Headline Archives March 2015

     Headline Archives
    March 2015
    headline archives
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     Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss
    Mrs. Achee's 1st Grade class at Tucker Elementary celebrates Dr. Seuss and his birthay on March 2!
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    Hammond Eastside Elementary Magnet School Science Fair Winners

    Hammond Eastside is proud to announce that eighth graders, Garrett Sanders and Madison Greer, both placed at the Regional Science Fair held at Southeastern Louisiana University on March 13th. Garrett placed 1st, and Madison placed 2nd in the region! We are so very proud of them both! They will be representing Hammond Eastside at the State Science Fair at Louisiana State University on March 23-24th

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    ACT Boot Camp at SLU

    Students at Hammond High Magnet School experienced “A Day at Southeastern” on Thursday, March 12. Educational Talent Search, one of Southeastern’s TRIO Programs, extended the invitation to the junior class of HHMS to visit the campus and receive beneficial information that would help them in improving ACT scores and become productive citizens in the local community. Click here for Full Story.

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    Independence High Ag students plant corn
     Independence High School Agriculture students planted corn in their field recently. These students gain relevant agriculture experiences through hands-on learning. Pictured above are Kevin Johnson, Andrew Goynes, Jose' Alfaro, Ulyses Garcia, and Nick Perkins.
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    Youth Art Month at Woodland Park Elementary Magnet School

    In celebration of Youth Art Month in March, students in Mrs. Disher's Visual Arts classes at Woodland Park Elementary Magnet School have been busy at work. Woodland Park will be represented by selected pieces on exhibit at the Central Office in Amite for the entire month of March.  The Tangipahoa Parish School System Art Programs are also celebrating Youth Art Month with an exhibit at the Hammond Regional Arts Center.  This exhibit opened on March 4th and will be on display through March 13th.  George Rodrigue's "Blue Dog" art, "Geometric Sea Turtles", and "Symmetrical Monarchs" are some of the wonderful Kindergarten work you may see at these exhibits. Pictured above is Landry Haydel working on Blue Dog art.  Click here to see more pictures.

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    Paraprofessionals from TPSS

    Seven Paras from Martha Vinyard Elementary School as well as others from around TPSS attended the Paraprofessional  Conference in Baton Rouge on Saturday, March 14,2015. Guest speaker for the event was Jon Bel Edwards, candidate for Governor.

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     WPEM Math Fun

    Kindergarten students at Woodland Park Elementary Magnet School are gearing up for first grade using items they found on their nature walk to practice place value and mathematical equations. Pictured above are Zira Lewis and Madlyn Graves.

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     Tor Buddies
    "Tor Buddies" from Hammond Eastside Magnet enjoyed making their St. Patrick's Day art work.  Mrs. Donielle East and her child development students at Hammond High Magnet School provide daily pre-school activities for the students. 
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     HHMS forms partnership with Tangipahoa Parish Public Library

    Hammond High Magnet School Library and Tangipahoa Parish Library System began a new joint venture in creating a satellite public library on HHMS campus.  As a result, students will be able to check out print books, and access all of the digital resources provided by the Tangipahoa Parish Library on HHMS’s campus. The satellite is open only to HHMS students and faculty. Photographed from left to right:  Dr. Schellia Robertson (HHMS A-day Librarian), Ramon Wheeler (Tangipahoa Parish Library IT Manager), Bianca Roberts (Assistant Director of Tangipahoa Parish Library), Barry Bradford (Director of Tangipahoa Parish Library), Catherine Cangelosi (HHMS Sophomore), Jessica Rushing (HHMS B-day Librarian), and Dr. Elizabeth Moulds (HHMS Principal).

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     Amite High Writing Blitz

    Amite High School English teachers share the belief that their primary objective is to teach thinking skills. Thinking skills transfer to and benefit all other courses of study. Everything students learn in Amite High English classes revolves around generating and organizing ideas, an essential aspect of every class on campus.

    English teachers use a variety of resources to teach thinking skills, one of which is nonfiction articles on social and scientific topics or a blend of both. Most of the texts used require students to contemplate and infer implications of national and global moral social issues. Through these resources, they teach skills in understanding the organization of the text--noting how writers develop, support, expand, and relate topics and issues to their own or other people's personal lives. In turn, the students learn how to develop their own ideas and express them coherently in written form. After all, writing is thinking down on paper. However, as anyone who has struggled with writing can understand, the process is not always easily learned. 

    Amite High's new "Writing Blitz" strategy is helping students more easily learn how to generate and organize their thoughts into written form. Essential elements of logical thinking of which students must demonstrate command include the ability to read and reflect on one or more texts, cite evidence to support text-based claims, provide examples to illustrate points, and relate personal life experiences to the text issues. English students participate in a "boot camp" style workshop on Fridays. Each month, different grade-levels are and will be participating: March--English II, sophomores; April--English III, juniors; and May--English I, freshmen. In August, incoming freshmen arriving next school year will be in-serviced to learn the strategy. 

