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District hosts last academic gallery

Photo by Jeylin White                       
Toriyah Fields (left) and Kalissa Hernandez had much to smile about Tuesday, during the district’s final Academic Gallery. The Mount Zion Elementary fifth-graders  won first place for their project, “Students as Songwriters.”

Photo by Jeylin White Toriyah Fields (left) and Kalissa Hernandez had much to smile about Tuesday, during the district’s final Academic Gallery. The Mount Zion Elementary fifth-graders won first place for their project, “Students as Songwriters.”

Mount Zion Elementary school fifth-graders Kalissa Hernandez and Toriyah Fields were more than confident that they would shine as bright stars, during the Clayton County Public Schools’ final Academic Gallery held Tuesday at the Administrative Complex in Jonesboro.

The fifth-graders showcased their project “Students as Songwriters,” in which the duo composed their own music, inspired by the Great Depression of the 1920s.

“We took what we learned and the feelings from the that era and wrote our own lyrics and put it with 1920’s jazz music,” said Hernandez. They also provided the back-up vocals for the tracks.

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Photo by Jeylin White Clayton County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Stefanie Phillips, looks on with students from Suder Elementary School, as they explain to her what their project is about during the district’s final Academic Gallery, held Tuesday evening.

According to Gloria Duncan, coordinator of professional learning and the event’s organizer, the main feature of the “academic galleries” is the lineup of display boards on which students and teachers — from each of the schools represented — showcase the pupils’ mastery of the curriculum.

Toward the end of the evening, Duncan announced the winners of the school system’s fourth gallery. Duncan said the gallery judges visited each student-display board to determine the level of understanding of the task, its real-world correlation, and connection to the school district’s “rigor meter.”

“It was through that process that we were able to recognize first-and second-place winners for elementary and secondary schools,” she said. “The judges had their work cut out for them!”

The winning elementary schools were: First Place: Mt. Zion Elementary, “Students as Songwriters.” Second Place: Pointe South Elementary “Students as Financial Analysts.”

Middle and High schools: First Place: Eddie White Academy: “Students as Naval Architects.” Second Place” Mundy’s Mill Middles: “Students as Developers.”

Duncan said the winners from the third Academic Gallery held in February are: Elementary schools: First Place: Lee Street, “Students as Film Makers.” Second Place: Mt. Zion Primary, “Students as Political Leaders.”

Middle and High Schools: First Place Riverdale Middle, “Student as Olympic Judges.” Second Place: M.D. Roberts, “Students as Legal Analyst.”

Duncan said though these schools may have been recognized, all the schools were winners. In fact, she said, the professional learning department is considering doing away with the competition and just running a gallery. “We’re having talks about it now,” said Duncan. “We want all the student to feel like winners.” Duncan also added they will be considering displaying the students works at several libraries in Clayton County.

“Were happy that we won,” said Hernandez. “But I’m happy for the other schools that didn’t win.”

Tamaris Taylor was at Tuesday’s event to support his 6-year-old daughter, Aliana, kindergartner at Suder Elementary. He said though his daughter’s school did not win, he was proud of how much she’s learning, and the work she and her classmates put into their project, which was “Students As Engineers.”

“This curriculum really challenges her,” said Taylor. “My daughter has a wonderful teacher and I can see how much she has grown academically since she started school.”

The participating schools in the latest round of galleries included: McGarrah Elementary School; Pointe South Elementary School; Marshall Elementary School; Riverdale Elementary School; Morrow Elementary School; River’s Edge Elementary School; Mt. Zion Elementary School; Swint Elementary School; Suder Elementary School; Sequoyah Elementary School; Mundy’s Mill Middle School; Eddie White Academy; North Clayton High School; Flint River; Elite Scholars Academy; and Open Campus.

The purpose of the annual event, according to Deputy Superintendent Stefanie Phillips, is to showcase the result of the learning process that takes place in schools, as teachers engage students in rigorous, “real world,” performance tasks that are aligned with Georgia Performance Standards.

“It’s really important that we document the progress our students are making,” Phillips said in a previous statement. “We [need to] validate the things they’re learning, and show them the connection between the real world and the curriculum.”