It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, it’s Vowel Man
When a man in a blue bodysuit burst into Margaret Bartholomew’s kindergarten class at Fulmar Road Elementary School this week and started waving a shield featuring the letters A, E, I, O and U, it wasn’t quite the normal start to a reading lesson.
The students started chattering, pointing and laughing.
“I’m Vowel Man,” the masked hero said. “I’m here to make sure you know your vowels, because vowels can help you form words and help your reading come alive.”
To help the kindergartners remember their vowels, Vowel Man gave each child a paper "shield" featuring – what else – vowels.
“Let’s say them together,” said Vowel Man, who declined to give his proper name but resembled a certain Mahopac school administrator who oversees the district’s reading curriculum.
The class started chanting as one – “A, E, I, O, U.”
“Will you study them for me?” he asked. “They will help you become better readers. Your writing needs to have vowels in it, so people know what you’re trying to say. There’s only one way to solve this problem, it’s to learn our vowels.”
As he handed out the shields, Vowel Man asked each child to say their name and tell him which vowels it included.
Madison, who just turned six, was proud to realize that she had all five vowels in her name – A, I and O in her first name and E and U in her last.
“I’ve got them all,” she said, beaming.
It was probably inevitable, but soon the children started asking about the man behind the costume.
“Take off your mask,” one boy demanded.
But Vowel Man held firm.
As he dashed out on the way to the next kindergarten classroom, he turned and said: “This is not a costume, it’s a lifestyle.”
The children laughed and debated among themselves as he left.
“Vowel man was awesome, but I think he was wearing a costume,” said five-year-old Chad. “He looked like Captain America, with stickers on his shield and mask.”
David, who just turned six, disagreed.
“I don’t think he was wearing a costume,” David said. “He said he wasn’t.”
“When it’s not a costume, it doesn’t come off,” Avery said, disagreeing. “I think that one actually comes off.”FR News & Headlines
A Colonial Maker SpaceFourth graders at Fulmar Road Elementary School made their own toys, just like the kids in the colonial era once did. Teachers Lisa Tornambe and Keri Fredriksen helped their students make the Jacob’s Ladders during a lesson from Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES Center for Environmental Education teacher Beth Thompson."Twice a year, we get to choose a lesson that the Center for Environmental Education offers to enhance our curriculum," Tornambe said. "The fourth grade social studies curriculum is focused on history in New York State, so making the Jacob's Ladders is a nice match. We wanted our students to make something that children who lived in this region in colonial times would have made."FR News & Headlines
Fulmar Road Olympics
Principal Gary Chadwick marched across the snowy school yard, holding the Olympic torch high as a line of second graders, dressed in snow gear and waving paper flags, marched closely behind.
These were the opening ceremonies of the Fulmar Road Elementary School Olympics, where every second grader got a chance at being an Olympian.
“It’s a great way to teach them about current events and the world,” said Andrea Jones, the second grade teacher who organized the event along with her colleagues Stacey Biagini, Bernadette Krohomer, Jim Lieto, Dona Martirano and Dayna Westcott.
For weeks, the students researched 35 of the countries participating in this year’s Olympics and wrote paragraphs about each. Then they made 35 flags to carry in the opening parade. Throughout the Olympics, keeping track of the medal count will be part of the second grade math unit.
“Now they’ll pay attention to the Olympics,” Jones said. “They’ll watch the opening parade and know something about the countries and their flags. They’ll be aware of the bobsled race and the luge, and it will all mean something to them.”
But being in the Fulmar Road Olympics wasn’t all work and no play. The students competed in bobsled, luge and skeleton races. They played hockey and built snowmen. And, of course, they got medals.
Though the second grade teachers arrange an Olympics every four years, this year they got especially lucky. The weekend nor’easter blanketed the school grounds in snow and the weather on opening day, Tuesday Feb. 1, was warm and sunny.
“We couldn’t have asked for more perfect conditions,” Jones said.FR News & Headlines
The Thanksgiving Point of View
In a week when many families might tune in to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Carole Garcia donned a festive turkey headband and read a book about the history of the parade to a class of fifth graders.
“Balloons over Broadway” by Melissa Sweet tells the story of the early years of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the puppeteer who created its iconic helium balloons.
“How many of you know what a marionette is?” Garcia, the Library Aide at Fulmar Road Elementary School, asked the students from Thomas Jordan’s class.
Almost all of the students raised their hands.
“And you know how they move, right?” Garcia asked.
“Yes,” the children answered. “By strings.”
