Wow! Eduardo Gonzalez, our Board President, and I started the year off with a large scissor cutting a yellow ribbon that signaled the opening of Elysian’s new building and the next phase in the life of the school. That evening was the first opportunity for everyone to stream in, marvel at the shiny new floors, our beautiful gym, the glistening new bathrooms and the glorious views that so many of our classrooms have. Many rooms were still full of boxes, the walls were bare. It was a beautiful building, but did not embody the Elysian spirit. Teachers quickly put children’s work on the walls. Nikki, our art teacher, ensured that by Back To School Night every child had a piece of art hanging in the hallway. Teachers began using the common spaces so that children could spread out. The sign dedicating our new kitchen to the memory of our beloved Tonya was hung. The noise of children filled the hallways. Very quickly the spirit of Elysian invaded this new space.
With the new building comes some new traditions. When our middle school was located in the Rue Building every incoming 7th grader would stand before his/her peers, set a goal for the year and write his/her name on a leaf on the tree that was painted on the wall next to the business office. This was the long standing tradition. As we left Rue, the new tenants of our space painted over the tree. However, Rob Jenkins, an Elysian father and a professional photographer, photographed the tree to preserve it with everyone’s names. This photograph is now mounted and hanging in the new office. A group of eighth graders, again under the guidance of Nikki, painted a mural on the wall of the entryway lobby. The mural depicts the students moving on to the next stage of their lives. On the mural is a brick wall. Each 8th grader has signed a brick on that wall symbolizing that they will be taking a piece of Elysian with them. Overhanging the scene is a large tree to remind us of the tree that was started with the first middle schoolers in Rue. Each year the 8th grade class will add its own panel to the new mural, eventually the mural will works its way up the stairs. The branches of the tree will continue to spread over all of the new murals. This year’s eighth graders will be the only ones whose names appear on the Rue tree and the new mural.
A Note On Field Day
A big thank you goes to PTSO President, Laurie Barnes and gym teacher, Jason Morales for planning and organizing field day! Additionally, thanks to all of the volunteers who helped out at the stations and around the field. The children had a wonderful time!
Competition and Field Day—At Field Day each grade level team of teachers decided whether the children should be mixed together (blue and orange) or split into teams. The decision was dependent upon the dynamics between the children and the level of frustration they might predictably feel if they lost. Please read the except below from The Case Against Competition by Alfie Kohn:
…Think for a moment about the goals you have for your children. Chances are you want them to develop healthy self-esteem, to accept themselves as basically good people. You want them to become successful, to achieve the excellence of which they’re capable. You want them to have loving and supportive relationships. And you want them to enjoy themselves.
These are fine goals. But competition not only isn’t necessary for reaching them — it actually undermines them.
Competition is to self-esteem as sugar is to teeth. Most people lose in most competitive encounters, and it’s obvious why that causes self-doubt. But even winning doesn’t build character; it just lets a child gloat temporarily. Studies have shown that feelings of self-worth become dependent on external sources of evaluation as a result of competition: Your value is defined by what you’ve done. Worse — you’re a good person in proportion to the number of people you’ve beaten.
In a competitive culture, a child is told that it isn’t enough to be good — he must triumph over others. Success comes to be defined as victory, even though these are really two very different things. Even when the child manages to win, the whole affair, psychologically speaking, becomes a vicious circle: The more he competes, the more he needs to compete to feel good about himself...
A Few Practical Items
- Annual Parent Survey. Please complete the annual survey by the last day of school. This is an important way to provide us with information for planning. The link is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BF8W5WC
- Suggested Summer Reading lists will be placed in each report card envelope. These lists are organized by grade and are designed to help you and your child select books during the summer. The list is also posted on our website (click Parent Resources and then Parent Information/Forms). The Hoboken Public Library has a copy of our list as does Little City Books, located at 100 Bloomfield Street.
- Sharing Report Card Narratives with your children. The narratives are in-depth reports to the parents. Depending upon their age, you may want to share the information judiciously with your children. The purpose of the report is to help you plan how to approach next year.
- Is there something in your child’s report that you particularly like? Some insight that helps you as a parent? Let the teachers know. They work extremely hard in writing these narratives (each one takes between 90 minutes and two hours to write), they have spent the entire school year getting to know your children. They love the feedback.
- The last day of school is Wednesday, June 22nd. Children will be dismissed at 12:30. Reports distributed to parents or caregiver at dismissal only. All others will be sent home.
- Summer office hours are Monday to Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Office closed Monday, July 4th.