Middle school celebrates curriculum with 'Learning Carnival'

By Curt Yeomans


Jonesboro Middle School students and their parents were do-si-doing, building rockets, and touring the world together on Tuesday night -- and it was all done without leaving the school.

The school hosted its second annual Learning Carnival, in which parents participate in Georgia Performance Standards-based activities with their children. Some of the activities included games of "Are you smarter than your 6th grader?"; "Literacy Lingo;" "Math Musical Notes," and "Reading with the Stars."

Two hundred parents and students attended the event, according to Jonesboro Middle School Principal Freda Givens.

"I'm really pleased with the turnout we had," Givens said. "We were a little concerned that a lot less parents would come out than we had last year, because of the rain, but the participation was only down a little bit from last year. We had 250 parents and students come out last year."

Many schools host interactive curriculum nights throughout the school year to show parents what their children are learning in the classroom. Sometimes, particular subjects, such as math, literacy or science, are the focus of the event, but some also include all of the academic subjects in one night.

Givens said the purpose of Jonesboro Middle School's Learning Carnival is two-fold. On one hand, it allows the parents to see how things have changed since they were in school. She used the "Are you smarter than a 6th grader?" game as an example. In every round, the youngsters beat the adults, Givens said.

"It's important for parents to see what the curriculum looks like now," she said. "The things kids are learning in sixth-grade now, are different from even 10 years ago."

Jonesboro Middle School parent, Iris Wallace, the mother of seventh-grader, Kaliph Wallace, said she enjoyed the chance to peak into the world in which her son spends several hours a day, five days a week. "You get an inside look at what the kids do all day, and you get to learn what they are teaching the kids," she said.

The other purpose of the Learning Carnival, however, is to get parents to come to the school in an effort to get more of the adults to volunteer in the school, the principal said. "The purpose was to get that third string in the cord to come to the school," Givens said. "There are the students and the teachers, and that third string in the chord is the parents ... Any time we can get the parents involved in the school, they will take more ownership of it. I'm the principal, but it's not my school. It's their school."

Parent Valerie Parks, the mother of Jonesboro Middle School sixth-grader, Cameron Looney, said: "It was fun, and it gave me a chance to walk around the building, and get familiar with the school."

The students enjoyed getting to have fun with their subjects as well. "I liked making rockets [in the school's technology education room], and using my own wind power to make them fly," said Looney. He was referring to an activity in which students and their parents made rockets, put them on the end of a straw, and blew as hard as they could in an effort to see whose rocket would fly the farthest.

Kaliph Wallace added that the event was "good with the switching around that we did. I liked all of the games, but I really liked the singing [in the Math Musical Notes activity], because it's kind of my hobby."