Pinewood Design Team Takes Home the Gold!

Every year the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District [OAISD] hosts a project for students in Ottawa County called futureprep’d as a way to connect students with some of the world class companies that call West Michigan their home. Sarah Magro, Intervention teacher at Pinewood, applied for the program and was teamed with a teacher in the Grand Haven School District. Each teacher selected three fifth graders to make up the team from Ottawa County to take on the Michigan Design Challenge.

Sponsored by the Michigan Design Council, the Michigan Design Challenge is a statewide competition  for educators to work with students to solve an existing problem. Students accomplished this challenge by using Project-Based Learning which is to start with a problem and find the solution through the creative sequence [seen in the photo above].

The challenge this year was to create a device or object to help make MI winters more safe or more fun. But as Ms Magro and her fellow teacher, TJ Klumpel, quickly learned, students have very different ideas for making winter more safe and fun than adults!

The team created a series of Smart Sleds which are built by the customer through a kit of their choosing – based on their interests. For example, they created a racing sled for the daredevil, a safety kit with a helmet and bumper pads for the cautious consumer, and even a “Lazy Joe” kit with a towing feature for those of us who prefer to sled less proactively.  What the students created was a solution to both problems – winter would be BOTH more fun and ore safe!

The team’s ideas were submitted to the Michigan Design Challenge in June as well as presented to a crowd of parents and family members at the OAISD for futureprep’d. Then, during Professional Development week in August, Ms Magro got the news that the Ottawa Country team had been selected for the Top 3 statewide in their age bracket! At that point, the team was paired with Stryker to brainstorm their ideas with staff from their industrial design division. The team drew up the kids ideas and the students were also exposed to important careers that are a little outside the box. Every team in Top 3 worked with a different company who, with help from the students, created posters with with their ideas and these posters were brought to the University of Michigan last week for the awards ceremony.

After the judges assessed all the Top 3 entries, Jenison and Grand Haven won the GOLD!

Ms Magro is not only proud of their win, but their hard work along the way as well. “It’s very cool that kids get to work through the creative sequence alongside kids from a another school, another teacher you don’t know, learning about collaboration, teamwork, and finding a solution to a problem – these are all important skills for kids to learn.”

Students take full ownership of the project, receiving only consultation and support from their teachers. Ms Magro is also excited that her students were able to see that there are careers out there that aren’t “cookie cutter” and, for the kid who may have a hard time finding their place, they learn in this process that they will have options.

“I’m very proud of the students for stepping outside the box. We had our own vision of how to make Michigan winters safer, but from a kids perspective, it’s so different. What they came up with was above and beyond what TJ and I thought of. Seeing what students are capable of and the higher level thinking that they’re capable of is incredible.”

Congratulations to the entire Ottawa County team, but especially to our Pinewood Champions: Luke Cousino, Selena Keller, and Meredith Bolhuis! We’re so proud of you and your accomplishments!

*Photo courtesy of the GH Tribune

Pinewood is a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School!

Last fall, students all across the state of Michigan – including Jenison, of course, took part in state exams. Our kids did their best and little did the Pinewood students know that their amazing scores would automatically nominate them for the US Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon School award!

Once the nomination was announced, members of the Pinewood School Improvement Team went to work on the lengthy application! Jane Miles [2nd grade], Sara Brower [4th grade], Michelle U’Ren [5th grade], Marie Doerr [School Psychologist] and Principal, Rachael Postle-Brown completed the application that included information on school demographics, attendance, the school mission and how it’s accomplished. The application was 25 pages by the time this phenomenal team was done!

The application was sent off to Washington DC where it was conditionally accepted, depending on the next set of test scores. And those scores meant Pinewood met the qualifications for being named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School!

Only 340 schools across the country were awarded this prestigious title and only thirteen in Michigan. Pinewood was chosen based on their exceptional level of social, emotional, and behavioral supports offered to children including Social Thinking Curriculum, Whole Brain Teaching, Mindfulness, Teach Like a Pirate, and Trauma-Informed Schools.

Because of these amazing supports and the teachers and students using them every day, the Department of Education has selected Pinewood to be featured alongside 4 – 7 other nationwide schools at the award ceremony in Washington DC next month. A camera crew will be coming to Pinewood to film “A Day in the Life of Pinewood” and all school representatives attending the ceremony from across the country will see the great things happening at Pinewood and Jenison!

