FCPS Feature Articleshttp://www.fcps.netUmbraco / FCPS custom codeRecent articles published on the FCPS Web site featuring our kids, staff, and communityenPASS steers students toward constructive pathhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/passcourtyard2016-05-24T13:54:07http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/passcourtyardPASS (Positive Approach to Student Success) is a nationwide initiative that provides social-skills guidance to help students use appropriate behavior in the classroom and in life. It follows the steps of teach, model, role-play, and practice. Jeremy Jones, the PASS coach at Morton Middle School, demonstrated this strategy when he brought a handful of eighth-graders to a courtyard at the district’s central office, where they cleared weeds in a raised bed to make room for a river-rock display. “Community service is a big part – wanting to take care of each other and take care of the community we live in,” he said.

Jones noted the relationship-building piece is crucial to students’ buying in to PASS. “Most importantly is that they learn to self-advocate, are able to make good choices, they’re responsible, and they value the people around them and the relationships they have,” he said.

All five Fayette County high schools implemented the PASS program in 2007-2008, and it expanded into middle schools in 2010-2011. Students from each current participant contributed football-size river rocks for the courtyard fountain display at “It’s About Kids” Support Services”; the multicolored rocks are painted in school colors with inspirational words like respect, accountability, choices, empathy, goals, freedom, teamwork, structure, and dream.

“This is a good project for community service and a way to get everybody involved, to do something positive and (know) ‘I can make a difference,’” said Yvette McGuire, a secondary resource specialist in the district’s Special Education Department. “Hopefully it’ll be an ongoing project. They might add to it in the fall and do some maintenance.”  

Colleague Dana Osburn noted the courtyard cleanup gave students an opportunity to use what they have learned in school in a different setting, adding, “It’s a nice, safe way to build success.”

In turn, as the PASS students accept responsibility and complete tasks, their self-confidence can carry over to the classroom and beyond. For instance, this past school year some of the students read to elementary children in a mentoring capacity, and others volunteered at the Hope Center.

“They’re coming out of their school into another setting and practicing how to behave. And they’re taking it a step further by giving back,” McGuire said. “Once you learn it, you need a chance to practice it in community settings. The whole goal of education is to become a contributing member of society.” 

Scratch Day invites exploration of coding languagehttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/scratch2016-05-24T13:50:25http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/scratchThird-grader Caleb Boles, wearing his official T-shirt, stood ready to help with computer coding questions – but not help too much. The idea behind Scratch Day 2016 was for students of all ages to experiment with this free programming language and figure things out for themselves. “You click and drag blocks to make the program,” the Wellington Elementary student said in explaining how Scratch works. “Coding is like a whole new world … to problem-solve, think, explore, create. It teaches you a new way to think.”

Coding, or programming, is basically providing instructions to tell a computer what to do. Scratch helps youngsters think creatively, work collaboratively, and reason systematically. Developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, Scratch also provides an international online community where students can share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation. FCPS hosted one of only a couple of Scratch Day events in Kentucky and about 650 in the world.

A handful of Scratch ambassadors like Caleb mingled among the crowd of 150 kids and adults at host Clays Mill Elementary one recent Saturday morning. These students, tapped for their understanding and expertise, guided participants through a series of hands-on stations where they learned how to connect electrical circuits, make a piano keyboard out of bananas, and add a dancing sprite to a hip-hop dance party, among other fun activities. “We can learn a lot from the kids,” said Bob Moore, director of Technology in FCPS, who welcomed participants from several counties. “Sometimes the best way to learn is to ask a 13-year-old.”

Community volunteers and staffers from the district’s Office of Instructional Technology also fielded questions and led a first-timers tutorial upstairs in the computer lab and interactive storytelling with WeDo robots in the STEM lab. Meanwhile in the Scratch “playground,” students used a variety of materials and tools – from aluminum foil, balloons, and Play-Doh, to water, potatoes, and Legos. Playing with Legos, in fact, helps younger kids understand Scratch coding because both involve putting blocks together. “The program is built into each of the codes, and they just snap the blocks together to learn the programming language. That makes it easier for them to learn JavaScript and HTML,” said Kelly Fischer, a technology resource teacher.

Scratch isn’t confined to computer classes in Fayette County Public Schools. For instance, a science teacher at Lansdowne Elementary uses it to demonstrate the process of erosion, and a Spanish teacher at Athens-Chilesburg Elementary uses it to drill kids in the second language. “It’s amazing how it can fit in different content areas. We’re using computer programming to aid in classroom lessons across all subjects,” Fischer said.

In the larger picture, Scratch is mostly about exploration anyway. “Students learn by doing, and they learn on their own,” she noted. “They learn through problem-solving, and it allows them to look at things differently.”

Henry Clay’s Senior Walk inspires kids at Breckinridgehttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/seniorwalk2016-05-23T12:50:55http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/seniorwalkNearly two dozen soon-to-be graduates of Henry Clay High School completed a test run when they donned caps and gowns for a Senior Walk through the halls of nearby Breckinridge Elementary. Youngsters there had made “Congratulations” posters for the Class of 2016, and some even passed along individual drawings as they high-fived the older students.

The seniors were overwhelmed with emotions as they basked in the joyful reception. “I played football for four years and thought running over to the student section was good,” said Ricardo Franklin, who grinned widely afterward. “The whole time, I was smiling. It seems like just yesterday we were in kindergarten. Now we’re taking a step into life,” added classmate Jack Jackson. “It feels good giving back to the little kids and inspiring them to grow up and be the best they can be.”

Jack had shared a brief introduction over the school’s P.A. system as the seniors waited in the foyer. “We didn’t give up, and we didn’t give in. You can be right where I am in a few years,” he told the Breckinridge students, encouraging them to persevere through tough times. “Keep pursuing your dreams, and give back to the world.”

Social workers Tori Mason (Henry Clay) and Melinda Marcinek (Breckinridge) put together the event, which fell within a week of Henry Clay’s commencement in Rupp Arena. “This is a first for Fayette County. We’re starting this and hopefully turning this into a tradition,” Mason said of the Senior Walk. “We’re trying to encourage the elementary kids and help them see their future and get excited about what it holds. For our kids, it’s to reflect on how far they’ve come, and the main goal is for them to be a role model.”

As a tangible cue, the seniors wore small signs indicating where they will attend college or what they plan to do in their careers. “Them seeing us like this will make them want to strive toward graduation,” said Austin Bledsoe, who is headed to the University of the Cumberlands.  

