Parents and students swarmed the halls of Head O’ Meadow School, Friday, July 31. Bright yellow “SMART” bags hung from their arms, piled high with works of art created during the final session of this summer’s Newtown Continuing Education SMART Camp. Summer, Music, and ART Camp runs for two, two-week sessions each summer, with hands-on activities that this summer included Jewelry Design, Great Clay, Mosaics, Fashion Design, Adventures in Painting, Fused Glass, Knitting, Icky Sticky Chemistry, and Theater& Performance Workshops.
As part of this year’s Summer Youth Employment Program students have been working to beautify Newtown High School throughout the program’s six-week term.
According to program supervisor and NHS teacher Janice Gabriel, the 13 youths in the program have been “great.”
Ms Gabriel, who is overseeing the program for the first time, said it is “changed up a bit” each year.
Sabrina’s Encore Productions (SEP), LLC, recently presented three productions at Edmond Town Hall.
The three Summer Series musical productions starred youth from Newtown, Brookfield, Monroe, Easton, Trumbull, Bethel, Danbury, and Ridgefield.
The elementary age troupe presented Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr on July 17 and July 18, at 3 pm; the middle school troupe presented Thoroughly Modern Millie July 17 and July 18; and the senior troupe presented Les Miserables, accompanied by a live, 17-piece professional orchestra, July 23 to July 26.
Les Miserables was performed for two full-house audiences.
More than 50 children went through the Safety Town program at Newtown Youth & Family Services this year. Sessions were presented, for two hours each morning, July 27-31 and August 3-7. Each day, children were guided through presentations, games, arts and crafts, and even bike riding time to learn lessons that can help them through their entire life. On August 3, children in the second session of Safety Town learned about traffic safety, walking safety, what police officers do and when to call 911 from Officer Jason Flynn and School Resource Officer William Chapman. SRO Chapman also spent time with the children, shown here, in their outdoor classroom, where they rode bikes tricycles around a mock-up of their hometown.
Under the guidance of instructor Tim McGuire, students in Newtown Continuing Education’s Introduction to Computer Programming Using Scratch 2.0 recently worked to create computer games. The camp drew 15 students this year, including a number of returning campers from previous years or from other computer camps offered this summer. During the Introduction to Computer Programming Using Scratch 2.0, the students used Scratch, a computer programming software developed by the MIT Media Lab, to design games or animations.
The Board of Education approved The Avielle Foundation’s Spark Project as a pilot for the 2015-16 school year during its meeting on Thursday, July 30. The Spark Project is a program of The Avielle Foundation, and it is an initiative to develop social-emotional learning, leadership, and compassion skills on a communitywide basis and beyond. Following a presentation by Avielle Foundation Co-Founder Jeremy Richman in May, Newtown Public Schools Recovery Project Director Judy Blanchard and Mental Health Advisor Melissa Brymer reviewed different aspects of the Spark Project and presented that information to the board last week.
The last day of the July session of the Dagorhir Fantasy Camp was Friday, July 17, and there were many campers ready for a full day of role play and fantasy-based games. Andrew Mangold has been running the camp for the past seven years. Each month, there is a one-week session, from 10 am to 1 pm. This session hosts 24 campers. “I did this with my friends for fun in high school,” said Mr Mangold. “After playing in the parks we started organizing it; it was everything the kids were already doing.” The ultimate goal, said Mr Mangold, is to build up enough profit from a number of projects to create a permanent space for the camp. “Use this space to make a lifelong space for the camp where the castles would be permanent, where there’s orchards and gardens and everything that these campers could want to live in these worlds is there for them, he said. "There could be sleepaway, and we wouldn’t have to imagine castles, we could be inside of them.”
Newtown Continuing Education's WeDo Robotics camp had campers working under the watchful eye of Reed Intermediate School computer teacher Tim McGuire. The WeDo Robotics camp, according to the description from Newtown Continuing Education, provides “participants the opportunity to design simple robots with working motors and sensors. Students will explore core STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as they build and program the robots using the Scratch application.” “The STEM skills are evident throughout this camp,” said Mr McGuire. “The technology is the programming, the engineering is the building, and there’s a lot of math involved. The kids have to use math to program the robots through the Scratch system.”
The Board of Education has appointed a Shelton woman as the assistant superintendent for the public school system. Following a July 30 executive session, at which they discussed hiring a person to fill the position created by the recent resignation of Linda Gejda, school board members voted to hire Jean M. Evans Davila, who would leave her post as a Norwalk school administrator to become Newtown’s assistant school superintendent. School Board Chair Keith Alexander Thursday evening said board members are very pleased with Ms Davila’s wide range of experience. Ms Davila said she hopes to start her Newtown position by mid-August.