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jsilver - Posted Monday, Nov 21, 2016 

AMESBURY — When Sparhawk School pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teacher Maryclaire Paullis died suddenly at the age of 48 last December, she not only left behind her four children, but the dreams she had for the school that was such a big part of her life.

Thanks to the Sparhawk community she left behind, one of Paullis’ dreams — her “treeless tree house” — has come to life.

“Her loss is an immeasurable loss in our community,” said art teacher Katherine Kulik. But “we feel like she is here and she will always be here. We, as a community, are looking for ways to embody her spirit here.”

Paullis was the first teacher hired by Headmaster Louise Stilphen over 20 years ago, according to Kulik, and Paullis could find a teachable moment in anything.

“Somebody could bring her a ladybug or a mushroom or a rock and she would turn it into a lesson, on the spot,” Kulik said.

When Paullis looked out her classroom window at Sparhawk’s Lower School campus, she envisioned a tree house without the tree. Not knowing her idea would eventually outlive her, Paullis posted her treeless tree house on one of her many Pinterest pages.

“This is the first of several outdoor projects that were a part of her vision board,” Kulik said. “She wanted everything to become a part of the children’s experience here, both as an educational tool and as an experiential tool. She was an incredible naturalist. She loved nature.”

While the Sparhawk community held a celebration of Paullis’ life in March, work was well underway to raise the money needed to start making her outdoor project a reality.

A bake sale brought in $1,000 last spring and that amount was matched by the Sparhawk Parent Teacher Organization. JnR Gutters, Inc., of Haverhill, donated $300 worth of materials, as well.

Sparhawk community members built the foundation for the treeless tree house over the summer, but when it came time to erect the wooden structure during the Amesbury Open Studio Tour, Nov. 12 and 13, one of the students, Paullis’ youngest son, 10-year-old Eli, needed to go away.

A Sparhawk student since he was 2, and unaware that many of his fellow Sparhawk community members were about to complete his mother’s unfinished project, Eli spent the Open Studio Tour weekend with family. He returned Monday morning to see the tree house standing exactly where his mother always wanted it to be.

“I said, ‘Wow,’” Eli said. “Before, it was just the floor and the poles holding it up.”

Both the Lower and Upper Schools joined Eli as he served as master of ceremonies at last Monday’s tree house grand opening, officially cutting the ribbon with drier eyes than his teachers had at that moment.

“The (Paullis family) are our first family and we are very much a family,” Kulik said. “We felt that it was really important to get everyone over there Monday morning to celebrate the inauguration of this structure.”

Although the past year has been difficult for Eli and his biological family, he knows he will always have the Sparhawk community to fall back on.

“It’s my community and my family, kinda,” Eli said. “It’s surprising and it’s fun.”

Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury for The Daily News. He can be reached by phone at 978-961-3145, via email at or follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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Dan Harrison Newburyport Daily News sports editor - Posted Thursday, Nov 10, 2016 
Picture by James Valknoras
WILMINGTON — The Amesbury girls soccer team knows it has the quickness up front to smother opposing defenses.

Last night, in the Division 4 North semifinal, the Indians’ speed was downright suffocating.

Led by sophomore Chelsea Lynch, the forwards and midfielders ran circles around Austin Prep in what was a dominant 2-0 victory for the Indians. Amesbury will play St. Mary’s in the finals Sunday morning at Manning Field with kickoff set for 11 a.m.

“I’m speechless. It’s such a good feeling to have all played together as a team and most importantly, as a family,” said Lynch, who scored what proved to be the game winner in the first half.

“We couldn’t have done it without the work we all put in. We played so great, I’m so proud of us as a team.”

Lynch put Amesbury (12-4-5) ahead by a goal midway through the first half when Emma DiPietro played a ball from the midfield that got behind the Cougar defense. Lynch turned on the boosters and ran right between two defenders and beat the charging keeper with a perfectly placed low shot inside the left post.

Minutes earlier Emma Richardson had sent Lynch on a similar run, but the aggressive goalie came way out to smother the shot attempt.

This time around, the savvy Lynch was wise to the goalie’s game, and knew immediately what to do when she reached the ball.

“Chelsea creates a lot of her own ability with her speed and touches,” said Amesbury head coach Adam Thibodeau. “She had an opportunity early that she missed out on, but she came back, fixed it and scored early and that took pressure off us.”

More speed from Lynch and junior Michaela Halloran in the second half kept AP pinned in its own end.

Halloran forced a deep throw which eventually squirted out to DiPietro, who crushed a line drive toward the net. The ball deflected off a player out front and trickled to the left side of the box.

