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posted: Wed, Nov 16th, 2016

West Point cadet visits MV

J.T. Tomlinson, a senior cadet at United States Military Academy at West Point, recently spoke to fourth- and fifth-graders about life in the academy. He discussed the rigorous academic and military training, as well as the admissions process which requires a nomination letter from a member of Congress, the president, or the vice president.

Mr. Tomlinson, who attended Mountain View years ago, also spoke at length about leadership and the Cadet Honor Code which states that "a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."

In July 2017, Mr. Tomlinson will graduate with a bachelor's in chemical engineering and a rank of second lieutenant. He will move on for further training this summer at the U.S. Army Engineer School in Fort Wood, Missouri. His mother was also an engineer in the army. 

"I think it was wonderful for the kids to hear a success story from one of their own, someone who once walked the same hallways as they do now," said Dr. Frank Fischel, school principal. "And I know he enjoyed re-connecting with teachers here such as Cheryl Conte, Jackie Guinane, and Jen Leone." 

As a gift for a lucky student, Mr. Tomlinson brought with him a keepsake West Point towel. He presented it to Ava Maceyak, a fifth-grader in Tammy Lash's class who was celebrating her birthday on the day of the visit.

Tuition to West Point is fully funded by the Army in exchange for an active duty service obligation upon graduation.

Celebrating independence

Mountain View students recently celebrated their independence by engaging in activities that showed off their ability to be successful self-directed learners. As part of Independence Day, fourth- and fifth-graders completed a STEM challenge that put their creativity and ingenuity to the test.

Working together in small teams, the students each planned and created a device to wear around the head that would securely hold an apple during a relay race. The materials provided included pencils, rubber bands, string, lunch bags, tape, and pipe cleaners.

The kids were given rules on what their devices could and could not do (for example, the devices could not completely cover the apples) but the students were free to come up with whatever they thought would work best. Three relay races were run and students had the opportunity to make modifications to their designs after each one. 

"The STEM challenge gave students the freedom to work on their own, try new things, and problem-solve in order to reach their goals," said Jennifer Olsyn, the school's instructional supervisor who organized the activity.

After the challenge, the students analyzed their designs and wrote about what was successful, what they would change, and what other materials they wish they could have used. 

All four elementary schools recognized Independence Day on the same day, each with different activities. The high school and middle school celebrated Independence Day two weeks later.

Helping children around the world

Mikhayla Casey and Eric O'Hern help count the money raised by the fourth grade for UNICEF

Fourth-graders at Mountain View recently raised more than $1,200 for UNICEF, the humanitarian organization dedicated to helping children in need around the world. The students participated in UNICEF's annual Halloween fundraiser which has raised more than $175 million since the project's inception more than 60 years ago.

In addition to asking for donations instead of candy while trick-or-treating, the kids worked in small groups to raise money in different ways. Some went door to door in their neighborhoods soliciting donations, some placed collection jars in local retailers, others had info stands, and one group organized a bake sale outside Valentino's. 

Before the drive began, the fourth-grade teachers showed students videos about UNICEF's efforts and reviewed the UNICEF trick-or-treat program materials. 

"We found that kids are very knowledgeable about charitable organizations in their community, but not in the world," said teacher Caralynn Ferrara. "They learned that the needs of people in other areas are very different."

This year, the fourth-grade teachers are creating grade-level projects that expand upon each unit in Journeys – the program at the heart of the district's language arts curriculum. The UNICEF fundraiser related to the "Reaching Out" unit which included an article about the different ways children around the world get books and a short play called "The Power of W.O.W." about students fund-raising for a local charity.

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