More than 60 students at Glens Falls High School were honored with 89 different awards, scholarships and other designations at the school’s annual awards program on June 4. The event began with recognition of the Class of 2013’s Top Students, including valedictorian Allyce Morrissey, salutatorian Jordan Griffen, and Tori Agnew, Kate Clements, Colin Diamond, John Endieveri, Jack Girard, Bailey Harrison, Emily Moses, Helena Rabin, and Justice Spear. The traditional “top ten” is actually eleven students deep this year, due to a shared ranking.
For more details on each of the Top Students and a complete listing of all awards given out on June 4, SEE THE HIGH SCHOOL'S AWARDS AND HONORS PAGE
Renovation work planned for this summer at several school buildings will likely have to wait until the summer of 2014, as required construction approvals are backlogged at the State Education Department.
The district’s architects report that SED’s current review timeframe is up to 24 weeks, causing many districts around the state to put their capital projects on hold. “We’re seeing multiple projects that are being broken apart or just not happening this summer,” says John Onderdonk of Mosaic Associates.
Glens Falls SUBMITTED plans for project approval in December, intending to begin work this summer on repairs within the $9.9 million capital project proposal that won voter approval last May. Still lacking full approvals by late spring, the district pulled out a few of the renovations and resubmitted a smaller set of repairs for approval in April. The smaller plan only included asbestos removal and flooring replacement at Big Cross and Jackson elementaries, plus roof replacement and demolition work in the high school’s science labs, says facilities director Gene Figler. The district is still waiting on those approvals as well.
“We may get the approvals, but we can’t start any work this summer unless it will be completed before classes begin again in September,” says Mr. Figler. Once approvals are in place, the district still needs to solicit bids from contractors. “Our intent right now is to bid the high school’s demolition work and roof replacement this summer, and then see, depending on the contractor, whether we can get it done in late summer,” Mr. Figler says. “But that’s a moving target until we get the approvals.”
The district had intended to complete the capital project in two phases, with the first phase of renovations happening in the summer of 2013, and the second phase in the summer of 2014. Phase One work was to include carpet and tile removal and tile replacement at Big Cross and Jackson Heights, demolition work for the high school science classrooms, and roof replacement on one wing of the high school. Phase Two work was to include construction work in the high school science classrooms, library reconfigurations at each school building, technology infrastructure improvements, and renovation of technology closets at each building.
Glens Falls residents approved the project in May of 2012—along with the creation of a capital reserve fund, into which $2.5 million in savings was placed. These funds will cover the local share of the nearly $10-mililon project, with building aid from the state funding the rest. In May of 2013, voters APPROVED a $1 million expenditure from the capital reserve fund to allow the district to move forward with the first portion of the project.
"The American government’s ability to change with the times and expand to improve the rights and quality of life for all people is one of the reasons America and its legal system are the greatest in the world." With those words and more, GFHS Junior Jerry Casertino won this year’s Warren County Bar Association Law Day Essay Contest. Open to all students in Warren County, the essay question asked students to outline the definition of equality and address how the definition of equality has changed over time.
“From 1776 to now, many groups of people have fought for their rights to do things such as own property, vote, and have equal protection under the law,” Jerry wrote in his winning essay. “Many of them were successful in achieving these goals, and many other groups are still waiting for their turn to fight. Laws at all levels of government are constantly morphing to include or remove certain laws, and that is one of the things that makes our government system so successful when compared to others.
“One of the greatest things about the Constitution that continues to make the 356 year old document relevant today is the amendment process. Huge steps have been taken towards achieving full equality by many amendments. READ MORE HERE
Dozens of Jackson Heights students crossed the finish line of the school’s inaugural “Kids on the Run” race May 23 – as scores more watched, cheered and high-fived their peers along the race route.
31 students ran in the event, with eight running a 3K and 23 completing a full 5K. The route took runners around the school for several laps, and included a water station near the main entrance to the building.
