Get Schooled: Flat Stanley Gets Fit

March 30th, 2012 by Amber Lester


In the past two years, I had the privilege of hosting a special house guest, showing him the ways of American life. His name was Flat Stanley, and he was mailed to me by young girls in Kazakhstan, whose teacher was a college friend of mine then working with the Peace Corps.

If you’re not familiar with Flat Stanley’s story, here’s the gist: Flat Stanley, a character in a 1964 book written by Jeff Brown, was flattened when a bulletin board fell off the wall onto his bed. He survived, and adapted, making the most of his ability to slide under doors and visit friends by mail.

Teachers around the world have used Flat Stanley as a tool to teach geography, having students mail Stanley to far-away friends and family members who are happy to document his travels. But Williamsburg-James City County second-graders are putting a twist on the Flat Stanley tale. Instead of traveling the world, their Stanleys are learning about exercise and nutrition.

Janice Kailos, community and family outreach specialist for the Student Health Initiative Program (SHIP), came up with the idea to use Flat Stanley to help students learn about healthy lifestyles. Flat Stanley was a staple of her classroom when she was a second-grade teacher, and she thought it would be a new outlook on the traditional story.

For three weeks, the division’s second graders have had the opportunity to carry Stanley around and help him get back into shape. Each week brings a challenge to complete, such as helping Stanley eat more fruits and vegetables. The students track Stanley’s progress in journals, which were provided thanks to funds from the division’s physical education program (PEP) grants.

The project will last a total of eight weeks. The weekly challenges include drinking more water and low-fat milk; eating more whole-grain foods; eating together as a family; being active for a total of 60 minutes throughout the day; and eating a healthy breakfast.

Kailos chose second grade because students are not yet tested by the Standards of Learning, and teachers might appreciate an extra project that supports reading and writing. “I think it’s so cute when kids really craft their writing, and it’s a great skill for them to have,” she said.

Because it’s a first-time project, students aren’t required to participate, but Kailos hopes they opted to complete the project. P.E. teachers and SHIP staffers talk to the students about the project each week. It achieves several of SHIP’s goals, by inviting families to participate, emphasizing nutrition and wellness and encouraging the students’ creativity.

I can say from experience that Flat Stanley brings something out in children that few other projects can – a certain protectiveness and excitement about guiding him and documenting his journey. Although these Stanleys won’t be posing for pictures beside the Tower of Pisa or on a boat, they will be making the journey from unhealthy to fit, and I hope the kids have fun writing about it.

Wittman Launches First District Art Competition

Congressman Rob Wittman (Va.-1) announced the launch of the 2012 First District Congressional Art Competition on Tuesday. All high school students living in the First District are eligible to enter the competition by April 27.

The winning entry from each participating district will be displayed for a year in the U.S. Capitol. All entries must be original in concept, design and execution. Entries should be directed to one of Wittman’s offices in either Fredericksburg, Tappahannock or Yorktown by April 27.

Entry details, including the student release form, are available here.

Grafton Bethel Wins Regional Battle of the Books

Grafton Bethel Elementary School’s Battle of the Books team took first place by one point in the final question of the final battle at the Regional Battle of the Books on March 23.

The event was held at the Williamsburg Regional Library.

WCA Hosts ‘Flowering of the Cross’ Ceremony


Seniors Libby Timmer & and Shane Haupt help first grade students Wes Newman and Noah Conklin.

Williamsburg Christian Academy hosted the traditional “Flowering of the Cross” ceremony on Wednesday. The ceremony is held annually just before Easter, and hosted by the senior class. All families and students were invited to bring flowers to place on the cross, which is displayed at the entrance to campus.

The flowering cross has been depicted in Christian art for centuries, based on a legend that says the cross burst into bloom at the moment Jesus died.

This year, the ceremony began with a prayer led by seniors preparing to travel on spring break missions trips to New York City and the Dominican Republic. Seniors also read scripture while senior Hannah Laurel played keyboard and students from each grade came forward to decorate the wooden cross.

The ceremony concluded with a performance from the high school choir.

Free GED and ESOL Classes Available

The Williamsburg-James City County GED/Adult Education Program offers free GED prep and English as a Second Language classes.

The GED test is given on a monthly basis for the cost of $58 for all first-time takers and $10 per test for those who need to retake any part of the GED test.

The next GED testing will be administered from 1 to 5 p.m. April 18 and 19 at the Educational Center at James Blair. Call (757) 603-6532 for more information.

Matthew Whaley Students Perform Seuss Musical

MW_ThingsMatthew Whaley Elementary’s second-graders presented “In the Pages of a Book,” a musical celebrating the works of Dr. Seuss, last month.

The second grade students were directed by music teacher Julie Jones, and also performed songs from the show at Barnes and Noble of New Town’s Book Fair for Matthew Whaley on March 2. Local families and teachers enjoyed music, games, treats and books, with a percentage of sales from the fair going to support the school’s library media center.

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