While facing difficult circumstances, Castle Heights Elementary has flourished this year in so many ways, and it is satisfying for all to see.
First it is the time of year when schools in the area do food drives to help people over the holidays. Castle Heights Elementary is no exception.
“We have been doing our food drive,” said Wendy Fluckey, Principal of Castle Heights Elementary. “Kids have been bringing canned food to school and it will soon be taken to the Carbon County Food Bank. The PTA is coordinating the pickup and delivery.”
For the Christmas holidays the student government is going to be working on tying fleece blankets that will be given to the Children’s Justice Center too. It is just part of working for the good of others and being kind. Students and staff are very thankful that they are in school and working hard.
“We feel lucky that we are able to do school this year with everything that is going on,” she said. “We’ve had a few positive cases of COVID 19, but mostly we have been missing some students because of quarantine. The instances in which we have had to do remote teaching have gone pretty smoothly. It helps that the teachers had that experience last spring because they now know how to do it.”
There are some students who are still learning remotely and the school has worked with that. When teachers have to remote teach they are not having to do both in-class and remote at once. The school has guest teachers in the classrooms when this is going on to monitor the class.
Activities are still going on at the school, with a lot of ingenuity being used to hold them. Halloween was a good example with the student body having their carnival and parties.
“It really was a huge success,” she stated. “We did our parade outside the building, and after it was done a lot of people thought that it should be done next year that way and maybe in the future as well. It gave everyone a chance to spread out and they were not jammed into a room.”
October was also bullying prevention month and the school concentrated on that as well.
“That was spearheaded by our school counselor, Amanda Ori,” said Fluckey. “Two of our school’s goals were emphasized with one being kindness and the other on being responsible. That goes along with our schools other goals of being safe and being respectful. Those all fit together with our behavior program.”
This month's activities also comes into play as the Turkey Trot takes place on the Tuesday before the Thanksgiving break. Kids behavior over the term will determine their points as to whether they can participate or not in that activity. The points come from a new program in the school called the Hero program that helps kids with positive behaviors.
“I will be doing a school wide broadcast on the Monday before using a Power Point that will be shown in all classrooms describing what the Turkey Trot is and the history behind it. We did the same thing last year and the students loved it. It is an exercise to help them burn calories before they have their big Thanksgiving dinners a couple of days later,” she said smiling.
Afterward they will get stickers that remind them that exercise is good and heart healthy.
She said although it has been a challenging year in many ways it has also flown by and mid term reports are going out just before Thanksgiving. After the holiday students will come back to do mid year testing at the school.
“Based on what we have been seeing, there has been phenomenal growth with student’s learning,” she explained. “Our scores on reading are really rising and we are coming close to where we were last year. We are utilizing every minute of instruction that we can because everyone has the fear that we might have to go to remote learning again at some point. It’s about preparing and focusing on what matters. It will be interesting to see what that benchmark testing will show.”
She said because of what happened last year the older grades are utilizing their Chrome Books a lot more this year and would be well prepared if things changed in school scheduling.
“There is new software that they have been using and the fourth and fifth grades students are really utilizing the technology on that kind of learning right here at school,” she explained.
Another technology related activity was a virtual PTA meeting the school held recently.
“We can’t have any group meetings like that now so we did it electronically and it went really well,” stated Fluckey. “I need to talk to the PTA about what their thoughts are on how it went, but that might be something we do in the future as well. We may even be able to get more parents to attend the meetings if we do it like that.”
Fluckey also said that the wellness and health challenges that the school has faced this year has also offered some opportunities that will provide for a better future for everyone as well.
“I think all this sanitation and work we have been doing with the students on staying healthy will pay off for years to come. They are learning habits that they will have their entire lives,” she concluded.