Thursday, May 11, 2017

A-B Wellness Tree in Full Bloom



Thanks to our Student Wellness Committee, we have a beautiful new tree in Student Center East.

During a Wellness Week Advisory Activity in April, our students and staff members wrote on leaves to share what they do to take care of themselves, what makes them happy, and what they are grateful for...

The result is a lovely reminder of the many things we are grateful for everyday as a school community.

Earlier today, I shared this reminder message with our seniors and a similar message for all students in our daily Good Morning A-B email about making safe choices. We are in full spring event season, and we know that this time of year is statistically one when teenagers can engage increasingly in high-risk behaviors related to drinking, driving, and other substance-related choices. I also reminded them about asking for help for themselves or on behalf of a peer if they or someone they know may be struggling. They are surrounded by caring adults here, and I appreciate our parent community reminding our students of this as well. 

I hope you all have a good rest of the week and a happy, relaxing weekend.
~JoAnn













Friday, May 5, 2017

Senior Interns Send-Off and A-B Administrator Recognized for National Award



Interns on Their Way....We wished more than 150 of our senior interns well today before they begin their internships on Monday. Tremendous thanks go to staff members Genevieve Hammond and Linda Murphy for overseeing our internship program and providing opportunities for our seniors to finish out the year exploring career options and having real-world experience. Our new Colonial mascot greeted students at the senior entrance, and the senior staircase was decorated in honor of the Class of 2017. It was a spirited day, and some of our seniors even brought their four-legged friends to help celebrate...



Congratulations to Associate Principal Beth Baker for being one of three national recipients of the Educational Theatre Association's 2017 Administrator's Award! Beth was nominated by drama teacher and Proscenium Circus Advisor Jessica Harms for her dedication and hard work on behalf of PC. A-B is so fortunate to have Beth's commitment to the arts and advocacy of theatre programs.
 
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ABRSD's May Expanding Our Notion of Success newsletter focuses on social emotional learning.  As defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.  

I hope you all have a great weekend~
JoAnn






Friday, April 28, 2017

Senior Breakfast and Community Service Day




Today was one of our favorite days of the school year....Senior Breakfast and Community Service Day. Led by science teachers Owen Bradford, Betsy Parker, Katelyn Saaristo and counselor Linda Murphy, our ABRHS staff prepares and serves breakfast for our seniors. Special thanks to all who decorated, prepped, cooked, served, and helped to make this morning special for our students, including our food service and custodial staffs who assist with making sure things go smoothly.  We loved seeing the students eating together as a class. The energy is always positive and fun as this event officially kicks off the weeks leading up to graduation.

After breakfast, our seniors leave to do service projects around our school campus and in various parts of the community. Thank you to Melissa Dempsey, Kay Steeves, Bobbi Chiauzzi, and all who help to coordinate the opportunities for our students to serve others.






Tomorrow morning, Acton is hosting an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Walk Out of Darkness, sponsored by two members of our senior class, Molly Durand and Anna Papalia.  For more information or to register to walk, please visit the event website.  I look forward to seeing those of you who are planning to attend this safe postvention event to raise awareness about and help to destigmatize mental health and suicide.  

Wishing you all a relaxing weekend~
JoAnn



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

ABRHS Wellness Week!


It is Wellness Week at A-B. In support of our overall focus on wellness and with the planning and coordination of several dedicated staff and community members and students, we are expanding on the success of the Physical Education and Health department's Health and Fitness Day (Thursday 4/13) to promote physical and mental health and overall well-being all week. The goal is to highlight a different area of wellness each day. Our student groups are running all of the activities and greeting students at the door in the morning.

Monday's theme was "Play." Our Ambassadors transformed the lower gym into a fun, engaging, and relaxing atmosphere, complete with a photo "booth" and games. We loved seeing students take some time to play and decompress during the school day.

Here are the themes and activities for the rest of the week:
Tuesday 4/11: Mindfulness: Join The Wellness Club in the cafeteria during all lunches to do some mindful coloring and write notes of gratitude to people who are important to you. During 4th period Jen Mast, from Revolution Yoga, will be leading a session on Mindful Yoga in the lower gym.  During 5th period, Ms. Sullivan, one of our teachers here at the high school, will be leading two sessions on mindful meditation from  11:05 - 11:25 and 11:30 - 11:50  in 115N.  Ms. Sullivan will also lead the whole school in a short mindfulness meditation during Advisory and the Wellness Club has planned an activity where students and staff will be asked to write down things they do to take care of themselves, are grateful for, or make them happy.

Wednesday 4/12: The Day of Silence: Join Common Ground in participating in The Day of Silence. You can support The Day of Silence by signing a silence pledge in counseling or wearing purple or an Erase Hate bracelet. Erase Hate bracelets and  a limited amount of  Erase Hate T-shirts can be purchased in the Counseling Center on the day of the event.

Thursday 4/13: Health and Fitness Day: Teachers are encouraged to bring their classes and join the Physical Education Department throughout the day up at Leary Field and Dow Track track to participate in a variety of activities such as Zumba, frisbee, soccer, and walking.  Also, as part of the Teen Driving Program, there will also be a distracted driving simulator set up for students to try.

Led by Associate Principal Beth Baker, this week of activities is possible because of the thoughtful and collaborative planning of our student Wellness Club and faculty Wellness Committee; Ambassadors; Common Ground; The PE and Health Department; Counseling Department Leader Todd Chicko; community members Cindy McCarthy, Susan Lerner, and Amanda Ashton; and our incredible main office secretaries Deb and Jeanne. 

