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I S S U E 1 8 | JAN UA RY 2 01 7

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My Element

Motivate. Activate. Celebrate.


Index: Feature..................................................2 Editorial Calendar...............................3 Poem.....................................................4 Writing..................................................8 Poems....................................................8 Fiction.................................................10 Horseback Riding.............................11 Point of View.....................................12 Art........................................................14 Cooking..............................................16 Dance..................................................17 Fun and Game ..................................18 Pets......................................................19 Sports..................................................20 Self-Discovery....................................23 Inspiration..........................................24 People We Admire............................26 College Tour......................................28 Teacher’s Corner................................29 Educators............................................30 Parent’s Corner..................................31 Volunteer opportunity is available for students and Adults. Contact us info@kidsstandard.com Let us know if your school wants to partner with us. Follow us on twitter http://twiter.com/kidsstandard Like us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/kidsstandard 248-410-3976 © Copyright Kids Standard Publication Inc, Michigan. All Rights Reserved

Happy New Year to all of our readers!


s we take the first steps in the year of 2017, we often wonder what we should do differently to better ourselves. Howard Washington Thurman, an influential African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader, gave us a good path to follow: “Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Being in our own element is what makes us come alive. In general terms, an “element” ties with the concept of self-fulfillment through merging natural talents and personal passions. We all have something important to offer to the world, as no one else has our unique combination of talents, experiences, skills, and creativity. For children, learning to understand, accept, and own their uniqueness is vital to sharing their gifts with the world. What can I do all day and never get tired? What would I do if I didn’t have to be anywhere at all? What makes me happy? These are questions


Our Sponsor Clarkston Optimist Club Disclaimer: All editorial and advertising material submitted to Kids Standard becomes the property of Kids Standard to be reproduced as seen fit. It will not be returned unless by prior arrangement. Submitted material includes advertising artwork and editorial content (including but not limited to: articles and images, art work and creative writing). All the designs remain the copyright of Kids Standard. Kids Standard welcomes comments and suggestions, as well as information about errors that call for corrections. Kids Standard is committed to presenting information fairly and accurately. Feedback: info@kidsstandard.org


Arina Bokas

Kids’ Standard Editor & Author of Building Powerful Learning Environments: From Schools to Communities

that our young writers asked themselves to tap into their passion and to inspire the natural desire to explore and learn. Our January 2017 issue My Element is the result of this exploration. Happy reading!

Just Released! A Book for Teachers, School Leaders, and Parents – Colleagues in Creating Powerful Environments for Learning “ There needs to be a shift from the mindset of family engagement to the mindset of school-family-community partnerships; from seeing parents as schools’ assistants at home to interacting with them as colleagues and partners in their children’s educational journey.”

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2016-2017 Editorial Calendar February 2017 Making a Ripple

like other people around you? How do you think of people who cannot sit still in school, take too long to complete a task, or just always seem out of step? Do you know of someone who is different? What makes him or her a special person?

April 2017

By making a choice to be helpful, kind, or just smile to someone who is upset, you can start a ripple of positive energy and actions. How can what you think, say, and do make a difference in someone else’s life? How do your actions affect other people? What can we do today to make the world a better place? What did you do to make a ripple? What ripples can be made in schools to make them better places for learning? Are there any people whom you consider ripple makers? Why?

March 2017

Simply Different Why do we need differences? What does it mean to be different? Does being different mean being a bad person? Do you know of someone who is not

Number Talk When we learn to count on our fingers, we “see” our math. Do you see math around you? What helps you see when you learn math? What pictures do you create in your mind? What makes math interesting and relevant to real life? How can we learn from numbers? If there were no math or numbers, how would our world look like? Share with us stories about numbers.

May 2017

Stories that Matter As human beings, we are wired to like stories. Since the beginning of times, stories have been the way for human beings to pass their knowledge to next generations. Is there a person or place that adds special meaning to your life or lives of other people? Why does this person or place matter? What is your own story? What can we learn from telling and listening to stories? How can stories be used in schools? You can tell any story, just make sure to explain why it is important.

Summer 2017 Family Magic

Our families are important to us. Tell us about relationships in your family, connections between kids and parents, and meaningful experiences that you had with your family. What makes spending time with your family important to you? What do you learn from your family members? How do you learn together as a family? JANUARY 2017


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POEMS Birthday By: Sydney Tadavich, 7th Grade, Sashabaw Middle School, Clarkston

It’s like the phrase “Time goes by when you’re having fun” It seems like every tiny step you take Will get you closer and closer to a new Era, age, or even a new birthday.

Baseball Headache

No idea where the ball was.

Each year, almost everybody gets

By: Kaden Kelco,


Excited about their birthday.

8th grade, Clarkston Junior High

A shockwave rippled through my head.

What gifts will I get? How many candles can I blow out in one try?

Everything went black.

How fun will my party be?


The pitch came in,


barreling down the middle.


I lifted my foot, swinging my arms forward, keeping my weight back. CRACK I heard the ball hit the bat, I saw the ball slice through the air, I felt the ring of the bat in my arms. My feet pounded,

What happens now?


What will happen in the future?

I curled up, on the ground. Intense pain struck my face I caught a glimpse of my dad and coach coming to help “Are you okay,” my Dad asked worriedly

I rounded first,

I replied getting up slowly.

Racing as fast as I could.

I heard claps as I entered the dugout face throbbing.

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Themselves, Whats next?


crushing the rough gravel beneath me.

I slid into 2nd,



But as the years go on everyone starts asking


None of these are answered until You get to them. I am still asking these questions everyday. I know that I’m going to college in 5 years, But I am still worried about my future. What will happen in those 5 years As I grow five years older. Where will I go? What will I be? These question are all going to be answered In 5 years on the Birthday that I figure out where I want to go the rest of my life.


POEMS Memories

My Passion of Drawing

By: Dominic Waldis,

By: Dane White,

5th grade, Carpenter Elementary, Lake Orion

4th grade, Independence Elementary,

I’m in my element of drawing. I start with the blue main,


The swirls come and go,

memories gone, encased in snow.

I’m sitting at my desk,

The teeth are coming off the paper like daggers,

Eventually, the spring thaw arrives,

I grab my smooth pencil,

The blue fur calms me down,

so new plants and memories can thrive.

I pull out my coloring utensils from my wooden drawer,

Seasons come and seasons go,

Summer’s the climax, the peak, the high, out by a pool, the memories lie. Autumn stops by, the sun falls,

In my mind I think of thousands of fiction characters,

The tail wags back and forth, The paws are as big as my drawing hand,

I straighten my paper until I begin,

My heart is beating slower than before,

My heart is beating like a drum,

I’m in my element of drawing.

memories fly away, defying all laws. The loop is repeating, complete, infinite. Completely unescapable, yet your memories survive it.

A Beautiful Element, Art By: Melanie Horvath, 5th grade, Pine Knob Elementary, Clarkston

My feelings expressed in beautiful swirls, Colors consume the page. Inspiration knocks on the door. Any feeling expressed on paper, Anything, from a stick figure, to the Mona Lisa. You can almost always read the artist’s emotions. My feelings all on paper: happiness, sadness, and madness, all released in the brus., My fingers relax as a masterpiece is created. The first crayon I ever colored with, held a key to my secret passion.


