Groton on the Inside: Cornell and Groton Elementary School students unite


Students in Cornell University Senior Lecturer, Bryan Duff’s, undergraduate course on educational psychology don’t take tests – at least, not the usual kind. They take what they learn in class about attention, memory, and motivation and use it to plan, and constantly improve, a weekly after-school program for Groton Elementary School students.

Duff, who is a former high school teacher, teaches courses on education and writing that include weekly service learning and coordinates the undergraduate education minor in the Dept. of Development Sociology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The list of initiatives Duff has spearheaded to engage his students in the surrounding communities and beyond, as well as his areas of expertise in teaching, are too numerous for this column, but when he approached the administrators at Groton Central School to initiate a collaboration between his psychology class and Groton students, elementary school principal Kent Maslin was eager to jump on board. Maslin said “Bryan indicated that the new Cornell president, Martha Pollack, is advocating for additional outreach to local communities”, and he was delighted to “take him up on it.”

Duff’s students and Groton students work in pairs throughout the semester to write and photo-illustrate a short story featuring the Groton student’s favorite stuffed animal, doll, action figure, or another character. The stories include photos taken inside, outside, and in hard-to-reach places such as the moon and deep inside a volcano (thanks to a green screen!).

All the stories are compiled into a book, and copies are given to all families and college students at a book-release party at the end of the semester. In addition to signing books at the event, each child gets a minute in the spotlight as his or her collegiate co-author takes the microphone and talks about their strengths.
Everyone is welcome to attend this semester’s celebration on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 4:45 pm at the elementary school!

Craft Show for France
The Groton High School French Club will host its eighth annual craft show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10. Admission is free, and this show has become one of the school’s biggest and most well-attended events of the year.

There will be over 100 vendors with a variety of crafts and items for sale that are varied and quite extensive, including homemade crafts and woodwork, handbags, jewelry, quilting, embroidery, goat’s milk soaps, baked goods, original artwork, clothing, and the list goes on.

Vendors will be located in both gymnasiums, the cafeteria, and the school library, with parking available in front of the school as well as on the high school gymnasium side.

The French Club also runs a silent auction, bake sale, and two concession stands. New on the menu this year are mac & cheese and “tacos-to-go” along with the usual chili, hot dogs, salad, and pizza.

Funds raised will help the 19 students who will head to France in April 2019 for a 10-day tour of the country, ending in Paris. They hope to add an additional two-day excursion to the D-Day Beaches of Normandy, which would be especially significant, as 2019 will mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Spaghetti and snowmobiles
After you’ve spent the day at the craft show, the Groton Ridge Runners Snowmobile Club, 748 Salt Road, will open its doors to the public to serve one of its delicious spaghetti dinners Saturday, Nov. 10 from 4:30 to 8 p.m.
Spaghetti dinners also include salad, dessert, and beverages at a cost of $9 per adult and $6 for children age 4 through 12. Take-out dinners are available.
Snowmobile club meetings take place the first Wednesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend anytime or visit them at

Turkey time!
To get your taste buds revved up for Thanksgiving, the McLean Firefighters will be hosting its 71st annual all-you-can-eat turkey dinner at the McLean Fire Station on Sunday, Nov. 11 from 12 noon until the food is gone.
Featuring turkey with all the trimmings and homemade pies, the cost for adults is $10, senior citizens $9, and $7 for children age 6 through 12. Children five and under may eat for free. Take-outs are available.

Bingo! Win big when you play for a cause
The Groton Parent Teacher Organization (GPTO), in collaboration with faculty, parents, school administration, and local community partners, will host its annual Community Bingo Night on Tuesday, Nov. 13 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
There is no admission charge, but bingo game boards will be sold for $1 each. Prizes will be awarded to the winners. Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase, as well as several raffle opportunities, including gift baskets made by teachers, staff, and community organizations.

Funds raised during the event will be used by the GPTO to enhance student education opportunities and scholastic experiences while maximizing family engagement at the same time. Just a few of the initiatives supported by GPTO include sponsoring winter clothing drives and Christmas gifts for families in need, an annual “Author Day” in the elementary school, working with students and parents to conduct teacher and staff appreciation events, and coordinating evening science and math events that engage both parents and teachers.

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit items to Linda Competillo, or (607) 227-4922


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