Celebrating Without Limits: Cahaba Heights Artwork at VHECHPosted by VHCS at 10/23/2017
Two Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights students recently completed work on a new permanent art exhibit that celebrates the beauty of their community.
VHECH students Bronwyn Hicks (left) and Fulton Heard (right) designed two pieces to capture their love of Cahaba Heights and the school. Their artwork is now on display near the front entrance at VHECH.
Leading Without Limits: Heights Heroes 5K and Fun RunPosted by VHCS at 10/18/2017
One act of kindness at a time — that's how the students of Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights are going to save the world.
The VHECH PTO hosted the inaugural Heights Heroes 5K and Fun Run on Saturday, Oct. 14.
Read more about the Heights Heroes 5K and Fun Run in the Vestavia Voice.
Learning Without Limits: Exploring Music with ASOPosted by Hollye Stigler at 10/16/2017
When you visit the Symphony, do you expect to meet bumble bee, an elephant, a raging storm and a perfect pizzicato? On Thursday, September 21, third graders at Vestavia Hills Elementary East (VHEE) attended an Explorer concert at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church hosted by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra (ASO).
In a beautifully designed program, members of the ASO, led by Resident Conductor and Principal POPS! Conductor Christopher Confessore, introduced students to the various instruments that make up the orchestra and performed 10 pieces to show them off. Students met a bumble bee on busy flight (Flight of the Bumble Bee by Rimsky-Korsakov), a slow-moving elephant (The Elephant by Saint-Saens/Confessore), a storm eventually resolving into a bird’s calming song (William Tell Overture by Rossini), and they were mesmerized by the strings’ perfect performance of the Playful Pizzicato by Benjamin Britten and more.
“We are so grateful to the ASO for presenting these educational concerts across our community,” said Dr. Mark Richardson, principal of VHEE. “The program was so thoughtfully presented; our third graders truly appreciated the experience and learned so much from this local and world-class team of musicians.”
“Each of our students is encouraged to explore musical concepts and various instruments in the music classroom,” said Deanna Bell, music teacher at VHEE. “We were so thrilled to have the opportunity for our classroom learning to come to life for our third grade students as they were introduced to the ASO and the full range of instruments that make up an orchestra.”
“As Alabama’s orchestra, we are passionate about music education in our community,” said Deanna Sirkot, Direction of Education for the ASO. “We developed the Explorer concerts to help introduce young students to instruments and their sounds, as well as how and why composers created the music they heard performed. We hope to inspire students to learn more about music — that many of them would develop a life-long passion for music and creativity.”
Maybe the next time you see a bumble bee, you’ll hear its soundtrack … a symphony of strings depicting the fast flight of the insect!
Caption: VHEE Third Graders in Ms. Cathy Wall’s class meet Maestro Confessore following a concert performed by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.
Celebrating Without Limits: VHHS 1REBEL Mobile AppPosted by Mary Evelyn Welch at 10/11/2017
Vestavia Hills High School students have come together to create something truly unique. They are the first school to create their own mobile app. The app features many useful things for students and parents. It has all the characteristics of the website, in one convenient, user-friendly app. The app also has information tabs on events, such as Relay for Life, scholarships, pep rallies, and lunch menus. This concept is the idea of several students that came together to create something completely beyond them. These students have already proved their creativity and collaboration and have the potential to do so much more. This idea came about last year in Youth Leadership, when several students wanted a creative way to make the school a better place. The brand new app keeps students organized and informed on all events happening around the school.
Leading Without Limits: VHHS Hurricane Harvey Diaper DrivePosted by Mary Evelyn Welch at 10/9/2017
In the wake of the disaster that occurred in Texas, Vestavia Hills High School has stepped up to show their support. Students noticed the need that Texas had and filled the void. Students collected money and diapers to donate to the cause. They created a small competition between the grades to see who could raise the most money. The seniors have risen to the challenge by raising the most money by far out of all the grades. Everyone who donated to the drive came together for a cause and used the advantages they have to help someone else.
