Mark your calendar

Oct 16: PSAT for 10th and 11th graders
Oct 20: Early Release Day
Oct 27: Coffee with the Principal (virtual)
Oct 28: AEF Trivia Bee
Nov 1: End of Quarter 1
Nov 2: No school (Teacher curriculum work day)
Nov 3: Start of Quarter 2

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Free COVID testing now available through the Town of Amherst

The Amherst Health Department is now offering free COVID testing for asymptomatic individuals ages 4 and older, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. For more information about testing, including how to pick up free tests at the Bangs Center or the Jones Library, visit the town website.

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Amherst Education Foundation’s 27th Annual Trivia Bee

Join us on Thursday, October 28 at 6:30pm for our 27th Annual Trivia Bee hosted by State Representative Mindy Domb and Tony Maroulis! It will be a fun night for you to gather around the laptop and play some trivia with your family, friends, and the Amherst community. We will also be holding a raffle full of great prizes! The Trivia Bee is our largest fundraiser of the year and we look forward to seeing you there! Sign up to play and purchase raffle tickets at bit.ly/triviabee2021

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Newsletter reminders/updates

Haga clic aquí para ver los artículos del boletín en español

If you don’t wish to receive this newsletter, please click the “Unsubscribe” button at the bottom to be automatically removed from the mailing list.

If you received this from a friend and would like to be added to our mailing list, email us and ask to be added to the list.

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Oct. 27 Coffee with Principal Sadiq

On Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 6-7 pm the PGO will hold a virtual coffee for parents/guardians with Principal Talib Sadiq. We will send out the link for the virtual meeting closer to the date. If you know what questions or topics you would like to discuss during the coffee, please feel free to share them with us via this (anonymous) form. If you prefer, you can just send your questions/topics to the PGO at our email address.

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Information on COVID testing program from the school nurses

Note: this information was sent via email 10/6/21
Thank you for your continued support as we strive to provide the safest possible environment in all of the Amherst, Pelham and Regional schools. Health and safety of students and staff is a top priority to support a successful school year of learning and growth.

Please note that the 2021-22 testing program is with a new partner and requires new registration and consent. ALL participants of last year’s testing programs MUST re-register and provide consent, which can be done by clicking here.

For the 2021-2022 school year, the COVID-19 testing program has three components:

  • Symptomatic Testing for students and staff who show symptoms of COVID-19 at school,
  • Routine COVID Safety Checks to prevent the spread of the virus undetected among students and staff who are not showing symptoms,
  • Test-and-Stay for students and staff who may have been exposed while in school but are not showing symptoms.

Each of these is a quick, non-invasive nasal swab that is collected by a school nurse or trained health provider. Unlike COVID-19 tests of the past, these are not uncomfortable and are easy to administer. Students only participate with permission from a parent or guardian.

Additional information on the three parts of our testing program, how they are conducted, and what they are used for is outlined below:

Symptomatic Testing is used when a student or staff member shows symptoms of COVID-19 during school. Individuals should not come to school if they are feeling sick while at home. Some symptoms of the virus look identical to other illnesses like the cold or flu, and this test tells us whether a symptomatic student has COVID-19 or not. This is a rapid test with results available in 15 minutes. If a student has minimal symptoms, tests negative and is well enough to participate in classroom activities then the School Nurse can clear them to remain in school.

Routine COVID Safety Checks minimize disruption to learning by helping us catch potential spread of the virus before it starts. Routine safety checks (pooled testing) are administered at the beginning of each week. All students PK-12 are eligible to participate. Samples are collected at school in groups of 10 and sent to the Broad Institute Lab. All the samples in the group are tested for COVID-19 together. In most cases, it will take less than 24 hours to receive safety check results. Students can continue to come to school while awaiting safety check results; they do not need to quarantine while awaiting results. If a safety check test is positive, the students in the group will take individual rapid tests to determine next steps.

Test-and-Stay allows students who have had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 while at school to stay in school if the student is not showing symptoms. Instead of needing to quarantine and miss school, these students will take a daily rapid test while they remain in school as long as they are not symptomatic. Students participate in “test-and-stay” for at least five days, but not more than 10 days.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, they must be isolated at home for the CDC-recommended ten days since symptoms appeared or ten days from the date of a positive test before returning to school. The student must also be without a fever for 24 hours.

As noted above, to participate in the program you must complete the registration and consent.  If you have additional questions regarding the program, please contact the building-based nurse or Robbin Suprenant, Nurse Manager.

It is our hope that these measures will work together to keep our schools safe and your students in school.  Thanks again for your support during this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Amherst-Regional Public Schools Nurses

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Superintendent’s update from 10/1/21

For a pdf version of the ARPS Update, please click here.

Para obtener una versión de la actualización de ARPS en español, haga clic aquí.

Para uma versão do ARPS Update em português, clique aqui.

