Burgettstown Elementary celebrates character

BURGETTSTOWN – Burgettstown Area Elementary School held their annual end-of-year celebration Heartwood Carnival, which had the theme “Yo! Ho! Ho! I Am a Heartwood Kid,” May 30 at the First Niagara Pavilion.

Principal Melissa Mankey said the program is an important part of the school’s mission to educate and make the pupils responsible citizens.

“They will carry these skills through their lives,” she said.

Mankey added the festival is a reward for the pupils’ positive behavior throughout the year and a tool for motivating that behavior.

“It’s a reward they work towards,” she said.

Every year, the carnival is achieved with a “phenomenal” level of planning and cooperation by staff, local businesses and volunteers. She thanked those involved in the carnival, including First Niagara Pavilion. Local businesses and service organizations that made donations include First Niagara Pavilion, R&B Printing, Scrapbooking by Inches and the Burgettstown Kids Center. The Ambulance and Chair Service of Northwest monitored the pavilion.

“A special thank you goes to the Heartwood Committee,” she said. “They worked very hard on this.”

At the carnival, students enjoyed inflatable rides, snacks and educational games. E.L.F. Entertainment provide inflatables, including an obstacle course, velcro wall and fun house.

“The number of volunteers who took the day off work to come spend time with our kids and celebrate is amazing,” said Norma Alrutz, Burgettstown Area School Board member and volunteer.

More than 300 volunteers, including parents, teachers and HOPE Club members, participated. Rainbow the Clown and Brenda Inches of Scrapbooking by Inches volunteered their services.

Alrutz also praised the teachers who worked on and executed the carnival.

“The teachers put so much hard work into this to make it a success,” she said.

Bob Hughes and Brie Seig organized an Intermediate Challenge Center with educational games for third- through fifth-grade pupils. Working with third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers, Hughes and Seig created a list of game concepts based on game shows and teachers used the list for inspiration in creating educational games.

Heather Shaffer and Patty Ginosky organized a Primary Challenge Center for pupils in kindergarten through second grades.

The carnival is the reward for the school’s Heartwood character education program, and, throughout the year, the teachers introduced a series of positive character traits by reading and discussing stories focusing on positive character traits; and creating reinforcing activities in their classrooms and grade level wings.

In addition, school officials supported community service projects that reinforced positive behaviors, including collecting food, clothing and sending greetings to veterans.

Pupils earned tickets, which they redeemed for carnival coins, by exhibiting positive behavior and exemplifying the character traits, which included respect, courage, justice, hope, love, loyalty and honesty. The tickets were distributed by both teachers and support staff.

The Heartwood committee includes BAEC staffers Cathy Williamson, Heather Shaffer, Patty Ginosky, Brianne Sieg, Robert Hughes, Chris Foster, P.J. Rutledge, Co-chair Amanda Suica, Co-chair Julie Marshall, Chair Michelle Read, Elementary Principal Melissa Mankey, Elementary Assistant Principal Shannon Balch and District Superintendent Deborah Jackson.