The pencil between my fingers glides across the paper, like skates on ice. My mind is cleared, and replaced with beautiful artistic thoughts. I create art when I feel pressured, I find solutions to my greatest questions. My mind is so relaxed that I feel my muscles at ease; Art relaxes my soul. My passion is not only around me, but inside me. What my hands can create has boundaries, but my soul paints freely; No walls or doors can hold my soul back. My passion is in my soul, in my hands, in my eyes, in the sky and everywhere. Art is my feelings on paper, it’s my own special language.


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The River Race

One leg in, than the other.

By: Kelsey Roth,

The water hits me like a bunch of ice cold bricks.

8th grade, Junior High School Clarkston


he Clarkston Junior High Wolves girls varsity cross country team waited impatiently at the start line. There were no start boxe! Everyone was jammed into the little sliver of a start line. My nerves were so overpowering I wanted to cry. Strategies went over and over and over in in my head. The race official began to raise the gun.

The current tries to pull me to The side, but I do not let It. I keep my knees up high. The water slows me way down. After what seems like hours I get to the other side. The cool fall air feels like Piercing needles as it hits my cold bare legs. The once dry summer dirt on the trail has turned into

My Legs were aching. My heart was thumping so hard, I was certain it would explode right out of my chest. The bees in my stomach were definitely alive. The smell of cow manure burned my nose,

GIrls slip and fall all around me. I struggle to stay up, I am now at a slow jog. The mud finally turns into dirt and my pace quickens. My legs are numb and my lungs are on fire.

I thought I would vomit all over myself.

The trail continues on.

But I was ready.

There’s one more river crossing but this time I am prepared.

Ready as I ever would be. Time froze for a moment, As the race officials hand and Gun reached the sky. “BOOM”! I take off into a lightning fast sprint, but so does everyone else. I try my best to claim my place up front. The start gun is engraved in my mind. My nerves began to settle as I get into my race pace. Up a hill, down a hill.

It’s all a blur now. The next obstacle is a small ditch. I fall on my hands and push myself up and over it passing my friend on the way. But sooner than latter she catches up. My pace is slowing and I try to move faster. Even so more people pass me. The end of the race is nearing. The biggest hill imaginable comes into view. So high and so steep.

People pass me.

I start to run up it.

My mind says go faster and catch up!

Legs screaming out for me to stop, I struggle up it.

But my legs say No.

I make up my mind and pass a girl.

The mouth of the forest opens up wide.

Relief washes over me as I reach the top of the hill.

Everyone enters in without hesitation onto the narrow trail,

The mouth of the forest opens up once more.

that will take us to the heart of the forest. Up ahead through the clump of trees I see girls running,splashing and falling.


gooey, sticky, slippery mud.

The sun blinds me. I can see the finish. “Come on, Kelsey, you got this!” my family shouts. “Go Clarkston!” teammates and parents scream.

The river crossing.

I run as fast and hard as I possibly can all the way to the finish.

When I get to the river bank I slow down in till I stop.

The race is finally over.

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Schedule available at www.StarsandStripesKids.com 4630 White Lake Rd. Clarkston, MI 48346 248-625-3547


Fiction Stories By: Olivia Spitznas, 3rd grade, Springfield Plains Elementary,



LOVE writing fiction stories! They allow me to use all of my imagination. I can just think of a cool world with whatever I want in it and add characters, a problem, a solution, and a message.Then I pretty much have my fiction story. Details are my favorite, because the details are how I see the story in my mind. I hate opening a book and not


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liking the beginning of the story. In class I was learning about “catchy leads,” or beginnings - they are what we use to try to get readers’ attention so they will keep on reading. You could miss out on a great book if the beginning is bad. I read “Alice In Wonderland” and hated the beginning, but when I read further, it turned out to be a really good book. The feelings are important, too, because they help readers know how the character is reacting to changes, challenges, and problems. The dialogue goes along with that because of the emphasis. “AAAHHH!!!!!’’ she screamed as it chased her through the forest” is MUCH better than “she screamed as it chased her through the forest.” That helps readers see how the character is feeling and/ or reacting. The message is very important! It contains lessons that characters learn; these lessons are helpful later in real life situations, such as how to stand up to bullies

or how to tell people what you want, and other lessons. To get readers’ attention I like to add funny things to my stories. I was inspired to do that when I started to read Raina Telgemeier’s books. These are hands down my favorite books, mostly because they are humourous and the illustrations are very detailed. When I was little, I loved making funny books; most of them were about explosions or “not to turn the next page or something will happen.” They were funny, but a little weird! In conclusion, for a good story, you need a world for characters, a storyline you can visualize, dialogue (funny or not), punctuation, emphasis, and a message. Anybody can write a good fiction story using these things. For me, writing fiction stories is a way to express myself and have fun. I really think that writing this article about fiction stories has been fun as well!



Writing with Joy By: Allie George, 3rd grade, Springfield Plains Elementary, Clarkston


like using my imagination, and I have fun when I write. When a new thing pops into my head, I make it into a fun story, and my whole entire family LOVES IT! “Please never stop writing stories, I love them!” say my parents. Writing is something I love to do every day, and I can’t stop thinking of ideas to write about.Writing is fun because other people get to read it and understand your thoughts. Sometimes when people read your writing and they really like it, they will give you a treat. My favorite treats are cupcakes and brownies! My favorite topic are joyful and happy things. An example of it are cupcakes! I enjoy writing about cupcakes because they are tasty and I want to convince other people to eat cupcakes with my writing. I want to share my love of cupcakes with the world. Sometimes, I make my characters eat the cupcakes and probably eat a dozen! Cupcakes make everyone smile. My least favorite thing to write about is stuff that makes me sad and scared. I don’t like to write about these topics because I don’t like to be upset. Being scared is not fun at all. Joyful topics are much better because they make people smile!

I AM A WRITER By: Samantha Nidiffer, 5th Grade, Bailey Lake Elementary, Clarkston


riting is an amazing form of art. For as long as we, human beings, lived, we have been writing. Cave people wrote through pictures. Others keep diaries or notebooks. Everyone has a way of expressing him- or herself through writing, drawing, singing, or any natural art. Writing is my way of expressing myself. It has always come easily for me. When I am writing, my own world opens up: a world of excitement, color, and imagination.


My hand may move my pencil, but my thoughts move me, creating a path that I follow. The path is in my own mind. Word after word, letter after letter the page fills up, and the path gets longer - a path of my thoughts, or maybe my expressions. Either way the path has always been there, guiding me to a world with endless possibilities. I think it, and it comes to life. When I am not writing, I am thinking about what to write next. Usually I am swimming through a pool of thoughts, with no shallow end - all deep and a treasure to find. My thoughts are all jumbled up coming together, forming one amazing piece. All stories have a purpose: some are filled with love, peace, and hope; others speak of challenges. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and it will always be.


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King Nicole Schroeder,


5th grade, Deerfield Elementary, Rochester Hills


ave you ever been so excited about something that you simply can’t hold it in? Today was just one of those days, and creativity was just shining out of me like sunbeams. I braced myself over my blank piece of paper, secret weapon in hand, my pencil!!! I placed my pencil on my paper, and couldn’t help but let my pencil run wild! My pencil danced across the page, popping out squares, circles, and triangles, as if it were a printer. Before I knew it, there was a page full of knights, princesses, kings, queens, dragons, steeds, fairies, and all other fairy tale characters. I was proud of my drawing, yet all I could think about was how thirsty I was. I went to get a drink. I skipped into the kitchen with my braids bouncing behind me and poured myself a nice cold glass of water. I gulped it down in three quick gulps before returning to my desk. What I saw nearly made me jump out of my window. My paper that was once filled with fairy tale characters was blank! I searched under my desk, below my bed, and under my chair, just in case my previous paper blew away. Then, I searched the kitchen just in case I had set it down without realizing it. Nothing.