Agreeing the time has flown by, the seniors urged the Breckinridge children to make the most of their opportunities in school. “I woke up freshman year and blinked, and now I’m here. All in all, it’s been a great ride,” Austin said. (The Senior Walk) made me feel like I’m ready to move on to the next chapter in my life.”

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FCPS marks 25th year of Spanish Immersion Programhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/sip25th2016-05-20T15:40:35http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/sip25thFayette County Public Schools is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its Spanish Immersion Program, an approach to second language instruction in which the usual curricular activities are conducted in the target language. Students and families from five schools gathered on May 5 to reminisce about the program’s beginnings, demonstrate what they have learned about the language and the culture, and pledge their continued support. Among the featured speakers were Denise Munizaga, SIP founder and former world languages coordinator for the school district; a current high school senior, and a recent college graduate. Responding by email, school leaders also shared their thoughts about SIP at Maxwell, Liberty, and Northern elementaries, Bryan Station Middle, and Bryan Station High School.

“My greatest vision as (world languages) coordinator was to establish an immersion program. … The success has required great teachers and also great parents. … Here we are 25 years later, and the program has grown tremendously.” – Denise Munizaga, SIP founder

“One of the most amazing experiences of my 13 years (in FCPS) was the trip to Spain. Every adventure was exciting and educational. … The impact Spanish Immersion makes on an individual will last a lifetime.” – Maggie Poole, senior at Bryan Station High School

“Diversity isn’t just what you are; it’s what you do with that in the social sphere. … My entire life has been surrounded by diversity thanks to the Spanish Immersion Program.” – Michael Gomez, SIP alumnus and recent college graduate

“During the 1990-1991 school year, a pioneering group of families and a pair of teachers started the Spanish Immersion Program at Maxwell Elementary School following the longtime dream of the language coordinator. What started as just a tiny program with just four classrooms of students has since grown to 22 classrooms and over 530 students with a waiting list of hundreds. We have grown into one of the highest performing schools, and our students have gone on to succeed in many endeavors at both BSMS and HS and in life beyond college. The hard work of the families and teachers of Maxwell and the other immersion schools has seen this program flourish and become one of the premier educational avenues for students in Lexington. … I was not able to anticipate what learning a second language would mean to me and my family until my own daughter became a student at Maxwell. It is through this lens of a mother that I have become such an advocate and supporter of the Spanish Immersion Program at all grade levels. This program has become a huge part of my life and what I believe in because of the impact it has had on my own child. It has broadened and enriched my true appreciation of Hispanic cultures, and it is the focus of everything we do and who we are at Maxwell. Language acquisition is the pathway to enriching all students’ lives.” – Michelle Grant, interim principal at Maxwell Spanish Immersion Magnet

“Liberty Elementary is honored to provide the immersion program to our students. This invaluable opportunity is creating lifelong learnings with a love for language acquisition. We believe this program is preparing our students for a global perspective in the 21st century.” – Gerry Brooks, principal at Liberty Elementary

“This program has impacted our students and families by allowing our students to become bilingual and open up doors of opportunity for them as they grow. During the 2016-2017 school year, Northern’s Spanish Immersion Program will be in full implementation (grades K-5). We are so proud to offer our students the opportunity to become bilingual and continue their Spanish education at BSMS and BSHS. Northern continues our commitment to build our program and ensure that our students succeed.” –Meredith Ramage, principal at Northern Elementary

“The Spanish Immersion Program in Fayette County is truly a unique instructional experience. I value in the highest esteem the ability to communicate in multiple languages. We are producing bilingual, bicultural scholars every year.” – Lester Diaz, principal at Bryan Station Middle School

Southern Middle experiments with standing deskshttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/standingdesks2016-05-20T10:16:31http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/standingdesksSince health/P.E. teacher Lisa Hager prefers that students be active and alert, she welcomed a chance to test out a half-dozen standing desks in her classroom at Southern Middle School. “In the past I have used stability balls, so they knew I was open to the idea of kids not having a traditional setting,” she said of the UK researchers.

The principal investigator was Heather Erwin, an associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, who said furniture maker Ergotron was open to a feasibility study of standing desks in a middle or high school. “It takes a special motivated teacher to allow you to do these kinds of things, and she’s willing to try,” Erwin said of Hager.

Hager’s regular classroom setup features small pods of tables and chairs; she split the standing desks with three on each side of the room. Her students rotated during the nine-week study so everyone had a chance to use the new desks, which were on wheels. Hager’s main rule was they couldn’t roll around the room unnecessarily. “They could adjust from standing to sitting, and we always offered a chair. It’s nice to have that choice,” she said. “Especially after lunch, kids are really antsy, so this was something to look forward to. They could stand and shift their weight and not be confined to a desk.”

Throughout the grading period, Erwin and a UK graduate research assistant observed Hager’s students on five separate school days. In each class, they focused on four students – including one at a standing desk – and recorded their activity level and behavior. “Part of what we were looking for was ‘Will they stand up at these desks or will they sit down?’ Is this feasible for a teacher to use in a regular classroom? Is it practical for the students and for the teacher?” Erwin said. “The big piece is the interviews, to see what the students think about the desks.”

In the follow-up, the students did share their impressions – both positive and negative. “It was a good improvement. When you stand, you’re more active. You’re not as comfortable, so you can’t really fall asleep,” said sixth-grader Taylor Smith. “You could run in place, and if your legs got tired, you could sit. You could also roll closer to the board (to see better) instead of scooting your chair.”

Classmate Erick Rodriguez-Batista was not so impressed with the experiment and preferred that students remain in place, saying, “People were always rolling around and bumping into each other. It just annoyed me.” But 11-year-old Jaxson Truax liked the standing option. “You can focus better because there aren’t people at the same desk to distract you,” he said. Jaxson also offered a couple of suggestions: He thought the light gray desktops should match the brown woodgrain of the other tables, and he recommended the standing desks be bigger to accommodate large binders and other supplies.

Overall, their teacher was pleased with the results and thought most of her students were excited about the standing desks. “I’d like to have classroom teachers experiment with them next year to see if it’s something they’d enjoy,” Hager said. “If you are very traditional and conservative, it may be bothersome. But kids come to you bottled up with energy, so (standing) is a win-win.” 


