AE/MS Begins New Year with New Programs and Opportunities

Pandemic and masks are still a reality

By Kasey Schoch
Alex Bramley speaks to AE/MS middle school students about the technology enrichment class they will be offered this year for those who want to participate. Alex Ager, Courtney Minnehan, and Michael Orlando look on as they wait to present their programs to the students, too. Caption and photo: Kasey Schoch

For most teachers across the country, the 2020-2021 school year will forever be known as “The Year That Shall Not Be Named” (with apologies to JK Rowling and Harry Potter fans around the globe). 

Although AE/MS is the same school, and the pandemic has not faded the way staff had hoped it would, the year seems to have started off on the right foot. Students were eager to return, teachers were ready to redesign (again) the way they teach, and new programs and opportunities have lent a renewed sense of excitement about the school this year. When you add it all together, it appears that the 2021-2022 school year will be a whole new experience for everyone, but in a good way this time.

Masks are still a reality, but social distancing restrictions have been lightened up a bit. This is allowing students to have more social moments this year while allowing teachers to facilitate small group activities easily and more effectively at all grade levels. The difference that makes in the building is definitely noticeable. The spirits of students and staff in the  classrooms have significantly increased since last year.

Soccer, field hockey, the Andover Players, and the Eagles Eyes of the Andover Beacon have already ramped up this year, which is another change from 2020-2021.  Last fall, sports did manage to happen in some shape or form but seemed to always be on the verge of cancelling. This year, fall athletes have fewer concerns about their season being cut short.  

Those hoping to test out their performance skills are once again able to join the school’s drama program, the Andover Players, as they work once again to put on The Wizard of Oz this year.  The play missed opening night by about two weeks in 2020 due to the shutdown.  

The school’s new journalism club (which started in 2019 but took a hiatus last year) is also back with a number of budding writers, photographers, and editors signing up to be a part of the group this year.

New programs for middle school students are also adding some excitement to the school’s positive start. In addition to their usual yearly specialty classes (art, music, physical education, and technology) two new classes have been added: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and LLC (Library Learning Center). In addition to the required specialty classes, middle school students will be offered some enrichment courses in these areas. The enrichment classes will be optional and offered during middle school recess.

The new year is off to a great start. It will certainly be one filled with great activities and stories for future Beacon articles.  I can’t wait to share them with you!