Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
Student faces and quotes line the entrance to the third- through fifth-grade hallway at Bennett Elementary School, creating a Fifth Grade Legacy Wall. Shelley Pohzehl, Bennett’s principal, said the wall aims to build ownership and pride among the fifth-grade class.
“They are the leaders in the building. I asked the students, ‘When you leave Bennett Elementary School, how do you want to be remembered?’ and this started some great conversations,” said Pohzehl.
The idea came to Pohzehl when she saw a similar project from the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, on Twitter.
Pohzehl took her idea to the school’s instructional technology coach (ITC), Courtney Strauss, and the two developed the project. They selected the book “The Word Collector” by Peter Reynolds and worked collaboratively with the fifth-grade teachers and Reading Specialist Mike Mongillo. They used the book to develop a lesson that would ask students to select a word that describes them. For homework, students were asked to select a quote that resonated with them. Some quotes they made up themselves, others were words from their parents, guardians, teachers, and some even from Pohzehl herself.
Strauss took pictures of each student and used the words they chose to create the gallery that now lines Bennett’s hallway. Each picture is framed, thanks to the school’s PTO.
“It has been so amazing seeing students from all grades gathered around the legacy wall. Students of all grades stop and look. They try to find their classmates, siblings, neighbors and friends on the wall. It’s awesome watching the fifth graders beam with pride when someone asks them to show them their picture on the wall or explain their quote,” said Strauss.
At the end of the year, the students will be sent home with their images and the frames will be filled with the next year’s fifth-grade class.
“Fourth-grade teachers and Mrs. Strauss will begin the project with the fourth-graders before the end of the school year. The new pictures will be mounted in August, just in time for the rising fifth-graders to return!” said Pohzehl.