Heritage Elementary School was full of the sounds of Christmas during the month of December. The second- through fifth-grade choirs performed at their Christmas concerts on Dec. 9 and 10. The concerts were titled "An Old-Fashioned Christmas." We are so thankful for all parents, grandparents, and families that attended. We look forward to doing it all again next Christmas. The second-grade choir also was invited to sing at the Lights On ceremony at Seminary Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 3. Second-grade Heritage students joined students from Greenwood and Cherokee schools for this amazing performance. Coming up this spring, kindergarten and first-grade choirs will be performing in their spring concert on Tuesday, April 7. They have waited all year to perform and are excited to share their hard work.

More than just a passing fancy or something from a sci-fi movie, robots and robotics programs are becoming a part of our everyday lives. Heritage Elementary is in for the long haul as we build a legacy program that will help prepare students for the use of robots in their day-to-day living. Currently, we have two teams, the Cogs and the Sprockets, comprised of fourth- and fifth-graders with five students each. At their first competition of the season, the Sprockets won the Design Award for their engineering notebook. This award is presented to a team that provides clear and complete documentation of the team's robot design process while demonstrating effective management of time, talent and resources. This win has secured the Sprockets a spot to compete at the state robotics competition at NSU on Saturday, March 7.

The Cogs made it to finals at their first competition in the Teamwork Challenge. This is where an alliance of two robots, operating under driver control, work together to score as many points as possible in one minute. They will continue to work to secure a place at the state competition by one of the following: winning teamwork champion, robot skills champion, or earning a judges' award. The immediate goal of the Cogs and Sprockets is to qualify for the Worlds Competition in Louisville, Kentucky, in April. According to the teams' coaches, the longterm goal is to produce strong team players who exhibit integrity and sportsmanship in any situation.

Student Council at Heritage has been busy this year. School safety halters were purchased for our students to wear while on duty, as they help all over the school. They have raised money for a new wheelchair for one of our students. We reached our goal of $3,000 just after Christmas and we are all celebrating this awesome achievement. Our next project will be to collect men's coats and small toiletries for the Day Center of Tahlequah. We will be giving prizes each week to the class with the most donations. At the end of this six-week drive, one class will receive a pizza party with drinks and dessert.

The Heritage Elementary Spring Book Fair will take place Monday-Friday, Feb. 24-28. Each day, the Scholastic Book Fair is open during school hours for students to shop. Families are encouraged to help us kick-off the Book Fair Monday, Feb. 24, during Heritage's Family Fit night or the morning of Thursday, Feb. 27, during our Donuts at Dropoff event.

This is Heritage's first year to host a Family Fit Night. Our Safe and Healthy School committee has been working very hard to make this evening a fun and exciting success. In collaboration with Cherokee Nation, CREOKS, OSU Extension Office, RiverHawk Nutrition, and TSET Healthy Living Program, we plan to encourage families to become healthy together. This evening will include physical fitness games, making healthy foods, and general self-care.

The Polar Plunge is an event that takes place during the winter each year to raise money for Tahlequah Special Olympics. Plungers meet at Arrowhead Resort to jump, run, or walk into the Illinois River. Heritage Elementary has four special athletes participating in the games at Stillwater this year. The students and faculty will raise money for the event by participating in several fundraisers. Our two main fundraisers are a schoolwide coin drive and polar bears that students may purchase for $1 to display in the hallway.

We are having a fantastic year at Heritage and look forward to an exciting spring semester. Hope you can join us for our upcoming events.

Leon Ashlock is superintendent of the Tahlequah I-35 School District.

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