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Burns Park teachers dressed up as barnyard animals to help kick off the school’s Reading Month fundraiser for Heifer International. All photos supplied by Rachel Erdstein.
March is Reading Month, and Burns Park students are celebrating by “reading to feed.”
The students will take pledges and participate in a fundraiser for Heifer International, which supplies families in third-world countries with livestock such as cows, chickens, rabbits and bees.
The school kicked off their fundraiser with an assembly that featured teachers and principal Dr. Virginia Bell in farm animal costumes and a $500 donation toward the fundraiser from Delta Dental. Continue reading →
Congressman John Dingell has his hands full with representing our state in the U.S. House of Representatives. But he still makes time to reach out to citizens –– even the ones who can’t yet vote.
On Friday Congressman Dingell helped a Burns Park first grade class kick off March Reading Month by reading Dr. Seuss’ “The Tooth Book.”
He also stressed to students the importance of keeping their teeth brushed and healthy and gave out toothbrushes from Delta Dental.
“It is truly exciting that we have Congressman Dingell come today,” said Burns Park Principal Dr. Virginia Bell. “I want to thank Linda Carter for having the ability to do that.” Carter, the president of the AAEA, connected Delta Dental with the school.
The company is also donating $500 towards the school’s Reading Month fundraiser for Heifer International, which supplies families in third world countries with farm animals. Continue reading →
Washtenaw Community College students teach Burns Park fifth graders about ratios Wednesday at the Math Carnival.
By Tara Cavanaugh
At the Burns Park annual Math Carnival, everyone’s a winner.
Washtenaw Community College education students practice giving math lessons. Burns Park students learn new concepts and practice old ones. And everyone gets candy.
Forty WCC students created math-centric carnival games for a first and fifth grade class at Burns Park Wednesday morning.
The games were made by Nichole Klemmer’s Elementary Math I and II students and based the elementary teachers’ math curriculum.
“Some of the concepts here, for example prime and composite numbers and different angles, we’ve already done,” said fifth grade teacher Sandra Kreger, pointing around the room at various tables. “Ratios over there, we haven’t done yet. So we can refer back to it when we do learn it. It’s really terrific.” Continue reading →
Not all of the Ann Arbor Public Schools celebrate Halloween, but the ones that do are worth checking out. The students were especially creative with their costumes this year. One kid even carried his own head in a jar!
Slideshow photos were taken at Eberwhite, Burns Park, Pattengill and Logan elementary schools Oct. 31.
Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of "Pink and Say," "My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother" and dozens more children's books, listens to a Burns Park student before he makes a wish on her family's magic wishing rock, which she holds in her hand.
By Tara Cavanaugh
It should be no surprise that world-famous children’s author and illustrator Patricia Polacco comes from a long line of storytellers.
The author and artist, who visited Burns Park Elementary today to celebrate Reading Month, shared with students stories inspired by her childhood and her family. Continue reading →
2011 production continues this weekend, benefits Ann Arbor students
View a slide show of some of the Burns Park Elementary students in this year’s production during rehearsal (photos by Myra Klarman)
By Casey Hans
For those who live in the Burns Park neighborhood, the community musical produced each winter is a labor of love and a great way for neighbors to get to know one another.
The Burns Park Players has put on this annual extravaganza since 1984, after it morphed from a school talent show fundraiser at Burns Park Elementary into a community endeavor and nonprofit theater company. All involved are either Burns Park neighborhood residents or were so in the past, said Alan Dengiz, one of a dozen parents who helped to start the annual tradition.
Jamie Phillips, a parent from Burns Park Elementary, volunteers her time cleaning up props that will be used in this year's production, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."
It was the popular 1978 film adaptation of the Broadway musical “Grease” that launched the effort and was the first musical production. Dengiz said the group had so much fun, they continued it with “Bye Bye Birdie” the following year.
And so it has continued, to much acclaim.
“We got the point where we were raising more money than the camp fund we needed,” Dengiz said. “So we put the money toward Burns Park auditorium improvements. The show just continued to be bigger and bigger. More and more parents got involved.”
By the end of the 1980s, the group outgrew Burns Park and moved over to Tappan, now a middle school, where they still perform each year. The performance always features dozens of Burns Park Elementary students; this year there are 100 in the cast.
Susan Hutton, who did publicity for this year’s show, said that neighbors get to know each other as parents at nearby Burns Park Elementary, but there are many others involved from the neighborhood who no longer have children in the schools. “It’s really wonderful,” she said.
