Sunset Elementary School classes share SWAP stories |

Sunset Elementary School classes share SWAP stories

Cindy Looper
Courtesy Photo
Craig residents Joel Sheridan, center, and his wife, Janet, right, speak to Melany Neton’s second-grade class at Sunset Elementary School recently about life-long learning. The Sheridans were “experts” Neton brought in to speak as part of the Sunset’s school-wide action project.Bridget ManleyMei Jenrich, who hails from China, poses with students in Paula Kinkaid’s second-grade class recently at Sunset Elementary School. Jenrich spoke to the students being a lifelong learner in conjunction with Sunset’s school-wide action project about health and fitness.


Sue Goodenow’s class

Kindergarten’s friendship speaker with Mrs. Cindy Looper

Mrs. Looper is a Boy Scout leader and a Girl Scout leader. She talked to us about friendship. Being a friend means being nice to each other. When you are a friend you share. Boy Scouts are people who are nice and friendly. We wish we could be Boy Scouts, too. Then we would learn how to be good friends to each other.

Amy Jones’ class

Healthy Friendships

“Make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold. A circle is round and has no end, that’s how long you will be my friend.” Mrs. McDiffett, a Girl Scout leader in Craig, sang that song with us. She explained that just like the song says, there is always room for one more friend in our life. After telling us a little about Daisies, Brownies and Girl Scouts, Mrs. McDiffett sat down and answered some questions about friendship we had brainstormed.

Kindergarten: “How can friends help each other?”

Mrs. McDiffett: “Friends can help tie your shoes, cheer you up when you are sad and make you happy by playing with you.”

Kindergarten: “If our friends get hurt, should we help them?”

Mrs. McDiffett: “I think so, but make sure you are being safe, too.”

Kindergarten: “Can my brother or sister be my friend?”

Mrs. McDiffett: “Absolutely, I hope they are always your friend.”

Kindergarten: “Can our pets be our friends?”

Mrs. McDiffett: “ Yes, a friend is someone who you like to spend time with.”

Kindergarten: “What do friends do in Girl Scouts?”

Mrs. McDiffett: “ They earn badges, help the community, go on field trips and practice being kind to everyone around them.”

Thank you, Mrs. McDiffett, for sharing your time helping us learn about a healthy addiction like friendship.

First grade

Kathy Knez’s class

Our school is learning how to be healthy and physically fit. We invited Kim Maneotis and Andy Dittgen from the Boys and Girls Club to speak to us about physical fitness. We learned that we need to get at least one hour of exercise every day. Our playtime is exercise. Some of the activities that are good for this are playing tag or basketball, swinging and jumping rope. Also, playing sports is another good way to be physically active. Some sports are horseback riding, running, soccer and football. We learned that spending a little time watching TV or on the computer is OK, but our growing bodies need to move.

Cheryl Arnett’s class

Pam Maneotis came to teach us that playing is healthy for our bodies because it makes us stronger. Pam works for the City of Craig in the Parks and Recreation Department. Her job is to organize sports for the city leagues. She puts people on teams, finds coaches, orders shirts and equipment, and makes schedules for practices and games. She told us if you want to play sports, you need to get plenty of sleep.

You need to not just sit and watch TV all the time, you need to move and practice. If you are stronger and healthier, you will be better at your sport. When we go outside and play on the monkey bars our bones get stronger. Pam told us that play does not have to be on a sports team.

You can play with your friends and family or even by yourself. She said we should use our imaginations. We should never say we are bored. You don’t need to buy toys to play with.

You can build a fort with a blanket, you can make a house out of boxes, or you can use a blanket in the wind and pretend you are Superman. Moving and playing keep our body and brain healthy and we feel happy. Everyone should find time each day to play.

Second grade

Melany Neton’s class

What do you want to be when you grow up?

“Zero, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100!” Mrs. Neton’s second-(grade) students counted to show the different ages a person can be for Janet and Joel Sheridan during a talk about life-long learners. Joel is a retired assistant (superintendent) from Moffat County School District and Janet is a retired curriculum director at Moffat County School District. The Sheridans’ shared their favorite memories of learning new things at each decade of life. They shared stories about learning to read, enjoying math, playing the clarinet, driving a car, buying a house, mastering computer skills, teaching, raising kids, leading an elementary, writing for the newspaper and building a school.

Janet and Joel asked the students what they wanted to learn when they got older. The students eagerly responded with dreams of being an astronaut and flying a rock, playing a drum, driving a car, being a vet, becoming a music teacher, learning how to take care of horses, learning how to do hard math problems and becoming a cowgirl.

The advice the Sheridans’ gave the students for making these dreams come true was to practice, practice, practice! It takes lots of work to learn something new. As you grow up you will learn many things. Always do what your mom says. Go to bed when you are told. Eat healthy meals. Do your homework. Making healthy choices will allow you to become a life-long learner.

