Around The Horn – Winter 2019


MidwMidway Early Learning Centeray had a great start to the school year and a very busy fall with some exciting events! We started October with our annual pumpkin carving night where fun was had by all. Next, we enjoyed our visit from the Delhi firefighters, who taught the students about fire safety! Lastly, thanks to our partnership with PNC Bank, the students enjoyed a wonderful preschool planetarium experience, with Big Bird teaching the children all about the stars in a very interactive and exciting way. We look forward to the rest of the school year with our Midway family!


Dimondale Elementary is off to a great start! With eight new staff members this year, there are many new faces. Shannon Barker is the newly appointed principal. She has been teaching in the Holt/Dimondale community for over 20 years. She and her husband have three daughters sprinkled throughout the district at Horizon, Washington Woods, and Holt High School. Shannon enjoys coaching her daughters and relaxing at the lake. Chris Billingslea is the new Dean of Students at Dimondale. He has been an educator for over 20 years and over 10 of them in Holt. Chris and his wife have three sons. Two new first-grade teachers joined the Dimondale team: Natalie Hooley and Carly Ivers. Natalie came from Goshen, Indiana where she taught for two years. Natalie moved here this summer and was married to her husband, David. Carly is originally from Brighton and graduated from MSU. Stephanie Hendrickson is a new second-grade teacher; she has also taught French in Traverse City and fourth and sixth grade in Lansing. Stephanie received her bachelors and masters degrees from Michigan State University. Tracy Prush and Megan Nico complete Dimondale’s third-grade team. Tracy comes to us from Charlotte, where she has been teaching for the past 17 years. Megan is not new to the district. She graduated from Michigan State University, completed her student teaching at Dimondale, and also completed several long-term substitute positions.


As a part of an initiative to create a school informed about the effects of trauma, we are helping students learn how to deal with stress. We know that students experience stress as a result of various factors, and they are affected by stress in a variety of ways. We have partnered with Monica Pino, a certified yoga instructor, who is providing monthly yoga sessions for our students. Yoga’s practices of breath, mindfulness, movement, and body postures are excellent tools to help us self-regulate. The practices help us gain an awareness of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Schools focusing on mindfulness report that students feel more focused and less anxious. The students are able to settle their nervous systems, which can change the climate of the building in positive ways.

The objective of this project is to provide all students with social and emotional learning opportunities. We are hoping that by having monthly sessions, students will be encouraged to engage in practices on their own, both in and out of the classroom. These monthly yoga sessions will also be a way for students to positively interact with each other and participate in a healthy activity together. Yoga promotes physical strength because kids learn to use all of their muscles in new ways. These exercises encourage children to clear their minds and focus on effort.

Teamwork makes the dream work at Elliott Elementary!


At Horizon, we value our community partnerships that provide extended learning opportunities for our children. In September, our kindergarteners traveled to Fenner Nature Center to learn about the wonders of nature. Our first-graders traveled to Sparrow Hospital to learn what it takes to be a highly trained nurse and doctor. In the spring, our second- graders will travel to MSU Children’s Garden. In the winter, the third-graders will experience Zoo School at Potter Park Zoo. Finally, our fourth-graders traveled to the Michigan State Capitol in August to learn about our state government. These opportunities add to our children’s learning and bring greater awareness of our community.


Sycamore had an amazing fall break filled with two week-long Intersessions. You may ask, “What is an Intercession?” Intersession is a one or two-week enrichment program that is offered to all of our Superstars students. Intercessions are designed to supplement and enhance a child’s education. The program incorporates both academic and enrichment activities with theme-centered activities planned to be both intriguing and educational.

During our first week of Intercession, we took our adventures “Under the Sea.” We dove deep into learning about dolphins, sea turtles, the coral reef, stingrays, and jellyfish. We even had a special guest share how he takes care of some animals who live in the water. A big thank you is extended to one of our Sycamore teachers, Mr. Gentry, as he shared with us how he takes care of his classroom fish and turtle.

Our second week of Intercession was all things “Birds, Birds, Birds.” We explored backyard birds, bird nests, owls, tropical birds, and big birds. Our very own Mr. Gierhart taught us about birding. Our students were so excited to experience this. We made binoculars and headed out to do a little birding of our own. We also had the wonderful staff from Preuss Pets share some of their favorite birds. We ended our second week with a “Pajama Day.”

We are looking forward to our next incredible Sycamore Intersession during our mid-winter break in February.


On Wednesday mornings this fall, the hallways of Wilcox Elementary School filled with the sounds of marching feet as Holt High School students and Holt Ram Football players made their way to the fourth-grade wing to team up with Mrs. Jamie Fulk’s fourth-grade students. These high school students volunteered their time every early-release Wednesday to enrich the learning experiences of Wilcox students by teaching them math games and acting as pen pals. Students were taught three different games each week and got to play the math games with their high school buddies. The students also enjoyed writing letters back and forth and pumping up their buddies for their big football games each Friday! Many students even showed up to the players’ Friday night games and got to go onto the field afterward to take pictures with their buddies. This partnership has not only enriched the learning of our students but also their lives, as they have each gained a new friend and role model through this amazing experience.


Hope Middle School is excited to learn how we can support students by becoming more aware of the effects of trauma. All staff members are reading the book, Help for Billy. Strategies from this book will help guide our journey to becoming more aware of the needs of all of our students. We are also supporting students by teaching self-control strategies, incorporating mindfulness into our days, and restorative justice practices. Our dean of students will also be teaching social and emotional lessons to all students. We are learning and providing tools to help support students in and out of the classroom.


Washington Woods was excited to kick off this fall school year with another successful “Fans in the Stands” pep rally. The entire school and special guests join in a rockin’ send off to our Special Olympics athletes and their partners heading off to a bowling tournament. This year was especially exciting as we were presented our official banner for being a Nationally Recognized Unified Champion School, which is a rare accomplishment for a middle school!

As we head into winter, we are excited that our fundraisers and district support have provided some new technology. We added nearly 70 Chromebooks, four Smartboards, and a few new digital projectors to our inventory for classroom support. We also anticipate many new items for our STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) makerspace and classroom use that have been generously provided by the Dart Grant. This will include a 3-D printer, Makey-Makey circuit kits, and a few other kits for kids to explore hands-on tools and skills.


Holt Junior High School students were really clipping away this fall— clipping Box Tops, that is. The students turned in 7,761 Box Top coupons, which raised $776.10 for the Junior Rams!


This past fall, the social studies department at Holt High School created mock election opportunities for students to simulate the actual election process and emphasize the importance of voting. Students had to register to vote in the weeks leading up to the election to be eligible to vote. They also created political posters to highlight candidates or issues. The big event before the election was a student debate representing the candidates, which took place in the auditorium in front of hundreds of their peers. The student election results for governor of Michigan mirrored Michigan’s official election results.