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Dec 3, 2013
Polk Avenue makes the news!
Jun 5, 2013

LAKE WALES – Polk Avenue Elementary hosted its second annual Leadership Day in May (May 15) and gave visitors a chance to experience “leadership” through the eyes of students.

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“The Leader in Me is an innovative, school-wide model that emphasizes a culture of student empowerment. It helps unleash each child’s full potential,” explained Principal Gail Quam. Polk Avenue Elementary has been working for several years to implement The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®. Both teachers and students study and use the leadership principles daily.
Members of the community heard from fourth graders about their St. Jude’s Leadership Project that has raised more than $1,200. Visitors also watched videos created by third graders, viewed the first grade play, and were serenaded by the Cardinal Chorus.

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Next, Lighthouse Team students led small groups to different areas of the school. At the Wax Museum, visitors met different historical figures, as recreated by Donna Burns’ students. Then, Melissa Kelly’s reading group transformed into scientists and explained their contributions to our world. Little Cardinal Leadership Academy students paired with fifth graders to demonstrate the Pre-K Pals program where older students read to younger students. Finally, guests saw how second graders track their own progress using data notebooks.

PHOTO #1: Teacher Melissa Kelly and her science students.

PHOTO #2: Student Sebastian Melton represented Sitting Bull as part of the PALS Wax Museum.

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PHOTO #3: Members of the Cardinal Chorus.

May 17, 2013

LAKE WALES – LAKE WALES – Polk Avenue hosted its first-ever Hispanic Celebration earlier this month (May 3) with food, fashion and fun from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Guatemala.

Hispania celebration 2 students 05 13 WEB“As a staff at Polk Avenue, we examined our demographics, and we were inspired to create an event that was targeted toward our largest demographic group,” said Assistant Principal Metta O’Bryant, who helped create the event. Nearly 40 percent of Polk Avenue’s students are Hispanic.

“We knew this would be a great way to reach out to the families at our school,” said Principal Gail Quam. “It was a fun learning experience for everyone.”

To kick off the Celebration, students and adults learned about Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Guatemala from a PowerPoint presentation provided by Julio Acevedo, migrant coordinator for Lake Wales Charter Schools.

Next, students enjoyed a live fashion show with clothing styles from each of the four Hispanic cultures. Students also were introduced to music presented by the Acevedo family. A variety of delicious foods and beverages from the four countries gave students a chance to experience different Hispanic cultures.

“We are thankful for the many community partners, families and staff members who synergized to make this day a great success,” said O’Bryant.

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Sponsors and volunteers included: LaBotana Restaurant (food); Julio Acevedo family (food and music); Maria Escobar (costumes); Lee Wroten and Kevin Lee (watermelons); Ernesto Garcia (taqueria paraiso); Amarilys Reyes (arroz congri); Yini Schreiber (food and fundraising); Olga Stafford (arroz con dulce); Dr. Anthony Faro family (flags). Jenny Gilbert, Sandy Altimirano, Debbie Rivera, Jaxy Windish and Naiaris Rivera helped make passports, flowers, and flyers. Nikki Sealey helped decorate.


PHOTO: Middle school visitor Cecilia Escobar shows off her authentic Mexican dress, while Polk Avenue student Daniel Eudave holds the Mexican flag donated by Dr. Anthony Faro. Both students wear “friendship bracelets” made in colors of the Mexican flag.

PHOTO #2: Assistant Principal Metta O’Bryant & Principal Gail Quam get in the celebration spirit!

May 14, 2013

LAKE WALES – Polk Avenue Elementary students may be able to explain which fertilizer is most effective, or which soap makes the most bubbles.

The school’s winning “scientists” were announced Friday (May 10) during a school-wide awards assembly. This year’s winning science projects were:

• First place, fourth grader Madison Gosselin: “Significant Sprouts – Which fertilizer will make my seeds spout the tallest?”
• Second place, fourth grader Jeremy Cortes: “Plants – Will the light affect the way my plants grow?”
• Third place, fourth grader LeAnna Arrington: “How Far Chocolate Slides – Which chocolate will melt the best, and how far will it slide?”
• First place, fifth grader Hannah Russell: “Soda Fountain – Which soda will be affected most by adding Mentos?”
• Second place, fifth grader Brianuna Williams: “The Most Bubbles — Which soap will make the most bubbles?”
• Third place, fifth grader Jake Brown: “Bouncing Balls – Will the drop height of a ball affect the number of times it will bounce?”

Science resource teacher Melissa Kelly coordinated the science fair judging for students in grades 4-5. Kindergarten through third grade students worked on class science projects.


PHOTO: Fourth grade winners (front l-r) Madison Gosselin, first; Jeremy Cortes, second; and LeAnna Arrington, third; fifth grade winners (back l-r) Hannah Russell, first; Brianuna Williams, second; and Jake Brown, third.

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Apr 23, 2013

LAKE WALES – Polk Avenue Elementary fourth grade students are working on a “leadership project” now through mid-May with the proceeds benefiting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Students are designing, making and selling headbands, scrunchies and bracelets. They also are using their math and computer skills to keep track of inventory and sales.

The fourth graders were inspired by Kid President, a child about their age who has a disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Kid President ( makes inspiring videos to encourage children and adults to “make their world more awesome.”

“Our students decided to make our world more awesome by making these things, selling them, and giving the proceeds to St. Jude’s for Osteogenesis Imperfecta research,” said Sydney Mercado, one of the fourth grade teachers.

Email for more information about supporting the project or ordering items.