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Aloma charter students showcase literacy through songwriting

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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Students at the Aloma D. Johnson Community Charter School in Buffalo celebrated the end to the school year by showing off their creative side.  In this Focus on Education report, WBFO'S Eileen Buckley says students performed songs they wrote after a long school year of learning the tough Common Core Standards.

Some students performed solo, others in duets, trios and groups. Aloma charter, the former Fruit Belt school, relocated to the former Mount St. Joseph's buiding on Jewett Parkway at Main Street in north Buffalo. It now houses Aloma students in grades Kindergarten through 4th.

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Aloma student performs solo.

The program was a chance for students to have some fun and put aside academics. But it did showcase their literacy, and how they could master the art of blending lyrical poetry and rhyming.  Their performances were a crowd pleaser for students, parents, teachers and invited guests enjoyed the show.

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Aloma student waits to perform as audience watches others sing.

Assistant director of the school Heather McClain tells WBFO News it was a tough year for teachers and students as they were challenged with the rigors of Common Core.

"Because some of the materials didn't come out in a real timely manner and so our teachers really put forth a lot of effort to prepare themselves so they could better prepare students," said McClain.

McClain explained that Common Core forces teachers and students to re-learn how to do a math problem. 

"I would say that really trying to get students learn some of the strategies, because if you have a third grader student who's already learned how do some adding and subtracting -- now that student has to learn how to do adding and subtracting using other strategies," said McClain.

Second grader Nahji Borden solo performed his song with other students doing cartwheels as his back up crew on stage. His mother, Angelica Gonzalez of Buffalo, heard about Aloma and decided to try it after her son attending a school in the Cheektowaga School District.

"I wanted my son to have a better education.  A lot of kids right now that are fighting to get that attention -- that one on one -- and I believe he is getting that here," said Gonzalez. "At first hit was really challenging for him, but he's come a long way."

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Aloma students perform their songs.

According to the numbers on Aloma, the student-teacher ratio is 13:1.  About 300-students attend the school, but the state denied a request to expand its grades. Aloma recently received a three year charter renewal from the State Regents. 

While its Math and ELA proficiency rates are above the Buffalo School district -- they still remain lower than the statewide average. Still, they are showing some improvements. 

Assistant director McClain said it's been a struggle, however, they are working to improve academic scores.

"We are a work in progress.  Part of the problem is the test and assessments continue to change.  We've accepted that we have some things to work on," noted McClain.

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