Pax volunteers judge students’ best work - Southern Maryland Headline News

Pax volunteers judge students’ best work

PATUXENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION, MD—From listening to the bowings of a stringed bass to inspecting the flutterings of a home-bred butterfly, station volunteers recently judged student projects in the Shoot for the Stars program at Piney Point Elementary School.

Supporting students in their efforts to aim high and “shoot for the stars,” Pax River Sailors, civil service employees and contractors visited Piney Point Elementary in early May to judge student projects in disciplines ranging from math, science, and history to writing, art and music.

“The students put a lot of time and effort into this event, and it shows,” said AMC(AW/SW) Chris Carlson of VX-20, one of the station judges.

Piney Point Elementary presents the Shoot for the Stars program each year to showcase the best work of students in grades pre-K through five. Organized by the school’s Parent Teacher Association, the program is supported entirely by volunteers. Jenny Sisk, coordinator of the event, explained that students participate on a voluntary basis and can enter more than one project in the multi-disciplinary competition.

“This event gives students a chance to show what they can do, to expand their limits and do something not necessarily academic that they enjoy,” Sisk said. “We don’t dictate what the students should do, they choose their project entirely on their own.”

In this year’s event, Sisk said she was amazed at the scope of interest and time invested by the students in their projects. One fifth-grader, Melissa Bennett, spent more than a month tending caterpillars until they turned into butterflies, then transported them to school in a Port-A-Bug tent. She planned to release them in her garden once she returned home.

Another student, fifth-grader McKinsey Chartier, wrote a musical composition for stringed bass that she performed for the judges.

“The piece I have composed is all of the creative ideas inside my head put together on a piece of paper,” Chartier said in her project description “It was very difficult but lots of fun.”

Among the student projects was a mold study, a city of robots, biographies of Bill Cosby, Colin Powell and the first woman soldier, and a story with diorama titled, “Monster Comes.” Not unexpectedly, there was a dinosaur project and the ever-faithful erupting volcano, as well as a surprising number of poetry entries.

“I’ve never seen so many poetry entries before,” said Sisk whose daughter, Catrina, submitted two poems – one about cats and the other about courage. Another student submitted a book of poetry and another a poster of poetry. There were also photo projects as well as projects on the Maryland Blue Crab, dogs, the solar system, birds and iguanas.

“It’s refreshing to see the path that young minds are taking these days,” said Carol Lang, one of the station judges. “There’s some really imaginative and original ideas here.”
Carlson was also impressed with the student exhibits.

“The students showed a lot of initiative,” Carlson said. “They wanted to learn something, and many tried things where they had no idea what they were getting into.”

All the volunteer judges came from NAS Patuxent River. In addition to Carlson, judges included AO3 John Gardner of VX-20, Heather Johnson and Tammy Pelletier of Costar III, Carol Lang with the NAS Supply Department and Dan Lothamer with the NAS Public Works Department.

“The Pax River volunteers are excellent judges,” Sisk said. “They’re very objective, knowledgeable and dependable.”

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