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“What a strange thing…” I muttered searching the living room. As I looked up, distraught from my searching, I saw a peculiar thing standing in front of me. He had a red robe, a bright crown, a scepter of gold, and jewels of gorgeous colors. I recognized him at once - the king from my drawing! But how? Wasn’t he stuck inside my paper? If he did escape, were where the others? And how could I possibly capture all of the characters quick enough to put them back into the paper?

“Um… hi?” I said feeling quite confused. “I AM KING CREATIVITY,” the king shouted lifting up his scepter, “of Creativille!” “Um… hi?” I repeated feeling even more uncertain than before. My mind was whirling and twirling like my pencil. King Creativity looked quite irritated. Then he banged his scepter on the floor. “TO WHOM DO I SPEAK?!?” he looked

down at me with his big upset green eyes. “Nicole…” I managed. The king looked even more perturbed. “Mistress Nicole of Troy, Michigan.” I looked down at my toes that were now clammy with confusion. Would it be “unacceptable” to ask how he got here, I wondered. I gave it a try; he looked EXTRA irritated… oops. I wandered away from the king and soon found fairies rummaging through the book shelves. They were no more helpful. Finally, I stumbled on a beautiful princess sitting in the dining room. “I’m Mistress Nicole of Troy, Michigan,” I said nailing it. “No need for that; Nicole will do. I’m Melody!” said the princess. Phew. “What do you need?” I asked her how she got out of the drawing. It didn’t seem weird this time. She said that they left through the gate. Ugh. I stepped into my room and, ignoring the steed picking at my dresser, lied on my bed. This bed had never been more comfy. I could feel my covers pulling my body deep into the softness of my mattress. I tried to open my eyes, but I saw nothing. I was being sucked into my mattress. Down, down, down I fell, until I landed into a room just like mine, with a desk just like mine. It was my room! And there lying on my desk was a full sheet of goblins and royalty. Then I heard my mom’s patient voice coming from the kitchen, “Nicole, you’re late for school!”



RIDING WITH MY HEART Giavanna Montgomery, 4th Grade, Independence Elementary, Clarkston


orseback riding is one of my passions. It makes me spark! It makes me feel happy! I could spend a whole day horseback riding, and I would barely know how much time has passed! Once I went horseback riding for three hours, and I didn’t notice that it had been so long. I like EVERYTHING about horses and riding! I like getting my horse ready, warming up my horse, and giving my horse a bath after a long day of riding. Supplies are a very important part of horseback riding because it makes a big impact on my riding. If we didn't have any supplies, we would always have to ride bareback and hold the neck of the horse. Even giving a horse a bath would be challenging. My cousin Caitlen always inspires me. She owns two horses named Abby and Peaches, and she trains a horse named Gus. The first time I got on a horse was

Horseback riding By: Josie Crays,

2nd grade, Pine Tree Elementary, Lake Orion


was four when I started horseback riding. I was scared at first when I got on the horse. We were in a stable


me ever since that first time. She taught me how to ride and that nothing is impossible.

Of course, horseback riding can be dangerous at times. One day I was brave enough to ride Peaches, who is not a kid-friendly horse because every time someone rides her, she will burst into a canter, or a fast run. Caitlen and I were out in a field when Peaches got excited and started to run. Suddenly, I fell off Peaches as she kept on running dragging me! To make things worse, my wrist got tied up with the reins. When I finally got my wrist untied, I was crying, but I got up and tried again. Horseback riding makes me feel happy! Every time I’m about to get on a horse, I feel like I’m going to win a prize, even though I’m probably not. I just like having the feeling that I am going to do something that makes me feel so alive! It makes me feel like I’m going to EXPLODE! Even though I don’t go horseback riding very often, I enjoy it while I can. Horseback riding also makes me feel courageous and brave, even though I might have butterflies in my stomach. It has taught me to never be afraid to fail and to always try again.

that was half the size of the classroom. A man was holding the horse so I could climb on. It was exciting, great, and made me feel happy. As time went on, I was getting better and better every time I rode. My horse’s name was Lilly; she had white spots. I loved her! One day, I met a cowgirl. She

was like a living legend - a champion! I learned a lot from her: she was my inspiration and key to my horseback riding passion. A lot of people like horses. I love horses because they are fun! And you can break records with them like the cowgirl whom I have met.

when I was three years old. Caitlen was on the horse with me, and it was the best experience I ever had! That’s when I decided that I wanted to do horseback riding just like her. She’s been there for


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By: Audrey DeKoninck, 8th grade, Junior High School, Clarkston


hat moment when time seems to stop—everything pauses, the universe takes a deep breath in anticipation of your reaction. It seems

Hanging Upside Down

the Earth has stopped spinning, like you could fall off the edge and your journey would reach an end. A permanent pause, as if you will never continue on. But life moves on - this I believe. I assumed that my elementary friends would stick with me and we would stay friends forever. Those thoughts changed

By: Madison Bell, 2nd grade, Pine Tree Elementary, Lake Orion


he world looks different upside down. When I hang, I close my eyes and imagine that I am in Candy Land. This is my passion - hanging upside down. I started to hang upside down when I was in preschool. I love to hang upside down because it is exciting and fun. I hang upside down on the monkey bars when I am on the playground. My friends hang with me, and we have a lot of fun together. I have learned that whenever I fall, I should


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very fast as soon as I started middle school. I hardly saw them other than passing in the hallway. I saw them turn away from me as they continued on with their new friends. It seemed that I had been forgotten. I hardly knew any of the kids in my classes. The first month was the worst. I even managed to get into an argument with a girl in my science class, which was something that had never happened before. My world, where everything had always been right, was slowly unraveling, and it seemed no one noticed. I didn’t think anything would ever get better. Until it did...surprisingly, at my worst moment. In the middle of our fight, the girl with whom I had engaged in an argument mentioned the book City of Bones - one of my passions. Our argument quickly turned into a conversation. More people joined in, and soon we were friends. I met new people who were in my classes and actually shared interests with me. We shared the same passions. I wasn’t alone. I lost friends, but because of this, I was open to meet many new people. When I had thought the world was going to stop, life continued on, urging me forward. The world may seem like it has stopped spinning, but you won’t fall and you will continue on your journey.

always get back up. Whenever something bad happens in school, I always remember to pick myself up. Hanging upside down has helped me get stronger and be more active. I am getting exercise by hanging upside down. I never get tired of it. The longest I have ever hung upside down was twenty minutes. Sometimes I get nervous, but I always keep trying. Hanging upside down is my passion. You can find your passion on the playground, too. Make sure that you share what you are passionate about with others because you can inspire them to find something that they are passionate about. www.KidsStandard.org

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s e c e i p r Maste By: Anna Voto, 5th grade, Bailey Lake Elementary, Clarkston


hen I’m drawing, I’m in my own world. Every time my pencil moves, my pure thought bubble strengthens. Whenever I see an empty paper, I realize that in the next thirty minutes I can create the world’s newest Da-Vinci masterpiece. There’s one problem with drawing, and it has nothing to do with the pen and paper. The problem is the people who draw just to get it done. They don’t realize that the pencil making those seemingly meaningless marks is actually one of the most amazing things in the world.

