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posted: Tue, Oct 6th, 2015

Program teaches girls valuable life skills

An afterschool program recently introduced at Tinc Road is empowering a group of girls in the intermediate grades with the tools for leading healthy and self-confident lives.

Girls On The Run (GOTR) provides the participating third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders with lessons that encourage positive emotional, social, mental, and physical development. The 24 girls meet twice a week for classes that are part character education and part exercise. Taught by interim guidance counselor Jaimie Swingle and teachers Lauren Bretzger, Kim Glowinski, and Brittany VanHouten, each session begins with a lesson or activity about a life skill such as building self-esteem or the importance of teamwork. It ends with half an hour of running outside, weather permitting, or in the gymnasium. 

“There are so many different changes and challenges faced by girls in this age group,” said Ms. Bretzger. “They are at an age when they begin having truly formative life experiences and become sensitized to the media and opinions of others. Girls On The Run teaches the girls to be confident, responsible, and healthy young women.” 

The national program lasts about three months and gives the students a chance to share their own experiences. That sharing helps the girls see that they all share common concerns and helps them build new friendships.

“At this stage in their development, pre-teen girls are forming their own identities and dealing with universal issues such as self-esteem, self-confidence, body image, managing conflict, and interacting with peers,” said Ms. Swingle. “This is the age to give them the skills and tools that they will carry throughout their entire lives.”

GOTR will end with a non-competitive 5K run in November. The culminating event brings together all the girls in the area who have participated in GOTR over the past three months. Crossing the finish line is a defining moment that allows the girls to experience the satisfaction of a major accomplishment and helps underscore the importance of fitness and healthy choices.

SEEING DOUBLE: Joe Abrusci and Joe Abrusci

Art project highlights Back-To-School Night

Parents visiting Tinc Road for Back-To-School Night saw classrooms filled with smiling faces, all waiting silently at their desks. These faces, though, were decidedly two-dimensional. That’s because they were part of the biggest art project the school has ever known.

Students in every classroom – more than 425 kids in all ­– completed self-portraits under the direction of art teacher Jennifer Fernandez and with the help of all the teachers. Ms. Fernandez individually mounted the self-portraits on cardboard so they could be taped to the students’ desks. When parents walked into a room, they were greeted with the faces of the entire class, representing exactly how the room would look on a typical day.

Ms. Fernandez usually has students complete self-portraits at the beginning of the year and again at the end of the year, so the kids could see how far they have grown up and note how much their artistic skills have improved. But doing 425+ pieces simultaneously so quickly in the school year was a Herculean effort that required hours and hours of preparation time and organization, and the support of the classroom teachers.

“The parents loved it,” Ms. Fernandez said. “The impact made all the work worthwhile. I think the project really conveyed the sense of community that we have here at Tinc. And it also taught the kids that their individual contributions can be a part of something much bigger and more powerful.”

On the reverse sides of their drawings, students wrote down what art meant to them. The exercise provided the kids with an opportunity to look inward.

Fifth-grader Gabriel Serna wrote about his intellectual and personal exploration of art. “Art is a great way to pass the time and to learn different drawing styles and techniques and strive to master them,” he said.

“I enjoy art because without it life would be dull,” noted Isabelle Elhagin.

Katrina Castaldi discussed the emotional impact of art. “Art means to express your feelings on paper,” she said.

Isabelle Elhagin smiles with herself

Alicia Huynh holds up her work

Gabriel Serna with his twin (the real Gabriel is on the right)

Katrina Castaldi shows off her self-portrait
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Tinc Road School
24 Tinc Road Flanders, NJ 07836
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Phone: 973.927.2203 Fax: 973.927.2200

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