Dengiz, a physician with the University of Michigan Health System, was originally a theater major in college, but pursuing his medical degree did not deter his interest or passion for the stage. This year, he’s part of the chorus and has been a cast member on and off over the past 10 years. His children also took part when they were in school.
“There’s a great camaraderie. I make a lot of friends,” Dengiz said. “It’s a huge group effort where everybody is equally important.”
The Burns Park Players annual production that took the stage last week and finishes up at Tappan Middle School this weekend is “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
Parent Suzanne Ross puts some shading on the "desks" that will be used for this year's Burns Park Players production. Last year, she was part of the house crew.
A total of 170 people are taking part in the 27th annual musical, with proceeds benefiting the Ann Arbor Public Schools and its students. To date, the theater troupe has raised more than $245,000 to benefit Ann Arbor students with money given through the AAPS Educational Foundation, Rec & Ed scholarships and for private instrumental music lessons for students who cannot afford them.
Jeri Rosenberg and Mark Tucker tag team each year to coordinate the set design for the Burns Park Players. Rosenberg has been doing it since 1996 and Tucker came aboard about 11 years ago.
The sets are built in Tucker’s Ann Arbor studio starting in November and are trucked over to Tappan Middle School a couple of weeks before the production where volunteer crews come in and set things up over a weekend.
On a recent Sunday, the crew was literally learning the ropes: A variety of set items were being installed on bars where they could be lifted or lowered depending on the scene. Some last-minute painting, adjusting and manipulating of the set was taking place.
“All the bones (of the set) will be up,” said Tucker. “And we’ll spend two weeks refining it.” Once dress rehearsals start, the set, lighting and props are all adjusted to ensure the production has just the right impact.
Tucker is the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program art director at the University of Michigan, known to many as Mr. FestiFools; his students make the life-size puppets that are the centerpiece of the annual street theater event in downtown Ann Arbor each spring. Some of his Lloyd Hall students – all non-art majors – also help with the set design for the Burns Park Players.
Kyle Shoeppner, a U-M freshman, is one of those students. He was at Tappan learning about the process and lending a hand with the setup. He said he got involved as part of his class, but didn’t have much experience with power tools.
Experience is helpful, but not critical, said Rosenberg. “In theory, this is community theater and everybody should be doing it,” she said. “Anyone should feel they can do this.”
The Burns Park production is huge: Lighting, producers and directors, costumes and props – all play their role to get the production ready.
But even the best-laid plans need adjusting. Rosenberg recalled a few years ago, a lead actress showed up in a costume that was the exact same color as the backdrop. “She just disappeared (onstage),” she said. “Obviously, we needed to make some changes.”
For this year’s show, a backdrop of New York City is used with an office building and elevator center stage. Although Tucker created the life-size backdrop, many volunteers helped to paint it, kind of a paint-by-numbers work, Rosenberg said.
Burns Park parent and volunteer Suzanne Ross has a second-grade daughter in this year’s show. Any parent with a child in the production must volunteer time in some way. Last year she was part of the house crew, helping to seat patrons and clean up the theater; this year, she chose to help with the set.
“It’s a blast,” she said. “They make it a lot of fun. There are parents who come back who don’t even have kids in school anymore. It’s a really talented community.”
Back in the prop room, Jamie Phillips is polishing up old typewriters and adding machines, and Jennifer Monk-Reising is working on a janitor’s cart that will be used in the production. Both have kindergarteners at Burns Park this year.
Monk-Reising is new to the Burns Park community, but has background in graphic design, theater and art and was recruited as props mistress. She said her volunteers are either “hunters and gatherers” or “dressers” who set the stage.
“Props is the fun part,” she said. “if you don’t have it, you build it.”
“ A lot of the local businesses have been great,” she added. Wolverine Office Supply, for example, is helping her to find an authentic office chair for the set.
Phillips said she enjoyed theater in high school, so decided to take part with the Burns Park production. “I volunteered myself for pretty much anywhere there was a need,” she said. “It’s been a great experience.”
Dengiz said the Burns Park Players also spawned the Tappan Players, which involves middle school students who had so much fun with Burns Park productions that they wanted to continue the experience. The Tappan production begins rehearsals shortly after the Burns Park Players production is done.
He said it’s tough to know how the theater company has impacted lives, but he believes it has. “I have no statistics, but know an awful lot of kids who came up through the Burns Park Players and have chosen a related profession,” Dengiz added.
