DENNISVILLE - The following news releases were submitted by Dennis Township School District:

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Dennis Township School District announced its Educational Support Professional of the Year is Diane VanArtsdalen.

According to a release, VanArtsdalen is a paraprofessional in the Elementary/Middle School and has been with the district for 20-plus years. She participates in every dance, movie night, and field trip and has become Mommom/Mrs. Van to many. 

VanArtsdalen does anything asked of her and goes above and beyond and all with a smile.

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The best part of waking up may be coffee in a cup, but Dennis Township Middle School has a new way to start the morning: Hawk Block.

Designed as a way to help differentiate student learning and accommodate students’ busy schedules, the Hawk Block includes periods for band, gifted and talented, extra help in math and English language arts, and electives like yoga, gardening, ballet, babysitting, origami, physics, cooking, crafts, Friends of Rachel, rock band ensemble, sketching, Rubik’s cube, book and movie class, podcasting, trivia, walking, physics, organization, and life skills.

Principal Jamie VanArtsdalen and assistant principal Monica DiVito decided to implement Hawk Block to give our students opportunities to explore areas of interest and develop new interests as well as give students extra help in English Language Arts and Math.

Students took surveys and listed their requests, then school librarian and Hawk Block coordinator Julie Factor and school secretary Betteann Kerr assigned students and placed them into small groups for each day and ensured that VanArtsdalen’s vision worked out.

Hawk Block takes place first period of every day and lasts for one marking period at a time, so students can experience a variety of electives each year.

Factor stated, “The best part is if they are in something they don’t love they will be surveyed again and everything will change for the next marking period.” One student was overheard saying that gardening might actually motivate her to come to school more regularly, as she planted seeds in the courtyard garden.

Seventh-grader Abi DiGiamberardino said she looks forward to interacting with students in other grades and “meeting new people.” Students all agree that they like starting their day with something fresh and different and enjoy the smaller sized groupings of the Hawk Block. 

All of the positive reviews so far reflect the very reasons VanArtsdalen decided to implement the Hawk Block. 

“Students crave choices. I was inspired by a workshop and wanted something to boost student attendance, engagement, enrichment. I’m so happy to see and hear students excited to share what they’ve made and learned even in these few beginning weeks,” she remarked while watching students excitedly leave homeroom and head to the day’s Hawk Block.