As I have reported before, on September 9 the Amherst Board of Health voted to add the COVID-19 vaccine, using only vaccines that have received full approval from the FDA, to the list of immunizations students must take in order to attend school in the Amherst public schools.  This requirement is immediate and applies to the current school year.  Typically, our families are given until November 1 to either provide documentation of immunization compliance for their children or request a medical or religious exemption. After that deadline, students are excluded from school until their family reaches compliance. 

This year we know that many families were not able to obtain vaccinations, or required boosters, for their children during the months when many medical facilities were closed for in-person visits due to the pandemic.  As a result, our school nurses are working with a significant number of families who are still in the process of obtaining the required vaccines, which will now include the COVID-19 vaccine for many students.  Because of this, November 1 would be difficult to meet for many families.  Due to these unusual circumstances, the School Committee voted this week to approve the District’s recommendation to extend the exclusion date for this year to December 1, 2021 for compliance with all vaccination requirements, including COVID-19. This change will be for this school year only.   Aligning the deadline for the COVID-19 with the other immunization requirements will streamline the process for our families and our school nurses.

For those students who are old enough to be required to have the COVID-19 vaccine, which is currently age 16 and older, and need assistance in obtaining it, we are partnering with Baystate Health to have a free mobile vaccination clinic on site at the schools.  That age requirement may expand to 12 and older soon if the FDA gives full approval to the vaccine for that age group.  Arrangements with Baystate are still underway, but we anticipate that the clinic(s) will take place in October.  We will share information about accessing the clinic as soon as it becomes available. 

For those who want more information about the COVID-19 vaccine or have questions related to COVID, the District is hosting another virtual information session with local physicians next Wednesday, October 6 at 8:00 p.m.  The link to participate is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFcFZutrZgQ  and more information is in the flyer included later in the newsletter.

Since sharing information about the Tik Tok challenge last week, I have received feedback from parents who have talked with their children about the issue.  Thank you for taking time to address Tik Tok challenges because new ones come up continuously.  It’s important to be vigilant in order to protect our students and the entire ARPS community. 

Finally, I want to thank all of the members of the ARPS community who have shared their thoughts regarding the potential move of Amherst sixth grade students to Amherst Regional Middle School through our survey, public comment at Amherst School Committee meetings, or at the School Committee’s public hearings on the topic.  The School Committee will be taking a vote on the issue at their meeting next Tuesday, October 5.  Those who wish to attend can find the agenda and login information at https://go.boarddocs.com/ma/arps/Board.nsf/Public

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Mark your calendar

Oct 11: Indigenous Peoples’ Day (No School)
Oct 16: PSAT for 10th and 11th graders
Oct 20: Early Release Day
Oct 27: Coffee with the Principal (virtual)
Nov 1: End of Quarter 1
Nov 2: No school (Teacher curriculum work day)
Nov 3: Start of Quarter 2

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Community garden event at the Fort River Farm Conservation Area

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Message from the Principal: Open House and Outdoor Activities

ARHS Open House Thursday, October 7th, 6:30pm-7:45pm

ARHS will run an open house next Thursday, October 7th. This will be a virtual synchronous evening with individual Google Meet sessions starring your students’ teachers for each class period. The schedule for the evening is as follows:

A period 6:30-6:45
B period 6:50-7:05
C period 7:10-7:25
D period 7:30-7:45

You will receive individual GoogleMeet invites directly from the teachers via email.  Teachers will be sending these invites out early next week. As you can see from this schedule we will have a 5 minute “passing period” that allows you to transition between classes.   

Here are some of the topics you should hear about in each 15-minute class session:

  1. Overview of the course and description of something interesting that has or is happening 
  2. Description of the major assignments
  3. Discussion of some important classroom routines
  4. Description of how students will be assessed and graded
  5. Explanation of daily assignment expectations and how these are communicated with students
  6. Description of how to best be in contact with the teacher and ways to access additional support

* Given that this event will only include teachers, the ARHS counselors offer this message: 

We are really enjoying getting to know new students and continuing to reconnect with returning students. Families are encouraged to reach out to their child’s school counselor with any questions as they come up throughout the year. 

If you have additional questions, you can ask them during the PGO Coffee with the Principal on Wednesday, October 27th, at 6:30pm. More information will be shared about that event as it gets closer.

Outdoor Lunches, Outdoor Classes, and Mask Breaks

As suggested by the superintendent’s office we will be taking mask breaks outside and eating lunch outside every day. Many teachers will also hold their class sessions outside. Now that the weather is changing, please be sure students come to school with appropriate clothing for outdoor time. They might consider leaving a warm jacket, coat, rain jacket, and umbrella in their locker for these times. There won’t be an option to stay inside while others are going outside.  

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Superintendent’s update from 9/24/21

For a pdf version of the ARPS Update, please click here.

Para obtener una versión de la actualización de ARPS en español, haga clic aquí.

Para uma versão do ARPS Update em português, clique aqui.

