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BES Expo highlights student accomplishments

Kim Matson Conley proudly shows off the Komodo Dragoon she sculpted as part of a science project in third grade teacher Gail Fournierís class at Belmont Elementary School. Projects in many subject areas were on display last week for the annual school expo. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
April 06, 2011
BELMONT — Two evenings filled with knowledge, talent and pride took place at Belmont Elementary School last week, when the school opened its doors to families and friends for a glimpse of all that students have learned since September.

Hallways were lined with displays of artwork, math, poetry and compositions by the children, while classrooms were filled with even more of their works, all showcased by proud teachers on hand to greet the parents and chat about the accomplishments of their students. Readiness, morning kindergarten and first and second graders had their moment in the spotlight on Tuesday, while third and fourth grade along with afternoon kindergarteners were the highlight of Wednesday evening's event.

In the computer lab, Gerri Ryder welcomed parents to the world of technology at BES. Ryder works in conjunction with all classes at the school on computer skills and reinforcement of classroom lessons, including stories brought alive through art and narration. For some books, Ryder recorded children reading before a Webcam. In others, the children's original artwork was included in their final presentation, with their voices added to tell the tale.

"We had the hardest time getting some of them to read until we placed them in front of a camera and they could see it played back. Once they got the hang of it, it really brought out some good emotion in their reading. They had never listened to themselves before, and suddenly, they all wanted to do better when they read," Ryder said.

For the Belmont Elementary School Expo last week, fourth graders showcased their knowledge of American landmarks. Katrina Annis chose the Ocean City, N.J. boardwalk for her project, a place she visits each summer. A bit of the actual beach was even included in her replica of the seaside resort. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
Third graders had sculptures, stories, drawings and math projects spread throughout their classrooms.

Teacher Gail Fournier said the expo was a great opportunity for the boys and girls to show off their skills to parents and their siblings. Science projects were especially popular with her students.

"They each selected a wild animal, then had to find three Web sites with information about that animal for a report, then sculpt it from clay," she said.

Student Kim Matson Conley was pleased to show her mother the Komodo Dragon she had made, which sat amongst river otters, tree frogs and other wild creatures created by her classmates.

"It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about my animal," she said.

Up the hall, fourth graders all worked on history, geography and American landmarks. Outside their rooms was a map of the United States as part of a display titled after Dr. Suess' book, "Oh the Places You'll Go!"

"The fourth graders had friends and family members mail post cards from where they lived or traveled. As you can see, they got postcards from nearly every state," said Special Education teacher Tynamaria Schwaegerl, also known as "Ms. S."

The colorful postcards told a bit about each area they were mailed from, including a unique card about a tree that "owns itself" in Georgia.

Inside the classrooms, the fourth graders each built replicas of famous landmarks across the country.

Teacher Keith Noyes said a few of his students were even able to personalize their projects.

"Some of them chose places they had actually been, and added photos of themselves at their landmark as a part of their presentation," said Noyes.

One student who knew her landmark first hand was Katrina Annis. Annis chose to build the boardwalk of Ocean City, N.J. For her project, she replicated the boardwalk using popsicle sticks. From there, she added cardboard renditions of some favorite stores she enjoys while visiting her grandparents, and even included a beach umbrella, a sunbather and a little touch of Ocean City itself along the waterfront.

"I had a bucket of sand I brought back from the beach down there, so I smeared glue and sprinkled the sand on it to make the beach," Annis said.

Other structures on display in Noyes' room were Devils Den in Arkansas, the Statue of Liberty, Boston's Old State House, Hoover Dam and even the great Smokey Mountains, complete with puffy clouds surrounding the peaks.

BES principal Emily Spear was pleased once again with this year's presentations. Rather than a "math night" or an "art night," she said, the teachers are able to show their students' progress in many subject areas by rolling it all into one exhibition. Spear said there were times on both nights where rooms overflowed with visitors, all anxious to see what the children have been learning.

"We always have such a wonderful turnout for the Expo. Parents here are so supportive of the students and their work," said Spear.

Next up at BES will be an auction on April 16 at 1 p.m. to benefit the Belmont Elementary Support Team. Spear said there are thousands of items which have been donated, and she looks forward to another successful community event at the school.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Alton School
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