By John Anderson

 As Auburn students rush around the box stores looking for backpacks, #2 pencils, and other school supplies, the administration and staff of the Auburn Public Schools are wrapping up a summer’s worth of work preparing for the upcoming 2013/2014 school year. Teachers arrived yesterday, August 26, and students are due on Wednesday morning, August 28, the abrupt end of summer.

In a recent interview with Superintendent Maryellen Brunelle, Ed.D, I asked about the highlights from the 12/13 school year and about the future. While Dr. Brunelle said she could list countless memorable and positive events, one of her favorites this past spring was the Relay For Life that combined the efforts of Auburn’s middle and high school students and faculty, along with numerous parent and community volunteers. She felt the cancer fundraiser was an extremely cohesive event that further highlighted the District’s commitment to giving back.  All of the students and staff truly came together to make the Relay For Life highly successful.

Dr. Brunelle’s personal goals for the upcoming year include tackling the “social media” challenge. Since Facebook and Twitter will be used increasingly in our school system, she knows she must master both their use and risks. She also vowed to work with the school principals to maintain vigilance on bullying and wants to assure that every student has a sense of trust with at least one teacher so he or she can turn to someone if issues are experienced.

The other big topic, of course, is the new Auburn Middle School approved by Auburn voters in May. While future articles will address many of the aspects of this undertaking, Dr. Brunelle said that the project is moving forward nicely along with the Master Plan for the Auburn Public Schools. Current thoughts are that the existing middle school will house grades 3-5 from across the town and two existing elementary schools will be closed.

Last week, after a comprehensive survey of the four elementary schools, the School Building Master Plan Team voted unanimously to close Mary D. Stone and Julia Bancroft once the new middle school is completed and the old middle school is ready to accept grades 3-5. The survey results will be presented to the School Committee on September 4th, and the Master Plan Team will meet again in October.

On the educational front, Dr. Brunelle described “elevating the rigor” at all levels. Sharing a specific example from the high school, she described the increasing participation in Advanced Placement (AP) courses for those students who are nearing college. In school year 11/12, fewer than 100 AP classes were taken by AHS students. In school year 12/13 about 200 AP classes were taken, with some students taking more than one.

For the upcoming 13/14 year, about 438 AP seats have been filled across a variety of subjects, including AP Physics, AP Statistics, AP Environmental Science, AP Psychology, AP Calculus, AP Biology, AP World History and AP Studio Art, to name only a few. She stressed that while raising the expectations of this program, the school system will make sure a support structure is in place for students requiring assistance.

At the 8th grade level, Auburn Middle School is implementing a 1:1 modified program utilizing iPads. Every student will be issued an iPad for use during a portion of the school year. Technology infused educational programs have been highly successful across the District, and the Auburn Mass Daily will be following their progress.

The Auburn Mass Daily wishes the students, teachers, administrators, and support staff a great school year. Work hard.  Learn well.  And have fun!