Serving Without Limits: Pediatric Cancer Fundraiser at VHECPosted by Kellie Knight at 10/6/2017
The Student Advisory Committee from Vestavia Hills Elementary Central initiated a fundraiser partnering with the Elementary Schools in the Vestavia Hills School system to raise money for Pediatric Cancer. After selling more than 500 “Fight Like a Rebel” t-shirts, the combined effort of our Elementary Schools raised over $5,000 to assist families within our community who are battling cancer. A portion of the proceeds were given to A-Team Ministries and Children’s Hospital, two wonderful organizations that support pediatric cancer patients continually. We are proud of how our students and community came together to support this worthy cause.
Learning Without Limits: Rho Kappa Digital JournalPosted by Amy Maddox at 10/5/2017
Ben Osborne and I founded the Vestavia Hills chapter of Rho Kappa three years ago because we wanted to recognize the achievements of our students who excel in the Social Studies. The national Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society was begun by the National Council for the Social Studies in 2011. Here is a link: https://www.socialstudies.org/rhokappa
For the Vestavia Hills Chapter, eligible students must have completed 4 semesters of Honors or AP level social studies courses, must have a GPA of at least 3.75 in the social studies (3.5 overall), and they must currently be enrolled in an honors or AP level social studies course when applying for membership. Membership in Rho Kappa is secured with the completion of an approved project.
Our hope was to create an organization that not only recognized in class achievement in the social studies, but also encouraged students to explore social studies beyond the classroom, thus the project component. We also wanted a forum through which we could direct students to the multitude of extra-curricular contests and programs that exist for students interested in the social studies. We know that our students possess the talent and intellect to be truly competitive in these programs.
One of our initial projects was the creation of a Rho Kappa digital journal. We wanted an avenue through which we could showcase some of the best student projects we receive each year. We were inspired by the VHHS literary magazine The Muse. We actually consulted the magazine’s sponsor, Ben Davis, with some questions about "how" to make the journal a reality. We had worked for two years to put something together. Last year, we had a few highly motivated students who committed a great deal of time and energy into creating the final product. We are enormously proud of this first effort!
View the inaugural VHHS Rho Kappa Digital Journal by clicking here.
Serving Without Limits: Pizitz Water ProjectPosted by Diane McAliley at 10/3/2017
Did you know that women in developing countries walk an average of 3.7 miles each day to get water that is likely contaminated with bacteria that causes chronic and sometimes life-threatening illness? Did you know that 844 million people lack access to safe water and 2.3 billion live without access to modern sanitation? It's easy for us to take for granted how fortunate we are in Vestavia Hills to have daily access to safe drinking water. Thanks to Jack Williams, member of the Alabama House of Representatives, students at Pizitz Middle school will be “immersed” in learning about water quality and water access issues in Alabama, America, and globally. Pizitz Middle School received a grant from the State of Alabama Executive Commission on Community Services to fund a broad vision to educate our student body, raise awareness, and affect change regarding water issues in our world, both near and far. This grant will fund activities that engage students in a global learning experiences across every area of their curriculum- art, band, choir, family and consumer sciences, foreign languages, theater, physical education, language arts, math, science, and social studies. On Wednesday, September 27th, students will gather for a school-wide assembly to kick off a year-long standards-based focus on water. Brandon Gossett, of NeverThirst, will bring awareness to critical water quality and accessibility issues that affect 2 billion people in our world and the transformative effect of drilling water wells in communities. During our kickoff assembly, students will be challenged with the vision to drill a well in Sub-Saharan Africa, affect change in cities like Flint, Michigan, and give water aid to places recently affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. As we learn about water issues, students will be asked to individually and collectively use their time and talents to serve others and “Be the Drop that Fills a Bucket!”
Over 1,200 students at Pizitz will be engaged in water-related learning experiences and service projects. For instance, students in sixth grade Earth Science will be designing and constructing water filters from sand, gravel, charcoal, and other natural resources. Using the water from the sixth grade filters, seventh grade Life Science students will test the water for bacteria and other micro-organisms by growing and incubating living matter in the samples. Addressing the question “What’s in our Water?”, eighth grade Physical Science will incorporate our school’s water emphasis into their chemistry unit this fall by testing water for simulated polluting chemical ions, including chlorides, chromates, iron, lead, phosphates and sulfates. Students will be able to show the chemical reactions involved and the balanced equations that result from the reactions. Students will also use test strips to test actual water samples from different water sources around our school. They will test for iron, copper, chloride, nitrates, sulfates, pH, total alkalinity, pesticides, lead and bacteria. Students will use pH probes to also test alkalinity. Phil VanderKamp, a sixth grade social studies teacher, Eco Club sponsor, and Black Warrior River-Keeper will give students the opportunity to test the water quality of nearby creeks and streams and explore Alabama’s watershed and how pollution of our water sources occurs.
