A Christmas Song

From the classroom of Alicia Overmiller, Grade 5, Leader Heights Elementary.

By Alexis Belker
Christmas time is the best time of joy
And the best time for gifts and toys
You like to drink Cocoa and eat cookies here
I like to hear the boys and girls cheer
Everyone kisses each other on Christmas Day
Now you all go and open your gifts and play
Now we’ve got to call Grandma and go over there
When you go over there, please kids, share!

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Adaptations: Critters

After teaching adaptations in science, Alicia Overmiller asked her fifth-grade students at Leaders Heights Elementary to write critter stories based on what they learned.

Will Wyatt
The Hydra-angea
The Hydra-angea, the only plant that moves on legs, the only plant that has teeth! These amazing plants can live only in clans. If they did not, they would eventually die out. Let us follow these amazing creatures, by watching the clan down by the river.
These plants need to find some energy, so they embark on a quest into the forest. They all pull out their roots and use these roots as legs. Soon, they find some predators. Since these legs are super strong, they can attack their predators with these legs. When one loses a leg in battle, it can quickly grow a new one.
When legs are not enough, the Hydra-angea can use their super strong tails to crush the enemy. Just like a lizard, when they lose their tail, the can grow a new one. Some Hydra-angeas need to hide their tails, so they can change the size of their tails, making it bigger or smaller.
Then, a large predator comes and attacks one, but the Hydra-angea suddenly grows teeth! These creatures can hide their teeth for a surprise attack, or for moments like this. The Hydra-angeas attack by injecting venom into the creature. The Hydra-angeas have earned the long awaited energy. They use their sharp grinding teeth to swallow down their meal. Now, they shall head for their habitat, sharing their meal with the children.
On the way back, another creature comes and surprises them, and a strange gas comes from their ears. This toxic gas is used when the Hydra-angeas are frightened, and can kill a creature instantly. The more heads and Hydra-angeas, the more powerful the gas will be. The Hydra-angeas have earned some dessert.
The clan arrives at their habitat, which is usually a river bank. These river banks must usually be warm, so they do not die from the cold conditions. This is also why they must migrate south for winter. The Hydra-angea children greet the clan, and get the energy from the predators meat. These creatures can also get energy from other plants. This energy is important, because it uses it to move around. Soon, in mating season, they will try to find a mate instead of food. After mating season, they will reproduce by using seeds that will grow in six to eight weeks. The children will then grow up to two feet when they are an adult. Then, the circle of life will continue.
Time for a swim. The Hydra-angeas tail can be used as a paddle to swim in the river. Soon, our clan finds some fish. They can use their tails to knock down the fish, and they can take them home, for more energy, because swimming takes a lot of energy!
Soon, winter comes along, and our clan shall migrate south for the winter. They will never return to the old habitat, because they find a new habitat during migration. This will allow a new clan to find a specially prepared habitat.
So, as our Hydra-angea clan heads south for the winter, a new clan shall find the old shelter, and continue the Hydra-angea life. — The End

Alexis Belker
My made up critter
What this paragraph will talk about is the name. First thing I would like to tell you what my critters name is. The name is the … flower, leaves, eyes, stem, waste tube, wings, and mouth.
The two main things so it will stay alive! One main thing is the eyes. One way it will help it stay alive is … They help it see around so they don’t run in to things around them. One other thing about the eyes is so they can find food. The next main thing is the waste tube. One example for the waste tube is to store food. Another thing is it helps clean the waste out or the mom will die.
The next paragraph I would like to talk about two other adaptations. They are the wings and the wings. First I will like to talk about the wings. One thing about the wings is they help it find food if they did not have this they would die. Another thing they need this for is so they can fly. If they did not have these they would get catched.
The next thing is the habitat and life processes. The first thing I will cover is the 4 life processes. One life process is the reproducing stage. My animal spreads seeds around to do this stage. Another life process is to get rid of the waste. My animal passes this process by after crunching up their food. Also another one is getting energy. How his passes this is by from eating the food. Last one in the process is growing. It passes it by getting smaller then getting bigger. Now in this paragraph I still would like to tell you where it lives. It lives in the sky, in York, PA. AND WHEN THEY GO UP IT GETS COLDER AND LOWER DOWN GETS NICE AND WARM.
Last! Last! Last! Now you about my animal. Also about four adaptations, life processes, and the habitat.

