Thursday, July 22, 2010

Edgewood Highlands opens Y2K time capsule

Cranston Herald
July 22, 2010
All text and photos by Jen Cowart

EDGEWOOD TIME CAPSULE: Principal Marlene Gamba and Walter Jeschke pull out letters addressed to the students from the class of 1999 inside the time capsule.

In the year 2000, the students and staff at Edgewood Highlands Elementary School created a time capsule, which was to remain closed until 2010.

To end the 2010 school year, the Edgewood Highlands Elementary School staff, students, and alumni, gathered once again. The time capsule was opened, and a new time capsule was on display, which would be closed for another 10 years.

As a sign of the passing decade, class photos from each classroom were on display from the 1999 school year.

Principal Marlene Gamba welcomed the evening’s guests, especially returning staff members Walter Jeschke and Carol Mitola who returned for the opening.

“I’m so excited to be here. I have a lot of fond memories of this room,” said Mitola. “We held a lot of programs in here for both staff and students.”

Mitola was a first grade teacher and music teacher at Edgewood Highlands and spent a total of 30 years teaching in Cranston Public Schools before her retirement.

Jeschke, who was the student council advisor at the time, served as emcee for the evening, reaching into the tall time capsule over and over to pull out one piece of memorabilia after another.

“I have no idea what we even put in here,” said Jeschke. “We did so many things, we loved this school so much.”

Jeschke first pulled out a faculty list from that school year.

“There were a lot of special people on this list, a lot of special memories,” he said.

He pulled out several more items including a cell phone and a list of the best children’s books of that time that included “Maniac Magee” and the “Goosebumps” series.

Jeschke next withdrew a stack of envelopes addressed to the students of 1999. Each one had written a letter, which was to be mailed to them in 2010. Gamba and Jeschke noted the difference in the cost of a postage stamp from 1999-2010.

Music CDs were pulled out, including ones by the Backstreet Boys, Enrique Iglesias and Brittney Spears. Cassette tapes were also removed from the capsule, which are now almost obsolete.

Other objects included Beanie Babies and Barbie dolls.

Another piece of memorabilia that drew a response from the audience was a Providence Journal newspaper. The headline of the day at that time was “Day of Drama,” the Eric Gonsalves case.

Following the opening of the time capsule, several groups of students provided entertainment for the audience, singing and dancing as a teaser for the school’s upcoming talent show later that week.

The items from the time capsule, as well as the new time capsule waiting to be sealed, were on display until the last day of school. At that time, the new capsule was closed officially until 2020.

Music talks to Arlington students

Cranston Herald
July 22, 2010
All text and photos by Jen Cowart

MEET MY CELLO: Sandy Kiefer introduces the students at Arlington Elementary School to her cello.

Sandy Kiefer and her cello visited the students at Arlington Elementary School before the end of school as part of a grant from the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Citizens Bank. The “Talking Cellos” program was just one piece of a three-part musical experience for students, which also included a visit from “The Whompers” and a trip to a Rhode Island Philharmonic performance.

Kiefer brought her cello from classroom to classroom, introducing it and its many parts to the students.

“I travel with my beautiful instrument and it’s not a guitar, not a violin, and it’s not a piano. It’s a cello,” she said.

In Kim Case’s kindergarten class, Kiefer showed the students all of the animal sounds that her cello could make.

As a way of integrating music and writing, Kiefer and the students in Kim Fera’s second grade class created a story together. She gave the students choices for characters, setting and events for each part of the story and together they chose the direction in which the story would go.

Once finished, Kiefer read the story in words, and then she and her cello “read” the story aloud musically as Kiefer played what the students had written.

“The cello is an amazing instrument,” Kiefer said. “You can do so many things with it.”

Kiefer spent a few minutes speaking to the students about the bow, which is the piece that is used to play the cello itself.

“The bow is not big and curvy like my cello. A long time ago it used to look like a rainbow and then they straightened it out,” she said.

After showing the bow to the students, she had them guess what the bow was made out of. Several students guessed material such as string, cotton and rubber, before the correct guess was made: horse hair.

Because the cello’s bow is so tightly kept, Kiefer loosened the peg so that the students could see the similarity to a horse’s tail.

“It’s not electric, it’s not an iPod, it’s not a DVD player, it’s just horse hair,” she said.

Finally, Kiefer asked the students to imagine if they only knew four words and had to make all of their sentences using just the words: mom, popcorn, cat and school bus.

“The cello can make a couple of thousand sounds, and I’m only playing about 100 of them for you today,” she said.

Before Kiefer left each classroom, she gave all of the students a Mystery Cello worksheet, which had a drawing of half a cello on it and asked the students to fill in the missing parts to the instrument.

An 'Island' farewell for Oak Lawn

Cranston Herald
July 22, 2010
All text and photos by Jen Cowart

ISLAND SPIRIT: Anthony Heng, Sam Franco, Arianna Boscia, Matt Lonardo and Ryan Marsella played Jamaican music for the other students who visited the Island Bazaar.

