Continuing its practice of highlighting excellence, the Board of Education honored Newtown High School junior Ashley Gong at its meeting on Tuesday, October 7.
Ashley was announced as one of this year’s National Student Poetry Ambassadors during a visit to Washington DC, between September 17 to 20, during which First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a reading, which was the first event that all five of the National Student Poetry Ambassadors took part in together.
According to Ashley, being named a National Student Poetry Ambassador requires entering and winning either a national gold or silver medal in poetry from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. From there, a pool of 35 semifinalists are chosen, and a panel of judges then chooses five finalists from that pool of contenders.
Applications for elementary students to participate in this year’s High School Elementary Musicianship Mentoring Association (HEMMA) program are now being accepted.
HEMMA President Richie Sadlon said the deadline for elementary students to apply to the program is November 7.
HEMMA connects elementary students with high school-aged music mentors. Each of the high school students involved in HEMMA receive community service hours in return for mentoring the elementary school-aged musicians.
Parents with college-bound children gathered in Newtown High School’s cafetorium on October 8, to hear a presentation by Valark Financial Services advisor and registered principal Charles Wareham, hosted by the high school’s counseling office.
Valark Financial Services is a team of financial advisors who help their clients with any economic problems. However, the firm specialize in helping families figure how to pay for their children’s college tuition, according to Mr Wareham. Valark Financial Services gives an average of 60 presentations per year.
The Board of Education approved on Tuesday, October 7, the fourth phase of the Sandy Hook School building construction project. The school board’s unanimous approval will now allow the Phase 4 documents to be submitted to the State of Connecticut’s Office of School Facilities for review and approval. The construction documents submitted for the board’s approval at this week’s meeting are “substantially complete,” said Geralyn Hoerauf of Diversified Project Management. "We're going to call them 95 percent complete," she said.
One therapy dog that has been continuously offering support at Reed Intermediate School since students returned to school following the tragedy at Sandy Hook School in 2012, was honored recently by being nominated for an online competition.
Kona, a therapy dog owned by Sandy Cornell, was announced as the winner of a Pets Best Insurance’s online “Books and Barks” contest on September 29. Kona received the most votes out of eight contenders.
By garnering the most votes, Kona earned $1,000 for Reed Intermediate School fifth grade teacher Karen King’s class and $500 for an animal nonprofit of her owner’s choosing.
As Nile Russel worked with students in a gymnasium at Reed Intermediate on Thursday, October 2, Matt Del Rosario was also surrounded by students in the school’s library/media center. Mr Russel and Mr Del Rosario are both with the Pilobolus Dance Theater and were visiting the school on Thursday as part of the a program through the After School Arts Program (ASAP). The dance collaboration was a first for the school, and one of multiple being offered by ASAP.
With the 2014-15 school year underway, school clubs have begun meeting and planning activities for this school year. Each school has a few clubs in particular that seem to grow larger every year and do not fail to allure members.
Newtown High School’s Best Buddies club has more than 150 students, according to Jill Gonski, advisor to the club. Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“The best part about the club is how our physically and intellectually disabled classmates teach us how to love, care, and cherish each other. The friendships we make at Best Buddies are unlike any other and everyone is always smiling. It benefits from being so big because we all share a common goal, and we all strive to share our kindness and happiness, so it’s great to be in a room full of friends, because at Best Buddies we are all equal,” according to Kyle Dandrea, associate buddy in Newtown’s Best Buddies program.
Each year as the leaves turn color and the air cools, residents of Newtown can begin expecting to see scarecrows scattered across the Newtown Middle School lawn.
This year is no exception. The 18th annual My Favorite Scarecrow Sculpture Contest is already underway, with students planning and constructing their entries for the big unveiling on October 18.
Each year, prior to Halloween, groups of eighth grade students are challenged to design and create a “larger than life” scarecrow not only with a theme, but also with the durability to survive inclement weather. This fall tradition was inspired by Board of Education member John Vouros during his time as a Newtown Middle School educator, according to NMS art teacher Arlene Spoonfeather.
Continuing its celebration of its 25th year, Housatonic Valley Waldorf School unveiled a new painting, created by a teacher at the school, during its annual Michaelmas festival on Wednesday, September 24.
Emily Remensperger was commissioned to create the painting for the school by a 25th anniversary committee. According to the school’s website, “This gorgeous watercolor depicts four of our most beloved festivals: Michaelmas, Martinmas, Advent, and May Fair.”
The annual Michaelmas Festival honors St Michael, a mythical dragon-slayer who bears a mighty iron sword. St Michael’s legend, according to the school, symbolizes the autumnal resurgence of human strength, willpower, and striving to overcome the inner dragons of laziness, greed, doubt, fear of the future, and forgetfulness.
Before entering school at Head O’ Meadow Elementary School on Tuesday, September 30, students first had to make their way through a protest.
Head O’ Meadow Library/Media Specialist Bev Bjorklund explained that before the event, students at the Boggs Hill Road school had read The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt in class, and the staged protest was held as a celebration of that reading experience.
Activities at the school have also been focused on the book, with grade levels completing different tasks. The fourth grade students, for example, wrote letters to crayons explaining why they do not want them to quit.