A special thank you to our students for their tremendous leadership in making Wellness Week possible. As we approach the April vacation week, I wish you all a relaxing break with plenty of time for play~
JoAnn






Sunday, April 2, 2017

High School Schedule Process Update, Mindset and Learning




High School Schedule Change Process Update
Thank you to our parents and guardians who have completed the high school schedule survey. We have received more than 1,000 responses so far, and we are grateful for your feedback about what you value in a high school schedule. If you have not yet had a chance to share your thoughts in the survey, please do so. The final decision about a new, pilot high school schedule for the fall of 2018 will be made by the high school leadership team and the district leadership team. 

We are seeking feedback from parents/guardians and students about what you value in a high school schedule. This feedback will serve to inform our process and help us to plan for what we will need to do to educate students and families about a new schedule. The survey link was emailed directly to all parents/guardians at the high school. If you have a question about taking the survey, please contact Tina Vanasse at cvanasse@abschools.org.  

We will dedicate significant time next year for professional learning for staff to prepare for a new schedule, including any impacts on instruction, assessment, and homework.

As a review, here is a portion of my previous post about the high school schedule change process:

High School Schedule Change Process
We have made some changes to the high school schedule change process to allow for flexibility given the events of this year and our need to take care of staff, students, and families along the way. For an updated timeline, please click here. You will see that we are still planning to survey students, parents & guardians as well as to hold focus groups to hear feedback about potential high school schedule models. 

Mindset and Learning
Please take a moment to read ABRSD April's Expanding Our Notion of Success newsletter, which focuses on mindset.

Do you have a FIXED mindset, or a GROWTH mindset? 

Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success - a simple idea that makes all the difference. Teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports.

Dr. David Miele will be presenting Academic Mindsets: Their Role in Learning, Parenting and Teaching on April 5 7:00-8:30 PM in the RJ Grey Auditorium.



Friday, March 10, 2017

Celebrating Foreign Language Week and Getting our ZZZZs



ABRHS celebrated our Foreign Language Week 2017, which included musical performances, food, language and culture lessons, and immersion activities. Staff and students were encouraged to have "passports" stamped as they took part in Samba and Zumba lessons, heard music of the Andes performed by Inca Son, and tasted foods from around the World.




We were treated to a student Flamenco guitar performance, and students learned from Career Speakers how language skills will be beneficial to them in the future.

Thank you to our World Language Department Leader Sinikka Savukoski, all of our teachers and assistants in the World Language department, Dean of Students Maurin O'Grady, and our many wonderful parent and community volunteers for their time and enthusiasm in making it such a fun week and a rich celebration of culture and language.
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ABRSD's March Expanding Our Notion of Success newsletter focuses on sleep. Sleep is important for growth, immune response, learning and memory!

In this edition, we highlight the research on how much sleep students need, some of our Challenge Success student survey data around sleep, and a variety of other resources for you to consider if you are interested in learning more about how sleep affects us.
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I hope that you all have a happy (and restful) weekend~
JoAnn


Thursday, March 2, 2017

SOS Program Updates and Continued Support for our Learning Community


Singing Valentines in the Administrative Office

I hope that you and your families were able to relax and have some fun during February break. Our 5-year-old son had his first snow tubing experience in 65 degree weather...something he's not likely to experience again soon, I'm sure...

As our superintendent Dr. Brand referenced in his letter to parents and guardians earlier in February, we are putting into place some additional, preventative measures in the area of mental health for our students. As you may already know, we currently offer a health & wellness curriculum through our Physical Education department, SOS screening for all 9th graders, grade level counseling groups that focus on wellness, and trainings for staff regarding mental health, wellness, and learning. We have also done presentations on depression and suicide this year, including how to ask for help and access resources, for all students in grades 10-12.

In the course of the next month or so, we will screen our 9th and 12th graders based on the Signs of Suicide Prevention Program, a school-based suicide prevention curriculum and screening tool. Our 9th graders are screened annually; we are now adding 12th graders to be screened as well.  It is important that you read carefully the relevant items below if you are a parent of a 9th and/or 12th grader in order to provide the correct opt-in information for your child's participation in this program.

If you are a parent/guardian of a 12th grader, please click HERE for information about the upcoming Signs of Suicide (SOS) Booster program and screening, and click HERE for the permission form.

If you are a parent/guardian of a 9th grader, please click HERE for information about the upcoming Signs of Suicide (SOS) lesson and screening, and click HERE for the permission form.

Thank you in advance for your continued partnership in supporting our students' health and wellbeing. I hope you will consider attending the parent/guardian information session on March 16th at 7pm in the ABRHS auditorium to preview the SOS program.


Upon returning from the vacation week, I sent the following message to my staff. I wanted to share it with you as well:
You may have seen that Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester issued a statement in support of transgender students on February 23rd that reads, in part: I would like to affirm for you that Massachusetts remains dedicated to protecting the rights of transgender students even in light of recent federal actions. No one should be discriminated against based on their gender identity, and under existing state statute and regulations, protections for students and families will remain in place in the Commonwealth.

At ABRHS, we, too, affirm the rights and protections of our LGBTQ community, including our transgender students.  As challenging as this time is in many ways, it also offers us the opportunity to return to our core values as a school and district and be explicit in our support for all within our learning community.

JoAnn