Greetings! As the school year comes do a close, so does the Catamount Corner -- but just for a few months. This will be the final column for this year, but Catamount Corner will be back in September as we begin a new school year.

For closing thoughts, I have chosen to present student voices from some writing samples. The second graders just finished writing reports about animals. Here are excerpts from their reports. One student ended his report with, "Black bears live in the northern forest. They are found in Vermont. In winter they hibernate in dens. When I go walking through the woods again, I hope I see a black bear." Another student began his report this way. "Who is big and black? It's the black bear. They have short non-retractable claws. Black bears are good swimmers and can climb trees. Their fur is black except for the muzzle. The muzzle is sometimes brown or gray."

One student chose to write about loons and captured the readers' attention by starting, "Do you know what is the size of a large duck and a small goose? It's a loon!" Another student gave her opinion about the loons' eating habits as she wrote, "Did you know the loon eats salamanders, crayfish, snails, fish, and leeches? I think the most interesting thing they eat is frogs!"

Moving up through the grades, fifth graders wrote reports as well with expectations for introductions to catch the reader's attention, paragraphs with strong main ideas and supporting details, and clear conclusions. Here is the hook that one student used in her introduction. "Sitting on a log at my grandmother's after a rainstorm, I look for rainbows. The sun is shining, and there it is -- a rainbow with all of its beautiful colors." Another student chose tornadoes as her topic and captured the reader's attention this way. "A tornado rising 400-500 fee dances around in the neighborhood, only to be oblivious to the mass destruction it causes. It spins around, whipping a house into pieces that fly across the neighborhood, which is officially now the devil's playground. Have you ever wondered how or why tornadoes move houses or why they are capable of such tremendous destruction?"

Another student titled his report, "From the Sky," and he started this way, "Rain is a natural thing, but not when it is mixed with acids that could corrode metals and harm wildlife. This rain is called acid ran, and mostly responsible for its occurrence is mankind and their need for power." The same sense of urgency came across as another fifth grader began his acid rain report with, "Run for your lives. It's raining acid! Acid rain is a very serious problem for everything from trees to lake or pond critters that need their own special, unique habitat, and even humans if conditions are right."

We move now from report writing to reflective writing. Sixth graders wrote letters to their next year's teachers to introduce and describe themselves. Students expressed goals. "Something I struggle with is spelling. I hope you can teach me more about it." They were honest about what they liked. One student wrote, "I love talking and hanging out with friends." Another wrote, "I love horses. I also love school. I like challenging problems, and I love summer."

They were also honest about school. "I love to read if the book is good. I try to work very hard. Science can be hard to focus on depending on the subject." They looked to the future. One student wrote, "My goal in life is to become a vet because I care so much for animals," and another wrote, "I want to be a basketball player when I am older." They expressed passions. One student declared, "I am very passionate about writing. I often write poetry in my free time, and I feel writing is very important in my learning." Another student shared, "I have a talent for movie filming and editing. Finally, I think of myself as a great comedian and joker."

They demonstrated compassion. "When I am working in a group with other students, I always make a point to include them and make them feel comfortable." They admitted their challenges. "But I have a bad habit of talking when I am not supposed to. I try my best to get all my work in on time but sometimes I forget to pass it in." They identified difficult situations. "I can't speak to large groups of people. I start to cry or get overwhelmed."

And consistently their hopes for next year came through. "I hope next year is splendid," wrote one sixth grader. Another said, "I can't wait to go to seventh grade because I love new challenges." Still another expressed, "I look forward to being in your classes. I hope you enjoy me as a student."

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to connect with parents, grandparents, and community friends through the Catamount Corner. I extend my warmest wishes for an enjoyable summer, and I look forward to reconnecting in September with more exciting news about the St. Johnsbury School!


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