Renowned author and Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan visited Liberty Park Middle School in March to share personal stories from her bestseller, Four Perfect Pebbles. The visit was coordinated by LPMS librarian Laura Ezell.
Lazan told students about life in Nazi Europe in the 1930s as well as her experience as a young girl living in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in northern Germany. Lazan and her family were among the 60,000 prisoners liberated from the camp in April 1945 at the end of World War II. She soon immigrated to the United States and today lives with her husband of 64 years, Nathaniel, on Long Island in New York.
Lazan told LPMS students that they would be among the last generation to hear firsthand accounts from the survivors of the Holocaust. The greatest lesson students could learn from the Holocaust, she said, was for students to understand and practice tolerance of others. “And above all,” she said, “Never, ever lose hope.”
Each year, Barnes & Noble has a national writing contest called “My Favorite Teacher”. Every store invites their customers in 6th - 12th grade to write an essay, poem or thank-you letter explaining how a teacher has influenced their lives.
This year, the winning paper for the Barnes & Noble store at the Summit came from Liberty Park Middle School. Eighth grader, Molly Holmes, wrote about Haley Cash, one of her 6th grade teachers.
Barnes & Noble representative Pam Tindal visited LPMS on Friday along with Molly Holmes, VHCS Superintendent Sheila Phillips, Principal Kacy Pierce, and Assistant Principal Roger Dobnikar to surprise Ms. Cash with the news. Molly’s essay will now move on to the store’s regional contest.
Congratulations to Vestavia Hills High School (VHHS) student, Mira Palmer, for being selected as the Work Based Learning Employee of the Month for February. Mira is a graduate of Southminster Day School, where she also attended the after-school program. In order to further prepare for her future teaching career, Mira decided to seek employment in the after-school program at Southminster. Mira, a senior at VHHS, plans to attend the University of Montevallo in the fall to study Elementary Education. Her goal is to teach first grade. Mira receives outstanding evaluations from her supervisor, who says that Mira is reliable and exceptional at working with the students. Over the year, she has learned about classroom management and how to supervise activities inside the school and on the playground. This experience further confirms that she is on the right track in her plans to teach. Southminster would love for Mira to remain on staff during college, and they hope to continue to work with her in the future.
The 5th graders of Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights recently traveled back in time to the American Revolution. Each student chose a historical figure to research. They then composed a five paragraph essay, which was presented in character. Additionally, the students worked together to create a collage of the events that led to the American Revolution to use as a backdrop during their presentations. Parents were invited to share in this journey as each student presented his or her hero.
Students at Vestavia Hills Elementary East learn about the Golden Rule early in their time at the school. Treat others as you wish to be treated is the school's motto, and students had a special opportunity to put their motto into practice in February as they recognized Kindness Week.
“We believe that character education is as important as anything that we teach at East,” said Dr. Mark Richardson, principal at VHEE. “We have four core values that we stress, and the first on that list is kindness. Our counselors prepared a fun week emphasizing random acts of kindness.”
Each day of the week brought a new opportunity to show kindness and serve a neighbor. On “Manners Monday,” students practiced using their best manners. On “Thank-you Tuesday,” they wrote thank-you notes to others in the school community. “What Can I Do To Help Wednesday” encouraged students to find ways to be especially helpful to their teachers and families. On “Thoughtful Thursday” students served a neighbor by doing something that would make their friend feel good. Lastly, on “Friendship Friday,” students were encouraged to make a new friend over a long weekend break.
In addition, throughout the week, students were invited to write acts of kindness on a small heart-shaped piece of paper to add to a Kindness Tree near the front of the school. By the end of the week the tree was in full bloom!
“The biggest highlight for us was listening to students share what they had done to show kindness to others,” said Kelsey Brown, guidance counselor at VHEE. “The students were all so proud to fill out their own hearts and hang them on the tree. We also loved seeing the students come back to read the hearts and hear the excitement in their voices as the tree began to bloom bigger and fuller as the week moved on.”