This week I want to recognize the absolutely outstanding work of our teachers, paraeducators, transportation staff, food service staff and custodians during such an unusual time.  The pandemic-related safety protocols, while necessary, involve significant shifts to their work, which is further complicated by ever-shifting variables outside our control.  These challenges can take a toll on those who serve our children daily.  Students and families consistently share with me how meaningful it has been to start the year in-person; how they are seeing the well-being of their children improve dramatically; and their appreciation for the work that these professionals are doing everyday.  I see these same things when I visit schools.  The work of our teachers, paraeducators, drivers, food service staff and custodians truly affects the lives of the young people in our community, and they deserve to be commended for their daily efforts that create these positive outcomes for our kids.  I encourage families to take a moment to thank one of these outstanding ARPS staff members who has touched the life of your child!

In keeping with our efforts to support those who serve our children daily, I want to address an issue that has arisen in some of our schools.  Some of you may have heard of a recent challenge circulating on social media called “devious lick,” which urges students to “get their licks.”  The term “devious lick” has been around for a while, but here’s what you need to know about the current trend.

“Got This Devious Lick From School” or “One Month Into School And Got This Absolute Devious Lick” refers to a trend on TikTok where users film themselves pulling supposedly stolen school supplies out of their backpacks with a variation on the phrase “first day of school copped a devious lick.” It has also evolved to include vandalism without theft of items. The word “devious” is often replaced with another word like “diabolical” or “godforsaken,” usually intended to be tongue-in-cheek. The trend began on TikTok in early September 2021.

The original video on TikTok now has over 11 million views and many recreations. Students nationwide are stealing things from their campuses like soap dispensers, toilet paper holders, microscopes, signs, a box of hand sanitizer, and more, all to the same audio. The trend is also spreading outside of schools to stores, movie theaters and more.

This is happening all over the country, and unfortunately, our District is not immune from such vandalism and theft. Replacing the stolen or vandalized items is very costly and takes precious time away from other priorities. Beyond this, our custodial team works very hard to serve our student population and keep our campuses clean and safe; especially with the increased risks from COVID-19.

If your child uses social media, please talk to them about being socially responsible and kind; this “challenge” is criminal behavior, not an innocent prank. To assist in this, I am re-sharing the link to the Digital Culture for Kids webinar presented last spring. Even if your child does not have social media, they may likely hear about this disturbing trend.  We are asking for the entire ARPS community to partner with us to eliminate this behavior in our schools. If you have any information regarding these incidents or questions about this matter, please contact your school principal or assistant principal. 

Finally, based on feedback from the ARPS community, we will continue to maintain our district’s daily COVID dashboard in addition to reporting to DESE for their official dashboard.

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Coming soon: winter coat drive!

As you start to pull out coats for cooler weather, please don’t get rid of those gently-used coats that no longer fit your family! The PGO will be mounting a winter coat drive, and this year more than ever our students will need warm gear to help them stay outside for lunches and other activities. More details soon, but for now, please wash and put aside any coats that you no longer need but that are in good condition.

We are also looking for a volunteer to be the ARHS point person for this year’s coat drive, so if you have time over the next month to help make this happen, please reach out to us at arhspgonews@gmail.com.

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COVID-19 Information Session October 6

Join a virtual discussion with local medical professionals at 8 pm on October 6 to get your questions answered about how to keep your family and community safe this fall and winter. Click here to join the meeting.

Esta es una sesión informativa con profesionales médicos locales para discutir una variedad de temas incluyendo el covid-19 y la vacuna. Para participar sólo tienes que seguir el enlace el 10/6 a las 8PM. Si desea una grabación de este evento en español, por favor contacte a Sasha Figueroa en FigueroaS@arps.org.

Esta é uma sessão de informação com profissionais médicos locais para discutir uma variedade de tópicos, incluindo a covid-19 e a vacina. Para participar basta seguir a ligação em 10/6 às 20 horas. Se desejar uma gravação deste evento em português, por favor contacte Sasha Figueroa em FigueroaS@arps.org.

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For Seniors: Job Fair October 6 (plus link to other college/job info)

Let’s Get Hired! Virtual Job Fair

 Wednesday, October 6, 2021
10:00am – 12:00pm

 To learn more and pre-register for this virtual event,
go to www.masshirefhcareers.org for instructions.

For other post-ARHS planning info for the upcoming week, click here for info from Ms. Cuffee-Gray’s latest email.

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Cap & Gown info for seniors

To Families of ARHS Seniors:

Balfour, our cap & gown company will be here next Tuesday and Wednesday, October 5 &6 during all lunches, to take measurements for graduation outfits. They will accept both cash and checks on those dates, and will be set up outside the cafeteria. The cost for cap & gowns this year is $19 and this will be the only time that Balfour is on site for measurements.  Extra tassels and 2022 keychains will also be sold at that time at a cost of $4 and $7 respectively. We will have a graduation ceremony, and you will need a cap & gown to participate!

