The Hawk: September 13, 2015

September 13, 2015 8:00 am

“The Hawk”

Dear IACS Community,

We are proud to launch this school year by celebrating our 20th birthday!  I’m guessing this milestone might come as a surprise to you, as even members of our own staff found it hard to believe.  In the fall of 1996, the Chelmsford Public Charter School (CPCS) opened its doors as a Grade 5-8 middle school at the intersection of Littleton Road (Rt. 110) and Hunt Road.  A framed signature list of original students and staff currently hangs in our lobby.  For the first six years we operated in a small, rented facility which was certainly a cozy (read: cramped) place for 250 students and 25 teachers to learn!

The next chapter in our school’s history was renaming CPCS to Murdoch Middle School, posthumously named after founding parent Linn Murdoch, and moving across Chelmsford.  Our new campus on Brick Kiln Road was the first building and property we ever owned.  Operating in this new facility allowed our program to flourish even more.  Word of mouth quickly spread about our hands-on, student-centered educational mission and our upbeat, close-knit community.  With that kind of energy and enthusiasm it was easy to understand why families grew even more restless to expand our school to include a high school.

In the fall of 2007, we launched the expansion of a high school program under a newly minted school name, Innovation Academy Charter School.  Our middle school continued to operate on Brick Kiln Road while our 9th grade class blazed its new trail at the Old Town Hall in Chelmsford Center.   Good fortune and smart planning combined forces in the winter of 2008 when Boston University decided to sell their Corporate Education Center in Tyngsboro.   In a “too good to be true” moment, IACS purchased our current property where we have been operating since August of 2008.  In recent years, we have completed multiple interior renovations to our building, added a new academic wing which primarily houses our 5th and 6th grade families, and constructed a track and field complex.  These physical improvements have allowed for improved academic and extracurricular programming as well.

Being a part of this community since 2000 has afforded me a front row seat for almost all of these exciting moments in our school’s history.  While I’ve taught students whom I’ll always remember, and worked with truly inspirational colleagues, the most important stakeholder to our school community has always been the families.  Families had the bold vision to write the original charter.  Families stuck by the school through the expected growing pains launching a middle school and a high school.  (It takes a lot of trust to watch us build the plane as we flew it!)  Families have been our best advertiser by endorsing our unique mission to friends and neighbors in ways that can’t be replicated by flyers and websites.  

So what will the next 20 years look like at IACS?  We’ll continue to develop exciting academic programs that align with our unique mission.  We’ll continue to value what students can create more than what isolated facts they can remember. And yes, we’ll continue to develop our beautiful campus with facilities  that further enhance the student experience.  But as history has shown, the support we receive from our family community will take IACS to those next steps sooner and with greater joy.  

Happy Birthday IACS! And here’s to the next 20 years…


Greg Orpen

Head of School


All School News

September Dates At a Glance:

September 17– High School Back to School Night 6 pm

September 21Substitute Teacher Training 8:15 am

September 21– Board of Trustees Meeting 6:30 pm

September 24– Q & A about Plimoth Plantation Overnight Field Trip for 5th and 6th graders

September 24– Middle School Back to School Night 6 pm

September 29– Basic Rights in Special Education Workshop 6:30 pm

September 29– IACA meeting & x2 Aspen Family Portal Training


Annual Report: A reminder that families can read our 2015 Annual Report as well as previous editions posted to our school website.


Opportunity for Students: Click here for more information about becoming a ball boy/girl at IACS soccer games.


Spanish for Elementary-Aged Students:

Do you have younger children who want to get a jump on learning Spanish? Click here for more information.


IACS School Nutrition Program:  The September Breakfast & Lunch Menu has been posted: CLICK HERE TO ORDER.  Visit the IACS website or if you have any questions.


Middle School News

Students in advisory participating in a team-building challenge


x2 Aspen Family Portal Update: x2 Aspen is the online database that IACS uses; families and students have an account which allows them to sign in to see their student’s current progress in classes, view attendance records, and update contact information. All returning students and families have the same username and password to sign in to the x2 Aspen student and family portals as in the past. If you need to have a password reset, please contact the main office at Families of new students can expect to receive their account information in the mail by September 19th. There will be a training to learn more about the features of the family portal at the start of the IACA meeting on Tuesday, 9/29 at 7 pm.


Update from the MA DESE (Department of Elementary & Secondary Education) on State Testing:

The 2015-16 school year marks the end of Massachusetts' two-year test drive of PARCC, an assessment developed in collaboration with a group of states looking to measure how students are performing academically based on more rigorous college- and career-ready standards. The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is currently deciding whether to adopt PARCC or pursue other means of updating the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test. Last year, IACS students in Grades 5-8  took the PARCC exam for Mathematics and English/Language Arts. Students in Grades 5 and 8 also took the Science MCAS exams.  If your child took the MCAS test last year, you can expect to receive scores in October. They are mailed from the school where the test was administered. If your child took the PARCC test last spring, you can expect scores in November or December. PARCC scores are later than MCAS this year because of the technical aspects involved with administering a test for the first time. Students' achievement is likely to be lower on PARCC than MCAS, because PARCC is designed to be a more rigorous test. Please see the attached flyer for more information.

Back to School Night: IACS will be holding our annual “Back to School Night” on Thursday, Thursday, September 24th (MS) from 6-8 pm. This events is an opportunity for families to connect names to faces among our teaching staff, as well as learn about some of the curricular themes of the upcoming year. During this event, families will follow a modified schedule of their child’s day. Prior to Back to School Night, there will be a Question & Answer session beginning at 5 pm about the overnight Plimoth Plantation trip for families of fifth and sixth graders.

MS Student and Family Handbook:  The MS Student and Family Handbook has been posted on our website.

Plimoth Plantation Overnight Field Trip for Grade 5 & 6 Students: Click here for more information.

Band sign-ups are happening now. Learn more here.

Chorus starts next week. Click here to learn more.

After School Art Classes start next week. Click here for more information.


High School News


Click the blue link for the full text…

  • Back To School Night – 9/17 6-8PM

  • Honors Forms

  • Program Updates, Handbook, & Emergency Procedures

  • New Music Class Open E Block


    Books wanted!

    Ms. Brody is looking for good books of all kinds for her Take-a-Book / Leave-a-Book classroom library.  Books should be high school appropriate, any reading level is welcome.  Please leave any donations for her at the Main Office.  Thanks!

    Greg Orpen

    Head of School
    Innovation Academy Charter School
    72 Tyng Road
    Tyngsboro, MA 01879
    Phone: (978) 649-0432 x3141
    Fax: 978-649-6337

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