 12, 2014, and will be confirmed later in the school year. Every effort will be made to keep graduation on Thursday, June 12, 2014. Severe weather during the winter or unanticipated emergencies could require a change of graduation date.

The Abington Heights School District reserves the right to alter the calendar as circumstances require.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Thomas Quinn reports the following items are new for 2013-2014:

Working to Improve our Craft:

The district will devote considerable time this year to efforts for improving the craft of teaching. The district will undertake this effort via several different avenues:

- Improving Teacher Effectiveness: The Charlotte Danielson Model

Public school teachers across the state of Pennsylvania will participate for the first time this year in an ongoing professional development program in accordance 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.

All Abington Heights teachers will participate this year in one of three variations of the professional development program. Each of the variations is built upon Danielson's framework for effective teaching. Each provides a common language for professional conversation about the craft of teaching. Each is designed to foster professional conversation about excellent teaching among teachers and between teachers and administrators. Each is also designed to promote teachers' individual and ongoing self-assessment and reflection upon their own practice.

As a result of a 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. Teachers will rotate annually among the three variations of this program with the result that at the end of each three year period they will have cycled through all of the program variations.

- National Board Teacher Certification

Six of our district teachers at various levels will pursue National Board Teacher Certification during the coming school year. According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National Board Certification is a voluntary assessment program designed to identify, recognize and reward accomplished teachers and school counselors, who meet high and rigorous standards based on what teachers should know and be able to do.

An advanced teaching credential, certification complements but does not replace a teacher's state teaching certificate. Teachers earn certification after successfully completing 10 components that are each assessed by trained teachers in their certificate areas. The components consist of four portfolio entries focused on teaching practice and six constructed response exercises that assess content knowledge. Throughout the process of earning National Board certification, teachers are held to very high standards and are expected to meet rigorous expectations for the quality of their work and their participation in collaborative study of pedagogical principles.

- Raise Training

A second cohort of seven of high school teachers and reading specialists participated in summer training in the "Reading Apprenticeship Improving Secondary Education" project. Reading Apprenticeship is a research-based approach to teaching that motivates students while building content-area literacy skills. Developed by WestEd's Strategic Literacy Initiative, Reading Apprenticeship yields strong, documented gains in student achievement. The district will continue to build capacity to teach Reading Apprenticeship principles in science, social studies and English classes in the high school this year

MOCTI

As the district prepares for the start of the 2013-2014 school year, it continues to recognize 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, the district realizes that 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, a point of emphasis for the coming year will be the "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 its 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 schedule this school 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 connect students with opportunities that would be suitable for them, the district is asking for any local entrepreneur or professional who may be willing to mentor a student intern to please contact the high school. Those interested may gather more information about internship initiatives and/or volunteer to mentor an intern by calling the high school guidance office at 561-5306.

Xerox School-to-Career Program

The Xerox 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.

Online Financial Literacy

All high school juniors must fulfill a new mini-course in financial literacy requirement this year. The course will serve the two-fold purpose of providing students with a robust foundation for financial literacy and providing students with experience in taking online courses.

The Ever-Fi financial literacy curriculum contains ten learning modules and is mapped to the Jump$tart National Standards for personal finance education. Each module contains several brief activities to teach critical and fundamental financial concepts; including savings, banking, payments credit cards and interest rates, credit score, financing higher education, renting versus owning, taxes and insurance, consumer fraud and investing.

All course work will be completed by students on their own time. Their Junior Writer's Workshop class will provide a structure through which they can work with a teacher who will help to keep them on pace for successful completion. Successful completion will be a non-graded requirement for passing the Junior Writer's Workshop. It will also culminate in a downloadable certificate of completion.

Automation and Robotics

The district will offer its second Project Lead the Way Gateway to Technology pre-engineering course at the middle school this year. Automation and robotics is a quarter-long course that will expose students to the principles of engineering problem solving through the design, manufacture and programming of simple robots. It will be offered to eighth-grade students as part of the specials rotation and as a follow-up to the seventh-grade Design and Modeling course.

Comet Express

Piloted for the first time in the spring of 2012-2013, the Comet Express will fully debut this school year. The Comet Express will provide all fifth-grade students with targeted enrichment delivered for 30 minutes each day in a student-centered environment that supports academic and social growth. It is designed to support students during what can be a very difficult year of transition from elementary to middle school. The express will provide all fifth-grade students with needs-based enrichment in mathematics and English language arts and is designed to complement the core curricula of both subject areas. The express also offers students opportunities to develop time-management, organizational and study skills.

Science Notebooks

The district will implement a formal requirement that students keep a science notebook in middle school science classes beginning this year. This will serve to reinforce the district's efforts to teach critical thinking and writing in specific content areas across the curriculum. It will also prepare students to learn the format and language of collaborative work on science laboratory-based projects.

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