Monday, October 15, 2012

A Brand New School Year

Where have these last 7 weeks gone?? Seriously, I feel like it was just yesterday we were watching the kids walk through the door, back from summer break. Since the last blog post (back in April... I feel like such a slacker!) CLC has been quite busy and I have lots of stuff to share.  For today, I will just share with you two all-school team building activities we started the year with.   

Our annual Friday Challenge takes place on the first Friday of the school year.  All the kids are divided up into teams that will then rotate through several activities, all led by our trusty group of teachers.  This is a great way for the kids to get acquainted with each other and to start learning how to work as a team. We are big on team building here.  Here are some fun pictures from the day!

Launching a rocket

Egg obstacle course

Playing hand ball

Trying to get the ping pong ball across the cups

The second all-school activity was the Bridge Building Competition. Each 5th/6th grade classroom teamed up with a 7th/8th grade classroom.  Teams of two (or three) were then formed within these groupings.  Each team was given 1 box of spaghetti, 1 hot glue gun, and 5 glue sticks with which to create the world's strongest pasta bridge!

Their task: build a bridge that will support the most weight as compared to its mass.

The day of the competition was a whirlwind of excitement and anticipation.  The big room was set up to project images of the teams on the walls as they completed their bridge weighing task.  Two weighing stations were set up on either side of the stage with one big screen in the middle projecting the team names and their statistics.  As bridges collapsed you'd hear a collective gasp from the audience.  If the bridge held the bucket of rice without collapsing the audience would burst out in cheers.

Pasta Bridges

More pasta bridges
Preparing the bridge
A diagram of what happened on the stage

A good shot of the image projected behind the team

Now all of the teams are well into their first projects as individual classes. We've had CSI teams combing the school for evidence in a string of thefts; hot air balloon building; a class trying to convince people to change their behaviors for the good of the Earth; and another doing a marketing project.  

During all of this we've started our Fall block of specials, coffee houses, fundraisers, and super cool after school clubs.  But, I'll save those stories for another time....

Monday, April 16, 2012


The 5th and 6th grade classes studied the Civil War for a couple of months this year.  So, what better way to wrap up the lesson than with a trip to the most famous and important battleground of the Civil War... Gettysburg!

We started off by taking a bus tour through the town and battlefield areas.  Our guide pointed out some really neat things such as a house that had painted white over each bullet hole so that you could see them; the house that Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address in; and the house where the only civilian to die during the battle succumbed to a gun shot wound. (The civilian's name was Jennie Wade. She was kneading dough to make bread for the Union soldiers when a Confederate bullet came through the door of her sister's house and struck her).

Our guide stopped the bus a few times so that we could get off and get a closer look at some monuments and canons.

Then we practiced marching like a unit of soldiers...

 My favorite part of the day was climbing to the top of Little Round Top, which is one of the most significant locations on the battlefield.  This was where the Union soldiers, led by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, charged downhill toward Confederate soldiers with only their bayonets.

The view from the top of Little Round Top

Our tour guide talking to the kids about the battle on Little Round Top

After our bus tour it was time for a Ranger program activity.  During this activity the kids learned how to march together, take commands from their leader, and prepare their weapons for battle.

Here are the soldiers preparing for battle
We all had a lot of fun, but there was a bus fully of sleepy kids coming home.  Guess all that marching wore them out!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I have said before that CLC is not your traditional school, therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise that we have a unique way of getting our students their gym, music, and art credits. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons we offer "Specials".  Specials time consists of  1 and 2 hour long classes in many areas of art, physical fitness, music, and communication.  Because we offer so many different classes in one school year, I will spare you the long-winded blog and only showcase a few of our pretty awesome specials classes.

1. Cake Decorating
In this class they will work with buttercream, royal icing, modeling chocolate, and fondant.  They learn how to design and then execute fancy cookies and cupcakes that will be sold at school events. On the last day they will put all their newly learned decorating skills to use when they make their own mini cake.  11 weeks in icing heaven for these kids!

2. Animation
In this class, students use laptops & cameras with a variety of materials such as clay, pen & paper, paper cut-outs, toys and even fellow students to create and edit a stop motion animation movie.

Clay ready to be animated

3. Rock Band
One of our most popular classes here at CLC!  The class is recommended for students who have some experience with an instrument.  The bands practice all term on a few songs then they perform at school functions. I've heard everything from the classics (Queen, Journey) to Top 20 (Adele) coming out of that band room! 