There’s no surprising fifth graders these days. Still, the children sat quietly, completely taken in by the story they were hearing and the idea of character balloons flying higher and higher above the streets of New York City.
After the book was done, the class discussed the assignment their classroom teachers had given them -- to write a story from the perspective of one of the balloons in the parade.
Some said they would write about SpongeBob SquarePants and what he would see when he looked down from the sky. Others said they would write from Smokey The Bear’s point of view.
Delilah, whose favorite subject is science, picked Aida Twist, Scientist.
“I’m writing a story and saying how it felt to her to be up that high looking down at the world and all that she saw,” Delilah said. “I’m drawing pictures too.”
For some of the students, the exercise quickly turned into science fiction. Jake didn’t want to write about just one character. He said he would write about a mix of Baby Yoda, Boss Baby and Ronald MacDonald.
“I’d like to combine them,” Jake said. “I’d love to make that abomination. He’d fly high. Then he’d look down and see a hundred million tiny humans.”
It may not be a classic Thanksgiving tale of Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrating a feast before winter, but the creative balloon combo gave the 10-year-olds something new to think about as they prepared to celebrate the traditional American holiday.FR News & Headlines
Fulmar Road Classrooms Stocked with Books
If you want to know who the main character is in the book “Because of Winn-Dixie,” just ask Victoria, a third grader at Fulmar Road Elementary School.
“It’s Winn-Dixie, the dog,” Victoria said.
“No,” her reading partner, Layla said. “It’s Opal, the girl. She’s nice.”
The 8-year-olds were discussing the finer points of Winn-Dixie, one the hundreds of books -- picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and non-fiction books -- that line the shelves in their classroom.
A classroom library stocked with high-interest books in a range of reading levels is the bedrock of the The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, which was launched in kindergarten and first grades in the Mahopac schools in 2019. The workshop-style program was added to second and third grades last year and introduced in the fourth and fifth grades this fall. It is now the reading curriculum for all elementary grades in the district.
“It was important to align the reading curriculum in all three elementary schools,” said Michael Tromblee, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Learning.
“Mahopac has made a commitment to the Reading and Writing Project. We’ve brought in a literacy coach to work with teachers, given teachers extra time to learn and purchased hundreds of books for each classroom so all students will have access to books that interest and engage them.”
Fulmar Road third-grade teacher Nicole DiMeglio said the program is inspiring her students to read more.
“The students like that they get to pick their own books,” DiMeglio said. “I help them pick books that are at their level and that they will enjoy. This is completely different from the reading program we used to use.”
Instead of using a textbook that contains passages of books that are chosen to illustrate a literary concept, the children read whole books. That doesn’t mean they don’t get instruction.
Reading time starts with a lesson on a topic such as character development or finding the main idea. Then the students read independently -- 20 minutes a day in class and 20 minutes a day at home. Students write about what they have read and teachers conference with students one-on-one to ensure they understand what they are reading. At the end of each book, there is a celebration where the children discuss the books they have read.
At the heart of it all, however, is the freedom to choose their own books.
“We are teaching them to love reading,” DiMeglio said.FR News & Headlines
All-Elementary Race is a Long Tradition
First, the Lakeview Elementary School runners camped on the hill started chanting “Let’s go Lakeview, Let’s go!” Not to be outdone, rivals Austin Road and Fulmar Road elementary schools got loud with cheers of their own.
The Annual All-Elementary Cross Country race at Lakeview Elementary School is the biggest good-time, healthy sporting event in Mahopac for the second-to-fifth-grade crowd. More than 300 students competed and it drew families, friends and neighbors from all over the district. Some lined up along the field waving signs, others had cameras outfitted with long zoom lenses; one spectator even launched a drone that followed the racers around the course.
“It’s great to see you all out here,” school Superintendent Anthony DiCarlo said before the races began. “It’s not about winning or losing. It’s just about having a good time.”
Tell that to Dylan, a 10-year-old in Mary Moriarty’s class at Lakeview who was the fastest boy in the fifth grade. Dylan trained every Friday afternoon with his mother, Angela O’Keefe, and it paid off when he came in first in his race.
“I heard the cheering and I got so excited,” Dylan said. “I looked one time and I got very distracted, so I tried not to look again. I just concentrated on running.”
For Kaitlin, a fifth grader in Vanessa Stavisky’s class, the race was all about school spirit. If the green t-shirt didn’t give away Kaitlin’s school allegiance, the Fulmar name in erasable marker on each of her arms might have.
“I came in as number 31,” Kaitlin said. “I count that as good. I don’t compare myself to others.”
The race, planned by the elementary school physical education teachers, is a long tradition in Mahopac.
