Thursday, May 29, 2014

Super Science!

I'd like to thank state Science Olympian champions Danny and Patrick from South Middle School for sharing their experiences on the Science Olympiad team with all of our students this week. We learned about ways we can explore and have fun with our interests in science outside of the school day. They explained how scientists have to be creative, collaborative, persistent problem-solvers. They showed us that being a team player isn't just for sports athletes. In order to become state champions, Danny and Patrick had to make a commitment to work together cooperatively, remain focused on continuous improvement through challenges and use good communication with one another. All of our students were in awe of Danny and Patrick's accomplishments. We thank them for being such positive role models and sharing their passion for science!

Danny and Patrick designed and built a robot named "Fat Albert" with all kinds of interesting odds and ends they found around their house, such as a toilet brush, roller skate wheels and an empty milk carton. This robot was able to complete tasks of scooping, lifting and dumping. It even waved hello to the children!

Here is a photo of a rocket they built and launched. This rocket creation took Patrick to the national Science Olympiad championship!

This picture is a great reminder of what learning, science and success is all about. It's rarely as easy, direct and smooth-sailing as we originally plan and hope for it to be! However, as we learned from Danny and Patrick, teamwork, persistence, creative problem-solving, and remaining focused on our goals help us make it to the finish line successfully! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Celebrations Continue!

It was a special treat to attend this year's PTA/ABC25 Scholarship breakfast. Three former students from Dryden were among the scholarship recipients. Their speeches brought tears to everyone's eyes. A common theme among the students' speeches was that they attributed their success to their caring and dedicated teachers. Early in life their teachers taught them that it was okay to make mistakes, and helped them realize they could overcome failure by persisting at challenges. Their teachers effectively maintained very high expectations while providing a deeply caring, accepting and supportive environment. 

The outdoor learning space in our courtyard is looking great, thanks to the volunteer work of our local scouts.

Blue flowers were planted around the bridge to resemble water.

The butterfly garden was weeded and mulched.
Beautiful benches were hand-built and student-decorated stepping stones were installed. 

Butterflies were released. 

Students quickly were able to make great use of this space! We are so thankful!

Our fifth grade safety patrols enjoyed a special bowling outing to Pinstripes for their wonderful community service and leadership this year. We thank the PTA for sponsoring this special event. 

Second grade students were mesmerized by actors from the Metropolis Theater. The actors took the students' ideas and scripts and dramatized them on stage!

Afterwards, these talented actors answered students' questions. 

Fifth grade students gave an encore performance of their "Shooting Stars" dance at the special recognition we had for our superintendent, Dr. Jerome, who is retiring at the end of June. 

Dr. Jerome brought world language studies to the elementary schools, so we thanked her by saying "Thank You" in the 17 different languages represented by our students and staff. 

Our administrative assistant, Mrs. Lane, shared her artistic talents by drawing a beautiful caricature of Dr. Jerome with the district's WIRED acronym. 

A highlight of the assembly was watching the HAPPY video that the students and staff created. It really does celebrate the joyful, accepting environment the children experience at Dryden. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

So Much To Celebrate!

We made our own sunshine on this rainy morning at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate our new Welcome Garden. We were able to establish garden thanks to a Green Canopy Initiative grant provided by the Arlington Heights 125th Anniversary Celebration Committee. We thank Mrs. Trendel and Mrs. Schwarz for planning and leading such a lovely ceremony!

Superintendent Dr. Sarah Jerome and Mayor Tom Hayes joined us for this special celebration.

The children introduce themselves to Mayor Hayes.

Music teacher Mr. Deptula leads everyone in singing America the Beautiful and our school song.

Students from Ecology Club read poetry.

Our assistant principal, Mrs. Trendel, acquired the Green Canopy grant for our Welcome Garden, so we gave her the honors of cutting the ribbon.

Also in case you didn't notice in the pictures above, it was Crazy Hair Day at Dryden! Our Student Council plans the school spirit days, which makes for a fun day at school. It was great to see the creative and silly hair do's!

In the afternoon, several teachers and administrators from Shitara, Japan toured Dryden. Our school district and the schools of Shitara have a student exchange program for the middle school students. Students from Arlington Heights have an opportunity to visit Shitara, Japan in the fall, and the students from Shitara have an opportunity to visit Arlington Heights in the spring. The teachers and administrators tour our schools while the students attend classes. 

