Schalmont fifth-grader has write stuff

Marlena Maura, a fifth-grader at Jefferson Elementary School in the Schalmont Central School District, had no idea that an essay written during a routine exercise in her music teacher's classroom would end up being chosen among 24 others from across the country as part of the National Association for Music Education's Music! Just Imagine contest.

Maura and the other finalists appear on a DVD for the National Association for Music Education's "World's Largest Concert "program reading their essays. The DVD is part of a sing-a-long concert linking students around the world through music, featuring music-related projects as well as songs.

"I was kind of scared at first because it was like I had butterflies in my stomach, but when I saw myself on the disc I felt relieved that it had already happened," said Maura.

This fall, The National Association for Music Education, held an essay contest that asked kindergarten through sixth-grade students to write about the ways they were inspired by music.

Jefferson Elementary School music teacher Kathleen Bragle uses creative writing activities in her music classes, so she encouraged her students to participate in the essay contest.

"I've been here for 32 years, and I love to write," said Bragle.

"I want the kids to really enjoy writing, and I love to have them write in the music room. I want them to be able to write in a setting where they know they're not going to get a grade; where they can be as free as they want to be, and I think they're finally starting to get it," said Bragle.

Bragle makes sure students know that they're not getting graded on their writing; she feels this allows the students to open up and express themselves freely.

"You can really see the tension leave their bodies [as they write]," said Bragle. "The theme is music. I put music on, and this is the stimulus and the objective of the lesson."

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