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posted: Mon, Feb 20th, 2017

Students from China spend a week at MOMS

Four students from southern China's Nanning Yucai Experimental School recently spent a week attending classes at MOMS. The seventh- graders lived with host families of MOMS kids and experienced life as typical American students. 

Besides the differing types of food, the cultural differences for the Nanning students and the two teachers that accompanied them were fairly insignificant. (Nanning is a large city of seven million people located about 125 miles from the Vietnam border.) The experience, however, was an eye-opening lesson in just how different education is here compared with their native country.

In most of China, instruction is delivered primarily through informational lectures conducted in large rooms with 50 or more students. The interaction between teachers and students is limited. Mount Olive, and MOMS in particular, exemplify a modern U.S. approach to education that is interactive and hands on, and encourages students to apply what they have learned.

"[In China] students have to be good at memorization but here teachers encourage students to think," said Nanning Yucai teacher Emily Liu. "You can teach students to be creative and use their knowledge."

The Nanning visitors also toured Mount Olive High School and were impressed with the variety of courses, athletics, and extracurricular activities. 

"It feels like a college," said Nanning student Xin Yu Qi, who saw 3-D printers for the first time in the school's 3-D printing lab. "I loved the robots and the t.v. production area. In China, it's only theory and here it's hands-on."

Five ninth- and tenth-graders from Nanning Yucai also spent a week at MOHS.

The visits come as the district prepares to begin an international education program in September. Up to 30 students from China will complete their senior year of high school at MOHS during the 2017-18 school year. 

MOMS science teacher Katelin Riggs coordinated the middle school visit.

Chris Abbott spends time with Ollie, who wears a personalized scarf given to him for Christmas by a student

Helping to make MOMS a happy place

He's the most beloved member of the MOMS family, always so chipper, always so happy to see you – especially if you have food.

Ollie, principal Susan Miranda's therapy dog, is a ray of canine sunshine who makes every day he's "at work" at MOMS a little brighter. Students see him in the hallways or in the main office and their faces come to life, the thoughts of homework and tests instantly receding. Ollie taps into something elemental and his presence engenders a certain calm and happiness – for kids and adults alike.

"He brings a sense of peace and friendliness," Mrs. Miranda said. "And that's the tone of our school."

Ollie grew up at MOMS, beginning his visits when he was just nine weeks old. He's now 1-and-a-half. The American cocker spaniel, a grandson of a Westminster Dog Show champion, comes in about three days a week.

"He's there to always be your friend," said eighth-grader Drew Glauberg. "And he never asks for anything in return, other than maybe belly rubs. He makes the school feel like home." 

Ollie's role in the school, though, isn't just as school climate booster and unofficial mascot. The pre-teen years can be stressful as kids cope with the physiological, social, and emotional changes of growing up, as well as the demands of more strenuous coursework. Ollie connects to students individually.

"He seems to sense kids who need love and distraction," said Mrs. Miranda. "He knows when someone needs help and he'll sit with them or play with them. It's nice for kids who don't have an animal to experience that love and loyalty that dogs provide."

Research has consistently shown that children benefit in the presence of animals. A 2010 study reported in the Early Childhood Education Journal (“Exploring Animal-Assisted Programs with Children in School and Therapeutic Contexts”) found that therapy dogs in a school setting can provide a social and emotion support system that is non-judgmental, raises students’ self-esteem, and makes it easier for children to express themselves.

Choral teacher Joanna Scarangello with All-State Elementary Honor Choir members Kayla Constantino-Marvin, Alexa Yudoff, Marysia Shelton, Adalyn Conner, and Lena Aquino

Musicians honored

MOMS choral students and instrumental music students have recently been chosen to perform in a number of regional and statewide concerts:

All-State Honor Choirs

Eight choral students are among the state's best and were selected to take part in all-state honor choirs. Representing Mount Olive in the New Jersey All-State Elementary Honor Choir will be sixth-graders Lena Aquino, Adalyn Conner, Kayla Constantino-Marvin, Marysia Shelton, and Alexa Yudoff.

Seher Anwar, Surya Chinnappa, and Kyle Ongoro will perform with the New Jersey All-State Junior High Honor Choir. 

The concerts for both groups will be held on Saturday, May 6 at J.P. Case Middle School in Flemington and are sponsored by the New Jersey Music Educators Association in cooperation with the New Jersey American Choral Directors Association.

North Jersey Choir

Nicole Eckhardt, Natalie Paitchel, Sara Seelman, and Shayna Wilson were selected to perform with the North Jersey Junior High Choir in a concert sponsored by the North Jersey School Music Association (NJSMA). The honor choir represents the best junior high school singers from the seven counties of northern New Jersey. The concert will be held on March 19. 

Joanna Scarangello teaches the MOMS choral students.

North Jersey Band

Ian Coyle, Jiro Magbanua, and Mark Murphy will join the other top middle school musicians in northern New Jersey and perform with NJSMA's North Jersey Junior High Band on March 5.

The instrumental music students are taught by teachers Ken Adessa and Melany McQueeny. 

All-State Junior High Honor Choir members Surya Chinnappa, Seher Anwar, and Kyle Ongoro with choral teacher Joanna Scarangello

North Jersey Junior High Choir members Natalie Paitchel, Sara Seelman, Shayna Wilson, and Nicole Eckhardt with choral teacher Joanna Scarangello

Music teachers Ken Adessa (left) and Melany McQueeny (far right) with North Jersey Junior High Band members Jiro Magbanua, Ian Coyle, and Mark Murphy

STEAM Summer Program Is Back

This July, students can once again explore science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) in Innovation Station, Mount Olive School District's popular summer camp.

Innovation Station is an opportunity for students to nurture their scientific creativity and curiosity, and learn real-world applications of scientific concepts. It provides hands-on learning experiences and this year includes new courses, updated favorites, and a new robotics class exclusively for incoming ninth-graders.

The program runs for two weeks, July 17–July 28, and will be held at Mount Olive High School from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Students may attend either one or both weeks. Lunch and free transportation to students in Mount Olive will be provided. The cost is $250 per week. 

Students outside the school district may attend but must provide their own transportation.

Registration ends on June 1. 

For more information and to register, go to: http://www.mtoliveboe.org/summercamp.

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Mount Olive Middle School
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