    The Writing Blitz strategy is a targeted, intensive effort to improve students' writing abilities, teaching them how to cohesively bring the essential elements of logical thinking together to produce a powerful writing piece. The process enables them to break down writing prompts, annotate the texts to develop a clear understanding through thorough comprehension, and then gives them a formula to follow when writing. The process has allowed students to effectively complete in-depth writing assignments that include evidence, inferences, and coherence in a structured format while still allowing for creativity. The students are creating high-quality products which, in turn, builds their confidence. 

    Curriculum Specialist Renee Carpenter explained, "Students are no longer apprehensive, and they do not hesitate before writing. A lot of the anxiety students face when writing extended responses begins with first understanding what they are supposed to write about and then how to get started." 

    "What's so unique and amazing about being a part of the Writing Blitz is that this process is building their writing ability--period, overlapping all content areas and providing necessary college and career readiness, " Ms. Carpenter continued. 

    English III teacher Jamie Rhoto expressed how the strategy allows for differentiated instruction for students of varying writing skill levels. "Not everyone learns the same, and many students are still seeing things in concrete terms and a formula for writing an essay gives structure to their thinking. Students who are able to see things more abstractly are able to stretch the limits of this formula to include their own touch on it." 

    Although the immediate goal of the Writing Blitz strategy is to improve students' performance on the English II and English III End-of-Course tests , the ultimate goal is to affect students throughout their adult lives by developing skills that last a lifetime, such as the ability to think logically, organize and justify ideas, and clearly communicate and express themselves. 

    Amite High students are already realizing the immense benefits of the Writing Blitz. Sophomore Joneika Parker explained that before learning the strategy, her writing was unorganized, had no defined purpose, lacked a logical development of ideas, and basically communicated nothing. "I would just start writing thoughts off the top of my head with no idea of what I wanted to say, where I was going, or when I would stop. Sometimes, I would just stop mid-sentence," Joneika explained. "I looked through my book sack from last year that contained some papers I had written," she continued, "and I realized that my writing looked like something a kindergartener had written. I don't even want to look at things I've written in the past because it's embarrassing. I feel ashamed about how I used to write compared to how I am writing now." 

    After learning the strategy, Joneika explained that the number one way it has changed her writing is that now her thoughts are organized. "In the past, when I showed my writing to my mom, she would shake her head and tell me that my writing didn't make any sense," Joneika expressed. "Now that I am using the strategy, my writing has gotten much better. In fact, when my mawmaw read a piece of my writing, she thought someone else had written it. Actually, she thought I had copied and pasted it off the Internet," Joneika continued. "She is so proud of my writing that she has shared it with her friends, which makes me feel really great about myself." 

    Fellow sophomore Tekira Campbell also expressed that the Writing Blitz strategy has helped her organize her thoughts. "I already had a good understanding of the structure of an essay, like that it had to have an introduction, body, and conclusion," Tekira explained, "but when I tried to organize my thoughts, I really struggled. My thoughts were all over the place." 

    "Now that I know and use the strategy," Tekira continued, "my writing stays on topic, has a natural development of ideas, and backs up my claims with examples that relate to my life experiences." Tekira expressed that she has no favorite part of the strategy because every aspect is excellent. "By the time I go through the process of the Writing Blitz, my essay is already written for me. I just have the task of writing my draft on paper."

    Tekira's mom has also shown interest in her daughter's writing abilities. "My mom used to think my writing was ok but that it needed to be better," Tekira explained. "I showed her an essay I wrote after I learned the strategy, and she said 'Now, this is the way I expect you to write.'" Something that stands out in Tekira's mind is her mom's comment that her writing has "spectacular flow."

    "I think the Writing Blitz strategy will be very helpful throughout high school and college," Tekira expressed. "A message I have for other students is to be open to the strategy and cooperate in learning it, because learning the strategy will make you a better thinker and writer."

    The Writing Blitz strategy, developed by Principal Terran Perry, gives students a basic format that they can adapt to various writing activities and leaves room for creativity. The strategy's process gives students an automatic "go-to" format to quickly analyze and break down a writing prompt, determine a stance/claim, and pick quotes that support, provide solutions, and give examples that explain their points. English II teacher Valerie Thornton explained that "The students don't need to stress because they know the process."

    Ms. Thornton appreciates the strategy's structured format. "When I think of a blitz, what comes to mind is an intensive attack on skills," Ms. Thornton expressed. "When students come to the Friday writing workshops, they write, write, write. At first, they found the tasks difficult, but when they completed the process, they felt like they'd accomplished something great."

    "Students' writing is much improved, but that's not the only thing that has changed," Ms. Thornton continued. "One of the big positives is their change in attitude about writing. I believe the cause of the change is that they've gained confidence in themselves. They have come to trust in their abilities to think, make real-life, personal connections between themselves and the texts, and compose solid pieces of writing that reflect organization of their ideas."

    Ms. Rhoto shared her perspective on how the Blitz helps students build confidence, as well. "The students seem more confident about writing, and don't seem to panic when they are presented with a harder topic. We started out with one nonfiction article to read and then write an essay. Then, we gave them two nonfiction articles to annotate and write an essay using both. As the workshops progress, synthesizing information is becoming easier for them."