The fall-winter preparation for the Burns Park production has become a great way for families and neighbors to spend time together. “The whole point was to be doing something into the winter with the kids,” Dengiz said. “It seemed to be a great idea.”
Tucker added: “The winters are long here. This takes a bite out of the winter doldrums.”
Casey Hans writes and edits this newsletter for the Ann Arbor Public Schools. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 734-994-2090.
‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’
What: The annual Burns Park Players 2011 musical production. Where: Tappan Middle School Auditorium, 2251 E. Stadium Blvd. When: Performances began last weekend; they continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10, Friday, Feb. 11 and at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12. Tickets: $15 at Morgan and York Market, 1928 Packard, Ann Arbor, or at the door one hour before the show. Proceeds benefit students in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. Special: $5 tickets are being offered to all AAPS employees for the Feb. 10 performance. Featured: Performers Caroline Huntoon, Jeffrey Post, Ben Cohen, Lisa Harris, Fred Hall, Aviva Simonte, Talia Glass and Joel Swanson. Director is Mike Mosallam. Music director is Eric Lofstrom and choreographers are Mike Mosallam and Christie Schauder. The musical is produced by Debi Haller, Kathy Koehler and Sara Meingast. A total of 170 persons are involved with the production, including 100 students from Burns Park Elementary. Details:www.burnsparkplayers.org.
Schools celebrate the life, birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.
From AAPSNews Service
Buildings around the Ann Arbor Public Schools celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. Day national holiday of Jan. 17 with activities in classrooms and assemblies for students. Some have already taken place and others are scheduled for the coming week.
Schools and public buildings throughout the country are closed today, Jan 17, in honor of the slain civil rights leader.
Following are some of the events around the district shared with the AAPSNews:
Clague students take multi-week journey
Students and staff at Clague Middle School have celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a multi-week celebration. Starting with a contest in December, it culminates with a display wall the week after their MLK Program. Some of the activities at Clague include:
• Contest: Students depict a theme in an essay, poem, poster, mixed media, or original creation. The school had 53 entries this year. The theme: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?”
Students at Dicken Elementary hear music from Vincent York & Jazzistry, teaching them about the culture and history of jazz music.
• Mini-lesson on character: During Jan. 14 advisory, students received a character trait button to wear and brainstormed ideas of service in “an action plan.” They will have a week to perform the service – details of each student’s plan will be put on a common wall near the school office.
• MLK program: The school’s annual program on Jan. 14 was a collaborative effort of the staff and students. Music students performed, did choral readings and Powerpoints, and awarded the winners of the contest that began in December. Top winners receive a pizza lunch and a trip to the Sphinx concert in Ann Arbor.
Carpenter hosted all-school event honoring Dr. King
The Carpenter Elementary School community honored Martin Luther King Jr. during a Community Meeting on Jan. 10. Students sang “What Can One Little Person Do?” and “He had a Dream” and “He Wanted to Have the Same Freedom” under the direction of Laura Machida. Rebecca Archer’s third-graders read about Dr. King and performed “We Thank You Dr. Martin Luther King, Today and Everyday” and fourth-graders from Kelsey Cook’s, Marilyn Freeman’s and Ramona Sankovich’s classes performed “We Shall Overcome” on their recorders. Principal Ron Collins, reflected on Dr. King’s message and encouraged students to practice the messages of peace and getting along.
Expanding the MLK experience at Lawton and Northside
Julia Gold’s third-grade class at Lawton Elementary School did an all-class project passing on gifts of kindness during the week leading up to MLK Day. The class kept track of these acts by passing a “kindness card” to the student who received the act of kindness. The card was passed along to another student with each new kindness act. At week’s end the class counted how many acts were accumulated and hearts were hung for each.
Also at Lawton Fourth-graders at Lawton Elementary did an MLK musical performance for their school on Friday and first-grade teacher Kerry Krause planned to read “Martin’s Big Words” to her students, have students read a book about MLK from Enchanted Learning together and write about a dream that they have for the world.
Teachers at Northside Elementary School did a variety of classroom activities including A schoolwide assembly on Jan. 12 which included Janice Smith’s kindergarteners singing “Different Means Special,” fourth-graders singing “Something for You” and Susan Ulrey’s and Rebecca Coleman’s first-graders performing at the assembly, among others. Here are some other Northside activities:
• Rose Ann McGarty’s kindergarteners heard “A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr. and followed up with worksheets and writing assignments about respect. Fifth-grade reading buddies interviewed the young children and were comparing their lives to MLK’s.