Mrs Brown believes Pinewood is a special place because of the way teachers feel about each student there. “Pinewood stands out because teachers embrace every student as their own. Regardless of academic need, social or emotional needs – they are taken care of.” She also wants to thank the Pinewood community saying, “I want to thank the families, who are also part of this award. Thank you for sending your kids here, participating when needed, and being part of the community.”

We are so incredibly proud of the work being done at Pinewood to support ALL students! Our teachers and staff work so hard to make sure students have everything they need to be successful in school and we’re thrilled that the whole country will get to see why! Way to go, Pinewood!

Star Student Spotlight: Cordiela Sorrelle!

Pinewood fourth grader, Cordelia Sorrelle, is a girl of many talents, combined with a sweet, humble, and kind heart. Cordelia was nominated for this mini-series on Star Students by her principal, Rachael Postle-Brown, who says that Cordelia “always does an amazing job and is so humble”.

Aside from her regular schoolwork in fourth grade, Cordelia is involved in the chess club, robotics club, ACT, the after school reading program, and loves STEM.

She joined the chess club at the beginning of the school year without ever having played a game before. She “thought it looked interesting” because, “I like to think of strategies and tactics”. She enjoys playing board games but she especially loves those that involve strategy. Cordelia says she’s a good chess player but she hasn’t beat her dad just yet, but knows she will one day. [Look out, dad!]

Cordelia is also a member of ACT which is a weekly educational program for third through sixth graders who qualify. “In ACT we solve problems. Right now, we’re learning about things to build a mini-golf course. First, we learned about pentominoes. [Readers: if you need a quick math lesson, check out the Wikipedia link telling you what a pentomino is. Go ahead, we’ll never tell.]  Then, we made a tabletop mini-golf course to see where the ball will go”.

Cordelia is in ACT with other qualifying fourth graders from two other JPS elementary schools. She is proud to be in ACT and decided to apply because of what she believed about herself and her abilities.  “ACT is for people who are academically talented so I thought, why don’t I take the test because I think I’m smart.” She says that ACT is a safe place to be and feels like her fellow students support each other. “I like that other people there are smart too so people don’t judge me about it.”

But Cordelia’s love for learning doesn’t stop there! She is also a member of the after school reading club where, Monday – Thursday, she finds a comfy seat in the library and reads a book of her choice for 45 minutes with other book lovers. Her favorite book right now is Land of Stories, a series about twins who go into fairy tales. Cordelia has loved reading, “since I was born” and is not only a fast reader, but always has a book in her hand.

Cordelia also decided to join the robotics club this year and says that she liked building robots. Her 4 person, all girl elementary team [which included her older sister] competed in robotics events made a forklift but after they found that other teams were copying it, chose to destroy it and build a new one. Cordelia was the youngest member of the team and when asked how she feels about people who think robotics, chess, and STEM are better suited to boys she says emphatically “I say, girls can do anything that boys can do.” When asked how it make her feel when people say those things, she gives us all a lesson in self-confidence: “I don’t really care about what they say.”

Adding to her already impressive resume, this spring Cordelia will take her talents to the softball field for the first time. Her friends are doing it so, “I thought it would be cool if I did it too.” She didn’t want to be unprepared so she took a softball clinic “to see what it was like”.  At home, she tries her best to take care of her three dogs but they don’t make it easy for her. “When I get home, it’s like they haven’t seen me in a thousand years and they jump all over me.”

Cordelia, I think it’s safe to say, we’d be excited to see you too! You are the true definition of a star student and we cannot wait to see where your gifts, talents, and kind heart take you!  We’re proud to call you a Wildcat!

Georgetown Township Gets Schooled by Pinewood 6th Graders!

img_3621Back in September, we told you about an amazing project being spearheaded by Lori Barr and her 6th grade Pinewood students to restore swimming to Maplewood Lake.  Well, we are happy to say that this year’s class has continued the tradition of trying to solve the real-world problems in their own neighborhood!

img_3598-1Last month, all of Pinewood’s 6th graders presented their research and solutions to the Georgetown Township board and not only were their township reps blown away by what they heard, they have asked for copies of their presentations for further review. Dan Carlton, Township Superintendent, told the students they have “raised the bar so high I can’t even reach my arm high enough to show you how high it is!” The township is setting goals this month and they wanted to read over the resources and recommendations in order to pursue them.