“This event has been going on for well over 26 years,” Lauren Kittredge, a physical education teacher at Austin Road Elementary School, said. “Children in grades two to five competed in a race according to their age.”
Those ages 10 and older ran a mile. Those eight and nine years old ran three-quarters of a mile and the youngest runners, six and seven-year-olds, ran a half mile.
Alexa, a Lakewview second grader whose father stood at the sidelines with a brightly colored sign, came in fourth.
She mock-collapsed on the ground as if the race had taken all the energy she had.
Still, she will be back for more. Students from Austin, Fulmar & Lakeview schools will compete at The Mahopac Elementary 5K Run at FDR Park in Yorktown on Wednesday, Oct. 27.FR News & Headlines
The minute the kindergartners stepped off the buses at Outhouse Orchards in North Salem the excitement began.
It was the children’s first field trip and there was so much to see -- a pumpkin patch, a corn maze, a hay-filled tractor. The first thing that caught their eyes, however, were their parents, many of whom had driven to meet the buses and enjoy the field trip with their children.
“Mom, Mom, Dad,” some of the children shouted, eager to run for a hug.
The kindergarten teachers from Fulmar Road Elementary School -- Kathryn Jesselli, Lisa Barletta, Margaret Bartholomew, Patricia LaPeruta and Fran Shea and Megan Shea, who are known to the students as Mrs. Shea and Ms. Shea, respectively -- kept the students in line until they could all calmly join up.
“This is going to be fun,” said Nash, as his mom, Tiffany Ward, smiled.
Wearing matching shirts that read “Mahopac High School Class of 2034” the kindergartners broke up into class groups with their teachers and went to explore the orchard.
Robert L. Treadway, Outhouse’s tour guide/storyteller started Mrs. Shay’s class off with some tales.
“Who knows who Johnny Appleseed is?” he asked, pointing to the fields of apple trees beyond.
Nash’s hand went up: “He cut down the apple tree.”
“Um, not exactly,” Treadway said. “That was George Washington.”
Later, after talking about the corn maze as a little hint, Treadway asked “What’s another name for corn?”
“Corn on the cob,” some children shouted..
“That’s true,” Treadway said. “But I was thinking ‘maize.’”
Soon the children set out to pick their pumpkins, bounce around in a hayride, find their way through the corn maze and color at a picnic table.
“A great time was had by all,” Mrs. Shea said. “The children enjoyed apple cider donuts, apples and water provided by their teachers.”FR News & Headlines
What first graders like about Fulmar Road Elementary School
Caleb, 6, a first grader in Tracy Barrows’ class:
“I like Mrs. Barrows because she lets us play math games,” Caleb said. “My favorite number is 100. It’s a big number, but it’s not the biggest number. I’ve counted up to 100 before. How did I get there? I just kept on counting.”
Joseph, 7, a first grader in Tracy Barrows’ class:
“I love writing stories because you get to draw,” Joseph said. “My last story was about when me and my dad went to a water park in New Jersey. I drew a lot of pictures about that and my dad really liked it. We hung it up in my bedroom. I like to look at it before I go to sleep.”
Leanna, 6, a first grader in Carol Stefunek’s class:
“My teacher is really nice,” Leanna said. “Once she let us have a lollipop while we were reading. I like making friends. Joselyn put her towel next to mine one day and sat next to me. I asked if she wanted to be friends and she said ‘yes.’ We are best friends now.”
Photos: Caleb, Joseph, Leanna, Leanna and JoselynFR News & Headlines
2021-22 School Supply Lists for all Grades are Now Available!FR News & Headlines
5th Grade Legacy Project - Spirit of StrengthFor the annual tribute to their beloved elementary school, Fulmar 5th grade students created a poppy flower field.Art teacher Melissa Lindsay explained the process which led the artists to the final product. "I thought the poppy flower was a wonderful symbol of strength, especially for what our 5th graders have had to go through given last year and this year. They have demonstrated their own strength and resilience and their poppy flower field is a great testament to their enduring strength in the face of much change and difficulties. They looked at many images of the flower and we discussed the history behind its importance. The flower that the students created used an impasto technique where they sculpted their poppy flower with paint and a palette knife on a canvas board. Their flower is abstract in nature and the history of the poppy flower itself is known to represent resilience and strength in the face of difficulties and honoring those who have stood to help others in need."The 5th grade legacy project is 26 feet in length and is currently installed in the Kindergarten wing of the building, above the lockers. The yearbook editor also did a beautiful job creating a legacy project page just for the 5th grade.Well done Fulmar Class of 2021!FR News & Headlines
Fulmar's Finest Headed to MMS
Fulmar 5th graders sat with their parents and each stood as his or her name was called by the fifth grade teachers. After all the fifth graders were recognized, there was not a dry eye in the house as the class watched a beautifully choreographed and set to music video montage of pictures from the class’ past six years at Fulmar Road - kindergarten through this year and then a “then and now” segment with adorable baby pictures.
