WEEKI WACHEE — Some mighty peculiar things could be seen in the hallways and classrooms at Winding Waters K-8 School during the recent Spirit Week — teachers and students sporting antennae, a couple of front-office workers with giant spiders on their heads, bizarre hats and even some striped shoes.
But a closer look revealed plenty of lessons going on.
In its second year, the school still does not have a seventh or eighth grade. Sixth grade was added this year. The higher grade levels will be added during the next two school years.
Nonetheless, as a new school, the administration and teachers are interested in building a feeling of community and family.
Hence, Spirit Week, with the them of "Beware of the Swarm!"
The week included Yellow Jacket Day-Dress on Monday, Class Color Day on Tuesday, Crazy Hat Day on Wednesday, Mismatch Day on Thursday and School Spirit Day on Friday, when students wore yellow, black and green, the school colors.
Like schools everywhere, Winding Waters is beginning to implement Common Core Standards, which principal Dave Dannemiller explained are "the new standards replacing the Sunshine State Standards." They provide for a more rigorous curriculum where the students have to defend and explain answers.
Kindergarten and first grade are being taught with the Common Core Standards this year. Second grade will be added next year, and the following year all grades should be on board.
"There's been district training going on for a couple of years," Dannemiller said, adding that leadership groups went to training over the summer.
Some of the standards were woven into Spirit Week. There was a schoolwide "Design Your Own Yellow Jacket" activity, a coloring contest, said elementary assistant Jackie DeSario.
"But we are modeling for teachers that there should be some sort of writing assigned to every experience and activity," DeSario said. "We are asking students to complete a short writing assignment to go along with the coloring contest."
"Everything that we're doing now we're having them write about it," Dannemiller said, "and we're doing it in a way so as to not take the edge off the fun. What we're attempting to do this year is put an instructional focus on Spirit Week."
Part of the week's fun was the prizes for the contest winners. Students were divided into the kindergarten through second-grade category and the third- through sixth-grade category. Those judged to have the best bulletin boards in each category won pizza parties. Second place was ice cream parties and third place cookie parties.
The best yellow jacket coloring/writing contest was also divided into two categories, but the winners were individuals. Funded by the PTA, first-place winners received $30 each, second-place winners $20 and third place $10.
Spirit Week was coordinated by third-grade teacher Kristina Garofano.