At first it looked like the Cougars would be able to clear, but Richardson raced to the loose ball and made a tough, contested shot that beat the keeper and gave Amesbury a 2-0 lead.

“I know we are a fast team, I didn’t know about them,” Thibodeau said of whether he knew going in that his girls’ speed would be the key to taking down the Cougars. “When we’re able to play with speed, we’re able to create chaos.”

It seemed like Amesbury was the livelier team all over the field as the midfielders, led by DiPietro, Halloran, Ashley Pettet and Mollie Lynch, controlled play and left the Cougars struggling to produce any plays that might swing the momentum.

It was a masterful execution of the game plan on all three levels by a team hungry to earn a berth in the finals. 

“I don’t think they expected it out of us. I think they expected to beat us,” said Halloran. “They’re used to being in the final and we’re not, but we proved ourselves.”

The speed and active midfield by Amesbury made it tough for Austin Prep to sustain an effective attack. The few times AP did get into the danger areas, Julia LaMontagne, Kelsey Buonodono, Sadie Lambert and Mikayla Porcaro were there to boot the ball away.

LaMontagne was particularly effective in the middle of the field coming up to play the ball and then getting it back to the offense, allowing Amesbury to sustain pressure.

Hannaih Burdick was a force on the left side of the field with freshman Maddie Creps playing very active in the same position on the other side.

The Indians produced a couple of other promising chances thanks to Chelsea Lynch’s persistent pressure and her chemistry with Emma Richardson.

Richardson sent Chelsea Lynch into the box a few times, forcing the opposing goalie to come way out to play the ball.

Maia Etsy and Schuyler Snay also made life tough on the left side of the AP defense in the first 40 minutes.

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jsilver - Posted Monday, May 16, 2016 

AMESBURY — Sparhawk School Assistant Headmaster and admissions director Kaitlyn MacDonald has a type of person in mind when approaching potential teachers.

“They have to be willing to teach with a certain level of uncertainty,” MacDonald said. “They have to be willing to teach with a certain amount of vulnerability. They have to expect that their students will be skeptical.”

Headmaster Louise Stilphen taught in public and private schools before beginning the private, progressive, independent school for students from prekindergarten to graduation. It was watching the education of her “intellectual adventurer” daughter Lauren that Stilphen said reminded her of a dream she had when she was very young.

“When I was 8 years old, I decided I wanted to start a school,” Stilphen said. “My parents had sent me to a very small, alternative, multi-age school when multi-aged learning was old-fashioned as opposed to contemporary. It was a wonderful experience and for whatever reason, I decided I was going to start a school like that and a lot of those experiences informed what this school is like.”

Founding the Sparhawk School with a mother’s love, Stilphen began working out of her Elm Street living room in 1994. Starting off with 13 students from kindergarten to second grade, Stilphen’s school grew to 35 students in its second year, 76 in the third, and has kept growing in the years since.

Currently split between its lower school campus located in four buildings on Elm Street and an upper school on 18 acres behind the post office on Noel Street, Stilphen said she created the Sparhawk School as an oasis of individualized progressive learning, which encourages its teachers to find a student’s interest and then get out of the way.

“The curriculum challenges students to think, not just memorize things,” Stilphen said. “A lot these kids came to us because they were bright and bored.”

A Sparhawk parent herself, MacDonald has been with the school for the past 12 years.

“It is student first. It is about collaboration and community and social justice,” MacDonald said. “It is about our students having a say in the curriculum and what their day looks like. It’s about intelligence, not just being something that you find in books but about what you experience in the world. Our students’ social, emotional growth is as important as their academic growth.”

MacDonald admits that giving a child the ability to direct his or her own coursework may not be what everyone expects.

“You are literally asking your students to question what you are teaching,” MacDonald said. “As a result, you get this great Socratic dialogue. Our 4-year-olds have an opportunity to have a say in what kind of extracurriculars are offered at the lower campus, and I think that is just a great opportunity.”

A Sparhawk education, however, is not without its structure.

“We follow a curriculum (and) there are absolutely standards,” MacDonald said. “The Massachusetts frameworks are a really powerful structure by which you can build a dynamic curriculum. But for us, it comes down to, what do we value over everything else? Do we value grades over everything else? Do we value kids sitting at their desks over everything else? We don’t. We don’t necessarily think an exam is a good marker for how well a student does. But I don’t think there is no place for a traditional model.”

The Sparhawk School, according to MacDonald, gives each student their voice at an early age, which informs them well when entering “the real world.”