“Brian Donohue, Laura Kules, Chris Wetterston, Mara Fronhofer, Linda Dobroski, Debbie Sylvia and Claudia Michon all helped run the event,” says principal Carrie Mauro, who has been coaching the runners since the beginning of April through the Jackson Heights “Kids on the Run” club. Students met after school for group runs and training as they worked to build stamina – and self-esteem. READ MORE HERE
Six elementary students have been recognized for their outstanding art work in a nation-wide contest. “For the second straight year, six of our students have been recognized at the national level,” says art teacher Rick Butto. “Because of their accomplishment, their art work will be published in the 2013 edition of CELEBRATING ART.”
Celebrating Art - an institution committed to the promotion of the visual arts created by school children of all ages – recently honored Big Cross Elementary students Jocelyn Smith (first grade), Chase Clark (first grade), and Patrick Mills (fourth grade), along with Jackson Heights Elementary students Lauren Weil (second grade), Dylan Ingram (second grade), and Olivia Moon (third grade).
Jocelyn and Chase each made a drawing of a storybook character. Patrick did a pencil drawing of his sneakers. Lauren and Olivia each did a watercolor painting of an autumn tree, and Dylan created a portrait painting of a clown.
Celebrating Art is a nationally-run art contest that juries entries from all over the United States and Canada. Only those chosen from thousands of works of art are published in the art book, which includes school art, representing all media from grade levels, K thru 12.
The GFSD Art and Athletic Departments are offering summer courses, clinics and camps for all students, district-wide:
Art classes for students entering grades K-5 take place over a three-week period in the Glens Falls Middle School art rooms. Classes are held four days of the week from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. Students participate in all kinds of projects, including drawing, painting, ceramics, fabric art, origami, jewelry, and other various crafts. READ THE FULL ELEMENTARY ART PROGRAM BROCHURE HERE
Six different art classes are also offered for students entering grades 6-12 this summer. Classes are held four days of the week from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. The program goal is to provide enriching lessons that allow children to express and build their individual creativity in an engaging atmosphere with other children. READ THE FULL ART PROGRAM BROCHURE HERE
Sports camps are also being offered by the GFSD Athletic Department. Students can participate in camps for swimming, diving, soccer, triathlon, hockey, baseball, softball, field hockey and girls' lacrosse. Super Hooper basketball camp registration is also now open! The program runs August 5-9, with the boys' camp in the morning, and the girls' camp in the afternoon. READ THE FULL SPORTS CAMP BROCHURE HERE
Glens Falls school community members can now team up with the Fredette Family Foundation to help raise money for the Glens Falls High School “Kids’ Cash Fund.” During the month of June, the Foundation will be selling $15 tickets for one large Angelina’s pizza, with all proceeds going to the Kids Cash Fund.
The Fund supports students in grades 9-12 by funding opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. “In the past, the Fund has been used for things like eyeglasses, a new pair of sneakers, sending a kid to camp in the summer—things that really benefit our Glens Falls students,” says athletic director Chip Corlew.
The pizza tickets—a “Jimmerosity” initiative of the Fredette Family Foundation—will be on sale at faculty meetings, the spring varsity sports awards ceremony, at the middle school’s spirit day, and throughout the month of June in the main office of the high school. They can be used for a large pizza until June 30, 2013.
May 21, 2013—Glens Falls City School District residents approved the 2013-14 school budget today by a margin of 730 "yes" votes to 192 “no” votes – a 79 percent approval rate. The $38.3 million spending plan represents a budget-to-budget spending decrease of $660,465, or 1.7 percent. The approved budget uses $1.7 million in savings from previous years to keep the tax levy increase to 2.5 percent for next school year. Nearly 15 staff and teaching positions are eliminated within the proposal. Some of the district’s special education, health services, and enrichment programs are being restructured into new delivery models.
Voters also approved expenditures from the capital reserve fund for repairs and renovations at several of the district’s school buildings, and the purchase of a replacement school bus. The capital reserve proposition passed by a vote of 728 to 181; the school bus purchase proposition passed by a vote of 665 to 248.
Jeremy Deason and Leslee Kunst were elected to the Board of Education. Mr. Deason will begin a five-year term on July 1, 2013, after receiving 666 votes. Ms. Kunst will begin a four-year term on May 22, 2013, to fill a vacancy that occurred earlier this year. Ms. Kunst received 175 write-in votes. READ MORE
Cheering fans recognized many of Glens Falls’ senior athletes at the Grandstanders Senior Sports Award Banquet on May 15. Nearly 300 people attended the annual celebratory dinner at Heritage Hall, where student-athletes in every sport were honored for their accomplishments.
