Academic Programs

Academic programs and After School programs extend and build on the learning happening in
classrooms. Academic programs include a number of offerings in STEAM, Reflections, Odyssey
of the Mind
, and Spelling Bee. After School programs are described in a separate section and
include Chess Club, LEGO robotics, Art, Drama and a variety of sports programs.

STEAM education addresses the critical areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and
math using a hands-on learning approach. The PTA supports STEAM activities as a way to
enhance the problem-based learning already happening in the classroom.

Quarterly STEAM Challenges provide an opportunity for families to work together at home to
solve a creative problem.

STEAM talks during Innovation Hour connect interested students to parents with STEAM-
related careers and hobbies -- from drones to environmental science — these sessions allow
them to see the real-life application of STEAM first hand.

Hour of Code is an opportunity for parents to support student exploration of computer
programing by taking part in this annual, global event.

The WFES Edible Garden is establishing its roots. In the spring, students can choose to join our
Green Team either through a 5th & 6th grade gardening elective or through an after-school
program for 2nd - 4th graders. Based on the 4-H curriculum Learn, Grow, Eat, Go, students will
become our inaugural gardening ambassadors, working together towards the goal of making
the garden accessible to all students through an upcoming harvest day.

The PTA also supports classroom based STEAM activities by working with teachers on wish lists
that enable parents to directly purchase materials that would help teachers make their
classroom dreams a reality and bring more hands-on learning materials into the STEAM lab and

The annual STEAM Fair is a highlight of the year, occurring early in the spring.  Last year
hundreds of students, parents and teachers participated in interactive exhibits including NASA
Mars Rover, the “Take Apart” electronics room, robotics, honeybees, soil engineering, 3D
printing, urban planning and design, computer coding, creating a nature journal, and many
others.  Chick here for more information on our fantastic STEAM programs!

The Annual Spelling Bee at Wakefield Forest Elementary School is an opportunity for students
to build their language skills in an exciting afternoon competition. The Spelling Bee is open to
3 rd to 6 th graders, and is a great example of teacher – parent collaboration. Spelling words are
featured in the library, and parents help to organize the “Bee” itself.

This year, all 450 words on the School Spelling Bee Study List come from engaging, grade
level-appropriate books called the Great Words, Great Works list. You can download this
reading list for your students and encourage them to search for their spelling words in the
context of great stories! See the flyer below for details and get ready to share your spelling

Reflections is a program sponsored by the National PTA to promote the arts and creative
expression. During the school year, students reflect on a common theme and create original
works of art in the categories of dance choreography, film production, literature, music
composition, photography and visual arts.

At WFES, a kickoff workshop led by parents in the fall provides for exploration, inspiration and
an introduction to a range of possible creative forms as students worked in small groups.
Students develop their own individual projects in their chosen artistic medium responding to
the year’s theme. WFES students have won awards in a range of categories, most recently for
projects in music and film. All student projects will be featured at our spring Reflections
reception. The Reflections program provides an opportunity for students to develop original
works of art, explore new artistic media, and present their projects at a special school event.

Team work is the essential foundation for Odyssey of the Mind, often called OM, which is a
creative problem-solving program involving students from kindergarten through college. Team
members work together at length to solve a predefined long-term problem and present their
solution to the problem at a competition. A parent coach provides support during regular
meetings of the team, but does not lead or direct the team. Teams also participate in a
“spontaneous” portion of the competition by generating solutions to a problem they have not
seen before. The long-term problem solution is developed over several months and involves
various elements of theatrical performance, construction and design.

There are five categories of problems that participants can solve, and a new problem for each
category is presented each year:

  • Vehicle: involves building vehicles of different sizes that must perform specified tasks
  • Technical: involves building “innovative contraptions”
  • Classics: incorporates knowledge of architecture, art, and literature
  • Structure: requires the designing and building of a structure using only balsa wood and glue, and competing to see which structure can hold the most weight
  • Performance: requires the team to act, sing, and/or dance based on a given theme​.  

Every aspect of a solution must result from the work of team members including brainstorming,

building, painting, sewing, and fixing. For each long-term problem, the team must present its

solution in eight minutes or less, including set-up time. OM participants push their thinking,

creativity and team work skills. WFES fields more than ten OM teams, which are organized by

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Parents and Teachers working together!

School PTA