That’s what gives me a sense of peace when I draw: The realization that I am participating in something that could be so beautiful and precise that others couldn’t believe it. I also love the fact that no two drawings are the same. That originality, and imperfect perfection, is the reason that I love drawing. Check out these two pictures, what do you notice? One of these is my interpretation of the printed picture. The other one is a picture from the internet (taft.tk/ dragon-head-drawing/). This is why I love drawing. No matter the skills you have, it always about an overload of imagination and creativity. Every time.

Anime By: Josie Zube, 5th grade, Springfield Plains Elementary, Clarkston


y element is art because I am very good at it. One day, I hope to be an artist and specialize in drawing animals. Anime is one of my favorite types of art. The big eyes and the facial expressions makes anime really fun to draw. I love to draw anime cats. They are so adorable! I created a thing called Mr. Tibbs. Mr. Tibbs is a grumpy cat; he is not anime, but kawaii. There are other cats in the series, too. 14

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There is Sardine, a cat that’s afraid of its own shadow; Tuna, the perkiest cat ever; Angel, who is literally an angel; Star, who is the happiest cat on earth; Parrot, a swash-buckling pirate; Whale, as big as a whale; Ray, who has an electrifying secret; Horse, a bull-riding cowboy; and Clown - the funniest of all of the cats. These are only ten out of the twentyseven cats so far. One of the hard things in art is making a character’s design. I am currently working on a Mr. Tibbs’ character called Octo. Octo’s design is supposed to be based on an octopus’ design (as all of the cats in the series are based on water animals). The tentacles on Octo are what I’m struggling with. I can’t figure out how they should look: curved or straight, up or down. Art is a lot more complicated than a few scribbles on a

piece of paper. Along with the design of the character, its personality is important also. One of my characters is named Shark, who looks and acts like a shark. Without reading anything, one could tell that Shark is one of those cats that does not want to be messed with. Names are important, too. The name Clown states that this character is funny, while the name Angel states that this character is pure, nice, and innocent. Choosing names for characters is complicated. If I created more than one character like Ray, I couldn't name them all Ray. I would have to name them differently. Art is an amazing element because it inspires you to use your imagination. I hope I inspired you to find your own element.



Step Inside My Element... Drawing By: Stella Dougherty, 3rd grade, Independence Elementary, Clarkston

By: Ella York, 5th grade, Pine Knob Elementary, Clarkston


y passion is art. I enjoy art because I get to create beautiful pieces and explore my imagination. Art helps me stay calm and relaxed on stressful days. It makes my feelings spill out on a piece of paper without using words. Art makes me feel like I am an inventor, an architect, a painter, a stylist, a photographer, an animator, and a drawer. My personal inspiration is my grandma. My grandma draws and paints all sorts of portraits of characters. She is the one who inspired me to draw, paint, and create my own artwork. Her drawings teach me to go above and beyond with my artwork because of all of the different techniques she has taught me. The drawings that she makes are not just ordinary. They have different texture and shades from the pencil, which makes her drawings very detailed and unique. Sometimes I get a really close look at her paper and notice the strokes of her pencil. One famous painter that I like is Vincent Van Gogh, a Dutch oil painter. Some of his paintings include the Sunflowers, Starry Night, and The Bedroom. All of his artwork inspires me to work towards what he has accomplished. Whenever I lay my eye on his work, I experience his emotions and the amount of passion he had for what he loved. I started painting at a very young age with finger painting. As I got older, I was doing more sophisticated art like portraits and drawings of animals. Now, I do landscapes, still life, and some drawings of animals. I want more people in the world to experience the love I have for art, because it really helped me discover myself and my passion.



hen I go to a museum, I stand in front of a piece of artwork for a while. In that time I question how the artist got inspired to draw it and when and how he drew it. These things don’t leave my mind. When I get home, I get out a piece of paper and a pencil. When the pencil touches paper, flurries of ideas rush through my mind. I start to draw something because I was inspired. Whether I am cooped up in my cozy closet with a flashlight or sprawled on the couch, I always focus on drawing. When it comes to feelings, I like drawings that make me happy, sad, and curious. Feelings are very important for drawing. When people look at your art, they could empathize with you and know how you might have been feeling at the time you created that art, or they may discover a whole new point of view. Cartoon drawing is my favorite kind of drawings to create because the ideas come easily to me. I am free to use any ideas I have, and it’s a lot of fun. I like it when cartoon drawings are cute! If someone told me to draw a picture, I would be delighted and draw for hours! I feel like I’m in my comfort zone when I’m creating art. It soothes me and relaxes my mind. No matter what your element is, remember to take time to care for it and it will grow!


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COOKING 5. Heat oil in wide deep casserole over high-medium heat to about 350 F. 6. Punch dough down into bowl. Pick dough up with your left hand; it should be elastic and come up without breaking. Close your fingers and squeeze dough up between your thumb and index finger creating a ball. Cut ball with a tablespoon and gently drop it into hot oil. Keep doing this until top of oil is loosely covered with dough. Fry until both sides are golden brown. Take one piece out, dip it in honey, and try it. It should be slightly crispy on outside and airy inside. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Put into a bowl and pour honey; toss to coat well. Dust with ground cinnamon. Eat hot.

By: Nikoletta Simmons, 3rd grade, Bailey Lake Elementary, Clarkston


y element is baking. I love to bake because I can make different things. Sometimes they taste good and sometimes they don’t. Baking makes me feel like I am a cupcake that smells good. I know an awesome Greek recipe - loukoumades, or fried honey puffs. These bitesized fluffy Greek donuts are deep fried to golden and crispy perfection. They are traditionally served soaked in hot honey syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon, and garnished with chopped walnuts or toasted sesame seeds. I am going to share the recipe with you! Ingridients: ● 1 cup of lukewarm water (240g /8.5 oz.) ● 15 g active dry yeast (0.5 oz.) ● 3 and 1/4 of a cup flour (450g /16 oz.)

● 2 tbsps sugar ● 1 flat tsp salt ● 4 tbsps olive oil ● oil for frying ● 3/4 cup honey (350g/ 13 oz.) 1. 2. 3.


Dilute yeast and sugar in warm water in a large bowl . Set aside for 15 minutes to proof Add flour and combine with a large metal spoon, making sure that there is no lumps. The dough should have an elastic, spongy consistency. Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise for 1 hour. Heat honey in a saucepan over medium heat, but do not boil. Keep warm.

