School Notebook: Supplies for Soldiers, Mountain Dulcimer Lessons for Students

Students in local schools are learning how to write music and play songs in a group, write stories, make wands and gather supplies to send to soldiers

Harborfields Operation Ziploc Gathers Supplies for Soldiers

Students at Oldfield Middle School in the Harborfields Central School District thanked those on military deployment by collecting items for Operation Ziploc during the month of October.

Joseph Maiello, a social studies teacher at Oldfield Middle, has been running this drive for over 12 years. He annually encourages students to bring in items that people often take for granted, namely hygiene products and nonperishable foods, to send to soldiers overseas. Math teacher Jennifer Garside, in addition to donating enough items to fill nearly three boxes, supplied the names of five deployed individuals to whom the group could ship the supplies. Once the boxes are received, the items will be distributed to their fellow members of the armed forces.

Students generously brought in enough items to fill 18 boxes, and many wrote letters to the soldiers to enclose in the packages as well.

One student in particular, a sixth-grader named Dylan, collected items at his father’s weekly CrossFit classes that honor a different veteran, firefighter or police officer who lost their life in the service. Dylan collected enough items to fill nearly three boxes as well, hoping to show gratitude to as many members of the military as possible.

“It’s so important for us to thank those who trade every-day normality that we get to enjoy for the service of keeping our country safe,” Maiello said. “And if everyone makes an effort in whatever small way they can, it can add up to a big difference.”

Photo caption: Students at Oldfield Middle School thanked those deployed in the military by collecting items for Operation Ziploc during the month of October and filled 18 boxes with donated goods. Photo courtesy of the Harborfields Central School District 

Elwood Middle School Brings Harry Potter’s World to Life

Elwood Middle School’s library was transformed into a miniature Hogwarts during the week of Oct. 22. The entrance, covered in brick-wall paper and dubbed “Platform 9 ¾,” welcomed students during their lunch periods to come in and take part in activities that are found in the ever-popular Harry Potter series.

Students were first sorted into one of the four different “houses” of Hogwarts — Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slythern. Throughout the week, students had the opportunity to create their own wands, chanting spells such as Hermione Granger’s famous levitation charm “Wingardium Leviosa,” play a Muggle version of Quidditch, and challenge each other’s literature knowledge in competitive trivia.

Librarian Donna Fife organized this week in honor of the J.K. Rowling’s book series’ 20th anniversary, but also in an effort to continually keep creating activities and experiences to engage students in new ways.

“The more the library is viewed as a socially engaging place,” Fife said, “the more likely students will come and engage with the materials and resources within it.”

Photo captions:

  1. Sixth graders at Elwood Middle School played a rousing game of Quidditch during Harry Potter week in the library.
  2. Students created their own wizard’s wands during Harry Potter Week at Elwood Middle School.

Photos courtesy of the Elwood Union Free School District 

4th Annual nErD Camp Held in Elwood District

James H. Boyd Intermediate School in the Elwood Union Free School District played host to the fourth annual nErD Camp — a day to celebrate all things literacy with readers, writers, and educators — on Nov. 3 when more than 400 people attended the camp.

This year’s event brought together more than 60 authors and illustrators to share their passion for being readers and writers with educators from all over Long Island.

nErD Camp Long Island draws its name from the term “Ed Camp,” or an “Unconference” — a nontraditional conference that is planned and organized in advance with very little about content for the day’s activities. The planning instead is decided by the participants the morning of the conference, based on what they want to learn, share or experience. It is a model designed specifically to meet the needs of the educators involved.

Additionally, at 2 p.m. an author/illustrator book signing was open to the public. For more information, contact [email protected].

Making Melodies at Oldfield Middle

Seventh graders at Oldfield Middle School in the Harborfields Central School District tried their hands at learning the mountain dulcimer during the month of October.

Learning this extremely accessible instrument enabled beginning musicians to learn the basics of making music, while advanced musicians were challenged to build melodies, harmonies and chords. Students had the opportunity to compose their own solos, to play duets or collaborate and create rounds with other students. Each shared their solo composition with the class, as well as the title of the piece and the story behind it.

“This project was the first opportunity students had to create their own compositions,” said music teacher Jessica Lowenhar, “and it was wonderful to watch them express themselves creatively with what they learned in class.”

Both experienced and beginner musicians enjoyed experimenting with the mountain dulcimer. Some played multiple instruments already like the piano, clarinet and ukulele, while others had little to no musical experience.

“Working in groups to compose and play music together is different than playing sheet music that’s just been handed to us,” said Sydney, a seventh grader at Oldfield Middle School. “It was really cool.”

Photo Captions:

  1. Seventh graders at Oldfield Middle School in the Harborfields Central School District tried their hands at learning the mountain dulcimer during the month of October.

Photos courtesy of the Harborfields Central School District 

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