The Hawk: February 7, 2020

February 6, 2020 6:48 pm


Week ending February 7, 2020

Dear IACS Community,

This week’s Hawk letter is written by Wellness Educator, Donna Rucinksi Harrington. Donna shares insight into her work with students in our Yoga and Mindfulness classes.

Medical research showing the positive physical and mental health effects of Mindfulness grew naturally out of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program started by Jon Kabat-Zinn since it was founded right at Umass Medical in the 1970s. The abundance of data helps me when teaching teens about yoga and mindfulness, as teens are curious and like having reasons why they should do any activity. My hope is that the information I share with them will give them reasons to bring mindfulness into their day-to-day life, now and in the future and that the techniques will help them better deal with stress. The awareness alone that they are not their thoughts, they are beings who are thinking thoughts, can be a powerful help with troubling worries as they begin to develop a witness mindset.

Jon Kabat-Zinn defines Mindfulness as: “The awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Deceptively simple as a concept, in practice, quieting our amygdala (the emotional center of the brain), and allowing our brains to rest, is harder than you might think.

In Yoga and Mindfulness classes, our activities are done with the goal of being in the moment. We practice through yoga, which is moving meditation, spending time in nature on our campus, or bringing our awareness to sensation with relaxing body scan and breathing meditations. And self-compassion is key, we return over and over to the current moment without judgement. Knowing our brains are wired to keep us on alert, we just work gently with it to give it a rest.

Combining both yoga and spending time in nature, this summer IACS constructed an outdoor yoga platform by the pond. I’m still pinching myself and trying to believe my luck at having this outdoor yoga space; I think IACS must be unique in having it for a school community. In the fall, students had a chance to enjoy yoga in the fresh air, in the shade and enjoying the breeze off the pond on a hot day. The staff also had a chance to experience yoga outside at our back-to-school training because there is much research supporting the potential stress-relieving aspects and improvement in classroom culture for teachers who participate in such activities. .

I’ve recently created a series of short mindfulness breaks for use by classroom teachers, but they can be used by anyone who would like to take a few moments to give mind and body a bit of a break. My goal was short, secular, and accessible to anyone. If you want to give them a try, links are below.


Donna Rucinski Harrington

  • A seated body scan meditation helps to loosen the pervasive tension that stress has us hold in our bodies.
  • Seeing meditation, where you contemplate the quality of an object, what it feels like to see.
  • Listening meditation where you tune in to what it’s like to hear sounds without assigning them meaning.
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    For up to date details, please use this link to the school calendar on our website.

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    Information about the Nutrition Program here & links to the online cafe payments.

    All School News

    Upcoming Middle School Enrollment Open House

    We have an upcoming enrollment open house session at the middle school- February 13th from 6-8 pm. During the open house, tour groups cycle through sessions by teachers and students to learn about the middle school curriculum at IACS. Please spread the word to friends and neighbors.

    Summer Programs

    For those of you looking for summer programming, Middlesex Community College has asked us to pass along their College for Kids program

    Donate Childrens’ and YA books at IACS

    The Interact Club is wondering if you have any children’s books or YA Novels that are sitting around collecting dust. Donate to the Interact Club’s book drive and give kids something to read! The Interact Club will be donating the books to BookNooks as a part of Project Learn. BookNooks are bookshelves that are located in family-friendly places around Lowell, delivering free, new, and gently used books directly to kids in our community. The book drive will be running until March 13th. Books will be collected in boxes around the school. Boxes are located in the auditorium hallway, in front of the main office, in the cafeteria, and in the library. More information about book nooks can be found at

    Questions? Contact Hope Coleman-Plourde at:

    BSO Trip – Funded by Local Cultural Councils

    On October 24, the High School music teachers took 48 High School Students, grades 9-12, from the Instrumental, Chorale, Introduction to Keyboard and Concert Choir classes to Boston’s Symphony Hall to see an open rehearsal of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. This program was supported in part by grants from the Tyngsborough, Dracut and Chelmsford Cultural Councils, local agencies supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. VIA "Vision for Innovation Academy", IACS’s own 503c nonprofit fundraising group, successfully secured all three grants. VIA is welcoming new members! Please contact Laura Smith at if interested.

    Middle School News

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    Fifth graders learning about rhythm in their world drumming music unit

    Title I Funding Parent Input Session- 2/13

    Come learn about how our school uses Title I funding and share your input on we use our funding in future school years to maximize our reach with our students. Due to last week’s snow delay, the session has been rescheduled to February 13th at 7:45 in the Landberg Hall conference room. Please RSVP to Middle School Principal Melissa Kapeckas

    Middle School Poetry Slam

    We’re hosting a poetry slam for middle school students and staff to read their original poems out loud in a poetry SLAM style on Thursday, March 26th from 3:00-4:30 pm in the auditorium. Come share your poetry or listen and enjoy! If you are interested in sharing your poetry, please sign up at

    Thanks to 8th grader Ashley Barrus for organizing this event!

