Middle School Students Embrace Community Beyond the Classroom

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Civic Responsibility, Education, Middle School, student post, Sustainability, Uncategorized, Whole Child Education

By Ben Heineman and Peter Ilias

The 6th and 8th grade Education for Sustainability classes are exploring the idea of community, specifically the history of Morristown and how Morristown (and other communities) are structured. We learned how communities create support systems to help its citizens. Our final project was to choose a small, meaningful idea that will help improve one of the following communities – our family community, our neighborhood community, our school community, or our town community.

Ben and Brandon decided to make snack packs for the middle school teachers during conference time since they often meet several hours in a row without breaks.

Peter, Nick, Matthew, Shavar and Alejandro put together a once a month plan to assist Chuck with cleaning hallways, common room and middle school floors and generally tidying the middle school classrooms.

But then something happened in our community.

On January 30th, a fire broke out on Elm Street in Morristown and firefighters fought it in the freezing cold from 11 o’clock at night until approximately 10:00 in the morning. It was so cold that the trees were frozen solid with ice. Above some of the stores on Elm Street, there were apartment. And in them were families. There were three kids. Two six year old girls and one eight year old boy.

elm street fire

On February 6th, the 5th grade EFS class, watched a video about what happened on Elm Street. After that, the class came up with ideas on how to help the people in the fire. Some of the ideas were to put little pieces of paper with names of needed items on the door to the common room. Then people could take a piece of paper and get that item for the people in the fire. Some other ideas were to bring in items in which Susan (one of the EFS teachers, and parent of two Unity kids) could then donate directly. The class has decided to make backpacks full of school supplies for the three kids. Please consider donating.

About the Authors

Ben Heineman was born in Manhattan, NY, and currently lives in Maplewood. He has been attending Unity since 2nd grade. In his free time he enjoys playing, and watching sports.

Peter Ilias was born in Summit, NJ, and lived in Maplewood until he moved to Morristown. He still attends Unity,and is good with technology.

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.

Students Visit Local Pond to Study the Water Cycle in Winter

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Education, student post, Sustainability, Whole Child Education

Written by Nina Lawson, Learning Group 2

Edited by Suzanne Dell’Orto (Nina’s mom)

class pic

On Monday, December 22, Jen’s 2/3 Learning Group went on a field trip to the Burnham Park Pond in Morristown to further their study of water and the watercycle. This is our second field trip to study the water cycle this year…we have another one coming up in the Spring!

The bus trip to Burnham Park Pond was great! We learned a lot about watersheds. A watershed is a body of water that is made up of collected water from an area. We found out that household chemicals from lawns, cars, etc. can drain into the watershed and bother the fish, birds, frogs, diving beetles, and other living things that need the water to survive. You probably know all lakes, streams, and rivers have muck on the bottom, right? If chemicals get in the water cycle and into the water, it can kill all the organic matter and fish, animals and plants can’t survive!

When we got to Burnham Park Pond, Jen had us draw what we saw. We drew trees, dead bushes, nettles, a bit of the brook connected to the pond, and ducks that only came that time of year.

park trip pic 3 at the lake

Then we went in the water with Jen. We were all wearing big waterproof boots! Were told that we had to go in the water very slowly. To take another step, we had to wait till the silt faded a little, and we were careful not to go in the water higher than our boots. Jen wore waders, so she could go in really deep!

We used our homemade scope lenses (they were made from yogurt containers with the bottom cut off, and a piece of plastic wrap on the top for the lens). I noticed lots of dirt, silt, and a bubble on my scope lens. The edge of the pond was very muddy, and there were a lot of dead leaves in the water.

park trip 5 Burnham park Field  Trip

We left the water and took notes on what we saw. Nora’s mom brought hot chocolate for everyone! Finally, we got our stuff, and headed to the bus. On the way to the bus Jen told us more about the things we saw and talked about watersheds! It was a great day!

About the Author

Nina Lawson is in Jen Carcich’s 2/3 Learning Group at Unity Charter School. She loves nature and drawing, and is always excited about going on field trips. Ask her for her latest “knock-knock” joke!

Suzanne Dell’Orto is a Unity Charter School Board Member and is co-chair of the Curriculum Committee. She is also a practicing artist and graphic designer, and is a design educator at Baruch College/CUNY in New York City.

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.

Motivational Speaker Pedals a Positive Message

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Education, Positive Discipline, student post, Uncategorized, Whole Child Education

By Nova Rivers securedownload (1)

On December 5, 2014, Chris Poulos, a comedic, motivational speaking, biker came to Unity Charter School. All of the kids were excited to see him, and they were ecstatic once they saw his amazing moves, including the “Peanut-Butter Jelly.” Teachers were happy because of the positive message that Poulos was giving their students, such as, “Treat others the way that you would want to be treated,” and “Follow your dreams.”

“The biker guy was awesome! He’s so cool!” says sixth grader, Nicholas Scelfo. “My favorite part was when Chris jumped over two of my teachers! I really think he should come back again!”


Chris Poulos has achieved a lot in his life, despite his challenges. Poulos admitted to Unity that he has attention deficit hyper-activity disorder, better known as ADHD. He said that as a kid, biking helped him get all of his energy out and he truly loved it, a lot. Poulos loved biking so much that he made it his career, which won him over 80 competitions. His website, www.chrispoulos.com, is dedicated to his work of positive influence on children and of course, biking. Funny, kind, smart, and athletic, it was unanimous, that Poulos’ assembly was one of the best that Unity had ever had!

About Chris Poulos

Chris Poulos is a multifaceted speaker featured at schools, colleges, and conferences throughout the county. His energy and enthusiasm translate into a dynamic performance guaranteed to leave any audience spellbound. Since 1988, audiences around the world have been riveted to Chris’s words of wisdom and astonished by his athletic ability. Chris is truly in a league of his own, mesmerizing his audience with incredible bicycle stunts, while simultaneously engaging them on topics such as: bullying, cyberbullying, perseverance, self-discipline, respect, teamwork, mental health, and more.

Chris designs each program to educate, motivate, and captivate his audience. During his performance, Chris combines extreme bicycle stunts with anecdotes and real-life experiences that reach inside the hearts and minds of his audience. This personal connection allows him to deliver content that the audience can immediately use to improve themselves and their peers. Chris will engage and motivate his audience to think about how to improve their own lives, treat others how they want to be treated, and create a ripple effect of respect and goodwill that will improve their whole community.

Boo-gie into the Halloween Dance

Written by Stacy Havens. Posted in Middle School, student post

photo 1-4 photo 3-3 photo 4-2

Boo-gie into the Halloween Dance

by Teresa’s Cheetahs PBL Class

All the middle school students and 9th grade alumni students were invited to the Halloween dance on October 17, 2014. Admission ranged from $7 to $10, depending on if you bought the tickets online or at the door. The profits benefited the school. The common room was decorated festively by student volunteers. There was a snack bar, which included Chip’s Ahoy cookies, popcorn, lemonade, seltzer water, and pretzels. Ghosts, goblins, and ghouls danced to the DJ’s popular songs. Flashing disco lights lit up the dance floor. The students would like to thank the chaperones, teachers, and parents who assisted with this awesome dance. We especially want to thank Karen Bloch for making the dance happen. This was one of our best dances yet!