Among this summer’s camp offerings through Newtown Continuing Education was a new science camp called “Design It, Built It, Launch It!” The camp, overseen and created by Fairfield fifth grade teacher Rick Lowry, is geared toward upper elementary and middle school students who enjoy both engineering and physics. Students in the program learn about machines such as catapults and trebuchets by building and testing them. Students also explore modern inventions such as rockets and hovercraft and “egg drop” devices during the camp, according to Newtown Continuing Education.
Between students working to create their own games, Introduction to Computer Programming Using Scratch 2.0 instructor Tim McGuire offered tips and examples of other ways to improve their projects on Thursday, July 10. The course, which was offered through Newtown Continuing Education, ran July 7-11. Mr McGuire, the computer technology teacher at Reed Intermediate School, also offered a WeDo Robotics and a Minecraft course this summer. According to a description for the Introduction to Computer Programming course, students in grades three and up were introduced to basic elements of computer programming, and taught how to create an interactive video game or animation using Scratch, a computer programming software developed by the MIT Media Lab.
Long Island animal trainer “Nature Nick” Jacinto visited Newtown’s C.H. Booth Library Friday, July 18, showing kids a number of exotic animals. “I’m here to show neat animals,” said Nature Nick as he presented the first animal to his audience, an African hedgehog named “Sprinkles.” “The spikey pricks on its back are made of protein, keratin to be exact,” he said. Each time Nature Nick brought out a new animal he not only talked about where it was from, but provided facts and educational information on how each animal would survive if in the wild.
Thanks to the past two Reed Intermediate School sixth grade classes, a school in Paynesville, a suburb of Monrovia, in Liberia, has a new well, and a new school building is being constructed. This past February, Newtown Middle School seventh grade students — the former Reed students who led the fundraising efforts — learned how they helped fund a well for a Liberian school through participating in a yearly event at Reed Intermediate School as sixth grade students the previous school year. Funds were raised through two very successful Pushcart Days at Reed School, where children created their own “pushcarts” filled with selected foods and other items, and then sold the items while competing with other pushcart teams. The program was based on "The Pushcart Wars" by Jean Merrill, which tells the fictional story of a clash between pushcart vendors in New York City. At the Board of Education’s Tuesday, July 15, meeting, the school board learned how Reed sixth graders, participating in the same event this past school year, helped to build a new school building.
Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr and Health District Director Donna Culbert are both praising a recent unanimous State Board of Education resolution encouraging Connecticut public schools to provide students with training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of automated external defibrillators.
Students stood in a circle during the Theater and Performance Workshop class held at the SMART (Summer Music And Arts) Camp on Wednesday, July 9. The students listened as Jane Ellen Anderson and Emily Anderson led them through a number of exercises. “It’s going really well,” said SMART head intern Ashley Maturo as the students in the Theater and Performance Workshop sang. “The kids are so engaged.” This year is the 23rd summer Newtown Continuing Education’s SMART Camp has offered programs for kindergarten through sixth grade students. SMART offers two sessions each summer. The first session began on Monday, July 7, and runs through July 18. The second sessions is set to start on Monday, July 21, and run through August 1. Each session costs $319 per child and offers a range of class options.
Students in this year’s Summer Youth Employment Program began their work for the summer of 2014 on Monday, July 7. A grant through the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board provides the program, according to Peg Ragaini, the school to career coordinator at Newtown High School. Students apply for a position in the program and are placed into a position to work 20 hours a week for six weeks throughout the summer. The program, Ms Ragaini said, offers participating ninth to eleventh grade students a chance to develop work habits while earning money. Students in the program earn minimum wage, according to Mimi Riccio, who oversees the Summer Youth Employment Program with Ms Ragaini.
Adults and children gathered at a Newtown home during the evening of Wednesday, July 9. Children played between chairs and towels or ate alongside the adults in attendance for the culminating celebration of this year’s Newtown Poetry Project accomplishments. Carol Ann Davis, a Newtown resident, author, and professor in Fairfield University’s creative writing program, said the event went very well despite having to be moved indoors due to rain. This is the second year the Newtown Poetry Project has produced a collection of poetry, created by local children and parents.
Newtown High School World Language Department Chair Paula Greenfield has announced that host families are still being sought for NHS Chinese guest teacher Amanda Zhang, who is set to arrive on August 1. Ms Zhang is 34 years old and has a master’s in education and a certificate in English proficiency, according to Ms Greenfield. Host families receive a stipend of $150 a month to supplement spending on food. Host families are expected to provide room and board for a year or for part of a year.
The Board of Education unanimously voted to hire David Roach of Southbury to fill a vacant assistant principal position at Newtown High School during its meeting on July 15. Mr Roach has been working for the past decade-plus as a social studies teachers at neighboring Pomperaug High School, where he has also served as the head football coach for three years.
Also on Tuesday the school board voted to name Keith Alexander as its new chair, filling the position vacated by Debbie Leidlein two weeks earlier. A member of the board for 3½ years, Mr Alexander was nominated for the position by Ms Leidlein, who pointed out Mr Alexander's ability to work well with others, gain support, and respect the opinions of others during his tenure.