Recipe copied from: Papa’s Mastering The Art of Greek Cooking by George and Chrisoula Papa

By: Max Kirby,



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8th grade, Junior High School, Clarkston


hen people think of art, they think of painting, sculpting, and drawing. I believe food is an art. Not only does cooking dictate skill and precision but it also requires a chef to be innovative - fast on his feet. Most of all, the art of cooking is based on the understanding that food is more than a necessity for survival. To create good food, one needs to figure out what story food will tell or what feelings it should evoke in its eater. Food brings back memories as it reminds us of experiences, loved ones, and friends. It reaches into us and uncovers our emotions. The best thing about food is the rewards. When people eat food prepared by a great chef, they taste the effort and the love. We want food to look good; we

want to smell that bacon crackle in the oil, and when it hits the plate, we just lick our chops and dig in. There is food all over the world, and different cultures prepare different kinds of food and use different ingredients. Everywhere in the world, food is the essence of a culture and the basis of civilizations. It is the art in which creativity flows from brain to hand to plate and then into someone's mouth; that then makes them smile. It is sad, however, how Americans treat food. They are not using it the way they should. Fast food, fried foods, even processed foods are too popular in this country. Our diet is fats, sugars and carbs. We eat the wrong stuff and we eat too much of it. Food in America fits into our lifestyle, while everywhere else in the world the lifestyle revolves around food. I believe good food makes you smile. I believe food is an art. www.KidsStandard.org


By: Jaleyna Alexander, 3rd grade, Deerfield Elementary, Rochester Hills


ne of my favorite things to do is dance. I started dancing when I was three years old. I started competing in dance competitions when I was four and have been doing them every since. I have won trophies for my competitions. I like wearing the pretty outfits to my dance competitions and getting my hair done. I have learned a lot of different ways to dance from taking dance classes and dancing freely around my house. While I enjoy

competing, I like dancing for fun a lot more. Doing freestyle dancing is a lot of fun because you get to do whatever moves you want to do. Two of my favorite styles of dancing is hip hop and pop. I get so much energy from dancing! I enjoy dancing because I dance with a lot of people to different types of music or dance by myself freely. I have a lot of fun making up different dance moves and steps to songs with my friends. Not only do I love to dance because it makes me feel free but I also like dancing for exercise. Dancing is something I will always enjoy and do. I hope that all people enjoy something in their lives that makes them happy as much as dancing does it for me.

THE DANCING ME By: Ember Mohrman, 4th grade, Independence Elementary, Clarkston


love to dance. My mom is the dance director, so I started dancing when I was 2 years old, instead of usual three. Now I dance four days a week. Dance is my passion because it gives me joy and teaches me to be responsible, confident, and able to work with others. Dance teaches me to be responsible because I do not get much time to do homework. One time I had to miss a day of dance because I had to finish my math and reading as it is due every Monday. When I go on stage, it gives me confidence because there JANUARY 2017

are many people in the crowd. Every time I go on stage, I am excited and nervous at the same time. I know that I could possibly mess up and that could be embarrassing, but since I am confident, I know that regardless of my fears, I can impress my family. Dance teaches me how to work with others and learn amazing moves. Sometimes we do partner dances and we have to work together. We need to show respect to one another and, if one of us gets stuck, then the other can help. Dance is my passion. It makes me feel alive and happy. It helps me learn to be responsible in everything I do and meet amazing people. 17

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Collective Goods Books Are Fun

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4th Grade, Independence Elementary, Clarkston


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Unscramble By: Owen Pliska,

Time to see the Dentist?

4th grade, Independence Elementary, Clarkston


elp Kids’ Standard unscramble these words to make a magazine. Look at the words and put your guess on the dotted line.

Dgogooelsc ....................................................................... Tslecria .............................................................................. Sdraskadnid ..................................................................... Purosect ............................................................................ Zeanmga ........................................................................... Isgadodeo ......................................................................... Lcbu ................................................................................... +nspisltkoooet .................................................................. 18

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Clarkston Dental Group, PC Bruce P. Mercado, DDS Robert J. Opie, DDS

Offering premier family dentistry to our community!


www.clarkstondentalgroup.com www.KidsStandard.org


FETCH AND SWIM By: Eva Green, 3rd grade, Alcott Elementary, Pontiac


ook what my dogs can do!” I said to my friend. I have two dogs, Mia and Tyson. Mia is 4 years old and Tyson is one year old. Both of them are Pitbulls. My dogs can swim and fetch and do other awesome things. Mia and Tyson protect each other and like to play with each other. In the summer, my dogs and I like to chase each other as we play outside. Sometimes we even swim in the pool together. When it is winter, we play in the snow. In the fall, we play in the leaves. My dogs would chase leaves and run and jump in them with me. When we go up north, we take our pontoon boat on the lake, and when


I start to swim, the dogs chase me into the water. I always have so much fun when I am playing with my dogs! My dogs are very hard to train. I have tried to train Tyson to bark when he gets a treat, but he won’t do it. When we got him from his last owner, he was scared to go outdoors. We tried to make Tyson more comfortable going outside, but he always runs and hides. When someone takes a picture of Tyson with the flash, his eyes will turn gold. This is what makes him unique. Mia is a special dog because she protects people. If someone is trying to get into our house, she runs down the stairs and barks at them to warn us. This is very helpful and makes us feel safe. Mia is our guard dog. She is also very smart. If she hears someone in the kitchen, she

will run to them. She is very well trained. She is good at walking on a leash and she runs faster than any other dog I know. My dogs are my element because they are my best friends. They are very special to me, and I couldn’t live without them. They sleep in the same room with me and my sisters, and sometimes, we even share the bed! They mean a lot to me and my family, and I think about them all the time. Sometimes, when I am playing with my dogs, I don’t even realize how much time has passed. I wish I could spend all day with them. When I am an adult, my dream is to be a veterinarian. Growing up with my dogs has shown me how much I love animals and want to work with them. I cannot wait to have my own dogs some day and to work with animals every day!


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By: Amasi Hudson, 5th grade, Alcott Elementary, Pontiac


.F.L. stands for National Football League. It would be cool for me to be an N.F.L. player one day. Football is one of my passions that fills my life with excitement and purpose. My family is full of football fans, and I enjoy watching and playing football. I am very good at running fast and throwing far, but my weakness is kicking.

Sometimes I play with my dad, my little cousin, my little brother, and my big brother. My big brother, Kewaun, and my little brother, Davon, want to be football players as well. When you play football for an organization like the N.F.L., college, high school, and middle school, you have to wear jerseys with numbers and helmets with the team logo. In the N.F.L., teams go up against other teams in the United States. There are 32 teams in the N.F.L.One of my dreams is to meet a

Effort in Soccer By: Hailey Fisher, 3rd grade, Deerfield Elementary, Rochester Hills


n pre-school, I started soccer. I remember, at the end of the day, I would practice with others. Even though I was pretty good for my age, I always kept practicing. Now, I play soccer with people up to fifth grade at recess. I think it helps me improve my skills. One of the things I noticed is that I’m now able to steal


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famous football player. If I had a choice, I would’ve liked to meet Calvin Johnson Jr., who plays for the Detroit Lions. I like the Lions because the players are very good; I like how they catch the ball and how high they throw it. There are fourteen players on the Detroit Lions, and Calvin Johnson Jr. is my favorite. Football is one of my passions. I am going to keep getting better by practicing with my family. When I grow up, I want to be like Calvin Johnson Jr.. He is awesome!

the ball. Each time I steal the soccer ball, I have a feeling I may be able to score. I go to the side of the person that has the ball, and after I catch up, I kick it from his or her legs to get it. I also like to play the position Midfield. I get to run all over the field, chasing the soccer ball and trying to score. Defense is important, too, to protect the ball. Playing soccer and working as a team with other people to win are important to me. If the other team scores, I tell myself not to be mad, but to just score another goal! I love soccer because this sport is about effort. No matter if I win or lose, I always have to keep trying. Soccer is the best sport, and it will always be part of who I am.