The township had been previously unaware of the mosquito issue at Woodcrest Park [where Maplewood Lake is located] but students’ surveys found that spectators couldn’t even tolerate a soccer game due to the quantity of mosquitoes.  Students presented ideas for fountains, aerators and bat boxes. Fountains would keep most of the mosquitoes off the water, aerators would reduce mosquito populations because they move and clean the water and of course, our native bat friends could sleep all day in their cozy bat boxes and feast on mosquitoes all night.

captureStudents also presented ideas for a “natural playground” with the help of Natural Playgrounds in Canada. Students said in their presentation, “We want a natural playground because, you would feel like you are in the woods. The experience just feels like you are literally experiencing nature. The wood feels nice and smooth on your hands. Unlike metal and plastic.” They also presented ideas for native flowers for aesthetics and native plants for preventing runoff. 

capture2Because of a snow day in December, students had to problem solve another real-world problem: being behind on a project. Mrs Barr asked them to think about what their parents might do if they are behind at work. One student reported that sometimes, her mom has to work through her lunch which seemed to be the best solution to this hardworking crew. They worked through their lunches, they gave up extra class time where they would typically have freedom to chose their own activity – they chose to work hard to make their presentations the best they could be because they knew the township really wanted to hear what they had to say.

img_3631Seeing these amazing accomplishments has been a joy for their teachers. Mrs Barr has been teaching for 33 years and says that the past five years have been the best. “Mrs Brown encourages us to try new things and I’ve never seen anything like it. It takes courage as teachers to try new things, but you can be creative, let the kids have the power chord and let it be a student led classroom.”

Check out the clip below of a handful of students on the Maranda show that aired this week! On the way back to school one student shared with Mrs Barr, “I really feel like we’re a family. This is a year of family.”

6th Graders at Pinewood: You ARE a family and you make us all so proud! We are cheering you on and cannot wait to swim at Maplewood Lake and play at Woodcrest Park because you made it safe and fun once again!

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Pinewood Moms Serve Up Healthy Snacks!

img_8641Pinewood moms, Tanya Hawley and Emily Larsen, have set out to expand the snack horizons of our young students! After working with their child’s classroom teacher last year they sought and received a grant, along with enthusiastic permission from Pinewood principal, Rachael Postle-Brown, and are now serving healthy snacks once a month to the entire school!

Each month there is a featured vegetable that may not be very familiar to students but Tanya and Emily see serving these snacks as a way to help kids see that vegetables can taste good and be fun to try! In October they introduced pink and purple radishes and November’s snack was spaghetti squash served with marinara sauce.

img_8634Taking on a project of these size has not been easy but both Tanya and Emily bring valuable experience and passion to the program. Emily is a registered dietitian and Tanya say, “Emily has been able to add a ton of nutritional facts and information to our program. My focus is on connecting MI farms to families, and connecting kids to real food and farms, and where the food comes from. Emily’s focus on nutritional impact.  Together we make a good team, and we are passionate about helping our community make healthier snack and food decisions in their everyday lives.”

Tanya says that she notices that when some students are willing to try something new, their friends will try it too. Their goal is for kids to be exposed to new foods, broadening their horizons and helping them learn about healthy options. This is also an opportunity for kids to learn about local farms and where our food comes from. Parents are encouraged to participate at home and a handout is provided each month for the “healthy snack” lesson to continue. Kids are also asked to participate in a brief quiz that allows Tanya and Emily to track students interest in the food prior to trying it as well as afterwards. Tanya says that she is pleasantly surprised by the number of kids who are willing to try a new food (parent: take note!).

Teachers have been welcoming of the addition to their school day once a month and these moms hope that parents are taking advantage of the interest as well. Kids who insisted they didn’t want to try “something green” ended up liking kale chips and even last month’s radishes!

Thank you to these moms and the local farms helping supply the new foods! We hope the Pinewood students will continue to try new things and teach us all about what they’re learning!

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#JPSReads!

