Although our year has looked very different than in the past, we still have some exciting things happening at Heritage Elementary School.

Heritage University Night is an annual event where families can attend educational mini-courses, interact with each other, and gain valuable tools to support student success in school. Usually, in person, the December 2020 event was moved to Facebook. Each grade level created content that was tailored to the use of technology within the classroom, as well as virtual learning. We had 120 participants for this event, which was tracked through an online survey. The flexibility of scheduling and capability to revisit the content as needed offered families another level of support that was not available in the past but is sure to be continued.

Heritage Elementary will be hosting a Scholastic Book Fair Feb. 16-26. The theme for the Spring Book Fair is Exercise Your Mind, which ties perfectly into our Family Fit Night. This year it is held in the school cafeteria. Students will be able to shop with their class during their scheduled library time each week. Families have the option to sign up for a limited time slot to shop in person with their students to ensure social distancing. A portion of the proceeds from the book fair will go to support the school library program.

This is Heritage's second year to host a Family Fit Night. This event will take place Feb. 16-25. It a virtual event that will coincide with the book fair. Participants will go to the Heritage Family Fit Night Facebook page, where there will be a mission to complete each day. The missions range from taking a picture of your family playing a game, doing push-ups, brushing their teeth, etc. Each time a student participates in a mission, they will be entered in a drawing to win a bike. This is a fun way for students and their families to get fit and healthy together.

Coming up this Spring, the Heritage second-grade choir will be performing in their spring concert. The concert will be virtual this year and will be posted on the Heritage Facebook page. The students are currently working on their music repertoire. The music repertoire includes African American spirituals, folk songs, and two pieces from the musical "Annie." They are excited to sing for their families. They have waited all year long to perform.

Amanda Harris, our district elementary art teacher has been with Heritage for the past nine weeks. Our students have had fun making sculptures out of clay, medicine sticks, painted feathers, and created wampum belts with beads and yarn. Now they are finishing a paper mache project and will end with weaving Cherokee baskets.

Our fifth-grade students in Traeton Dansby's reading and social studies class have dived into project-based learning. In January, students completed a wax figure museum project where they were tasked with selecting an important historical figure from the American Revolution to bring to life. Using resources from the school library, art room, and practicing researching skills, students were required to create a timeline of their person's life, a poster to represent their accomplishments, and write a short biography that encompassed highlights, life events, and reasons why their person was notable. Finally, students memorized their biography, dressed up as their person, and completed a first-person presentation to the third-grade students.

Coming up this month, students will be completing an inquiry-based mock trial project where they will be tasked with arguing the events of the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party. In this project, students will assume the role of either a prosecutor, prosecuting attorney, defendant, defense attorney, witness, bailiff, or jury member. At the end of the month, students will attend court trial day and go through the motions of courtroom proceedings in their respective roles. Presiding as judges will be myself, Principals Amanda Vance and Chrissie Christian, and Officer Pamela Bell.

We are having a fantastic year at Heritage! If you are interested in any of our upcoming events, follow our Facebook page for details.

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

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