Ashland blends piano music, art forms in collaborative recitalhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/pianoarts2016-05-20T10:14:22http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/pianoartsAt Ashland Elementary, a multimedia recital showed young pianists and gifted-and-talented classmates how to express their feelings and present their art in a new way. “We’ve had recitals before, but not at this level. They’re all different types of art, but they all tie in,” said third-grader Peter Jefferson, whose piece caught the ear of two fourth-graders who choreographed a lyric dance to accompany him. “The dance fit very well. It all makes for a very good puzzle,” Peter said after their joint performance.  

Piano teacher Cathy Rowland organized the recital along with Ashley DeLucia, the school’s G&T resource teacher. The dozen POP piano students (Performers of Promise) teamed with 10 students identified as G&T in a non-cognitive area such as leadership or music, and the result was an organic collaboration that melded various art forms and individual styles.

In preparation, Rowland had played all the piano pieces for DeLucia’s students so they could pick the one that most spoke to them. Later, they also listened to their peers at the keyboard as they developed their art. “I helped guide them and then just let them go. I don’t want to give them too many limitations because it restricts their creativity,” DeLucia said. “We were really surprised with the diversity of products being presented. Art is transforming – it’s not just paper and paint brushes.”

During the recital, the G&T students displayed the finished visual pieces on a table next to the keyboard before each pianist’s song. The group included pencil drawing, photography, watercolor and acrylic paintings, and clay sculptures. One girl who opted for digital art worked at a laptop as her images-in-process were projected on a screen above the stage. Two others read their original poems aloud, and three girls presented a mini-skit titled “Kittens” before the accompanying piano pieces.

Fifth-grader Vivienne Lucier offered up an acrylic painting called “Sweet Dreams” and a photo dubbed “Lonely Day.” “They wanted us to use our creative minds and practice our art,” Vivienne explained. “For the photo, I wanted to do a raindrop or blue water and just started experimenting. For the art, I went for abstract. I didn’t want pointy ends because ‘Sweet Dreams’ is like drifting off, so I experimented with different patterns.”

The teachers were excited about the recital’s impact. “Music can be an inspiration for other art forms, and they can be put together to create a much broader experience,” Rowland said. “Students can hear a piece and allow that to bring new inspiration of what their art can be. Everything doesn’t have to come from just inside them. There also can be an external stimulus that brings up new ideas.”

DeLucia agreed. “It’s the integration of arts and how people interpret things in different ways. It really highlights their creativity and shows how everyone is unique, and you can see that through art,” she said.

Students who ordinarily perform or create alone – such as pianists, painters, and poets – also found joy in this group venture. “This enabled them to connect with other people who are creative and use that inspiration to broaden their experience and use that community to create something wonderful for the audience,” Rowland said.  

Wellington preschoolers watch in wonder as insects develop over timehttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/preschoolnature2016-05-17T15:26:09http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/preschoolnatureBy nature, many preschoolers are curious and excitable. So ever since Heather McQueary’s class at Wellington Elementary decided to study live butterflies, ladybugs, and praying mantises, the children have been riveted by the creatures. “It’s the first thing they ask about when they walk in the door,” she said. Using three resource kits, McQueary guided the youngsters as together they watched the insects develop over the span of several weeks. “They have ownership. They are totally invested in this project. I feel like I’m the facilitator, but they’re teaching all of us,” she said.

McQueary had checked out books from the public library to help the children research facts about each insect, and they made a chart with arrows to track steps in the process. They now know that a caterpillar turns into a chrysalis and then a butterfly, that a ladybug grows from larva to pupa to full-grown insect, and that the praying mantis emerges from an egg case as a nymph before reaching adult stage. “You can get really in-depth and also compare and contrast. You get to watch them go through each stage and see the entire life cycle acted out,” McQueary said. “For the children to see it in real life makes a big difference as they see the changes themselves.”

One day recently, the preschoolers gathered around to check out the hundreds of baby praying mantises after the egg case cracked open. They also took turns with a magnifying glass to monitor the dozen ladybugs and gently shifted the mesh cage housing four small butterflies. One butterfly didn’t survive, which was a hard lesson for the little ones. McQueary also planned to release all but a few of the praying mantises because they tend to feed on each other when overcrowded. By the end of the month, the class will have freed all the insects outside.

Meanwhile, the children make the most of their miniature zoo. With the teachers’ assistance, they keep observation journals on each type of insect, which helps with their writing and drawing skills. “Every day we’ve looked at all three, and the kids drew pictures and kept track of how they changed. They have loved watching each stage,” said Jessica Jenkins, a special education paraeducator.

This project was not only a science activity but also covered math as the children learned to count to six because insects have six jointed legs. They also practiced predicting what would happen next as the insects developed at different rates, and they picked up some terminology along the way. For instance, after talking about how bears rest during winter, the children equated hibernation with the insects’ waiting in their egg cases. They also talked about habitats, which they know is another word for “home.” “We really want to expose them to the language, and they’re picking it up and using it themselves. They can’t read yet, so everything has to be concrete for them,” McQueary said.  

This nature project contrasted with technology-driven exercises that provide immediate feedback, and the waiting enabled the children to develop a sense of patience and wonder.  

“As educators, our goal is make kids love learning and want to be life-long learners.  In preschool, we are setting the foundation,” McQueary said. “It’s nice that this is nature-related because we have talked about all of the good things that these insects do for our environment, and we are able to talk not just about the insects but the world around us.” 

Fifth-graders take fitness on the road with biking field triphttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/trailride2016-05-09T13:42:58http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/trailrideOn a brisk but sunny morning, fifth-graders from Ashland Elementary biked along the Legacy Trail as part of the school’s Wellness Wednesday initiative. Jayden Dummitt found herself at the front of the pack as the group pushed off at Coldstream Park en route to the Kentucky Horse Park. While Jayden rides her bicycle for recreation, she was a bit wary on the school field trip, noting, “It takes a lot of strength to pedal four miles.” She was still game, though, enlivened by the fresh air and thinking of the potential benefits. “Your heart gets healthier, and you’ll be stronger and able to do more,” she said.

P.E. teacher James Alcorn set up the outing, which included stops along the trail for students to stretch, tackle the President’s Physical Fitness Test, and enjoy field day events. The fifth-grade teachers, riding along in a golf cart, brought up the rear.

On the first Wednesday of the month, everyone at Ashland pauses on the hour throughout the school day for a five-minute energizers break “for their brains to let loose,” as Alcorn explained. On May 4, the bike trip was an extension of that schoolwide program. Keith Lovan, a city engineer with LFUCG’s Division of Engineering, gave the fifth-graders a quick primer on the Legacy Trail, its physical features, and the mile markers before their trek began.

