A United States project presentation turned into an emotional moment for students, parents and teachers at Randall Holden Elementary School last Friday.
For the past three years, fourth grade teachers Susan Fusco and Betsy Riccitelli have given students research assignments on the United States. Each student must pick a state they don’t know much about, and learn everything about the state, from its pennant to someone famous who grew up there, and create an engaging board to present the information on. At the end of the year, they show the projects to their parents, along with a small speech about the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance, and a song that helps everyone there learn the states and their capitals.
According to Fusco, these projects are a culmination of everything they have learned over the year, because the students are applying the skills they have obtained to create and present their projects.
“We do this to show how they’ve grown from the beginning to the very end,” said Fusco.
One such student is Hayden McKay, who researched Michigan. McKay spent a significant amount of time doing work for the project, as related by his mother, Tracy.
“I’m extremely proud of the time and effort he spent on it,” she said.
Both teachers were proud as well. Riccitelli claims that being able to pick out the states on a blank map is an important skill, and now her students can do that.
“We’re very proud of what they’ve accomplished. When they’re older and want to travel, they’ll know where they’re going. And I think some of the parents learned from their children about the states,” she said.
The students showed creativity with their projects. Shane Renfree created a board about North Dakota and handed out sunflower seeds, which is one of the state’s largest crops. One student handed out Florida Key Lime pie, while another dressed in a hula skirt.
What was not expected, though, was the emotional turn the presentation took when Riccitelli and Fusco presented a slideshow of pictures taken throughout the school year. Parents watched their children grow and learn from the beginning of the year to the end. Pictures in the presentation were from various Randall Holden events, like the Halloween Dance, and Reading Week, where Channel 10’s Mario Hilario and ABC 6’s Chelsea Priest, who was Fusco’s student in first grade, came to read to the students.
There were also pictures from field trips, the most recent of which was at McCoy Stadium, where students participated in “Baseball in Education.” They learned about how baseball relates to most things they learn in school, and even got to see a PawSox game after.
“For 180 days I treat them like I treat my own kids,” said Fusco after the slideshow was over, smiling at everything that happened over the course of the year.
Fusco and Riccitelli made the slideshow using what they had learned from a technology course they took in the summer of 2010 at Lippitt Elementary School. Because of the course, they received a state grant and were able to purchase six computers, a projector, and an ELMO, a camera-operated overhead projector. Fusco and Riccitelli said that they took the course because technology is the future in education, and they make the slideshow to help show that to parents and students.
Using everything that they have done over the course of the year, the Randall Holden fourth grade class was able to exhibit how far they come, not only in school, but as they continue to grow up as well.