Superintendent DiCarlo praised the resiliency of the class and Mr. Chadwick made lots of jokes about his incredibly technologically savvy 5th graders. He also congratulated their parents for being excellent IT support. Students, parents, and teachers cheered as names were called to recognize the “graduates.”
The class then stood up together one last time and walked out of the room and through the halls high-fiving and hugging teachers and fellow students as they headed back to their classrooms and then to an outside celebration.
Congratulations Fulmar’s Finest!FR News & Headlines
MCSD 2020-2021 District-wide Art Show
MCSD 2020-2021 District-wide Art Show
The Mahopac Central School District believes that Art education is an essential component of human development. Through Visual Art, students are empowered to be creative, “out of the box” thinkers and conscious designers; they are able to discover and express who they are, communicate their ideas, understand the visual, cultural, and virtual world, take risks, work collaboratively, make connections in their learning, innovate, develop an increasing sense of their own aesthetic, and authentically engage in their education.
The inaugural District-wide Art Show centralizes all the a talent district wide from Kindergarten to 12th Grade. Click the link below, explore, and enjoy!FR News & Headlines
Snow In June!Students in Kathryn Jesselli’s class at Fulmar Road were in for an unexpected surprise on one of the hottest days of the year: a snow ball fight! Although the kids did not know it was coming, Mrs. Jesselli’s has been doing this tradition with her class every year since she started teaching at Fulmar. “I look forward to it with every year, both because it’s fun and because the kids are so surprised and excited about it once they see the snow.”Principal Gary Chadwick joined the class wearing his ski goggles as they each wore mittens, hats and scarves as they shared the easy reader book “Snow in July.”Then Mrs. Jesselli snuck out of the room to the faculty freezer and brought back two buckets filled with snow from the first snowfall of the season. Students each got a scoop of snow in their hands which they played with on their desks and then headed outside for a snowball fight. It was a great day!FR News & Headlines
One Book, One School, and Many Enthusiastic Readers
The children in Stacey DiLullo’s third grade class at Fulmar Road Elementary School took out their snacks, arranged them on their desks and waited for the story to begin.
It was time to listen to “The Nocturnals: The Mysterious Abductions” by Tracey Hecht, and the students didn’t want to miss a minute of the tale. But their teacher was not the one reading to them that day. Instead, as the students nibbled their snacks, they listened to a second grade teacher, Bernadette Khrohomer, read Chapter 22 and act-out the voices of various animal characters as she went.
“Oh, that’s Mrs. Khrohomer,” one girl said. “She was my teacher last year.”
March was “One Book, One School” month at Fulmar Road Elementary School, the time when the entire school reads the same book on the same schedule.
“The whole point of ‘One Book, One School’ is to build a common, schoolwide language,” DiLullo said. “We want everyone in the school building to have one thing they share so a first grader might say to a fifth grader, ‘I loved Chapter 21.’ It may be the only thing that is common to children in every grade during the course of a year.”
Each of the elementary schools in the Mahopac school district have been running similar schoolwide reading events for several years now, though each calls it by a slightly different name. The PTOs in every school buy the books for the entire school.
The program was a big hit right from the start. Then, during the pandemic, “One Book, One School” went high-tech. Teachers, teacher aides and school staff took turns recording chapters of the book to be placed on a website that the children could access at home. The reading schedule was placed on the website as well, with chapters assigned to each day. Children and their families were asked not to jump ahead.
Patricia Huestis, Instructional Educational Technology Specialist for K-5 schools, set up the websites.
“During the pandemic, we needed a way for the kids to be read to, so we decided to try and record different teachers reading each chapter,” Huestis said. “It worked really well, and we wanted to keep doing it. We Screencastify the book cover and the kids can just sit, listen and concentrate on the voice that’s reading.”
DiLullo, who leads Fulmar Road’s site-based committee, recommended “The Nocturnals,” and added several creative touches of her own to the website. She used iMovie to make a Hollywood-style trailer that introduces the characters of the book to the young readers. She also put together a slideshow with photos and facts about the real-life animals on which the characters are based, and she created a contest page that allowed the readers to vote for their favorite character.
