Transabeo Scholae Sed Vitae DiscimusThrough School We Learn For Life
J.H.S. 157 Stephen A. Halsey
VINCENT SURACI, PRINCIPAL
63-55 102ND STREET, QUEENS, NY 11374Phone: 718-830-4910
School Name, Number, or Address
February 4, 2015TEST PREP Every Wed. & Thursday2:20 – 4:30 pm
February 5, 2015Report Cards Distributed
February 16-20, 2015Mind-Winter Break
Council Member Karen Kozlowitz presented a Proclamation to the Halsey MOUSE Squad in honor of their being names Squad of the year. "So happy to be able to congratulate the Mouse Squad from Halsey Junior High School on their achievement of being named the Top Mouse Squad of the Year in all of the United States! I honored them today with an official Proclamation in the City Council Chambers. So proud of the amazing work by the hard working talented students of District 29! What an amazing honor to represent these brilliant young minds!" You can read more about it in the Queens Chronicle article
On October 22, five students from Halsey's award-winning MOUSE Squad were joined by Mr. Suraci and the MOUSE Squad coordinators to help Youth I.N.C. ring the closing bell at NASDAQ. The 9th annual Trading Day for Kids, a day in which traders donate proceeds to Youth I.N.C. to help youth programs around the city, was hosted by Canaccord Genuity. Read more about it. October 14th, 2014 marked the long awaited ribbon cutting of Halsey's new ecologically friendly playground. Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz did the honors with Halsey students and Mr. Suraci. The playground was designed with students under the guidance of Ms. Lamere and designers from the Trust for Public Land, who funded the revitalization and greening of the playground. For more on the event go to the DNAInfo article.
The vibrant hum of technology can be heard throughout the classrooms in Halsey JHS 157 in Rego Park, New York, but nowhere is it more apparent than in rooms 202 and 301, the two computer labs dedicated to the use of technology as creative tools. Last year both Ms. Elfers-Wygand and Ms. Stahl-Van Brackle received the DOE Excellence in School Technology award after implementing the SEP (Software Engineering Pilot) Program. However, the two teachers have long been using a technology based curriculum stemming from MOUSE Squad. Along with the DOE award, the Halsey MOUSE Squad, run by Ms. Elfers-Wygand with Ms. Stahl-VanBrackle assisting, also won MOUSE Squad of the year for 2014.
"It’s a great pleasure to work with the kids, to give them opportunities to work with technology andlearn about it, no matter what their class program is,” Ms. Elfers-Wygand explained. “Students from all grade levels and learning levels can enjoy working with technology. It helps to build collaborative problem solving skills as students build self-esteem through creative computing. It makes learning fun!”
Last year’s squad boasted over 40 members, many of whom graduated and went on to specialized high schools and schools with MOUSE Corps, the high school equivalent to MOUSES quad. “MOUSE is one of the most powerful tools you can give a school, with a dedicated staff who will find unique opportunities such as Maker Faire or Emoticon, as well as inspire teachers with curriculum steeped in Common Core,” said Mr. Suraci, Halsey’s Principal.
Among the opportunities MOUSE Squad has designed are the honors for Halsey’s Squad of the Year. On October 22nd senior members of the MOUSE Squad, their coordinators, and Mr. Suraci will be ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ. To further honor the spirit and drive of the Halsey MOUSE Squad a special Proclamation is being issued to Halsey at City Hall. Member of the MOUSE Squad and their parents will be presented this at City Hall on November 13.
Halsey MOUSE Squad has been in existence since 2006 and has grown as a diverse and interesting experience for all the students involved. Students participate in monthly micro-project competitions that incorporate all different types of software that are used for programming, game design, and graphic arts, among other things.” We have had some winners both last year and this year,” Ms. Elfer-Wygand said proudly. “Ben won first runner up in 6th grade and 7th grade for the “I Believe I Can Flyer” poster design for enticing students to join Mouse Squad. Also, Scott won first runner up last year in 6th grade for designing a video game under the title “Winter Funderland. We also had honorable mentions for students Schoolcraft 3D design of a futuristic school with Shametaj and Scott’s projects mentioned!” Students won small paper prototype projects and Arduino kits for the squad.
This year MOUSE has teamed up with the SEP Program which is now funded by a generous grant from AT & T. Besides training and supplies for the SEP Program, a Hackathon is being sponsored by SEP with help from MOUSE Squad students on October 25th. A hackathon is the computer programming industry practice of encouraging creativity in programmers,” Ms. Stahl-Van Brackle explained. “For a set amount of time, often 24 hours, a group of programmers will “hack” a problem or technology with the goal of creating a prototype (working first draft) for a solution or new technology.” The participants of the Halsey SEP Hackathon will be working all day that Saturday and pitch their projects to parents and other adults from the community. “This is a great opportunity for us to show what we do creatively with computers and how programming can be a problem solver.”
There are many other exciting opportunities in store for Halsey’s SEP and MOUSE Squad students, including a year-end Showcase. Utilizing programs such as Scratch, Arduinomicro-controllers, and Mindstorm Robotics, the Halsey technology program truly is an example of excellence in school technology.
Ms. Elfers, assisted by Ms. Stahl-Van Brackle, has been running the MOUSE Squad for five years. This was a stellar year in the number of students participating in the squad, completing DIY (Do It Yourself) projects and events students attended. Two students won prizes for their projects and a group of students attended a three day internship at the American Museum of Natural History during February break. Also, many students attended MOUSE Squad training and Playtech Saturdays. Two groups presented at this years EMOTICON and were the only middle school presenting
"We just try to do what's best for the kids, get as many kids the opportunity to work in technology no matter what their talent is," Ms. Elfers explained. The squad meets three days a week and offers teachers technical help with problems ranging from update issues to printer connections. "My squad is very professional," Ms. Elfers said proudly. If you ever have a problem, don't hesitate to put in a ticket with Halsey's award winning MOUSE Squad.
Halsey's innovative technology programs have caught the attention of the media and have earned awards in the DOE. Ms. Elfers-Wygand, the SPOC for Halsey as well as the Special Education Computer Teacher and MOUSE Squad coordinator, was featured with her MOUSE Squad in the article Queens Chronicle's Kids become tech whizzes at JHS 157 Ms. Stahl-Van Brackle,who besides teaching Computer Talent and SEP assists Ms. Elfers-Wygand with MOUSE, has been working hard to get students ready for the June 14th Emoticon Expo. Both teachers have been recognized by the NYC Department of Education and will receive the NYCDOE Excellence in Technology Award at the July 30th NYC DOE School Technology Summit After receiving their awards the two will be hosting panels on innovations in the classroom and resources for educators seeking a broader technology community. The panels will feature speakers from the SEP Program, MOUSE and Halsey's very own principal Mr. Suraci.