Previously, Alcorn’s classes had only biked within the neighborhood each fall and spring – using district-owned bicycles received through grants several years ago. He brought along a few of those bikes for the trail ride, but most of the fifth-graders preferred to use their own. Alcorn transported several dozen bicycles via trailer, and the Bluegrass Cycling Club sponsored two school buses to bring the children to the park and pick them up several hours later.

“This encourages them to get out and do things on their bike,” said Christine Cole, a cycling club member who accompanied the students. “Once you get used to riding in a group, it’s something you can do your whole life.”

Alcorn echoed that endorsement of biking as a life-long fitness routine. “It’s mostly enjoyment, where you can exercise with your parents and keep your body healthy,” he said. “You’ve also got to eat the right food to keep your energy to make it up those hills.”

Theater rises to a steady boil through StationARTShttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/theatergrowth2016-05-09T13:42:10http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/theatergrowthFor senior Jazzmine McNeal, the move from behind-the-scenes helper to performance artist was an unexpected leap of faith. She started out as a stage manager two years ago at Bryan Station High School, then joined the ensemble as a junior. This year, she landed lead roles in “Jungalbook” and “Bye Bye Birdie,” the theater department’s main fall and spring productions. Jazzmine, who recalls her former nervousness, realizes she has grown up right alongside the program, and she values the sense of family and the self-confidence it fosters among students. “Without them, I’d probably be really shy. Now I’m a very outspoken person and very energetic,” she said a few days after “Birdie” closed. 

The program at Bryan Station is under the steady guidance of drama teacher Amie Kisling, who is completing her second year as theater director. But she knows she cannot do it all, noting, “Theater is a collaborative art form.” For example, “Bye Bye Birdie” featured 48 students in the cast, 10 on the crew, and 16 in the orchestra. So Kisling’s team included colleagues Lauren Case choreographing the dances, Kris Lyon leading the vocalists, Kelly Mayes conducting in the pit, Matt Skaggs playing percussion, Dave Shelton accompanying on piano, and guitar teacher Don Hicks handling the sound system. In preparation, art teachers Lynn Schentrup and Aubrey Brice gave students time to paint the set pieces; Karla Martello’s advanced fashion design class sewed 10 circle skirts; and Heather Eppley’s students in the Academy of Information Technology created two 1950s-style videos that played during the production.

“It’s so exciting to have so many people wanting to be involved. It’s nice to have that community built around it. One of the things I’m looking for next year is where can we collaborate more with teachers outside the arts department,” Kisling said.

Theater is part of StationARTS, a special academic program open to all Fayette County students. These classes immerse students in artistic experiences as they work alongside professionals at school and elsewhere. The majors or areas of emphasis range from band, orchestra, vocal music, and classical guitar to visual arts, theatrical technologies, drama, dance, and piano keyboard. The staff’s addition of Kisling has firmed up the theater component and encouraged feelings of pride and accomplishment. For instance, Bryan Station has placed third in the Kentucky Theater Association’s high school competition two years in a row, and the musical “Bye Bye Birdie” drew double the number of students as the previous spring’s show. “I went home from auditions just thrilled at the growth in interest and engagement,” she recalled.

Meanwhile, Kisling marches onward with her Drama I, II, and III performance classes and Technical Theater I, which is for set-designers and set-builders. As StationARTS grows, she hopes to add Play Production and Musical Theater Production.

“I don’t need them to all be Meryl Streep,” Kisling said in describing her expectations of students. “I want them to know their voice is important and that they are an artist. The No. 1 fear for all humans is public speaking. They become confident speakers and creative artists so they can stand confidently and communicate their ideas through the art form of theater.” The result is students acquire valuable skills to use in life, whether pitching ideas in a business setting or teaching in front of a class someday. Self-confidence, projection, nonverbal cues – “all of those impact how others perceive you,” Kisling said.

Kisling also demands that her students “play well with others” and try to learn empathy. “I expect them to follow through with their responsibilities and communicate when they have a problem,” she said. “It’s not fun to be in a play when you’re surrounded by drama and not theater. You’re part of this team that’s building a story together, and theater creates a family.”

Lauranne Rose, who plans to double major in music and theater at Asbury University in Wilmore, has enjoyed every aspect at Bryan Station – from the initial script reading and set-building to developing costumes and fleshing out characters’ roles. When she got a lead part in “Seussical the Musical” last year, it opened the door for more acting opportunities as a senior. “You get to spend almost every single day with (cast mates), and you build a bond and help each other through the process,” Lauranne said. “Now it feels like a big family, and it’s hard to say good-bye.”

At this bus stop, fourth-graders pick up farming tidbitshttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/agribus2016-05-09T12:48:25http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/agribusTen-year-olds Rylie Miller and Nathan Whitaker had a slight edge on fellow fourth-graders when the Kentucky agriculture bus pulled up for an in-school field trip at Wellington Elementary. Both have had some experience with country life, crops, and critters.

“My grandparents grow vegetables like cabbage and lettuce, and on their farm they have horses and cows and pigs. It’s an easier way to live,” Nathan said during a break. Rylie herself once lived near a farm that grew wheat and raised cattle. She made a connection when she found Doritos in one activity station on the bus. “The chips I like come from wheat and corn, and I didn’t really know that,” she said.

STEM lab instructor Nami Stager arranged for G.A.B.I.E. (Great American Bus Interactive Education), which provides a hands-on experience that leads students from seed to dinner table. Bus owner Leslie Dickinson and colleague Amber Wedding, dressed in a queen bee costume, opened with a brief description of how bees produce honey and pollinate flowers and plants. Groups of students then rotated through the retrofitted school bus, where nearly a dozen activity stations explained the production of cotton, grapes, hay, and other crops, the state’s equine and poultry industries, and the difference between dairy cows and beef cattle. Meanwhile outside, youngsters took turns grinding flour and planted vegetable seeds in Dixie cups as they reviewed the four essentials: seeds, soil, water, and sunlight.

“Our main goal is to teach them what crops grow here and why it’s important to them. What they see growing in the fields around Central Kentucky puts food on their table, and we take them through that process,” said Dickinson, whose five-member team has visited several local schools since February, including Mary Todd and James Lane Allen elementaries.  

In the STEM lab at Wellington, Stager will tie it all together with lessons like how engineering has impacted agriculture, including the development of robotic bees to help pollinate crops. “Students need to understand the process and learn about how farming impacts the global marketplace. They also should understand why buying local food helps our state financially,” Stager said.

