Highlights from the Williams Elementary School in Oakland

Submitted by Melanie Smith, Principal of Williams Elementary School in RSU 18.

March Madness

It’s the fourth year of Williams Elementary School’s annual school-wide reading tournament.  Williams elementary staff, Valerie Glueck and Shelly Moody, started Nonfiction March Madness four years ago to celebrate our school community’s of reading and capture our excitement in a school-wide event.  Every year 16 outstanding nonfiction books are selected that we hope will foster our students’ curiosity while building background knowledge about a variety of engaging topics. On February 27, Williams kicked off the reading event by having a student representative from each classroom run into the gymnasium when each book was announced.

This year we have a book bracket with the 16 outstanding nonfiction books included in this year’s tournament. Alternative Ed teacher, Ryan Sucy created the PDF bracket for us so that students could predict the winner and monitor their favorite books throughout the rounds of our tournament.  The bracket will be sent home with students to encourage them to chat with their parents about their favorite books.

Jason Pellerin, JMG teacher at MHS, is our incredible master of ceremonies for our March Madness events.  He really knows how to hype the crowd and get kids excited about reading! Amanda Levesque, 4th grade teacher at Williams, organizes the music, lights and sound for our events, too!  We have many other staff who have helped this year and in the past to make this tradition exciting for our students. It takes a village!

Our big assembly to announce the winning title will be on Wednesday, April 3rd.

Bedtime Math’s Crazy 8’s Club

Valerie Glueck, Williams Elementary’s title 1 math teacher, organized the first Williams Elementary School Bedtime Math’s Crazy 8’s After School Club. The club started on February 27 with an activity titled Glow-In-The-Dark Geometry.  Glueck, three teachers from WES (Alexandra Cotter, Kinsey Hilton and Karen Mayo) and Messalonskee High School students Ben Hellen, Cameron Croft and Tieran Croft have volunteered their time to provide our students with fun and engaging math activities after school.

“The goal of Crazy 8s is to show that math is fun and recreational, not compulsory, in order to change our culture and get kids to think of math as play.  We offer mischief-making activities that kids love, like Bouncy Dice Explosion and Toilet Paper Olympics. We start with the fun, then roll in the math,”  (https://crazy8s.bedtimemath.org/home/what).

Breakfast with the Best 

Williams Elementary School put their Gratitude Grant into action yesterday morning as they welcomed some special guests who joined them for breakfast. As part of the RSU 18 Lifestyle Team’s focus on Being Thankful, Gracious, and Giving our schools submitted proposals for gratitude grants to support a particular project. WES set its sights on hosting a Breakfast with the Best.

The proposal written by Principal Melanie Smith read, “It is important that we help our students develop strong character traits by creating activities that allow them to be compassionate, respectful and responsible citizens. At Williams Elementary School, we would like to provide our students with the opportunity to express their gratitude to a person in their life that they are thankful for and/or that has made a difference in their life.”

Each student selected a person and wrote an essay explaining how that person was important in their lives. They worked on their essays over the course of several writing blocks.  They drafted and redrafted, working on standards, receiving feedback and support as they developed a thoughtful, polished essay detailing why they are thankful for the person they invited.  They also wrote formal invitations for the breakfasts for their guests to RSVP to.

On the day of the breakfast, students came downstairs to greet their guests with a laminated copy of their essay to give to them as a keepsake. They then escorted their guest into the beautifully decorated gymnasium to share a breakfast and celebrate the difference that these special people had made in their lives.

Guests included many parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, and uncles, but also coaches, teachers or formers teachers, and other staff members or mentors. Students opened each breakfast with a speech of welcome and the reading of a special poem.  After everyone had the chance to enjoy some snacks, each student took a moment to share their essay with their person, leaving few dry eyes around the room.

“It was really a team effort to get this morning together,” said Principal Melanie Smith. “The kitchen staff organized and prepared the breakfasts, the custodial staff had the gym set up and ready to go for Wednesday morning’s events, many staff attended multiple breakfasts to help out, and several students volunteered to stay in during recess one day to make paper flowers to decorate the tables. They also helped set up for the event, and clean up after the event took place.”

Thanks to everyone’s efforts the breakfast was a huge success. Guests were very moved by the students’ thoughtful pieces, the beautiful handmade decorations, the food and its presentation, and the event as a whole.

“This is a day that will be remembered by many for a long, long time,” said Principal Melanie Smith