“What makes me a person vested in education isn’t because I got a B in algebra,” MacDonald said. “It was the strong, caring adults that really helped guide us. That is why our kids have a 100 percent college acceptance rate. This year, 100 percent of our kids got into one of their top three schools. Over time, that has been 96 percent.”

Alum Chloe Deeley was one of a class of 18 when she graduated from Sparhawk in 2013 and recently completed her junior year at UMass Amherst.

“I was treated with a lot of respect and more respect than I think kids ever expect to get,” Deeley said. “That was huge for me and how I approach pretty much everything. How I talk to my professors, how I talk to my employers, how I talk to other people.”

With roughly 65 students and 11 teachers at the lower school and 110 students and 28 teachers at the upper school, the Sparhawk School averages a student/teacher ratio from 10-1 at the pre-K and kindergarten level to 16-1 at most from eighth grade through senior year. 

“We are really committed to being an Amesbury school,” MacDonald said. “We value this community and appreciate the home that we have built here.”

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Daily News in Newburyport, Jim Sullivan - Posted Monday, Apr 25, 2016 

AMESBURY -- Aspiring playwrights can go their entire lives without seeing their work performed onstage by professionals, but count Sparhawk Upper School junior Lola Getz among the fortunate -- her one-act play, "A Little Game of Life and Death" was performed this week at the Boston Playwrights' Theater.

"It was incredible," Getz said. "I was working with (the actors) backstage before they put it on and it was really cool to see them put their own interpretations on the material and then seeing it performed onstage was really cool too."

Sparhawk English and theater teacher Bob DeLibero teaches playwriting during the first semester each year and will usually get between 10-14, one-act plays written and performed by the students as the school's winter production.

"They get to see their show up on its feet," DeLibero said. "All of the pieces are memorized and it is a really cool event."

Happy with his students' work, DeLibero has for the past two years been entering his students into the Massachusetts Young Playwrights' Project (MYPP) which gives local high school students the chance to learn playwriting from professional mentors such as playwright Deirdre Girard. Once written, two plays from each school are chosen to be rehearsed and performed by professional actors during the annual MYPP Festival.

Getz' show made this year's cut  and was performed at Boston University's Boston Playwrights Theater on Wednesday, directed by Steven Barkhimer.

"I have had Lola in class since she was in the fifth grade," DeLibero said. "She is an excellent writer and she always has been. She is very creative and she is not afraid to put her thoughts out there, even though they are out of the box sometimes. When she wrote this piece, it came pretty much fully-formulated. She just had to make some minor edits."

A one-act 10-minute comedy titled "A Little Game of Life and Death," Getz' play tells the story of an older woman who walks into her kitchen only to find Death sitting at the kitchen table.

"He wants her to go with him," Getz said. "But she doesn't want to go."

The old woman and Death have had this conversation before, according to the young playwright, and it happens again.

"They are old friends," Getz said. "She decides to make him a deal where if he beats her at a card game, then she will go with him. So they play a game of Go Fish."

This short tale of life and death came to her very quickly, Getz said.

"I kind of wrote it in the course of three days, spending a half-an-hour on it here and there," Getz said. "I just came up with it for the workshop."

An avid reader, Getz counts "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak as both one of her favorites and the inspiration for her own piece.

"The Book Thief' is narrated by Death," Getz said. "I have always been fascinated by the concept of Death as a character. So I wanted to incorporate that into my play somehow."

Sitting in on rehearsals. Getz got to field questions from the actors about their characters' motivations.

"They were really talented," Getz said. "They did a nice job with it."

"The audience loved it," DeLibero said. "There was good feedback and just the fact that they get to see it up on its feet is so different from reading it in the classroom."

Staging a comedy about an old lady meeting Death could prove to be a tricky thing, but Getz said her piece got the big laughs just where she hoped they would be.

"It was definitely a relief," Getz said. "Because it is kind of a dark comedy and if nobody got it, that would have been a little awkward."

With a life-long interest in writing, Getz said that she also has an interest in perhaps pursuing career in journalism and/or the humanities, and has plans on visiting Emerson College during her April vacation.

"When we entered the plays into the festival, I was hoping hers would be one of the ones chosen," DeLibero said. "I knew when it left the desk that it had legs. So, I was really happy but not surprised when they chose it." 

"Dear Macie" by Sparhawk sophomore Ella Faria, about a husband who is contemplating getting a divorce and the wife who is thinking about how much she loves him, also made the MYPP cut and was performed last week.

