“Who are you? And what do you want to be?” These are the questions that were asked of our students here at the Greece Re-Engagement Center on Thursday, April 11th by Chuck Mitrano, our guest speaker. Chuck Mitrano, the commissioner for the Empire 8 Athletic Conference, came to the Greece Re-Engagement Center to deliver an inspiring message in an assembly for the students. Chuck speaks to student athletes all around New York State about building a positive legacy by leading a life of integrity, responsibility, and accountability. Chuck challenged students to reflect on their values in their everyday lives. Commissioner Mitrano stated that, “if what you do on a daily basis is guided by values, then you will leave a positive legacy.” Although Chuck’s message might seem to resonate best with the student athletes, his message could easily relate to any student in any school.
So, what message did the students take away? Maya Martin explained that “there is going to be obstacles in the future, and we need to learn how to get through those obstacles to get to where we ultimately need to be.” It was a true pleasure for the students and staff at the Re-Engagement Center to have Commissioner Chuck Mitrano share with us such a special and spot-on message.
On Friday, December 21st, the students at the Re-Engagement Center had a day full of fun, learning, and community building. Before the students were dismissed for their winter break, they were engaged in many activities. During the morning, the students had their ELA, SS, Math, and Science classes as usual. Some students (and staff) participated in wearing pajamas. For lunch, students and staff enjoyed pizza, Chinese food, cookies, and treats (many of which were brought in by parents). Thank you parents! Each student also received a decorated bag of “goodies” from my 4 year old twin boys. My kids were very excited to meet all of our great students!
After lunch, the students challenged the staff of the REC to a game of basketball. Although our core staff is small, college students and many employees from the district that work with our students came to participate. Some played in the game, while others took pictures, kept time, or cheered on all of the players. Students defeated the staff with a score of 36-24. There wasn’t a student or staff member that didn’t leave the REC on Friday with a smile on his or her face. I am so proud to be a part of this amazing Re-Engagement Center Program! See you all in 2013.
The students at the Re-Engagement Center participated in another service-learning experience to celebrate the season. The REC worked with the SNAP Foundation to have hundreds of hats, gloves, and shirts delivered to our center. Upon receiving these clothing items, the students traveled to many of the Greece Elementary schools and community agencies to donate to needy families and children. Students took hats and gloves, went into each building, introduced themselves, gave the items to the people, and wished everyone happy holidays. The schools and agencies were very appreciative and excited to see our students and to be able to give these items to others. Throughout the day, students took photos to use in their SNAP projects. See earlier blog entry on the SNAP Project.
Students in Living Environment and Science 8 are participating in a project based learning unit on Hydroponic Gardening. In Mr. Simons’ classes, students are experimenting with the “future of farming” using a rotating hydroponic garden. They are planting and growing flowers and garden fresh, organic vegetables. They are forming hypotheses and experimenting with different variables as they apply the scientific method.
The Rotary Hydroponics Home Garden rotates slowly and continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. As the system turns, the growth blocks which each plant is planted in, are pulled through a nutrient rich water bath, giving the plants everything they need for explosive growth. By forcing the plants to continuously right themselves against gravity, students are testing to see if the plants grow faster and stronger than from traditional farming.
In Mrs. Solomon’s Humanities class, students used the digital collection of Lewis Hine photographs from the George Eastman House to analyze American society from the late 1800s to early 1900s in the themes of Child Labor, Ellis Island, and Men and Women at work. Students used their background knowledge from previous lessons to answer questions and engage in debate and dialog with other students.
REC students and staff are working with Eddie Gartz and the SNAP Foundation on a new program called “Disarming the Bully.” This is a national project designed for students to better prepare them when confronted by or in the presence of bully’s in and out of school.
The Re-Engagement Center was chosen to join a wide range of schools and programs from around the world that have participated in SNAP projects. SNAP Student projects exists to help children and young adults stay on course to a bright future. This is accomplished through total class participation as well as individual thoughtful expression through photography, writing, and other forms of creativity. In this special project SNAP students may take pictures of people they love and value, sports they participate in as a player or fan, and the beauty of all nature that surrounds us. They write essays or personal narratives that contrast their lives as they are today, as shown in the pictures they have taken, with the changes that can come about if they or the people they love become the target of a bully.
SNAP Students are also given a platform from which to voice their feelings and suggest solutions and methods of disarming the bully’s that plague our society today. In addition students use computer aided research to explore, evaluate, and devise methods from which they create poster art projects that demonstrate how they can achieve success. SNAP culminates with an opportunity for SNAP students to display their work at schools and a variety of venues for all to see and admire. This creates a non-threatening atmosphere where they can openly discuss issues with the many people that provide a guiding force in their lives. To date parents, caregivers, teachers, administrators, government officials and corporate leaders have been extremely impressed by the hours of dedicated hard work SNAP Students have invested in planning an honorable future.