The Path to Success By: Michelle Cooper, 8th grade, Clarkston Junior High School


hen I step on the field, track, and the court, then I know it is time for me to play and show what I am made of. This is where my talent is put to the test and where I can start my path to success. I want to make the U.S. National

The Meet By: Grace Modrzynski, 5th grade, Clarkston Elementary, Clarkston


y swimming journey began when I was 8 years old. It is my passion because it just feels like something I can’t go a day without: I can’t go a day without having that exhilarating feeling after finishing a lap in the pool. Having that feeling lifts me up. It’s something that I can rely on to always be there when I’m feeling low. If I’m having a bad day, it keeps me happy. Swimming has a history that dates as far back as the 1st century BCE. In 1896, it became an Olympic event. It doesn’t matter how old or strong you are, you can be a great swimmer! One of the youngest Olympic swimmers, Donna Elizabeth De Varona, was 13 years and 129 days old when she first competed at Olympic Games. When I think of her and Olympic legend Michael Phelps, I feel inspired to swim faster and get better at what I love. Swimming is my passion. It helps me be responsible, work as a team with others, and have something to strive for in my life. This is my story. ______________ ______________ JANUARY 2017

team and get a scholarship to college through soccer or track. This can change my life; I could get good education and a well-paying job. But there are more reasons why sport is my life.

“BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!” I jumped out of bed, threw my stuff into my swim bag, and quickly changed out of my pajamas. Today I had a swim meet. My Aunt, two cousins, little brother, and my Mom were coming to watch my brother and me swim. I

stepped out into the crisp cold morning air -- a perfect day for a swim. The pool deck was packed. There was a tight knot in my stomach as thoughts were racing through my head when I entered the pool deck: Was I going to finish alright? I threw my bag down and grabbed my cap and goggles. My cap landed with a snap on the back of my head. I affixed my goggles and hopped in the pool for warm ups. The water was icy cold. A couple of rounds of 200 meters was enough warm-up for today. As I sat alone wrapped in a towel, I

I meet some of my best friends through these sports, or I become closer friends with people that I had already known. I met one of my best friends, Shannon, through running school track; then I met another of my best friends, Olivia, through doing travel and school basketball. When I feel stressed or annoyed, I love to escape and have fun in these sports to get my mind off it. Without sports, I do not know what I would do during my free time. This is what I am made of; this is what I love; this is my life.

thought about swimming hard, kicking fast, and trying to beat my old times. Just then, I spotted Emily and Zac across the pool deck. I grabbed my bag, walked across the pool deck, and plopped down next to them. We always sit together at swim meets. We compared races like always. Emily and I had one race together. It was our 50 meter breaststroke. I also had a 100 meter freestyle and a 50 meter backstroke. “Give it your best shot!” Emily called after me as I walked towards the starting blocks. I was ready. “Beep” - the familiar sound of the buzzer went off. I lept into the water and swam fast. Kick, breath, kick, breath. It was a steady rhythm beating in my head like a drum. Bam! I hit the wall hard and came in at a close spot for first, but ended in second. It was one of my best times on a 100 meter freestyle ever! Meanwhile, Emily and Zac were standing on the pool deck cheering me on. “Go, Sea Wolves!” I heard Zac bellow from the pool deck. I was so overwhelmed with excitement that my cool-down laps felt more like sprints. After my race, I ran upstairs to the stands to tell my cousins the good news. Everyone was very excited about my race. They all congratulated me, and I had never been so happy!


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My First

bit my lip and rolled back on my heel as I waited for our presentation to begin. Caroline stood to my left, inspecting her nails. My eyes darted


in the soft morning light. The screen behind me suddenly illuminated the bright yellowish gold color that Caroline and I used for the background of our Powerpoint. “Got it!” Mrs. Scholz exclaimed, putting the document into full screen. “You may begin now.” As Caroline talks, I take deep breaths and hold them for a few seconds, each one like it may be my last. There is this small voice in the back of my head reminding me that this is going to be a disaster. It’s very quiet sometimes and I can’t hear it, but then it gets so loud that it rings in my ears. It’s always there. Come on… just get it done. “Next slide, please,” Caroline calls to Mrs. Scholz. I barely realize that Caroline has finished. I feel a cold sweat and a tugging

around the room, trying to keep my mind distracted. I noticed nothing in particular: same classroom, same teacher, same kids, same seating arrangements. It felt as if we were living the same day over and over again. The room smelled faintly of wet dirt due to the plants our teacher, Mrs. Scholz, had sitting on her window sill

sensation in my gut as I slowly turn to face the screen. I take a deep breath and read, “Some of the characteristics the Midwest...” After each sentence or so, I glance back at the class, hoping to death that I’m not doing anything stupid or weird. Quickly I finish the slide and let Caroline read the next one. Caroline insisted we had a long

(And Definitely Not Last) Presentation By: Jessica Chan, 6th grade, Avondale Middle School, Rochester Hills


Powerpoint. I shud at the thought of us being here for the rest of class time because of our ridiculously long presentation. Still, I force that thought to the back of my mind. I’m doing fine… About half our class is listening; the other half is drawing or whispering. Well, at least only half the class is watching me. As I begin reading the next slide, I try not to think about what is happening. I always think about everyone else instead of me. It is like when you do something bad and know that you are in trouble, it is on your mind twenty-four-seven. I keep my undivided attention on the words on the screen as if Caroline and I were rehearsing again. When I messed up, I fixed it and went with it. Before I know it, our presentation is over. I lived! Moreover, I felt energetic and enthusiastic, like I was ready to get up and do our entire Powerpoint presentation again all by myself. At that very moment I knew that I had gotten over my stage fright. “Very, very good job!” Mrs. Scholz exclaims as she and the rest of the class applaud. I turn to look at Caroline. “Good job!” I smile. “You, too!” she smiles back. We both go back to our seats as the next group is called up. I smile to myself and in my mind I’m screaming and jumping up and down. I did it! And I did great! Something that I learned from this moment is not to stress about things that scare you because they’ll turn out fine in the end; just play along with what’s happening. This event changed me and helped me grow. Now I volunteer more often, like raising my hand in class and even talking more often. More importantly, it helped me see myself differently and discover who I really am.


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My Passion: Caring for Others By: Emily Hall, 5th grade, Alcott Elementary School, Pontiac


he best way to show that you care about other people is to help people. I can do things for people and help them when they cannot do it on their own. One way I can care for others is to help with their kids. I babysit kids when their parents can’t watch them; or if the parents are going on vacation without their kids, I could watch them so the parents could be alone. I also love doing people favors. I feel their pain when they cannot do something. This is one reason why I like helping other people when they need help. It feels good to care about them when they are old. Thinking about other people and doing things for them makes me happy. I am passionate about doing the right thing and being nice to other people no matter what. I think of others first and do things that they need. For example, during winter I shovel driveways for those who cannot do it. When I get older I hope to continue with this passion. I will create a company to help other people so they have a great life for the rest of their lives. I need to do this because our society doesn’t always care for people who are old or disable. I need to care for them.


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I Can Do

Anything! “You can do anything you set your mind to.” — Benjamin Franklin JANUARY 2017


By: Violet Bergman, 5th Grade, Pine Knob Elementary, Clarkston

play sports because I love to be active. I also do this because I’m a girl and people often underestimate girls. I play football with boys every day at recess. Some people don’t believe that a girl could play football with boys, and I get to surprise lots of people. When people underestimate me, it gives me more confidence and more motivation to prove them wrong. When I make a catch, people say, “Whoa! Nice catch, Vi!”

