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Students celebrate school-year milestone

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Murrial Jarrett, a first-grade teacher at Harper Elementary School, asked a class of students on Monday to make paper cards explaining everything they had learned in math since August.

First, however, she wanted to make sure the pupils understood why they had been rotating from class to class, every 20 minutes, completing activities that involved the number "100."

"Why are we doing all of this? Why are we changing from class to class today?" Jarrett asked the students.

"Because it's the 100th day of school," said first-grader, Nyiea Nichols, 7.

Nichols' statement was close to being correct. Harper Elementary School Principal Lynda Daniels said that when officials at the school planned Harper's 100th-day activities months ago, Monday would have been the 100th day of school. However, the snow storm that shut down Clayton County Public Schools for a day, earlier this month, caused a delay in when the 100th school day would occur, she said.

Today is the actual 100th day of the 2009-2010 school year, as a result, Daniels said.

The school celebrated it on Monday, though, with kindergartners and first-graders rotating from class to class, completing artistic, math and writing assignments centered on the number "100." Second- through fifth-graders participated in the school's second annual "Math Bowl" competition.

"We had planned all of these a while back, so we just decided to go forward with everything as originally planned," Daniels said. "High schools have the end of the first semester, but it's a milestone for [elementary and middle schools] to reach the 100th day. We have only 80 more to go."

Daniels said most elementary schools host a "100th Day of School" celebration of some sort. At Harper, the celebration will continue today with kindergartners being taught how to count to 100. Students at another elementary school, Roberta T. Smith Elementary School, will commemorate the event by releasing 100 balloons into the sky toward the end of the school day, said Smith Principal Thomasina Goodgame.

At Harper on Monday, however, the commemoration of 100 days of school brought a time of reflection for many students.

"I learned a lot this year," first-grader, Damanique Benton, 6, said as she made a picture of a person's face using the number 100's digits. "I liked learning to color, and art."

In another classroom, another first-grader, Jalen Heflin, 7, said "I learned how to count by 5s and 10s, and how to count money," as he made a card describing what he learned in the first 100 days of school for Jarrett.

While several disciplines, such as writing and art, were incorporated into the 100th-day activities, the core theme in each activity was math. Most activities called on students to count up to 100.

"One hundred is a number, so we take that number and relate it to different activities," said Harper Elementary School Assistant Principal Wilbur Garner.

Harper Elementary School Math Coach Dennis Simon said the "Math Bowl" competition is done every year, now, because it "showcases some of our exemplary students, and gives them an opportunity to show what they know."

Each class, from the second- to fifth-grades, was represented in the competition by a team of three students. There was a competition for each grade level.

The winning teams were: (second-grade) Diana Chavarria Garcia, Cindy Nguyen and Trashawn Wade; (third-grade) Esbeydi Aguilar, Mary High and Angela Ortiz; (fourth-grade) Eldriana Eady, Jared Gordon and Seven-Malik Hawkins; (fifth-grade) Deshun Bowles, Kyle Ferrell and Josefina Govea.