Our students gave a warm welcome with posters saying "Yokosu" (Welcome).

Teachers and administrators enjoyed visiting classrooms. 

We enjoyed getting to know one another over an informal "American-style" lunch. 

Our time together went by quickly, with our guests off to visit a different school. We hope they will come back to visit us soon!

Friday, May 9, 2014

How Far We've Come!

When I arrived at school early Wednesday morning, it was a pleasant surprise to see Gertrude and her newly hatched ducklings ready to take their first swim in the courtyard. Gertrude took the lead, with two of the ducklings quickly jumping in right after her. One duckling then cautiously and quickly jumped in and out of the water a couple times before deciding it was okay to stay in the water. The last three ducklings cautiously stood at the edge of the water, watching the others swim, then finally jumped in after a bit of patient coaxing by Gertrude. Observing Gertrude and her ducklings very much reminded me of the different children we teach and parent, and how each child learns in their own way and in their own time.

Just as quickly as the ducklings arrived, they were ready to leave. By Thursday morning, Gertrude was pecking at the door, signaling that her ducklings were ready to explore the big, big world beyond the Dryden courtyard. Similarly, it seems like our students at Dryden are growing up within a blink of an eye!

This was particularly noticeable during the Kindergarten Musical this morning. It feels like it was just yesterday when our kindergarteners were clinging wide-eyed to their parents outside in line on their first day of school. Yet today, they were singing so clearly and confidently in front of an audience of hundreds! How far they have come in such a short time thanks to their caring and dedicated teachers and families!

This is the time of year I marvel at how far all of our students have come in their learning. They could not have come this far without the hard work and dedication of their teachers, so it seems fitting that we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week this time of year. A huge thank you is extended to our PTA for their kindness in recognizing our teachers and staff all week with flowers, kind notes and special luncheons!

In addition to an amazing staff, we have been extremely fortunate to have the support of over 200 volunteers at Dryden this year! Volunteers not only benefit our students by providing enriching experiences such as Art Appreciation and Book Club, but they also help with so many of the day-to-day needs such as photocopying and stuffing envelopes. It was a special experience for our students to see and say thank you to our volunteers at the Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast yesterday morning. Volunteers make Dryden an enriching and caring school community!

I am so proud of our students who participated in the fifth grade track meet at South Middle School yesterday afternoon! Their focus, stamina and best effort reminded me of this inspirational quote as we quickly approach the end of the 2013-2014 school year:

"My motto is: Whenever possible, finish, and finish strong. A colleague of mine who was training for a marathon shared some excellent advice he received from a world class runner. "When you 'hit the wall'," the runner said, "and you feel like you can't go on, instead of focusing on exhaustion and going into the 'survival shuffle', lift up your head and pick up your pace."At first glance, that advice may sound counterintuitive. But on reflection, it makes great sense. By picking up the pace, you're really saying to yourself that you're not just going to just finish; you're going to finish strong." (from The SPEED of Trust, by Stephen M. R. Covey)

We will finish this school year strong! :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fabulous Fifth Grade!

Wow! It's hard to believe that our fabulous fifth grade students will soon be "crossing the bridge" to middle school! 

Last week, the fifth grade students went out into the business community for their "World of Work" Day. In preparation, students created resumes. Our local businesses "hired" them for the morning, and students got to work with the business owners to learn how their different businesses operate. Dressing professionally and using good manners are other aspects of this introduction to the business world. It's exciting to imagine what our fifth grade students' careers will be when they grow up!

After a busy morning on the job, the fifth grade students were treated to a special pizza luncheon provided by the PTA. We took advantage of the beautiful weather and ate and played outside in the school courtyard.

The fifth grade also participates in a basketball shoot out fundraiser to purchase a special gift to the school. The Class of 2014 commissioned local artist Fran Hyland to paint a mural in the gym. It is so beautiful! Please take a moment to view the different stages of the painting in the video. 

Last night, the fifth grade students rocked the house in their musical performance. They sang, acted, danced, played the recorders and played the xylophones. They were amazing! I hope music will always be a special part of their lives!