Or “How did she catch that?!” They always act surprised. Kids at school cheer me on, even though I’m a girl. But the most important reason I play sports is to inspire other girls to play sports, too. That’s my passion: To be inspiring. So many boys and girls are eager to follow their passions, but are told they can’t. Through sports, I get to inspire girls and boys around the world to believe that they can do anything no matter who they are. Just do it. Follow your dreams. You can do anything. I can do anything. We can do anything! My passion is to inspire.


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By: Owen Pliska,

Our team took over the field first. I played second base and Evan played first in the first inning. We played well, and we each got an out. In the 3rd inning, our team was losing by 2 points. In the 4th inning, we were winning by a point. I was paying third base and Evan was playing catcher. Our pitcher threw

a fastball. It was strike two. This pitch was for the win. The pitcher threw it, the batter swung the bat and missed the ball. He was out! We won the game. It was the best feeling to win it with my baseball buddy. When it was Evan’s birthday, I was excited because we were going to spend his birthday at a Lansing Lugnuts baseball game. After lunch, we got to the baseball stadium. We were having a great time watching the game as suddenly Evan caught a baseball. It was cool! The Lugnuts won the game, and I had fun watching it with my baseball buddy. Anything I do with Evan makes it more fun for me. He is my baseball buddy whom I admire!

to explore our interests and what careers might be appealing to us. Personally, I am in CSMTech: Clarkston Science, Math and Technology academy. It is a highly rigorous program, but it does not give me time to explore my passions. I am trying to make time between the activities that I want to do all at the same time: participating in multiple clubs; keeping up with friendships; exploring other interests. It is very challenging. I also believe that kids need to have a time every year in school to try something that they want to do, either as an elective class or a project. If one year you find something that you love, you could continue it. But if you find something that you really dislike, you would know to try something different in the future. Schools need to consider giving kids

experiences along with information. I feel that when a person is choosing a college, she or he should have prior experiences to make an informed decision about which college would better fit her or his needs. I once talked to a college professor who gave me advice on how I might want to start on the path of computer programming: with a small and simple computer programming language - Python - to create an equally simple game like Monopoly. His advice made sense. One cannot create greatness in one step, but must work up to it. I believe that kids have an inkling about what their interests are, but need to give themselves time to explore their passions. This will allow to see if they like a career path before making a choice to pursue it.

4th grade, Independence Elementary, Clarkston


like baseball for many reasons, but the best part about it is playing with my brother Evan. He is 11 years old; he has a great pitch and doesn’t smack the ball so I have to run to my neighbors’ yard to get it. Evan sets up our backyard like a baseball field. Once we couldn’t find our bases, but we found some Whole Foods bags and still had fun playing baseball using them as bases. I always have fun practicing with my baseball buddy. When the last baseball league began, Evan and I were playing on the same team. By our last game, our record was 5 wins and 2 losses in a total of 8 games. The other team had the same record as us, so it came down to our last game to determine the champion.


Passions are Paramount By: Nathan Dimmer, 8th grade, Junior High School, Clarkston


believe that all people should follow their passions. As we grow up, we enter the workforce and look for a job. Often that job defines the rest of our lives. Our first “real” job puts us on a path through a company, or through the levels of experience in our field. This makes it imperative that we find a job that is interesting to us, so that we enjoy our future careers. Most students spend the majority of their time between challenging schoolwork, extracurriculars, and family commitments. We often don’t have the time


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TOPIC: What the World Gains from Optimism What is an Oratorical Contest – A 4 to 5 minute speech on the topic above. WHO: 6th – 12th graders – under the age of 18 as of October 1, 2016 WHERE: Clarkston Junior High School WHEN: Monday, March 13, 2017 6:00 p.m. CLUB PRIZES: Male Student

1st place $200

2nd place $100

3rd place $50

Female Student 1st place $200

2nd place $100

3rd place $50

World Oratorical awards scholarship prizes up to


Family members are welcome to attend! Sponsored by the Clarkston Area Optimist Club. For rules for the Oratorical contest www.Clarkstonoptimists.org or Optimist International Oratorical Contest or info@clarkstonoptimists.org


Vincent Martocci Motion Picture Institute, Troy, Michigan Concentration: Cinematography and Editing By: Lauren Crane, 11th grade, High School, Lake Orion

CAN YOU RECALL THE SPECIFIC MOMENT WHEN YOU DISCOVERED YOUR PASSION? Ever since my mom got us a camcorder, I was messing around with the camera, making completely pointless variety shows with my little brother. But I truly fell in love with it when I was eleven years old. My school had a film class that my best friend and I attended. Given, we created one of the most random and nonsensical variety show, but it had some production value. After I saw our finished product, I knew instantly that this was what I wanted to do. There was just one, very common, problem: due to lack of funds, I had no equipment until I got my first iPod touch at the age of 13. I was making little “Blair Witch” style horror films with my

friends and cut them together on my iPod. Ever since then I’ve been borderline obsessed with it.

HOW DID YOUR PARENTS AND FAMILY FEEL ABOUT YOUR DECISION TO PURSUE THIS PASSION? WERE THEY ENCOURAGING? My grandmother, cousins, and family in general have been very supportive of my decision. But if there were someone I had to pick as my biggest supporter, this would be my mom. She has done whatever she could to help me succeed, and I will forever be grateful.

WHAT EXACTLY ABOUT CINEMATOGRAPHY DRAWS YOU TO IT? Since I was little, I have been absolutely fascinated with telling stories. My friends and I would go out in the woods for hours letting our imaginations take us on Historical Epochs, Science Fiction Dramas, Gripping War Thrillers, and so on. I guess that love to enact stories never left me. Life was like a movie to me, so eventually everywhere I went, I had my camera. What draws me to film is capturing the “sonderness” of the human experience in the most beautiful way possible. Sonder: the realization that every random passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own, populated with own routines, worries, and inherited craziness - an epic story that continues around you without you even knowing. There are millions of lives where you only appear once, as an actor sipping coffee.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO FILM AND CREATE CINEMA? It feels like there is nothing else I 28

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would rather be doing on this planet than creating films. The late Stanley Kubrick once said: “Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all.” Just like for any other artist, my camera and computer are my instruments. I use these instruments to create some of the most uniquely beautiful art. My goal is one room of people. If I can get at least one room of people to have a good viewing experience, then I am content about the outcome.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO DO FOR YOUR CAREER? I entered Motion Picture Institute wanting to make my own films. A good film school, however, does its best to expose students to all aspects of the industry, which means that at the end, one might decide to do something totally different. There are so many more job opportunities than people think in the world of film. I feel now that a freelance cinematographer might be the best route for me. I might build a freelance production company perhaps. www.KidsStandard.org