1448499790-4841895-james_giant_peach_ticketsWhen Junior High theatre director, Holly Florian, chose James and the Giant Peach for this year’s winter performance fifth grade teachers, Michelle U’Ren knew that she wanted to read the classic story aloud to her class. She knew it would help them appreciate the show even more to be familiar with the story.

But it didn’t stay specific to Ms U’Ren’s class! It didn’t take long before a district-wide project was born! Other teachers were interested in reading the story to their classes as well and and soon, Holly, Michelle, and Jan Staley, media specialist, were organizing the first ever district-wide read aloud, which came to be known as JPS Reads!

All of the teachers are encouraged by the response so far. “The feedback from teachers, students, and parents has been really positive.  Perhaps the most exciting part is hearing the connections being made at home!  There are many stories of families discussing James and the Giant Peach during dinner and younger kids begging older siblings to tell them what happens next in the story.

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Story brainstorming in Mary Veldink’s 3rd grade Pinewood classroom

When Ms Florian was considering scripts for the junior high performance she was excited about the visual and production challenges posed by James and the Giant Peach. “[It] stood out to me right away as being a fantastic option – the story is so wonderful, and the stage version has many featured roles, which gives lots of students a chance to show off their performing skills. It will also be a technical challenge! Figuring out how to create a giant peach that rolls off the cliffs of Dover and into the Atlantic ocean is going to be a creative challenge for the entire production team.”

Not all teachers had a copy of the book but thanks to a grant from the Jenison Public Education Foundation, those teachers were provided a copy. Even our Spanish Immersion classrooms are reading the story in Spanish! In order to empower teachers, weekly emails are sent to participants offering suggestions for activities and ways to connect with other teachers in the project.  Each individual teacher can choose which activities they would like to implement within their own classroom. Lori Barr, Pinewood 6th grade teacher, is engaging students’ writing skills by having them write blog posts with their thoughts and questions. Check out their Letters to Ms Florian here

If you have ever wondered if reading at home matters, it does! “Statistics have shown that a powerful predictor of reading success is having a parent who personally reads aloud to their child 5–7 days a week. Our community read aloud, JPS Reads, will hopefully ignite the joy of reading and the community bond it builds within the classroom family…the hope is that this will then be talked about and become part of our individual family habits also.”

Congratulations to all the teachers, students and families who participated in the first JPS Read Aloud! We can’t wait for the play this January!

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*Photo courtesy of goldstar.com

Say “Hi” to New Teachers!

This year we welcomed 23 new staff members to the Jenison family! Here you can meet some of them and feel free to say “hi” in person when you cross paths!

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Anna Flood  |  Burlsey, 6th Grade

“I grew up in the area and have always heard amazing things about Jenison. As a new teacher to the district, I have noticed the strong community and support that surrounds education. I am excited to grow with my group of 6th grade students, and watch them use their abilities to be successful.”

 

mcelweeAlexa McElwee  |  Bursley Interventionist
“I have grown up in this community.  Living in Hudsonville, attending GVSU and now working in Jenison, I have seen this community from so many sides.  From being a child, to a student, and now as a educator.  This community stands behind you and support you in every way.  When I graduated the one thing I knew I wanted in the school I worked for was a huge community involvement.  When I accepted my position in Jenison, I knew I was going more than a community, I was joining a family.  Jenison is such an amazing school district who wants the best for the students and their families.

On the first day of school I was feeling like most students do when they walk in the door, nervous, anxious and excited.  I definitely had first day jitters.  I was nervous for joining a new team and for meeting new students who have never seen me before.  By the end of they day I was getting high fives and lots of hugs from all the Kindergartners as they walked by my room to head to the bus.  To see their faces light up each morning when they see me in the hall or working with them makes me so excited to see the relationships that are being formed.  This is going to be a great year.”

vandebergJosh VandeBerg  |  Sandy Hill, 4th Grade

“My family and I are very excited to return to the area!  My wife Amanda and I are from the area, but moved to Florida 9 years ago. We have 4 children Ben (10), Abigail (9), Hannah (6), and Levi (3).  All of our extended family lives in the area and my children are thrilled to live by their cousins.

