Tag Archives: oak hall school

Empty Bowls Club Help Combat Hunger in Alachua County

By Elizabeth Birkner

Oak Hall School offers many clubs for students to join when they reach the Middle and Upper School. Many of the clubs are formed to help the less fortunate and do good deeds for our community. One such club is the Empty Bowls Ceramics Club. This club’s purpose is to help the hungry by making ceramic bowls which are then sold by the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank. The money raised by the selling of the bowls goes back into stocking the pantries at the food bank. While the club is geared toward students with ceramic skills but welcome any student to join and help.

Last year, the club flourished after not being a program at Oak Hall for some time. Club president Benjamin Leber was thrilled and ready to begin the program again with art teacher Becky Lancer. “Last year was the first year our club resumed meeting post-pandemic due to the constraints of the pandemic. Our club made and contributed [more than] 150 bowls last year that were donated to the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank,” the junior said. “The Empty Bowls program is a community-driven effort aimed at raising awareness about and combating hunger and food insecurity in our local area and beyond,” he continued.

Art teacher Becky Lancer and junior Benjamin Leber attend the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank’s fundraising event in September

In September, Leber and Lancer attended a fundraiser hosted by the food bank, where around 130 bowls made by Oak Hall students were donated, exceeding the club goal of 75 bowls. According to the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank’s website, “The bowl is a stark reminder that many in our community face an empty bowl on a daily basis.”

“The Empty Bowls Program is a meaningful way for individuals to get involved, make a tangible contribution to our community, and raise awareness about a pressing social issue hunger. It is heartwarming to see the artistic talent at Oak Hall School come together to tackle a problem that affects so many,” Leber said. Students can get involved is by attending the club’s meetings and bowl creating after school on Tuesdays and during SOAR on Wednesdays.

Some goals of the club this year is to get other Oak Hall clubs involved in their mission, run a summer camp to create bowls, and to volunteer at the food bank when possible.

Bowls created by Oak Hall, Gainesville High School, and Buchholz High School are on full display at the Empty Bowls fundraising event in September

Just Because: Veterans Day

By Ryan McKinney

On Nov. 11, we honor the extremely brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces. Veterans Day recognizes any member of the armed forces who served to protect our country and fight for those in need. This includes anyone who served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, National Guard, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

This federal holiday started when President Woodrow Wilson established it as Armistice Day. This was because the date of November 11, 1918, marked the one-year anniversary of armistice between the Allied Nations and Germany, which ultimately led to the end of the World War I. Armistice Day was then changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor those who served in any war, not just WWI.

Veterans Day continued to be celebrated annually on Nov. 11 until Congress passed the 1968 Uniform Holiday Bill. This law was brought forth to ensure that certain federal holidays would always fall on a Monday, thus giving Americans a three-day weekend. Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, and George Washington’s birthday were all part of the bill. Later, on September 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford changed name the date back to Nov. 11.

Senior Marcello El-Semarani’s stepfather Albert served in the Army for 19 years, enlisting in February 2000. Albert broke his news of enlisting on his 21st birthday to his family, leaving them in shock. “It did NOT go over as planned,” he said. His favorite experience while serving was when he was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and had the opportunity to learn about different cultures throughout the different areas of the world. Adapting to the military life was something that he eventually got used too as well. The main thing he remembers about adapting to military life was dealing with “schedules and knowing that I don’t need a lot of sleep to function” he said.

While Veterans Day is the official holiday to thank our veterans, those that served should be thanked throughout the year, for sacrificing their life to protect ours.

Students and Artificial Intelligence: A New Frontier in Essay Writing

By Ryan McKinney

In the digital age, the educational landscape is continually evolving, with technology playing an increasingly significant role in the way students learn and teachers instruct. One notable development in this context is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in essay writing by students, particularly children. This innovative approach has transformed the writing process, offering both advantages and challenges. In this essay, we will explore how kids use Al to write essays and examine the measures that teachers are taking to adapt to this new paradigm.

