Loudoun Students Step Up for American Education Week

Loudoun Students Step Up for American Education Week
Third Graders from Crighton Corner Elementary School sing for parents and the community as part of American Education Week.

As part of American Education Week, all 89 Loudoun County public schools hosted showcase events for family members, friends and the community. The Tribune sent reporters to three of these schools to experience firsthand the programs and accomplishments of the county’s students.

Building Leaders at Creighton’s Corner

At Creighton’s Corner Elementary School, students aren’t satisfied with simply learning. From kindergarten, they’re becoming leaders.

“We don’t need followers. We have enough of those. We need leaders,” Creighton’s Corner principal Chris Knott said.

The school is using author Stephen Covey’s book “The Leader in Me” as a blueprint for installing leadership. The book builds off the Seven Habits of Happy Kids, which are: being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, putting first things first, thinking win-win, seeking first to understand, then being understood, synergizing and sharpening the saw.

Those seven values were demonstrated as students showed off what it means to be a leader in a school-wide presentation during the school’s second annual Leader Day. Students sang songs, interacted with parents and discussed how they were becoming leaders. A group of students also lined the school’s hallways giving presentations on historical figures, while others spoke as part of a panel to answer questions from parents.

Knott said the leadership aspect of education is part of teaching students to poses a global perspective.

“It’s about making students wanting to be a part of their community and part of the world in general,” Knott said.

Individually, every Creighton’s Corner student maintains a Leadership Notebook, where they highlight their achievements and goals. Students shared their notebooks with visitors, demonstrating how their accomplishments fit into one or more of the seven habits.

This ties in to the school’s responsive learning initiative, which prepares children to introduce themselves, make eye contact and feel comfortable speaking in public

“We want them to be well equipped when they go out to the real world, and to work with other people and to collaborate and work on a team and make decisions for themselves and be a contributing member of society,” said vice principal Ruth Masella.

Banneker Plays “Are You Smarter Than a Fourth Grader”

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Banneker Elementary School fourth grade teacher Matthew Cookus (standing, left) and Banneker Principal Robert Carter take on the school’s fourth grade class

In Middleburg, Banneker Elementary students once again showed off their knowledge against parents and school administrators.

For an eighth-straight year, Matthew Cookus’ class played “Are You Smarter Than a Fourth Grader?”, the school’s version of the popular television show.

Several parents came to the podium to answer questions from the fourth grade curriculum, ranging from mathematics to Virginia studies. Among a grouping of questions, they were asked to identify on a map where the Jamestown settlers originated, what celestial body divides our solar system’s inner and outer planets and the name of the largest estuary in the United States.

Most needed help from a willing and able group of excited, and knowledgeable, students.

“Year after year, parents tell me ‘I don’t remember learning that in fourth grade, or I don’t remember that in fifth grade, so there’s something to be said for getting those answers right because these kids are sharp as tacks,” Banneker principal Robert Carter said.

Carter said all classes at Banneker, from kindergarten through fifth grade, had an opportunity to showcase their skills and abilities as part of American Education Week.

“It’s just so neat to have parents in the building and interested in what the kids are learning and it brings the community aspect to come and see what your kids are learning, come and do what they do every day,” Carter said.

As for the fourth graders at Banneker, taught for the past 16 years by Cookus, they’re excited to continue showing off in “Are You Smarter Than a Fourth Grader?”

“We’ve talked about changing this, but people are like ‘no, you have to do this’,” Cookus said. “Obviously, education has changed over 16 years, but there are some rock projects we’ve held on to that if we don’t do them, kids are upset.”

 Broad Run Hosts Special Needs Field Day

An adapted field day participant plays with LCPS staff.

An adapted field day participant plays with LCPS staff.

At Broad Run High School, students and staff wanted to kick off the holiday season by giving back. Students and the physical education department put on the Annual Special Needs Field Day, where 165 special needs children from Ashburn were bussed to Broad Run for a half day of activities and fun.

Participants were paired up with “coaches” who were Broad Run students, adapted PE specialist Jillian Hornbaker said. The coaches get to give participants individualized attention and care.

Activities included cup stacking, frisbee, table tennis, scooter obstacle course, bowling and basketball, said Broad Run High School senior Jenny Fu.

The special needs students all received t-shirts and medals. After the field day, participants and Broad Run students got together to eat pizza, which was partially paid for by an anonymous donation. When Broad Run PE teacher and coach John Costello went to pay for the pizzas, a random woman offered to pay $500 toward the cause.

“I like how everyone comes together to give back to the community,” Fu said. “You get so much out of it and learn how to interact with different types of people.”

Some Broad Run alums even came to volunteer, like Tyler Ellington who is now a junior at Virginia Tech. Ellington knew of the event before attending Broad Run because of a brother who was four years older. While at Broad Run, Ellington played basketball for Costello and knew he wanted to be involved. He continues to help with events for special needs children while at Virginia Tech.

“It’s always been a part of my life and I wasn’t just going to stop after high school,” Ellington said.

Volunteers agreed that seeing the happiness on the children’s faces was one of the best parts of the event.

“There were these parents who left crying because they said it was the happiest they’d seen their son,” Costello said. “Living is giving and it’s fully displayed in events like this.”