LEHMAN TWP. — Just about any first-grader in the Lehman-Jackson Elementary School can tell you about hatching an egg. There is concern for temperature and humidity in the incubator. There’s candling the eggs to see if they are viable.
And Thursday, May 5, there were the results of their hard work. Six baby chicks stole the show in the school’s annual academic fair to the delight of parents and other relatives, friends, visitors – and the very proud first-graders themselves.
The event, now in its second year, is the result of principal Don James’ efforts to showcase student achievement in something other than the “usual” science fair.
“It got to the point where the science fair was actually boring,” James said. “There were the same old experiments and displays that everyone had seen over and over. This is totally different.”
With a bit of research, he found the “academic fair” concept, took it to the teachers and both they and their students eagerly embraced the chance to learn and be creative at the same time. Each grade level takes a subject area and comes up with creative idea to illustrate it. The students put everything together in school during special class times and try to keep their ideas and projects under wraps so that the academic fair itself is a surprise to everyone.
In addition, the students display their artwork throughout the building’s central hallway.
The result is a huge party-like evening at the school, with crowds bustling from one exhibit to another. The general responses are “oohs” and “aahs” throughout the building.
Back “on the farm,” the hallway full of construction paper animals on the walls, a display about bees and beehives and a plethora of paper-plate chickens in nests, youngsters could also try on farmer hats and get their photos taken or play with toy farm trucks and animals in a bin full of dried corn kernels.
Across the hall, the fourth graders took over the library with their creative book reports with the theme, “Reading Will Take You Places.”
Fourth-grader Aaron Wood led his parents to the project on Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” and explained how it came about.
“I worked on it with Teagan and Will,” he said. “Teagan made monsters from modeling clay and then added color to them. I did the typing to get the papers with the information on them. And we all filled in wherever we could with painting.”
Around the corner, the third graders took over one hall with their Arctic Tundra, a hall with walls full of moose, polar bears, penguins and a giant igloo made from empty plastic gallon jugs. The snowflakes on the walls also featured QR codes for scanning with smartphones. Each of the youngsters looked up information, pictures and sounds about life in frozen lands then loaded the information into the codes. Visitors could scan with their phones and retrieve the information.
“If you want to, you can hear a penguin sneeze,” said teacher Dara Lopasky, on hand to help novice scanners.
Sixth-graders opted for local social studies, taking a close look at the history of places that make up Lake-Lehman, places like Harveys Lake and its Bud Light Amphitheatre, the Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus and the Hayfield House, the Luzerne County Fair and state game lands with models and posters illustrating each site.
In the cafeteria, the Cadet Band offered visitors a chance to try a musical instrument or three, or even try on a band uniform.
Ninth-grader Cierra Snyder helped fourth-grader Kaylee Kovaly try her hand at woodwinds.
“They needed an extra hand here,” Snyder said. She was fairly well-qualified, since she plays saxophone, trumpet, guitar and percussion instruments herself.
Kovaly preferred the saxophone over the clarinet.
“I guess we’ll be getting another instrument in the house,” said her mom, Sandy. “Her six brothers and sisters all played instruments. She’s the last. And, of course, she likes one we don’t have already.”
The fair also pays things forward. The high-energy second grade commandeered the gym, where they hosted a carnival with a variety of games.
“I got to make a poster with basketballs and popcorn,” said Brynleigh Bennett. “That’s all.”
But that wasn’t all. Teachers were on hand to supervise, but Bennett and her classmates did all the work at each of the games, collecting money, supervising competitors and handing out prizes. The class decided to put all of their funds raised into making improvements at the school’s playground.
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