“With Malice Toward None” – Open Letter to BASD Community from Superintendent Dr. Joseph J. Roy

BASD Community, 

roy_sm_2016The increased acts of overt racism and intolerance reported in schools across our country call upon all of us to be ever more vigilant in making certain all students feel welcomed and safe in our schools.

The outcome of the presidential election demonstrates a clear political divide among the American people. The job of all Americans now should be to heal that divide. As educators and members of the BASD community, our job is to make sure our children and students are not harmed by that divide.

I am reminded of President Lincoln’s words near the end of the Civil War, as he called on Americans to bind the nation’s divisions “with malice toward none, with charity for all”.

It’s unclear to me, whether or not as a nation, we will move forward with a spirit of charity and compassion for all.

What is clear to me is that our district will not tolerate acts of racism or any acts that denigrate our students, faculty and staff.

What is clear to me is that our district will move forward with a spirit of charity and compassion for all. Our commitment to Excellence through Equity and our insistence that all students have equitable access to learning will not change.

Public schools are the one place where children of all backgrounds come together. Public schools are even more important during times of national divide. Let’s take advantage of this challenging opportunity to help people come together “with malice toward none, with charity for all”

Thank you,

Dr. Joseph J.  Roy


Bethlehem Area School District

50 Thanksgiving Dinners Donated to Freemansburg Elementary Families by Local Doctors

Dr. Gupta from Lehigh Valley Hospital started collecting school supplies with her children three years ago. Last year, Freemansburg Elementary Principal, Michael Alogna, met them for the first time.

They donated coats, books, and cash to support one of the school’s initiatives. They had spoken about doing something for Thanksgiving and they worked with some of the people of their neighborhood to collect additional supplies. These supplies were distributed to Freemansburg Elementary School’s families.

This year, they wanted to coordinate a more substantial contribution to help the Freemansburg Community. Dr. Gupta, her son Arnav and Dr. Ahmad and Mehreen Chaudhry of Lehigh Valley Oral Surgery donated fifty Thanksgiving dinners.

Dr. Ahmad and Mehreen heard about the dedication of the faculty and staff of Freemansburg and wanted to support their work beyond the classroom.

“Beyond the daily grind of work and school, we all realized how much what we were doing meant to all of these families,” Dr. Chaudhry said.

These dinners included a fresh turkey, and all of the foods traditionally associated with Thanksgiving, Alogna said.

20161108_161159798“Holidays are difficult for families in need, particularly children. Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude,” he said. “Our community is deeply grateful to the work of Arnav and Dr. Ahmad and Mehreen Chaudhry, both philanthropically and relationally. Thanksgiving is a singularly American holiday. It represents that America, in spite of the current political climate, is still a place of dreams. Freemansburg looks forward to continuing the work of supporting our families in achieving their own American Dream.”

In support of Nikki Testa and her Back-Pack Pals program, they worked with her to distribute the turkeys to families served by her organization. Arnav, Dr. and Mrs. Chaudhry look forward to continuing to work with Back Pack Pals to provide, so that, “No student goes hungry.”

Mr. Andrew Chandler of Sodexo and BASD Dining Services also assisted. The turkeys will be distributed Nov. 18th with the help of Board Member, Mr. Roy Ortiz, director of the Lynnfield Community Center.

Freedom High School Students Meet with Renowned Hispanic Educator

A group of Freedom High School Students, lead by teacher
Jennifer Cierech, recently met author, professor, and inspiration, Javier Ávila at Northampton Community College.

javieravilaJavier Ávila’s distinguished career began in the Caribbean, where he taught English at the University of Puerto Rico for eight years. He moved to Pennsylvania and became a beloved educator at Northampton Community College. His extraordinary work with students earned him the 2015 Pennsylvania Professor of the Year Award sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

In addition to his accomplishments in academia, Ávila is a renowned poet and novelist whose literary excellence propelled him to international recognition. His bestselling novel Different became an award-winning motion picture entitled Mientes. He frequently visits colleges to discuss his work and to  motivate students. Audiences praise Ávila’s recent work for being a powerful voice for Latinos in the U.S.

Ávila’s show, the Trouble with my Name breaks barriers and embraces the diversity of a nation whose history is rich and colorful. The message transcends boundaries of race, ethnicity, and geography.

Cierech said she brought her a great group of Spanish 4 Honors and Future AP students to Ávila’s event at Community College and they came away from the experience excited.

“Ávila was outstanding and he told his story in the form of personal experiences through a slide show and poems he wrote,” Cierech said. “It was very inspiring, particularly for my Hispanic Students. He spoke of diversity, culture and stereotypes.”

BASD Students Meet with Poet Nikki Giovanni

On Thursday, November 20th, students from four BASD schools, Freemansburg Elementary; Northeast and Broughal middle schools; and Freedom High School, attended a field trip to Lehigh University to meet and hear poet, Nikki Giovanni.The students started their field trip with ice cream at The Cup on Lehigh’s Campus Square. Just by chance, the Bethlehem Farmers Market was in full swing with guest artist, Dave Fry, playing music outdoors in the square.

Christie Roysdon, Director of Library services at Lehigh University, arranged an educational hour at the beautiful Linderman Library. Librarians took students to different spaces in the library according to age, elementary, middle and high school, to read Giovanni’s poetry and learn about the political and historical circumstances of Giovanni’s life.