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Free-time Stories

These free-time stories were written by fifth-grade students in Alicia Overmiller’s class at Leader Heights Elementary.

Denver Clapsadle
There I was in Zimbabwe

There I was in Zimbabwe, Africa, about to meat my demise. It was dawn I was trapped in a corner with ninjas.

Wait hold up I got too far in to the story, let me explain how I got here. I was in my house in Denver, Colorado. See I am a secret agent for the F.B.I. I have been to every where from China to Antarctica. I had just got a call, HQ, “We need you in New Zealand right away HQ out.”

Two hours later I was in Wellington, New Zealand. It looked like a tornado just hit here I wondered why I was sent here. I called HQ. They said there was a massacre, everyone was dead. They said it was up to me to figure out what happened here.

What the … wwwwwwww. What happened? Where am I? And who are these people!?!?!? They tell me there survivors of the massacre and I am not going to ask what they hit me with. I called HQ. They were not there, figures. I check my watch, it is 23:55 or 11:55 PM. HQ calls, we have an emergency! HQ out. It looks like I am heading in to Zimbabwe, Africa.

And there I was in Zimbabwe, Africa about to meat my demise. It was dawn I was trapped in a corner with ninjas.

And there he was, Massacre Jack, the deadliest outlaw there is. He did his evil laugh, “ha ha ha.” It looked like the end for me but at that second my partner Joe broke in and freed me. “Now lets kick some butt.” After that I kind of blacked out. But what I knew was that Massacre Jack was in jail and the job was done.

Will Wyatt
Riddle School

It was a normal day at school. Bill and I were talking on the bus when we saw policemen setting up roadblocks.

“What is up?” questioned the bus driver.

“Soldiers are attacking here. You will need to find an alternate route,” said the policeman. We took a shortcut to school. A poster hung on the door, with other posters:


We have lost are money and are closing down!


If you find a copy of “The Westing Game,” contact James Delp.

Do not miss the play “Sherlock Holmes,” Thursday at 8:00.

As we walked in, we saw Zach tied up! Bill darted and untied him.

“What happened?” I asked.

“The soldiers … they are … holding kids … for ransom … money …” Zach said, between breaths of air.

CLANG! A vent fell, and a soldier popped out.

“Hi!” he exclaimed. “I am Soldier Ben,” he explained. He was talking speedy, which I thought was suspicious.

“Do you know anything about the missing money?” I questioned.

He paused. “Better get going!” he shouted, and he dashed off.

Bill shouted, interrupting my thoughts.

“Ned! A little boost?” he bellowed. He was trying to get in the vents.

I let out a sigh. “OK, OK, I will give you a boost,” I uttered.

Once we were in the vents, we found bullets, gunpowder, and a note:

Here is a riddle for you:

When is a safe not a safe?

When I am in town!

No safe is safe, including yours!


The signature was ripped off. I felt what kind of paper it was. It was cardstock, a thick paper. I slowly peeled off a layer of the paper. I could tell there was something else, but I could not tell what it was. It was too dark.

“OK, Bill, lets go,” I said. As we left, I noticed the bullets were gone!

I jumped down, and noticed that Zach was gone! I went to the room of Mr. Kinneman, where I saw Zach taking a laptop from the laptop cart. Soldier Ben walked in.

“Hi! I need your help,” he said, but I quickly replied “NO!”

I saw what was in the paper. It was a map, leading to the money, signed “Soldier Ben.” I looked up. Ben was in the halls, dashing away.

“Hey!” I shouted, and I followed. (Start humming a chase tune.) He ran to the storage room, where the money was. I took it from under a copier, and tackled Ben. (Stop humming.)

