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After Kosovo, Schade Family Reunites at JA

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Jackson Academy parent, Lieutenant Justin Schade, wanted to surprise his family. He succeeded, and he received a nice surprise in return.

The Army lieutenant with the 1st-185th Aviation Unit had been granted leave to return a few days early from Kosovo. He surprised his wife by showing up at home one night while the children were asleep. Melanie Schade quickly joined in on the surprise for their children and helped her husband stay hidden until the children were dropped off at school the next morning. The original plan was to check the children, Molly, second grade, and Amelia, K-3, out early and surprise them at home.

But when JA teacher Amanda Cross found out about the early check out, she and fellow faculty members suggested another, and larger, plan. They arranged a gathering of the entire Preschool and second grade in the Preschool Gym to officially welcome Lieutenant Justin Schade home.

Photo by Charlotte Barry

As music teacher Holly Collums announced a special guest, both girls showed shock and surprise as their dad entered. After lengthy hugs and tears, and a few moments to reconnect, the Schade family was serenaded by 250 children and adults singing “God Bless America” in Lieutenant Schade’s honor.

Lieutenant Schade had been gone since May 11, with one visit home at Christmas. This was his first deployment, although not his first extended trip away from family. Previous training had required travel and separation from the family when Molly was 4 years old (photo right).

The Schades planned a fun afternoon of lunch and play, which Amelia quickly seconded. Molly, though, had other ideas. She wanted to come back after lunch for STEM class.

Robot Dash Encourages Accurate and Proficient Coding

Congratulations to the top-scoring teams in the Fourth Grade Coding Competition. Each of the 20 teams had to complete five increasingly difficult challenges utilizing a coding robot named Dash. These challenges required teams to create a sequence of coded commands to complete a series of complex moves and tasks. Points were awarded based on accuracy and proficiency.

First place went to the Stargazers (Rebekah Brooke Benson, Crystal Gao, and Sanders Reeves).

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Second place went to the Dazzling Dashes (Mary Lamar Chustz, Sara Kate Long, Chappell Lang, and Julia Thompson).

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Third place went to the Bulldogs (Jack Voyles, Alex Martin, Larsen Robertson, Jake Pratt, and Evan Adams).

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“Each team exercised excellent teamwork, perseverance and deductive reasoning,” said Lower School STEM instructor, Cliff Powers. “I’m so proud of each of their accomplishments.”

Alpha and Omega Cheer for Teachers and Students

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Seniors and kindergarten students in Alpha and Omega attended the faculty-student basketball games together this past week. They cheered and watched games between female faculty and Upper School girls and male faculty and Upper School boys. The games were competitive and close in score, which made the event all the more exciting! Ultimately, getting to spend time with their Alpha and Omega friend was the most fun of all.

Click here to view the entire photo album from the game on Facebook.

JA Teams Earn First Place for Mississippi in Global Competition

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Robotics teams in Jackson Academy’s fourth grade earned first place in the state in a global competition for lower school students. The four JA teams that completed the coding challenge each earned a perfect score. They all tied for first place in the state of Mississippi. Globally, the JA teams were among only 180 of 5,200 teams that received a perfect score. The teams took part of a challenge called Animal Habitat Rescue, and using robot Dash, along with his sidekick, Dot, they completed five animal-saving challenges before a December deadline.

The competition is one aspect of a systematic coding curriculum that has been added to the Lower School STEM program for grades first through fourth at JA. Using various age-appropriate robots and apps, the students learn programming, predicting, and problem-solving skills.

Earning first place for Mississippi were Team JA Dash (Anderson Ueltschey, Addison Jeffcoat, Willis Thigpen, Foster Meacham); Team Dynamite (Aniyah Brown, Anna Catherine Bennett, Law Stanley, Mason Brantley); Team Flaming Unicorns (Faith Wicks, Brooke Singleton, Ian Hosch, Parker Puckett); and Team Rainbow Parrots (Brooke Emerson Ogden, Lynnzee Stapleton, Micah Wallace, Parker Halford, and Aaron Howard).

Lower School Teams Code in Global Competition

This year, a systematic coding curriculum has been added to the Lower School STEM program for grades first through fourth. Using various age-appropriate robots and apps, the students learn programming, predicting, and problem-solving skills. As part of their learning experience, the fourth graders participated in the global Wonder League Robotics Competition along with 5,200 schools from around the world. The theme is Animal Habitat Rescue, and robot Dash, along with his sidekick, Dot, had to complete five animal-saving challenges before the December 15 deadline.

Four teams met the deadline and qualified for entry. Shown in the animation above counterclockwise after the title slide are the qualifying teams: Team JA Dash ( L to R – Anderson Ueltschey, Addison Jeffcoat, Willis Thigpen, Foster Meacham), Team Dynamite (L to R – Aniyah Brown, Anna Catherine Bennett, Law Stanley, Mason Brantley), Team Flaming Unicorns (L to R – Faith Wicks, Brooke Singleton, Ian Hosch, Parker Puckett),  and Team Rainbow Parrots ( L to R – Brooke Emerson Ogden, Lynnzee Stapleton, Micah Wallace, Parker Halford, and Aaron Howard). Thirty finalists will be announced on January 15 and then given a sixth coding challenge and video project to complete in order for a first place winner to be chosen.

“All of the fourth grade teams did a phenomenal job, and I’m very proud of each one. The kids had a great time coding with Dash and Dot,” said Lower School STEM teacher Cliff Powers.

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