In the News
The 44th RTA Annual Blood Drive will be held on Wednesday, January 28 from 11:30am-5:30pm at the Ramapo Central School District Administrative Offices, 45 Mountain Road, Hillburn.
NYBC reports that there is a critical need for donations during the winter months. A single blood donation can save up to three lives.
Members of the Ramapo Central community are encouraged to participate. For information on who may give blood, please click here to check the New York Blood Center’s eligibility page.
Walk-ins are welcome; no appointment is required. However, if you wish to schedule an appointment, please email blood drive coordinator Christine D’Antonio-Krebs.
Donors must present identification with photo or signature and should arrive well-hydrated and with a full stomach.
Plan to donate? Please consider spreading the word on social media to challenge friends and family to join you. Check out New York Blood Center’s recently-launched #blood4What campaign on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for inspiration.
“It’s a very light footprint in terms of formal instruction—actually less than a full-day workshop,” noted Model Schools coach Leslie Accardo.
Since October, an elementary cohort composed of 10 teachers from RP Connor Elementary School and Sloatsburg Elementary School has set individual goals, created and tested tech-integrated lessons using Google Apps for Education—Google Drive, Google Classroom, Apps Play Store and Google Hangout—and exchanged ideas with their Model Schools peers. Eight Suffern Middle School teachers undertook the same challenge, in a separate cohort. All were provided with Chromebooks for their work.
Participants report that it was a powerful process.
“Having the opportunity to do the work over time with Google Apps and the Chromebooks, we really had time to think about what we were trying to do,” reflected RP Connor special education teacher Barbara Brain. “It slowly became part of our being.”
“It was empowering to have training tuned in to how I want to grow professionally,” said Sloatsburg fifth-grade teacher Brad Sahlstrom.
RP Connor art teacher Steve Pashley tried a number of different tech-integrated assignments with his students, from reviewing a work of art to sharing digital artwork.
“At first, I thought this was more for middle school. But I tried 18 different things to do with art and found that it’s a great tool,” he said. “The kids jump all over it.”
While January marks the completion of the first two cohorts, their work will continue. Participants plan to keep their Google+ communities going, explore new ways to leverage technology in their classrooms and to share what they’ve learned with colleagues.
A Suffern High School Model Schools cohort is slated for launch this spring.
“When you look pedagogically at what you can accomplish with your students through technology, you realize that you should buy in,” said RP Connor third-grade teacher David Grammerstorf, a Model Schools participant.
Providing differentiated, job-embedded support helped teachers with varying levels of tech experience become more adept (and creative) in terms of integrating technology into their instruction.
“Our involvement with this LHRIC (Lower Hudson Regional Information Center) service was made possible through the efforts of Dawn Bean, chairperson of the District’s Tech Professional Development committee and Instructional Facilitator at RP Connor, who immediately saw the potential in this model,” explained Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Lisa Weber. “Because each teacher’s professional growth and application of the technology is unique, the overall benefit to the District is amplified as these experiences are shared with colleagues and other students.”
Photo caption: RP Connor art teacher Steve Pashley demos a slideshow of student artwork and comments created with Google Apps for Education tools.
Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students attended the brief ceremony, along with a number of local government leaders. Sloatsburg Village Clerk and Ramapo Central Board of Education member Thomas Bollatto, Jr. administered the oath of office; Mayor Carl Wright held the Bible.
Principal Joseph Lloyd explained to students that in his new role representing the 98th District, Assemblyman Brabenec will work at the state level as “a critical thinker and problem solver for many Rockland and Orange County citizens.”
For his part, Assemblyman Brabenec reflected on his experience and offered students advice.
“When I was Town Supervisor of Deerpark, lots of people came to me asking for help. Most of the time, there was something I can do—you always have to make the effort. Be friendly, be positive and do your best to help your neighbors and you will be successful,” he said. “Thank you for sharing this special moment with me.”
Photo caption: New York State Assemblyman Karl Brabenec takes his oath of office before an audience of Sloatsburg Elementary students on January 16.
Bullying prevention gets a lot of attention at Suffern Middle School. Throughout the year, assemblies, monthly homeroom meetings and clubs work together to reinforce a “bully-free” environment and promote compassion.
On January 16, homerooms building-wide spent 30 minutes focused on tailored, grade-level lessons developed by the school’s Olweus team. Eighth-graders focused on setting and respecting boundaries in their relationships and reflected on how their behavior “sets the tone” for others. Seventh-grade students worked to distinguish between joking and bullying, and the importance for taking responsibility for hurtful behavior. Sixth-graders explored the devastating impact of bullying and tried to understand the bully and empathize with the target.
“We have these meetings every month,” noted Katie, a sixth-grader in teacher Jennie Narciso’s class. “They’re helpful because you see what can happen because of bullying; I think it makes people think about their behavior.”
As part of the January lesson, a number of classes also worked to create paper chains comprised of individual links representing acts of kindness students had witnessed or performed over the last few weeks. Segments will be joined to create a single “chain of kindness” for unveiling at a culminating Olweus event at the end of the school year.
The project was a tie-in with the work of the Kindness Crusaders.
“We focus on encouraging positive behavior, promoting kindness, happiness and empathy,” said English teacher, literacy specialist and club advisor Nicole Tarife. “I follow Rachel’s Challenge on Twitter and the paper chain idea came from there. It is a physical representation of how our actions affect each other and it helps to give students a concrete image as they reflect on their own behavior. My hope is that by the end of the year, our paper chains of kindness stretch across the entire stage or even the entire football field! Imagine a middle school that has contributed to that many kind acts; what a wonderful learning environment that could be!”
