Archive for May, 2010

Zachary Elementary teachers Kristy Gilpin and Breigh Rainey educated over 700 2nd and 3rd grade students at Zachary Elementary about the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico-the students are learning through hands-on experiences as they work to solve a simulated oil spill of their own.  Students are using feathers, hair, sponges and other devices they create as they simulate the efforts being made on our coast and in the gulf to clean up the oil and learn of the difficulties facing our coast, animals and people.  The entire school is also collecting coins to purchase special soap to be used to clean animals impacted by the oil spill.

Students at Zachary Elementary recently planted bitter panicum nodes and cypress tree seeds as part of the LSU Coastal Roots program. Students also installed a nursery where they will nurture and maintain the seedlings until the fall planting season. Throughout the year, the students will learn about coastal erosion issues throughout Louisiana, while overseeing the entire growth cycle of the plants. Next fall, the students will take the seedlings to Grand Isle, where they will have the opportunity to actually plant the grasses on the beaches of the eroding barrier island. LSU Coastal Roots establishes school-based nurseries at schools within the coastal zone of Louisiana. These nurseries are student managed and are capable of producing native wetland plants for use in habitat restoration. Each school is partnered with a long term restoration site, which they are able to revisit each year for planting trips. There are currently over 40 schools in eighteen parishes participating in the program. Since 2000, 3,573 students have planted more than 29,000 student-produced seedlings in Louisiana. Students from grades 3-12 across 18 parishes of south Louisiana are taking part in this project by establishing wetland plant nurseries at their schools. Students are growing native plant seedlings that they will plant in a coastal habitat restoration project in south Louisiana. Students are working with a variety of seeds, including the water oak, southern baldcypress, southern wax myrtle, black mangrove, red mulberry, and Spartina alterniflora grass – just to name a few.

The 2009-2010 school year at Zachary Elementary marked the kickoff for the Zachary Community School District International Initiative. One of the goals of this ongoing program is exposing students to cultures from around the world. 2nd graders began learning about the continent of Africa and the diversity of cultures located there. They learned about the important contributions Africa makes to the world including its influence on art. The Africa project was a crosscurricular collaborative project including visual arts where students made masks, ceremonial puppets, neck adornments, paper kufi (hat) using cultural symbols found throughout Africa. In music class, students were taught African folk songs, how to play conga and djembe drums, shekeres, and numerous other African percussion instruments. A dance instructor was also brought in to teach the students African dances, which were then incorporated with the music.

Darryl Alello, art educator, Melanie Alexander, elementary music specialist, and Laura Peterson, dance instructor were instrumental in the development of this unit which culminated in a program for students and parents.

Next school year the successful program will expand to each grade elementary grade level beginning with 1st grade. Students will explore one of the seven continents. 1st graders will learn about North America, 2nd graders will learn about Africa, 3rd graders will learn about Europe, 4th graders will learn about Asia, and 5th graders will learn about South America.