AE/MS Returns to Greater “Normalcy” Despite COVID Challenges

Masks required indoors, but no distancing

By Dennis Dobe

It has been a very busy and productive fall and winter here at AE/MS.  Despite the many challenges and complications presented by the pandemic (the greatest of which is the disruption caused by COVID-related student and staff absences), I am pleased to announce that we are doing very well at AE/MS.  Amazingly, we find ourselves half way through the current school year, so it is a good time to reflect on our school’s progress since August.

Since the beginning of this school year, AE/MS students (and staff members) must wear a mask at all times while indoors (no masking requirements outdoors), but do not need to maintain physical distance (no six-foot distancing required this year!) or maintain cohorts (where kids stay in small, separate groups which do not interact with others).  

This means that school is much more ‘normal’ for our students this year.  We hope that AE/MS will return to even greater “normalcy” this coming spring, as we did at the end of last year and over the past summer.

Academic Improvement

So far this school year, we have made considerable gains on various academic improvement initiatives.  This progress is due to the professional collaboration and commitment of our teachers, the skillful support of our curriculum advisers, and the dedication of our student support services personnel.  

We have begun implementation of a new and highly acclaimed math program for all of our students and have also expanded exciting and meaningful new programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).  We have transformed our school library into a modern and dynamic Library Learning Commons which hosts classes regularly and serves as a learning resource for our students from kindergarten to grade 8.  

In many ways, AE/MS has a new look, but it still feels like home.

Enrichment Programs Are Back

Perhaps more exciting for our students, we have been able to launch a number of student activity and enrichment programs that have brought even more enthusiasm, engagement,  and joy back to student life at AE/MS each and every day.  

In terms of student activities, we have concluded a fall sports season during which we fielded interscholastic soccer and cross country teams and are currently in the midst of a winter basketball season during which we are fielding both girls and boys basketball teams.  

Our Andover Players were able to cap the fall with a series of amazing performances of The Wizard of Oz in mid-December.  This production included almost 50 students in its cast and crew.  

To provide additional enrichment opportunities for our grade six through eight students, our school’s Specialist Team (Art, Music, Physical Education, Technology, Learning Commons, Guidance) have developed a program of special courses and clubs for our students to participate in during their lunch and recess block, and the kids just love these dynamic opportunities to learn new things with students they do not see often in the normal course of their studies here at AE/MS.  

Additionally this mid-winter, most of our students participate in either the Andover Recreation Committee’s Ragged Mountain Ski Program or the Proctor Academy Skating Program on Friday afternoons – our students look forward to these exciting experiences all week long!

Increasingly over the first half of this school year, AE/MS has returned to much of what it had been before the pandemic.  We’re back on our feet and moving forward briskly.  We have high aspirations for what our school will be in the time ahead and have every expectation of attaining rigorous goals set for high academic achievement and outstanding student citizenship.  

At AE/MS we continue to nurture the development of “The Whole Child,” offering a well-rounded education to every student and preparing the children of Andover for a lifetime of success and happiness in the years to come.  Thank you for your ongoing support of our amazing students and their remarkable school.