“We were also touched to see how this week inspired giving across our community,” said Keisha Crane, guidance counselor at VHEE. “Students donated sample size toiletries for a local shelter and some families and classes made their own care packages to share with those who are in need. This was our first year with a focused celebration on National Random Act of Kindness Week, and it was a big success!”
Photo: Students at Vestavia Hills Elementary East crafted a "Kindness Tree" to display acts of kindness near the front of the school during the school-wide recognition of Kindness Week.
48 students on the VHHS Math Team competed at the LSU tournament on Saturday, March 18. The students took an individual test based on their current math class: Open level for precal/calculus and Algebra/Geometry for geometry/Algebra II. Our students all did a fantastic job and brought home many awards!
1st place Open – William Zhang
1st place Algebra II – Genki Nishimura
2nd place Algebra II – Grace Ham
1st place Geometry – Courtney Flurry
2nd place Geometry – Basim Naim
3rd place Geometry – David Wang
After lunch the group was divided into five groups of 10 or 9 and were given a set of problems to work. If there were ties, they were broken by determining which team turned in their answers first.
1st place team: Jeremy Chu, Allan Feng, Courtney Flurry, Edward Huang, Rizwan Khan, Laura-Martin Levensailor, Genki Nishimura, Robert Smith, Keene Zhang
2nd place team: Ahmed Farrukh, Richard Fu, Grace Ham, Eileen Liu, Boris Lu, Nishalini Shanmugan, William Zhang, Yihan Zhong, Lynne Zhou
Congratulations to our VHHS Math Team!
So very proud of out VHHS Habitat for Humanity club for completing their 12th home! These students raised $22,000 this year and worked for three months building this home for a deserving family. Thanks to all in our community for your donations and support! It is so great to see the Rebel family blessing another family in our world! Thanks to the Vestavia hills united Methodist church for partnering with us!
Pizitz Middle School German scholars had the opportunity to test their German skills at the 22nd annual German Day competition in Tuscaloosa at the University of Alabama. Pizitz sent 27 Level I students to compete against magnate schools and high schools from across the state; Pizitz came away with 25 awards in several categories. Frau Rogers congratulates all her students, current and former, who enjoyed German Day and represented themselves and our school system so well.
Here are the Pizitz 2017 results:
Dual Show and Tell:
1st place: Brantley Newsome and Elina Shah
3rd place: Allie Fraser and Darian Blackburn
1st place: Brantley Newsome
1st place: Jack Hoppenjans
3rd place: Chris Huie
Geography - 2nd place: Jacob Feingold
Heritage Speaker Geography - 3rd place: Christian Tarrasch
Reading Comprehension - 2nd place: Darian Blackburn
Individual Poetry - 2nd place: Christina Sorochinsky
Group Poetry -1st place - (Das Möwenlied): Christina Sorochinsky, Elina Shah, Brantley Newsome, Wallis Millsap, Eli Vielguth, Dalton Knopf, Ryan Perlman and Avery Creel.