Grandstanders’ 2013 Senior Sports Award scholarship winners are: Tyler Mello (hockey and lacrosse), Cam Girard (football and basketball), Jack Girard (soccer and swimming), Bridget Resse (cross-country running, Nordic skiing, and track), Emma Morrissey (tennis and lacrosse), and Tori Agnew (basketball and softball). READ MORE HERE
The Jackson Heights school community was part of an annual international community awareness effort on May 6—wearing yellow to mark Wishbone Day. This annual event is designed to raise positive awareness of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a genetic bone disorder characterized by fragile bones that break easily. It is also known as "brittle bone disease."
“Jackson Heights students and staff wore yellow to support this day and one of our third-graders who has this condition,” said principal Carrie Mauro. The Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation says Wishbone Day raises awareness of OI by acknowledging and celebrating individual, family and community life with OI.
Congratulations to middle and high school nurse Margaret Sawyer, for being named "Teacher of the Week" by Adirondack Broadcasting and TCT Federal Credit Union! Along with radio announcements that have run on 100.3 FM, on Tuesday she received a plaque, flowers and other gifts to recognize her commitment to students.
Mrs. Sawyer was described this way in her nomination: “Recently, Mrs. Sawyer was a chaperone at the Glens Falls after-prom and during that event a gentleman was stricken with severe chest pains and having difficulty breathing. Mrs. Sawyer immediately got her medical bag and began an assessment of the man’s condition. She remained calm and was able to help him until medical paramedics arrived on the scene. Her actions were critical during this difficult emergency situation. For her efforts that evening, we congratulate Mrs. Margaret Sawyer!”
Paul Trackey and Hunter Montgomery – both fifth-graders at Glens Falls Middle School – were winners in this year’s American Association of University Women essay contest. The winners were chosen from more than 500 essays submitted by students at several local school districts.
Each student’s essay described a notable woman in history. Paul focused on Harriet Tubman and wrote, "She has inspired many people, including me, to help others in need of guidance… We shouldn't help others because we expect a reward, as the reward is the little spark of joy and happiness inside of us." Hunter wrote about Serena Williams after taking up tennis himself last year, and being inspired by Serena while watching her compete. “Hunter’s essay on Serena Williams was outstanding,” says teacher Amity Luce-Aurilio. “He received 103%. (Three extra points for typing.)”
In the photo at right, contest winners and honorees Paul Trackey, Hunter Montgomery, Dylan Petterson, Sam Bordeau, Sarah Phinney, Alex Dickey, Hannah Walsh, and Kaylee Frank gather with fifth-grade teachers Amity Luce-Aurilio and Mary Lea Raymond.
What would you ask President Abraham Lincoln, if you had the opportunity to interview him? That was the question posed to students in an essay contest sponsored by the Iroquois Reading Council and The Chronicle – and GFMS sixth-graders Samantha Lunt and Drew Floyd have some of the best ideas in the area.
Drew and Samantha were two of ten students in the area who were selected as contest winners for their insightful questions. “They were invited to participate in an afternoon at The Chronicle were they learned the workings of a newspaper and interviewed a "mystery guest" (Eric Gilbert of the Great Escape),” said teacher Mary Hunter. “The students then wrote their own stories which were later shared at a dinner at the Crandall Library where families and teachers were invited to join in.”
Fifth-grader Ella Wolfstitch has also been recently honored for designing the winning poster in the Warren County Health Services’ “Tar Wars” 2013 Tobacco-Free poster contest. Her poster represents GFMS at a statewide competition, and will be featured in a tobacco-free calendar being distributed to all fourth- and fifth-graders in Warren County.
Glens Falls High School had several “top-five” finishers at the 20th annual High School Business Day Competition at SUNY Adirondack May 7th. “This is a day of testing and competitions in business course material for students from many schools in the area,” says high school business teacher Robert Amberger.
Nearly 300 students from area high schools competed in various business exams in the morning. After lunch, the results were tabulated and by early afternoon students and teachers gathered for an awards ceremony, according to the Adirondack Business Educators Association, one of the event’s sponsors.
