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posted: Tue, Jun 20th, 2017

Students perform at Prudential Center  

Forty-five members of the fifth-grade chorus recently performed at the Prudential Center in Newark, joining 8,500 other area students in a concert presented by American Young Voices.  The organization arranges concerts of large school choirs all over the world for students in grades 2-8, with productions including full-orchestras and high-end lighting design.

The New Jersey performance included a mix of songs in different genres. The concert opened with a traditional song from South Africa, and featured a gospel medley and classic rock songs such as “More Than a Feeling” by Boston, “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams, “Since You’ve been Gone” by Rainbow, “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin, and “I Love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett.

The program closed with a tune that might have been more familiar to students: “Firework” by Katy Perry. 

“The students, teacher chaperones and I were swept up from being part of something so big and magical,” said Lisa King, music teacher. “This was truly making music." 

The fifth-graders rehearsed with Mrs. King for months and performed the songs for their family and friends the afternoon before the Prudential Center performance. The students also rehearsed with their peers from area schools for two hours on the afternoon of the joint concert.

In the last 20 years, more than 1 million students have participated in American Young Voices shows.

Honoring fallen soldiers

The first-graders had all played at Turkey Brook Park before but most never understood what that area with the flags was all about. That changed during the first grade’s Memorial Day recognition program that was held at the park’s All Veterans Memorial. The program, coordinated by teacher Denise Bigora, provided students with an opportunity to learn about the various honored groups within the All Veterans Memorial, as well as about the holiday itself.

All six classes had specific roles to play in the ceremony. Deb Ryder’s class led the students in the Pledge of Allegiance, Amy Lobban’s class read a poem, and Cindy Amiano’s and Emily Edwards’ classes sang patriotic songs.

The main informational portion of the program was presented by Ms. Bigora’s and Kelly Biagiotti’s classes. The students shared information about the five branches of the military that they had researched on their classrooms’ laptops, including a description of the functions that each branch provides. Drawings the classes had colored to accompany their presentations depicted armed forces members and the tools and machinery used by the various branches.

Students then toured the memorial with their teachers, discussing the many separate tributes such as the Path to Enduring Freedom, the Mount Olive War Memorial, and the Global War on Terror (GWOT) Purple Heart Memorial Bridge. Charlie Uhrmann, developer of the All Veterans Memorial, happened to come by while the students were there and she personally shared information about the War Dog Memorial and the role of man’s best friend in the military.

“The program was a special and meaningful way to teach students the importance of Memorial Day,” said Ms. Bigora. “The All Veterans Memorial is such a beautiful tribute to our fallen soldiers that it inspired students to want to learn all they could. It was a wonderful feeling to introduce students to a place that has so much meaning and is so close by to where they live and go to school.”

Young urban planners

Third-graders recently used information that they had learned in three different subjects to plan and draw their own communities. The project’s primary goal was to help students understand how fractions are used in everyday life and apply their math skills in a practical way. However, the project also incorporated knowledge of landforms (science) and information about the components of communities (social studies) such as infrastructure and governance. 

Each town had a community garden with a table that listed in fractions how much of the garden was planted with each vegetable. The gardens were the most obvious example of how fractions were used but fractions were really everywhere. According to the project criteria, 1/4 of the homes had to have black shutters, 2/4 of the homes had to be green, 1/4 of the homes had to have a red door, 2/3 of the buildings had to fly the American flag, and 1/3 of the 12 flowers had to have green stems. It was up to the kids to figure out how it would all be incorporated into the final drawing.

Third-graders worked in small groups and each community had to incorporate landforms (e.g. mountains and lakes) and discuss in a descriptive paragraph the community theme, government and laws, punishments for the breaking of laws, community support organizations, and climate. 

“The activity let students think about what they had learned over the course of the school year and use their knowledge to practice their math,” said teacher Kelly Garry, who teamed her students with those in Carrie Polglase’s class. “It was hands-on and collaborative, and gave them a chance to show their creative sides.” 

Towns created by the students included happy and colorful towns such as Roseville, Helping Hands, Cherry Town Village, and Rainbow Ville.

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Chester M. Stephens Elementary School
99 Sunset Drive Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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Phone: 973.691.4002 Fax: 973.691.4030

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