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Byron-Bergen students learn about the uplifting power of art for Black History Day of Learning

By Press Release

Submitted photos and press release:

As part of their Black History Month studies, Byron-Bergen fourth- and fifth-grade students created art projects with, and inspired by, acclaimed Rochester public artist Shawn Dunwoody (on classroom monitor above).

While Dunwoody has visited the school in past years, this year his presentation took place on an online meeting platform to maintain health and safety guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.

In his presentation to the fourth-grade classes, Dunwoody discussed murals and public art. In his own work, he has used murals to inspire in a variety of community spaces, from donut shops to waterfall viewing platforms.

“The murals I’ve done in communities, I’ve wanted to get people excited about their community,” Dunwoody said. “I want to make people feel good about themselves and the environment they are in.”

Dunwoody then created a collaborative mural design with the students, discussing the artistic process as well as font design and placement. The completed design featured the words “U R Wonderful” in bright colors.

Students then designed their own murals, using Dunwoody’s work as inspiration. Their finished projects included messages of support for environmental and social causes, as well as simple words of kindness such as “You got this,” “Love yourself,” and “You are awesome.”

In a similar presentation to fifth-grade students, Dunwoody discussed his original comic characters, the Legion of Legends, which includes local historical figures Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass and George Eastman. His Legion of characters fight villains like Trinity, a character encompassing racism, miseducation and poverty.

Life-sized cutouts of the super heroes stood behind him as he described his creative process.

After creating a collaborative character with the fifth-grade classes, students created their own super heroes with special powers to fight for social justice. Among the heroes were those with the powers to fight for freedom and create peace. Their collaborative hero was “Super Miss Stephen” with the power of writing and the ability to make drawings come to life.

Dunwoody’s presentations were part of a Black History Day of Learning organized by fourth-grade teachers Jenna Carney, Colleen Hardenbrook, Alyson Tardy, and fifth-grade teachers Taylor Haupt, Ken Rogoyski, (Super Miss) Kelly Stephen, Diane Taylor, Erin Varley, and Special Education teacher Lisa Haller.

“Shawn uses art to uplift urban communities and discuss social justice,” Tardy said. “I’m extremely excited grateful that he takes the time to share his talents with our students.”

Byron-Bergen students use engineering principles to break rubber-band car world record

By Billie Owens

Byron-Bergen STEAM students, pictured from left: Logan Fregoe, Noah Clare, Adam Piper, Ian Pulcini, Kendall Pape and Carter Kuipers.

Submitted photos and press release:

On Nov. 9th, a team of Byron-Bergen STEAM students broke the world record currently posted on the Guinness website for distance traveled by a rubber-band-powered car.

Many people dream of joining the ranks of record-holders in the Guinness Book of World Records. Though most of these dreams go unrealized, Craig Schroth’s students are using engineering skills to earn Guinness recognition.

Schroth, a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) lab teacher at Byron-Bergen Elementary School, challenged his sixth-grade students to use simple machines -- a wheel and axle -- to build vehicles powered only by a wound up rubber band. Students used three class periods to methodically make changes and improve their designs.

“We moved the rubber band further forward,” explained sixth-grade student Adam Piper. “Then we added more rubber bands because the more we could wind it up, the further (the car) would go.”

In addition to the number of rubber bands, the design team added bigger wheels wrapped in rubber bands for increased road friction and elongated the distance between axles.

On Nov. 9, the team of Noah Clare, Logan Fregoe, Ian Pulcini, and Adam Piper broke the standing World Record with a run of 1,071 cm. According to the Guinness website, the current record for distance traveled by a rubber band car is 895 cm and was set on July 13, 2015.

“This STEAM design challenge not only involved real-world problem solving within the physical sciences, but it also included improving their design by collecting data through trial and error,” Schroth said. “Most groups were able to improve on their personal best of distance traveled by utilizing the engineering design process. All of the participating classes did a great job.”

Inspired by the sixth-grade success, the fifth-grade team of Carter Kuipers and Kendall Pape surpassed the previous winning distance by an additional 228 cm on Nov. 15, making 1,299 cm the longest distance achieved.