She noted how students who live in the city often are disconnected from how their food is grown and prepared, with their first point of contact in shopping for groceries. “We all take for granted that we can find fresh food at a store so easily,” Stager said. “I want the students to learn an appreciation for the farmers and the groups that work incredibly hard to bring us fresh products every day.”

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‘Red Sun’ author extols reading as valuable exercise for brainhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/literacygame2016-05-04T15:14:42http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/literacygameLiteracy advocate Alane Adams maintains a steady beat with a clear message: “Reading is the single most important thing you can do to make your life better. Your brain is a muscle, and if you exercise a muscle, you get stronger. If you exercise your brain, you’ll get smarter.”

The California-based author shared that mantra with students at the Fayette Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Bryan Station Middle School, Lexington Traditional Magnet School, and Leestown Middle School as the Lexington Public Library kicked off its summer reading program. “How she explained things really made you think about it,” said one 17-year-old at the detention center. “Reading really expands one’s mind, especially with science fiction. It makes you have a new perspective on things.”

As one example, Adams mentioned scientists born in the 1920s who enabled NASA to reach the moon in the 1960s. “Reading grows your imagination and ability to see things that have never happened,” she told the teenagers. “Reading helps your brain comprehend the world around you and helps you become a problem-solver. Books also give us hope. Pick up a book and read it. It’s the best hope to improve your brain, and the payoff is enormous when you begin to enjoy the stories.”

Adams, who is developing a youth fantasy series, referenced her first novel “The Red Sun,” the Harry Potter books and Katniss Everdeen of “The Hunger Games” in connecting with the students. “One thing we like about characters that we can relate to is they have flaws,” Adams noted. She acknowledged she doesn’t always get the details right at first. “As I’m writing, my brain is unwinding the story in real time,” said Adams, who doesn’t make an outline. Then through multiple drafts and edits, she can massage the plot – remembering that the character’s dilemma is what holds readers’ interest.

Adams had sent 10 copies of “The Red Sun” and resource materials to Seth Shannon, the English teacher at the detention center, whose classes include three or four dozen students in grades 8-12. These youths, who compared Adams’ book to the Percy Jackson series, have explored “The Red Sun” for about three weeks now. They often pause and map out the action to track the characters. “It’s a pretty lengthy book, and there’s a lot going on,” Shannon said. He appreciated Adams’ exposing his classes to a genre they might not ordinarily choose and acknowledged the author’s broader impact, saying, “She has made a huge push for educating students on the importance and benefits of literacy in the struggle against poverty.”

Later at Leestown Middle, Adams saw how “The Red Sun” had prompted sixth-graders to create interactive posters using the virtual reality app Aursama, book-promotion fashions, virtual book tours using Minecraft, character-inspired cupcakes, and book trailers.  

Also during her Lexington visit, Adams introduced BattleKasters, a free downloadable mobile game inspired by “The Red Sun.” Students at Bryan Station Middle tried it out, guided by Bluetooth-enabled beacons that turned their school building into a virtual game board. They collected cards during the scavenger hunt, cast spells to advance, and closed the Stonefire portal to win. “All the characters and visuals are so cool, it makes you want to learn more. They have a fun experience, and they get to know the characters before they read the book,” Adams said. “As a literacy champion, my challenge is to create and deliver stories in a variety of formats that will challenge and trigger peoples’ imaginations and hopefully convince them to sit down long enough to read a book cover to cover.”

Looking ahead

BattleKasters will be available all summer via the Lexington Public Library.


Autumn-blaze maple sign of growth at William Wells Brownhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/partyplanet2016-05-04T10:57:02http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/partyplanetWilliam Wells Brown Elementary marked Earth Day’s “Party for the Planet” by planting a 12-foot autumn-blaze maple tree in front of the school. Classes also rotated through five activity stations organized by The Arboretum, which helps connect children with nature. “The bigger goal is to foster a love of trees,” said Molly Davis, Arboretum director. “We introduced them to the mechanics of soil and how things grow, taught them how the sun helps and the role that water plays. This introduces them to stewardship of the earth and what we do all the time – growing and enjoying plants and nature.”   

Professionals and volunteers staffed the stations in the gym: pollinators, composting, earthworms, plants, and benefits of a tree. At one stop, students learned how worms are nature’s recyclers. After they munch up old leaves and apple cores, the tiny creatures leave a nutrient-packed trail. “It makes the soil nice and rich for plants to grow better,” volunteer Sally Horowitz explained. In addition, earthworms dig extensive tunnels that loosen up the soil for roots to expand. Meanwhile at other stations, children played the roles of flowers and bees as they acted out the pollination cycle, saw how wet and dry materials mix well in a compost bin, and talked about household products made from trees. Students also got to choose whether to take home a small tomato plant or a flower like the zinnia and salvia. 

“Basically we’re taking a field trip to them. If it can spark a few kids’ interest, then we’ve done our job,” said Jackie Gallimore, children’s education coordinator at The Arboretum.

After the rain cleared, fifth-graders headed outside for the tree planting shortly before lunch. Local arborist Dave Leonard showed them the stump of the previous tree and speculated that weed-eater injuries might have led to its demise. He guessed the new maple could last about 15 years. After blasting a hole with an air compressor, Leonard and Nic Williamson of the University of Kentucky’s Urban Forest Initiative settled the tree in its spot.

STEM lab teacher Kim Sword was pleased The Arboretum could complement her instruction with students at William Wells Brown. “We’ve worked quite a bit with sustainability and recycling, trying to make sure we take care of the earth and understand what our non-renewable resources are,” she said. “I want them to understand that my whole focus in science is the big picture – how everything is dependent on everything else.”

Channel 13's video

Save the date

“Celebrating the past, PLANting the future” culminates with special activities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 30, Arbor Day, at The Arboretum. Admission to the Children’s Garden is free that day.

Sustainability Superstars

During Earth Week, FCPS recognized several teachers who go above and beyond to empower students to make change happen in their schools.

Jennifer Reams of Harrison Elementary capitalizes on her students’ enthusiasm by facilitating a communitywide recycling challenge in partnership with LFUCG, incorporating energy lessons at each grade level through a partnership with UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research, making monthly energy audit patrols a top priority, and hosting classroom sustainability project-based debates. “I want to instill an initiative in our kids that drives them to care for our earth and be world changers,” she said.

Ashlie Arkwright of SCAPA at Bluegrass inspires her eighth-graders, through the Lexus Eco-Challenge, to encourage others to make small changes to their habits that have big environmental impacts. In addition, the eighth-graders participate in FCPS’s E=USE2 program and other environmental opportunities involving local organizations, such as Bluegrass Greensource, Kentucky’s School Nutrition Association, and Floracliff Nature Sanctuary.

