By: Cinde Ingram
HIGH POINT — The UFO crash site staged outside Allen Jay Preparatory Academy served as a clue something unusual was afoot on Thursday.
Teachers had created themed lessons and decorated classrooms to engage students in science and math activities, novels and other lessons for its annual Rock Your School Day. Parents, University of North Carolina-Greensboro students, teachers from other Guilford County Schools and district officials visited during the day to witness the activities.
School administrators wore costumes related to “The Wizard of Oz,” which served as the week’s leadership lessons.
“We’ve been teaching about leading with your heart, leading with your head and having courage — three pretty important things from the characters of Wizard of Oz,” Principal Kevin Wheat said.
Fifth-grade teachers selected the theme alien invasion. Students who have been reading the book “My Teacher Is an Alien” may have wondered whether it could be real when they saw their grade level hallway quarantined off and set up like Area 51. Science experiments and reading about alien investigations supported the theme while teacher Hannah Bolton dressed as an alien and teacher Latoya Terrell’s classroom contained a decontamination booth with what appeared to be an alien inside.
“Just knowing that school can be very unpredictable and that the teachers like to have fun as well,” said Terrell, who had kept plans for the day a secret from her fifth-grade son. “We bring this fun atmosphere to them to keep them engaged. They had no idea what was happening. The UFO out there was the icing on the cake. ”
Bolton said hearing a comment from a student in her first class of the day made the 12-hour preparation worth it. The boy told her “it’s going to be weird leaving school today, because I never want to say that I don’t want to leave school.”
David Nissen, a fifth-grade teacher who helped build the UFO, said he wanted students to know that school can be fun and still be educational.
“There are so many things we were able to tie together with that UFO and what we’re doing here on fifth-grade hall as a whole,” he said. “It was very much a cross-content area.”
Outdoor wilderness served as the theme for sixth-graders, who were working on ratios while participating in campfire activities including roasting marshmallows.
“In science, we have been learning about how we use energy in everyday life,” said Kaitlyn James, a sixth-grade student. “In math, we are learning about ratios and how you can put together stuff.”
Sixth-grader William Passmore said he enjoyed learning more about thermal and electromagnetic energy.
“We’re not just sitting in a classroom,” he said. “They use chants to get us more engaged in class. Last year was my first year here, and it was way different than my old schools.”