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The City Journals

Draper Elementary Gears Up for 40th Anniversary Celebration

Sep 08, 2015 03:44PM ● By Bryan Scott

 By Julie Slama

Draper - New programs. New paint. New technology. New carpet. Draper Elementary is getting ready for its 40th anniversary.

Draper Elementary will have served students for 40 years in 2016, and the celebration begins as students come back to the new school year.

Thanks to two different Boy Scout Eagle projects, students will immediately see new paint on the playground’s United States map, as well as the hopscotches, four squares and curbs. There also are three new portable classrooms to help house the 735 students.

As the students enter the school building, they’ll notice new carpeting in the hallways, classrooms, computer lab, kiva and other instructional areas, as well as the unveiling of a new 40th anniversary logo.

The logo will be used for the school’s annual fun run on Sept. 12, as well as on commemorative spirit gear. The logo also will be used for the 40th anniversary party in the spring, Principal Piper Riddle said.

Once in their classrooms, students will notice 17 more Smart Boards, making it a total of 27 in the school.

“It’s our continued effort to work toward a one-to-one technology ratio in the school,” Piper said. “We want to increase devices in the classrooms and hope to add three more in kindergarten this year.”

The funding for Smart Boards comes partially from the technology and general school funds, as well as funds from the Confucius Classroom grant, which provides an annual $10,000 grant from the Chinese educational ministry for the dual immersion school. 

Riddle said that the faculty is committed to train monthly on how to incorporate technology into their classroom to help student learning. They plan to have Technology Tuesdays after school.

Also new this year are nine new faculty members: Biyuan Chen, Lachelle Crandell, Jacklynn Harp, Annette Koehler, Ashley Morris, Molly Thomas, Janna Tyndall, Christina Van Dam and Buyin Wang. 

In addition, Sorenson arts specialist Kylie Welling (see separate article) and physical education specialist Ciara Ivey will join the faculty.

Ivey will be implementing Playworks into the recess curriculum this year. 

 “She will not only teach students how to play, but focus on social skills and conflict resolution. We hope that by teaching cooperation, it will resolve conflicts. We’re having our recess aides and school psychologist also be trained,” Riddle said.

According to its website, Playworks, which serves more than 900 schools in 23 U.S. cities, was designed to teach students how to cooperate while playing by increasing opportunities for physical activity through instructional play. 

Faculty also want to improve the lunch room experience so after reviewing research that shows that if students play first, then eat, they tend to eat better. Draper Elementary’s building leadership team and Parent-Teacher Association decided to support a “recess-first” approach this school year, Riddle said.

“Research shows that students have a better afternoon of learning because they are well-fed,” she said.

So after a 20-minute recess, students will enter the cafeteria for lunch and begin with the new program, “Cafeteria Conversations,” which is designed to support social eating and healthy meal discussions. 

Riddle said that classes will identify certain themes, topics and questions that integrate with literacy, math, science and social studies themes. These topics then can be used to talk about over lunch and followed up once they return to the classroom.

“We want kids to talk and interact with one another, and so we’re giving them ideas of themes to share about. Kids nowadays aren’t natural conversationalists, so teachers thought this could follow up class discussions on topics which would make their learning richer,” she said.

Riddle said that other 40th anniversary activities are in the planning stages.

“Everyone is so excited about the continued improvements. We’re ready for the new school year here,” she said.