From GFHS, Spencer Bray took second place in the CISCO Computer Networking Quiz Bowl, and third place in the PC Quiz Bowl. James Coffey took fifth place in Computer Literacy. Ben Collins took third place in Economics, and Donovan Baker took fifth place in Personal Finance.
This year’s Business Day theme was "e-ship for entrepreneurship."
Several students in Kensington’s newest club used the month of April to raise money and awareness of environmental issues in the arctic. And the result is a $100 donation to the National Wildlife Federation!
The “Stop Global Warming” club held a bake sale in April—to coincide with Earth Day—to raise money for the National Wildlife Federation. The group of fourth-grade students formed the club early this school year. “They had read about climate change at the North Pole, and how melting ice is dangerously affecting polar bears,” said fourth-grade teacher Ellen Cabana. The students created posters full of information and facts about polar bears, and began holding monthly meetings to discuss ways they could help out. READ MORE HERE
Nearly a hundred Middle School students and staff members joined organizations across the country in riding to school for International Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 8.
Incentives for Glens Falls students to bicycle to school included cycling-themed raffle items provided by Grey Ghost Bicycles, Inside Edge, and Rick’s Bike Shop. 97 bikes were parked in the middle school’s gym on Wednesday, with additional bikes lining the racks on the school’s lawn. “I was very proud to see the number of students who wore their helmet, said Coach Kevin Crossman, who helped organize the event. “I have a feeling this will be much bigger next year.”
The event raises awareness of increased physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, and concerns for the environment. Additional details are available at www.walkbiketoschool.org.
Big Cross Street School’s fundraising efforts through the Hannaford Helps program have led to an extra thousand-dollar award! Rene Lussier, assistant manager of the Broad Street Hannaford, and Lynn Scoville, front end manager, were on hand at Big Cross in April to deliver the good news—and a bonus check for $1,000 for raising the most support of all schools in the Glens Falls area.
For the 2012 program year, Big Cross Street School accumulated $495 in donations, based on Hannaford customer receipts. The High School earned $300, Jackson Heights earned $156, the Middle School raised $153, and Kensington raised $111.
The Hannaford company website says, “In 2012 our Hannaford Helps Schools program raised an impressive $408,000 to benefit K-12 schools across New England and New York. 2,830 schools participated, and stores in each community that raised the most ‘School Dollars’ were also awarded an additional $1,000, making the total raised during the 2012 campaign $606,000!”
The donation from Hannaford will support Big Cross educational efforts, such as the summer reading program. Principal Debbie Hall, PTA president Jaime Wright, PTA secretary Kristin Greenwood, and students Eric Prieur, Nyome Griffen, Trinity Johnson, Hayden McCain, Nate Greenwood, Aneesa Berg, Jacob Bennett, and Holden LaMountain gratefully accepted the check on April 19.
Three Kensington Road elementary students have gotten national –and even world—recognition for their artwork submitted to the twenty-first annual "Draw a Cover for Music K-8 Magazine" contest. “Students from all over the country, and as far away as Vienna, Austria participated,” says music teacher Cari Kassebaum, who worked with art teacher Debbie Sylvia to guide the students’ submissions.
“The rules read that any MUSIC student in kindergarten through grade 8 could participate and enter one drawing,” explains Mrs. Kassebaum. “The subject could be anything musical that was an original work of art.”
Fifty submissions were entered from Kensington Road School, and the following students were recognized:
- Honorable Mention: second-grader Aiden Gormley
- Honorable Mention: fourth-grader Emily Lunt
- Promising Young Artist Honorable Mention: first-grader Tyler Chagnon
Advanced pottery students benefitted from the expertise of a local visiting artist this spring—and now a student’s “saggard” piece is on display at the Hyde.
After displaying saggard pottery in the high school’s Art Expo last year, artist Chris Walton spent time in Karen Mars’ advanced pottery class this year to help students understand saggar firing and the history of this particular approach of glazing from ancient Greece. “By enclosing the pottery in another container with certain chemicals, the clay will achieve unpredictable smoky effects of various reds, oranges and blacks created by the fumes,” said Mrs. Mars.
