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posted: Sun, Jun 12th, 2016

A play within a play

The fifth grade chorus recently presented its production of “The Best Little Theater in Town,” a fun-filled musical about the struggles of a drama troupe trying to save its financially struggling theater.

The production featured eight songs, cleverly interwoven with narration discussing the elements of drama such as exposition, protagonists, antagonists, and climaxes. During the show the entire company bands together to save the theater, uncovering the dastardly misdeeds of the theater’s unscrupulous accountant.

The chorus’ 35 students worked two days a week before school for five months to bring “The Best Little Theater” to the stage. They also performed the songs at the all-district choral concert and at a performance at the Rockaway Mall. 

“The students came together nicely and became a family,” said music teacher Lisa King, director of the show. “They are the cream of the crop and did a great job.”

Parents Kristin Gregory, Kristie Walker, and Minal Panditrao created the entire set which included stores named after CMS staff members.

The students in the production were Divya Arora, Isabella Castaneda, Sarah Shortino, Olivia Walker, Prisha Ghosh, Summer Guzik, Valentina Hoyos, Sanika Panditrao, Hailey Carlo, Jordan Reed, Elliot Fullam, Adalyn Conner, Esther Vormawor, Brandon Cordero, Gianna Ferrara, Skyler Peach, Julia Berrios, Ava Lofgren, Bryan Thomas, Brandon Perez, Joshua Anicette, Maggie Faustino, Sarina Khera, Anaijhe McCrary, Aryana Obando, Jennifer Solomon, Matthew Ingersoll, Sarah Lowy, Emma Rasmussen, Carissa Suralik, Olivia Gonzalez, Kiera Gregory, Zoe Gregory, Kaitlyn Lowy, Madison Youtz.

Anthony Moscatello and Cameron Ray handled the lighting.

Plickers make assessment fun

What the heck is a plicker?

Good question. A plicker is a “picture” that works as a “clicker.” It’s a crazy-shaped symbol reminiscent of a QR code that can be held different ways to indicate a student’s response. When used with a smart phone or tablet, plickers yield instant assessments.

In place of a thousand words, take a look at this photo of Britt Henricksen and Dani Marangon’s class:

Those are plickers in their hands. Each student is responding to a question presented on the classroom’s SMART board by holding a plicker with a specific side at the top. Four sides = four possible responses.

Now here comes the cool part: By holding up a smart phone or device that is connected to the Plicker website, a teacher can immediately see the results in REAL TIME. Check out the photo at right.

Plickers can be used for multiple choice quizzes or even used as an instant assessment integrated right into the middle of a lesson. Need to see who understands the material and who needs some extra help? Have kids answer a question and use plickers.

You can see the individual results overlaid on the class photo. And a graph and chart at the top shows the results for each student and a distribution of the chosen answers. This info can also be accessed on a separate screen (see the bottom image for a sample) and be displayed on the classroom’s SMART board. 

“The students absolutely love it,” said Ms. Marangon. “It's more exciting and interactive, and the kids like being able to see the results right on screen. They love the use of technology and as teachers we love that we can immediately see who has something right or wrong.”

It’s the perfect tool for a quick assessment that can help individualize instruction.

Their final rainbow connections

Two graduating Mount Olive High School seniors who attended CMS have been awarded Rainbow Connection Scholarships. Victoria Andrews and Gargi Panigrahi each received $625 at MOHS’ senior awards night on June 7.

Rainbow Connections is the unofficial theme of CMS and underscores the importance of encouraging kindness and good character in students. A rainbow connection has come to mean any selfless act that lifts up others.

In 2007, author and community member Lisa Smith Wagner and teacher Ann Scotland published a book about ways to inspire rainbow connections and that also featured the essays of 22 of Mrs. Scotland’s students. These students are now among MOHS’ Class of 2016 so Mrs. Scotland and Mrs. Wagner wanted to use the proceeds from the book to give CMS graduates their final school rainbow connections.

Victoria and Gargi were chosen for the scholarships based on application essays they wrote describing the ways they have made a difference in the community and participated in specific acts of kindness.

“Realizing that one simple act can make a huge change in another person’s life has given me the drive to be better, kinder, and more giving of myself,” wrote Victoria, who went on to discuss her participation in MOHS’ Best Buddies program which pairs students with special needs students. “I learned from CMS how to treat people with respect and kindness… I have worked these past four years to educate my fellow students to be understanding of others.”

Gargi, who has volunteered at Hackettstown Hospital and a local food pantry, described her experience visiting a poor village in India during her sophomore year and handing out school supplies that she bought with her own money.

“A rainbow connection like this is something I can never forget,” Gargi wrote. “I remember seeing the smiles on these little kids as I passed out the new notebooks. Making them smile made me smile, and that is all I needed to see…

“That girl from second grade is still the same person as the girl now a senior in high school because we both are still making rainbow connections.”

The Rainbow Connections committee, composed of 21 staff members, narrowed down the scholarship candidates then Mrs. Wagner chose the final recipients.

In the fall, Victoria will attend Drew and Gargi will attend Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Chester M. Stephens Elementary School
99 Sunset Drive Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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