The end of the 2020-21 school year means that Ridgefield School District’s fourth grade students will be “moving up” to Sunset Ridge Intermediate School when school resumes in the fall. While these students said goodbye to South Ridge and Union Ridge elementary schools, they left behind a pair of painted rock gardens at the schools, which will serve as lasting reminders of the class of 2029.
To celebrate their “graduation” to Sunset Ridge, District fourth graders painted personalized rocks representing the lasting memories of their time in elementary school and as a visible reminder of the students moving onward and upward in their education.
At South Ridge Elementary School, fourth-grade classes created a rock garden. Students painted rocks with their class color and their first names. Then they gathered outside the classrooms in a sheltered spot to place the rocks in the rainbow-colored Resiliency Garden. Proud of their graduation to a new school, the students smiled brightly as they picked just the right place in the bark dust to nestle their rocks together.
Being able to paint the rocks together in person was especially meaningful to them, as the entire group started the year in remote learning. “The Resiliency Garden was installed with a plaque to recognize the challenges this group overcame this year,” Principal Jill Neyenhouse explained. The colorful rocks will remain at South Ridge to remind future visitors of how resilient young people can be.
Union Ridge Elementary School’s rock “river” has been in place for two years, inspired by the book “Only One You” by Linda Kranz. In the book, a fish learns some wise advice from his parents as he sets out on his own, including “Look for the beauty wherever you are, and keep the memory of it with you,” “Always be on the lookout for a new friend,” and “Find your own way. You don’t have to follow the crowd.”
Teachers read “Only One You” aloud to their students before the fourth graders designed and painted their rocks. “We really wanted to highlight the uniqueness of each student and the impact they’ve had on our Tater Tot family and their community beyond,” said school counselor Niccele Dunn. “We’re hoping the river will remain there and continue to be expanded for many years to come. So if the graduates come back to visit, they’ll be able to see their rocks and remember their time at Union Ridge.”
These fourth-grade students “rocked” their move up to fifth grade, and the personal reminders of their resilience and achievement will stay in place to inspire future elementary school students for years to come.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for Friday afternoon, June 25 through at least Monday, June 28, with temperatures currently expected to be in the 100s on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
This weather pattern will significantly increase the potential for heat-related illnesses, particularly for people working outside or participating in outdoor activities, people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, and people without access to air conditioning.
Ridgefield Administrative and Civic Center (RACC)
510 Pioneer St
Seating may be limited, please bring chairs, games and activities. The gym and commons will be open (restrooms available). Water will be provided. Masks not required for those who are fully vaccinated. Six foot distancing should be observed. Hand Sanitizer will be available.
South Ridge Elementary School teachers Chelsea Tipton and Jennifer Stinson are always seeking new ways to make learning fun and engaging for their students. Their third graders had been learning about force and motion in their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) unit recently when the pair of teachers got an inspiring idea. Instead of relying on textbooks and computers to deliver their lessons, they would host a carnival featuring games that were designed, built, and tested by the students.
The carnival-themed unit was an exciting end-of-year activity for the Ridgefield School District students that allowed them to put the knowledge they gained throughout the year into action. The students researched and designed their own carnival games, incorporating concepts like force (throwing, pushing, spinning, and rolling) to achieve motion for objects (like balls, marshmallows, and beanbags). Then the students had a week to build their games out of recycled materials from home.
“They really were creative with what they came up with,” Stinson said. And the games in the classrooms varied widely: a cardboard golf game with a pool noodle putter, a popsicle stick catapult with tiny pom-pom projectiles, and an air cannon blowing puffs of air at standing cards were among many clever ways students showcased their STEM learning.
Under the bright sun on the last full day of school, the students set up their games near the playground. A light breeze created a challenge for some of them; ping pong balls, oatmeal canisters, and bottle caps blew off the tables, with children scurrying after them. But soon the games were all set up, with students shouting and laughing as they threw balls at targets, pitched rings, and bowled at water bottles. The students won small prizes provided by the teachers to complete the carnival theme.
“The kids absolutely loved this project and said it was one of their favorites,” Tipton said. “One of my students said that she enjoyed everyone’s games, especially because they were made by kids and weren’t perfect, but they were still super fun. It’s definitely a project we’ll keep doing in the future!”