A couple minutes later, the police arrived, arrested Ben, and everything was back normal.


A week later, a new poster was on the door:

As the last day of school draws by, a party will be held for our hero, Ned.

I walked in, and found Connor tied up!

The End

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Just One Thing

From Alicia Overmiller’s classroom, Grade 5, Leader Heights Elementary.

By Antonia Cappas
Just one thing!!!!

This is a world filled with people. Some of these people care for the earth. Others think it’s too much to do. But if everyone in this world cared just a little, this world could be the best place it could ever be! If you do just one or more things to help the earth every day, you would be making a huge difference in the world. These are some things you could do every day to help the earth:

If you turn your bedroom lights off every time you leave your room, even if you’re just going to the bathroom or to get a sip of water, you should still turn your lights off.

Another way to help the earth is to fill your glass of water with about how much you’re going to drink, and if you need more, fill it up again. Also you could buy a water bottle and use that through the year.

Some other ways are to not bring a water bottle to school and use the fountains. Also you could plant as many trees as you want to. You could know you should always recycle.

See, if you just do one of those things or more you could be making a big difference in the world!

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Special Objects

From Alicia Overmiller’s classroom, Grade 5, Leader Heights Elementary.

Sydnee Shrader
You may think that this is just an ordinary trophy; you just might want to think again.
If you would look at my trophy you would notice some unique features it has. It is hard. When you run your fingers over my trophy, you can tell it’s very fragile. You can see it’s metal and small in size. Also you can feel the ripples in the texture, with the color of gold and silver and a solid object. Now that you know how I describe my object read on to find out my story behind it.
My story behind my object is very special to me because I was only 6 years old. I was going into my last soccer game of the season. I was scared at first but I knew I would get a trophy after it so I was definitely going for it. Knowing that, I had almost split my knee open 2 weeks ago. It was the first quarter I was running … Limping, I started to feel my knee hurt. I really didn’t know what had just happened. Wait, I said, “What did just happen?”
“It looks like a pretty bad cut,” said my coach. I had fallen on a rock and had to get stitches. “Sorry sweetie, you have to get them.”
My importance of this item is very keepsake, to me forever. And forever it will be my favorite trophy.
So now do you think this trophy is ordinary?

Meghan Howie
You may think that this stuffed dog is ordinary. But to me it is much more.
It is about 6 inches tall, tan, yellow, and very soft. I got it from my great grandpa’s apartment.
It was after the Memorial service and we were going through his old apartment. We were at my great-grandpa’s house (it was messy). Eventually when we got almost done we had to take out the trash and Anna, Siena, my dad, and my grandpa went to the dumpster to take the trash to the dumpster. I stayed behind. When they left we went on and cleaned more of his apartment and I saw this dog. I thought it was cute but I didn’t want to be rude, after all it was my grandma’s dad’s dog. So I held onto it. And she asked, “Would you like to have it?” Then I looked at my mom, she nodded and said, “Only if you share it with your sisters.” (On the ride home was the only time they wanted to play with it.) After that I said “Yesss!”
This stuffed dog is important to me because I love dogs. But most importantly my great-grandpa is dead. I always think of him when I look at him (Roo).
Now you know why this stuffed dog is so important to my family and I.

Zach Bixler
Yeah I know it’s a shirt and a collectible, but its more then that. Read on to find out how this super ordinary object is not so ordinary.
The shirt’s not heavy, but the knight is heavy. Both of the objects are really smooth unlike other things.
So here’s the story behind them. I baby sat lizards while the owners went to Spain. And when they came back they go me a knight and a soccer jersey for babysitting their lizards. The objects are so rare.
If it’s still too ordinary for you, here’s more about the object and what makes it so special. My favorite sport is soccer, so having the jersey is exciting. Then they pulled out a knight, they said that was rare too. I also loved knights as much as soccer, that was a really awesome day for me.
So now you think they’re not so ordinary … Do you?