Jeremy Pitcock of The Learning Center at Linlee spearheads the school’s Sustainability College, serves on the FCPS Sustainability & Wellness Council, and helps students with beekeeping, gardening, energy management, recycling, and composting. “The study of environmental concerns and sustainable systems has become a moral imperative,” he said. “The joy and excitement (students) express as they explore innovative solutions and green career pathways is more than enough to inspire me.”

Carla Trisko of Morton Middle School has served as sustainability coordinator for six years.  She and her students have installed rain and vegetable gardens, established a No Idling campus, launched Farm to School local food taste tests, mounted timed power strips to reduce classroom plug loads, hosted Trout in the Classroom, and installed two water bottle refilling stations. “Our descendants are counting on this generation to make the hard decisions to live in balance with our planet,” she said.

Adonya Boyle of Cardinal Valley Elementary has installed an outdoor classroom with raised vegetable beds, native plant gardens, and a walking path; and Cardinal Valley is the first Lexington school to launch a composting program. One of Boyle’s recent student-driven initiatives is replacing cafeteria plastic cutlery with reusable forks and spoons. “The pride they have in their environment and the love they have for the earth makes me want to help build a better future for all my kids,” she said.

School libraries ever changing with the timeshttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/librariestransformed2016-05-02T16:46:35http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/librariestransformedlibraries logoAnyone who hasn’t peeked inside a school library lately might be surprised at the look and feel. No more are they quiet, static facilities where students fumble with dusty old resources or merely check out books. Now, they are dynamic spaces of active student learning. The theme of School Library Month, “Transform Student Learning,” illustrates this new reality.

“(Our library media specialists) want their libraries to be 21st-century learning spaces,” said Joni H. Maloney, coordinator of Media Services for Fayette County Public Schools, who cited three examples.  

Leestown Middle School

Claudett Edie sees a growing trend of interactive opportunities such as Makerspace, where students develop creative skills through crafts and other hands-on projects. “If a Makerspace is overwhelming, passive programming is very doable,” she said. For instance, Leestown staff built a community loom that encourages youngsters to stop by and weave a colorful rag strip into a rug. Another initiative adopted by a couple of classrooms features live plants and seedlings of sunflowers, tomatoes, parsley, and basil. Edie also periodically changes out the walk-up activities, such as a cup-stacking station where students and teachers enjoyed building towers. In addition, she offers check-out craft bags for crochet and knitting, complete with yarn. “We want to not only send a book home but also send a skill home with students,” Edie said. Meanwhile, as students wait in line at the library desk, they can tinker with an old microscope no longer used in science lab.

During her first year at Leestown, Edie has sought to discern everybody’s needs and tried to make the library fit those criteria – whether it’s through flexible spaces or technology or a user-friendly bookstore layout. “We are changing, and we are different, and you can step in here and feel it,” she said.

Arlington Elementary

Librarian Barbara Carter partners with teachers to be proactive with project-based learning – bringing more of the students’ own ideas into play, which goes along with inquiry-based learning. “Those trainings have really changed the way I teach,” she said.

A media specialist for 15 years, Carter knows that school libraries must be flexible. “There are new needs and new ideas, and we have to change to meet those. I attend trainings and try to do as many things as I can to keep abreast of what’s going on,” she said.

For instance, she often turns to the computer lab, which conveniently is next door to Arlington’s library. “I’ve embraced technology as a huge part of my program. Much of what we start in the library, we finish in the lab,” said Carter, who recently helped students research heroes for a class assignment.

Henry Clay High School

In a current guided-inquiry project, two advanced geometry classes are designing renovation plans for Henry Clay’s library to ensure the space better meets the needs of 21st-century learners. Librarian Amanda Hurley said the results will give district leaders insight into what teachers and students expect in future libraries. Meanwhile, Hurley and colleague Felica White make the most of the opportunities at hand. For instance, in response to a student’s request, they now supply jigsaw puzzles for the teenagers to work on in between classes. They also set up a poetry corner where students marked down favorite passages and created new verses on a magnet board. “If that engages them and they’re doing something productive, they’re taking initiative,” Hurley said.

The role of school librarians also constantly changes. “Our job is to not only help students gather information but get meaning out of it and apply it to the real world,” Hurley said. “We are showing students new tools for presentations so when they go to college they can stand out. We are coaching classes and working with teachers to design entire units. We’re able to help transform learning.”

Hurley and White even keep stats on their interaction with students. Last month, they taught 49 classes and hosted 76 classes on the library’s computers and 78 classes at the library tables, and more than 4,500 students dropped in. “We affect student achievement day in and day out,” Hurley said. “If you have a relevant library that’s student-centered and supports what teachers are doing in the classroom, that is transformative.”

Did you know?

April is School Library Month.

Video, by Joni H. Maloney, coordinator of Media Services for FCPS


6/11/08 Enrichment opportunities abound this summerhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/june/enrichment2016-04-29T10:19:57http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/june/enrichment Whether it’s learning how to create a podcast or learning how to open a new locker, Fayette County middle schoolers are soaking it in like ultraviolet rays at Myrtle Beach.

At Tates Creek Middle School, students can work on art projects and write reflections with no pressure. “They enjoy being with the teachers outside the classroom setting,” said Becky Simpson, director of the Environmental Art and Science Camp.

“They’re able to succeed when they don’t always do that in school,” she added.

This is the third summer for the Tates Creek camp, which runs June 9-27. This year’s focus is environmental stewardship, with such activities as landscaping, gardening and journaling. There’s also time for science board games on rainy days and the ever-popular Friday field trips, including a trek to the wildlife preserve in Frankfort.

Simpson, a special education teacher for 32 years, has a handful of camp helpers, including former Tates Creek students.

“(The kids) gain so much from the college young men,” she said of the rising sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, who also study character development. “They’re such a good influence on the kids.”

Another side benefit is that the camp helps prepare students new to Tates Creek Middle for August.

“Especially with incoming sixth-graders, it really helps them not be frightened of middle school,” Simpson said. “It just gives them a sense of ‘I belong here.’”

Camp “PEACE” is all about upcoming sixth-graders finding their classrooms, those new lockers and some peace of mind at Jessie Clark Middle School.

The July 31 camp, which is an acronym for “Peers Equally Achieving Character Education,” is a school-day orientation that covers everything from the morning announcements to sports sign-ups to note-taking strategies.

