Chagrin Falls Intermediate School Select Choir Sings at Holly Hall

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On December 9th, students from the Chagrin Falls Intermediate School Select Choir entertained holiday shoppers with their singing at Holly Hall in downtown, Chagrin Falls. The Select Choir is made up of 17 fifth and sixth-grade members that go through an audition process at the start of the year. Students meet twice a week after school and they are also members of the CFIS School Choir which has a total of 74 members. The Select Choir has been working hard on singing in two-part harmony, creating correct vocal tone, creating a more mature sound, singing correct dynamics, and reading choral scores. Choral selections at the performance included ‘Tis the Season Once Again (a medley of traditional holiday songs), Carol of the Bells, There’s A Candle (a celebration of all December holidays) and Listen to the Bells (an uplifting piece meant to get everyone in the holiday spirit). Students were led under the direction of Chagrin Falls music teacher, Mrs. Susan Smith and accompanied by Mrs. Julie Hoffman. “The students did an outstanding job at Holly Hall and the performance was very well received by audience members,” said Smith.

Chagrin Falls Intermediate School Students Enjoy Writing Novels
By Libby Cain, 6th grader, Chagrin Falls Intermediate School

This November Mrs. Katherine Owen’s sixth-grade Advanced Language Arts classes participated in a program called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). In October, all students planned the novels they would write. They created settings, fascinating characters, interesting conflicts, and meaningful themes for their stories. Each student set an overall word count goal between 15,000 and 25,000 words. Once November started, students typed their novels on the NaNoWriMo website which tracked their word count progress each day. The website let them know how many words they would need to write each day in order to reach their goal at the end of the month and complete their novel.

For many of the students in Mrs. Owen’s classes, this was one of the most challenging academic assignments they had ever done. Student Sven Nielson commented, “The most important characteristic for this is grit and perseverance.” “Grit” was an important topic in Mrs. Owen’s classes. She described it as having the ability to  persevere and work hard on your novel even when it was difficult. Students motivated each other and shared suggestions to overcome writer’s block. The Online Writing Lab at the high school gave feedback and suggestions to the authors. The NaNoWriMo website helped, as well, by giving writing prompts and strategies they could use if they got stuck. All of the students had to apply grit to write their novels and meet their word count goals.

Once NaNoWriMo ended, students celebrated with a party and received certificates. They competed in several contests to start them off on the revision and editing process that would take place throughout the month of December. The contests included ‘The Best First Sentence Contest’, ‘The Best Last Sentence Contest,’ and ‘The Best Last Paragraph Contest.’ The classes submitted their first and last sentences to an author, Mara Purnhagen,who is the mother of one of Mrs. Owen’s students. The first sentence of a book is super important because it’s the first impression that the reader gets of the book and the last sentence is really important because it’s what people will always remember the book by. ‘The Best Last Paragraph Contest’ was judged by a former Chagrin Falls student who is now a published author, Jessica McKendry.

One fourth grade student, Marie Cain, was inspired by her older sister, one of Mrs. Owen’s students, to write a novel, too. Mrs. Owen invited Marie to track her progress with the class. The classes had charts where the students put a star on for every 10% of their novel that they completed. Marie also came to the NaNoWriMo celebration for all of the students that participated in NaNoWriMo. It was a fun way to celebrate all of their hard work and effort on their novels. “I felt really included and it was nice that we all shared a passion to start and finish a novel,” said Marie after visiting the classroom.

Looking ahead, students will share their revised and edited novels with a classmate in January. After reading this novel, each student will present a book talk and author interview with the class. NaNoWriMo was a great  opportunity because it gave students the experience of planning a novel, writing towards a deadline, and practicing their revising and editing skills. They were able to let their creativity loose and demonstrate GRIT!

Pictured In Cover Photo: Chagrin Falls Intermediate School Select Choir entertains shoppers at Holly Hall in downtown Chagrin Falls

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