12 07, 2021

One family’s Saturday harvest

By |2021-07-12T12:26:20-06:00July 12th, 2021|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

Here’s what one Ancona family took home from the garden on an average summer Saturday. This is their “payment” for watering the plants and feeding the chickens.

For those keeping score at home, they harvested

  • 1 medium cabbage (approximately 5 cups)
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup chard
  • 2 c beets + 1 c beet greens
  • 2 bunches herbs
  • 3 eggs (not shown)
for a total of 15 servings.
27 06, 2021

Why we count the harvest, and how

By |2021-08-25T10:21:04-06:00June 27th, 2021|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

Whenever someone takes produce from the Ancona garden, we estimate how many servings they harvest and record it in a log. We use the USDA definitions of servings. One egg is a serving. A cup of fresh kale is a serving. A half-cup of strawberries is a serving.

This system is less perfect than simply recording the produce by weight, which is what most urban farms do.

But it’s far better suited to the lives of our families. Most parents can’t easily picture two pounds of broccoli. But they know exactly what the equivalent, 10 servings, looks like on the plate and would be thrilled if their child ate two servings.

There also many tougher questions that we can’t answer without harvest data, questions like:

  • Is our harvest growing with each successive year?
  • What crops produce best on our campus?
  • What vegetables are most popular with students?
  • What’s the financial contribution of the garden?
  • What should we grow next year?
  • Are we have a meaningful impact on families’ diets?
21 06, 2021

Learning to savor herbs

By |2021-06-21T14:47:40-06:00June 21st, 2021|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

This spring, Ancona was fortunate to win one of ten grants given nationally by the Herb Society of America. The grant paid for the supplies needed to build this rolling herb garden destined for our playground. Ancona grandparent Gary Neighbors did the carpentry. Students filled it with growing mix and transplanted in lavender, chamomile, mint, basil, rosemary, thyme, and lemon sorrel.

The grant also supported a series of garden lessons, such as making our own herbal tea blends and preparing a salad with a fresh-herb vinaigrette. The focus wasn’t just on herbs’ flavors but on learning to mindfully prepare tea and other traditional dishes by hand. With herbs, a big part of the experience comes from eating slowly and savoring the freshness.

Finally, students started enough lavender and chamomile plants for third through sixth grade students to take one of each home.



16 06, 2021

Watering in a drought

By |2021-06-16T05:52:26-06:00June 16th, 2021|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

Intrepid parent volunteers have kept our crops watered through this unusually hot, dry spring.  The first thunderstorm of 2021 didn’t arrive till this past Saturday. We could be in for a prolonged drought. Please consider signing up to water plants and feed the chickens on weekends. Even if you’re not signed up, you can grab the hose and water anytime you’re at the garden.

Watering properly takes practice and focus. Students tend to flick water at the plants, or water weeds instead of crops, or dump water on leaves and ignore the root area. So we practice a lot, and students have really improved.

Besides rain, the best way to water garden crops is via an automated drip and sprinkler system. Such a system deliverly exactly the right amount of water to the plants at the perfect time (usually early morning). This summer, hopefully there will be time to install minisprinklers in our largest garden bed.

If you have a home garden, here are some watering tips to sustain your plants without wasting water. Overwatering is a common problem, and it often contributes to plant diseases.

9 06, 2021

Graduation flower success!

By |2021-06-09T13:49:01-06:00June 9th, 2021|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

This year we successfully grew the flowers handed Ancona graduates at the final assembly of the year. It’s taken a few seasons to get the timing right; early June is after most spring flowers are done and before the summer blooms open. We’ve found success with dianthus, also known as sweet williams.

This year’s graduates started more plants, so that next year would should be able to give every graduate a small bouquet rather than a single stem. The symbolism is fitting: Every class plants for the class that follows.


7 05, 2021

Chickens make triumphant return

By |2021-08-26T09:50:16-06:00May 7th, 2021|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

As usual, our four laying hens arrived in the garden a few weeks ago. They’ll stay through November. Students provide much of their daily care while exploring the birds’ roles in history, agriculture, and the food system.

Ancona families are invited to sign up to care for the chickens on weekends. The hens love treats in the form of human leftovers that would otherwise be thrown out: stale rice, fruit scraps, expired salad bags or yogurt, and so forth. This is a cost-effective way to turn food waste into eggs.

For the first time this year, we have two hens that were with us last season (ie, in 2020): The silver-laced wyandotte and the cinnamon queen. Like children, each bird has her own personality. The barred rock is, at least for the moment, the most timid of the bunch, while the wyandotte is always the first to investigate visitors.

Graphic by Wren

5 05, 2021

Growing our own graduation flowers

By |2021-08-26T09:51:18-06:00May 5th, 2021|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

This year, Ancona seventh and eighth graders are growing their own graduation flowers–that is, the cut stems they’ll be handed with their diploma.

