Newtown High School junior Ashley Gong has been selected to be one of this year’s five National Student Poetry Ambassadors. Ashley has known about her achievement since July, but had to keep it a secret until it was announced. That announcement came during a visit to Washington, D.C., September 17-20, during which First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a reading, which was the first event the five National Student Poetry Ambassadors took part in, kicking off their year as ambassadors. The National Student Poets Program is the nation’s highest honor for teen poets presenting original work. The five young poets were appointed by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers to showcase the essential role of writing and the arts in academic and personal success.
The entire school community and invited guests gathered outside St Rose of Lima School on Friday, September 26, to celebrate the opening of the school’s new solar-powered outdoor classroom kiosk.
Just over two years before the ceremony, James Walsh, chairman a parish committee working on the project, spoke during an August 2012 Board of Selectman meeting. He told the board that General Motors had offered to partner in developing the sustainable solar canopy pilot, and that the standalone structure would serve as a satellite classroom designed to teach students about environmental sustainability, as well as generating solar power that will help lower the electric usage at the school. The project also included learning gardens.
When picking up his daughter from summer camp one day this past summer, Fraser Woods Montessori School parent Ryan Knaggs had an idea.
There was a circle of stumps, up a small but slightly steep trail and beneath trees on the school’s property, and the students were using the stumps as chairs while listening to school teacher and summer camp instructor Christine Mitchell.
It occurred to Mr Knaggs that with a little “natural work” the space could be transformed.
Between Tuesday, September 9, and Wednesday, September 10, seventh grade students in three clusters had the opportunity to visit C.H. Booth Library.
According to Language Arts teacher Kristin Norden, the students left from Newtown Middle School to visit the library by 7:30 each day, and workshops centered around having the students familiarize themselves with using the library’s resources, like research tools, downloading eBooks, and applying for interlibrary loans.
Students and school faculty and staff began to assemble on the lawn behind Fraser Woods Montessori School just before 11 am on Friday, September 19, to continue a worldwide acknowledgement of this year’s International Day of Peace.
Before the younger grades were brought outside, middle school-aged students began forming a large circle, holding flags with “World Peace” written on them.
The event is a tradition at the school ant at Montessori schools around the world.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 308 and its Ladies Auxiliary recently announced that the Patriot’s Pen Essay Competition is open for local students through Friday, October 29. The program was started in 1947, and the national program provides students in sixth through eighth grade the opportunity to express democratic ideas and principles. This year’s theme is “Why I Appreciate America’s Veterans.” Essays will be read by three local residents, who will be reading essays and judging on knowledge, theme and clarity, without knowing the names of any of the authors. The Newtown VFW Post-sponsored winner will go on to compete for the VFW District 1 title, and will have a chance to continue to a national title.
For the first scheduled Parent/Community Forum facilitated by Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, parents and community members were seated in nearly every seat in Newtown High School’s Lecture Hall on September 18. The night was held to focus on the question, “What must take place for your son/daughter to have their absolute best school year?”
“I think it is really essential that the most important partnership for any district that is going to claim to be a district of distinction — and that’s what this district could be — has to be a very strong partnership with parents,” said Dr Erardi. The superintendent also said each of the concerns and suggestions brought up during the forum would be “synthesized” and shared with the full Board of Education, a number of board members were present for the event. Dr Erardi explained he had set three easels near the front of the room for parents to add their top “Big Bets,” or priorities, under three different categories.
Newtown Continuing Education announced it has limited openings in a number of classes being offered this autumn season. NCE has scheduled classes that cover everything from computer basics and using the Internet to illustration and finances. One class begins this week, while the others are scheduled to begin early next month.
During the 2013–14 school year, Sandy Hook School third and fourth grade students had the opportunity to talk, via Skype, with two flight engineers aboard the International Space Station (ISS), and on Friday, September 10, one of the astronauts visited the school, offering presentations and visits with students during the morning.
Waterbury resident Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson both talked with the students last April using Skype, as the culminating celebration of the 2013–14 One School One Read program, which had the whole school community read the same book at the same time, which was How Do You Burp in Space? And Other Tips Every Space Tourist Needs to Know by Susan E. Goodman. That conversation was also shared live so students across the entire school and family members could tune in.
The Board of Education was updated on the School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant efforts by Melissa Brymer, the district’s mental health advisor, during its meeting on Tuesday, September 16. Dr Brymer has been in Newtown for the last 20 months. “We just completed our last immediate services grant and are working on the extended services, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to say where we are at and where we are going to go for the next year and a half,” said Dr Brymer.
For the last immediate services grant, Dr Brymer said about two dozen staff were hired, “to really foster the recovery efforts,” and those efforts extended to each of Newtown’s public schools, St Rose of Lima School, and Fraser Woods Montessori School.