Group Poetry - Most Humorous: (Für) - Peyton Reising, Aaron Creel, Aidan Robinson, Dana Aldeeb
Group Song - 1st place: (Papagei )- Dalton Knopf, Avery Creel, Wallis Millsap, Christina Sorochinsky, Elina Shah, Eli Vielguth, Brantley Newsome and Ryan Perlman
Group Song - 2nd place: (Wir Haben Hunger)- Jack Hoppenjans, Isabella Hill, Sarah Jiang, Taylor Wisdom and Madeline Bunch
Group Song - Most Original: (Du Du Liegst Mir Im Herzen) - Darian Blackburn, Chris Huie, Allie Fraser, Emily Robertson, John Mark James, Alex Holland and Jacob Feingold
T-Shirt design - 1st place: Madeline Bunch
Poster collage - 2nd place: Sarah Jiang, Madeline Bunch, Isabella Hill and Taylor Wisdom
Original art - 1st place: Sarah Jiang
Scrapbook - 2nd place: Madeline Bunch
1st place: Christina Sorochinsky
5th place: Wallis Millsap
1st place Skit: (Der Binger Mäuseturm) - Dalton Knopf, Avery Creel, Wallis Millsap, Christina Sorochinsky, Elina Shah, Eli Vielguth, Brantley Newsome and Ryan Perlman
2nd place Skit: (Die Lorelei )- Taylor Wisdom, Peyton Reising, Raymon Baroody, Christian Tarrasch, Dana Aldeeb, Isabella Hill, Jack Hoppenjans, Madeline Bunch, Aidan Robinson, Aaron Creel and Anthony McLemore
3rd place Skit: (Der Regenbogenfisch) - Darian Blackburn, Chris Huie, Allie Fraser, Emily Robertson, John Mark James, Alex Holland and Jacob Feingold
Twelve Liberty Park Middle School students were recently selected as members of the school’s 2016-2017 Lancer Court of Honor for the second third nine weeks. Each nine weeks, teachers select two boys and two girls from each grade level as Lancer Court of Honor representatives. This is the highest honor that a student can receive at LPMS, and students are selected based on leadership, citizenship, and conduct.
The sixth grade recipients were Will Bond, Katelyn Hawley, Kade Nelson, and Anna Simms.
The seventh grade recipients were Emory Crane, Jude Cleary, Garrett Lawley, and Audrey Richards.
The eighth grade recipients were Matthew Coleman, Matthew Jemison, Alexis Stohler, and Anna Syzmela.
Jacob Swinson, a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, was the keynote speaker. Cadet Swinson is also a 2015 graduate of Vestavia Hills High School and former Liberty Park Middle School Lancer Court of Honor nominee. In his address, he spoke to students, visitors, and faculty and highlighted several strategies for success: perseverance, long-term planning, and hard work. He also had wise advice for the audience. “Some things matter, and some things don’t,” he said. “Have the wisdom to know the difference.” He closed by urging the audience not to be a bystander in history, but to be involved in making and shaping history.
On any ordinary day in Vestavia Hills City Schools, the extraordinary happens.
Each day, our students and teachers astound us with their skills, their passion for learning, their enthusiasm, and their genuine love for one another. For all of us who get to see these extraordinary moments firsthand, it’s enough to give us chills, move us to tears, and leave us awestruck.
This month, I had the opportunity to attend two different yet extraordinary school events. On March 2, our high school boys’ basketball team competed in the state semifinals at the BJCC arena. Our team and coaching staff brought their best to the court: elite athletic skills, a team mentality, and respect for one another and for their opponents in a hard-fought loss. They also brought with them an inescapable presence heard and seen throughout the arena, as hundreds of students, parents, and fans from all of our schools cheered as one under the slogan, “Grit City.” Their unity of spirit and support brought to life the phrase heard through the decades by VHHS students and alumni: When you play one Rebel, you play us all.
I was reminded of this spirit once again on the morning of March 14 as I visited Vestavia Hills Elementary East for a kindergarten physical education program. The Kindergarten Extravaganza, led by PE teacher Lynn Sullivan, showcased the grit and enthusiasm of our youngest students as proud families and teachers looked on. The physical abilities of these young people, their precise attention to detail, and their excitement to work as a group were on full display along with beaming smiles from parents, grandparents, and loved ones in attendance. By working together, with loving instruction from a wonderful teacher, these students gave their families a memory that will last a lifetime.
At the conclusion of the East program, one grandparent said to me that it was a shame all the parents who attended had to spend the rest of their day at work after such a great morning. (I could write a complete article just on the volume of parental and family support at each of these events. The level of engagement and support for our youngest to our oldest students is noteworthy in and of itself.)
For those of us who are privileged to be here, this is our work. We are blessed to spend our days watching as young people learn, grow, and exceed every expectation largely in part because of the hard work and diligence of our teachers and staff. While those of us who are school leaders must make time for the processes and inner workings of education, moments like these are where our hearts can truly be found. In Vestavia Hills City Schools, we are witnesses to the extraordinary every day.