Quilt For U.S. Marine A Highlight For Payson Elementary Students

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One of the highlights of 2005 at Payson Elementary School started with the kindergarten's lesson on the letter "Q," according to principal Will Dunman.

"Quite a few parents donated to the project; so did several teachers and teaching assistants," he said.

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Mary Ann Runzo's morning and afternoon kindergarten classes at Payson Elementary School started learning about letters with the start of the 2005-2006 year. The lessons teach the youngsters their letters by associating them with things, such as "Q" is for quilt and "S" is for soldier and safe. The "Q" and "S" lessons resulted in the kindergarten students constructing a quilt for a soldier -- actually a U.S. Marine, Brian Langeliers, who had attended PES and whose parents, Norm and Robin, still work there.

The project culminated in early 2006, when the Marine it was made for, former Payson Elementary School student Brian Langeliers, the son of two PES teachers, made a visit to the school and was presented with the quilt.

"That was very exciting for everyone," Dunman said. "And I think it really took him aback as well."

Another point of progress at PES was the start of the discipline program, Arizona Behavior Initiative (ABI), which takes a positive approach to problems, rather than a "don't do that" one.

"We focus on the three rules," Dunman said. "Be respectful. Be responsible. Be safe." The students have helped develop what is respectful, responsible and safe behavior for their school. "It's been a great opportunity for them. It's a neat program."

The school also instituted the Anywhere Learning System in 2005. This computer-based program, designed for math, allows those students who are able to work ahead in their studies and helps those who are struggling to learn at their own pace.

"We want to give our students as many situations to learn by as we can and help them master the skills," Dunman said.

The PES after-school program is another learning situation for the students. Each year Dunman and his staff assess the results of the various standardized tests and create after-school classes to help improve the weaker skills. The after-school classes primarily focus on math and reading and are funded through the PES share of the Credit for Kids program.

However, the after-school program also provides fun learning experiences, he said. Students can take advantage of a special science class -- they learned about animal tracks recently; training in drama; ham radio operation; and gardening.

In addition to the support received for special programs through the Credit for Kids project, PES benefited from contributions by the area's Kiwanis and Rotary clubs.

The Kiwanis Club supports an on-going awards program for most improved, best attendance, top performance, etc. The Rotary Clubs gave dictionaries to the third-grade classes at PES in 2005.

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