Para las familias de estudiantes del último año de ARHS:

Balfour, nuestra compañía de toga y birrete  estará aquí el próximo martes y miércoles 5 y 6 de octubre durante todos los almuerzos, para tomar medidas para los trajes de graduación. Aceptarán dinero en efectivo como cheques en esas fechas, y estarán fuera de la cafetería. El costo de las togas y birretes este año es  $19 y esta será la única vez que Balfour estará en la escuela para realizar las mediciones. Las borlas adicionales y los llaveros 2022 también se venderán en ese momento a un costo de $4 y $7 respectivamente. ¡Tendremos una ceremonia de graduación y necesitarás una toga y birrete para participar!

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Latino Heritage Month Celebration

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Mark your calendar

Oct 5 & 6: Cap & Gown orders taken at lunch
Oct 6: COVID-19 Information Session
Oct 7: ARHS Open House (virtual)
Oct 11: Indigenous Peoples’ Day (No School)
Oct 16: PSAT for 10th and 11th graders
Oct 20: Early Release Day
Oct 27: Coffee with the Principal (virtual)

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Opportunities for teens at the Jones Library

Jones Library Teen Lounge is Back!
Starting Friday, October 8 from 4:00 – 5:00 pm

If you’re looking for a place to hang out with friends after school on Fridays, come by the Woodbury Room to watch some anime and play some games. Masks are required and no eating is permitted inside (but if you have a snack you can take it outside to the garden area). Email any questions to teens@joneslibrary.org.

Jones Library Virtual Homework Help
Starting Wednesday, October 6 from 5:00 – 6:00 pm

Are you a middle or high school student that wants some help with homework, studying, or have questions about the college admissions process? Our amazing volunteer student tutors from UMass’ Future Health Leaders Network are available on Wednesdays from 5 to 6pm to help you out. Join the Zoom Study Room here: tinyurl.com/joneslibteenshwhelp. For more information, please email teens@joneslibrary.org.

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Message from the Principal

Hello,

We need your help dealing with a significant amount of vandalism happening to the bathrooms at ARHS. Already this year we have had to close several of our bathrooms for repairs because of the “Devious Licks” Tik Tok challenge. This ‘challenge’ urges students to rip soap and paper towel dispensers off of the walls, clog toilets, destroy sinks, and vandalize bathrooms in other ways. Obviously, this creates a lot of problems for our entire school community. With fewer bathrooms available for students to use, it increases the chance of students congregating in bathrooms and the spread of Covid and other germs. We are doing everything we can to put a stop to this, but we need your help. Please let us know if you have any information that will help us find out who is responsible for this senseless vandalism. We appreciate any help you can offer. Thanks and take care.

Talib Sadiq
Principal

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ARHS Open House Oct. 7

Save the Date! The ARHS Open House will happen on Thursday, October 7th at 6:30 PM. This event will be virtual and synchronous. More details will be provided next week.

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Superintendent’s update from 9/17

Click here for a pdf of the full update including announcements

Since the school year started, the District has had several cases of COVID across the schools.  The contact tracing process, both here and in other communities, continues to show that spread is frequently occurring in indoor, unmasked social settings. For that reason, I want to encourage everyone to continue to be vigilant and follow COVID safety protocols when gathering with friends and family or attending events in an indoor setting. It’s also important to note that the average home is designed to get about 0.35 air exchanges per hour according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.  In comparison, our schools have a minimum of 4.0, more than ten times the ventilation found in homes.  We appreciate your help in keeping our students and staff safe!  As noted in the last newsletter, DESE has begun tracking COVID cases across the state on their own dashboard.  We will discontinue the district dashboard in lieu of DESE’s official dashboard, which can be found here.

I’m pleased to share that this week we honored two of our employee groups at each school and Central Offices–our incredible school nurses and clerical team (clerical pictures to be shared next week).  They have been on the frontlines of our work throughout the pandemic and their daily contributions to the ARPS community cannot be overstated.  Thank you to these amazing teams!

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Update on COVID testing

COVID Testing

Binax rapid covid-19 testing is now available, on-site at each school, for students and staff who become symptomatic while in school (please note, people who are home and feeling sick should not come into school for testing).  Information about implementation of pooled testing will be shared as soon as it becomes available from the state-appointed vendor, CIC Health.

Pruebas de COVID

La prueba rápida de Binax covid-19 está ahora disponible, en cada escuela, para los estudiantes y el personal que se vuelven sintomáticos mientras están en la escuela (por favor, tenga en cuenta que las personas que están en casa y se sienten enfermas no deben venir a la escuela para la prueba).  La información sobre la implementación de las pruebas conjuntas se compartirá tan pronto como esté disponible del proveedor designado por el estado, CIC Health.

