CONYERS — Diagrams, presentations, essays and more. Rockdale County elementary school students put their various projects on display Thursday night as part of the district’s Program Challenge quarterly showcase.

The first class of gifted fifth-graders at Rockdale County Public Schools’ Program Challenge Center took a class called The Suitcase Project, where students learned more about a victim of the Holocaust and what they went through.

Through research, they learned about the person’s background and family, culture and heritage. They then created a suitcase to represent the person based on what they learned.

The suitcase could be a symbol of the person or a true representation of what students thought that person would have packed if they had to leave their home, maybe never to return.

Students also wrote letters to the person, sharing what they learned from the experience and how it changed their perspective on the Holocaust after seeing it from a more individual level.

Other students in the program presented informative slideshows, diagrams, clay sculptures and other materials either discussing the extinction of dinosaurs using either the Asteroid Theory or Volcanism Theory.

As parents went around the room comparing students’ research, they then got to cast their vote whether they believed that an asteroid or a volcano caused the extinction of dinosaurs.

Rockdale County gifted students in third through fifth grades are served at the Program Challenge Center one day a week while receiving modified curriculum in their regular classrooms the other four days.

At the Program Challenge Center, students are scheduled for a minimum of five segments a week for instruction with a gifted certified teacher. Classes are offered for each grade from each of the content areas: language arts, math, science, social studies, foreign language and the arts.

Students are able to take two interdisciplinary units per year. These academic-based classes have high expectations, a faster pace and more complex curriculum.

They offer topics and experiences outside the regular curriculum. Authentic audiences are encouraged, assessment is varied and self-evaluation is developed.

At the center, students receive instruction through a variety of teaching styles, many areas of expertise and the compilation of all the system’s resources and materials at the elementary level. The elementary Program Challenge teachers participate in professional development with the program coordinator, curriculum specialists and the host principal and staff.

In addition, the Program Challenge teachers meet one day a week with classroom teachers at their “home” schools to evaluate students for eligibility for the gifted program, plan Program Challenge students’ activities, and to offer additional enrichment services to students at their home school.

For more information regarding RCPS’ gifted elementary school programs, contact Dr. Nadine Campbell, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Schools at ncampbell@rockdale.k12.ga.us.

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Covington native and proud Valdosta State alumna, Hunter has previously worked with The Covington News and Valdosta Daily Times. She started working for Rockdale/Newton Citizen in June 2018.

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