Schroth has contacted the Guinness organization to have the distances submitted for official approval. All of the participating students eagerly await a response.

Below: Adam Piper, Ian Pulcini, and Noah Clare prepare their rubber-band car for a test run.

Below: Sixth-grade team tests their rubber-band car in the hallway outside the STEAM lab.

Below: The fifth- (left) and sixth-grade (right) teams prepare to race head to head.

Byron-Bergen fourth-graders learn about Iroquois culture and history

By Billie Owens

Above photo, local paleontologist/geologist Richard Hamell taught the students about the history and uses of wampum.

Submitted photos and press release:

On Nov. 8 the Byron-Bergen Elementary School fourth-grade classes celebrated the fourth annual Haudenosaunee Day. This day came at the end of their English Language Arts (ELA) and Social Studies units based on the Iroquois people, history and culture and included art and cultural-themed activities and special guests.

In the morning, students joined Byron-Bergen High School music teacher Lawrence Tallman in the cafetorium for an interactive presentation of Native American music, stories and dance. Tallman is descended from the Onondaga and Tuscarora tribes and studied Native American song and dance while traveling around the country with his grandfather who was a musician.

The students joined him in several songs and dances including the Rabbit Dance and the Partridge Dance, historically used to teach counting to children.

In the afternoon, Byron-Bergen parent Michelle Caballero shared the story of the vain doll whose face was taken away by the Great Spirit. Caballero then showed the students how to make their own corn husk dolls. Caballero is a member of the Seneca Nation and enjoys having the opportunity to share her culture each year with the fourth-grade students at through this activity.

Local Paleontologist/Geologist Richard Hamell taught the students about the history and uses of wampum and shared with them his collection of wampum and Native American artifacts. Finally, retired Byron-Bergen teacher Rick Merritt shared stories and legends around an indoor “campfire.” Each of the special guests has taken part in Haudenosaunee Day since its inception in 2014.

The following day, the fourth-grade students closed out their study of Haudenosaunee culture by presenting projects created by the students to the other grade levels who visited their classrooms. Projects included longhouse dioramas, wampum, flags and the history of the Three Sisters.

The goal of each annual Iroquois celebration is to help the fourth-grade students develop an appreciation through understanding of the Haudenosaunee people.

Photo below: retired Byron-Bergen teacher Rick Merritt shared stories and legends around an indoor “campfire.”

Photo below: Byron-Bergen High School music teacher Lawrence Tallman led an interactive presentation of Native American music, stories and dance.

Byron-Bergen School in the running for Pepsi grant

By Billie Owens

Byron-Bergen Elementary School’s Playground Committee is close to receiving funding in Pepsi’s Refresh Contest.

It's a monthly online competition in which nonprofit groups compete against each other for grants ranging from $5,000 to $100,000.

Currently, the Playground Committee is ranked ninth in the online competition. The top 10 ideas receive funding. Voting ends Jan. 31.

To learn more about this local project, or to vote on the Pepsi grant, visit Voting can be done through the website or by texting 105424 to Pepsi (73774).

“We need to develop healthy activities for children,” said Andrea Stasko, a member of the Health and Wellness Committee. “Our current playground is not large enough to accommodate the number of students for its usage, and it does not fulfill the physical fitness components that could benefit our students.”

The playground committee has been working for more than a year to raise funds to update and enlarge the school's old, much used playground. The new playground will be handicapped accessible so students with varying needs are not sitting on the sidewalk watching others play.

The committee hopes to win a $50,000 grant for the project. Of that, $40,000 would be used for equipment, $6,500 would be spent on resurfacing, and the remaining $3,500 would pay for concrete and excavation work.

Plans call for the playground to have play space and activities for the newest population of students, 3- and 4-year-olds who come from Pre-K. It will have lots of activites to exercise students' bodies in many different ways.

To improve students' physical and social development, they need to be able to climb, crawl, swing, slide, jump, balance, hang, push, pull, bounce, stomp, spin, run and play.

The small, rural school district is the center of the community and many families use the playground as a source for exercise, play and a meeting place to gather and socialize, according to Stasko.

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