Last week, I had the privilege of attending the end of year
PTA Volunteer Thank You dinner at which parent volunteers and staff members who
had worked with the PTA were recognized for their contributions to both Newell
Elementary School and Stone Bridge Middle School. As I listened to Ms. Andrea Reynolds, outgoing
PTA President, warmly thank the parent volunteers and describe all that they
had accomplished, I was struck anew by the enormous power of this group. Once again I realized how much our schools operate
on two levels, the teaching-learning operation and all that that entails run by
district staff, and a whole different level run by parents that works hard to strengthen
the first and enrich its operations.
In the UFRSD, there are close to one hundred active parent
volunteers providing parent power and having significant impact. In addition to their highly successful
fundraising ventures, these volunteers plan and run a variety of popular enrichment
activities such as Meet the Artist, International Night, and Bingo Night. They
plan class parties, go on field trips, and share their careers and interests as
guest visitors in the classrooms. Because of them, our schools are better,
richer, and happier places to be. All of us, students, staff, parents, and
community members, benefit from their gift of time, generous spirit, and
Thank you to every parent who volunteered this year.
Thank you to the Members of the Executive Board for
2010-2011 and to outgoing President, Ms. Andrea Reynolds, and,
Congratulations to the new Members of the Executive Board
for 2011-2012 and to Ms. Vanessa De Pompo, the newly-elected President.
We are grateful for your power!
Fourth graders were honored guests at a special assembly this morning at Stone Bridge Middle School where they were formally transferred from Newell Elementary school to the middle school. As they arrived in the auditorium, a slide show of their fourth grade year played in the background. Newell’s assistant principal, Ms. Silva, (picture left), greeted the children and highlighted some of the year’s memorable moments, including Hero Day, the birth of the Newell News (our internal weekly newscast), “Not Another Disney Musical”, and, of course, the spring smash, “My Uncle, the Pirate.” “What I especially liked were those pink eye patches!” said, Ms. Silva.
Following this walk down memory lane, the fourth grade teachers called out each child’s name as a way of recognizing the students’ completion of K-4 school and their readiness to move on to fifth grade. Mrs. Huggins, Newell’s elementary principal who is currently on leave, was the surprise guest who spoke warmly to the children about her pride in their accomplishments. Mr. Guterl, principal at the middle school, accepted a packet of letters from Mrs. Huggins. The letters, written by the children, will be returned to them four years from now when they will be leaving the middle school on their way to high school. Mr. Guterl welcomed the children to the middle school and told them about the Redbird 4, a set of four values (respect, responsibility, empathy, and integrity) that guides their school.The students were also greeted by Stone Bridge’s guidance counselor, Ms. Bryant. Finally, school superintendent, Dr.Fitzpatrick, reminded them of the excitement of new beginnings and their significance in our lives. Following the assembly, a team of middle school students took the newly-minted fifth graders on a tour of the building, As it turns out, the most eagerly awaited site on the tour, – the cafeteria!
Yesterday, our kindergartens held their “Celebration of
Learning”. As the children stood proudly
on the risers in front of the stage and sang songs about their life in
kindergarten, their equally proud parents and relatives applauded
enthusiastically and snapped lots of pictures.
The children sang about the numbers and colors they had learned and
showed off their morning greeting rituals, a combination of warm hellos and
gentle hip bumps. They were charming and
funny, a delight to watch, and eager to let everyone know they were ready for
first grade. As the children performed, their teachers sat on the floor in front of the stage and directed the show; in picture left, Mrs. Blum and Mrs. Murphy get ready to start the celebration.
For their end of year Celebration of Learning, second graders transported family and friends to other climates and other lands with an astonishing array of projects on different habitats. As visitors moved from one classroom to another, they saw and heard the children talking about the habitats they had studied including rainforests, forests, tundras, grasslands, deserts, oceans, ponds, and mountains. The children showed off dioramas, posters, and fact sheets on their habitat of choice. All second graders did a project, either an individual one or a group one. In addition, each child wrote a book, “All About . . .”, describing a specific habitat (or animal in that habitat) in detail. Creating these original books allowed the children to demonstrate what they had learned about non-fiction writing. Second grade teachers designed this event as a culminating activity integrating two different curriculum areas science (habitats) and language arts (non-fiction writing.) Pictured below are some proud second graders with their projects.
As part of the First Grades’ “Celebration of Learning,” an end-of-year event that serves formally as a way for first graders to show-off their skill growth and development and informally as a rite of passage to second grade, first graders came together today on stage to sing about how much they had learned. Before an attentive audience of family and friends, each class, dressed in its signature t-shirt, sang a different song celebrating a topic the first grade had studied, such as families, our bodies, and our country. For a finale, they sang together about the sunny beach days soon to be upon us. In picture on left, first grade teachers prepare for the celebration. (below)
Today, the seventh grade Show Choir from Stone Bridge Middle School under the direction of music teacher, Ms. Tara Bartlett (left), entertained third and fourth graders at Newell with a medley of songs that demonstrated the students’ wide range of musical talent and interest. Interspersed among the choral pieces were several solo parts and solos creating a beautiful blend of voices and music. Following the performance, Ms. Bartlett spoke with the fourth graders about their entry into Stone Bridge in September welcoming them to the school and encouraging them to consider getting involved in chorus when they come. She explained proudly that the number of students performing in chorus was at a record high but that she hoped to break that record soon. For third and fourth graders in attendance it was a wonderful opportunity for them to see older students perform with such skill and enthusiasm.
To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie –
On June 7,
third graders in Ms. Barber’s/Ms. Murray’s class and Ms.Walulak’s/Mr. Hosler’s
class participated in a Poetry Bash much to the delight of family and friends
who attended. In each class, children
took turns sitting on stools in front of their classmates and guests, and reciting
two or three poems, including an original one and a published one of their
choosing. Despite the heat, the children were “cool” doing their recitations
and the audience enjoyed the often humorous and clever poems. Following the poetry readings, audience and
performers shared some delicious refreshments.
Clearly, the children enjoyed the opportunity to read poems, listen to
them being read, memorize them, and most of all try their hand at writing
them. Funds to support this activity in
terms of professional books on children’s poetry and materials including the
poet’s stools were won through a grant the teachers received from the Upper
Freehold Regional Educational Foundation.
To have great poets,
there must be great audiences too.
On June 1, first graders in Mrs. Qualiano’s class shared
their new-found interest in poetry with family and friends at an in-class
poetry reading followed by refreshments for all. After individual children read aloud their
original poems, the class did a choral rendition of several poems, including “I
Am Thankful For.” As the children recited,
cameras clicked away as parents and other family members tried to capture the
moment. The audience was as enthusiastic
as the poets, applauding them often for their delightful performance.
Recently kindergartners had their field day. Although it was a particularly hot day, the children, ran, played,and had a great time. Here are some pictures.