Proudly celebrating eleven years of faithfully serving our readers, the people of Henry County


"Celebrating Henry County"


Hey Henry
Submit A Hey Henry
As It Was
Look Closer
Church Notes
Submit A Classified
Click & Save
Inside Henry
Where in The World

Site Search
Contact Us
Find Us
Site News





We have 15 new
Hey Henrys
this week!

Submit your
"Hey Henry"





Bethlehem Elementary students celebrate
boat-building efforts


By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

  Fifth-graders at Bethlehem Elementary School put their classroom instruction – and their principal -- to the test last week, with help from a pair of boats the students built themselves.

Fifth-grade TAG students at Bethlehem Elementary recently built two full-size boats and got to test them out at the Cubihatcha Educational Center.           Photo by Seth Jackson

  Twenty-five students in the school’s Gifted Program unveiled the 18-foot canoes Friday at the Cubihatcha Educational Center in Locust Grove, as part of “Float Your Boat Day. The highlight of the day was when the school’s principal, Dr. Jessalyn Askew, took to the water in one of the boats her students had made.

  “The first thing they said was, ‘Oh my, we actually built a boat,” said Askew. “It’s almost overwhelming from the standpoint that the students could take on a project of that magnitude and it turned out beautifully. So I’m just ecstatic. It’s so amazing.”

  Two teams of students, armed with a blueprint, completed the boats using the Talented and Gifted education model, or TAG. Askew, who floated in a boat the students named “Riptide,” said she had confidence in the group’s abilities, even before she got into her boat.

  “I just thought it was an amazing opportunity for the students to build an 18-foot boat, connecting real-world experiences to various content that they’re learning,” she said. “I trusted the students. I told the students, ‘I believe in you. I didn’t even bring extra clothes and I was keeping my pearls on because I knew they weren’t going to get wet.’”

  Askew said in addition to building a boat, the kids picked up valuable, real-world skills.

  “A lot of problem solving and a lot of cooperative learning went into building the boats,” she said. “The students had to work through a lot of things to get the task accomplished.”

  The students’ original goal was to debut the boats on May 9 as part of National STEM Day. STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The unveiling was pushed back a week due to the students’ trip to Washington, D.C., May 2-5. Friday’s event was the culmination of five weeks of preparation and construction, said Bethlehem Elementary’s Gifted Collaborative Support Teacher, Cheryl Gerber.

  “The TAG model is where the students are clustered together along with other students who are able to excel in the classroom, and they are accelerated in math and reading,” said Gerber. “They will be taught with standards from their current grade level and part of the standards from the next grade level. Also, they have an exploratory period where they can explore topics that are of interest to them. That’s how the boat-building project came into play.”

  Gerber floated in the second boat designed by the students, called the “Water Phoenix.” She said students were mentored by representatives from three area companies as part of the boat-building effort.

  “The materials for each canoe costs approximately $1,200 and we have been very fortunate to have businesses such as Home Depot, Smith Bailey Restoration and EnviroTech to donate the materials and mentor our students,” said Gerber. “It wasn’t a cheap project, so we can’t thank them enough. They were just awesome.”

  Gerber said the school plans to auction off one of the boats to raise money to improve its technology programs.



©Henry County Times, Inc.