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Update on district communication

The general feedback the district receives from families is that we send too many emails to families to keep track of.  To address this issue, we ask that you please read the Friday newsletter, ARPS Update, each week for relevant information.  The Superintendent’s Office will continue to send all-family emails regarding health and safety, but for all other notices, district surveys,and other information, please read the newsletter that is released each Friday afternoon.

El comentario general que el distrito recibe de las familias es que enviamos demasiados correos electrónicos a las familias para seguirles la pista.  Para resolver este problema, les pedimos que por favor lean el boletín del viernes, ARPS Update, cada semana para obtener información relevante.  La Oficina del Superintendente continuará enviando correos electrónicos a todas las familias con respecto a la salud y la seguridad, pero para todos los demás avisos, encuestas del distrito, y otra información, por favor lea el boletín que se publica cada viernes por la tarde.

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New STEM tutoring program

ARHS is launching our first ever virtual STEM tutoring center.  The Amherst Educational Foundation has provided a grant so that high school students who need support with math, science, computers, engineering can request after school tutoring sessions that will take place via Google Meet.  These sessions can be scheduled after school up until 9pm.  If you have any questions, please contact the STEM Tutoring Center coordinator Ms. Vanessa Meikle  meiklev@arps.org

Students should complete this link to request a tutoring session.

We are also looking for volunteer tutors in any of these subjects; timing is flexible between 4 and 9 pm. If you are interested in volunteering, complete this link; you’ll be contacted with more details after you sign up.

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School Picture Day 9/28

Reminder: Picture Day is Tuesday, September 28th. The forms were distributed during Advisory this week. You can prepay for pictures at www.grynnternet.com. Enter code 3A7W5P4 and click login. If you pay online there is no need to submit anything to the school. 

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Senior Photos

SENIORS. Please have your school photo taken at Picture Day on September 28th because this is how you will get a current student ID, which is needed for things like the SAT/ACT tests, employment, and a variety of other senior-year opportunities.
Seniors may submit Senior Photos of their own to the yearbook by emailing them to Miss Garrity (garrityc@arps.org) by January 31st.

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For Seniors: MCAS and scholarships

Seniors who DID NOT take the MCAS in May 2021 AND who wish to determine their eligibility for EITHER the John and  Abigail Adams Scholarship or the Stanley Z. Koplik Certificate of Mastery Award MUST register by Wednesday September 29, 2021 AND take the MCAS  on November 9 and 10

Registration is completed by emailing Deb Leonard leonardd@arps.org

**This is ONLY necessary to determine eligibility for these two scholarships.  It is NOT required for graduation**

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For Seniors: Early Action/Early Decision Workshop today

Students considering EA and/or ED college applications can join a virtual meeting today, Friday, September 24 · 5:00 – 6:00pm

Video call link: https://meet.google.com/zds-dhfo-egw

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For Seniors and Juniors: College visits

College visits to ARHS started this past week. Admissions representatives will be visiting, either in-person or virtually, from all over the country. In-person visits will be happening outside as long as weather permits.

Seniors and Juniors receive 3 “admin excused” absences to attend ARHS college visits. (You also can get 3 day-long admin excused absences for visiting colleges off-campus.) Everything after 3 will be a regular excused absence.

To attend a college visit at ARHS, you can see the list of colleges in Naviance (and you’ll get an email alert if a college from your favorites list is visiting soon). See Ms. Garrity in Guidance for a pass in the morning, and present that pass to your teacher at the start of class to be excused. Come check in at Guidance to sign in to the meeting. If you do not sign in, we can’t prove you attended and you could end up with an unexcused absence.

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“Stress Less” group for students

The ARHS “Stress Less” group for students starts next week and runs for 7 weeks. It will be run by Ms. Caruso, ARHS adjustment counselor. The aim is to boost skills in managing mild/moderate anxiety. Students will learn ways to identify and cope with stress and anxiety. The group will meet weekly on Tuesdays starting Sept. 28, and the time will rotate so students will not miss the same class each week. If you are interested, please email  carusoh@arps.org

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Support group for parents/guardians/caregivers of 9th/10th graders

Raising Teens in Times of Change

October 8th through November 12th
Friday mornings 8:30-9:30am
Virtual group, meeting on Zoom

Raising a teenager is hard! Raising Teens in Times of Change is a 6-week support group for Caregivers and Parents of ARHS 9th and 10th grade students. The group meets each week on Friday mornings virtually 8:30-9:30am starting September 21st. The capacity is limited to 10 families. Registration deadline is Friday, October 1st.

