May 2011 Archives

Ahoy, Pirates Star at Newell

Fourth graders presented "My Uncle, The Pirate" to much applause and laughter this past week.  Parents, friends, and staff clapped loudly as the children acted, sang, and moved around the stage with the ease and confidence of professionals.  There were three performances for family and friends and other performances for the children in school. Because there were three different casts, each comprised of two different fourth grade classes, every fourth grade child participated. 

 The plot involved the surprise discovery by a family that it had a relative who is a pirate. The pirate and his band of followers descends on the family.  When the family decides the pirates should go to school, the fun begins. With fancy eye patches and a swash-buckling air, the pirates sang a medley of songs, at times, accompanied by other children in the cast.  Interspersed throughout the performance, were children carrying signs across the stage with various messages, such as one that said, "Relax, they're nice" referring to the pirates.

 It was a great show and the children performed superbly. Congratulations to them and to our music teacher, Mr. Paul Sulyok, who wrote and directed the show.



Memorial Day Assembly

IMGP7898.JPGIf you were walking or driving by our school on this beautiful sunny morning, you would have seen a wonderful sight.  It was a special Memorial Day Assembly filled with patriotic songs, military marches, and inspiring talks by two local and active veterans.  First and second graders and a small group of preschoolers sat cross-legged on the lawn while teachers, other staff members, and some parents stood nearby.                                                                                                                  

The program began with the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, followed by a selection of patriotic songs including "America" and "This Land is Our Land," sung by the children under the direction of Mr. Paul Sulyok, Newell's music teacher. Then, Commander Rick Brody and Mr. Barry Rosenzweig (Mr. R) (picture below) of the Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc. and the Veterans Coalition spoke to the assemblage about the true IMGP8058 (Small).JPGmeaning   of Memorial Day.  They emphasized the importance of showing appreciation to all the brave men and women who have served or are currently serving in our armed forces.  In addition to explaining to the children about the holiday, Mr. R played the keyboard when the children sang and again at the end when he launched into an array of songs representing the different branches of the military. The veterans taught the children a proper military salute. IMGP7900 (Small).JPG

The highlight of the program was the introduction of a number of students who held pictures of various family members who had served or currently were serving in the military.   Proudly, the students told their names and then the names of their family members. 

Other veterans who were guests at the ceremony were Dr. Zinzarella, a community member and former school superintendent, Mr. Harry Leonard, grandfather of a second grader, Sergeant Hiles, uncle of a second grader, and Dr. Dick Fitzpatrick, UFRSD's superintendent (and Air Force.) 

We are grateful to all who participated in this assembly and we thank them for reminding us about the significance of Memorial Day.

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What can you do with your old jeans?  A group of parents and students at Newell had an answer for that: Let's give them to people in need!  

Project Denim grew out of an effort last year to help the people in Haiti after a devastating earthquake.  In partnership with Newell Elementary School, a group of concerned parents and students organized a drive to collect jeans, and our children and their families responded by donating more than 500 pairs of jeans. Later, realizing that there were children and families in need right here in New Jersey, they expanded the effort beyond collecting jeans to making meals for families in need, and putting together 88 Easter baskets for homeless children in the community.

Last Wednesday, May 18, the school hosted an assembly for third and fourth graders to honor the effort.  Ms. Tara Silva, our assistant principal, began the assembly by telling the students a little bit about the history of the project, and how it has grown and evolved over the past year.  She announced that in the future, the project would be called NJ Kids for Change, and that there would be opportunities for Newell students to participate in additional community service activities in the upcoming year.                                                                       photopd2.JPG

The students then heard from Ms. Alicia Portalatin, who was at the assembly representing HomeFront, a local, non-profit group that works to help poor and homeless families in our area.  The goal of HomeFront is to ensure that every child in the community has a safe place to live and enough food to eat.  Ms. Portalatin, HomeFront's Volunteer Coordinator, thanked our students for the jean donation, and for their caring attitude and spirit.   When the assembly ended, the Newell students that participated in the jean collection effort helped carry more than 20 boxes of the donated jeans to HomeFront's truck.  Ms. Portalatin then presented the students with a poster that had been created by homeless children HomeFront provides services to, thanking the students for the jeans.

We can all take pride in Project Denim and what it represents - a school that cares about its community and provides its students with hands on opportunities to help make that community a better place for all.        

For more information about Project Denim, contact Ms. Karen Dahms, a Newell parent, at

Ms. Cathy Beal, Computer Network Technician, has been chosen as Newell's Support Staff Member of the Year. As the school's technology trouble-shooter, Cathy gets to work with every staff member.  She describes her job as helping teachers to do their job.  To that end, she is forever helping individual teachers overcome technology glitches or teaching them new skills.  Her extraordinary competence combined with persistence and dedication have made her an invaluable and respected member of the staff.  No matter the challenge, and there can be several in a day, Cathy is unfailingly calm and tenacious in solving the problem.                                                                                                                               photoC.JPG
On Friday, Cathy, along with the Teacher of the Year and Support Staff Member of the Year from each of the schools, was honored by the district at an appreciation breakfast. In the picture on the right, Dr. Fitzpatrick, UFRSD's Superintendent, congratulates Cathy on her award.                                                             
Congratulations, Cathy.  You are an excellent representative of the outstanding support staff at Newell. 

A Garden is Born

beginning of April 11Tate 065 (Small).jpgThis year, as part of their science curriculum, first graders created a Butterfly Garden.  On May 13, after much planning and preparation, and with the help and expertise of Mr. and Mrs. Brandauer, local butterfly experts and members of the Allentown Garden Club, the children actually did the planting.  They dug holes, planted bushes, laid mulch, and applied water.  In the future, first graders will continue to water and weed the garden as well as make observations as the butterflies begin to arrive.

