High-tech math, coordination games set tone at Bregy

Students hold chess pieces.— PHOTO BY ABDUL SULAYMAN TRIBUNE CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER

There’s a lot of positive energy going around at F. Amedee Bregy School in South Philadelphia. With a chess club, speed-stacking club, advanced technology, community partnerships and a rigorous academic program, these South Philadelphia students are receiving a well-rounded education.

“In addition to continuing to raise the bar in academics, we also make sure that the students know the importance of self-esteem,” said principal Christopher Willer. “We try to do positive things with the students, so that they feel good about themselves and what they accomplished in the classroom. We have various dances and incentives to encourage students to do well academically as well as embrace their accomplishments.

“The staff and teachers do an amazing job with our students,” he added. “They come in early and stay late. They help take the students to their various school competitions on the weekend; they really go above and beyond to make sure our students get the best education. They have a passion for teaching. I’m fortunate to have them be on this team with me. Our goal at Bregy is to prepare all of our students for the next level and beyond. We want our students to succeed in academics and life.”

The teachers at Bregy are a crucial part in the students success.

Middle school math and social studies teacher Jim Greene incorporates technology into his daily lessons. Greene uses a TI73 calculator for his math classes, a device high school students use in math.

Students also use laptops that enable them to do web quests and student response interventions with their teachers. The interventions are live updates on students’ progress in class. Greene recently implemented the Socrative program in his classes.

“I’m huge on technology; it’s imperative to have it when you’re teaching students today,” Green said. “If I want to ask a true/false question and I want to gauge if the students understand the lesson, the traditional way is thumbs up, sideways or down. But nowadays, with technology I don’t have to do that. They can send their responses to me. It’s that engagement that students really enjoy. They like having any form of technology in front of them.

“The nice thing about the Socrative program is that the students can utilize iPads, tablets and smartphones,” he said. “Phones are a battle in the school, especially if they are using it in a negative way. But if you can turn it around and make it positive by using programs that students can use for school, the students will benefit from it.

“With the program, students are able to log-on wherever they are; whether it’s a homework assignment or a response during class. The program is user-friendly and 100 percent reliable. I just started using it, and now we’re trying to implement it in other classrooms. It’s all about finding innovative ways to help students achieve and progress in my classes.”

During the 2011-2012 school year, Digitas Health Pharmaceuticals helped make improvements at Bregy. About 150 volunteers helped paint and create murals at the school.

Extracurricular activities at Bregy include the garden club, soduku club and the chess club. The school also partnered with “Little Kids Rock,” a nonprofit organization that enables children to play guitar in various genres, including rap, funk and rock, in the guitar club.

“My experience at Bregy has been great; we’re constantly learning something new each day,” said seventh-grader Lisa Inthavong. “There are a lot of programs at the school. There are also so many different opportunities.”

One of the most popular programs at Bregy is speed stacking.

“Speed stacking was something that I would always hear people talking about,” said fifth-grader Delylah Serrano. “When I realized my school had it as a program, I decided to join. It was a little hard in the beginning, but I kept working at it and now I’m really fast at it.

“I’ve been doing speed stacking for a while now, and I like it so much that I started to tell other students at the school about it,” she added. “We have a great team. There are a lot of students participating in the program and they all have a certain skill set when it comes to speed stacking. We’ve accomplished a lot so far.”

Speed stacking is a sport which involves 12 specially designed cups stacked in a sequence going up and down. The program currently has 25 students participating.

“We have children from second through eighth grade come once or twice a week to practice speed stacking,” said PE teacher and speed-stacking monitor Michele Difeliciantonio. “Speed stacking is a competition that we participate in every year. We compete at the School District office building against other schools. The children use 12 cups, andmake different patterns while being timed. Last year, we had a couple of students win first, second and third place in the competitions.”

Fifth-grader DaSean Boseman says the key to being a good speed stacker is practice.

“Speed stacking is a lot of fun,” Boseman said. “It definitely helps with eye and hand coordination, which both are very necessary to be a good speed stacker. It’s something I really enjoy, which is why I’m constantly working at it.

“In addition to practicing at school, I also practice at home with a timer.“I work really hard at it because I want to do well at the competitions. When I’m able to get best times in the competition, I know all of my hard work has paid off. When it comes to speed stacking, practicing is key.”

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