4. Food for Thought
In this class, students learn about  'whole foods' by going on field trips to local farms, stores, and restaurants as well as hearing guest speakers talk about nutrition and sustainable agriculture.  The class also cooks favorite foods and new foods using ingredients that are not processed.
Food for Thought class

Homemade Strawberry Jam and Sun Bread

New Blog

My apologies for being so behind on the blog lately.  In my defense, I was playing around with a new blog (this one) and continually debating with myself about whether or not to change it.  As you can see, I finally decided the CLC blog needed a new look!

I have moved all of the old posts to this new site, which is why you will see a whole list of posts on the right side of the page under the month of March.  If you have never seen our blog, welcome! This is where you can read about the fun things that happen here at CLC.  If you are a follower already, I hope you like the new and improved look!

New posts are on their way!

How Things Werk

Originally posted on 12/9/2011

No, that's not a typo in the title. This is the actual name of a project Team M/R (Mark and Raisa) did during the 1st quarter.  The Alien Ambassador Corps (AAC) hired CLC Students to help them confuse (and possibly defeat) a race of not-so-nice aliens who want information.  It is Team M/R's job to come up with pamphlets explaining how simple earth technologies work...well, their version of how things "work" *wink wink*.

Each student chose a topic to explain by illustrating it in comic strip form.  Topics ranged from "How a Pencil Werks" and "How a Hairbrush Werks" to " How a Book Werks".

Here is a snippet from one of the comics:
"In 1972, the planet Noom had a problem with a Flurb because it was bouncing around making the world too colorful for their colorless taste.
So they decided to pick the most colorful planet to send her to. They found Earth.  So, they got a huge catapult and shot her there.
When she crash landed on Earth she ended up in a little girl's room.  She bounced off the wall making every spot she bounced a different color."

Can you figure out what common item  this student is describing in her comic?

CLC Studio Presents...DIY

Originally posted on 11/29/2011

I'm a little late on this next post, I apologize.  These past two weeks kinda just flew by! Before I knew it Thanksgiving break was here and gone and I had yet to write about our 7th/8th grade 1st quarter projects.  So without further adieu, here are the projects completed this quarter by Team Awesome!

Team Awesome (aka Brian & Siobhan's class) launched a new TV series called Do It Yourself! The series highlights how you can do anything and everything by yourself.  However, before work could begin on their DIY series they were given the rights to remake several commercials to air during their shows.  Students could choose between 6 different commercials (Mac vs PC, ESPN, and Doritos to name a few).  Each group had to break the commericals down, create a script and a storyboard, then film their commercial.  The Doritos "Responsible Snacker" commerical was filmed right outside my window...I wonder if I made it into any of the shots. Hope my hair looked good that day.

After the commercials were filmed, it was time for each student to work on their DIY show.  They had to choose a topic to research and then create a video showing how to do it, step by step.  Topics included; how to do CPR, how to bake a cake, how to treat a burn, and how to fix a toilet. Again, students had to write a script and create a storyboard before they filmed the video.

Judging by the acting, directing, and videography happening around here, I think we may have some future Hollywood stars at CLC!

Storm Chasers

Originally posted 11/10/11

Team M/K (Morgan & Kelly), our second team of 5th and 6th grade students, are training to become storm chasers.  Their first task is to become weather experts so they can safely and successfully chase storms.  How does one become a weather expert, you ask? Start by having a teacher who earned a degree in Meteorology!  Yep, that's right, we have our very own meteorologist in the school (that's him below).
Each team of storm chasers (guided by our meteorologist/teacher Kelly and his trusty teacher sidekick, Morgan) must take turns briefing the class every morning on the weather for the day. In addition, the teams will each adopt a city in the U.S and record weather data in a daily log; data such as, temperature, wind speed, wind direction, pressure, and current conditions.
The storm chasing teams
As the storm chasers complete their lessons their chaser car gets to move closer to the tropical storm thats brewing in the southern Atlantic.  They will have to use their weather knowledge to choose the right path and intercept the storm. Who will be the quickest and most accurate team to catch up to the storm has yet to be determined....
Good Luck Storm Chasers!

Paging Dr. A-Team

Originally posted 11/03/11

As I've said before, CLC is a project-based school.  We aren't talking about the "let me give you a topic and you create a diorama" kind of projects that I made so many of during my years of middle school, oh so long ago.  The projects these students do are much more in depth and usually require some form of technology, a whole lot of creativity, and a lot of time.

