Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Discontinuing this Blog

We are no longer publishing Ashford School News Stories to this Blog. All news items are published in the Principals Newsletter link at the Ashford School Web site at www.ashfordct.org

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Four Inventors

By Mrs. Moran
Congratulations to four students who won awards and $100. savings bonds at the CT Invention Convetion May 1st: Cassidy for her Babysitting Belt, Mansoor for his Sleepie Pillow, Sarah for her Knife Cushion, and Felicia for her Water Cuby.
The students needed to design an invention that solved a problem in an original way. They were judged on five criteria: originality, attention to detail, purpose, adherence to guidelines, and presentation.
The Connecticut Invention Convention takes place each year at UConn’s Gampel Pavilion. This year a record number of student inventors participated from across the state.


By Mrs. Hardisty
Spring brings the culminating activities for our year-long SOAR program. The WINGS program, of which SOAR is one component, is designed to provide opportunities to practice the nine character traits we work on during the year, as well as problem solving and decision making skills.
On May 28, the 6th graders will participate in

WINGS, Jr. at Holiday Hill Camp in Mansfield. This will be the first of three years on a low ropes course.
On June 2, Ashford will experience an annual “homecoming” when about 100 high school students return to run the SWINGS program for the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. Two days later, our 8th grade students try out their leadership skills while running SWINGS for 1st and 2nd graders.

Crayons Wanted!

By Mrs. Moran
As part of a recycling/science unit this spring, students in Mr. Horn’s and Mrs. Dickenman’s 3rd grade classes are starting a crayon recycling drive at Ashford School. Old crayons will be collected through May and donated to CCMC to help kids battling cancer.
Students are collecting old crayons from home. They are also making posters, writing persuasive essays and sorting and peeling crayons as part of this effort.
Crayons may be donated in a box in the primary wing.

Sirius Coyote Performs

By Mrs. Moran
Students in 1st-6th grades enjoyed "Music of the Americas" during an assembly by the group Sirius Coyote. The PTO, through its cultural arts committee, sponsors many assemblies each year at the school.

Students Win Essay Contest

By Mrs. Burnham
Three Ashford School students won prizes for their entries in the CHET Dream Big Essay Contest. They had to write about what they would do after college to change the world. All three represented Ashford School well at a special awards ceremony at Renschler Field. They met the State Treasurer, Denise Napier, and were praised for their achievements.
Winners were:
A.J. - 5th grader (Mr. Schrieber's class) with a piece about how he would become a professor and help college students
Angela - 5th grader (Mrs. Burnham's class)-with a piece about saving sea turtles
Dakota - 4th grader (Ms. Rioux's class) - with a piece about opening a soup kitchen
Congratulations to these students who won cash prizes, and congratulations to all of those students who entered the contest.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hip Hop Group Performs for Junior High

Students in 6th-8th grades were treated with a performance by Hip Hop Dimensions on Thursday April 15. Their dancing skills “inspire youth to think of dancing as a positive outlet for artistic expression.”
The PTO generously funds the Cultural Arts Assemblies.

Astronomer Visits

Amateur Astronomer Marty Connors brought his solarscope and telescopes. He helped students and parents view several planets and constellations last week during Science Night.

Science Night and Invention Convention

By Mrs. Moran
Students in K-6th grade came together for an evening of science fun on April 8th. All 6th graders completed a project with Ms. Borges, and students in younger grades had the option of doing a science project.
Students in 6th grade worked hard for many weeks on inventions, displays and experiments.
There were many stations for all students to explore: Telescope viewing with Astronomer Marty Connors, Making Gak (a polymer) with Mrs. Bickford, Take Apart Lab with Jared and Mrs. Schillinger, Identifying Animal Skulls with Mrs. Mullady, What’s Your Wingspan? With Mr. Ayers, Does Exercise Affect Your Heart Rate? With Mrs. Leedie, Are You Faster Than a 5th Grader with Mrs. Burnham and her 5th grade class, Chromatography with Jane Knapp, Bomber Suit display with Mrs. Jagodzinski, and Bubbleology with Mrs. Hassett. Many thanks to the awesome parent and community volunteers who helped.
Five students were chosen to represent Ashford School at the CT Invention Convention on May 1st: Selah, Cassidy, Sarah, Austen, and Mansoor. Thank you to Mrs. Zulick and Mrs. LeGrand for judging the event.