Sparhawk senior Jordan Michel's esoteric piece titled, "A Bright Future" beat out other works from students from Lexington High School, Reading Memorial High School, Concord Academy, Westford Academy, Newton North High School, Weston High School, Cambridge Rindge & Latin High School, Boston Latin High School, Hamilton-Wenham High School and the Waring School among others to be given a staged reading.

"It was a great day for us," DeLibero said. "Two of our kids get to see their shows acted out by professional actors. They got to sit in on the rehearsals and then we had a third student whose play was chosen as the alternate and was done in a staged reading with the actors reading the script out loud on stage and get feedback on his show. It was a really valuable experience and an exciting one. I am really proud of this group of kids. They were very dedicated to this project."

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jsilver - Posted Thursday, Jan 14, 2016 

EIN NEWS: Tuesday, January 22nd 2016

Initiative Helps Tomorrow's Leaders, Creates Avenue for Independent Manufacturers 

/ -- CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - January 12, 2016) - Digital manufacturing leader Inventables announced today that it is making it possible for 50 schools in the United States to have access to the newest digital manufacturing technology, 3D Carving, in response to President Obama's call to create a "Nation of Makers.

By the end of the decade, Inventables' goal is to have a 3D carver in every school in the United States. 

Last summer, the White House celebrated the National Week of Making June 12-18. To kick off the Week, the White House hosted an event which included updates on the President's call to action to create a "Nation of Makers." During that meeting, Inventables CEO, Zach Kaplan, stood up and committed to donate a 3D carving machine to a school in every state in the union. 3D carving is a powerful technology capable of creating precision parts and designs from materials like wood, plastic and metal.

"We believe that to ignite the digital manufacturing revolution, we need to provide free access to these important 3D carving tools to as many schools as possible. By the end of the decade, we want every school in the United States to have a 3D Carving machine," said Kaplan.

Inventables hopes that access to a free machine and free software will help educate future generations and reboot American manufacturing education, and allow people to start their own independent manufacturing businesses in the United States. The machines work with Inventables' free software Easel to allow anyone to go from idea to making in five minutes without any specialized knowledge or training.

"Our goal is to keep the digital manufacturing revolution going by giving tomorrow's thinkers the tools they need to become tomorrow's entrepreneurs," adds Kaplan. "We are giving individuals the power to launch their own business like the guys at Studio Neat who recently constructed an Apple TV remote holder. This also means we are creating alternatives to offshoring what America builds, which will create more jobs here in the U.S."

List of winners: (contact information for each space is available upon request)*

Alabama              James Clemens High Schoo
Alaska               Dimond High School 
Arizona              Zaharis Elementary School
Arkansas             Washington Middle School
California           Templeton High School
 Colorado             Career Center
Connecticut          Salisbury School 
Florida              Imagine South Lake Charter
Georgia              Woodstock Middle School
Hawaii               Kailua Elementary
 Idaho                Lewiston High School 
 Illinois             Pulaski International School of Chicago
Indiana              Purdue University
Iowa                 Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn Community School District 
Kansas               Wellington High School 
Kentucky             Eastern Kentucky University
Louisiana            Scotlandville Magnet High School
Maine                Kents Hill School
Maryland             North County High School
Massachusetts        Sparhawk School
Michigan             Hillel Day School of Metro Detroit
Minnesota            Princeton Public Schools
Mississippi          Madison Career and Technical Center
Missouri             Kirksville Area Technical Center
Montana              Stillwater Christian School
Nebraska             Heritage Lake Academy
Nevada               Discovery Charter School Las Vegas
New Hampshire        Central High School
New Jersey           The College of New Jersey
New Mexico           Mountain View Middle School 
New York             United Nations International School
North Carolina       Rockingham Middle School
North Dakota         North Star School
Ohio                 Hilliard Weaver Middle School
Oklahoma             Tri County Technology Center
Oregon               Taft High School 7-12 
Pennsylvania         Preston Area School
Rhode Island         St. Michael's Country Day School
South Carolina       Sugar Creek Elementary
South Dakota         Vermillion High School 
Tennessee            Harriman High School
Texas                Klein Independent School District
Utah                 M Lynn Bennion Elementary School
Vermont              Lyndon Institute
Virginia             Loudoun Academy of Science
Washington           Tacoma Science and Math Institute (SAMi)
West Virginia        Wheeling Country Day School
Wisconsin            BadgerBOTS
Wyoming              Little Snake River Valley Schools 
*Delaware is still pending an entry for submission.

About Inventables

Inventables' is igniting the digital manufacturing revolution with its 3D carving ecosystem. Their Easel software is available as a free web application. Carvey and X-­Carve 3D carvers work seamlessly with Easel to power independent manufacturing.

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