Photo caption: Links representing acts of kindness were created by students during the January 16 Olweus homeroom meetings at Suffern Middle School. Ultimately, they will be joined to create a single “chain of kindness” and displayed in the building.
Parents of incoming kindergarteners are urged to contact their home elementary school to begin the pre-registration process. Once they have pre-registered with their home elementary school, parents will be assigned a specific time to report for registration and screening with their kindergarteners-to-be.
Cherry Lane Elementary School: To pre-register, call (845) 357-3988. Parent orientation for incoming kindergarteners will be held on April 16 at 7pm. Registration and screening dates are May 4 & 6.
Montebello Elementary School: To pre-register, call (845) 357-4466. Registration and screening dates are May 5-7.
At the December 16 Ramapo Central Board of Education meeting, the REACH Foundation of Rockland announced more than $8,100 in grants to 15 projects in District schools.
Each year, the Foundation solicits grant proposals from educators, staff and community members for innovative educational programs, which an emphasis on the arts, community service and leadership development. Grants are made possible through the generous support of community members who participate in the organization’s special events, such as the upcoming Dancin’ Machine gala on January 31. For more information, visit the REACH Foundation website.
Congratulations to the 2014-15 REACH Foundation grantees:
The crowd included some experienced programmers, many under the age of 10. Montebello Elementary School first-graders who are wrapping up their first computer science unit as part of a Project Lead the Way pilot spoke about their work with Scratch, Jr., an introductory programming language aimed for children ages 5-7.
“We read a book, Superkids, and then made it come to life in Scratch, Jr.,” James explained to participants.
Third-graders representing each of the elementary schools described projects they’d created with Scratch as part of a computational thinking unit launched District-wide in 2012.
“I started programming in sixth grade,” said Steve Grosmark, a developer and Suffern High School parent, who also spoke briefly at the event. “It’s really a creative process; you can create a lot of things—art, music—with code.”
Students were particularly impressed by art Grosmark created using code; several paused their own projects to take a look at his source code. His work is currently featured in the Art. Code? exhibit at the Suffern Free Library.
Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Lisa Weber noted that the strong turnout is indicative of a growing interest in computer science across the District.
“In addition to the evening event for families, many of our K–8 classes coded at school during Computer Science Week. Over 2,100 students across the District participated in the Hour of Code, including all classes in RP Connor, Sloatsburg and Montebello and approximately 775 Suffern Middle School students,” she noted. “Successful codes were celebrated throughout the classrooms and computer labs, and comments such as ‘This has to work . . . yes, finally!’ and ‘Woohoo!’ reflected students’ perseverance as the coding challenges became more difficult.”
Fifth-grade Sloatsburg Elementary Students (along with Instructional Facilitator Andrea Edwards and teacher Deb Miller) were featured in a recent front page story in the Journal News on coding in schools. Read reporter Elizabeth Ganga’s story online here.
“The advantage of learning code is that you’d be a lot happier if you could express yourself and get to create what you like instead of having things already set up for you,” said Rowan, a fifth-grade Sloatsburg Elementary School student.
If your child is curious about programming, there are a number of free resources that families can use at home to encourage and support their children’s interest in coding. Here are just a few: Code.org, Hopscotch, Scratch / Scratch, Jr. , Codeacademy, Khan Academy and Mozilla Webmaker.
Related stories: Got game? SHS boots up programming course
Photo caption: Ramapo Central’s first-ever Family Hour of Code got students, and their families, excited about computer science.
Since then, music has been in the air across the Ramapo Central community. The Cherry Lane Bell Choir wowed the crowds at the Suffern Public Library on December 18. The next morning, high school choir members caroled at Suffern Middle School while Symphonic Band members jammed with Viola Elementary musicians to welcome arriving students with song.
Make sure to check the District web calendar for upcoming concert dates in January and February. And, in the meantime, enjoy this holiday treat: an audio clip of the Suffern High School Symphony Orchestra rehearsing Puccini’s Preludio Sinfonico.
Related stories: Musicians win All-State, Area All-State honors
Photo caption1: Suffern Middle School receptionist Gloria Ward (and the entire front office staff) was treated to caroling by high school choir members on December 19.
Photo caption2: SHS band members partnered with Viola musicians to greet arriving Viola Elementary School students with holiday music on December 19.
Photo caption3: On December 18, Cherry Lane Elementary School’s Bell Choir performed at the Suffern Free Library (pictured here) and in the Christmas Spectacular at Lafayette Theater.
“We were up against some great teams,” said senior David Feldfogel, who came in third for Prose Reading. “It was very exciting to come in second.”
“It was particularly satisfying that we had a winner from each of the five categories of the competition,” added advisor (and English and history teacher) Dr. Robert Wilson.
Senior Imani Solan credits weekly rehearsals for her poetry performance, which earned third place honors.
“I chose Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes,” she noted. “I chose African American history theme last year as well. It’s the poetry I’ve been exposed to by my parents, so I’m familiar with this work.”
Solan is headed to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School next year, where she believes her Speech Team experience will serve her well.
“The public speaking aspect will be helpful when I need to present a business plan,” she said.
Junior Cameron Martel, who won the top prize in the Impromptu Speech category, felt similarly.
“The most valuable thing I’ve gained (from Speech Team) is being able to communicate my ideas and perspectives in a clear, concise way that can really shape other people’s perceptions,” he reflected.
Cameron Martel, Impromptu Speech, 1st Place
David Feldfogel, Prose Reading, 3rd Place
Imani Solan, Poetry, 3rd Place
Kylie Grosmark, Dramatic Monologue, 3rd Place
Photo caption: Proud Speech Team members (with advisor Dr. Robert Wilson) show off plaques earned for top performances at the 2014 Rockland County Speech Tournament. Not pictured: You Jeen Ha.