Schoolwide enrichment thrives at GMMS

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FPS8 class (l-r) Sophia Karabetsos, Madi Grillo, Riley Kuester, Lucy Thrall, Ben Weber, Brian Rooney. Submitted photos

As Granby Memorial Middle School approaches the close of its second year of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM), we have much to celebrate. Academic enrichment classes for students with exceptional abilities, and enrichment clusters are offered to all students during two seven-week sessions (fall and late winter). There are opportunities for enrichment for both teachers and students through professional development, classroom enrichment and the launch of student-led enrichment clusters.

One content area of focus this year has been the Creative Writing and Literary Analysis and Future Problem Solving (FPS) enrichment classes. Identified sixth, seventh and eighth grade students placed in these classes have worked hard on the development of their writing crafts and the emergence of their writer voices. FPSers identified a global issue to solve, spent considerable time researching their topics, and applied their knowledge to creating either a 1,500-word futuristic scenario or a two-dimensional piece of artwork and companion thesis statement. Global issues for students to select from, designated by the international FPS committee, were Sleeplessness, International Travel, Gamification, and Living in Poverty. 

Both classes met once during a six-day rotation allowing participating students to write and think creatively, tackle a problem and show how they would attempt to solve the problem, and portray their thinking through the written word or a piece of artwork. Foundational to both classes are 1) understanding that writing is thinking, 2) the realization that revisng is key to good writing, and 3) the development of research skills. In addition, throughout the fall and early winter, a number of enrichment students in all three grades submitted written work to various local, state, and national writing competitions including The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) American History Writing Contest (Letters about Literature, a national writing competition) and the CT Student Writers Magazine, both sponsored by the University of Connecticut. 

Just Journaling 2 students with Kathy Waddington, advisor (r.).

The fall and late winter enrichment cluster sessions focused on areas such as: mathematics, visual arts, social science, philosophy, physical science, language arts, music, life sciences and movement arts. Some of the student-driven enrichment clusters were titled: Antiques Galore, Broadcast Buddies, Just Journaling 2, Sugar Rush: Creative Food Art, Animal Helpers, Poetry, Go! Vive a tu Manera, Dance, Dance, Dance and Engineering. Various practicing professionals from the community were invited in to further educate students and teachers about their professions and passions. These included Salmon Brook Veterinary Hospital, Granby knitters, landscape/garden design architects, WFSB Channel 3 local news anchor,and technology expert. 

The following are enrichment student awards and accomplishments this year.

Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR) American History Essay Contest

First place winner – Sydney Henry, grade 7, The Voyage of the Mayflower  

CT Student Writers Magazine 2020/UConn – Honorable Mentions

Chase Alexander, grade 8, fiction, excerpt from Picking Pockets

Katie O’Neill, grade 7, science fiction, Scars

Amelia Hosack, grade 6, poetry, In and Out, Up and Down, featured at right

Rachel Ehrenwerth, grade 6, poetry, The Sole of Your Shoe

Phoebe O’Brien, grade 6, nonfiction, Old Endings and New Beginnings

Future Problem Solving of CT — State Awards

Brian Rooney, grade 8, first place scenario writing, middle division, The New Generation

Riley Kuester, grade 8, third place, visual art, middle division, Innovation X 

Editor’s note: Ms. Cowles is an enrichment coach and teacher at GMMS.

In and Out, Up and Down

In and out, up and down
My chest rises with the
Push and pull of the tide
Steady inhale and exhale
The rhythm of my breathing
In and out, up and down

Left and right, in and out
The green fields, the youthful joy
The warm smile of my mother
The soft whisper of my sister
The pitter-patter of my feet
On the wet ground

The rhythm of rain on the window
My eyes a mirror
Tears dropping on the ground
One at a time
Wiping them away,
Putting on a brave face and a smile
Looking back
Still wiping my face from crying

Tears bring me back to now
Looking at the sea
Breathing in and out
Following the push and pull
My chest falls with the exhale
In and out, up and down

—Amelia Hosack, Grade 6