As students have learned, local flowers are cleaner and greener than those from most florists. They don’t have to be shipped or refrigerated and don’t require pesticides or preservatives.

Students planted snapdragons and dianthus in their classrooms in March and transplanted them outdoors in April. Hopefully they’ll bloom at just the right time come June!

5 05, 2021

2021 season update–May 4

By |2021-05-05T11:48:16-06:00May 5th, 2021|Ancona Farm News|0 Comments

Currently harvesting

  • Lettuce
  • Collards
  • Cilantro
  • Spinach

Families are welcome to harvest produce and take home produce to eat. Be sure to rinse it well with water and a tablespoon of white vinegar. And tell Chris how many servings you get for the garden log.

In the ground and growing fast

  • Cabbage
  • Hakarei salad turnips
  • Red and gold beets
  • Peas
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Bok choi
  • Kale
  • Flowers

25 03, 2021

Magnus Health FAQs

By |2021-08-09T07:09:20-06:00March 25th, 2021|Parent News|0 Comments

Great news! For the 2021-22 school year, we will no longer require daily COVID-19 screenings! If  anyone in your household has recently experienced symptoms or come in contact with a positive case, please contact the nurse at and await a response before sending your child to school.

Magnus Health “To Do List”, Vital Health Record, and Forms FAQ

How do I access my student's Magnus Health "To Do List" and health record?
  1. Visit the My Ancona Resource Board page (use your My Ancona login credentials).
  2. Click on the “Magnus Health Link”
  3. Click “Complete Now” next to your child’s name. Repeat for each student. The “To Do” marker will disappear once all requirements for your child are completed.
  4. You will first be presented with a series of “conditional questions”  Answering “Yes” to an item will add a related item to your “To Do List”.
  5. Complete each “To Do” list item - each item is self explanatory.
  6. The school will process each of the forms you submit, which means that the status will usually show “pending” just after you have submitted your form. Follow-up emails will be sent by the school as needed.
What is the Vital Health Record?

A: The Vital Health Record (VHR) is a secure spot that allows you to share information with the school so that we can give your child the best care possible. 

The VHR includes “Health Emergency Contacts” that will double as “authorized pickups” -- details about the transition from My Ancona are found on the entry screen.

The VHR asks about Medications. Please list any medications your student takes at home or at school. Note that if the medication is administered at the school, additional medication forms will be needed. Please see the FAQ “How do medication forms work?” for more information. 

The VHR is only accessible to a select group of Ancona employees, and is treated confidentially. Key information such as allergies and action plans are shared with teachers and caregivers who should know this information. 

If something changes, may I make updates to the Vital Health Record or other form?

The Magnus Health “To Do List” allows you to view and make adjustments to submitted forms and your student's Vital Health Record. After you re-submit, the school will approve the change (or let you know why they didn’t), and will follow up by informing the appropriate people and make any other needed adjustments. When this is done, the status will change from “Pending School Approval” to “Complete”. 

Which information is still stored in My Ancona and which is moving to Magnus Health?

It is important to note that My Ancona remains the central spot where demographic information about students and families is stored. If you move or change addresses, emails, or phone numbers, you may edit this information on your My Ancona profile. Magnus Health automatically updates relevant information each night from My Ancona

Parents of new students are asked to fill in the “New Student Profile” form as part of My Ancona. This is necessary so that parents may fill in important info that wasn’t appropriate to ask during the admissions process (or could have changed):

  • Parent contact info
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Employment info
  • Sibling info (including younger sibs)
  • Grandparent Info

Periodically, you will be asked to check that your information on My Ancona is up to date and accurate.

For the 2021-2022 school year, Emergency Contacts are transitioning to Magnus Health’s “Health Emergency Contacts”, which will also double as “Authorized Pick-ups”. 

How do I fill out the required information in Magnus Health?

Click on the Magnus Health link on the My Ancona resource board. Next, Click the “Complete now” button and follow the on-page instructions. Be sure to repeat the process for each of your children. Details can be found on the Health Immunizations and Screenings page.

Why did Ancona start using Magnus Health?

Magnus Health provides a secure way to ensure that all the experience of submitting medical information is secure and efficient. It will also be used as a way to track “nurse” visits as well as dispensing of medications. 

Will I have to re-enter all of the “Vital Health Record” information for my child each year?

No - you will review the information and verify that what was entered previously is still correct. In fact, some of the information has been securely transferred from the previous My Ancona system for your convenience.

Can I use the Magnus Health App to complete the “To Do List”?