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Ancient Americans

From Alicia Overmiller’s classroom, Grade 5, Leader Heights Elementary.

Antonia Cappas
Hello! My name is Antonia Cappas. I am a member of the ancient Adena peoples. We were one of the first American Indian cultures in the present day United States. I am sharing with you one of our ancient burial sites, the microphone mound. I have created the microphone mound because I like to sing.
If this were my burial site, I would include the following items representing my life and who I was.
I would have included a picture of my family because I love them and they would always help me in tough times, my dogs collars because Lucky would always make me laugh, and I would include a picture of my mom and dad, just my mom and dad, because they mean a lot to me. Those are the items I would include in my mound.

Denver Clapsaddle
Hello! My name is Denver Clapsaddle. I’m a member of the ancient Adena People peoples. We were one of the first cultures in the present day United States. I’m sharing with you one of our ancient burial sites, the football stand mound. I have created the football stand in honor of my love for football. If this were my burial site I would include a picture of my family because I love them. A football – that’s what’s part of the mound I want to be buried in. And last my hamster Butter Nutter because I love him.

Ali Shick
Hello! Welcome to our tribe of the ancient Adena people. We are one of the first American Indian cultures of the present day United States. I am showing you one of the ancient burial sites, the sweet tooth mound. You are in the presence of the person who has made this mound … me! I have created this mound in honor of my huge love for sugar and sweets.
If this was my burial site, it would definitely include a picture of my Mom, Dad, and, brother and all the rest of my family, because without them my life would be horrid. I would include a bag of candy because as you know I love sweets. I would also include a CD filled with a bunch of show tunes because that is my favorite genre of music. I’d also want a Christmas tree because Christmas always makes me happy. Also a cruising ticket, because I loved my cruise that I once took. Lastly I would want a soccer ball expressing that I love soccer. These are the Items I would include in my ancient burial site, the sweet tooth mound.

Sydnee Shrader
Hi my name is Sydnee Shrader. I am a member of the Adena peoples. We were one of the first American Indian cultures in the United States. I am sharing with you one of our ancient burial sites, Red Sox mound. I have created the Red Sox mound in honor my love for the Red Sox.
If this were my ancient burial site, I would include the following items representing my life. I would include a hat that says B for Boston, because I love the Red Sox. I would also include a picture of Mr. Zack (camp counselor) and Izzy because they both were at my camp. Another item I would include is a stuffed animal Tiger because they are my favorite animal. The last item I would include is a soccer ball because I love soccer.

James Delp
Greetings young Adena mound members. My name is Hawk Feather but you call me James Delp. I am a new member of the Adena mound tribe. I used to be a part of the Iroquoious tribe.
My mound is an Ipod mound. If I was to put some objects in my mound I would put an iPod because I love iPods’ and music. I would also put a snail in because snail’s are my favorite animals. My last item is pizza because pizza is my favorite food. Those are a few items that I would put in my ancient burial mound.

Meghan Howie
Hello! My name is Meghan Howie. I am a member of the ancient Adena peoples. We were one of the first American Indian cultures in the present day U.S. I am sharing with you what my ancient burial site will look like, the Howie Dog Bone Mound. The Howie Dog Bone Mound Will be created for me.
If this were my ancient burial site, I would include the following items representing my life. I would include a picture of my family because I care about them. I would also include a Hopi pot because I lived in Hopi at one time.
I would include a collar of Simba’s because I loved him very much, my MP-3 player because I love music, and a book because I love to read.

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Stories of Ordinary Objects

From Alicia Overmiller’s classroom, Grade 5, Leader Heights Elementary.