This project was triggered by a parent of a first grader, Mrs. Strovinsky, who works in a local nursery and had been sending the class some amazing information about butterfly gardens.  Assisting in the effort were UFRSD's Director of Building and Grounds, Mr. Mayeux; the Pleasant Run Nursery; and, the Allentown Garden Club. Our Butterfly Garden is a wonderful example of a collaborative effort between school and community that engages children and enhances their learning.  Kudos to everyone involved.

Teachers Win UFREF Grants

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Carrying bunches of colorful balloons and bearing a huge cardboard check, members of the Upper Freehold Regional Educational Foundation (UFREF) swept into school today surprising several teachers with the announcement that their ideas for innovative programs had been funded.  Each year the UFREF solicits applications for grant awards from staff members throughout the district and makes awards twice a year, in the fall and the spring. Pictured above (from left to right) are members of the foundation:   Sydney Guerrero, Vice President; Jim Derasmo, President,  Karen Kilcher, PTA Liaison, and Robert Cheff, Chairperson of the Grants Application Committee.

In this distribution, Newell ES received a total grant amount of $1,944 for three different projects:  

Hip Hop Helps Everyone Learn - submitted by ESL teacher, Linda Chiappetta

This program uses music and rhyming to improve ESL students' vocabulary across content areas.  By using music to help students memorize factual information, it's highly motivating and can connect students of different cultures. 

Recognizing Students of the Month - submitted by Art teacher, Tamara Diaczenko

The grant will support a student recognition program in the Visual Arts.  Each month two students who excel in art and demonstrate cooperation and a positive attitude will receive personalized framed certificates and a small gift.  

Wii 4 Physical Education (PE) - submitted by PE teachers, Robert Graham, Matt Nemeth, and Denise Wadams.

This project will use technology to enhance the PE program for all students in the school.  It will assist in keeping the children physically fit, incorporate team work into the activities, and serve as an additional tool for the teaching and learning of PE. Through the use of two motion controlled Wii systems, participants will be able to use motions, gestures, and actions to control the characters on the video game. 

Congratulations to the teacher recipients and many thanks to the UFREF for their support of our school.

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More Computer Happenings



Second graders used Skype interactive videoconferencing technology to meet students in Kansas City, Missouri.  After a brief introduction by the teachers on both sides, each student got to meet one student from Missouri and then match their mathematical wits in a game of addition and subtraction "Around the World." Soon, the students will be videoconferencing again for a mapping project to teach the Kansas City second graders how to navigate through Allentown.

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Third and fourth graders attended the first-ever Type-A-Thon on April 14th. The students did their best to complete as many typing lessons as possible in two hours. The students gained valuable typing practice, and generous sponsors helped them raise over $130 for the Upper Freehold Regional Education Foundation (UFREF), a group that helps fund innovative projects designed by teachers in the district.  Everyone had a fun time. This project was a joint effort coordinated by Mrs. Rowland, our computer teacher, third grade teacher, Mrs. Walulak and UFREF representative, Ms. Esteves.


On Wednesday, May 4, the PTA celebrated Teacher Appreciation Day by hosting a spectacular breakfast for the staff in the school cafeteria and then using the occasion to announce the winner of the Phoebe Hearst Outstanding Educator Award - A National PTA Excellence in Education Award - Given by the UFRPTA. 

This year's winner is Allison Tate, a first grade teacher, who was recognized for her competence, compassion and concern for her students, and her dedication to teaching.  Congratulations to Allison. 

And, thanks to the PTA, and the parents, in particular, who prepared the food, served it so graciously, and by their presence conveyed their appreciation to the teachers and other support staff members for the work that they do. Celebrations, such as these, that bring parents and teachers together make Newell Elementary School a great school - a good place for children to learn and teachers to teach. 

Thank you parents!

5641557722_7827272080.jpg Second graders have the opportunity to join one of four clubs (art, library, gym, and computer) during their recess period.  They attend the club for one day a week for one marking period.  Recently, the children in the computer club participated in an art contest.  Each student researched endangered animals from all over the world, chose one to focus on, and created digital artwork to represent that animal in its natural habitat.  Residents from the Four Seasons adult community in Allentown judged the artwork and came to Newell to meet the artists and hand out the awards. During their visit, the children showed the judges the program they used to create the artwork and demonstrated how to use it. Ms. Mimi Rowland, our computer teacher, arranged the meeting to the delight of both children and visitors.  Here are some pictures from this special event.


An Unusual Visitor to First Grade


Today first graders in Ms. Nancy Qualiano's class had an interesting visitor, a beautiful, black and white, baby goat only four weeks old who let out a loud bleat when introduced to the children, much to their obvious delight.

 Ms. Leslie Search from Lahaway Farm in Cream Ridge brought the goat to school and patiently answered the children's questions.  Formerly a member of the Newell staff, she's also written a children's book about goats that the first graders read in their class prior to this visit. Ms. Search explained what goats eat, how young goats like to play, and why the baby goat was nervous around children.  "What is her name?" asked one little girl only to find out that the baby was unnamed because if she had a name it would be too hard for Ms. Search to give her away.

It was a lovely sunny morning and the unusual visit took place out on the field.  As her owner cradled her in her lap, the children took turns gently petting the baby goat.  A memorable moment for the children, and, we hope, for the baby goat, too!



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This page is an archive of entries from May 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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