Week ending October 9, 2020
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Dear IACS Community,
In last week’s edition of the Hawk, I provided several screenshots of the MA “traffic light” COVID map to show how positive cases have intensified in the Merrimack Valley since the end of August. This week’s most recent data showed continued rise in positive cases in most every city and town in our region. Chelmsford has now been classified as a “red” town, as the average daily number of new positive cases exceed 8.0 per 100,000 people; residents of Tewksbury likely also know that their town’s metric increased to 7.9. Finally, Lowell, which DESE has designated as our “key municipality” to guide IACS’s decision making as a regional charter school, saw its metric increase to 16.3.
Because this week’s report showed increased levels of regional COVID cases, IACS will be extending our “Remote Plus” academic program through at least Friday, October 30th.
We will continue to monitor the metrics provided on this map for the remaining weeks of October to see if a safe switch to a hybrid model is feasible on Monday, November 2nd. Obviously these updates will continue to be prominently featured in the weekly editions of The Hawk.
When we developed our original reopening plan, our sincerest hope was that the state metrics originally shared in mid-August would remain low and stable in the Merrimack Valley through September and early October. Had this been the case, we would have been positioned to pivot models on October 19th. But we must also use data to inform our decision making and the trends clearly show that infections are increasing in our area.
So as we move forward through October, we will continue to think critically about ways we can improve our current work. We will also commit to incorporating community feedback into revising a hybrid model that will allow us to make the most successful transition possible.
Head of School
All School News
No School Monday:
A reminder that we do not have school on Monday in recognition of the holiday.
HS & MS School Calendar
OPPORTUNITY TO ENGAGE
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 ember. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com with your submissions by October 16, 2020 in order to be considered for a position on the RJC.
Join us for the hilarious Innovation Academy Middle and High School Fall Play
The Monologue Show!
It took Mr. Banks’s drama class three long months to prepare for their monologue show . . . but barely a minute to throw all their plans out the window. From the couple staging their real-life break-up to the garden-gnome thief confessing his crimes, everything that can go wrong will in this collection of hilarious tall tales.
IACS’s Connection to Indigenous Culture
Monday is recognized as Indigneous Peoples’ Day by numerous states. There has been a movement for a while in MA to change the day from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day; Several MA towns have adopted this already. As a school that has a very present and visible indigenous history, it is important that we acknowledge that the land we live, work, and learn on has served as a site of meetings and exchange among a number of Indigenous peoples; There are artifacts still found on our site today that were made by the local indigenous groups within the area. The Abenaki, Penacook and Pawtucket are all groups who call the Tyngsboro and Lowell area their home.
Historically the land where our IACS campus sits was also where the Tyng Family resided. Jonathan Tyng had a complex relationship with the Abenaki, Penacook and Pawtucket as these groups were displaced and forced to flee during King Philip’s War. Chief Wannalancet who fled eventually returned to this site as a guest of the Tyng family and he eventually died on these lands. Below is a memorial rock and plaque on our campus that shares, “In this place lived during his last years, and died in 1696, WANNALANCET. Last Sachem of the Merrimack River Indians, Son of Passaconway, like his father a faithful friend of the early New England Colonists.”
Here at IACS, we are working to honor and respect the diverse Indigenous peoples connected to this territory that our school is on. We encourage you to spend some time over the long weekend to learn more about Indigenous Peoples’ Day and the active and vibrant indigenous groups within New England. If able, please consider supporting efforts to repair the legacy of harm and displacement against native communities who are also one of the most impacted communities by our current pandemic
Some suggested resources:
IACS Specific History:
Legacy of Jonathan Tyng and Wannalancet (Sara Krakauer )
Middle School News
In an effort to streamline communication, we have begun sending missing work summary emails and class attendance reports on a weekly basis. While individual teachers might reach out to students and their families to schedule extra help sessions, we’ve asked that advisors act as the primary point of contact for their advisees to help streamline communication for families, students, and staff.
Back to School Night Follow-Up
It was great to see so many families at Back to School Night. For those of you unable to attend or with multiple children at the middle school, here is a list of recordings and/or links to slide presentations.