The aims of the group are to:

  • Develop new skills to improve relationship with your teen
  • Feel less alone as as a caregiver/parent
  • Improve understanding of relationship dynamics with teens
  • Recognize your strengths are a caregiver/parent

Fill out this form to register. Or copy and paste this link into your browser: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScr7JkyvWo5xCTYFSj8xFwz4AAY17s3gML2CrwcvsxfJ6tnDA/viewform

If you have questions please email or call group facilitator ARHS School Social Worker Hannah Caruso at carusoh@arps.org or (413) 362-1789

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Volunteers sought to help make this newsletter multilingual

In an effort to make our community as inclusive as possible, the PGO would like to follow the district’s practice of providing all content in Spanish as well as English. We are looking for one or more volunteers to help us translate items that do not come to us pre-translated. We would also welcome volunteers who could translate newsletter posts into any of the other languages spoken and read by families in our community.

This is a commitment of 1-2 hours per week. Please contact us at arhspgonews@gmail.com if you are interested.

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Mark your calendar

Sept 25: West African takeout food fundraiser for ARHS SGS
Sept 28: School Picture Day
Sept 28: Regional School Committee Meeting
Oct 7: ARHS Open House (virtual)
Oct 11: Indigenous Peoples’ Day (No School)
Oct 16: PSAT for 10th and 11th graders
Oct 20: Early Release Day
Oct 27: Coffee with the Principal (virtual)

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Next week is Spirit Week!

Brought to you by the Class of 2022 class council:
Monday: Pajama Day
Tuesday: Anything But a Backpack Day (bring your school supplies in anything but a backpack)
Wednesday: Color Day–Freshmen wear green, Sophomores wear blue, Juniors wear orange, Seniors wear black
Thursday: Beach Day
Friday: School Spirit Day

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Superintendent’s update from Sept. 10

I want to take a moment to acknowledge and thank our incredible clerical staff across the district for the amazing work they do everyday, but particularly over these past months of the pandemic.  It was the clerical staff who kept families and staff informed and updated and kept their offices open and running smoothly, all while handling all of the innumerable things they take care of in a typical year. The District simply could not function without their expertise and they are much appreciated! 

This week I have a few important updates to share with you on different topics.  First, I want to encourage our Amherst elementary families to mark your calendars for September 21 when the Amherst School Committee will host a public forum on the topic of whether to move the Amherst sixth grade students to the middle school.  Your voice is vital to the discussion around this important topic so I hope you will share your thoughts. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30.

I also want to update all of our families on the ways in which we will share information about any positive COVID cases in the schools.  Based on revised guidance from DESE, we will return to the practice of sending an email to all staff and families within any school building that has a positive case.  As you have probably noticed, contact tracing has usually been completed already when the letter goes out, so you would most likely have already received a call if anyone in your family was a close contact.  In addition, we will continue to maintain our District COVID dashboard to track cases, at least until DESE has their tracking dashboard up and running.

Finally, we are actively planning our open houses for each of the schools.  The dates that are set are October 7 for ARHS, October 13 for Pelham, October 14 for Crocker Farm, and October 21 for ARMS.  The current plan is for these to each be remote.  We will update you once the dates are set for the other schools.

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School pictures

Picture Day is Tuesday, September 28th. The forms will be distributed during Advisory on September 23rd. You can prepay for pictures at www.grynnternet.com. Enter code 3A7W5P4 and click login. If you pay online there is no need to submit anything to the school. Please email any questions to arhsoffice@arps.org.

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Free and Reduced Price Lunch Application

All students are encouraged to fill out a Free and Reduced Price Lunch Application. While lunch is free of cost to all students this year, this application provides access to other benefits such as Test Waivers, Sport Fee Waivers, etc. The form is available at this link and can be turned in to the main office.

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For Seniors: Week of Sept 20 college planning events

Week of September 20th

Tuesday 1st Lunch – Lunching Life After ARHS – Essay

Wednesday 2nd Lunch – Lunching on Life After ARHS – Building Your List

Thursday 3rd Lunch – Lunching on Life After ARHS – Common Application

Brainstorming & Writing Your College Essay Workshop

Tuesday, September 21 · 5:00 – 6:30pm

Google Meet joining info

Video call link: https://meet.google.com/hwv-mwxj-ycg

Early Decision & Early Action Workshop

Friday, September 24 · 5:00 – 6:00pm

Google Meet joining info

Video call link: https://meet.google.com/zds-dhfo-egw

Ms. Cuffee-Gray also recently sent out links to the following resources that might be helpful for seniors:
Life After ARHS handbook
Important dates for seniors

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Donate used clothing/textiles and raise money for the PGO

Doing some fall cleaning? Your used clothing and linens can be recycled AND generate some money for the PGO.

Bay State Textiles collects used clothing and other textiles through drop boxes outside our schools. They accept items in good condition as well as stained clothes, single socks and shoes, worn towels and linens, and other textilesjust make sure they’re clean and dry. You can also recycle stuffed animals, backpacks, pillows… anything that’s soft.  Donations should be put in bags before being dropped off.

Look for the large white donation bins along the driveway to the parking lot at ARHS. The bins are easily accessible and are emptied weekly. If both bins are full, please wait until the next week to donate. Please don’t leave your donations outside the bins.

