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posted: Tue, Oct 6th, 2015

Lunch and Leisure comes to MOMS

Three R’s have become two L’s.

For many years, half of each grade's lunch period was devoted to Reading, Research, and Recreation. This block of 20 minutes or so was an opportunity for students to do some work or quietly engage with friends.

This year, Lunch and Leisure takes its place. And the emphasis is on getting kids moving. Students now spend half their lunch periods outside and can participate in a variety of activities, from hula hoops to football to soccer to dance. Kristin McCrea and Robin Rozembersky, two student activity coordinators with physical education backgrounds, create and organize the activities.

“There’s tons of excitement among the student body,” said Nick Cutro, vice principal. “They were ready for something new. I hear all the time how great it is to go outside and do something different. As a society, it seems every generation spends less and less time outside, so this is a chance to get kids outdoors and exercising in a social setting.”

In cold or inclement weather, team building and other small group activities are held indoors. 

Another component of Lunch and Leisure is just getting under way. Group Chat, a program created by student assistance counselor Megan Troup and school social worker Vitina Krentz, provides a way for students to adjust to middle school and the pressures and changes of adolescence. Each week for about 10 weeks, a group of up to 10 students will have lunch with Ms. Troup and Ms. Krentz to discuss topics of concern. These might include such issues as making friends, bullying, handling peer conflict, organizational skills, or dealing with stress. Each meeting will have a specific topic that has been tailored specifically for the group.

“This is such a large school and some types of kids can feel lost,” said Ms. Krentz. “Group Chat is an opportunity for students to find that sense of belonging and feel better connected to the school. It will help them to learn how to manage problems in a very informal and friendly setting.”

Students can either express an interest in Group Chat themselves, or be recommended by parents or teachers. Each group will be composed of students of the same grade.

Elyssa Caravaca holds Leo, one of the two dogs that her family rescued

Animal stories in print and real life

The stories read by the Animal Book Club weren’t the only animal tales that students learned. During the club’s culminating celebration attended by a dozen classes, visitors came to MOMS with dogs, chickens, and even a kangaroo – all with interesting stories of their own. 

Teacher Michael Mania and his wife Michelle introduced students to Nala, a dog from Afghanistan. Nala was brought to the U.S. by the Puppy Rescue Mission, an organization that helps rescue dogs and cats for soldiers who want to reunite with their overseas furry friends. 

Sergeant Frank Perez and Officer VanValen of the Morris County Sheriff’s K-9 unit gave presentations about the role and training of dogs used in law enforcement. They came with two dogs from their department that are trained to sniff out drugs and explosives.

Dr. Kristen Hallihan, a Flanders veterinarian and Mount Olive High School graduate, discussed veterinary medicine and common animal illnesses. 

And Kathleen Olup, a substitute nurse in the district, brought along a German shepherd named Zofie that she is training for the Seeing Eye Puppy Raising Program.

These were just a few of the guests at the outdoor event, which was designed to introduce students to animal-related careers and volunteer opportunities. Book club members who each read at least one book from a qualifying list also had the chance to show off their pets to friends and teachers.

“This kind of program encourages book reading and inspires life science career interests in kids,” said David Eisenberg, MOMS library media specialist and coordinator of the club. “It also fosters a sense of community and social responsibility among students, parents, and community members alike.”

Children from the Mount Olive Child Care & Learning Center also attended the event, which was coordinated with the help of physical education teacher Karen Lavalle.

Dr. Kristen Hallihan talks to students about veterinary medicine

Officers from the Morris County Sheriff's K-9 unit take questions from students
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Mount Olive Middle School
160 Wolfe Road Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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Phone: 973.691.4006 Fax: 973.691.4029

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