Grade 3 News

By Mrs. Dickenman
Are you smarter than a third grader? What planet is known as “the blue planet”? Why does the snowshoe hare’s fur change from brown to whit e? When do we celebrate Earth Day? What are the tree states of matter?
Welcome to the wonderful world of science in third grade!
During the summer of 2009, third grade teachers began to purchase materials, develop, and plan for the new science themes based on the Connecticut State Standards. Mrs. Christopher worked on the unit for “Animals-Habitats and Adaptations”. Mr. Horn focused on studies for “States of Matter,” and Mrs. Dickenman explored “Ecology-Save Our Earth.” We were able to continue with the fourth high-interest theme on the solar system.
This year, we began to implement these units for our students. We’ve tried to incorporate a variety of endeavors for the children- class lessons and discussions, computer lab activities, projects, science journals, and homework assignments. The themes are rotated so that each class experiences a different unit each term.
Mrs. Moran has also worked closely with the teachers and children to provide fabulous science enrichment activities.
We’re all excited about the new adventures in science.

Grade 5 News

By Mrs. Burnham, Mr. Schreiber, Mrs. Turcotte
On May 7, 2010 our three fifth grade classes at Ashford School will journey to Boston, Massachusetts. Why? (Sorry - Red Socks / Yankees fans - there is no game at Fenway Park on that date.) Boston will be our field trip site because fifth graders are currently studying the Revolutionary War as a part of their social studies curriculum. Boston is said to be the birthplace of the American Revolution.
On this outing students will receive a guided tour of the Freedom Trail, which is a 2.5 mile hike through the streets of the city. Dressed in period costume, our guide - be it Abigail Adams, John Hancock, or another patriot who helped turn some colonists’ dream of independence into reality - will begin our journey on the Boston Commons. From there we will meander through the Granary Burying Ground and view the graves of Paul Revere and those who died in the Boston Massacre. We will see the Old State House, where the Declaration of Independence was first read to the Boston colonists. We’ll walk past the site of the Boston Massacre and end our trek at Faneuil Hall, which served as a place for town meetings. After leaving the Freedom Trail, a stage actor playing Benjamin Franklin will discuss his life during this revolutionary period.
As we board the buses home, one thinks one can hear echoing through the streets:
“Go, Socks!”
“Go, Patriots of the American Revolution!”
“Go, Ashford!”

Monday, April 05, 2010

Kindergarten Nutrition

By Sara Dingler
In March, the Kindergarten students at Ashford School will be learning about health and nutrition. Even though we discuss these topics throughout the school year, this month the students will engage in many hands-on activities focused on these areas. The students will learn how to keep their bodies clean and healthy by reading stories that pertain to hand washing, sneezing, coughing and having the chicken pox. These stories will help the children gain a better understanding about germs. The children will use hand washing and sneezing picture cards to reinforce many skills, such as retelling, listening comprehension and sequencing. As a whole group activity, the students will put baby powder on their hands to represent germs and pass around a black balloon to visually see how germs are spread.
During our nutrition study, the students will build a food pyramid that will symbolize how healthy eating habits help build strong minds and bodies. At home the students will collect labels from cans, jars, and box fronts to bring to school to use while building a classroom food pyramid, planning menus, sorting foods into different groups, and for writing their own A, B, C book about food. The Kindergarteners will also be participating in some cooking/taste testing activities. The cooking activities integrate many different academic areas which include literacy, measurement, listening skills, comprehension and community building.
To encourage the students to practice what they are learning about and give them an opportunity to see how these topics relate to their world, the dramatic play center will be turned into a grocery store. At Ashford School the Kindergarteners learn through active participation and play!

Animal Skulls

By Carol Moran
You can’t help but notice the skulls in the front showcase at Ashford School. They are attracting a lot of attention, particularly from students.
Students learn about animal adaptations during enrichment by observing the teeth. Carnivores need to tear meat, so have evolved with sharp incisors. Herbivores need to chew plant matter, and have evolved with grinding teeth. Students can identify the animal by looking at the teeth, position of the eyes, and shape and size of the skull.
The skulls come from a variety of donations. Over the years students have gifted skulls to enrichment. Thanks to Bernie and Jane Schreiber for many recent donations, including the human skull; the Reccias for the young bear skull, the PTO for purchase of many local animal skull reproductions.

