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Moon Lake Elementary students get lessons in team building

MOON LAKE

B oom.

Boom ba-ba boom boom, boom-boom-boom.

The pulsating, propulsive beat of hands slapping drums and shaking rattles rose from the covered play area at Moon Lake Elementary on Friday morning.

Smiling, laughing children and teachers pounded out the rhythm to the words of leader Steve Turner of Giving Tree Music — "You, and you. How do you do?"

Boom. Ba-boom. Boom boom-boom boom.

And they danced. Like monkeys. Like elephants. Like their parents (quite revealing, that).

"That was the funnest P.E. ever," fourth-grader Makayla McComb declared as her classmates swayed, arms in the air, on the walk back to their classroom.

More than that, it was the culmination of Moon Lake's two-week kickoff to creating a more unified culture for the school.

Ever since principal Elise Landahl arrived at the school about a year ago, she heard from staff about the need to build a stronger school community and to increase school pride.

Landahl began reading on the topic, and when she hit upon Stephen R. Covey's The Leader In Me and Sean Covey's Seven Habits of Happy Kids, she thought it was a winner. Teachers read it over the summer and got excited, setting up lessons and projects geared at training kids in a shared language of leadership and community.

"We want them to have skills not just to read or write, but to be a citizen in the community," Landahl said. "Sometimes, we get so caught up in the other pieces that we don't embed these others."

So for two weeks, Moon Lake students learned the lessons of "win-win" and being "proactive," complete with video projects and pep rallies, all leading to Friday morning's drum circle.

"We're bringing the school together," fourth-grade teacher Kris Hackworth said. "Any time we share together is so important."

And what better way than with the arts, music teacher Aaron Rutter said.

"It's unifying," Rutter shouted over the beat. "There's power in music. The more people you have playing together, the more unifying it is."

The message did not get lost on the children. To them, the drumming and dancing was fun — awesome, even. But it was more than that, too.

"We feel like a big school team," said fourth-grader Tristan Johnson, still buzzing from all the activity.

"I just like getting together as a school and playing instruments," added his classmate Ashlyn Miller. "We get to do things together instead of being just one class."

Unfortunately for the kids, the drumming had to end. Even that carried through the lesson, though.

At Turner's direction, the students shook out their hands and rubbed off the sweat. Then they thanked their drum, thanked their neighbors and told them "You sounded amazing."

"Students, find your teacher," he continued. "Tell your teacher, 'You are awesome.' "

They did.

"Tell your teacher, 'We will do anything you say.'"

They giggled.

"I tried."

Ba-da-boom.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK

Times Staff Writer

MOON LAKE — Boom.

Boom ba-ba boom boom, boom-boom-boom.

The pulsating, propulsive beat of hands slapping drums and shaking rattles rose from the covered play area at Moon Lake Elementary on Friday morning.

Smiling, laughing children and teachers pounded out the rhythm to the words of leader Steve Turner of Giving Tree Music — "You, and you. How do you do?"

Boom. Ba-boom. Boom boom-boom boom.

And they danced. Like monkeys. Like elephants. Like their parents (quite revealing, that).

"That was the funnest P.E. ever," fourth grader Makayla McComb declared as her classmates swayed, arms in the air, on the walk back to their classroom.

More than that, it was the culmination of Moon Lake's two-week kickoff to creating a more unified culture for the school.

Ever since principal Elise Landahl arrived at the school about a year ago, she heard from staff about the need to build a stronger school community and to increase school pride.

Landahl began reading on the topic, and when she hit upon Stephen R. Covey's The Leader In Me and Sean Covey's Seven Habits of Happy Kids, she thought it was a winner. Teachers read it over the summer and got excited, setting up lessons and projects geared at training kids in a shared language of leadership and community.

"We want them to have skills not just to read or write, but to be a citizen in the community," Landahl said. "Sometimes, we get so caught up in the other pieces that we don't embed these others."

So for two weeks, Moon Lake students learned the lessons of "win-win" and being "proactive," complete with video projects and pep rallies, all leading to Friday morning's drum circle.

"We're bringing the school together," fourth-grade teacher Kris Hackworth said. "Any time we share together is so important."

And what better way than with the arts, music teacher Aaron Rutter said.

"It's unifying," Rutter shouted over the beat. "There's power in music. The more people you have playing together, the more unifying it is."

The message did not get lost on the children.

To them, the drumming and dancing was fun — awesome, even. But it was more than that, too.

"We feel like a big school team," said fourth grader Tristan Johnson, still buzzing from all the activity.

"I just like getting together as a school and playing instruments," added his classmate Ashlyn Miller. "We get to do things together instead of being just one class."

Unfortunately for the kids, the drumming had to end. Even that carried through the lesson, though.

At Turner's direction, the students shook out their hands and rubbed off the sweat. Then they thanked their drum, thanked their neighbors and told them "You sounded amazing."

"Students, find your teacher," he continued. "Tell your teacher, 'You are awesome.'"

They did.

"Tell your teacher, 'We will do anything you say.'"

They giggled.

"I tried."

Ba-da-boom.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Moon Lake Elementary students get lessons in team building 08/27/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 27, 2010 9:04pm]
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