At the end, two students raised their hands and asked Joel and Janet what they wanted to do when they grow up? Joel wants to learn how to be an expert scuba diver and Janet wants to be the best grandmother to her wonderful grandchildren.

Paula Kinkaid’s class

Mary Morris and Mei Jenrich came to Mrs. Kinkaid’s second-grade class to teach us about being lifelong learners. We started by brainstorming things we would like to learn about. We wanted to learn things like math, about space, how to speak in Chinese and how to play different games. To learn about the world, they showed us an African drum, a Chinese painting and a Native American Indian rug. Instead of just looking at pictures of the objects, we used our senses to hear the drum and feel the carvings on it, smell the wool in the rug and look closely at the painting because it gave us more details.

Mei Jenrich, who is from China, showed us how to dance the animals in Tai Chi. We tried it, too! She was dressed in a white silk outfit for doing Tai Chi. We learned in China they used fans and swords to protect themselves because they had no guns. The fans would be made from metal. Mei did a dance with the fan and with the sword. The fan popped out loudly and there were dragons on it. We learned to write the word “smile” in Chinese.

We decided as a class, you are never too old to learn, even if you are 90!

Third grade

Amber Beaver’s class

Third-graders learn about school hot lunch

With a name like Judy Baker, it seems natural that she is the head cook of Moffat County School District Food Service. Mrs. Baker came to Craig from California in 1997 and has worked in the lunch program for 15 years.

On Friday, Oct. 21, Mrs. Baker met with Mrs. Beaver’s third-grade class to answer questions about the school hot lunch program. This was part of Sunset’s SWAP—School Wide Action (Project)—regarding healthy habits. Mrs. Baker’s responsibilities include planning a daily menu for approximately 1,100 students. When planning the menu, she judges how many students usually have eaten in the past. These meals need to be approved by the state of Colorado.

Each daily lunch tray must include the following: one half must be vegetables and fruit, (next year Mrs. Baker plans on serving more fresh fruit); one quarter is protein (meat, cheese, or beans), and the remaining portion is grains. Twenty-five percent of the grains have to be whole grain. None of the food contains transfat. Transfat, like palm oil, is bad for a healthy body because it clogs arteries. All fats from meat need to be drained. Milk is served with every meal. Chocolate milk is preferred over plain milk. Mrs. Baker orders three cases of chocolate to one case of regular milk.

Mrs. Baker enjoys her job because she loves children and cooking. We’re happy she’s here to fill our bellies with healthy food.

Cindy Wiens’ class

Healthy diets

Mrs. Neal from the Craig Memorial Hospital comes to communicate with Mrs. Wiens’ class about healthy foods. Mrs. Neal demonstrates how to look at labels on packages of food to determine if the food has healthy fats or unhealthy fats. There are good fats and bad fats. Bad fats are in lunchables and junk food. Mrs. Neal shows what the bad fat looks like in our bodies by holding up a jar of grease fat. Good fats are in dairy products and some ice creams.

Mrs. Neal has seen patients so unhealthy they cannot put them in regular beds. People that are overweight have diseases like diabetes. They have to give themselves shots in the stomach four or five times a day. Mrs. Neal says the U.S. is one of the unhealthiest countries because of obesity.

Mrs. Neal says that an active child should have 1,700 to 2,400 calories a day, (and) 3.7 grams of sodium is all a child should have in a day. Peppers, carrots, and other vegetables are a great substitute snack food for kids and adults. Apples, plums, and bananas are likewise healthy snacks.

When we were all finished we thanked Mrs. Neal and she wants us to eat healthy and stay healthy!

Fourth grade

Verla Haslem’s class

The “Brave Painting”

Mary Pat Ettinger, a local artist, weaver, and stationary designer, grew up in California. Her family lived near Disneyland where her father helped Walt Disney start Disneyland. Mary’s parents noticed her artistic talent at the early age of 5 and encouraged her to become an artist. They sent her to art school after tutoring with an Italian artist. She sold her first painting at the age of 14!

Mary Pat says she does hobbies because they make her feel wonderful. She can hardly wait to get up each morning and start creating. She gets her painting, weaving, and writing ideas from looking out the window, going on picnics, fishing, or camping. Painting a picture takes from half an hour up to 24 hours, depending upon the painting. She likes landscapes the best, but has also painted calendars and people. She has many paintings going at the same time. She entered two paintings in a competition. The painting she worked on the hardest did not win, but the one she painted because it made her feel happy won. This taught her that it is not about how hard you work, it is about how it makes you feel. She also draws greeting cards with colored pencil.

