The Hawk: October 23, 2020

October 23, 2020 6:48 pm


Week ending October 23, 2020

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.

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Dear IACS Community,

I truly miss writing about the excellent and exciting work occurring and indeed there is much to recognize. Thankfully examples occurring at both our middle and high school is captured in their respective sections, so please scroll down to check it out.

Knowing that the local public health landscape and its impact on schools still dominates the news, I wanted to give you yet another update. This week’s state COVID-19 map, which is now updated on Thursday nights, showed that our primary districts continue to be shaded red and yellow. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) asks that districts use three weeks worth of reports when making decisions and advised us to use Lowell as the “key municipality” to benchmark our decisions as a regional school. For this reason, IACS will continue our current “Remote Plus” for a minimum of the next three weeks (week ending Friday, November 13th).


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I understand that making longer term commitments can help staff and families make plans, however DESE’s guidance to look at three weeks worth of data attempts to strike a balance between making hurried decision (i.e.,”get ready we’re going hybrid next week!”) and being responsive to changes that may develop (i.e. the landscape will only get worse, so forget let’s just commit to remote plus all semester). In the meantime, we remain committed to improving our work and the student experience.

As always, we are incredibly grateful for your feedback and support.

In partnership,

Greg Orpen

Head of School

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All School News

Opportunity to Engage

A Message from the RJC to Families of Color<<<< please watch this short video.

The existing RJC is seeking out additional members from the community to fill the committee. Specifically, we are looking for students (2 MS and 3 HS), 2 alumni, 2 parents, and 1 board member. The RJC is deliberately seeking out students and families of Color to elevate these voices and inform the process and future initiatives of this work. If you are interested in applying for a position on the RJC, please send an email to Please include a short statement of intent expressing why you would like to be involved in this work. Video submissions will also be accepted. Please contact with your submissions by November 6, 2020 in order to be considered for a position on the RJC.


Please fill out the Chromebook user contract form if your student needs to borrow an IACS Chromebook and arrange with the main office to pick it up. Please come anytime between 8:30-4, but please avoid dismissal time between 2:45-3:15 pm. Families should call ahead and buzz the building when you arrive. Our main office staff will bring it to you outside, like curb-side pick-up!

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.

COVID-19 Health and Safety Updates from the Health Office

What are the different types of COVID-19 tests and which one should I get?

The health office has been receiving questions from both staff and parents, regarding the types of available COVID tests, and their differences.

This handout from the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, explains each test and also has QR codes highlighting available testing sites.

The gold standard for COVID-19 testing remains the PCR or molecular test; thus the health office encourages anyone in need of a COVID test due to symptoms or potential close contact, to obtain a PCR test. Please be reminded that through the Stop The Spread campaign here in Massachusetts, all MA residents are able to receive a free PCR test at any of the designated sites.

How can we safely carpool?

Carpooling is a common practice here at IACS. Here is a poster as well as a video from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health regarding staying healthy while carpooling. The main points to remember are:

  • minimize the number of people in the car
  • everyone should wear masks while in the car
  • keep windows open
  • sanitize high touch points regularly such as door handles etc.

Our continued gratitude goes out to the parent community for all of your cooperation during this time. Remember to periodically visit the Health Office FAQ’s document for updated information. Please feel free to contact the health office at with any questions.


Middle School News

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Virtual Learning Kits- Pick-Up Next Week

We’re sending home a second round of virtual learning kits for all middle school students next week.

If your child attends school in person for support with remote learning, we will send it home with them. (Note: if you’d like us to send home a virtual learning kit for a sibling of a student on campus, please email Ning Sisouvanh at to arrange).

For all other students, please pick-up materials on the patio under the tent by the main entrance during these time frames:

Tuesday, 10/27 3:15-5:00 pm

Wednesday, 10/28 12:35-5:00 pm

Thursday, 10/29 3:15-5:00 pm

After 10/29 , families can pick up at the main office anytime between 8:15 am-4:00 pm.

These are the materials in the kits:

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Friday, 10/30 Halloween Costume Contest

We’re hosting a Halloween Costume contest on Friday, 10/30. Students can dress up for their Zoom meetings or dress up if they attend school in person on the same day. Details will be shared with students this week.

MS Parent/Principal Advisory Council

The MS Parent/Principal Advisory Council will meet on Zoom five evenings this year from 6:30 pm – 7:15 pm. This year the council will be meeting on 10/28, 12/9, 1/20, 3/10, and 4/28. Parents that join the group are asked to commit to the council for one year. The purpose of the council is to assist in developing short and long-term goals for the school and to provide input and feedback. Any parent that is interested in joining should email MS Principal Melissa Kapeckas at by October 23rd.

