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Dr. Canfield Reflects on Blue Knight Pride

As the Sandwich Superintendent of Schools, and I want to share my Blue Knight PRIDE with you.  It begins with our youngest children at the Forestdale School Campus for Early Learning.  Under the watchful and protective eyes of principal Marc Smith and assistant Chris Dintino, just watching the morning arrival tells you this team cares deeply about the success of each child.  They know that part of primary schooling is teaching the little ones how school works, as many routines are new and a first time experience for them.  The faculty and staff are clearly attuned to the social, emotional and learning needs of each child.

The school logo reflects the primary mission for give every child the gift of reading at grade level, prior to moving on to the Oak Ridge School.  To support this lofty goal, the district has committed to providing full-day kindergarten for every family.  We also provide age and learner appropriate intervention in both literacy and numeracy.  Social development and guidance with peer interactions is another important element of the Forestdale program.  The district’s integrated preschool is also housed at Forestdale, and in February the district operated School for Early Learning will relocate from the old Wing portables to the refurbished portables at Forestdale, thus providing the preschool parents with a seamless fee-based option for a full day for their children at Forestdale.

While the emphasis in all our schools is for skilled face-to-face communication, our digital age students are introduced to age appropriate technology that enhances and supports their learning

Our very active PTA parents envision a Blue Knight future for the children, as illustrated in their offering of Blue Knight spirit wear at Forestdale and Oak Ridge schools.

The journey continues at the Oak Ridge School campus where students encounter more challenging curricula that is assessed through state standardized testing beginning is grade 3.  Their logo is a compass rose that reflects elements of their core values by educating students within the 7-Cs; Curiosity, Character, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Community, Communications, and Creativity.

Students at Oak Ridge prepare for the Grade 7 & 8 STEM Academy through extended opportunities in Health & Wellness, Graphic Arts, and the 7C’s class that involves students in problem solving activities that require collaboration.  Oak Ridge uses 1 to 1 Chrome book technology, for research, collaboration, and organizing and presenting data and projects.

Students at Oak Ridge also have the opportunity to participate in theatre and musical theater productions through the Knights Junior Theatre Company.  Having all grade 3-6 students in one location also expands opportunities and interest in the district’s instrumental program.

The Sandwich STEM Academy has been recognized as a model program within the Commonwealth.  The Academy has given new meaning to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to be “Strategies That Engage Minds”.  The program design includes input from two 30+ member advisory boards that include professionals from STEM related fields, as well as careers specific to the arts and humanities.  All students in the Academy have a semester of Engineering and Design in grades 7 and 8 that is backed by a semester of art in each year.   A series of unique Academy electives are taught by high school teachers to help bridge the Academy experience with the high school experience.

Academy students also have world language options that include Spanish, French, Latin and Mandarin Chinese.  The Academy curriculum also includes Health & Wellness for both grades 7 & 8.

The Academy also uses 1 to 1 Chrome book technology, for their research, collaboration, data gathering and project presentations.

Academy students have their own interscholastic and developmental athletic programs, and in some sports they are eligible to participate on high school teams.  Academy students are able to participate in the Knights Theatre Company productions, and the Squire Choir provides opportunities for them to transition to high school choral offerings including Sandwich Soul.  Clubs, including leadership and community service, include some opportunities to participate with high school activities such as the International Studies/Model United Nations, and debate.  The Robotics Club is supported by the STEM Advisory board, and have experienced success in competitions.  This spring Sandwich will host a weekend southeast regional submersible robotics competition.

Sandwich High School, is a top Level 1 high school, and has been recognized in America’s top high school listing.  SHS is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), and is accredited to receive international students through the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).  SHS has also been designated as a Confucius Classroom school, through UMASS-Boston, an acknowledgement the quality of its Mandarin Chinese program.  Sandwich High School has been named to the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) Honor Roll for increasing the number of AP offerings, and for the percentage of SHS students achieving a score of 3 or higher on AP exams

Student and faculty relationships are important to Sandwich.  The senior mentor program has been identified by NEASC as a Best Practice.  Students meeting the criteria to become mentors, are trained and work with grade 9 students.  With the introduction of grade 7 and 8 students to the SHS and Academy campus, the mentors also serve as STEM Ambassadors.  The mentors play a significant role in helping underclassmen organize and prepare for success.  Academic failure or discipline issues are rare in this supportive environment.

With the pool now available for the physical education program, students in grades 7-12 having swimming.  This includes opportunities for students to elect Senior Lifesaving, and in 2016 they will also have the opportunity for Water Safety Instructor (WSI) training.  Opportunities also exist for our very able swimmers to help with instruction of our young special needs children who come to the pool through our special education department.

Sandwich High School continues to lead in contemporizing its offerings to reflect the best in 21st Century teaching and learning.  Introduction to the high school level engineering program is an extension of the Academy program.  For 2016, SHS plans to introduce two new strands from the nationally renowned Project Lead The Way, developed by engineers to introduce students to the many facets of engineering.  The first new strand is Biomedical Engineering, and the second strand is Engineering and Architecture.

The high school technology team is supported by the district’s Director of Technology who brings a strong background in supporting the use of technology at one the nation’s preeminent institutes for technology.  Expanded offerings in computer programming, includes Advanced Placement Programming, with training provided to 30 select schools nationwide, and supported through Microsoft. Kudos to our technology department.

The STEM experience 7-12 includes support from the STEM Advisory Board, such as the partnership with the Institute for Marine Innovation, Research and Sustainability (IMIRS).  This research group out of Lewis Bay seeks to develop mentoring and internship opportunities for our high school students.  The STEM Robotics program will extend into the high school.

Giving all students the opportunity to learn and explore, the high school experience includes a robust theatre program that has gained recognition as one of the top programs on the Cape.  The visual arts program has provided opportunities for students to attend some of the nation’s top art schools.

Each year, SHS publishes the profile for the graduating class that includes the colleges and universities that accepted members of the graduating class.  The listing speaks to the success of SHS to help students find the right post high school match for their aptitude and their career interests.

The SHS athletic program provides an array of opportunities.  The athletes, coaches, and parents all want the teams to win, and they certainly have achieved a number of league championships, births in state tournaments, and have garnered many individual accolades.   Sportsmanship awards from the state MIAA also reflect our Blue Knight Pride.  Our coaches are teachers, and our fields, gymnasiums, rinks, courses, and pool are our classrooms.  Mistakes are learning opportunities as we strive to develop leadership and collaboration through the team experience.

Academic leadership and community service opportunities are provided through our many club offerings, and our teams, clubs and programs such as Sandwich Soul and the KTC engage in volunteer work within the community.

In Sandwich, we want our children and youth to remain in their hometown schools, so that we also keep their families engaged in the life of the town of Sandwich.  We see our youth as our future, and support them through appropriate services designed for all learners.

It is my firm belief that our work is about the children and youth of Sandwich.  It is not so much about the brick and mortar, as it is the magic of learning that we work on each and every day.  The story of our schools is really about people.  Our success includes the countless hours of volunteers including our School Committee and our PTAs, PTSAs and our sports and performing arts booster groups.  The parents leading our Sandwich Elementary PTA, envision their children being Blue Knights.  However, they will seek the best educational opportunities and match for their children.  Their desire to use our Sandwich Blue colors, and our Knights logo for spirit wear gives us pause to consider that their first choice can be the Sandwich Schools, as long as our community shows unwavering support for the quality programs that have been created in our schools.

I am so proud of our students, and our educators.  Clearly we cannot do what we do alone.  So special thanks to our parents, and all of our Sandwich residents.  We want all of them to continue to be proud of their schools.