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|Fourth-graders Connor Smyth, Charles Atkinson, and Parker Davidson research the human body|
Celebrating Independence Day
|Alexandra Cohen, Jillian Penczak, and Lily Darnesto work on a project in Lynda Daly's class|
There were no barbecues or fireworks this Independence Day, but freedom and choice were on display everywhere. Tinc Road students recently celebrated being independent learners by engaging in projects that allowed them to work alone or in small groups with minimal direction. It was a day that focused the students on the control they have of their own learning and developed critical thinking skills, creativity, leadership, and the interpersonal skills needed to work well with others.
Teams of fifth-graders, for example, chose and researched different vertebrate groups (fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, or mammal). Each team then used the facts it had learned and presented an argument on why the chosen vertebrate group was the most important to the environment.
While the fifth-graders worked on their vertebrate projects, just down the hall small groups of fourth-graders each researched a system of the body and created a poster detailing the system’s function and importance. The students then explained in writing which groups they thought did the best work and detailed the reasons why.
“What I saw today was an incredibly high level of engagement and enthusiasm,” said Dr. Richard Fair, principal. “I appreciated watching the children choose how to best share with their peers the information they had learned. These are the types of decisions that teachers have to make every day and I think many students learned to appreciate what goes into a lesson and the work of their teachers.”
While this type of active learning is regularly done in our schools, Independence Day was a way to for students to celebrate their ability to work independently and recognize the responsibility they have in their own education.
All four elementary schools held Independence Day on the same day, but recognized it with different activities. Mount Olive High School and Mount Olive Middle School held their own Independence Day about two weeks later.
Remembering those who serve
It might put a serious crimp in his business, but it was for a great cause. Budd Lake dentist Dr. Steven Abrams recently sponsored a Halloween candy buyback to support Operation Gratitude, a program that sends care packages to U.S. troops, veterans, new recruits, Wounded Warriors, and military children.
Students and staff members received $1 for every pound of leftover candy they brought in. In total, 327 pounds were collected. The kids also wrote more than 300 letters of support for the military personnel and donated money to the cause. Everything will be boxed and shipped to Operation Gratitude in California.
"The generosity and thoughtfulness of the kids was overwhelming," said Dr. Richard Fair, school principal. "Many of them took the money they received from the candy buyback and donated it to Operation Gratitude. The effort also nicely tied into the school's recognition of Veterans Day."
Each student who made a donation of cash or candy signed a giant poster that Dr. Abrams plans to hang in his office.
Guidance counselor Lisa Barba, school nurse Geri Sullivan, and Cindy Abrams (Dr. Abrams' wife) coordinated the buyback.
Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude has distributed more than 1.6 million care packages.
|Carol Pellet of the Mount Olive Rotary Club stands with a group of third-graders showing off their new dictionaries|
The raw materials to write and understand
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Richard Rhodes once wrote “Words are the model, words are the tools, words are the boards, words are the nails.” Thanks to the Mount Olive Rotary Club, third-graders have the raw materials to construct their grandest stories. The Rotary recently gave all third-graders at Tinc Road – and the entire district – their very own dictionaries.
“One of our priorities is to promote literacy and connect to schools,” said Carol Pellet, Rotary secretary.
About 350 copies of "A Student's Dictionary" were given out districtwide, each with a Mount Olive Rotary Club bookplate that includes an inscription:
This dictionary is a guide and a tool. It will help you grow and expand your knowledge and understanding of words and their meanings. It is our hope that with greater understand, you will be inspired and motivated to achieve high ideals in your daily activities through your words, thoughts and deeds!
Also contained in the dictionaries are other handy reference materials such as biographies of all the U.S. presidents and a guide to the planets. It also has information on major countries and U.S. states, listing key facts including capitals, populations, and sizes in square miles.
The Mount Olive Rotary Club has been giving dictionaries to Mount Olive third-graders for about 15 years.