“We look at the very small things, which are what the kids are worried about. It really dispels a lot of fears and anxieties,” said Youth Service Center coordinator Gabriel Brown, who leads the camp.

The kids will locate the restrooms, tour the library and familiarize themselves with school rules, core class hours and optional subjects.

“We also go through the dress code, and they get a fashion show” from eighth-graders, Brown said. “Basically we’ve got seven things we hit on in seven class periods.”

In addition, there’s an evening component for parents, who learn about such essentials as tardy and attendance policies, which differ from elementary to middle school.

“We want the parents to know what’s expected,” said Brown, who has lined up about 16 teachers to staff the one-day camp, which generally attracts 200 or more kids.

At Winburn Middle School, roughly two dozen students will be test pilots powering the new Literacy/Technology Camp. The program, set for June 16-27, will teach language arts and technology in tandem.

“Each student will have an iPod and a book they will access on the iPod,” said teacher Jackie Haynes, who will plow the familiar ground of story elements and character analysis. With audio books, their comprehension will be higher, she said, adding, “Students will create podcasts of themselves giving book talks and discussing the novels that they read.”

Incoming seventh-graders who scored at “apprentice” level in reading tests were invited to the camp; participants who continue the track in TNT (Tuesday and Thursday Academy) will be allowed to keep their iPods at the end of the school year.

“The idea is to get students excited about reading and have them be more successful with reading,” Haynes said.


6/2/08 Graduates step lively into their futureshttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/june/commencements2016-04-29T10:19:56http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/june/commencements Broad smiles and camera flashes lit up Rupp Arena as Fayette County’s graduating seniors, their families and friends celebrated 2008 commencements.

The air was filled with nervous excitement, high school memories, raucous cheers – and beach balls – as nearly 2,000 students took that momentous walk across the stage Sunday and Monday, crossing a major threshold in their lives.

List of graduates:


6/6/08 Words of Lafayette senior inspire us allhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/june/grad-speech2016-04-29T10:19:56http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/june/grad-speech Seniors relived many a school memory and heard plenty of sound advice during Fayette County Public Schools’ five graduation ceremonies.

One commencement speech in particular – extolling such worthy aspirations as love, purpose, hope and courage – contained vivid examples and inspiring words that we all can take to heart. Read what Douglas Waterbury-Tieman, a 2008 graduate of Lafayette High School, shared in his parting thoughts.

5/30/08 Life of Henry Clay senior a lesson in resiliencehttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/may/hc-senior2016-04-29T10:19:55http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/may/hc-senior  For Pierre Manga, who will receive his high school diploma Monday from Henry Clay High School, it’s a long way from fleeing rebel forces in his native Congo to celebrating with fellow graduates at Rupp Arena.

  Beginning Sunday, close to 2,000 seniors will graduate from Fayette County’s five high schools. Each has conquered challenges – personal, academic or otherwise – in order to reach this milestone. Each has a story to tell.

  Through struggles most would consider extreme, 19-year-old Manga has emerged grateful for the opportunities that have come his way.

  The oldest of three boys, Manga has carried heavy burdens, helping his brothers escape almost certain death, reuniting his family and grappling to learn English and make his way as a refugee in the United States. Through his journey, Manga – who is described as caring, humble and mature – exudes a spirit of determination that few can even aspire to and is thankful for the path that brought him to America.

  “We finally feel like it’s a home away from home,” he said of Lexington.

  His soccer teammates and coaches at Henry Clay have been the backbone of his support network. “We’re close and feel like one family,” said Manga, the team’s leading goal scorer.

  Tim Bernardi, a science teacher and the head coach, said Manga has taught his Henry Clay peers plenty.

  “He’s not afraid to say to students how lucky they have it, just growing up in this country and getting the education that they’re getting … and how fortunate they are, compared to where he came from,” Bernardi said.

  Manga’s journey began in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where his family was torn apart. As he wrote in a recent college application essay: “At the age of 12, the path of my life changed forever.”

  His father, a pastor, left home early in 2001 to do missions work. Two months later, rebels overran the town and pushed Manga’s family out of their home. Within two years, Manga’s twin brother, Jacob, was shot to death and their mother was kidnapped. “Her last words to me were ‘Take care of your brothers.’”

  And so Manga found himself the sole protector of Philip and John.

  “Years later, I would come to find out that our father had tried to get back to us, only to be kidnapped himself,” he wrote.

  Manga’s family was targeted because his father is a nephew of Patrice Lumumba, the DRC’s first prime minister. Though Lumumba was assassinated in 1961, tensions over his political philosophies remained high.

  The boys had taken shelter in a Catholic mission, but ultimately fled the encroaching violence. “I did not want my brothers to suffer what I had,” Manga wrote, referring to the rebels’ beatings.

  The three boys ran into the thick rainforest and made their way more than 150 miles to another village; much of the time, Manga carried the youngest, who was weak from hunger.

  “I remember sitting down and praying and then just waiting,” Manga wrote. “Several hours must have passed and then God answered my prayers. A large tree fell across the river and formed a bridge. … I knew we were going to make it. God was with us, and I had new strength.”

  After the boys spent five months begging on the streets, a pastor who had gone to school with their father recognized them and took them to a Red Cross shelter. A few months later, they were airlifted to Kenya and reunited with their father, who had escaped from his captors. It had been more than three years since the boys had seen their dad.

  “I had to tell him the bad news about our mother and Jacob,” Manga wrote in his essay. “I think that may have been the hardest thing I had to do in all that time that we were apart.”

  Classified as refugees, the family arrived in Lexington in February 2005. The transition was understandably difficult. About 1½ years later, Manga started working 30 hours a week at a Kentucky Fried Chicken to help pay the family’s bills. He’d go to school, soccer practice and work, then come home to do chores and tend to his brothers.

  That fall, Kirsten, a girl who also played soccer at Henry Clay, met the Manga boys and told her mother they needed a hand.

  “He calls me his American fill-in mom,” said Paula Hollis, who lives about a mile from the family’s Richmond Road apartment.

  With Hollis’ two daughters now grown and out of the house, she has embraced the role – making dinner for Manga and his brothers, doing their laundry, providing a routine.

  “It’s been a help (to their father), and I’m glad to do it. They’re good kids,” said Hollis, who attends Macedonia Christian Church.

  Manga praised Hollis in his essay, saying, “She taught us to laugh again.”