I am a big believer of living in the community that I teach in.  Jenison is an amazing place to live and raise a family.  The schools are top-notch and we can’t imagine a better place to be. I am so excited for this school year because everyone that I work with truly cares about each other.  The district leaders, the team at Sandy Hill, and everyone I meet throughout the district is amazing. Jenison has a lot to offer its students.  I am currently involved in the robotic’s program and we have a blast using what we’ve learned in the classroom to solve a problem.

willieMaura Willie  |  Elementary Music

“I was drawn to JPS because of their excellence in music. I love how the district and community supports the arts in their schools. So far, I’m most excited for the year because of all of the collaboration I’ve seen. Everyone I’ve come into contact with has been eager to help each other and work together. ”

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Jenny Huizenga  |  High School Math
“I was drawn to JPS because my children attend JPS and I love the schools and the community.  I am excited to be teaching in the community where I live.  The staff and students are amazing at Jenison and I am looking forward to getting to know everyone and get involved. “

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Bridget Ehlich  |  Bursley Elementary, 6th Grade Spanish Immersion

“I was drawn to JPS by the reputation it has in the Greater Grand Rapids area as forward educators. I am excited about the year because I have already felt welcomed by the community and can tell that this is a good place to be as an educator.”

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Dustin Morley  |  Junior High ELA
“I first heard about Jenison Public Schools while I attended Grand Valley State University ten years ago and heard nothing but good things about the district and community ever since. After moving from the Detroit area to West Michigan I was very excited when a long-term substitute position opened at Jenison Junior High. The building and district felt like home for me from the first interview for that position.  After being a long-term substitute for a year and a half, I couldn’t be happier to now be a full time teacher at Jenison Junior High School. I’m particularly looking forward to getting more involved with the school and community this year.”

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Rachel Nichols  |  ECC Special Education

“I was looking for a district that wanted to everything possible to benefit their students. I talked to some friends and they all were so pleased with Jenison and what they are doing.  So far it has been great everyone has been so friendly and welcoming it has been an amazing start to 2016/2017 school year and I am excited to continue!!!”
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Anna Siegel  |  Pinewood + Sandy Hill Special Education

“What drew me to JPS is the success of the district and the sense of community. I am in two different elementary buildings throughout the day this year, and so I am excited to interact with many different staff and students this year!”
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Kristen Dantonio  |  Pinewood, 5th Grade

“I was drawn to Jenison because I was told that it was a district that cared about people. It is a district that puts relationships first and I knew that I wanted to be part of that. I am most excited to get to know my students and coworkers at Pinewood. It has been a great year so far and I am excited to see how those relationships will grow.”

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Christina Salinas  |  Rosewood, 6th Grade Spanish Immersion

“The wonderful Jenison community and Spanish Immersion program drew me to JPS.  This year I am excited to see students continue to grow in their literacy skills in Spanish and English.  I am also excited to work with the supportive teachers and staff at Rosewood Elementary. I have learned so much from them already. Their dedication and passion for teaching is contagious!”

We’re so thankful for all of our teachers and all that they do for our students and families! Thank you to the new teachers for bringing your talents and passion to Jenison!

Pinewood 6th Graders Work to Solve Real-World Problem on Maplewood Lake

img_1942E. coli is not anyone’s favorite topic. In fact, it’s probably not discussed openly in polite company. Certainly, if you had an E. coli problem you wouldn’t want anyone to know. And that’s exactly what the students in Lori Barr’s 6th grade class last year decided to change.

In 2009 Georgetown Township closed Maplewood Lake to swimming due to E. coli concerns and removed the sandy beach, installing instead, a splash pad for Jenison families to enjoy the park and still get relief from summer heat.

img_1968Last year, Mrs Barr wanted to be proactive about project-based learning and design thinking for her students. How can they be prepared for the needs of the real-world workplace like leadership, idea creation and problem solving? She approached the township and asked if there was a problem they would like explored or even solved? When Supervisor, Dale Mohr told her that he wished people could swim in Maplewood Lake again, she took the issue to her students and they accepted the challenge!

With the help of local non-profits such as Groundswell and LGROW [The Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds], as well as Creek Connections at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania the students set out to perform water tests to determine how run-off effects our drinking water. Students tested for the presence of nitrogen, phosphorous and seven other paramaters and eventually, for E. coli.