8th Graders Read To Kill a Mockingbird

By Jen Lindsay
It’s that time of year again! Spring is upon us and the eighth graders head into the final stretch in language arts as they begin Harper Lee’s timeless novel of courage, respect and hope. As an introduction to the unit, students study the 1930s, learning about that decade’s advances in science and technology, fads and fashion, people and places, literature and more. Technology integration this year will include research and the opportunity to use a WIKI in class. If time permits, we will also be creating digital scrapbooks of the characters.
TKM, as we lovingly refer to it, follows several years in the life of Scout and Jem Finch, children who, while living in racially charged Alabama, learn valuable life lessons about the equality of all people. Two independent stories converge as Scout and Jem learn about justice and responsibility through their interest in the elusive and misunderstood Boo Radley, and the mistreated Tom Robinson.
Themes we will study include courage, justice, race and family. Students will complete a thesis paper, learning the steps of how to write one as we go. One white board in Mrs. Lindsay’s classroom will be used as a “community” board where students will share their favorite quotes from the book and ask their classmates for others. Some famous words from the novel include:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
“I wanted you to see what real courage is….when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
After reading the novel, students will enjoy the movie starring Gregory Peck. This classic version won numerous awards and captures the heart of what To Kill a Mockingbird is all about.
If you have never read this wonderful book, consider reading it with your eighth grader! If you read it long ago, please read it again—you’ll be glad that you did!

4th Grade News

By Patrice Merendina
April is a very exciting month for the 4th grade at Ashford School. Our science and social studies units are student and teacher favorites. In science, students are studying life processes, the importance of the sun’s energy, and food chains and webs. The most exciting part of the unit is the presence of anoles in our classrooms. The students made observations of earthworms, crickets, and anoles and created a healthy environment for each animal. We are able to see how energy is passed on and consumed by each living thing in the tank!
In social studies, we start our post card project and our unit on the United States. Students will begin to explore each region and their landforms, waterways, economy, people, and important places. State reports, brochures, and post card books are a few of the large projects students will work on through the spring.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Science Night & Invention Convention

by Carol Moran

Thursday, April 8th!

Students, here is your chance to create a cool invention or work on a science topic that interests you! You might build a catapult, test your sense of smell, design a toothpick bridge, invent something that helps with a chore…

Students will be introduced to science night this month in enrichment and science classes. Interested students should fill out the form given and return it to school.

A science project may be anything that shows a science idea: demonstration, research, or experiment that tries to answer a question. Science projects will not be judged.

An invention should be something simple that solves a problem or makes life easier in a new way. Inventions will be judged and some students will be chosen to represent Ashford School at the State Invention Convention in May.

Visit the school’s website ashfordct.org for more information, or see Mrs. Moran.

MathCounts Competition

By Donna Backhaus

On Saturday, February 6, 2010, the Ashford School MATHCOUNTS team traveled to the Coast Guard Academy in New London to participate in the 2010 MATHCOUNTS Competition. Our team members were Joseph C., Devin P., Ron L. and captain Adam C. The individual competitors were Martha S., Erica M. and Caleigh C. Students departed Ashford School at 7:00 a.m., along with the team members from Willington and Mansfield, and returned at approximately 4:30 p.m.

Prior to the competition, students met after school with Mrs. Backhaus and solved math problems. A typical MATHCOUNTS practice problem might look like…It has been calculated that a large swarm of locusts can eat 3,000 tons of food in a single day. How many days would it take a restaurant to make enough quarter–pound hamburger patties (no buns) to feed the swarm of locusts for one day if they can make 100 hamburger patties per minute and they work around the clock? Express your answer to the nearest whole number. Note: 1 ton equals 2000 pounds. Liebsch, Jessica, and Kristen Chandler, eds. MATHCOUNTS 2009-2010 School Handbook. Alexandria: 2009 MATHCOUNTS Foundation, 2009. Print.

The morning of the competition, students participated in two individual rounds - the Sprint Round and the Target Round. Upon the completion of the tests, students took a break and then proceeded to the Team Round. After lunch, the top eight scorers in the Sprint Round moved on to the

Countdown Round. The Countdown Round consisted of two of the eight qualifying students competing against one another and the clock to complete math problems. The process continued until a first, second and third place winner were determined. Following the competition, students stopped at McDonald’s for some social time with the Willington and Mansfield teams.