Progress Reports are coming!

Grades for Semester 1 Progress Report #1 close on Friday, October 30th. Progress Reports will be published to Aspen Family Portals on or around November 3rd. If you don’t know your aspen login and password please reach out to Ning Sisouvanh at or the main office at

Virtual Extracurricular Activities/Clubs

Please check out this padlet (virtual bulletin board) to see what extracurricular activities are starting at the middle school and how to sign up.

Middle School Planners

Middle School planners were sent home in virtual learning kits. Typically, we ask families to purchase these planners at a cost of $5. You can do submit your payment using this online form: Thank you!


High School News

HS Calendar Dates

Academic Calendar for 2020-2021 – High School Specific Version

October 30th – Semester 1 Progress Report 1

November 6th – Limited Screen Day #3


Progress Reports are coming!

Grades for Semester 1 Progress Report #1 close on Friday, October 30th. HS Progress Reports will be published to Aspen Family Portals on or around November 3rd. If you don’t know your aspen login and password please reach out to Crystal McKiel, .

Helpful Links for Students & Families:

2020-2021 Student & Family Handbook

2020-2021 HS Reopening Handbook Supplement

Academic Calendar for 2020-2021 – High School Specific Version

New Greenhouse

Thanks to Colin Kennedy for assembling the new greenhouse and benches that Science teacher Anna Cynar is already putting to good use.

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Adams Scholarship Recipients 2021

This year 48 seniors, representing a whopping 51% of the Class of 2021, at Innovation Academy Charter School (IACS) earned the John and Abigail Adams scholarship. This award marks high achievement on the Math, English Language Arts, and Biology MCAS exams. To qualify for this scholarship, students have to earn Advanced on either the Math or English exam and Proficient or Advanced on the other two. Their combined score for these three exams must be in the top 25% of their class at IACS, or in the top 25% of their home district. Recipients of this four-year scholarship are granted a tuition credit each year. The amount will depend on the specific state college or university a student attends, but at UMass it is currently equivalent to $1575 per year.

This year’s recipients are: Alyssa Abramo, Adelaide Ansah, Kathryn Baird, Helena Balbat, Rian Benoit, Tom Bojsen, Delaney Brown, Nam Bui, Daniella Chavez, Elaina Chisholm, Hope Coleman-Plourde, Owen DeLuca, Micah Descoteaux, Davidson Doliver, Tyler Donkoh-Halm, James Former, Christopher Freire, Gautham Giridharan, Diego Goodrich, Joshua Goyette, Therese Guillen, Hudson Guilmartin, Mea Hevner, Parker Jackson, Rhoda Kaddu, Charles Kefauver, Emily Klein, Erin Lee, Pierre-William Lessard, Aedan Maginnis, Finnbar Maginnis, Devaleena Mak-Phoeurk, Penelope McDonald, Alexander Merkel, Sophia Paolillo, Caitlyn Pennie, Kaitlyn Pinette, Hannah Richman, Georgia Row, Hannah San Clemente, Christopher Sano, Andrew Shapiro, Nathan Smith, Dalena Soun, Isabel Stanley-Kemler, Adrienne Tuleja, Aphroditi Tziotziouras, and Sali Vo.

Congratulations to all for earning this recognition.

Alumni Hawk

IACS Alumni continue to practice the school outcomes after graduation. Check out the latest edition of the Alumni Hawk which features seven alumni profiles. If you wish to be added to our mailing list, send an email request to Shannon Morocco at

To receive more frequent alumni updates, follow IACS Alumni on social media. Find us on both Facebook and Instagram, @Iacsthebestalumni.

Virtual College Fair

NEACAC (the New England Association of College Admission Counselors) is hosting a virtual college fair with live meetings of college admissions reps on October 29th and November 15th from 6 to 8pm.

This college fair will allow students and families to:

*Uncover new college options through a robust search tool*

*Watch videos and download materials helpful for your decision making process*

*Ask questions!*

See the list of colleges and register here:

College Visits

Virtual College Rep meetings continue this week with Fisher College, Univ of Southern Maine, Framingham State University, St Joseph’s College of Maine, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Keene State College and Lasell University. Juniors and Seniors, visit your College Counseling Google Classrooms to learn more about these Schools as well as the ones visiting over the next few weeks and to sign up. Looking for a specific school? Reach out to Ms. Deknatel, College Counselor.


Photos of the Week:

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Mr. Sciolla’s Instrumental Ensemble class got to rehearse the other day on the high school patio: #in-person #socially distanced #outside

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Biology and Anatomy & Physiology teachers Ms. Joyce and Ms. Cynar did some amazing work to put together take-home lab kits for their students.