Weaving is a hobby she taught herself from books. She even built her first loom by herself. She makes kitchen towels, scarves and placemats. She uses many types of yarn and beads to create her designs.

The money she earns from selling her work is nice, but that is not the reason she works on her hobbies. She does it for how happy it makes her feel. She sold a painting to a woman who never spent any money on herself. Many years later the woman’s family told Mary Pat that their mother had passed away and they thought their mother had been very brave to finally buy something for herself. Therefore they named it the “Brave Painting.” This story made Mary Pat feel very honored to have changed someone’s life. This is why she loves her hobbies and considers them “healthy addictions.”

Wendy Seely’s class

Hobbies and Health

Our school has adopted a theme this year. It is all about making positive choices, staying healthy and keeping fit. Having a hobby is a good way to stay healthy.

We invited Brent Curtice, the assistant superintendent, to come to our class and tell us about his hobby, which is hunting and fishing.

It all started when Mr. Curtice was about 9 years old. His grandpa and his dad began to take him fishing. That became the beginning of his lifelong love for the outdoors. Through the interview, it became evident that Mr. Curtice truly does have a unique passion for fishing. He enjoys learning new techniques and tackling the challenges that come his way.

One favorite aspect of fly-fishing is that he gets to meet new people wherever his hobby may lead him. And, fishing has taken him on many adventurous locations. He tells of trips to South America, Mexico, northern Alaska and most of the lower 48 states. Mr. Curtice has spent the last 20 years working with children from all over the world. He even started a school for fly-fishing through Cabela’s.

Mr. Curtice has taken his hobby and made a professional career out of it. He has written a best-selling book called “Fly-fishing for Trophy Trout.” He has written many articles for numerous magazines. He has hosted various outdoor fishing and hunting shows on television.

“Passion is the key to staying healthy,” states Mr. Curtice. He says that in order to be able to fly-fish and hunt, he must keep his energy up by working out, eating right, and making the right choices.

Fifth grade

Stephanie Murr’s class

Fifth graders meet a personal trainer

During the last hour of school on Friday, Oct. 21, Brandi Babin walked into Mrs. Murr’s classroom. The two women hugged each other. The students thought, “This must be Brandi Babin.” (The fifth-graders had been given notice that she would be coming to talk with them about exercising and sleeping.) This interview was part of Sunset Elementary’s school-wide action (project) known as SWAP.

Ms. Babin, a personal trainer, has helped the high school football team by teaching players how to prepare their bodies for endurance. During her talk, she emphasized the importance of exercise and sleep. Ms. Babin informed the class that stretching helps loosen muscles before engaging in physical activities. If a person enjoys lifting weights, they should alternate days of workouts concentrating on various parts of the body. Yoga improves strength and flexibility. Exercise, in general, helps keep the heart healthy. People who exercise vigorously need food high in carbohydrates (pasta, bread, rice or cereals) to increase energy.

Another aspect of health Ms. Babin spoke about was sleep. Everyone needs to get six to eight hours of sleep at night. Sleeping helps the body reset itself. Getting too little rest causes stress. People should avoid eating large meals before bedtime.

Ms. Babin shared many good ideas for healthy living. Fifth-graders are motivated to get moving and get sufficient rest at night in order to be the best they can be.

Misty Jones’ class

Sleep and Exercise: A New Perspective

Although most people know Jackie Schnellinger as the counselor at Sunset Elementary School, our class learned that there is really much more to her life. As a young child she didn’t participate in many sports, but when she turned 21, she decided to start swimming laps with a friend. While in college in Gunnison, she took a ski preparation class that included a lot of running. She realized that the more she got involved in exercise, the more she enjoyed it. Mrs. Schnellinger even started to run in 10K races. Eventually running took a toll on her body, so she wanted to find another method of exercise. Riding a mountain bike and eventually a road bike became her new passion. Now she even rides a tandem bike on many trips with her husband, and she has participated in two “Ride the Rockies” tours.

Having a healthy balance of exercise and sleep has made Mrs. Schnellinger’s life a much more fulfilling one. She reminded the class that getting adequate exercise and sleep can improve our mood. Exercise produces endorphins that make us happier and feel more alive. A child’s brain doesn’t stop developing until the age of 25, so sleep is needed to help with development. Brains need rest to help make repairs and develop neurological pathways, so if children do not get enough rest, their brains won’t develop as much as they need. Both sleep and exercise are necessary for people to live healthy lives. Research has shown, however, that most people should not exercise within two hours of going to bed because it makes them more stimulated and “makes their body buzz.”

Getting adequate exercise and sleep makes any person feel healthier and energized for the day. Jackie Schnellinger reminded our class that any person can start to exercise at any age, even though she wishes she would have started at a younger age. Living a healthy lifestyle can enhance anyone’s quality of life, and it’s never too late too start!

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