    Shadowing for 8th Graders

    Current 8th graders heard a short presentation from the high school principal on December 19th about the high school academic program. The presentation was followed by a question and answer session with a panel of current high school students.

    If they have not already shadowed, students that have signed up will have the opportunity to shadow a high school student for the morning of February 12th or February 26th. An email will be sent to students to confirm which date they will be attending. Students should report to the Cafeteria by 8am on the day they will be shadowing.

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    The Art Show at the Embrace Winter Social felt like a walk through an art gallery, with 2D and 3D work on display, stop motion animation videos to watch, and a great jazz band! Thanks to Ms. Shaby and all of the volunteers that helped her put up and take down the show.

    High School News

    ILP’s Start This Week – Wed. Feb 12th

    ILP stands for Individual Learning Plan. All parents are asked to attend ILP conferences as they are an important step in building the student-parent-advisor relationship.

  • The conference will focus on revisiting goals set in the fall: your child will talk about their strengths and weakness and discuss a plan for how they will make the most effective progress over the semester.
  • ILPs provide a great opportunity for advisors, students and parents to sit down together to talk about upcoming school events, mark down important dates, and discuss how the second semester is going.
  • Please be sure to schedule your ILP meeting with your child’s advisor. Our Wednesday Interns need not worry, there are no internships this Wednesday Feb 12th in order to accommodate ILP meetings.
  • Semester 1 Report Cards were sent home on Tuesday!

    Report Cards were printed and handed to students on Tuesday. They have also been posted to your Aspen Family Portal. If you need assistance accessing your family portal please contact Crystal McKiel, HS Administrative Assistant at or 978-649-0432 x2004. Paper copies can be mailed upon request.

    Senior Project Class: Looking for Experts

    Our Seniors have started working on the Senior Project topics. This form has a list of topics that our seniors are independently researching for their Senior Project class. One of their tasks is to reach out to experts in the field that might willing to speak with them about their topic, or point them in the direction of other people/books/journals/websites that may be helpful for their research.

    If you have some expertise in any of the topics listed here, or know of someone else that might be helpful for them to contact, please indicate this by adding contact information or other information under the appropriate topic.

    The students will be appreciative of any suggestions…thank you for help!

    Driver’s Ed Classes begin March 4th

    Future Driver’s of America will begin their next Driver’s Ed classroom session beginning Wednesday, March 4th. Classes are offered on Wednesday’s mainly from 12:30-4:30pm for 10 weeks. Students must be 15yrs 9 months by March 4th. For more information and to register visit their website at

    Driver’s Ed Flyer with Schedule


    The deadline for ordering yearbooks is fast approaching: Friday, April 3! They are $40, and you can pay online at

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    Drama News

    Join us and bring your family and friends to see the epic tale of passion and redemption in the throes of revolution, Les Miserables, Student Edition. Tickets are currently on sale. Please go to this page: and click on “View Performances.” From there you can click on how many tickets you desire. Tickets are currently $16 and go up to $18 on March 1. Please join us for this masterpiece of multi-award-winning musical theatre!

    Athletics News

    Athletic Award Nights

  • HS winter athletic awards will be Wednesday, March 25th at 6 pm in the IACS auditorium.

  • MS winter athletic awards will be Wednesday, April 1st at 6 pm in the IACS auditorium.

  • All winter athletes and families are invited and encouraged to attend these ceremonies.

    IACA News

    IACA meeting on Wed Feb 12th at 6:00pm in the Library. We’ll be discussing Casino Night our largest fundraiser and we need your help. If you have any interest in helping with this, join us on Wed or contact Heather at Yes, we are seeking donation and table sponsors! Hope to see you there!

    A big thank you to all who joined us for Embrace Winter last friday, it was a great time with Bingo, cornhole, a fun snowflake craft, a tacos and cupcake stand, video game station and nerf area. A good time was had by all (we hope) and a special shout out to the Edwards Advisory for their help with the games area!

    Congratulations Daisy Garcia for winning the Nashoba Tubing basket!

    Box Tops

    Looking for an easy and FREE way to help our school raise money?

    Click on the photo of the boxtops or here to learn how scanning a receipt for something you were already buying can ALSO help IACA earn 10 cents for each item.

    Do you love College Basketball?

    IACA is selling tickets for a UML Basketball game.

    Game is Feb 8th at 4:00pm. Tickets are 6.00 plus fees. Click the link below to purchase tickets.

    Giving Bean Coffee and Artisan Tea Fundraiser

    Giving Bean is a gourmet coffee roaster and provider of freshly roasted whole bean, ground and K-cup coffees, fine tea, gourmet cocoa, chai, and shortbread cookies. We figure that just about everyone enjoys a great cup of coffee (or tea)! Fundraiser will be online and at Embrace Winter .This fundraiser will help support events like 8th grade semi, scholarships and dances. click here to check it out.

    Prefer a paper form? Questions? contact Cindi : tel:978-866-8380