This Just In #527: Week of March 30, 2020

Welcome to This Just In, a weekly news show
highlighting the people and events in Newport News Public schools, where students
experience the past to learn about diverse cultures and how they currently affect
the world. Students and families at Epes and Sanford
elementary schools experienced a diverse array of sights, sounds, and tastes from countries
and cultures around the world. To
bring awareness and appreciation to lifestyles beyond the borders of Virginia and the
United States, each school held its own International Night. During the event, halls and
classrooms showcased artifacts, activities, and cultural representations of a passport-
full of geographic locations. All activities had a literacy component, associating
international discoveries with reading here at home. Students could play Navajo Indian
ring toss while reciting sight words, or get in a game of British High Tea Synonym Bingo. Participants also tasted International food,
including some familiar selections, like Puerto Rican rice and Chinese noodles, or
the more exotic, such as Russian caviar and Jamaican banana chips. And throughout the evening, families heard
cultural dance music, like Native American rhythms, or Cameroon
African bongo drums. While
organizing both International Nights, the Family and Community Engagement team
enlisted the help of an equally diverse collection of collaborators. The Peninsula Fine
Arts Center loaned display items representing Mali and Eqypt. Denbigh and Menchville
High School’s JROTC members served food. And many of the schools’ international
parents and staff members represented their own countries of origin with authentic food
and artifacts. Elementary students learned to put their best
foot forward as the reel part of a Colonial lifestyle. For one day, students at Charles Elementary
experienced immersive learning that was over 300 years in the making. Every year, 4 th graders at Charles celebrate
Colonial Day, a comprehensive conclusion to their unit of
study on Colonial Economics. With young
men wearing the traditional three-cornered hats, and young ladies dressed in long
gowns and caps, the students rotated through three stations to experience life in the 18
th century. In one classroom, students created artwork
using their own silhouettes. While
in another class, students made butter from scratch, by shaking heavy cream until
thickened. Charles’ cafeteria manager baked fresh bread
for the students to enjoy their buttery spread. And outside, students experienced some of
the fun games and activities that colonial children would’ve
enjoyed after all the family chores were completed. As the day wrapped up, families and younger
students were invited to a 4 th grade performance of the Virginia Reel. For weeks, the students worked with their
resource teachers to learn the timing, rhythm, and choreographed movements of this
spirited American folk dance. By dressing the part and participating in
timeless traditions, students at Charles gained a firsthand
knowledge about life in the 1700’s. Teaching young students about history is one
thing; getting them excited about Ancient Civilizations is another. Yet, the 3rd grade teachers at Sedgefield
Elementary did just that. They made lessons interesting and relevant,
as students immersed themselves into the intriguing life and times of of the
distant past. For their home project
assignment, the 3rd grade scholars selected one of the Ancient Civilizations they had
been studying, and created an artifact, which an historian could relate to that
civilization. Students also wrote a detailed paragraph to
accompany the artifact, explaining key cultural aspects such as the
architecture, natural resources, and demographic features. To conduct the needed research, students had
the opportunities to comb the Main Street Library and Sedgefield’s
own library for books holding ancient clues. The assignment made history when the Sedgefield
Cafe turned into a living museum for parents and families to explore,
showcasing displays, created artifacts, and the students themselves dressed in period
costumes. The young historians proudly
offered details and demonstrations related to their ancient civilizations, proving that
their personal connection to their research will
one day be looked back on as an historically significant time in their educational lives. The Governor extended the statewide school
closures for the remainder of the school year, and Newport News Public Schools will
continue to support students and families during this prolonged period of time. The Virginia Department of Education will
provide school divisions with guidance on continued
teaching and learning, graduation requirements for the class of 2020, and the
issuing of standard and verified credits. Students and families should continue to utilize
the At-Home Learning resources. This
week, new academic packets for At-Home Learning are available for pre-K to 5th grade
students. Families can pickup these virtual learning
plans at all elementary schools. And please remember that NNPS will continue
to provide meals-to-go for anyone 18 years of age or younger at designated schools
and mobile sites. Newport News Public
Schools will continue to keep you updated through phone calls, emails, social media,
and the NNPS website. Thanks for joining us for this week’s edition
of This Just In. And check out more fun
and informative videos at to see the many great things happening in
Newport News Public Schools. Thanks for watching.

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