• Evengeline Burgers’ kindergarteners also read aloud to her class and did an interdisciplinary activity reading “The Shape Story,” with the theme “that they can make beautiful things if they all work together.”
• In Sandra Chang’s kindergarten class, students read “Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King”, saw a video clip and did a time line paper looking at the events in his life.
• Second-graders in Jennifer Wade’s class had daily discussions of civil rights, equal rights and watched a video about King and created books about his life.
• Fourth-graders in Dianne Baker’s class read and wrote about King’s life, heard the “I Have a Dream” speech, posted bullet points of King accomplishments in the classroom entry and did other activities.
• Media Specialst Jeri Schneider has read King biographies and historical fiction relating to his work and civil rights. Fifth-graders created slides of King quotes that she edited together to use in the all-school assembly.
• ESL teacher Ana Taylor had special stations for students to rotate through including books on tape, writing activities, vocabulary to reinforce what they have learned about King and how his ideas shape and connect with life today.
Friday programs lead up to today’s MLK national holiday
Vincent York & Jazzistry performed at Dicken Elementary to help the school celebrate MLK Day. The school’s Recess Singers (group of first- through fifth-graders who practice at lunch) performed a song about equality to open the event. York also spent time with small groups of students by grade level on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12, offering a closer look into the instruments and their history that he uses during the all-school assembly.
Allen Elementary students hosted an all-school assembly with narration by Principal Joan Fitzgibbon and fifth-graders doing a presentation of “I have a Dream” with narration and songs.
Ann Arbor Open @ Mack hosted a MLK Day assembly celebrating the life of Martin Luther King and tying in the theme of bullying. The program pointed out how King was treated as he tried to bring a peaceful change in civil rights and stressed that every student should feel safe, welcome and valued. A theme: “We celebrate Dr. King today and we think about how all of us can become peacemakers. Everyone at Ann Arbor Open is a member of our community.”
All grades at Bryant Elementary School participated in an assembly with poems, songs, skits, choral readings and student artwork highlighting the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
At Eberwhite Elementary, the school celebrated MLK Day with an all-school assembly. The school sand three songs grouped by grade level (K-1, 2-3 and 4-5) and a few classes read poems, did a MLK life timeline and shared facts about King and the Civil Rights Movement.
Special invitation from EMU
Several students from Dawn Richberg’s class at Skyline High School were among area students performing at Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center Auditorium on Sunday, Jan. 16. The afternoon program featured the EMU Gospel Choir, Harambe Youth Drummers, PURe Dance Ensemble, Tiana Marquez, Primal 1 Ensemble and Inspirational readings by area teens. The event was one of several scheduled by EMU from Jan. 13-18 as part of this year’s “Their Footprints … Our Legacy.”
Thursday, Jan. 20
10:30 a.m. – Abbot Elementary School will host the Bright Star Touring Theatre production of “Struggle for Freedom,” a 45-minute production that honors the Civil Rights movement by celebrating moments of the struggle. The life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. provides the backdrop to recreated scenes of events such as the Montgomery bus boycott, the March on Washington and the Woolworth sit-ins. Visit www.brightstartheatre.com
Friday, Jan. 21
Stone High School’s Intergroup, led by Shaenu Micou, plans an all-school assembly today in honor of Martin Luther King Jr..
1:30 p.m. – “Sadie’s Spectacular Saturday,” Burns Park Elementary Auditorium. A character-ed production with imaginative costumes that make this play a favorite among young audiences while teaching good judgment, kindness, friendship and respect. Visit www.brightstartheatre.com
2:30 p.m. – “Struggle for Freedom,” Burns Park Elementary Auditorium. Bright Star Touring Theatre, a professional touring theatre company performed this production that celebrates the life and work and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the context of the American Civil Rights movement. The theme: One person can change the world. Visit www.brightstartheatre.com
Friday, Jan. 28
2:30 p.m. – Each Bach Elementary School student will have a chance to recite a poem and sing songs that honor Dr. King’s memory in this culminating assembly. The focus will be on peace, getting along with one another, positive conflict resolution and building friendships.
NAAPID (National African American Parent Involvement Day)
This Washtenaw County NAAPID program is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 14 at Saline High School Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Campus Parkway, Saline. Students from throughout Washtenaw County, including Ann Arbor, participate in this event, which is scheduled each year for the second Monday in February. A poster contest is under way with the deadline scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21. Information about the contest can be found by downloading a PDF here. This year’s event theme: “Parent Involvement 365 = Student Success.”