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Mark your calendar

Sept 18: Amherst Hurricanes Athletics Boosters Fundraiser
Sept 21: Amherst School Committee Meeting
Sept 23: Regional School Committee Meeting
Sept 25: West African takeout food fundraiser for ARHS SGS
Oct 11: Indigenous Peoples’ Day (No School)
Oct 16: PSAT for 10th and 11th graders

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Free Wifi Hotspots available from your local library

Both the Munson and the North Amherst Libraries have free hotspots for families that can be checked out for a month at a time and are good for up to 10 devices. The hotspots provide free, unlimited internet access; there is some default content filtering that can be removed. Visit or contact these libraries for more information.

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Superintendent’s Update from Sept. 3

It has been a wonderful start to the new school year!  I have been able to visit every school–many on the first day students returned–and have seen so much excitement and energy.  On Thursday we finally had all students back in our halls when the preschool and Kindergarten students arrived for their first day.  We love the beginning of every new school year, but it is extra special for all of us this year, of course. 

An extremely important discussion that is taking place this year is the potential for Amherst sixth grade students to move from the elementary schools to Amherst Regional Middle School. Last year, the Amherst School Committee voted to explore the option, and on August 31, the Committee had a formal, public discussion that was informed by the presentation available here: Sixth Grade Potential Move to Middle School.  We are dedicated to gathering stakeholder feedback and input as this potential move is considered.  To that end, after viewing the presentation, please complete the survey available here to share your thoughts and ideas.
Reminder:  No Unscheduled Visitors in the Buildings
One of the safety protocols in place this year to help reduce the risk of COVID spread is a “no visitors” practice in all school buildings.  Other than students and staff, no one will be buzzed into the buildings unless they have a pre-arranged meeting scheduled that cannot be done remotely or outdoors. If you need to drop something off for your student or need to speak with someone in your school or Central Office, you will be asked to wait at the door until a staff member can meet you outside.  Details about this practice, along with the other safety protocols in place this school year, can be found in the Fall Health and Safety Protocols document that was emailed to all families prior to the start of school.
Bus and Van Drivers Needed!
This year there is a state-wide shortage of van and bus drivers, and our district is in dire need of additional drivers. If you are interested in applying, or know someone who is, please email humanresources@arps.org.  Those with experience are encouraged to apply, but the district will provide training and support to obtain the required licenses for those who would be new to the positions.

Important COVID Information 

Notifying the School about Positive COVID Testing or Close Contact
The state has issued a helpful flowchart illustrating the steps to take in case of a positive COVID diagnosis or close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID.  If anyone in your household is diagnosed with COVID, or your child has been a close contact with someone else diagnosed with COVID, please notify your school nurse or your school Principal ASAP.  ARHS School nurses can be reached at the following numbers: Robbin Suprenant 362-1743 Mary O’Brien 362-1744.
Positive COVID Cases Dashboard
The MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to publish a dashboard of all positive cases of COVID in schools this year.  We will share the link to that site as soon as it is up and running and will rely on it to share our data with the community.  Until that time, the district has developed our own COVID Dashboard where you can check on a daily basis to see if there have been any confirmed COVID cases in our district.  
Unacceptable Types of Masks
Please remember that there are three types of masks that are not acceptable in the ARPS schools:  bandannas, gaiters, and any type of mask with a valve.  
COVID Testing 
Testing for COVID is an important part of reducing its spread. We are working with the state to set-up a testing program in the schools and expect to have more information next week.  In the meantime, UMass Amherst provides free COVID testing for community members who do not have symptoms of COVID and are aged 4 and over. People can visit the Public Health Promotion Center for walk-in testing or to pick up a testing kit and drop it off in a campus kiosk. The Public Health Promotion Center is on the first floor of the Campus Center of UMass Amherst. Take the elevator or escalator to the first floor and follow the signs. Walk-in hours are Monday through Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Fridays 9:00 a.m. to noon.  More information about the COVID testing program at UMass Amherst is available at https://www.umass.edu/coronavirus/coronavirus/covid-19-testing and a campus map can be found at https://www.umass.edu/sites/default/files/2021-06/campus-map.pdf.
2021-2022  Community Building Award Recipients
At our convocation for all staff last Friday, the names of this year’s Community Building Awards recipients were announced.   We are so proud to share that the recipients this year are Lani Blechman, Fort River librarian; Michael Gallo-O’Connell, Food Services Director; and Violeta Hernandez-Duran, ARHS paraeducator and interpreter.  The Community Building Award qualifications state “The ARPS Community-Building Award will recognize employees of the Amherst, Pelham and Regional Public Schools who have helped to foster a sense of belonging among students and who have helped to build bridges of understanding and acceptance among them.  These individuals make a difference for students by countering prejudice and isolation, supporting community and promoting inclusion.”  Nominated by their peers, students or ARPS families, these recipients embody those qualities in the work they do on behalf of our students.  
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AEF-supported STEM Virtual Tutoring Center

Later this month we will be launching our first ever STEM virtual tutoring center.  Right now we need help recruiting volunteers as well as identifying students who would like to take advantage of evening tutoring sessions in math, science, computer science and engineering. 

