Schenectady kindergartners get middle-school visit

PHOTOGRAPHER: PETER R. BARBER
Iroquois Middle School student Ava Fallone, 13, helps Natalia Ghangaprashad, 4, with her coloring project at Fulton School on Eleanor Street in Schenectady on Friday.PHOTOGRAPHER: PETER R. BARBER Iroquois Middle School student Ava Fallone, 13, helps Natalia Ghangaprashad, 4, with her coloring project at Fulton School on Eleanor Street in Schenectady on Friday.

— Van Corlaer kindergartners made new friends on Friday: a group of eighth graders from Niskayuna.

As part of Iroquois Middle School’s annual service day for eighth graders, nine eighth graders joined the Schenectady elementary students for the morning.

“It creates an appreciation of the need to get out to the community and serve others,” said Iroquois science teacher Dennis Frank, who joined the students on kindergarten visit.

The kindergartners shuffled through different activities, headed by an eighth grader, but they all had a common theme.

“This one is supposed to be red, because it says red; this one says purple,” kindergartner Anthony Massaro, 5, said as he pointed to his yet-to-be-colored leaves. “Some leaves change colors … all of them do.”

The three Van Corlaer kindergarten classes, which are housed at Fulton School this year due to construction, each got a trio of middle school students to help out for the morning. As the classrooms teachers floated throughout the rooms, the eighth graders worked closely with smaller groups.

The students traced their hands on construction paper and used tissue paper to make trees; they colored in fall leaves; they snacked on cider donuts. Fall has arrived in elementary classes across Schenectady.

Iroquois Middle School student Katie Atchison, 13, walks with Anthony Massaro, 5, to the cafeteria at Fulton School on Eleanor Street in Schenectady on Friday.

PHOTO: PETER R. BARBERGAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
Iroquois Middle School student Katie Atchison, 13, walks with Anthony Massaro, 5, to the cafeteria at Fulton School on Eleanor Street in Schenectady on Friday.

Sitting on the floor of one of the classes, eighth grader Katie Atchinson, 13, laid out flashcards with letters on them and, pulling up a new card with a picture on it, quizzed the students on what letter the object in the picture started with.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“Ball,” one of the kindergartners said.

“This is a soccer ball,” Katie said, emphasizing the “s” in soccer. “So point to where it goes.”

With each new group, Katie added a new element to her routine, remembering to introduce herself and get the names of all the kids in the next group. “Those are all pretty names,” she told a group of all girls.

“I love it,” she said of the morning in the kindergarten class. “I want to be a teacher when I get older, and it’s a great experience to have.”

As part of an annual tradition, Iroquois eighth graders visited 13 different volunteer sites around town, including Van Corlaer, City Mission, Bethesda House, Ellis Nursing Home and more.

But for the students – old and young – at Fulton on Friday, the late-September visit comes full-circle later this year when Van Corlaer classes, including the kindergarten classes, visit Iroquois Middle School before the winter break. On that visit, each elementary student is paired with an eighth-grade buddy that helps them through a science and math activity and give them a peek at a middle school locker.

“That’s when our students get really excited about them coming,” Frank said. “I consider it one of the most special days for our eighth graders.”

For the kindergarten teachers, the eighth graders provided a slight respite and student distraction. And the students got a look at older students.

“They are nice role models, they get to see the kids and they are helping,” Van Corlaer kindergarten teacher Pam Viscusi said. “They make a little connection … (the kindergartners) love it; they love the attention.”

Reach Gazette reporter Zachary Matson at 395-3120, zmatson@dailygazette.net or@zacharydmatson on Twitter.