Al, in the form of natural language processing and generation algorithms, has become an invaluable tool for students of all ages. Kids are no exception. They have been quick to adopt Al-assisted tools that streamline the essay-writing process. Some of the ways Al is impacting essay writing for kids include:

– Generating Content Al can assist kids in generating ideas and content for their essays. Al-powered content generators, like ChatGPT, can provide inspiration and help structure the essay’s key points.
– Proofreading and Editing: Al-driven grammar and spell checkers can significantly improve the quality of kids’ essays. These tools help identify and correct errors, ensuring that the final product is polished and well-structured.
– Plagiarism Detection: Al tools are employed to detect plagiarism in students’ essays. This not only promotes originality but also encourages kids to develop their own critical thinking and research skill.
– Language Translation: Al-driven translation tools are instrumental in aiding non-native
English speakers, allowing them to write essays in their native languages and then translating them to English or other languages.
– Accessibility: Al-powered text-to-speech and speech-to-text tools have made essay writing accessible to kids with learning disabilities or those who struggle with traditional writing methods.

While the integration of Al in essay writing offers numerous advantages, it also raises some important challenges and ethical concerns. These include:

– Overreliance: There is a risk that students might become overly reliant on Al, potentially stunting their development of essential writing and critical thinking skills.
– Plagiarism: Some students may misuse Al to plagiarize content or take shortcuts in their essays, undermining academic integrity.
– Quality Control: Al-generated content is not always of high quality, which can lead to © Regenerate essays if not adequately reviewed and refined.   
– Data Privacy: Concerns over data privacy and security arise when students use online AI tools for essay writing. These tools may collect and store sensitive information.

In response to the growing use of Al in essay writing, teachers and educators have been taking proactive measures to ensure that students benefit from this technology while maintaining the integrity of the learning process. Some of the strategies employed by teachers include:

– Education and Awareness: Teachers are educating students about the responsible use of Al in essay writing. They emphasize that Al tools should be supplements, not replacements, for their writing skill.
– Assignments and Assessments: Teachers design assignments that are less prone to Al assistance. They focus on topics that require critical thinking, personal reflection, and creativity, making it challenging for students to rely solely on Al tools.
– Encouraging Ethical Use: Teachers emphasize the importance of ethical writing and proper citation to discourage plagiarism.
– Monitoring and Evaluation: Teachers utilize plagiarism detection tools to ensure that students are submitting original work and are not taking undue advantage of Al.
– Skill Development: While embracing Al, teachers continue to focus on developing essential writing, research, and critical thinking skills in students. They teach these skills alongside the use of Al tools.

The integration of Al in essay writing by kids is an exciting development that has the potential to enhance their writing and learning experience. However, it also poses challenges and ethical concerns that must be addressed. Teachers play a vital role in striking the right balance, ensuring that students use Al tools responsibly and continue to develop essential writing and critical thinking skills. The future of education will likely involve a harmonious coexistence between students and Al, where each complements the other to create a more enriching and effective learning environment. In fact, this whole story that you read was entirely written by AI.

US English Teacher Leaves the Classroom for the Commons

By Kyleigh Lewis

One of Oak Hall’s Upper School (US) teachers has left the classroom to join the Learning Commons team. English teacher Paul Mucci changed positions at the beginning of this school year to work as a Learning Specialist.

In his 33 years of teaching, Mucci is still somewhat new to Oak Hall, starting here three years ago. “The first year was eighth and ninth, then all ninth last year and now here in the learning center,” he said.

Mucci, originally got his degree in English so he could attend law school. However, after getting a job at the Boys Club (now known as the Boys & Girls Club), he realized how much he enjoyed working with children. “Instead of applying to law school, I applied to graduate school to get my degree in education because, I just liked working with kids,” Mucci noted.

Working with kids for so long has given Mucci an understanding of how rough times can affect people. While he taught, he grasped to the fact that teachers may not always know what is going on in the life of their students. Knowing that every child is unique and has their own struggles made it easier for him when students took out their aggression on him. “Sometimes if kids don’t perform well or [don’t] have the best attitude, it may not be because of my class, subject, or me. It could be caused by things like not getting enough sleep, being hungry or going through a break-up,” the veteran teacher said. “I really had to learn not to take things personally. That I’d understand there are other things going on and that has helped me deal with people.”

With Mucci changing his career to a learning specialist, he expressed that working in the Learning Commons has allowed him to continue helping students learn a particular subject or help find new study habits; so, he never stopped being a teacher. As to why he changed his career, he elaborated that he wanted to try something different and challenge himself while still doing what he loves.