The Hawk: March 5, 2021

March 4, 2021 6:48 pm


March 5, 2021

This digital newsletter can be translated by clicking on the translate button on the right (or above if on a mobile device) and choosing your preferred language.

Big picture

Dear IACS Community,

While last week I was able to share important news of our 5-year charter renewal, today I need to pivot back to providing COVID-related updates. As I write this letter, DESE Commissioner Riley is about to present a recommendation to the MA Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). If approved by BESE, this recommendation would allow the Commissioner to determine when schools must provide in-person instruction for all students 5 days per week. From language released last night, it does not appear that a universal start date will be given, but rather DESE will take a district-by-district approach, starting in early April.

In the proposal sent to BESE, the Commissioner clearly stated that, "for the remainder of the school year, parents and guardians may continue to select a remote learning model for their children. The learning hours for students who opt into remote learning will continue to count for structured learning time." This point is very important as I’ve heard confusion even among officials at other schools. IACS families who want their children to stay remote will continue to do so.

In order to properly plan for a transition to 5 days/week, in-person learning, it is critical that the school conduct another family survey. This information will help us better understand how we would need to accommodate increased student density in our classrooms and common spaces. On Tuesday, March 9th, we’ll be sending a survey to all families along with any updates that may emerge from BESE’s meeting today.

As always, thank you for the many ways you’ve continued to support your students and our school during this most challenging year.

In partnership,

Greg Orpen

Head of School

All School News

Big picture

IACS Covid Dashboard

This dashboard displays data regarding the number of positive cases, separating out staff from students, and high school from middle school students.

Questions? contact: or at 978-649-0432, ext. 2104.

Inclusion Aides and In Person Instructional Support Staff needed

If you would be interested in joining IACS as an Inclusion Aid or In person Instructional Support Staff, please go to our website to see postings and job descriptions for this year.

Per diem Substitute Teachers Needed:

We are looking for a few more people to join our substitute teacher pool. As we start to make plans for the return of students and teachers to classrooms, Virtual and In Person, we want to also have a working list of substitutes so that we can ensure that we provide your students uninterrupted learning. If you or a friend are interested in learning more about becoming a substitute at IACS please fill out the availability form. Half day and full day subbing opportunities are available. IACS pays $25 per hour up to $100 per day maximum.

CNN published this article this week, “Why Kids are Hitting the Pandemic Wall”. We are sharing it as it seemed to have some helpful insights and tips for families as we navigate the pandemic.

Pool Testing

Detailed information regarding what Covid pool testing is, how it will work at IACS as well as instructions on how to register your student can be found here.

HS & MS School Calendar

We have included the pdf for the 2020-2021 HS & MS Calendar. Please see the calendar on our website for the most up to date information.

VIA Needs You!

VIA (Vision for Innovation Academy, Inc.) is a non-profit, 501c3 organization with a mission to seek funds in order to provide support for educational programs, or focused activities of IACS. Our board is made up of current and past parents along with school leadership. We are looking for parents, grandparents, alumni, or friends of IACS to join us as we continue to explore funding opportunities for the school we love.

We are especially in search of anyone who has interest in any one of these areas:

  • Grant writing experience or a willingness to learn about grant writing

  • Reading with a critical eye

  • Creative thinking

  • Relationship building

  • Also, if you know of grant opportunities from your employer or other organizations we’d love to hear about them!

    If you are interested, please contact Bianka Kolb ( or Laura Smith (, VIA co-chairs.

    Current board members: Carolyn Feeney, Sheila Hingorani, Bianka Kolb, Heather Landis, Christopher Morgan, Greg Orpen, Michael Royston, Laura Smith

    Big picture

    School Breakfast & Lunch Program

    IACS is offering FREE breakfast and lunch meals to ALL IACS on-campus learners. On-campus learners do not need to enroll or use a lunch account to receive free meals. Remote and hybrid learners can also receive free meals at either their town’s school or at IACS. Remote and hybrid learners, if you would like to pick up meals for days when the student is off-campus learning, enroll in this program by completing this survey. You do not need to complete the survey if you have already enrolled. Email if you have any questions

    Theatre News

    Performing Arts Camps

    All students currently in grades 4-12 are invited to join us for this summer’s PERFORMING ARTS CAMPS! Camps are located on the school campus, often using the outdoor stage.

  • "Hamilton – The Musical Camp!" Get to know and perform some off the show at IACS! July 12-16
  • "This is Improv and Comedy!" Where you will use Improv Activities and Comedy to grow as a performer! July 19-23
  • "A Full Play and a TV Show!" Where you will perform a full play and a tv show! July 26-30
  • Each camp ends with a show for the public on Friday evening on the outdoors stage by the pond. Registration information and details about cost will be coming in upcoming Hawks. We would love to see you at camp!

