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Lesson Plans: Stony Creek students raise funds for climbing wall

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By AJ Vicens

After running a mile as part of a fund-raiser on April 22 at Stony Creek Elementary School, third-grader K.J. Shearer had one question for gym teacher Doug Scott.

“Can we fall down now?” she asked, laughing, before sprawling on the grass.

K.J., along with hundreds of other students at the school, ran the mile to raise funds for a new rock-climbing wall for their gym. Each student solicited donations in exchange for completing the run.

“It was really, really tiring,” K.J. said after recovering her energy. “We weren’t allowed to fall down,” she said, exaggerating a bit. But when it came to her motivation for completing the mile on a warm spring day, she got right to the point: “If it wasn’t for the rock-climbing wall, I wouldn’t have done it.”

The wall will cost about $7,300, and the school’s Parent Teacher Organization will match up to $3,000, Scott said. Organizers had not counted all the money the students raised as of April 22, but Nikki Crouse, a Stony Creek parent and the main organizer of the fund-raiser, said she’s pretty sure the money will be there.

“It’s going to be awesome,” Scott said, describing the climbing wall he’s wanted to add to the gym for several years.

The wall will be about 40 feet long 8 feet high. The wall becomes more challenging as the climber moves laterally, something Scott said would help the kids develop upper-body and core strength. He’s hoping to install the wall during the summer and have it ready for fall 2009 classes.

“The kids were really motivated,” Crouse said. “They were motivated to take ownership of their school and work for something they wanted.”

Third-grader Emma Boatman walked around the playground with a big smile on her face as she devoured an Otter Pop, a sugary treat well earned after running the mile.

“It was good,” Emma said. “I was surprised by how long it was, and I’m kind of tired.”

But it was worth it, she said.

“I think it’s going to be pretty cool,” she said. “I haven’t learned how to rock climb yet.”

Westridge Elementary holds first-ever Earth Day celebration

Westridge Elementary School’s first-ever Earth Day celebration April 22 was more than just a party.

Most of the school’s 512 students learned practices and habits teachers hope they’ll carry through their lives, such as recycling, conserving energy and mulching.

“We just think it’s nice to teach them something about the environment,” said Gia DeSalm, a fifth-grade teacher and one of the main organizers of the day’s activities. DeSalm and two other teachers, Jesse Crock (art) and Chris Pena (fifth-grade), started the Green Club earlier in the school year. The club has been recycling and meets regularly to discuss ways to help the environment. Students in the group served as helpers for the various Earth Day activities.

“I’m happy I’m doing this,” said Austin Blatner, a fifth-grader who helped at the tree-planting station. “I definitely want to do this again next year.”

Blatner, along with fellow fifth-grader Blake Spaulding and sixth-grader Cody Winkleblack, helped dig holes for three new trees on the school’s lawn.

“When we dug the holes, we found bolts from the farm we think was here,” Cody said.

“There might have been a stone wall, too, because we found so many rocks,” Blake said.

The trees were provided to the school at a steep discount by Jared’s Nursery and Garden Center on West Bowles Avenue, according to Tom Martin, who works for Swingle Lawn, Tree and Landscape Care. Martin and two of his colleagues, Keith McLoughlin and Jon Elliot, helped plant the trees and put new mulch around the existing trees.

Martin was excited about the fact that the children would be able to come see the trees they helped plant throughout their lifetimes.

“Those trees should live 75 to 100 years,” Martin said, adding that they’ll grow to be 40 to 50 feet tall. “Some of the kids were saying they’re excited to come back and see the trees in 30 years.”

Principal Bar Boillot said she’s proud of the teachers who organized the event, “but what I’m most pleased with is the community support.” She praised Swingle and Jared’s, the parent volunteers who came to help and several people who came to teach the kids lessons about helping the environment.

“It shows that we’re all in this together,” Boillot said.

At the event My Own Two Hands, students were given two pieces of paper cut into the shape of hands. They had to write things they could do to help the environment on each paper hand. All the hands will be hung on a wall in the school’s lobby in the shape of a tree.

Anna Dahlstrom, a quiet second-grader, shared two things she’s going to do for the Earth.

“I’m going to try and take showers and not baths, and to turn off the lights when I’m not using them,” she said. “That way I’ll save electricity and water.”

Imagining a top finish

For the second year in a row, five home-schooled boys took first place in the statewide Destination ImagiNation program.

The winning team, called the DI DI O’s, consists of Dakotah Mann, Sage Mann, Devan Allen, Taran Meek and Mathies Zykowski. The boys, ranging in age from 9 to 12, competed in the middle school division. Last year, they took first place in the elementary school competition.

“It’s just a fantastic program to teach kids how to work together as a team and to accomplish goals,” said Stefanie Mann, one of two team managers. “Kids are amazing if you let them.”

Destination ImagiNation is multi-faceted — all with the goal of teaching children to solve problems, use critical-thinking skills and work as a team. In the competition, the team members had to perform a skit that they wrote, including creation of props. Over the course of the several months, they built a structure that would support weight that had to be incorporated into the play. The structure they built weighed 22 grams and supported 315 pounds of weight.

In addition, at the competition, they were given four minutes to solve a problem they had never seen before.

According to Stefanie Mann, the boys put in a lot of time to prepare for the competition.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com with news about South Jeffco schools.