Each of the four classrooms have 4 big projects they do throughout the year, one each quarter. So, the next few blogs will be showcasing the projects done during the 1st Quarter, which is quickly coming to a close.

We'll start with the A-Team (Amy and Amanda), one of our 5th/6th grade classrooms.
1st Quarter Project: 
The A-Team is going to Medical School!  Plan of action: attend Pre-Med School, graduate to Med School, Intern, become a Resident, then move up to Attending Physician with the ultimate goal of becoming Chief of Staff.
I got to sit in on some of the presentations done by the interns/residents and I have to say it was impressive! iMovies, Flash, and Fireworks were the types of programs students used to show information on their topics as they talked.  Each group had the task of educating their peers on the parts and problems of each system, which can be difficult considering the medical terms and names of some system parts/diseases are hard to understand and pronounce. However, they all did a fantastic job of relaying that information in terms that were very easy to understand.  I learned about the muscle system (fun fact: the gluteus maximus is the biggest muscle of the body), the endocrine system, and the urinary system (fun fact: urine enters the bladder every 10 seconds!).
Up next, the newly promoted attending physicians will create patient scenarios for their fellow peers to try and diagnose as they all attempt to advance through the ranks and become Chief of Staff.

Good luck Doctors!

Back to School

Originally posted 9/28/2011

Believe it or not, we are half way through our 5th week of school already.  The summer flew by, now the month of September is drawing to close already! This month has been packed with activities for the students to get to know each other and learn team building.  The first week of school we had Friday Challenges.  There were several activities that groups of students rotated through (one of which was a Q Tip War, pics below), learning how to work as a team while getting to know each other.  Great back to school ice breakers!
Ready, Aim, Fire!
The next couple weeks of school were spent creating cargo ships for the Cargo Ship Challenge.  Once again, the teams joined together to build Cargo Ships using dried spaghetti, hot glue, and aluminum foil.  The goal was to see how many golf balls each ship could hold before sinking in a pool full of water.  I have to say, these ships were pretty impressive!  How many golf balls do you think the winning ship held?  36! 36 golf balls! Not too shabby.
Loading the ship up with golf balls
Fancy Cargo Ships
Ship Builders
I think we all managed to get back into the swing of things pretty quickly here and I know we're all looking forward to more CLC fun in the coming months!

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Originally posted 7/11/2011

CLC may be on summer vacation, but we still have fun events planned!
Last Thursday night was CLC’s Night at the Spikes.  The school set up a booth inside the stadium at Medlar Field to showcase several of our unique projects, including the recumbent bikes and the Superheroes some of the students made, and to provide information about CLC.  Our goal was to generate interest in our school and hopefully recruit more students. It was a pretty good lookin’ booth, so I hope it did just that!
While that was happening there was a great big group of CLC staff, parents, students with family and friends cheering on the State College Spikes in the designated CLC bleacher area.  A shining moment of the night was when one of our own students got to throw out a pitch before the game started. We just may have a future pro baseball player in our school :-)  It was a fun night of catching up with our students and families while promoting our school to the community!
The front of our booth
The other side of the booth
Throwing out a pitch! Nice shirt!
CLC teachers Siobhan and Amanda representing our school at the booth

Guest Blog: 8th Grade Reflection

Originally posted 6/6/2011

I thought it would be fun to have a guest blog spot during this last week of school. This post comes to you from an 8th grader who really loved her time here at CLC and I knew she'd jump at the chance to share what she did this year and the things she'll miss. So without further adieu, here is Rachel's guest blog spot!

~At the beginning of the year we did a project making action figures and made pieces that went along with them, but that was the least interesting project of the year.  We also built robots, had a museum, made poetry, worked on figurative language, went on a camping trip, and recently, we built bicycles.  When we built robots we made 2 types. The first robot was a square-bot built off of Vex instructions.  With the second robot it had to comply to certain tasks, like picking up ping pong balls and putting them in a box. That was fun! In literature we read a book called “Cold River” and when we finished the book we went on an overnight camping trip to a Boy Scout camp.
During our museum I did a project that had to with after-images so I paired up with my best friend Isaac since he was doing optical illusions. When we did the poetry project we had to write several different poems before concluding the project by making magnetic poetry.  We built bikes and learned how to solve problems, which was fun. I think I had the BEST team ever! The most recent project we did was the Amazing Race where we followed a path of clues and used compass skills, so that was great.