Attendance in every synchronous class is essential. Please remember to reach out to the main office if your child is unavailable to attend a class due to an appointment, etc. If you have a wifi issue on a particular day, please reach out after the fact to the teacher and the main office.
If a child is not present for more than 50% of the synchronous block (i.e. they log in late or leave early), they will be marked absent. If a child has their camera off and is unresponsive (not responding to verbal or chat responses), they will be marked absent as well.
You can log in on the Aspen portal at any time to view attendance data and we will report a weekly summary via email for any student that had absences the previous week. Thank you for supporting your child to ensure they are logging on consistently and engaging in class.
Virtual ILP (Individual Learning Plan) Conferences
Virtual ILP (Individual Learning Plan) Conferences begin next week. We’ll be checking in about how remote learning is going and set a goal for the year together. If you have not yet signed up for a time slot, please be in touch with your child’s advisor.
We’ve updated the middle school section of our website with some new links and pages specific to the 2020-2021 school year. Check it out: https://www.innovationcharter.org/middle-school/
Virtual Extracurricular Activities/Clubs Starting
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: https://forms.diamondmindinc.com/iacs/msplanner Thank you!
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!
High School News
HS Calendar Dates
October 14th – Virtual ILP Conferences
October 21st – Virtual ILP Conferences
October 30th – Semester 1 Progress Report 1
Virtual ILP Conferences begin This Week!
Hopefully by now you have been contacted by your student’s Advisor to setup a virtual ILP Conference. This is a student led meeting in which your child will reflect on the beginning of the school year and share with us their goals for the school year. ILP Conferences will be held virtually via Zoom on either Wednesday, October 14 or Wednesday, October 21. If you have not heard from your student’s advisor please reach out to them. It could be possible our contact information is incorrect.
Thank you for Coming – Back to School Night
Thank you to all the families that attended last night’s Virtual Back to School Night. It was great to see familiar faces as well as meet some new families. Thank you for all the well thought out questions as well as your support for the hard work of the school. If you weren’t able to attend we invite you to reach out to your students teachers to ask about the coursework. Staff emails are available on our website.
Limited Screen-time Days
With our students spending much more time on screens than any of us would like, we have decided to pilot some days with the goal of limiting the amount of screen-time needed for students to complete their class lessons. This is not a day off for our students, since they still need to complete their assignments. This will be easier to do for some classes than others depending on what needs to be accomplished on that particular day. As a result, some classes may seem fairly typical and other classes may not even need their students to login for attendance. Teachers will communicate their expectations for the day in advance, so that all students will know what they need to do. If students are not required to login for attendance, the completion of the class assignment will serve as a record of their attendance for that day. The high school has scheduled three days so far to pilot the limited screen-time days:
Friday, October 9th, Monday, October 19th, Friday, November 6th
We will reevaluate how they are working out after November 6th to see if it is something that we would like to continue.
Yearbooks are now on sale! They are $35 until December 31, after which they will be $40. Please order and pay online at https://forms.diamondmindinc.com/iacs/hsyearbook. The online order form includes personalization options (i.e. your name and icons). The deadline for ordering is Friday, April 2, 2021.
Senior photos, baby pictures, and parent pages are due no later than Friday, January 8, 2021. See below for more information about senior photos, baby pictures, and parent pages.
Senior Portraits: Due to COVID cancelling school ID photos, seniors must have senior portraits taken outside of school. If a student doesn’t want to take a senior portrait outside of school, we will use last year’s school ID photo. Please send portraits to firstname.lastname@example.org. The portrait should be 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches, vertically oriented, and at least 300 dpi/ppi. It should be a posed portrait in which your face is clear.
Baby Pictures: Seniors should also plan to send in a baby picture to be included in the yearbook. These can also be emailed to email@example.com. Please be sure the file name contains your student’s name so we know where it goes.
Parent Pages: A parent page is something parents make for their child, congratulating them and wishing them luck with whatever journey they may be venturing on to next. Parent pages will each be half a page. No matter how they are created, they should be in a landscape orientation and measure 8.5 inches x 5.5 inches. There is no additional cost for parent pages. Please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.