Finding the fun

Students swing into 50th day of school

November 20, 2020 Cranberry Local News

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Emma Eriksen, a second-grader in Katie Haney's Mars Area Elementary School class, dressed up Tuesday to celebrate the 50th day of school. Second-graders spent the day learning about the 1950s and doing activities around the number 50.

Celebrating major milestones — like the first day of kindergarten and high school graduation — makes lasting memories.

But sometimes it's the small celebrations that make a big difference.

That's why Mars Area School District second-graders celebrated the 50th day of school Tuesday.

“We need all of the 'pick-me-ups' we can get this year,” said Jennifer Renner, a second-grade teacher at Mars Area Elementary School.

Students celebrated the 50th day of school by wearing 1950s costumes, learning 1950s activities and having lessons focused on the number 50.

The event was new this year, according to Renner. She said fellow second-grade teacher Angela Wagner came up with the idea.

“Mrs. Wagner has always wanted to do this with her class and never had in the past,” Renner said.

Several second-grade teachers worked together to develop the event this year. Renner said one of the goals was to engage students learning via different platforms.

The district has offered families three options for attending school during the pandemic: in-person, livestream interactive (LSI) learning and Mars Area Cyber Academy.

“All students need to be engaged in their learning, whether it's online or in the classroom,” Renner said.

Students Tuesday celebrated the 50th day of school by making a 1950s-oriented craft, learning 1950s terms, listening to 1950s music and participating in a number of activities.

Classes also danced and sang.

Second-grader Ava, the daughter of Alison and Derek Julkowski, said she especially like the 50th day of school costumes.

“I liked dressing up,” Ava said.

Ava is attending school via LSI, which she said she enjoys.

“It's really fun ... seeing my friends through the computer,” Ava said. “I like all of the fun projects we do.”

Giuseppe, whose parents are Lisa and Jessie Burello, is attending school this year in person.

Giuseppe said he enjoyed making the 50th day of school craft, but school isn't fun to attend during a pandemic.

“It's fine taking (mask) breaks, but it's not that long and then you have to put them back on when you have to line up,” Giuseppe said. “I also don't like our seats being spaced out apart.”

“The most challenging part of teaching this year is juggling both online and in-school students,” Renner said. “(And) not being able to hug the students when they need a hug.”

According to Renner, offering students an opportunity to celebrate educating even in challenging settings is important.

On the horizon for Mars Area students and teachers is the 100th day of school.

Like the 50th day of school, second-grade teachers are hoping to celebrate it with special activities and games, just as they have in years past.

After all, 2020 is one of those years when every moment counts.

“These fun days really make all students feel included,” Renner said.

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Samantha Beal

Samantha Beal