    "Students will have to write a multi-paragraph composition for the EOC as well as read complex texts and use evidence in the texts in the essay," Ms. Rhoto explained. “The Writing Blitz strategy should help them remain calm and feel prepared and confident."

    Ms. Carpenter expanded on the idea of increased confidence by saying, "We are not just talking about English. The increased confidence and motivation the students experience will feed motivation in their other courses of study. At the end of the process, they can see and identify the differences and are so proud of the high-quality work." She continued, "We have not only taken the fear away, but have provided them with a method of thinking to lead them for the rest of their lives."

    The students are not the only ones who have learned from the strategy's process. Teacher effectiveness is transforming, as well. Ms. Thornton explained that in providing writing examples to enhance her instruction, she has used her own writing as models. "By sharing my writing, I connect personally with students," Ms. Thornton said. "Doing so has opened up discussion about writing between the students and myself. As a result, I have been able to receive feedback from students that helps me better explain writing in general and the Writing Blitz strategy."

    Ms. Rhoto believes, that by teaching the strategy, students will be able to apply the skills to a variety of purposes. "This strategy can be used in any subject and can be modified for collegiate writing," she explained. "Knowing the strategy will give the students the background to write a cover letter for a job, a business letter, essay for college admissions, or even letters to help our politicians make better choices. After all, our students should go out into the world and help make it a better place. Preparing students for the real world by providing access to an excellent education is the best place to start. The Writing Blitz is a resource that assists in assuring that Amite High English teachers are as effective as they can be, which will result in students who are prepared for their futures."

    Principal Terran Perry explained, "Today's school leaders and teachers must be innovative thinkers. This has to come naturally. With regards to writing, you give a kid a framework, model your expectations, and watch him/her soar! Kids are far more creative than we sometimes realize. They are just waiting on us to give them the green light. In terms of creating an environment where innovative thinking is welcomed, I anticipate that many will take the writing framework we have given them and develop their own, more improved, framework for writing; one that they feel is more helpful based on their own perspectives. How exciting is that! Innovation should always be strongly encouraged in ourselves and in our kids."

    Pictured above, Kameron Lomas, Selena Ziegler, and Jasmine Phillips work to help each other in the completing the Writing Blitz strategy.


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     HHMS donation from First Guaranty Bank

    Mr. Michael Lofaso recently presented a donation to Hammond High Magnet School Principal Dr. Beth Moulds.  The funds will be used to purchase a variety of materials and equipment needed by students and faculty.  Items include:

    Heavy duty hole puncher and paper cutter for students and teachers to use in the library   
    1. Individual student white boards with markers and erasers for math classes 
    2. Additional copies of To Kill a Mockingbird 
    3. Cordless drills for Torbotics Team
    4. Batteries for Torbotics Team’s robot
    5. Assorted school supplies such as paper, scissors, pencils, and pens for students who need  supplies

    The Hammond High School Magnet staff appreciates First Guaranty Bank for providing us with the much needed materials to support our students and staff.

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     Ponchatoula High Girls Basketball State Champtions 2015
     Congratulations to the Ponchatoula High School Lady Waves who have claimed the Louisiana 5A State Championship with a 47-29 win over the Walker Wildcats!!! Great job, Greenies!!! 
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    Midway Elementary
    On Friday, February 27th, Midway Elementary participated in "Read the Most from Coast to Coast."  The students enjoyed hearing stories read by special guest readers in every classroom.  We also had a special appearance by JuJu and author Michelle Hirstius.  Students in Kindergarten through Second grade participating in taking Accelerated Reader test throughout the day as part of the reading celebration. Below, TPSS School Board member Therese Domiano reads to students as one of the guest readers.
     Teresa Domiano reads to Midway students
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     PHS FFA flag on display
    Yee-Haw! Its Rodeo time! Ponchatoula High School’s FFA Chapter will be holding their annual Open Youth  Rodeo at Florida Parishes Arena in Amite on Friday, March 13th, and Saturday, March 14th. Books close at 6:00 pm, admission cost $5.00 and events will begin promptly at 7:00 pm both nights. All contestants must be of 18 years of age or younger and must bring a parent or other legal guardian to be present for the event. Want to see barrel racing, pole bending, bull riding and many other rodeo events this March? Then come with us to Amite and support your local FFA Chapter! If you are interested in competing or attending and would like to know more information, please contact Kendra Keen  at kendra.keen@tangischools.org, 985-474-8830, Agricultural Educator, at Ponchatoula High School 
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     Vinyard teachers
     The 6th grade Math and ELA teachers at Vinyard Elementary are showing their support for their students to "Hit it Out of the PARCC". 
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    Sumner Middle Faculty & Staff  
    Jewel M. Sumner Middle School celebrated "Go for the Gold....Cash in on the Green" Day recently.  Students and staff members sported their green and gold attire as they get pumped up for PARCC testing..  
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    Kentwood High Magnet students prepare for PARCC
     Amy Johnson's students at Kentwood High Magnet School are totally engaged in learning while reviewing PARCC Academic Vocabulary on Kahoot using cellphones, tablets, NComputing stations, and laptops.
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