Mrs. Walton took the student work to her studio on Glen Street and completed the firing process there. “Students were extremely pleased with their new style of glazing,” said Mrs. Mars. One of Nathan Didio’s saggared pieces was chosen to be in the Hyde Museum’s Juried Student Show which will be on exhibit at the Hyde until Sunday, May 26th.
Additional saggared pieces will be on display at this year’s Art Expo scheduled for Thursday evening, May 23rd from 6:30 to 8:30 at the High School.
The Glens Falls City Schools Board of Education adopted a $38.3 million budget proposal for 2013-14 at its special meeting on April 22. If approved by voters on Tuesday, May 21, the spending plan would increase the tax levy by 2.5 percent, which is lower than the district’s maximum allowable tax levy increase of 3.31 percent. The months-long budget development process resulted in a plan that decreases spending by $660,465, or 1.70 percent from the current year, after district leaders discussed difficult cost-reduction scenarios to close a nearly $2 million gap between projected expenditures and revenues. READ THE BUDGET NEWSLETTER HERE
“Last year, we were fortunate to be able to use more than $3 million in fund balance to maintain programs and services,” said Superintendent Paul Jenkins, referring to unallocated money left over at the end of a given school year. “We knew last year that we wouldn’t have that amount of fund balance available again. So we find ourselves forced to make some reductions we were able to avoid last year.”
The proposed budget decreases spending in every major budget category except employee benefits, a category in which expenditures are defined and required by either New York State law, or the contracts of the district’s employee groups. Changes made from the current year’s budget include:
- Reductions in staff and teaching positions: nine teaching positions eliminated in general education at the elementary and high school levels, in gifted and talented education, and in special education. Two teaching aide positions and a nurse position were also eliminated, and two additional teaching positions were reduced to part-time.
- Three teaching retirements will not be filled.
- Elimination of two and a half positions in Operations, Maintenance and Transportation.
- Restructuring of some special education services to allow more students to be educated within the district’s program.
- Cuts to athletic team travel allocations.
“The board worked hard to maintain our educational program, and keep cuts away from the classroom as much as possible,” said Mr. Jenkins. “Throughout the process, we heard from residents who deeply value the programs and services we provide for our students. We also heard from residents who are deeply concerned about tax increases and spending. The board worked to strike a balance between some very difficult decisions that affect our school community as a whole.” READ MORE
You may see more bicycles on the racks outside Jackson Heights—and each of Glens Falls elementary schools—now that third-graders district-wide are completing a bicycle safety course and “on the roads” rodeo coordinated by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County. Jackson Heights students have gone through a series of classroom lessons on bike safety and rules of the road, culminating with a rodeo on May 1. Big Cross and Kensington elementaries’ rodeos are coming up in the next few weeks.
At each rodeo, 4-H Community Educator Martina Noone goes through the “A-B-C’s” of checking a bicycle’s air pressure in the tires, brake functionality and chain. READ MORE HERE
Analysis on the first two waves of data from the St. Lawrence University sleep study shows that GFHS students are getting more sleep—with increases averaging between 12 and 48 minutes more per night from last spring to this fall. Survey data shows that self-reported depression, anxiety and stress (DASS) scores are lower across all grade levels from last spring to this fall, and discipline incidents have dropped as well.
The news comes as the SLU research team prepares for a third wave of data collection in the multi-year study on how Glens Falls high school’s start time change affects academic achievement and overall student health. Students participating in the study answered questions about their sleep times, mood, and caffeine use this past May, and again in mid-November. The third wave of data will be collected on May 28 and 29 during participating students’ physical education classes.
Lead researchers Drs. Pamela Thacher and Serge Onyper discussed some initial findings with high school administrators in early April. Data from the first and second collection waves shows that:
- Mean weekday bedtimes for Grade 12 and Grade 11 stayed constant across the two data collection waves, at 10:54 p.m. and 10:51 p.m., respectively. Grade 10 participants’ bed times went from 10:30 p.m. to 10:42 p.m., and Grade 9 participants’ bed times went from 10:30 p.m. to 10:36 p.m.
