Language Arts Teacher Will O'Toole, front, right, helps students with their "March Madness" projects. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
CC McDonald, Paranormal Investigations. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Andre Powell, Chemist. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Kennedy Fort-Foskey, Dancer. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Samantha Ambielli, Veterinarian. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Anthony Marquez, Forensic Pathologist and General Surgeon. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
"March Madness" Strikes Liberty Middle School in West Orange
Monday, March 18, 2013 • 10:15pm
WEST ORANGE, NJ - Eighth grade students at Liberty Middle School are participating in a special project that ties into the popular NCAA "March Madness" college basketball tournament. The project is in four parts and class time is given to do the work. The March Madness project was originally conceived by Language Arts Teacher Sean DeVore at Roosevelt Middle School, and has been adapted by Will O'Toole, Language Arts Teacher at Liberty. The project requires students to research one of the 68 NCAA schools in the NCAA pool. Once selected, they are then required to research in depth that college from an academic and basketball standpoint.
Part one of the project is the School Overview, where students must research the basics of the school: location, the president; population and demographics; tuition; sports record; academic programs of interest to the student; and well known alumna.
Part two asks for information regarding team athletics. Team logos, and mascots are researched and students must draw their own logos.
Part three involves academics, and students select an area of study that appeals to them.
Part four is a Letter of Introduction to the President/Chancellor of the University/College. Many of the University presidents and chancellors reply to the eighth graders' letters.
All students in Mr. O'Toole's class plan on attending West Orange High School in September. The visit to Mr. O'Toole's classroom showed students that were not only engaged in the project, but enjoying it, and even thinking about what their futures might hold. They selected large schools, but also some smaller, lesser known NCAA participants.
CC McDonald was writing to Rutgers-New Brunswick. He said he was interested in paranormal investigation. Andre Powell was sending his letter to William Paterson and was interested in the chemical field. Jendeah McNeil was writing to the University of Georgia, and Sabrina Alvez to Rutgers. Kennedy Fort-Foskey stood in front of her Julliard Logo design. Samantha Ambielli worked intently on her letter to the University of Ohio, where she expressed her interest in becoming a veterinarian. Anthony Marquez, writing to Johns Hopkins, said he wanted to study forensic pathology and general surgery.
For eighth graders at Liberty Middle School, Shakespeare rightly noted "Though this be madness, yet there is a method in't." (Hamlet)