Great food, exciting company and challenging problem solving filled the day. Ashford School’s Mathletes are commended for the awesome job they did representing Ashford School!!

6th Grade News

By Mike Young

This March, the sixth grade is talking their exploration of Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire on the road. They will be traveling to Worcester, Massachusetts, the home of the Higgin’s Armory Museum. At the museum the students will participate in a variety of activities intended to increase their understanding of these ancient cultures. The annual event has become a class favorite and one that we look forward to as the Spring season approaches. Try on an authentic helmet from a suit of armor, design a legion symbol for your shield, or participate in a role-play about Roman family life. This trip has something for everyone!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Invention Convention

Thursday, April 8th!

Students, here is your chance to create a cool invention or work on a science topic that interests you! You might build a catapult, test your sense of smell, design a toothpick bridge, invent something that helps with a chore…

Students will be introduced to science night this month in enrichment and science classes. Interested students should fill out the form given and return it to school.

A science project may be anything that shows a science idea: demonstration, research, or experiment that tries to answer a question. Science projects will not be judged.

An invention should be something simple that solves a problem or makes life easier in a new way. Inventions will be judged and some students will be chosen to represent Ashford School at the State Invention Convention in May.

Visit the school’s website ashfordct.org for more information, or see Mrs. Moran.

Geography Bee

Submitted by Kathy Bryce

The Puget Sound Lowlands are a densely populated region in which U.S. state?

Devin Plourde’s knowledge of the Pacific Northwest helped him clinch the 2010 Geographic Bee championship at Ashford School when he responded, “Washington.” Devin faced tough competition from runner-up Brian Balkus, a fifth grader. Eighth grader Josie Borysevicz placed third.

Both veterans of previous Bees, Devin and Brian knew that Nepal is home to eight of the ten highest mountain peaks in the world, resulting in a tie at the end of the championship round. In an exciting contest, it took seven tiebreaker questions for Devin to be declared the winner.

Other young geographers participating in the Bee included fourth grader Lynn Robinshaw, sixth graders Kolby Courtois and Emma Powers, seventh graders Austin Graveline, Ron LaMonica and Kyle Strogoff, and eighth grader Kelly Phillips.

The Bee is a program of the National Geographic Society for students in grades four through eight. Google is the sponsor of this year’s events. Bee questions address the physical and cultural aspects of both United States and world geography. Eighth grader Devin Plourde has completed a challenging written exam, aiming to qualify for the state Bee in April. Good luck, Devin!

All state winners are eligible to compete for the national championship in Washington, D.C., where the first-place prize is a $25,000 college scholarship and a trip to the Gal├ípagos Islands. “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek will moderate the finals in May. Check local listings for televised dates. You can also test your geography knowledge with the GeoBee Challenge, an online geography quiz at www.nationalgeographic.com/geobee. The game poses ten new questions a day.

Mashantucket Pequot Field Trip

Submitted by the Fifth Grade Team

Children were involved in their daily lessons. One youngster studied how each part of the deer is useful to his people. Another youth practiced using a bow and arrow. Yet another learned how to make a corn soup called succotash. If you think that these lessons are not found in a typical classroom in the 21st century, you are probably right. These “children”, statues actually, were a part a Mashantucket Pequot village exhibit and a guided tour called “Through the Eyes of a Pequot Child.” This exhibit gave students from the 21st century an idea of what life was like for the Mashantucket Pequot child in the 16th century.

In October 2009, the Ashford School fifth grade, who had been studying Native Americans as a part of their social studies curriculum, journeyed to the Mashantucket Pequot and Research Center in Connecticut to explore the Mashantucket Pequot culture. In addition to the guided tour of the village mentioned above, they took part in an interactive workshop entitled “Life Without a Supermarket.” What if you were living in the 16th century and there wasn’t a Stop and Shop or a West Farms Mall? How did the Pequots get the materials they needed? This workshop focused on answering these questions. Students broke into four groups. Each group was given a box of artifacts which centered on different aspects of Pequot life; constructing canoes, building houses, enhancing personal appearance, and preparing food. Students examined the materials in the box and using museum displays as guide, determined a possible use for each item. After completing the task, students reported their findings to the rest of the group with guidance from the museum leader.

This field trip enriched the fifth grade Ashford School social studies curriculum.

