Children scope out potential careers on ‘Super Day’

May 15, 2013 • Local News

Students rehearse “The Little Ghost” in the Performing Arts Center at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell during 2013 Super Day’s The Art of Theater, Tuesday morning. (Mark Wilson Photo)

Bright, lime-green shirts swarmed about the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell campus Tuesday for the 21st annual Super Day, an event held for the Roswell Independent School District’s gifted elementary school students from kindergarten all the way through fifth grade to allow them to experience hands-on activities that could be potential future careers.

According to the event coordinator and gifted teacher at Berrendo Elementary, Nola Miller, there were two key purposes for Super Day: career education and the students discovering new things that interest them in order to fill their free time. Managing free time is just as important as academic discovery, Miller said.

They all had matching green shirts, not only for safety to keep track of the [auth] roughly 250 children, but also as a competition. The T-shirt design was the product of design contest winner Kamrynn Alvarez. A fourth-grader at Missouri Avenue Elementary, Alvarez used an upside down pie symbol and elements from the periodic table to spell out SUPER DAY, and written beneath were the Roman numerals for 2013 and the phrase: “It’s ELEMENTary.”

Each student was given 10 or so classes to choose from and was then put into four of his or her top choices. The classes covered a variety of topics, including American sign language, digital photography, soccer and New Mexico wildlife. There was a nice “balance of classes,” said Del Norte Elementary gifted teacher Diana Meier.

Fifth-grader Julianne Martinez from Berrendo has been going to Super Day since first grade and has had the chance to experience many of the offered classes. One of her favorites was zumba, but her interest in music had her attending a theatre class this year. She was also looking forward to a fingerprinting class later on in the day.

Also excited for the fingerprinting was Jodi Smith, a third-grader at Missouri Avenue. However, she looked to be thoroughly enjoying herself during a class entitled, “Launch Yourself to the Stars,” a class where the students launch paper rockets they made under the instruction of Mike Shinabery from the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo.

“If they’re having fun, they’re learning something,” Shinabery said. And Smith was definitely having fun.

“It was awesome!” she said of the rocket launching. “I love explosions. I’m a different kind of girl.”

The students and teachers alike agreed that the hands-on activities offered were a great change of pace from the “pencil and paper” work of the average, everyday classroom. And although note-taking is important, Super Day gave the students a chance to learn in a more interactive way.

The various classes were taught by volunteer presenters ranging from teachers and district members to museum employees, and even included a doctor who presented for a laparoscopic surgery class.

There were layers and layers of planning involved, requiring many volunteers and cooperation among teachers, but they all thought it was worth it in the end. The students can’t wait for Super Day.

“They talk about it from the very beginning of school, asking ‘When is Super Day?’ and ‘What classes will there be?’” Meier said.

The students got a chance to learn in new ways, discover careers they may not have even known existed and also socialize with others in the gifted program. The hope is that it would “ignite the desire to learn,” Miller said.

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