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News Feature

Castine
Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 29, 2014
Adams School students take over learning and turn it into fun with SMORGs

Creating a fairy house at Adams School

Olivia Creamer-Cefalo, an Adams School student in Castine, Maine created a fairy house on May 23, 2014.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

SMORGS, or a smorgasbord of student-led activities that take a step outside everyday, classroom learning, returned to Adams School for the afternoon on May 23.

“The idea is you give the school over to the kids,” said teacher Bill McWeeney, who brought the idea with him when he first began teaching in Castine.

Students come up with a plan for a one-hour activity. Then, they enlist a grown-up, whether teacher or parent, to supervise. Finally, each student signs up for the SMORGS they want to attend. Not all students run SMORGS, but all participate.

SMORGS varied from the practical, like cleaning the Nature Center building on the school grounds, to the fantastical, like creating fairy houses, to the creative, like rock painting and splatter painting, to the athletic, like a basketball skills session or a bike ride through town.

“The idea is to initiate something above and beyond regular classes or gym,” McWeeney said, that “makes it a learning experience.”

Rock painting at Adams School

Adams School Principal Katie Frothingham works with Liam Creamer-Cefalo on a rock painting SMORG, as the Castine, Maine elementary school turns the afternoon over to student-initiated learning, and fun, on May 23, 2014.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Sprucing up Adams School nature center

From left, Syra Gutow and Bess MacArthur help clean the Adams School nature center during SMORGs, sessions of student-initiated learning—and fun—at the Castine, Maine elementary school on May 23, 2014.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Planting seeds for the Adams School garden

Adams School student Lucas Fitzgerald plants seeds in the Castine, Maine elementary school greenhouse with teacher Tracy Lameyer on May 23, 2014.

Photo by Anne Berleant
A student-run basketball “clinic” in Castine

Adams School students hone their basketball skills at the Castine, Maine elementary school on May 23, 2014.

Photo by Anne Berleant
A fairy house at Adams School

Acadia Evans, an Adams School student in Castine, Maine poses with the fairy house she created on May 23, 2014.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Creating a fairy house at Adams School

Olivia Creamer-Cefalo, an Adams School student in Castine, Maine created a fairy house on May 23, 2014.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Creating whales from clay in Castine

Adams School science and math teacher Bill McWeeney oversees a SMORG session dedicated to creating whales from clay. The Castine, Maine elementary school turned the afternoon of May 23, 2014 over to student-initiated learning—and fun—for its annual SMORGs day.

Photo by Anne Berleant