Education

Blizzard at Madison Junior School

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MADISON, NJ - On a beautiful sunny morning that registered a relatively warm 44 degrees, a blizzard of paper snowflakes hit the Madison Junior School (MJS) today as the entire school came together in a team building activity designed to break a Guinness World Record to make the most paper snowflakes in one hour.

According to David Coster, MJS Principal, the current world record is 10,000 snowflakes. Today, students and faculty joined together to fold and cut hopefully somewhere between 12,000 and 14,000 -- all from recycled paper.

“We had been looking into revamping our advisory activities for some time, and this was one event I knew would bring the students and faculty together to show them what we all could achieve by working together,” said Mr. Coster.

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Official Guinness representatives were not on hand today, but MJS math teacher Anna Hatziemanuel, who headed up the effort, made sure to meticulously follow official Guinness rules that required a certain number of independent observers and photographers to be on site to approve and document the entire process start to finish.

In addition, Guinness outlined a number of rules regarding the cutting of the snowflakes, including:

  • Each piece of paper used must be to identical dimensions.

  • The paper must then be folded accordingly so that the finished snowflake has six sides.

  • A minimum of six cut outs are to be made to create the image of a snowflake.

The world record attempt began precisely at 9:35 am and ended at 10:35 am. The energy in the school was electric. Several rooms were playing music at full volume, including the holiday tunes “Frosty the Snowman” and “Winter Wonderland.” Mrs. Lambusta’s advisory went in another direction entirely, playing 1980s rock with students taking turns playing DJ, and Mrs. Marotta’s advisory in Room 213 blasted techno. At least four teachers were wearing snowflake costumes.

Some teachers allowed their students to fold and cut each of their snowflakes one by one, while others employed a different strategy. English teacher Mr. Diamante in Room 211, for example, hypothesized that if his students folded all of their paper first and moved on to cutting afterwards, they would maximize their numbers. Likewise, Mrs. Sternberg in Room 210 had her students form an assembly line consisting of three stations: 1) folding, 2) cutting, and 3) opening/collecting.

Students designated “runners” gathered up hundreds of snowflakes from each room every few minutes and brought them to the main office in cardboard boxes. As time ticked away, these runners, keenly aware of how important their jobs were, had to be reminded to walk by faculty stationed in the hallway.

“The enthusiasm of the entire school is inspiring,” said Debbie Burne, a social worker with Denville Public Schools who was on hand as an independent observer. “It was especially wonderful to see special needs students participating in such an excited way.”

Miss Hatziemanuel and her students from last year conceived the idea after she lost a previous Guinness World Record involving mustaches.

“Miss Hatzie took complete ownership of this task today,” said Mr. Coster. “She researched it for months, communicated with Guinness, and educated everyone here at MJS as to exactly what we had to do to get this done. Other teachers supported her by jumping on board with videos and handouts, too, so that was great to see.”

Mr. Coster also mentioned that the snowflakes, after they are counted, are going to be donated to local day care centers to enrich their winter displays.

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