2014-11-13 / Around Town

Motivating Middle School Students

By Olga Enger


Eighth grade cyclists held onto the Golden Helmet for the second week of the challenge. (l-r) Lorenzo Olsen-Sherman, Mac Duggan, and Graham Clougher. Raffle winners in the fifth grade include walkers Nathaniel Thompson, Kamalie Pemberton, Jessica Russell and Austin Luczynski. (Photo by Bari Freeman) Eighth grade cyclists held onto the Golden Helmet for the second week of the challenge. (l-r) Lorenzo Olsen-Sherman, Mac Duggan, and Graham Clougher. Raffle winners in the fifth grade include walkers Nathaniel Thompson, Kamalie Pemberton, Jessica Russell and Austin Luczynski. (Photo by Bari Freeman) It’s not all pencils and books as Thompson Middle School students make the grade through recent motivational programs. "This year, we have made some great additions to our programming which support both the academic and physical well-being of our students," said Thompson Principal Jamie Crowley. "From our new CyberPatriot team and our alumni motivational guest speakers to our Bike/Walk to School initiative and our "Fitness in Fifth" FitBit research study with Brown University, we are implementing programs which can truly impact the whole child."

Challenge encourages students to walk or bike to school

Although our grandparents may brag they once walked two uphill miles each way to school, Thompson students are also encouraged to tout their commuting habits. A new program, coordinated by Bike Newport and funded by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, encourages students to walk or bike to school with various incentive programs. More than 100 students are logging the way they get to school, hoping to win prizes such as gift certificates for apparel, backpacks and accessories. Last week, students in the sixth grade won the “Golden Sneaker” for the most walkers, grabbing the title from the fifth graders who earned the title the week prior. Cyclists in the eighth grade held onto the “Golden Helmet” for the most bikers. The challenge continues until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, when three grand prizes of $250 gift certificates to local bike shops will be awarded to the students who walk or bike to school most often. The next challenge will begin in the spring.

‘Fit in Fifth’ gets students moving

Another incentive program is in motion at Thompson to get students off their chairs. Brown University researchers and intervention coaches from Salve Regina University are working with fifthgrade students to determine if an activity monitor will increase their physical activity. As part of the “Fit in Fifth” project, each participating student has been provided a Fitbit monitor to wear both in and out of school. Over the four-week period of the study, researchers will monitor student activity levels both with and without intervention and incentives.

Thompson alumni speak to students

The school has launched an alumni speaker series to introduce students to successful graduates who will talk about their lives after Thompson. The first speaker featured in the series, who took the podium on Oct. 30, was Olivia Chaves, a senior at URI, majoring in education and English. Chaves was a “standout student and athlete,” according to Principal Crowley. The school expects to invite one guest per quarter.

Students prepare for cyber defense battle

Thirteen Thompson students are finishing up preparations for the CyberPatriot’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition’s first battle on Saturday, Nov. 15. The Air Force Association created the program to inspire students toward careers in cybersecurity or related fields. Participants across the country and abroad will compete online and inperson, with a chance to earn an all-expenses-paid trip to the finals in Washington, D.C. The students are coached by Amie Shinego, who said the program is “one more way that Thompson Middle School has embraced STEM.” Thompson is the first school in the Newport district and the only school in the state to participate.

Return to top