2nd Grade Science Fun

Submitted by the 2nd grade team

The Ashford School Second Graders are scientists! They are all enjoying a variety of experiences that teach them how to explore, ask questions, observe, compare and contrast, and to conclusions. Ms. Bernardini and Mr. Busse have been working closely with Mrs. Moran to give students many hands on opportunities.

Ms. Bernardini’s class has been learning all about rocks and soil. Students classified rocks and sorted them into groups based on a variety of attributes. Vocabulary words like “luster” and “scratch test” were introduced. Students learned how rocks are formed and the difference between Metamorphic, Sedimentary, and Igneous rock. The second graders in this class also pretended to be soil inspectors and compared loam, sand, clay and silt. The students would tell you that they loved erupting a model volcano, and learning all about the special relationship worms have with soil!

Mr. Busses’ class has learning about Life Cycles. This unit is designed with an emphasis on the life cycle of plants.

The second grade classes will soon switch units, and enjoy sharing their findings with one another. It is so exciting to see our young scientists discover new things. Maybe someday they’ll discover something amazing and teacher other youngsters all about it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sounds Abound in Fifth Grade

Submitted the Fifth Grade Team

If you know a fifth grader who attends Ashford School you may have had the pleasure of listening to a serenade on the pan pipes or a lively tune played on a “sound sandwich.” These handmade instruments are just one piece of the exciting learning taking place on the fascinating topic of sound. Fifth grade teachers have been co-teaching with the enrichment teacher, Carol Moran, to present inquiry based, high interest, and hands-on lessons.

In September, the students explored vibration. They used tuning forks to strike a surface and designed and conducted experiments to see how different objects would sound when struck by the vibrating fork. The most entertaining part was watching the effect the fork had on striking a cup of water- splash! After learning that all sounds were created by vibrations, students analyzed the qualities of sound.

In early October, classes went outside and analyzed absorption and reflection at work. Sounds reflected (echoed) off of smooth, flat surfaces like our school and were absorbed by items with rough surfaces like the trees in the forest near our playground. It is encouraging as a teacher to see that the children are natural scientists; questioning everything around them, analyzing variables, and brainstorming future experiments.

Later in the month, students were involved in an in-depth study of pitch. They identified high and low pitched sounds and examined factors that alter pitch. This led easily into connections with musical instruments. Many children demonstrated their background knowledge of instruments and how length and tension can change pitch. We examined xylophones and the length and position of the keys in relation to the pitch that they made. There are a great many web-based resources to enhance student learning in this area that are fun for students and families alike.

Try out these fantastic sites to make “sounds abound” in your home! www.engagingscience.org/games/onlinegames/games.html


Music News!

By Amy Dotson

Nineteen Ashford School students will be participating in a regional musical festival in Putnam, CT. The Quinebaug Valley Middle School Musical Festival (QVMSMF) began 4 years ago when area music teachers were looking for an opportunity for the students to develop and show off their skills in concert band and choir.

Mrs Porri and Miss Dotson, Ashford School’s music teachers, selected student participants based ability as well as character. These nineteen students represented the top musicians and leaders in the school. Band students included: Chris Pavliscsak, Caitlin Ecsedy, Jennie Rozenberg, Tessa Weidig, Caleigh Campion, Adam Cherepon, Cassie Hayward and Joseph Cherepon. Choir students included: Matthew Sibley-Jett, Erica Mahue, Kayla Bendell, Brooke Noel, Laina Fesenmeyer, Ben Lagasse, Martha Sherman, Sarah Caldwell, Jessica Bassett, and Shelby Colonese.

Ashford students will combine with students from nine other communities for rehearsals on November 9th and 12th with high quality conductors and educators from around Connecticut. The rehearsals will culminate with a concert to be held on Thursday, November 12th at 7:00pm in the Putnam Middle School Auditorium. This concert is open to the public. Guests are asked for a $2.00 donation ($5 max/family) and a canned good.

Congratulations to our Ashford students! We are very proud of your work and excited for your chance to participate in this festival!

Relay for Life

By Michelle Bibeault

Recently the staff at Ashford School decided it was time to get back into the fight against cancer. All of us, at one time or another, have seen family and friends affected by cancer and we wanted to show our support. We created the Ashford School Team and joined the Windham Relay for Life. On October 17th and 18th the Ashford School Team joined 81 other teams and walked at Eastern Connecticut State University's Sports Complex.

We are happy to say that our team raised $4,799. dollars.