In all four years at CLC I think that 7th and 8th grade were my favorite years.  In 7th grade during lunch I sat at what is now my defined “lunch table” because my best friends sat there. I also started sitting under the flowering bush at recess with my friends.  I will REALLY miss my friends next year (we are all going to different high schools), but I will keep in touch with them.  I already have half of their phone numbers, I will be calling them so that my group of friends and I don’t split up.  I will miss CLC so much…it was the best school ever!~

Thanks Rachel! Congratulations to the 8th grade class of 2011...we wish you all the best and thanks for a great year!
Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!    -Dr. Seuss

A Little R&R: Part Two

Originally posted 6/3/2011

On to the second part of our "R and R" last week.  Team Awesome's big project these last several weeks was to design and construct a land rover, a device that would eventually need to find signs of life on a planet.  During the mission the rovers would need to complete several tasks, some of them in the dark.  They all needed to be equipped with lights, something to "collect" life forms , and a camera.  I have to tell you, this project was pretty awesome. When I was in school the coolest thing I got to build was a clay tower using toothpicks and balls of clay! Seriously that was the highlight of our year :-)
Testing the rovers out
Part of the course the rovers needed to maneuver through
Scooping up life forms
A life form was saved!
Successful mission Team Awesome!

A Little R&R: Part One

Originally posted 5/26/2011

We aren't what you would consider a traditional school so when I say we are having a little "R & R" I don't mean we are having some rest and relaxation.  Our R & R around here is Recumbents and Rovers, of course! The 7th and 8th grade teams have been working on creating some pretty awesome projects this last month.  Team M/M just finished building their recumbent bikes, made from donated bikes that were torn apart and reassembled as recumbents.  How did they celebrate finishing the project? Two words: Bike. Rodeo. Basically each group took their bike out for a spin around the parking lot, some moving much faster than others! Wish I had a picture of the mob of bikes that came around the corner at one point.  I wasn't thinking "picture" at that moment though, I was thinking "band aids" and "peroxide"! (No bike or human was injured during the course of the rodeo)  
Building the bikes
Hard at work
Taking the bike for a spin

Next up: Team Awesome and their land rovers on a trek to find life forms!

Curtain Call

Originally posted 5/23/2011

For the last several weeks I've had a role as one of the backstage coordinators for the CLC Drama Production of Beauty and the Beast, Jr.  So the post this week comes to you from "behind the black curtain" instead of the office window!

Preparing for a middle school drama production is no easy feat.  In the three and a half months we had to prepare there were role changes (due to some actors leaving drama), forgotten lines, scene mishaps, wardrobe malfunctions, and even a meltdown over who was going to be the dinner fork. When we started to do run throughs of the show things backstage were, well...they were chaotic.  The biggest obstacles were getting the kids to stay quiet and to keep away from the curtains that they so loved to peek out of. Contrary to popular belief whispering is talking and if you can see the audience they can see you! I won't lie, I was a little nervous to see how the school preview was going to go.

Fast forward to the school preview. The lights go down, the music starts, and I start scanning the back to see what antics have already started.  What do I see? Nothing but silent actors, anxiously waiting their turn on stage.  On stage I hear loud speaking voices, no pauses in dialogue, and every actor hits their mark.  When it comes time to change the scene, my work is cut in half because all the actors jump in to help.  All of these things put a smile on my face, but what really made me proud was that each time an actor would come back behind the curtain off stage he/she would be given a pat on the back and words of encouragement...silently mouthed of course :-)

How awesome is that? They were the biggest supporters of each other...and after all those tumultuous weeks, that was the only thing that mattered.

And here we are...

Originally posted 5/11/2011

Centre Learning Community Charter School, aka CLC, is a technologically savvy school.  Each student has a laptop and creates their own website to maintain all year long, we use SMART boards instead of chalk boards, and building
robots is a popular 8th grade project.  Naturally, we decided it was time to jump on the social networking bandwagon. So, here I am!

I’m Melissa, the school secretary…well, I guess now the politically correct title is Administrative Professional or Office Assistant. From my spot behind the office window I get to see a broad range of things. There are your usual happenings of minor injuries and sicknesses, students needing pencils or rulers, and, of course, greeting visitors and parents who come in.  Then there are your "not so usual" happenings.  Chewbacca came running into my office once.  I can prove it! I have a picture.  We also had the mystery of the broken ruler key chain that some super sleuths decided was a very serious issue to solve.  They got close to cracking the case, but no suspects were captured.

We are getting awfully close to the end of the school year, but I hope to get some fun blogs in about upcoming events.  I even expect some special guest bloggers to stop by.  Until then, I'll hang out observing everything...from behind the office window.