At 4 p.m., at Zoellner Arts Center Butz Lobby, Nikki Giovanni spoke to the students and answered questions. Two of our Freemansburg Elementary students opened for Giovanni by reciting two of her poems and saying why they liked those poems.

Ari’a Williams, 4th grader, read “Knoxville, Tennessee,” and Allen Grimes read “A Poem (for Langston Hughes).”

At 5 p.m., the students enjoyed a delicious box meal in the Goodman Lobby courtesy of Lehigh University.

The bus transportation for the field trip was paid for by a Pennsylvania Arts Council Project Stream grant for the Favorite Poem Project of Bethlehem.

Teachers, Karen Buchanan at Freedom, Anne Sipos at Liberty, Sheri Majczan at Northeast and Dawn Bothwell at Broughal, all submitted poems from their students to the Favorite Poem Project of Bethlehem.

One student from each of these classes was selected to read their poem at the Favorite Poem Project of Bethlehem public reading event at the Rotunda on the evening of October 19th. Teachers attended to support their students.

Freemansburg Elementary School Custodian Introduces School to ‘Reading Dogs’

Freemansburg Elementary School custodian, Margaret Kavanagh, recently introduced the school to a very furry program: “Reading Dogs.”

The main objective of this program is to provide a relaxed and “dog-friendly” atmosphere, which allows students to practice the skill of reading,” said Freemansburg Principal, Mike Alogna.

Some students are self-conscious when reading aloud in front of other classmates. By sitting down next to a dog and reading to the dog, all threats of being judged are put aside. The child relaxes, pats the attentive dog, and focuses on the reading. Reading improves because the child is practicing the skill of reading, building self-esteem, and associating reading with something pleasant.

Alogna said that Kavanagh was single handedly responsible for bringing the program to Freemansburg Elementary.

“As one teacher put it, when the kids came back into the classroom they were ‘beaming.'” he said. “That’s all anyone could ask.”

See more photos below.

District’s New Nitschmann Middle School Construction Receives $2 Million in State Grants


The Bethlehem Area School District has received $2 million in Alternative and Clean Energy Program (ACE) grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) toward the construction of the new Nitschmann Middle School.

ACE grants provide financial assistance in the form of grant and loan funds that will be used by eligible applicants for the utilization, development, and construction of alternative and clean energy projects in the state.

“We are proud that in addition to a cost effective building design and continued on-time and under budget construction we have now reduced the overall cost of the project by qualifying for this $2 million grant” said Bethlehem Area School District Superintendent, Dr. Joseph J. Roy.

The new Nitschmann Middle School project is projected to meet the LEED Gold standard. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design provides a series of qualifications for how buildings are planned, constructed, maintained and operated. Based on the number of points achieved, a project then receives one of four LEED rating levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The district’s new Broughal Middle School, constructed in 2009, is also a LEED Gold school.

“The Bethlehem Area School District has been a leader in promoting sustainability and energy efficiency, with solar panels at five schools, being an Energy Star Leader and constructing a new LEED Gold Broughal Middle School,” said M. Arif Fazil, President of D’Huy Engineering Inc, which oversees the project and applied for the grant. “The new Nitschmann project continues the district’s commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability.”

The project is scheduled for completion in June 2017. The District has pursued efficient and sustainable design strategies to keep the Nitschmann project on schedule and under its projected $53.7 million budget.


Bethlehem Area School District 2016 National Merit Scholarship Students Honored

Eight Bethlehem Area School District students were honored for their National Merit Scholarship selections at a board meeting held on October 24, 2016.

Four of high school seniors were selected as Semifinalists, and an additional eight high school seniors were named Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

About 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools who took the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) last October entered the National Merit Program, a nationwide competition for recognition and awards conducted by National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Winning a National Merit Scholarship depends on more than your PSAT score. Your academic record, SAT scores, extracurricular and leadership experiences, and an essay are also considered.

In September, about 16,000 students, or approximately one-third of the 50,000 high scorers, are notified that they have qualified as Semifinalists. To ensure that academically talented young people from all parts of the United States are included in this talent pool, Semifinalists are designated on a state-representational basis.

They are the highest scoring entrants in each state. These Semifinalists have an opportunity to advance to Finalist standing by meeting a number of additional requirements, and these selections will occur in February of 2017.

Semifinalist are:

Freedom High School

Michael O. Harding

Carol W. Lin

Liberty High School

Madeleine G. Atwood

Samuel Kaufmann

Of the 34,000 remaining students, some were named Commended Students on the basis of a national selection Index score of 200. Students from the Bethlehem Area

Students from the Bethlehem Area who were selected National Merit Scholarship Commended Students are:Kathryn E. Lee, Adam C. Li, Sahitya Mandalapu, Andrew J. Montoya, Brett M. Moyer, Abigail E. Rowan, Emily A. Rowan, and Vincent J. Jenkins
Students from the Bethlehem Area who were selected National Merit Scholarship Commended Students are:Kathryn E. Lee, Adam C. Li, Sahitya Mandalapu, Andrew J. Montoya, Brett M. Moyer, Abigail E. Rowan, Emily A. Rowan, and Vincent J. Jenkins

School District who were selected Commended Students are:

Freedom High School

Kathryn E. Lee

Adam C. Li

Sahitya Mandalapu

Andrew J. Montoya

Brett M. Moyer

Abigail E. Rowan

Emily A. Rowan

Liberty High School

Vincent J. Jenkins