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‘Teamwork’ theme reflects new Ayer-Shirley reality


AYER/SHIRLEY — For many years, the Shirley PTA participated in the National Parent Teacher Association Reflections contest, a competition designed to provide opportunities for students to express themselves and receive positive recognition for their artistic efforts.

Over the summer, however, the Shirley PTA officially transformed into an independent Parent Teacher Organization that sponsors its own version of the awards program. It also changed its name to “Ayer Shirley” to better reflect the current student population in Shirley.

Ayer Middle School students merged with Shirley Middle School students at the Shirley Middle School at the beginning of the school year, one year in advance of the Ayer and Shirley School districts’ official merger into a new regional district on July 1, 2011.

The major difference between a PTA and PTO is that the National PTA is a formal membership organization requiring local groups that choose to belong to it to pay dues to the state and national organizations, and abide by state and national group rules.

Why the PTA-PTO switch for Shirley? According to Ayer Shirley PTO Co-President Ann Kahn, for small school districts such as Shirley’s, the added expense of national and state dues just did not add up to be worth the benefits. “Now more of our money goes directly toward funding programs that benefit our students,” she said.

In addition, the parent-teacher group of the Ayer School District, with which Shirley will be officially partnered this summer, had already made the switch.

“Being a PTO gives us greater flexibility, but one of the things we didn’t want to give up was the Reflections contest,” said PTO member Meredith Marcinkewicz as she introduced the winners of this year’s contest Monday night at the Lura A. White Elementary School. “But now we can do it any way we want. We don’t have to limit the number of prizes; we can give as many as we want,” she added.

Due in large part to the collaborative nature of the move by Ayer students and staff into the Shirley Middle School building, as well as the movement of Shirley’s fifth-grade students into the Lura A. White Elementary School, the theme for this year’s PTO-sponsored contest was Teamwork.

As Marcinkewicz introduced the 2010 contest winners, each presented his or her entry to friends, family, and members of the PTO. Visual-arts winners were awarded $25 gift certificates to Michaels craft store, literature winners received $25 gift certificates to Barnes & Noble bookstores, and all received a certificate of recognition.

Fifth-grader AJ Mastrangelo presented his drawing of members of the New England Patriots football team praising each other for the work they do. “Well, it used to be the Patriots’ team,” he said after the awards. “Randy Moss isn’t on the team anymore.”

Kindergartner Benjamin Rand presented his multimedia abstract of colors and shapes all getting along together, and his fellow classmate Abigail Peckham presented a colorful illustration of two hands working together.

Julia Lupaczyk, also a kindergartner, won in both the art and literature categories for her baseball player collage and her essay “Baseball Needs Teamwork,” in which she logically concludes that if there were just one person on a team, “If your team was up at bat and you were on a base you would have no one to hit the ball.”

Essayist and fifth-grade winner Michele Woodland wrote “A Team Is…,” in which she gives several examples of sports plays that require teammates to work together. Seventh-grader Rebecca Ernst wrote in “There is no ‘I’ In Team,” — “To make a good team everyone must listen to everyone’s ideas, work to everyone’s strengths, and, of course, cooperate!”

Eighth-grader Sarah Gibbons’ art entry “Ayer-Shirley Teamwork” shows a stylized logo for the new Ayer Shirley Regional School District. The letters “A” for Ayer and “S” for Shirley overlap in such a way that “Neither the A nor S is greater than the other,” she said.

Fourth-grader Kenna DeLong’s drawing shows a team of cheerleaders performing an intricate routine in which some of the teammates are holding up the others.

Winners not present for the event were kindergartner Sierra Quinty, second-grader Catherine Quinty, and second-grade teacher Darlene Richard, who wrote an essay called “Team Up.”

The Ayer Shirley PTO provides many benefits to students by sponsoring educational programs and performances, and purchasing special materials for the Shirley schools. The organization offers various fundraisers throughout the year and meets the first Tuesday of every month in the Ayer Shirley Middle School library at 7 p.m.

Anyone interested in joining or volunteering may contact Ann Kahn at, or Sarah Gibbons at For more information, visit the Ayer Shirley PTO’s Web page at

The 2010 Ayer Shirley PTO Teamwork contest winners are:

Visual Arts

Kindergarten: Benjamin Rand — Accepting Differences Collage; Abigail Peckham — Ayer and Shirley Kids Working Together; Sierra Quinty — Helping People Build Blocks; Julia Lupaczyk — Baseball Player Collage

Grade 2: Catherine Quinty — Teamwork

Grade 4: Kenna DeLong — Cheerleading Competition

Grade 5: AJ Mastrangelo — Team

Grade 8: Sarah Gibbons — Ayer-Shirley teamwork


Kindergarten: Julia Lupaczyk — Baseball Needs Teamwork

Grade 5:

Michele Woodland — A Team Is ?

Grade 7:

Rebecca Ernst — There Is No I in Team


Darlene Richard — Team Up

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