“We try to find a book that is the first of a series,” DiLullo said. “That way, if they like it, they’ll be able to look for others in the series. Our aim is to promote a love of reading.”
It seemed to be working for the third-graders in DiLullo's class. One student, Aaron, said he couldn't wait to get to the next chapter of “The Nocturnals."
“Every chapter in this book has a cliffhanger,” Aaron said. “I like cliffhangers. They give you a sense of mystery and clues to try and figure out. It’s like a puzzle, but I really want to know what happens next.”FR News & Headlines
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: One School One Book!
One School, One Book is that special time of year when the whole school - students, parents, teachers, even administrative staff - read the same book as part of a school-wide book club.
This year, OSOB kicked off on May 3 with each class viewing the launch video, complete with some cameo appearances by students and staff members, introducing the community book “Almost Super” to students. Next, a copy of the book is delivered to each adult and child in the building so the can read independently, together, or visit the Fulmar Road One School One Book YouTube Channel and enjoy recordings of guest readers reading each chapter on our YouTube channel.
“One School One Book builds an academic connection between every student in the building while having fun! When our entire school reads the same book, the buzz and excitement around the book being read increases these benefits and there is the added joy of building community in the school family.”FR News & Headlines
VowelMan Visits Fulmar KindergartensTo the delight of Fulmar’s kindergarten classes Vowelman made a surprise appearance!This time walking the halls, visiting students in their classes, and admiring their beautifully decorated vowel shields. Just like their friends at Lakeview, Fulmar’s kindergartners demonstrated their letter knowledge by telling him what vowels were in their names and were excited to pose for pictures with him.Katherine Jesselli sent him off with a special message, “Thank you VOWELMAN for coming to our classroom and delivering our Vowel Shields!”Where will he show up next?FR News & Headlines
Learning Together is All in a Day's WorkVanessa Stavinski’s fifth graders at home and in school used a variety of reading comprehension strategies to dig into Edward Tulane, which is a heartwarming story of a china doll rabbit who, after something terrible happens to him, learns to love and care for others.The mindful reading of the book employed strategies including: sticky note, reflect, jot, discuss, sketch note, and share to dig deep and find meaning in the pages. This process helps readers engage with text and focus on specific aspects of the reading process. In other words #metacognition or thinking about their thinking.In both modalities, students were able to “learn together” with Mrs Stavinski’s guidance and for her class that is “all in a day’s work!”FR News & Headlines
2020-2021 One Page Calendar
This Calendar includes school breaks, holidays, and color cohort days for the entire 2020-2021 school year. *Please refer to specific communications from schools for building specific changes and updates.*FR News & Headlines
Spotlight Special Edition: Fulmar Road Reopening
Please enjoy this Spotlight especially for Fulmar Road Families about the Reopening.FR News & Headlines
Elementary Schools Parade a Success!
Teachers and staff from all three of Mahopac’s elementary schools - Lakeview, Austin Road, and Fulmer Road - held a parade on Friday, June 5, to pay tribute and say goodbye to their students, who they haven’t seen in person since the pandemic shutdown began. Students lined Route 6 with signs so they could say “goodbye” as well in a touching tribute.
Check out pictures of the parade - with many pictures submitted by YOU - here!
Read more about it and see even more pictures in the Mahopac News: https://www.tapinto.net/towns/mahopac/sections/education/articles/a-parade-of-goodbyesFR News & Headlines
You're invited to the Mahopac Elementary Schools End of Year Parade
The entire Mahopac Community is invited to line the parade route on Friday, June 5th, as spectators in the Mahopac Elementary End of Year Parade. Expect beeping horns, waving and cheering teachers and staff in decorated cars, and lots of smiles as the parade winds through town.
The parade will start at the bus garage at 10 a.m. After leaving the bus garage, the route will be as follow: right on Myrtle Avenue, left on Brook Road, left on Route 6N, right on Secor Road, right on North Wood Street, bear right on Bullet Hole Road, Right on Austin Road, left on Secor Road, left on Route 6N, left on Route 6 and end at approximately 10:45 a.m. on Route 6 and Crane Road.
See the flyer and trip detail below this message.FR News & Headlines
Fulmar Road Staff Makes Video for Students
The Fulmar Road Staff came together to send a create a message for their students. Take a peek at the video complete with pictures and messages from principals, teachers, and more! https://youtu.be/EHrNuH8U8YAFR News & Headlines
School Counseling Advisory Survey Closed
Thank you to those who participated in the Guidance Survey.
Participants will be contacted individually as the District moves forward with the formation of the Guidance Council.FR News & Headlines