LGROW asked Mrs Barr, “Are you sure you want to do E. coli?” and she responded, “I know I want to do E. coli” to which they told her, “Okay, no teacher has ever asked to do something this big.”

img_2275The organization had the students begin their project by designing door hangers that educated the community on the dangers and immediate implications for run-off and “how to dispose of things properly on your land and what choices to make with your  gardening and your lawn to avoid the phosphorous and nitrogen build up and what would cause the water quality to be compromised for the wildlife and organisms living there.”

Meanwhile, students spent five weeks collecting data from three different sites around Maplewood Lake for the E. coli tests and Georgetown Township offered to analyze their findings. They were feeling fairly confident with what they had found until a major water event occurred [such as a heavy rain] and the E. coli numbers went up significantly. They needed to figure out why.

img_2278However, the school year was drawing to a close and the baton would need to be passed to this year’s 6th grade class to continue the project. Mrs Barr needed new testing kits and, again, with the help of Creek Connections, she wrote up a quote and posted their project on DonorsChoose.org in the hopes of raising the money for their continued research. Mrs Barr came to find out that Tom’s of Maine has an arrangement with Donors Choose to match the donations of any funded project that will go toward a green classroom project that qualifies, which ours did. Thankfully, the project was fully funded but the story wasn’t over yet…

This past June, Mrs Barr was notified that the project was also selected to be part of the Top Ten by judges [including Kevin Jonas for your Jonas Brothers Fans!] and be in the running for prizes ranging from $25,000 to $2,000. But they need your help!

If you’ve been inspired by the work our 6th graders [and we certainly hope you have been!] you can support them in the Tom’s of Maine Green Your School competition for a chance to win $25,000! All you have to do is click on the link below and vote every day until Oct 31. Just click:  Tom’s of Maine competition and scroll for “No Swimming Allowed…Whaaat?!” and click on VOTE. Please share with friends and family.

Thank you to Mrs Barr for being a passionate teacher who challenges her students to think beyond the textbook and classroom! Thank you to our partners who made this project possible! And of course, thank you to the 6th grade students past and present who will continue to work for the good of Jenison and Maplewood Lake! Don’t ever give up! We are Jenison!

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Summer Series: Student Writing Samples [4th grade]

LogoThis summer we will feature a writing sample from a student in each grade as we all enjoy a beautiful summer in West Michigan! Please join us each week to read these fantastic teacher-submitted examples of excellent writing!

Charlie Myracle the Superhero
by Abigail Majestic

In a small town called Treehouse Town all of the treehouses were quiet except for a blue and purple one. There was loud music and lots of lights on. That was because this treehouse was owned by Charlie Myracle and his cat Imagine. Charlie Myracle and Imagine never slept. They didn’t need to! They were SUPERHEROES!!! Charlie Myracle wore blue leggings and a purple suit. His suit had a big yellow star right in the middle. Imagine was a gray pussy cat that had blue and purple swirled wings and, could also talk. Charlie Myracle and Imagine could both fly. Even though they were superheros, they had a weakness.

Their weakness was a villain named Sir Hypno’s slowness potion. Sir Hypno was feared by all in Charlie Myracle’s town. Sir Hypno had a sidekick named Linlo. Linlo was a zebra. Sir Hypno wore a black and white jacket and hypnotizing glasses. He lived in a large pair of hypnotizing glasses. Charlie Myracle and Sir Hypno were sworn enemies.

Charlie Myracle and Imagine went out to watch the sunset. Imagine spotted a tiny light and went

MEOW. Charlie Myracle then spotted the light too. He then noticed that it was the glare of Sir Hypno’s glasses! He was plotting a plan! What for? Charlie Myracle then figured out, Sir Hypno was going to hypnotize the town!!

Suddenly, Sir Hypno spotted Charlie Myracle. He blasted a quick ray of his slowness potion and, knocked Charlie Myracle out! Imagine tried everything to wake Charlie Myracle up. Then, Imagine hoisted Charlie Myracle on his back and flew back to their treehouse. Charlie Myracle woke up after an hour of rest. Imagine told him what happened. Imagine said that he had to wait one day until the slowness potion wore off. Charlie Myracle was upset because he had to stop Sir Hypno before it was too late. One day might be too long.

Charlie Myracle was lying in bed that afternoon and said, “Ugg. Just let this slowness potion wear off! I NEED to go stop Sir Hypno!”