Next week we will be announcing our new coordinator and sharing forms to sign up for volunteering as well as tutoring.  A huge thank you to the Amherst Educational Foundation (AEF) for funding this project.  Our goal is to engage our community to support students in their STEM coursework.

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Support Group for Parents/Guardians/Caregivers of 9th + 10th graders

Raising Teens in Times of Change

September 21st through October 26th
Tuesday mornings 8:30-9:30am
Virtual group, meeting on Zoom

Raising a teenager is hard! Raising Teens in Times of Change is a 6-week support group for Caregivers and Parents of ARHS 9th and 10th grade students. The group meets each week on Tuesday mornings virtually 8:30-9:30am starting September 21st. The capacity is limited to 10 families. The registration deadline is Friday, September 17th.

The aims of the group are to:

  • Develop new skills to improve your relationship with your teen
  • Feel less alone as a caregiver/parent
  • Improve understanding of relationship dynamics with teens
  • Recognize your strengths are a caregiver/parent

Fill out this form to register. Or copy and paste this link into your browser: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScr7JkyvWo5xCTYFSj8xFwz4AAY17s3gML2CrwcvsxfJ6tnDA/viewform
If you have questions please email or call group facilitator ARHS School Social Worker Hannah Caruso at carusoh@arps.org or (413) 362-1789

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Reminders from Morning Announcements

Free breakfast is available to ALL students each day from 8:45-9:00 am

If your student still needs a Chromebook, they should email Ms. Rodriguez at rodriguezl@arps.org or stop by the main office to be added to the list of students still in need of a Chromebook. 

The English department is missing some books from their collection. If you have any books from previous ARHS English courses lying around your house, please have your student return them to their current English teacher or to the main office.

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PSAT Information for 10th and 11th graders

PSAT’s will be offered at ARHS on Saturday, October 16th. Pre-registration starts on Wednesday, September 8th during lunch. The cost is $20, and there will be a box set up in the cafeteria to drop off the payment. The PSAT Sign-up Form  was attached to an email all of the 10th & 11th graders received earlier. There will also be forms available in the main office. Please let Mrs. DellaMarco, dellamarcoj@arps.org, know if you have any questions. You can email her .

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College and Career Advising Reminders for Seniors

From Ms. Cuffee-Gray:

Office Hours: Outside the Cafeteria on SHINE DAYS – Just Outside the Cafeteria on RAIN DAYS. Come join me or I’ll be sitting all by my lonesome. Sign Up or Walk Up AND TALK! – Here’s the LINK
Tuesdays 1st Lunch
Wednesday 2nd Lunch
Thursdays 3rd Lunch  

Life After ARHS Planning Meetings – Meetings begin September 9th – SCHEDULING LINK
First Gen Fridays – Meetings begin September 10th-SCHEDULING LINK
(Students who are First Generation College students – Fridays are reserved for you!)
For these meetings please note that parents and guardians must either meet outside or remotely. Please be sure to:
Revise and update your Naviance Survey
Let your teacher know if you will be missing class time (commit to make up missed time/work)
Add your parent/gaurdians’ email in the sign up 

School Counseling Recommendation Meeting – SCHEDULING LINK
If I am writing your  School Counselor Recommendation, sign up using this link. Be sure that you have completed the longer Naviance survey for four year college applications.  Please note that there is a lot of good stuff in my virtual office (including recordings of previous workshops…). Check it out.

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Fundraiser for Sene-Gambian Scholars Program

For more information, click here

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Amherst Hurricanes Booster Fundraiser

On Sept. 18 the Hurricanes Boosters are hosting a golf tournament, cocktail party and raffle to socialize and support our student athletes.  Whether you are a golfer or just want to come enjoy some the social party, there’s something for everyone including:

  • Golf
  • Wildwood BBQ
  • Progressions beer/selzer (and non-alcholic options)
  • NEW Hurricane Selzer
  • DJ Music from Ben Harrington
  • Raffle prizes including 2 tickets to a Celtics game + dinner, a long board skateboard, dinner at Bistro 63, yoga basket with Serenity Yoga package
  • or enjoy some games (cornhole, golf drive to hit the principal (Fat head version), and others)

You can learn more about the Boosters on their website and register for golf and/or the cocktail party.  

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Mark your calendar

Sept 16: Early release
Sept 18: Amherst Hurricanes Athletics Boosters Fundraiser
Sept 23: Regional School Committee Meeting
Sept 25: West African takeout food fundraiser for ARHS SGS
Oct 11: Indigenous Peoples’ Day (No School)
Oct 16: PSAT for 10th and 11th graders

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