‘Town Meeting’ a Schoolwide Celebration
Vernon Elementary School Principal Dr. Valerie Vacchio hands out the “Hallway Heroes” flags.
Vernon students are all smiles after receiving certificates for their Random Acts of Kindness.
The creators of the Vernon Homecoming banner showcase their efforts.
Vernon teachers pump up the crowd with a lip sync performance.
There were poms-poms, cheers, applause and a great sense of pride as students and staff at James H. Vernon Elementary School filled the gymnasium to celebrate its first Town Meeting, Oct. 6.
The event, hosted by Principal Dr. Valerie Vacchio, is a long-standing tradition at Vernon and provides an opportunity for the entire building to come together and recognize the achievements and milestones of students, staff and the school as a whole.
“These meetings focus on celebrating the heart and soul of the Vernon School: our students,” Dr. Vacchio said. “During the meetings, the theme of “Choosing Kind” is woven throughout the event by reinforcing kindness with a variety of mediums, such as, video clips, quotes, and mini-presentations that communicate the message that kindness is at the core of Vernon.”
Framed in a Power Point presentation, which Student Council officers help design with Dr. Vacchio, the event began by welcoming Ms. Eleni Makis, Vernon’s new crossing guard.
Students at each grade level were then awarded certificates for their Random Acts of Kindness, and were recognized for exhibiting the character trait of the month: “individuality.” The character trait was reinforced through September’s book of the month, Everybody Needs a Rock, by Byrd Baylor, and an art project that involves painting rocks as a way to celebrate differences. The rocks will beautify the Anthony Petrovic Memorial Garden.
Sixth grader Themie Voumvourakis addressed the audience about the upcoming Student Council elections that will take place in the gym the morning of Oct. 19, and members of the Leader’s Club announced that they raised over $1,000 for the American Red Cross during its “Hats On for Hurricane Relief” campaign. The club also sold paper leaves for $1.00 to raise money for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and to decorate Vernon’s “kindness tree” in the cafeteria.
Vernon’s beautiful, sports-themed Homecoming banner was showcased and each student who helped create the banner explained what his or her role was. The students were advised by art teacher Ms. Karen Crowley.
Excitement filled the air as the “Hallway Heroes” flags were awarded to classes that best displayed decorum by walking silently and neatly in the hallways. According to Dr. Vacchio, “the line leaders have the honor of carrying the flag when their classes travel around the building. A class may earn the flag more than once during the year. If a class earns it twice, they get a double flag. If they earn it three times, they get a special topper, which is a golden bulldog, Vernon’s mascot.”
Winning classes of the Summer Reading Challenge were also spotlighted. Ms. Janet Link’s class won first place with 9,120 minutes, Ms. Kelly Horch’s class came in second with 8,460 minutes and third place went to Ms. Christine O’Connor and Mr. Christopher Larke’s classes with 7,102 minutes. The first-place class earned a pizza party and the second- and third-place winners were awarded ice cream.
New staff members were welcomed to the Vernon family, including social worker Ms. Nicole Silva and special education teacher Ms. Kim Romeo, as well as teacher assistant Ms. Emily Colon, resident substitute teacher Ms. Anna Sakellaridis, and lunch and recess monitors Ms. Bianca Phifer and Ms. Rita Bontrager. And sixth-grade integrated co-teacher Ms. Jennifer Spelatis was welcomed back to Vernon after working at the high school last year.
The event culminated with a lip sync performance by teachers Ms. Christine O’Connor, Ms. Nicole Pienkos, Ms. Teri Chiappardi and Ms. Kelly Horch to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” And, the bulldog mascot made an appearance on stage, waving to the students as he walked by.
“The Town Meeting takes place five times per year and is a great way to strengthen relationships throughout the whole school community,” Dr. Vacchio added. “The event typically closes with the Vernon School song and a reminder to ‘read, have fun and be kind.’ Everyone leaves uplifted and inspired. It’s something our students always remember.”