By Hailey Huffman East Rockford Middle School student, Sophie Sales, recently graduated the sixth grade, along with her classmates in the Earth Keepers magnet. During the school year, Sophie’s teacher, Mrs. Altizer, took a few days to teach the class about the invasive land plants and species in Michigan. The Earth keeper students were then asked to write a research paper with information they found in the library. Aside from her three-page research paper on the invasive land plants and species, Sophie drew a series of three comics, The Morphing Rock: A Superhero Rock, which tells the life tale of a young Sedina the Sediment. Over the course of the three stories, Sophie demonstrates not only her art skills but also how young Sedina the Sediment morphs from one type of rock to the next. Throughout the comics, Sedina (Sediment) transforms to Sedianna (sedimentary rock), to Metamorgan (metamorphic rock), to Magmia (magma), then lastly morphing into Iggy (igneous rock). Mrs. Altizer, who recommended that the series be published, recognized Sophie’s artist skills. Over the summer Sophie says she plans to take swimming lessons, take a vacation with her family and help out with a church fundraiser for Iglesia Apostolic Nueva Life in Wyoming. Enjoy your summer, Sophie and keep up the good work!
East Rockford Middle School
by CINDY M. CRANMER East Rockford Middle School (ERMS) students ended a unique classroom experience with a field trip to the Rogue River and the release of about 30 Chinook salmon smolts into the river. The program, Salmon in the Classroom, was funded by the Grand River Fly Tyers and involved a partnership between the seventh-grade biology classes at ERMS, the Fly Tyers and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE). The Grand River Fly Tyers provided all the aquarium equipment and financial support for the program. Jeff Bryant, a seventh-grade teacher at ERMS, took the training and involved his biology and science students in the program. “The culmination of this science project with the release of the salmon has been great,” Bryant said. “The students selected have been so excited.” Approximately 130 students in five different classes were involved with 25 being randomly selected to attend the field trip to release the salmon smolts in the Rogue River. The DNRE participates in the year-long program by providing the teachers who are involved in the program with training and fertilized salmon eggs from a DNRE fish hatchery. The students hatch the eggs out, feed and raise the small fry in a tank, and then release the three- to four-inch young salmon smolts into the Rogue River. The salmon will eventually make their way to Lake Michigan, where they will live for three to four years before returning to the Rogue River in Rockford to spawn. About 200 Chinook salmon eggs were placed into the tank on November 8, 2011 and about 30 were released into the Rogue River at Richardson-Sowerby Park on May 9, 2012. Losing so many salmon in the first year is not unusual and also teaches the students a lesson about nature and survival. “This was really fun to see them everyday and now to release them,” said Grace Kropiewnicki, seventh-grader. “I was really excited to be selected.” Kropiewnicki said the students may see the salmon again someday, or at least maybe people like her brother who fish in the Rogue River. The Salmon in the Classroom program has been running for several years. It teaches students about everything from the life cycles of salmon to life history of fish to […]
Students in the Earth Keepers Magnet at East Rockford Middle School (ERMS) spent last school year on a variety of projects to learn about responsible earth keeping. As a service-learning project, the 55 students identified the need to limit the amount of storm water runoff that was entering the nearby Bostwick Lake through ERMS parking lot drains. “We just looked for the areas that the water was running to after a rain,” stated student Emma Wilkinson. During the school year the students heard from guest speakers from West Michigan Environmental Action Council and the River City Wild Ones about how planting a rain garden would improve water quality. With the help of Tom Laage, brother of teacher Linda Spencer, the chosen area was excavated and prepared for planting. Students removed rocks from the site and used them to create a rock drainage swale in another area and spread seven yards of hardwood mulch to prepare the site. “Mr. Mike and Ms. Amy helped us pick out the plants so we had plants that could survive. Some of them have very long roots so they can really soak up the water,” said student Meriah Gannon. Most of the plants were purchased with a grant that teachers Spencer and Barb Altizer were awarded from GROUNDSWELL, a coalition of community partners that is focused on improving the Great Lakes Watershed through hands-on learning opportunities. The Earth Keepers partnered with the Baldwin Foundation, Amy Heilman of River City Wild Ones, Michael Bruggink of Fenview Landscape Design, and Nate Haan of Calvin College to plan, design and plant the rain garden. “Did you know that storm water is emptied directly into our waterways?” asked sixth-grader Casey Lenon, who went on to explain, “All that stuff that is on the pavement and roof top is channeled right to our waters and is called non-point source pollution!” On June 5, the students planted the 150+ plants and labeled them with plans to add to the garden in the future. Student Josh Wittenbach explained, “A rain garden will filter the oils and other pollutants out of the water so they never make it to the lake.” The students were excited to complete the garden and look forward to seeing it grow over their […]
Sixth-grader Jake Engelkes of Belmont has been chosen as one of 12 baseball players in the state to represent Michigan 11U in the USSSA Jr. All-State Championship Tournament to be held in Fishers, Indiana August 9-12. Engelkes plays travel baseball for Elite, and will attend East Rockford Middle School this fall. He is only one of six players chosen from the west side of the state, with the other players coming from Detroit. Engelkes started his baseball career in Rockford Little League, but has played travel ball for the past two years. “It is an honor to play with the best players across the state,” said Engelkes. “I will try to represent Michigan, and Rockford, well.” Jake is the son of Ross and Barb Engelkes and sister to Lauren, a sophomore at Rockford High School.
by MICHAEL S. SHIBLER, Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools Rockford Public Schools Spurred by the work of the Rockford Public Schools anti-bullying committee, East Rockford Middle School (ERMS) began the 2011-12 school year seeking to become a “No Place for Hate” school. No Place for Hate is an initiative of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which provides support to schools as they work to celebrate diversity and improve a culture of respect. The process to become a No Place for Hate school involves the establishment of a coalition that plans and executes a minimum of three activities to promote acceptance and tolerance. Another requirement is signing the “Resolution of Respect,” in which students indicate their desire to treat others well and their intent to report bullying. The coalition at ERMS consists of staff members and parents, who solicited input from students in planning activities. This year’s qualifying activities included a “Mix It Up at Lunch Day,” “Be Nice Day,” and “Celebrate Diversity Day.” For “Mix It Up at Lunch,” the cafeteria was rearranged and decorated, and students were creatively assigned to tables. Student leaders sat at each table to facilitate discussion among the students and everyone received ice cream to celebrate. On “Be Nice Day,” all staff members and Teen Leadership students wore shirts that read “Be nice” and welcomed students with candy, high fives and handshakes. To celebrate diversity, sixth- and seventh-graders watched the movie “Remember the Titans” and participated in follow-up discussion and activities in their homeroom classes. ERMS and the No Place for Hate coalition have organized other activities to combat bullying and celebrate respect, and will continue the process by including an educational assembly about cyber-bullying, allowing students to nominate and recognize their classmates for acts of kindness, decorating the halls with smiley faces and positive messages, having students sign the “Resolution of Respect” banner, giving students bracelets that read “No Place for Hate,” and discouraging the use of defamatory terms. The school was also recognized as a model school by the organization Teaching Tolerance for its organization of “Mix It Up at Lunch Day” in October 2011. ERMS plans to continue to build and improve the programs to eliminate bullying and encourage diversity, acceptance and tolerance of one another, allowing students to […]