The students in Patricia Ruggieri and Rosemary Reardon’s sixth grade classes bid farewell to the school year and hello to summer by hosting an Island Bazaar during the last week of school.

The idea came about when the staff and students realized that there were many unused products from their school store that were never opened during this school year. As they tried to decide what to do with all of the merchandise, the idea for the Island Bazaar began to take shape.

“We had difficulty starting up with the school store, and then we had no place to open, and no good time to have it. We decided to do this instead,” said Reardon.

The students realized that although they had a great deal of merchandise to sell, more was still needed in order to market their bazaar to the entire school. They decided to make things to sell.

Bookmarks, hair accessories, origami flowers and pins made the list and the students began outlining a plan for when they would make their creations.

“We set up a schedule where they would work very hard and focus in the morning and then make their crafts and get ready for their production in the afternoon,” said Reardon. “They were even making origami flowers during their lunch.”

Every grade visited the bazaar to a set schedule. Each visiting class was treated to Jamaican music, games, relays, and even got the chance to learn the musical instruments.

Retiring music teacher Jean Green had been teaching the sixth graders some Jamaican music to go along with the play “The Cat and a Rat,” as part of an end of the year unit of study. They were also learning how to perform using several musical instruments, such as the bass xylophone, in conjunction with the songs for the play.

“We made enough money to give our volunteers all a gift, give a sixth grade gift to our school, and pay off our school store bill,” said Reardon.

What began as a solution to one problem became a huge success in the eyes of the sixth graders and their teachers.

“This has been great. They loved it,” Reardon said.

Peters School remembers Ms. Rankin

Cranston Herald
July 22, 2010
All text and photos by Jen Cowart

REMEMBERING MS. RANKIN: Principal Patricia Caporelli explains that just as Meg Rankin had an effect on the future, so too would her memorial tree spread its branches far and wide for many years.

Margaret “Meg” Rankin, a teacher at George J. Peters Elementary School, lost her battle with cancer this past April.

But thanks to the staff, students and families of the Peters community, she won’t soon be forgotten.

At a ceremony last month, Principal Patricia Caporelli hosted a ceremony to celebrate Rankin’s life and commitment to education in Cranston. Rankin’s mother, Nancy Scarton, had traveled to Rhode Island for the memorial ceremony.

“We are truly honored to have you here to help us celebrate the life and memory of a special faculty member,” said Caporelli. “This is a bittersweet celebration because we all wish she were here with us.”

She introduced Patricia Bennett’s second grade class, who read a class letter, “Dear Meg Rankin’s Mom,” with each child reading a part of the letter. They said they thought Scarton would enjoy hearing some of the special things about her daughter, which included her smiling face when she entered their classroom, and a book about homonyms that she shared with them one day.

Four students from Rankin’s fourth grade class shared memories of their beloved teacher, describing her as kind, incredible, nice and spectacular.

“Ms. Rankin was a very good teacher. She was kind and nice and helpful. My favorite memory of her was when we made gingerbread houses,” said Lexie Freeman. “I will miss her but I am thankful that I have such happy memories of her.”

Fifth grader Brittany Tougas read a poem aloud to the audience.

“Ms. Rankin took you through miles and miles of challenges, even though she had the biggest challenge of her own to face,” Tougas said. “A part of her will always remain with us.”

Tougas’ poem was followed by the fifth grade chorus performing an emotional rendition of, “I Have a Dream.”

Faculty member and friend of Rankin, Patricia Bennett, presented Scarton with Rankin’s yearbook, which she had purchased earlier in the school year. It was filled with messages from the staff and teachers at Peters. She invited anyone else to add a message as well.

The ceremony moved outside, where a Weeping Cherry Tree donated by Briden Nursery was planted in the yard of the school. The George J. Peters Sunshine Committee, along with the students at Peters, donated a bench to accompany the tree.

J. DiMarco Landscape donated flowers to be planted around the tree, and the Cranston Teachers Alliance 30 Week Club donated a memorial plaque for the bench.

The students and faculty, family and friends surrounded the perimeter of the area in which the tree was being planted as Caporelli continued the ceremony.

“Someone once said that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago,” said Caporelli. “The second best time is today.”

She stated that every action today has an effect on the future, and that Rankin had touched the future of so many students.

“For many years, this tree will spread its branches wide in memory of Ms. Meg Rankin,” Caporelli said.

Although it had been a cloudy, rainy morning, the sun shone brightly for the tree planting ceremony.

“Meg would not have had it any other way,” Scarton said as she thanked everyone for their support and for being a part of Rankin’s life.

Rankin’s family members and the students and staff were asked to come forward if they wanted to help lay the dirt around the tree, and many did step forward.

Bennett read a personal letter about her friendship with Rankin and all of the things she’d learned from her. Although Rankin was fighting her own battles, Bennett said she always asked what she could do to help others.

Scarton reminded the students how much her daughter had loved them.

“Meg was not married and did not have any children of her own, but you were all her children and she loved each and every one of you as an individual,” she said.