For Newtown’s public schools 2014 was an eventful year. Students raised money for causes and charities, completed projects, and demonstrated a range of abilities throughout the year. Education Reporter Eliza Hallabeck offers a look at some of the highlights for Newtown's schools in this recap.
As students, staff, and a few parents filed into the gymnasium for a Kindness Assembly at Hawley Elementary School, Tuesday, December 23, a slide show of artwork by various students in grades K through 4 flashed on the screen set up on the stage. Colorful drawings depicted each student’s vision of what kindness means to him or her.
“Kindness looks like friends playing,” was scrawled across one drawing. “Kindness is sharing,” another child wrote, an expression that was echoed by many of the other artists.
The assembly on December 23, said Principal Christopher Moretti, was a culmination of the month of December, in which Hawley students celebrated kindness and friendship.
As Head O’ Meadow Principal Barbara Gasparine walked into her school’s cafetorium on Tuesday, December 23, she asked students in Karen Dreger’s second grade class whether they were ready to sing.
“Yeah!” the students responded.
The group was one of the first classes to enter the cafetorium for Tuesday’s holiday sing-along, which was organized and led by music teacher Cynthia Holberg.
Middle Gate Elementary School music teacher Tina Jones was ready in the school’s gymnasium on Tuesday, December 23, when students walked in for an assembly.
“This is our Middle Gate musical winter sing-a-long!” Ms Jones announced, wearing a festive hat and outfit.
After introducing students to the assembly, Ms Jones seated herself at a piano and led students and faculty through singing a Winter Fantasy and Jingle Bells combination.
With family, friends, and their fellow students surrounding them, Reed Intermediate School students in Valerie Pagano-Hepburn and Georgia Smith’s sixth grade cluster shared stories and “heart maps,” on Friday, December 19.
Students took turns reading their stories before students, then gave their parents the heart maps, which were wrapped like presents and framed.
As Ms Pagano-Hepburn has shared in the past, the concept of heart maps comes from George Heard’s Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School.
Hawley Elementary School physical education teacher Doug Michlovitz explained what students would be challenged to do for a National Basketball Association competition on Tuesday, December 16. It was the second day that Mr Michlovitz was showing students the NBA-sponsored FIT Dribble Swish & Dish competition, a free competition that offers boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 12 to showcase their basketball skills.
Newtown High School’s School Counseling Department is sponsoring a Financial Aid Night for NHS juniors and seniors and their parents in the school’s cafetorium, on Thursday, January 8, starting at 7. Executive Director of University Financial Aid at Sacred Heat University Julie Savino will present the program, which is designed to help parents and students answer questions they might have about financing a college education, completing the FAFSA form, and more.
A school assembly was held on Friday, December 19, for Reed Intermediate School students participating in the Pilobolus At Newtown, an After School Arts Program (ASAP), to perform with two Pilobolus dancers ahead of a scheduled performance for family and friends that night. The Pilobolus instructors and representatives have been working with Reed students since near the start of the 2014-15 school year, when all students at Reed were given the opportunity to be taught by Pilobolus dance instructors before the after school program began. While the school assembly was for the enjoyment of fellow students and Reed faculty, a public performance was also offered that evening.
More than 90 students had signed up to participate in the Friday, December 12, after school KanJam tournament at Newtown Middle School by the time the bell rang to dismiss school for the day.
NMS physical education teachers Matt Memoli, Joe LaRosa, and Ken Kantor were quick to ready the gym for the tourney before students filed in to hear the rules for the after school event.
KanJam is a game that has players attempt to score goals by aiming flying discs at cans with an opening on the top and a slot in the front. According to Mr Memoli, the game became popular with students at NMS after participating in ultimate Frisbee programs in class. After Mr LaRosa e-mailed the KanJam company, Mr Memoli said the company donated all of the KanJams that were used in the December 12 tourney to the school.
Middle Gate Elementary School students were offered a challenge during two school assemblies on Wednesday, December 10: to conduct at least 1,000 acts of kindness by the end of the school year.
“We’re here to talk about kindness,” said Middle Gate third grade teacher Claire DeSisto, who welcomed students to the first Community Circle assembly last Wednesday.
Kindness, as Ms DeSisto pointed out to the students, is something the school community has discussed and focused on before.