  Even broader smiles broke out last December when the boys got word that their mother, Christine, was found alive in a mission near their home village. A few weeks later, the brothers talked with her by phone – their first contact in more than four years.

  “I cannot wait to hold her in my arms,” Manga wrote.

  African Inland Missions is working with the DRC to get her to Kenya, where she will apply for refugee status.

  “We’re told she could possibly be here by the end of August,” Hollis said. “What she’s missed, at least I can fill in (the blanks) for her.”

  Manga will have a lot to tell his birth mother, too – about playing high school soccer, learning English (his fourth language), working part-time at KFC and Home Depot, attending Centenary Methodist Church, preparing for Transylvania University.

  People who hear Manga’s story are amazed at his family’s resilience, Hollis said.

  “The boys have taught me how precious life is and how not to take anything for granted. Plus, to be thankful for the little things,” she said.

   As an empty-nester, Hollis had prayed about possibilities in the mission field.

  “I have gotten to do missions work,” she said. “I just didn’t know they’d be ringing my doorbell.”

  Meanwhile, Manga is looking forward to the next phase of his life. As he ended his essay: “My American mom reminds me every day that God saved me for a purpose and to trust him to show me that purpose. That is good advice.”

All the graduations will be at Rupp Arena. The doors open one hour before each ceremony.

Sunday June 1:
4 p.m.: Lafayette
7 p.m.: Paul Laurence Dunbar

Monday June 2:
1 p.m.: Tates Creek
4 p.m.: Bryan Station
7 p.m.: Henry Clay

http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/june2016-04-29T10:19:55http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/june Editor's note: On these archived stories, the "first posted" date of 07/14/2008 indicates when we transferred the files from the former to the new Web site.  Each story's original publication date is noted next to its headline.

5/27/08 Art students partner with hospitalhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/may/art-for-heart2016-04-29T10:19:54http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/may/art-for-heart  Central Baptist Hospital issued a call for help, and art students at Bryan Station High School eagerly responded. Their partnership has resulted in a colorful, creative new exhibit called Art for the Heart.
  The busiest stairwell in the hospital has become a gallery for 72 pieces of student artwork. The idea is to encourage people – from Central Baptist employees to patients and visitors – to bypass the elevator and get some cardiovascular exercise. As added incentive for hospital staff to walk instead of ride, the students incorporated employees’ photos or names into the artwork.
  “This was something fun and educational for the public as well as my kids,” said Bryan Station art teacher Marquetta Hensley, who opted to use contemporary and modern art.
  For the project, her students interpreted famous pieces by such artists as Andy Warhol, Vincent van Gogh and Jackson Pollock. Their work – which ranges from 24 x 24 inches to 48 x 60 inches – is all acrylic paint on stretch canvas.
  Hensley took the lead in measuring the hospital walls and designing the exhibit. Each floor of the main stairwell has a different theme, including post-impressionism, expressionism, cubism, surrealism, abstract expressionism and pop art.
  “You see art breaking away from its traditional aspect of painting exactly what you see into totally abstract as you go up the steps,” Hensley said.
  Karen Hill, a nurse executive and vice president at Central Baptist, spearheaded the wellness project, which was based on an idea from a staff nurse who had read about the use of light and music in stairwells.
  Another benefit is that partnering with schools enables students who might not be interested in medical careers to be involved in an aspect of health care. Eventually, the hospital plans to display student art in its other stairwells, too.
  “She jumped on it big time,” Hill said of Hensley’s response to the proposal.
  “We let her order what she needed, and we took care of the funding,” Hill said. “We provided all the materials. The students provided the talent and the time.”
  Hensley’s students spent six to eight weeks on the project. Some stayed after class, and others skipped lunch as they labored to reproduce well-known artwork including van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” and Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans.”
  Ashley Elder, a junior at Bryan Station, contributed a lot to the effort.
  “It was very time-consuming. I stayed after school quite a few days painting,” said Elder, who painted bits and pieces of most of the art. “Everybody did a really good job. I’m really proud of it.”

5/22/08 Kites and spirits soar at Garden Springshttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/may/kite-day2016-04-29T10:19:53http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2007-08/may/kite-day  Snoopy was represented. And Cinderella! A few sharks and dragons and plenty of butterflies, too. All were there, emblazoned on kites at Garden Springs Elementary for the school’s sixth annual Kite Day. 

  Some of the students’ kites were homemade, others were store-bought. But all of them elicited sunny smiles and cheers as kids took off running and kites took flight on the baseball field behind the school.

  “I always enjoy doing it. It’s a lot of fun,” said Byron Bell, a member of the KICK (Kitefliers In Central Kentucky) club, who helped with Kite Day.

  Bell, a materials engineer at Lexmark, has come to Garden Springs for several years to share his love of and knowledge of kites, of which he has about 50.

  Students piled into the gym for a short show-and-tell with “the kite man” before heading out to the ball field. And Bell did not disappoint – displaying various styles and types of kites, from a simple one he made out of white wrapping paper to a huge, star-shaped nylon kite with a 25-foot tail. He also brought along a couple of multi-colored box kites and a huge American flag delta kite that really impressed the kids.

  Other crowd favorites included an eagle kite made partly of bamboo strips and the ever-popular Chinese dragon kite, which stretched out nearly the width of the basketball court. Kindergartener Emily Hacker held the hand-painted, papier-mache dragon head as Bell uncoiled the kite. He noted that it might seem fragile, but it has lots of surface area to provide lift.

  Sometimes Bell also goes into a little history lesson, mentioning such familiar names as Ben Franklin, Alexander Graham Bell and Buffalo Bill Cody. Yes, Buffalo Bill. He designed a kite train big enough to lift people into the air and tried to sell it to the Army as a scout vehicle, Bell said.

  The teachers at Garden Springs also incorporate kites into their classroom activities – in math, science, art, technology and P.E.

  “It all began when we made paper kites in art class, and there was one particular student who informed me that he had never had a kite in his entire life, and you could see the spark in his eyes,” said art teacher LaNora Long.

  “A light came on in my head, and I thought, ‘What about a Kite Day for the whole school?’ I took the idea to my principal, and he was on board with the idea. As fate would have it, our secretary at the time came across fliers on how to incorporate kites in the classroom, and she passed that on to me. The rest is history.”

  Besides Bell, other Kite Day guests have included enthusiasts from the Cardome Centre in Georgetown and from The Aviation Museum of Kentucky. But no doubt the best part is when the kids’ own kites soar into the piercing blue sky.

  “It is such a beautiful sight to see all those kites in the air,” Long said.