Parents were asked to load the "Magnus Health app" during the 2020-21 school year for the purpose of filling "Daily Wellness Screenings". While these will no longer be required for 2021-22, the app may still prove useful since you can fill out the “To Do List” right there without needing to access it via the My Ancona Resources page. Tip: use a scanning app to facilitate the process of using your phone’s camera to create appropriate PDF’s for upload.

Simply access your child’s page on the app as usual, and click on “Student Health Tracker” to get started. 

Can I retrieve the info on a form I turned in?

Yes - look for the “view” option on the “To Do List”.

Is information treated confidentially?

Yes. The information in Magnus Health is stored securely and is only accessible to a select group of Ancona employees who are trained to treat it confidentially. Key information such as allergies and action plans are shared with teachers and caregivers who need to know this information.

What are the specific due dates for each form?

Unless otherwise noted on the “To Do List”, forms are due on August 2nd the summer before school starts. Reminder emails will alert you to specific due dates for any missing forms.

How do medication forms work?

Ancona collects basic information about all medications that a student takes on the “Vital Health Record” of Magnus Health, and collects additional information about medications that the student brings or takes at school using other Magnus Health forms. 

The Physician Prescribed Medication Form (PDF fillable version) is intended for Rx medications that the student takes on a regular basis while at school. 

For medications that are kept at school in case of an allergic reaction, asthma, diabetes, or seizure conditions, the information will be collected in Magnus Health’s “To Do List” based on your answer to a conditional question. It is not necessary to fill out the  “Physician Prescribed Medication Form” for medications that are indicated using these forms.

Allergy Action Plan | Asthma Action Plan | Diabetes DMMP | Seizure Action Plan

The OTC (over-the-counter) medication form is needed for non-prescription medications that the student takes at school. Since this form does not require a physician signature, it is filled out directly in the Magnus Health “To Do List” by parents. 

Magnus Health includes a system for the school to track which medications are indicated and dispensed. The information from the forms listed above will be incorporated into this system as the forms are processed and “approved”. 

The school needs information about all medications in order to be able to provide emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and emergency care providers with a complete picture of a student’s health including any ongoing medical conditions and medications taken regularly. It also provides those serving in the school nurse role or student support services with a complete picture of a student’s health profile.

How do I submit an allergy/asthma/diabetes/seizure action plan?

A: On the Magnus Health “To Do List”, there is a “Conditional Questions” section that asks about severe allergies, asthma, seizure conditions, and diabetes. If you answer “Yes” to any of these, an additional requirement will be displayed that gives you a way to download, fill and turn in the appropriate action plan. The plan must be signed by your physician to be accepted. Any medications listed as part of an “action plan” do not require any additional forms.

Which forms are collected via Magnus Health?

The Vital Health Record will replace Medical information on file in My Ancona for school year 2021-2022.

Health Emergency Contacts (part of the Vital Health Record) will double as a list of those authorized to pick up your child and will replace the “Emergency Contacts” listed in My Ancona for school year 2021-2022.

The Immunization Form (a.k.a Physical Exam Form) will only be displayed for P3, P4, K, 6th grade, and new students as required by the IDPH School Immunization Guidelines

The Sports Physical Exam will be displayed for Middle Schoolers planning to participate in extracurricular sports

The Dental Exam form will only be displayed for 

“Action Plans” for asthma, diabetes, seizure conditions, and severe allergies will be made visible if you indicate that your child has a condition on the “Conditional Questions” page.

Diagnostic info form (based on answers to conditional questions)

Physician Prescription Medication form

Over the Counter Medication Form

Consent to Treat Form 

Technology Use Agreements

Permission to Leave School Independently (Middle School specific)

Why do "Health Emergency Contacts" double as "Authorized Pickups"?

It is important to understand the context in which "Health Emergency Contacts" are used. Parents/Guardians are always the first point of contact in a health emergency. In the rare instance that they cannot be reached, the school will reach out to the "Health Emergency Contacts".  The "Health Emergency Contacts" most likely role would be to pick up a student who is not feeling well when the parents are not available to do so. For this reason, it is important that everyone who is a "Health Emergency Contact" is also authorized to pick up the student. Teachers have been instructed to only release a child to those on the "Health Emergency Contacts" list, or to someone authorized in writing from a parent. Best practice for parents is to alert your child's teacher via email if someone other than the usual person will pick up on a particular day.

To see or modify your list of "Health Emergency Contacts", please follow these steps:
1) Sign into Magnus Health via the Resource board link in My Ancona OR on the Magnus Mobile app
2) Visit the "Student Health Tracker" for the student
3) Click "Edit" for the "Vital Health Record"
4) Click "Health Emergency Contacts"
5) Click "Add Contact" and fill in the fields, and be sure to include a phone number and relationship.
Note: This process must be repeated for each sibling.


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