- Mean weekday rise times were later in wave 2 for all grades—Grade 12 respondents went from 6:42 a.m. to 7:06 am., and Grade 11 respondents went from 6:48 a.m. to 7:06 a.m. Grade 10 respondents’ average wake-up time was 6:36 a.m. in wave 1, and 6:48 a.m. in wave 2, while Grade 9 respondents rose at 6:24 a.m. in wave 1, and 7:00 a.m. in wave 2, on average.
- Total sleep time (as indicated in the chart above) increased for participants at all grade levels: Grade 12 by 18 mins., Grade 11 by 30 mins., Grade 10 by 12 mins., and Grade 9 by 48 mins.
- Students reported lower overall levels of stress, anxiety and depression in wave 2 as compared to wave 1, and fewer study participants were referred to the school counseling office for depression screening based on their questionnaire responses, as compared to wave 1.
- Reports of disciplinary problems, including disorderly conduct, disrespectful behaviors, insubordination, and tardiness are each lower in wave 2 than wave 1. READ MORE HERE
Bowling can be a fun way to build healthy relationships— and a great way to raise money, as teams from Glens Falls City Schools have proven in this year’s “Bowl For Kids’ Sake.”
Sixty-three bowlers on 16 GFSD teams raised a total of $5,291 at the annual event to benefit Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Southern Adirondacks. “This was the most money raised by a school district and earned us a Pin Trophy,” said coordinator and high school counselor Brian Bombard.
A friendly competition began within the school district for the new “Golden Pin” award that was added to the annual effort this year. The student Golden Pin is going to the Glens Falls cross-country ski team. “This bowling team of Jerry Casertino, Allison Casertino, Ethan Katz, and Caleb Vaughn raised $466,” said Mr. Bombard. The faculty team winner is the School Counseling Office, which included bowlers Arlene Dudley, Brian Bombard, Terry Tobias, and GF alumni Jason Buckley, Kevin Driscoll, and Katie Driscoll (Bartholomew).
Many GFSD students and staff participate as either “Bigs” or “Littles” in the mentoring program that aims to encourage positive outcomes for children through professionally supported one-to-one relationships.
C'est délicieux! French students in Andrea Welti’s class at the high school got a taste of French culture on March 28, when caterer Amy Cantor stopped by for a lecture and crêpe-making demonstration.
“We have talked in class about crêpe and its cultural significance,” says Ms. Welti. “Back on February 2nd, we celebrated La Chandeleur. We held a coin in one hand and flipped pre-made crêpe in a pan in the other hand. If you flip successfully, it is supposed to bring good fortune in the coming year.”
After a talk and demonstration by Ms. Cantor, students were able to test their crêpe culinary skills by making their own sweet or savory crêpe from a variety of ingredients ranging from fresh strawberries and bananas to the Italian hazelnut-chocolate spread, Nutella. Beyond the immersion in French culture, students used the experience as a springboard to a better understanding of grammar and vocabulary.
“We are currently studying the grammatical structure of the past tense,” said Ms. Welti. “After our visit, the students wrote to describe how they made the crepes. It gave them a chance to practice the grammar while tying in culture and a hands-on experience, which is easier to describe. When we reach our food unit, we will once again talk about our experience and use it to practice ‘quantity’ vocabulary.”
GFHS junior Ethan Cronquist is now a celebrated video animator, after his stop-motion film, “The Whiteboard Incident” was selected as a winner in The Peoples Pixel Project: A Festival of Short Videos.
This fourth-annual effort of the Lake George Arts Project showcased 19 video shorts made by film makers within 100 miles of Lake George, NY. The majority of films were around 3-5 minutes long in genres including animated, comedy, documentary, narrative, and music video.
Ethan said his project took about six days of continuous shooting, followed by five days of compiling the images into a movie and adding music and sound effects. “In total I had about 3,600 individual images to work with, so it was a bit cumbersome,” Ethan said. READ MORE
On a certain building project, rules called for each bricklayer in a crew to lay a quota of B bricks per day. If each bricklayer's daily quota were reduced by 200, 5 more bricklayers would be needed to maintain the crew's daily quota. If the individual quota reduction had been 100, only 2 additional bricklayers would have been needed. What is the value of B?
Glens Falls High School Mathletes have solved problems like these (the answer is 250, by the way) to finish in fifth place out of eight area schools in this year’s Math League competition. Senior Allyce Morrissey was again the season's top scorer.