Kacey Oberlander
Two Owls
Don’t fly away yet! Read this piece to find out the story behind my owl.
My owl is brown and white, he has a significant graduation hat on. He’s about the size of your hand. He’s a stuffed animal and he’s very soft and his name is Wise. I got him from preschool.
Behind my owl is a very important story. Here’s how it goes. Well, my brother was getting ready to leave for college. I felt sad that he was going but yet happy he was going. I had two identical owls. I walked downstairs and gave him one owl and said, “You keep this one and I’ll keep this one.”
Some important memories we shared were the places we went together, which were really fun. One time we went down in the woods, that were really fun. We also played Webkinz together and we spent a lot of time together playing soccer. He taught me a lot of soccer moves. The owl reminds me of these memories.
Now you know the story behind my owl. “That’s how I remember my brother and I’m hoping to get one for my sister Morgan.”

Will Wyatt
My Important Object
Books are important in our life. This is the story of a book that’s really important to me.
My Weird Pennsylvania book is medium sized and square. It’s mostly black. Now you know it’s description. Here’s it’s story.
When my mom’s friend loaned me the book, I loved it. I kept it for three months and gave it back. Whenever we went to Borders, my mom said it was too expensive.
Then, when my mom went to ALA, she met the author, who was giving away his books for free! He signed the books and mom brang it home.
It’s important to me because it’s one of my favorites and it also has the author’s signature. I also learned a lot of stuff from reading it, such as what exhibits are at the Elephant Museum.
Books are important in our life. This book is more important to me than most.

Jordan Sterner
The Trip to the Markets
You may think this is an ordinary lion but I have a different side of this story.
My family and I were at Sendafa, Ethiopia, for 10 days. One of the days we went to the markets. At one of the stores I saw a lion, we (my family) asked what the price was and then we move on to the next store. On our way there were beggars, begging for money. We did not bother to give any money.
When we were done shopping I begged to go back to the store that had the hand-carved lion. Finally they said yes. So when we got to the store they had two left, one was cracked and one was perfect.
Now you know how this lion is so special to me and ordinary to you.

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Autobiography Poems

From Alicia Overmiller’s classroom, Grade 5, Leader Heights Elementary.

The writer
Daughter of Tiffany and Dave Kramer and sister of Nicholas.
Who likes to play soccer, and shop.
Brings to the world her happiness.
Lover of dogs.
Who fears spiders.
Who Knows a whole lot about science
And desperately wants to live on the beach.
Wouldn’t be caught dead eating a banana.
In the dark of night fantasizes the beach.
And needs chocolate.
Whose epitaph would read lol.

The writer
Daughter of Jason Belker and sister of Aidan and Taylor
Who likes to ride dirt bike, play video games, and read
Brings to the world her happiness
Lover of kittens
Who fears dark, and snakes
Who knows a whole lot about math
And desperately wants to have fun
Wouldn’t be caught dead playing with snakes
In the dark of night fantasizes falling asleep
And needs to be friendly and helping.
Whose epitaph would read riding dirt bike
Last name Belker

The Writer
Daughter of Donna and Robert sister of Adam
Who likes to bake, play soccer, laugh, read, and write
Brings to the world her wacky and fun point of view
Lover of soccer and friends
Who fears deep oceans
Who knows a whole lot about cooking
And desperately wants to fly
Wouldn’t be caught dead deep sea scuba diving
In the dark of the night fantasizes me In Paris with my family
And needs sugar
Whose epitaph would read lived life to the fullest

The writer
Son of James and Melody brother of Aaron
Who likes to sing, play trumpet, read, surf, hike, camp, fish, and shoot arrows
Brings to the world his love of animals
Lover of the New York Yankees
Who fears spiders
Who knows a whole lot about Native Americans
And desperately wants to live in Alaska someday
Wouldn’t be caught dead holding a tarantula
In the dark of night fanaticizes being a hero
And needs good books
Whose epitaph would be “I’d rather be camping”

The writer
Daughter of Kathy and Dan Gemperline
Who likes to Read, Write, play, and have fun
Brings the world her personality
Lover of animals, reading, writing, webkinz, bicycling, violin, stuffed animals, art, and singing
Who fears spiders, bugs, sharks, and snakes
Who knows a whole lot about Humpback Whales
And desperately wants to be a vet when she grows up
Wouldn’t be caught dead going on a shark watch
In the dark of night fantasizes she con do magic
And needs love, care, happiness family, and friends
Whose epitaph would read “I Love Animals”