Charlie Myracle decided to just go to sleep. Imagine jumped up on his bed and fell asleep too.

They woke up and Carlie Myracle was happy to find out, it was morning! “Come on Imagine, let’s go fight Sir Hypno!” announced Charlie Myracle. They flew out of their treehouse. Off they went to go defeat Sir Hypno! Soon they arrived at Sir Hypno’s house.

“I’m gonna get you now!” exclaimed Charlie Myracle.

“Well, well, well. Who do we have here, Charlie Myracle and Imagine. Linlo I think we have to take out some overdue trash,” murmured Sir Hypno.

“The real trash is you. And, and I’m gonna get your glasses!” yelled Charlie Myracle.

“Wow such impolite words for a guest!” exclaimed Sir Hypno.

“I’m not a guest, I’m an ENEMY!” cried Charlie Myracle.

“Just GO!!!” yelled Sir Hypno.

Sir Hypno’s glasses started to spin. Charlie Myracle knew that meant danger. He slowly backed away. Sir Hypno walked closer. His glasses were spinning faster and faster! Suddenly Charlie Myracle SNATCHED the glasses! “Police!” cried Charlie Myracle. Two police officers came in and took Sir Hypno and Linlo away. “I’ll get you Charlie Myracle!” Yelled Sir Hypno as he was taken away. They were locked up for 50 years.

In the end Charlie Myracle and Imagine got a lovely statue in Treehouse Town. Everyone lived happily ever after, except for Sir Hypno and Linlo!

Abigail Majestic is a rising 5th grader at Pinewood Elementary and her writing was selected by her 4th grade teacher, Mrs Susan Pope, as part of a writing lesson on action/adventure stories, focusing on plot development and dialogue.

Pinewood Plants a Garden

MIII3040Every year our second graders learn about plants, how they grow, their contribution to our environment and which ones we eat! Teachers and students alike enjoy the hands-on nature of the lesson but this year, in conjunction with the Pinewood Wellness Committee, the Garden Committee was launched!

Pinewood second grade teacher, Amanda Roper, says that the idea for a garden at Pinewood has been bounced around for a while and this year seemed like the perfect opportunity to get things moving. “We met a few times and decided to raise some funds through a plant sale. The students then discussed what is needed to start a garden, surveyed parents about the most important things to include in a school garden, and brainstormed what we should plant as our fundraiser. ”

MIII3048The plant sale took place last month and raised around $400 and the committee will discuss how to best use the funds as well as some generous donations from parents. Through a writing assignment, second graders were able to add their ideas and are leaning towards using the money for a fence, planting beds, good soil, and, of course, plants! The committee would also love to incorporate a greenhouse-type structure that would be beneficial for starting a garden in late winter/early spring but each phase of construction will be carefully planned out before any definite plans get underway.

Students will take a crucial role in the care and tending of the future garden. “The students would be in charge of planting the spring seedlings [possibly utilizing the aforementioned greenhouse structure], transplanting and weeding plants, watering, tending to the garden itself-prepping the beds, planting plants, and signing up to tend the garden over the summer. They would also take charge of selling the raised plants at next year’s sale and marketing for the sale. We are hoping to double our plant yield next year with some awesome grow lights that are being donated to us.”

MIII3010A garden will bring a unique element to learning at Pinewood and will allow our students to learn many important aspects of the plant life cycle as well as where our food comes from. “This project brings to life our curriculum and opens the door to a great possibility for community outreach [under resourced families in our community would be possible benefactors for our extra crop yield] as well as providing some great family participation. This experience would provide students with an appreciation for nature and gardening and will give them skills that are life-long, and hopefully lead to healthy lifestyles. Being outside is not only fun, it is therapeutic and good for children. What better way to bring curriculum to life than through this hands-on outdoor garden classroom environment. We see this as a school-wide resource; a place where classes can go to observe the unique biodiversity that lives in harmony in a garden.
Working together to achieve a common goal is something that students will benefit immensely from. They will learn and see, firsthand, the fruits of their labor when the garden is up and running. The amount of pride and strong sense of accomplishment students will walk away with is immeasurable.”

What a joy it will be to see students take that first bite of a fruit or vegetable they planted from seed! We can’t wait to see your garden grow, Pinewood!

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