The season consisted of five math meets which started in November and went through March. At the meets, students work individually on the questions and are given 17 minutes to complete the first set of three questions. Papers are then collected and graded by the team's math coach while students work on the second set of questions. READ MORE
"We see much greater rigor at all levels, and we anticipate assessments to be more challenging.” Those were two of the key points presented at the March 26 Common Core Parent Information Night, which explained how the new COMMON CORE LEARNING STANDARDS are a first step in providing young people with the high-quality education that will prepare them for success in college and careers.
The new standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math were fully implemented in September, and the first year of testing on the new grades 3-8 curriculum begins on April 16.
Last week, facilitators from WSWHE BOCES explained what’s different about the Common Core:
In English Language Arts/Literacy: a focus on non-fiction and careful reading; student ability to discuss reading and write using evidence; and increased academic vocabulary.
In Mathematics: students learn more about fewer concepts; focus on skill building, speed and accuracy; and use real world examples to better understand concepts.
A FIELD MEMO from the State Education Dept. noted that “student scores on the Common Core assessments will not be directly comparable to scores from prior-year tests because the assessments are based on different, more rigorous standards.” To see an example of how tests have changed, compare a 2005 SAMPLE TEST FOR GRADE 3 ELA with a 2013 SAMPLE TEST FOR GRADE 3 ELA.
How can families prepare? One of many helpful resources on wwww.EngageNY.org is the handout WHAT PARENTS CAN DO TO HELP THEIR CHILDREN LEARN, an outline that explains what students will be asked to accomplish related to the shifts in ELA and math, and suggests ways parents can reinforce the new skills at home. READ MORE ON THE COMMON CORE PAGE OF GFSD.ORG
Middle school students explored a range of scientific questions this winter, from whether energy drinks help or hurt concentration to whether or not temperature affects the quality of nail polish. The seventh- and eighth-grade science fair took place on March 12, and students have been busy for months.
“This year we gave students a choice between performing traditional science experiment or taking on an engineering/design challenge, so there were a variety of each,” says middle school science teacher Patricia Nixon. “Some students have designed better fishing nets to prevent shark death, designed a remote control garbage can, tested how much people are biased based on looks, tested the effect of video games on aggressive behavior, tested the effects of texting while driving during a video game, and tested the effect of music on learning,” Ms. Nixon continued.
Beginning in November, students formed a hypothesis, determined dependent and independent variables, created procedures and data tables, and performed background research, complete with works cited in MLA format to tie into the Common Core State Standards, said science faculty members. READ MORE
The Glens Falls Board of Education is currently discussing a more-defined “Flex Zone” policy for the superintendent to assign incoming students to specific elementary buildings so that class sizes will be as balanced as possible across the district.
“The intent is not to make elementary class sizes of 25, or make students walk across the city to their school,” said Superintendent Paul Jenkins. “What we’d like to see is some assignment flexibility so that we don’t have 14 students to a class in one building, and 21 students to a class at that same grade level in another building. I think more balanced classes of 17 or 18 would be a better goal.”
The board’s policy committee will discuss the possible change at its meeting on April 10, after Mr. Jenkins outlined some basic parameters of how flexible attendance zones work in other districts at the board’s March 14 budget development meeting. In a LETTER to families registering for kindergarten this week, Mr. Jenkins outlined some working assumptions of a possible plan in Glens Falls:
- Generally speaking, if a family lives within a mile of two elementary schools, the Superintendent may assign that family to either school upon registration. This residence area would be referred to as a “Flex Zone.”
- Once a student/family is assigned to an elementary school, they will stay in that school through fourth grade (i.e. they would not be re-assigned after their initial entry).
- If older siblings in a family are already attending an elementary school, the incoming student will be assigned to the same school. Assignments will not change for established students & families.
- Students/families will not generally be assigned to an elementary school more than one mile away from their residence.
Can't wait to get the Spring 2013 edition of the district's printed city-wide newsletter?
Read it HERE before it reaches your mailbox this week!