T E AC H E R ’ S C O R N E R

Two Questions to Spark Passion By: Justin Birckbichler Fourth-grade teacher, Margaret Brent Elementary, Stafford, VA


any teachers feel frustrated by this, but the impact on our students and their discovery of their passions is ever stronger They come to our schools for 7-8 hours a day and are often forced to study things that seem irrelevant to them. What if we gave them some of the school day to work on something they want to explore? With the rise of mandated standards and scripted curriculums, teachers have less and less choice in what they teach. We are granted the privilege to decide how to teach, but often the “what” is decided for us.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT TO LEARN ABOUT?” I posed this question a few years ago when I began implementing a Genius Hour/20Time framework. My students come with various backgrounds: sports, arts, technology, and the ever popular video gaming. Why fight this? Embrace it. Many state standards include strands about researching, writing, and speaking; we can use them to “justify” the inclusion of “self-guided” study. I gave my students time to brainstorm three things they wanted to explore. It could be anything. Was there something they did outside of school and wanted to learn more about it? How about a new interest? Maybe there was something they vaguely heard once and it sparked their interest? Topics ranged from soccer, to flamenco dancing, to the battle of Shiloh, to researching their teacher’s life history. After effective research techniques mini-lessons, my students used Chromebooks and GSuite to collect, organize, analyze, and summarize their JANUARY 2017

Justin Birckbichler is a Google for Education Certified Innovator. Justin presents about technology integration at national events, including a 2016 keynote address about challenging teacher mindset. Connect with him at @Mr_B_ Teacher and read his blog at blog.justinbirckbichler.com. He’s currently battling cancer and documenting his journey at aballsysenseoftumor.com.

findings. They developed their own products for sharing information, including slideshows, models, and posters, to present to their peers. Each student learned something new about his or her own passion, but most powerful was the whole class learning about 25 other passions.

“WHAT PROBLEM NEEDS TO BE SOLVED?” The next time I began developing the framework for Genius Hour, I decided to focus it on larger issues. My students may only be 9 and 10, but their perceptions of the world’s largest problems and how to fix them will shape our future. I asked children to develop lists of issues in the world: world hunger, bullying, smoking, and diseases. They used the Internet and our media center to gather information about their topic, why it was a problem, and factors that contributed to it. The students developed their own solutions for these problems. Some of them would develop awareness campaigns, while others would host fundraisers. They created step-by-step blueprints to carry out these plans for making a real impact. Unfortunately, their younger age and running out of time in the school year stopped implementation of their plans. Nonetheless, I am sure this laid the foundation for future problem solving.

SO WHAT CAN I DO? Simply, we can ask our students these questions and let them lead their learning. We can act as questioners versus sages on the stage. We can provide time (one hour a week is what worked for us) and the appropriate resources, whether it’s electronic or physical media, for them to find relevant information. One of my students connected with an expert in her research field; a teacher can make this connection, but let a child take the lead on the interview. I found Kevin Brookhouser’s “The 20Time Project: How educators can launch Google’s formula for futureready innovation” and Don Wettrick’s “Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level” to be good resources for further tips on implementation. I have a few posts on my own blog which further details my experiences. Whatever we do, we need to let our students’ passions guide their learning. 29

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Passionate Pursuit By: Eric Crimmins, Instrumental Music Teacher Scripps Middle School, Lake Orion


assion is a strong emotional feeling or conviction about something. It is usually associated with something positive, such as love of a favorite activity or person. In my band classes at Scripps Middle School, I strive to help students find passion for music, which they can choose to develop further or use their newfound skills to pursue other interests. In the middle school and high school years, students try many different elective classes, clubs, and activities in hopes of finding something about which they can become passionate. Some of these interests are instantly gratifying, such as playing a favorite video game with friends. Others have a long-term payoff, such as finishing a painting that one has worked on for weeks or months. Some have both short-term and delayed gratification, such as playing an instrument or being involved in a team sport. It is our job as educators to occasionally expose students to something that they may not normally choose to pursue. Children cannot truly know if they enjoy singing a solo until they actually do it. A student may have a latent talent for public speaking, but may never find it if their Language Arts teacher doesn’t expose them to this in class. While the thought of these projects can seem scary at first, teachers can help students break down the end goal into pieces that they can manage. Dedication is needed to develop a passion. One must spend time mastering the technique involved in playing an instrument in order to participate at a satisfying level. Sometimes this detailed work can be tedious or uninteresting, but it leads to a successful, fun performance


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Students may try many different activities to find where their joy resides. The skills learned at mastering them will intensify their passion and will carry over to other new pursuits. If they are fortunate, they may find their passion to be both their vocation and their hobby. Nothing beats getting paid to do what you love.

later. As one becomes more proficient at executing a lay-up after weeks of hard work, their enjoyment of playing basketball with teammates is increased. Not only was a technique improved, but the passion for the game was also elevated. It helps to try to make the tedious bits more interesting, like trying new ways to improve the same concept or turning it into a game.

not wasted! Those hours spent working on small details while preparing for a public recital teach perseverance, grit, and tenacity. Those traits are needed in the development of the new passion of speaking Spanish. Sometimes an old passion leads to a different but related activity. Creative writing at age 12 could develop into a passion for journalism at age 17. This could leave to a broadcast arts major in college, where exposure to radio media becomes a new passion. This new interest could lead to a job as a radio DJ, and it all began with loving to write stories in middle school. Students may try many different activities to find where their joy resides. The skills learned at mastering them will intensify their passion and will carry

Sometimes old passions are exchanged for new. Learning the piano may go to the wayside when one is exposed to a Spanish class. However, the time spent on the passion for the piano is

over to other new pursuits. If they are fortunate, they may find their passion to be both their vocation and their hobby. Nothing beats getting paid to do what you love.


PA R E N T ’ S C O R N E R

Happy New Year!


elcome to 2017! You made last year a special one at Kid’s Standard, and I wish you’ll continue to do so. I hope every one of you has an abundant year ahead! You may still be looking for your element – what Sir Ken Robinson calls the intersection of “natural talent and personal passion.” As you read many of our young writers’ works on their element and passion, you find out how similar children are. Where do they find passion? It’s everywhere they look. These points can help you discover your own passion or help your children find theirs:

Maggie Razdar Publisher/Founder

1. Focus on the now, not the next. Avoid asking, “What should I be when I grow up?” Instead, explore. Unless you try on the outfit, you’ll never know if it fits. Try on vocations, avocations, hobbies and skills. One of them might suit you well. 2. Say yes to odd opportunities. Follow your curiosity, not the plan. Robert Frost really was right: it’s about the road less traveled. Take a risk, pick the path and enjoy the adventure. 3. Bothersome things are problems that needs solving. Solve them and you’ll develop resiliency and significance. Through strength and courage, you become a better problem-solver. Your experience and vision creates value every time you engage in the world. 4. Embrace your passion. Discover passion and purpose, and you’ll do it NO MATTER WHAT because it makes your heart sing and fills your daydreams. It is NORMAL to take years to find your calling. You may get inklings of what you’re here on this earth to do when you’re young, but you find that life sidetracks you. You may have been strong enough to resist pressures that force you into an ill-fitting box. You might have even thought that you had found your true calling – by practicing medicine or law, teaching school, or saving lives. If you’re like me, you found your passion in a work force after college. When I had children, my passion changed. My search for the deepest truth of my own life led me to actively question everything until I found my true calling. I grew into a different person whose purpose and passion to empower her own children later found a way to empower all children through Kid’s Standard. I found my element. May this year be your best year by far. May you find your element and revel in your own natural talent and personal passion. Wishing you endless joy and happiness, Maggie Razdor



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Kids Standard Issue 18 Jan 2017  


Kids Standard Issue 18 Jan 2017