The writer
Son of Jessie Miller and Daniel Clapsadle and brother of Madison and Dillon
Who likes to play football and baseball
Bring to the world his love of comedy
Lover of football
Who fears flying
Who knows a lot about football
And desperately wants to play Pro football
Wouldn’t be caught dead flying
In the dark of night fantasizes the future
And needs video games
Whose epitaph would read football star

The writer
Daughter of Francesca and Kirk Nelson, sister of Luke
Who likes to play soccer, basketball, cook, shop, and design clothes
Brings to the world her love of sports
Who knows a lot about her friends
And desperately wants to be a surgeon
Wouldn’t be caught dead falling of a sky scraper
In the dark of night fantasizes she has her own country
And needs her clothes
Whose epitaph would read “Burry Me In Chocolate”

The Writer
Son of Kevin and Dawn Sterner and Brother of Megan
Who likes to play Ping-pong and Baseball
Brings to the world his passion of playing Ping-pong and Baseball
Lover of Science
Who fears dying alone
Who knows a whole lot about Math
And desperately wants to be a Ping-pong champ
Wouldn’t be caught dead Swimming at the Sea floor
In the dark of night fantasizes that he have his own Pirate Ship
And needs to have food every day
Whose epitaph would read “The Good Dog”

The writer
Daughter of Michael and Heather Barley sister of Alex and Nick
Who likes to read, cook, and play sports, sing and dance.
Brings to the world her love of reading
Lover of animals and reading
Who fears bugs
Who knows a whole lot about soccer
Wouldn’t be caught dead jumping of a clift
In the dark of the night fantasizes
And needs to feel awesome
Whose epitaph would read “lover of reading and life”

The Writer
Son of Keith and Jo-ann Trepanier Brother of Jonah, Sean, Elijah, Zach
Who likes to run, play soccer, and swim
Bring to the world his fun
Lover of monkeys
Who fears my brothers
Who knows a whole lot about monkeys
And desperately wants to own a monkey
Wouldn’t be caught dead torturing monkey
In the dark of night fantasizes counting sheep
And needs a monkey
Whose epitaph would read monkey boy

The Writer
Daughter of Matt and Betsy Howie sister of Anna and Siena
Who likes to play with puppies, swing on swings, run and jump
Brings to the world her love for animals
Lover of animals and being around people
Who fears germs
Who knows a whole lot about design
And desperately wants to go to Disney
Wouldn’t be caught dead swimming with sharks
In the dark fantasizes Heaven
And needs good friends and family
Whose epitaph would read long live the animals

The writer
Daughter of Doug and Elizabeth Arbittier and sister of Bonnie, Jacob and Jonathan
Who likes to clean toilets, read, collect snow globes and stuffed animals, play in snow, swim, and shop
Brings to the world her weirdness
Lover of animals
Who fears jellyfish
Who knows a whole lot about how to spell words
And desperately wants to get a cat
Wouldn’t be caught dead bungee jumping
In the dark of night fantasizes random things
And needs family
Whose epitaph would read weirder than weird

The Writer
Daughter of Lisa and Chris Roupas. And sister of, Kaylee, Julia, Tamileia, Charles, and Jonathan.
And I like to, skate board, cheer, do gymnastics and hang out with friends!
I bring to the world, kindness and a sense of humor!
I am the lover of the ocean and sea animals!
And I fear of poison.
And who knows a lot about, sea animals, the ocean, cheering and doing gymnastics!
And I desperately wants to be a marine biologist!
And would not be caught dead, lying, smoking and doing pot.
And in the dark fantasizes, noises, bad memories and quiet.
And NEEDS! My sister back from Romania.
Whose epitaph would read, Here Lies Sarah Roupas. R.I.P
Last name, Roupas.

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