Jackson Heights is full of new heroes, thanks to a new character education book and initiative, created by Jackson staff members. Sarah Kuhn, Jackson Heights reading specialist, authored “The Action Jackson Story,” which Shirley "V" Rice-Casagrande illustrated. (READ THE STORY HERE) And on a recent Friday, the entire school wore their GF Nation shirts to an Action Jackson Character Education assembly for the unveiling of the Action Jackson twins, Abby and Jimmy.
“Abby and Jimmy are Jackson Heights heroes who do the right thing and promote good character,” says principal Carrie Mauro. “Our Action Jackson fourth-graders Casey Maxwell, Stephanie Skellie, Emily Ruggerio, Ethan Smith, Nick Brown, Austin Gilles, Kelvin Lin, Caiden Goodspeed, and Devin Powell shared their feelings on the story and described what it meant to them to be an Action Jackson Hero.”
Dressed in their A/J shirts, students spelled out CIVILITY on stage, which was Jackson Heights’ theme of the month. “We also gave out prizes to student who had earned a snowflake during the month for demonstrating good civility such as kindness, helpfulness, teamwork and/or cooperation,” said Mrs. Mauro. “Winners were picked from our ‘Civility Bucket’ of snowflakes and they received a single scoop Stewarts Shops Ice cream certificate, a $5 Scholastic Bookfair coupon donated by the PTA, and the grand prize was a $50 NBT Bank savings bond.” Winners included: Lukhas LaRock, Jaiden Smith, Bailey Putney, Lilly Galagher, Eamonn Dowd, Jimmy Wells, and Meah Hercules. Victor Hyland won the $50 savings bond grand prize.
The State Education Department has put its final approval on Glens Falls City School District’s new evaluation system for teachers and principals called the annual professional performance review (APPR). The new evaluations are required this year for all New York State school districts.
“While our official approval letter is dated December 4th, the reality is that we have been taking very deliberate steps to implement our APPR and respect the negotiation process,” said Director of Curriculum and Instruction Trent Clay. “In August we provided professional development to our faculty on specific APPR items that we had agreement on. In September we began administering pre-tests to students as required by the State, and our administrative team began the observation process for all teachers. In October, our teachers and principals prepared Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) for courses and subjects where they have the greatest educational impact. With so many changes taking place all at once in education, our teachers and administrators have done an incredible job staying focused on what matters most—our students.” READ MORE HERE
With the first day of classes, the Middle School launched a new positive behavior program called PBIS— Positive Behaviors Interventions and Supports. The research-based program uses a building-wide instructional approach to behavior and classroom management to help schools improve their educational climate.
"Success" in the program is defined as more time being spent on academics and less time being spent on behavioral problems. And by that measure, the Middle School is on its way to achievement.
"We've had one discipline referral in the first two and a half weeks of school," says Middle School Principal Chris Reed. "Last year during this time frame, we had dozens."
When a student does something he or she isn't supposed to, a staff member completes a form detailing the incident. That form—the discipline referral—then follows the student as multiple staff members work to resolve the problem and provide services for the student.
The use of data, such as the number of referrals, is a big factor in the PBIS program. The program is continually analyzed, and real results are used in team-based decision-making, planning, and problem-solving.
"The challenge, of course, will be to keep our initial success going," says Mr. Reed. "We've focused hard on expectations during these first few weeks."
"We have a common language now," he says, explaining one lesson on expectations for students’ voice volume in various settings—hallways, classroom, playground, etc. "You can hear students passing each other in the hallways saying, 'hey, PBIS!' and reminding their peers if they see somebody who isn't on target."
Being "On Target" with the three pillars of the program has been the major focus of the program's roll-out. Responsible, respectful and safe behaviors are key to PBIS, and students are rewarded for being "caught in the act." When a staff member sees a student doing the right thing, that student gets a "Target Ticket," which is entered into weekly drawings for prizes ranging from a free ice cream to a quiet lunch with four friends—for which staff members pull a cafeteria table outside for the winner and a few buddies to enjoy lunch in the sunshine. "That's become a coveted prize," says Mr. Reed.
Art students created large poster boards to be hung around the school, encouraging students to behave positively. And the expected behaviors even got a dry-run during the first days of school, with students physically practicing appropriate behavior for entering the school in the morning, fire drills, assemblies, hallway passing, and more.
"Even the few initial skeptics are seeing good results so far," says Mr. Reed. "This is a real team effort."
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