    Also –Auditions are coming up for our spring production of "The Pandemic that Didn’t Define Them." Watch for details in upcoming Hawks!

    Please email with questions!

    Middle School News

    Tuesday’s wind inspired 7th grader CJ Myerov in his ELA quick write this week:

    “The wind was alive last night. Before I went to bed, I could hear the wind singing it’s spooky tune. When I woke, trash barrels were on their sides, a lid laid lazily on the lawn, one of my sleds was sleeping in the garden, a newspaper was being read by the snow, a basketball greeted a ladder, and something was blowing around in the woods. Throughout the morning, the wind pushed and pulled the trees, and the door moaned. I can still hear it as I write, hopefully it will sleep tonight.”

    Big picture

    Fifth graders learned about different techniques/brush strokes while painting this week.

    Title I Parent Input Session- 3/24 6-7 pm

    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. Email to RSVP to MS Principal Melissa Kapeckas at and she will send you the Zoom link. If you cannot attend but are interested in this topic, email Melissa Kapeckas to connect.

    Hybrid Status Shift

    A reminder to families that are currently remote that if you’d like your child to move to hybrid, please email our Dean of Students, Federico Pererya. We ask for two week’s notice to ensure enough time to make adjustments to schedules/classrooms to ensure proper spacing.

    High School News

    Big picture

    MCAS for Grades 10 & 11

    Since MCAS exams did not happen last spring, all juniors and sophomores are expected to take the exam this year. High schools have essentially been given the month of May to fit the exams in. In order to have enough testing rooms and teachers available to proctor the exams, only grades 10 and 11 will be in the building on the four test days. All testing will be conducted in small groups in order to provide plenty of space for our students. Grades 9 & 12 will work remotely for the day and they will be assigned asynchronous work for their classes. While the class of 2022 & 2023 have to pass the ELA & Math MCAS exams, they do not have to take the Biology MCAS Exam. Instead, students will only have to show successful completion of the Biology class. The workload will be reduced on test days since grades 10 & 11 will be testing all morning and will only have the afternoon available for their school work. Students will need to be in the building for all four tests days, regardless of whether they participate in the hybrid or full remote models. Our current testing schedule is the following:

  • May 11 & 14 (Tue, Fri) ELA for grades 10 & 11

  • May 17 & 21 (Mon, Fri) Math for grades 10 & 11

  • Extra Help

    Students are reminded that extra help is available for all classes. Here is a list of times that each teacher has set aside for extra help. Virtual links can be found in each Google Classroom. Students can also email teachers if they can’t find the virtual links or if they have any questions.


    There is only one more month to buy yearbooks; the deadline for ordering is Friday, April 2, and they are $40 each. Please order and pay online at The online order form includes personalization options (i.e. your name and icons).

    Switching between Hybrid and Remote Learning

    At any point this semester, if you would like to notify us of your intent to either have your child learn in-person, or switch back to fully remote learning, please use this google form:

    To help with our planning, please give us a 2-week notice before requesting to switch to in-person learning. We do not need a 2-week notification if your child is going to return to fully remote learning.

    Attention Seniors: Scholarships

    Seniors, make sure to look into these scholarship opportunities. Contact Ms. Deknatel with questions or if you need assistance applying

    IACS Scholarships

    Community Scholarships

    Adulting 101

    The University of Massachusetts 4-H Youth Development Program is offering these free virtual workshops for students.

    LINK to Register for any and all of these 1 hour sessions on Living, Finances, and Career exploration

    Big picture

    Free STEM Programs

    Check out this current program for HS students who are interested in STEM. It is run by Pace University in NYC. The program is free for high school students across the U.S. and will be running virtually! No experience needed.

    GenCyber Camp CryotpBot

    July 7th-July 16th , 2021

    Camp CryptoBot is a FREE dynamic, co-ed interactive and mission-driven camp that introduces high-school students to the basics of cybersecurity. Sphero Bolt and Javascript are the platform for teaching cryptography and the 10 First Principles using various pedagogical approaches, including storytelling, hands-on labs, and problem-solving missions.

    Photo of the Week

    Big picture

    Students in Ms. Lane’s Concert Choir Class were able to take advantage of Monday’s mild weather to go outside, safely distance themselves and finally sing as a group. They gathered for a photo at the end of class.

    IACA News

    Do you have a business that would benefit from some publicity?

    If so, consider making a donation to the upcoming auction, or sponsoring an ad on our auction page or in our silent auction booklet!

    If you know of anyone who might like to make a tax deductible donation or purchase ad space for this fundraiser please contact Heather Landis at

    Big picture

    Time to do your Friday happy dance!