Through English Language Arts, students in sixth grade are studying a compelling novel, Long Walk to Water, which is a dual-narrative that connects the current water accessibility crisis in South Sudan for a twelve year old girl to a boy caught in the middle of civil war and genocide during the 1980’s in Sub-Saharan Africa. Seventh grade English students will read Lost Boy, Lost Girl and focus on the real and metaphoric thirst for water and freedom in Sudan during the last three decades. Those students will create a mind map on which they imagine how a drop of water influenced the narrator’s' journey and survival.
Eighth grade Ancient History students will focus on River Valley Civilizations, the birthplace of modern civilization at the sides of four great rivers. Students will map all four civilizations and conduct small group research projects about the specific rivers and their impacts both positive and negative on the development of civilization in that region. Over the course of their research, the need of settling near fresh water and its ability to support life and agriculture is stressed. Throughout the year, eighth grade students will study the impact of accessibility to fresh water in the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, India , and North Africa. In Spanish classes, Pizitz students will learn that the first floating garden in Aztec culture had extensive cultural and military implications.
German teacher, Frau Rogers will use resources from Aqua Agents at Goethe Institute in Hamburg, Germany to tackle questions and use action-oriented thinking to solve problems and independently research how the water cycle works, how much is water needed to make a pair of jeans, who owns our water sources, how water treatment facilities work, and how much water is needed to get an egg to your table. In addition, through her coding classes, students will work individually and in groups to create animations and games in response to discussion prompts on the issue of access to clean, safe, affordable drinking water in Flint, Michigan.
In October, our award-winning concert band will be performing water selections such as “The Water is Wide”, “Deep River”, “Wade in the Water”, “Falling Rain”, and “Smoke on the Water” for an in-house concert to raise funds for our well-drilling project. Additionally, the outstanding Pizitz choir will lend their voices to the vision in singing water-themed music.
In PE classes, students will have the opportunity to participate in Workouts for Water. In exercises led by IronTribe Fitness, students learn first hand the challenges of carrying water long distances in 5 gallon jerry cans that can weigh 40 pounds.
Our SGA has already begun to address the clean drinking water needs in Texas and Florida after recent hurricanes by conducting a water bottle drive at our school. In addition, these student-leaders will be speaking to homerooms about water crises in America and in the world. Our SGA leaders will help plan opportunities for students to make a difference and be active in serving others.
Yearbook will be sponsoring a t-shirt design contest. We will kick off the design competition Monday, October 2nd and the winning design will be announced on Halloween. T-shirts will be sold in November and December as a fundraiser for our well-drilling project.
In the Spring, Pizitz plans to host an open-house coffee shop to showcase the art, music, projects, and stories created throughout the year. Theater teacher Ashley Perry and Creative Writing teacher Stratton Brock will have students write and perform monologues in a walk-through replica of a third-world village where striving to get water is a very real and daily challenge.
Each week on “Water Wednesdays”, homeroom students will discuss, debate, and have conversations prompted by compelling images, statistics, and narratives. The Pizitz Middle school faculty is “drilling down” to create authentic learning experiences that educate, engage, and motivate our student body to be difference-makers in the world. Our school creed is “Character, Excellence, Family: Where Pirates lead, others follow”. We hope to grow our character, pursue excellence, and embrace our world-wide family to serve those in need of clean water. Again we want to thank Jack Williams for supporting our vision and helping us fund great learning experiences for students. We want to use what we have learned and take action to be “drops that fill a bucket” of clean, safe water for those in need.
Celebrating Without Limits: Beth KaiserPosted by VHCS at 9/18/2017
Congratulations to Vestavia Hills High School’s Beth Kaiser, state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The PAEMST represents the nation's highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science). Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education. Up to 108 awards are given nationally each year.
Kaiser, a math teacher, was nominated by VHHS exceptional education teacher Shelly Munger. Kaiser’s daughter, Sarah, is also a math teacher at VHHS.
Leading Without Limits: The 7 Habits at CentralPosted by Lorie Belski at 9/18/2017