Students of the Monument Elementary school in Bennington get a well-deserved treat for passing their NECAPS. The school scored above the state level for
Students of the Monument Elementary school in Bennington get a well-deserved treat for passing their NECAPS. The school scored above the state level for English, math and writing, and to celebrate their success, the students were rewarded with ice skating at Riley rink in Manchester. Seen above, 4th grade student Addie Lentzner. (Holly Pelczynski)

MANCHESTER - One hundred thirty-four Monument Elementary students took to the ice on Thursday to celebrate their achievement in the NECAP test.

The Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, of which Monument's Bennington School District is a part, praised Monument when the results of the fall testing were announced, saying, "Monument Elementary School is an example of implementing a focused, multi-tiered system of support that has led to tremendous improvement in student outcomes. By focusing on student needs data, staff members organize their instructional material to fit each student's needs. Their 2013 NECAP results reflect this by exceeding state averages, and moving 96% of their grade 5 readers into proficient or above status." At Monument, students in grades 3-5 were tested on reading and mathematics, while students in grade 5 were tested in writing.

To celebrate these excellent results, staff organized a fun day of skating at Riley Rink at Hunter Park in Manchester for the whole school. "This isn't just about the third, fourth, and fifth graders, this is a whole school celebration," said principal Donna Cauley.

Monument Elementary is a public K-5 school, located at 66 Main St. in Bennington, that serves 137 students. Almost the entire student population was able to make the trip, as well as teachers, staff, and several parents.

The students lined up excitedly in their skates to get onto the ice. As soon as the gates opened, one student dashed forward, looking more like a National Hockey League player coming out of the penalty box than an elementary school student. Most of the others who followed were not as confident, but by the end of the approximately 90-minute skating session, almost everyone appeared to be having a good time. It took almost 15 minutes just to get all of the kids onto the ice.

While there was a large variance in the skating skills of the students, there was plenty of fun to go around.

"I hate this!" cried one girl, clinging to the wall for dear life, with a huge smile on her face.

Another pair of students, who appeared to be sisters, were skating together until the older one fell down. The elder then clambered back to her feet, grabbing hold of the younger, who rolled her eyes theatrically.

Nurse Jacqueline Restino was on hand to deal with any minor scrapes and bruises. One student, coming off the ice with a minor injury, began to cry when Cauley suggested he go see Nurse Restino. When she questioned why he was crying, he told her that he didn't want to be sent back to school.

"It's good seeing them fall down and get back up again," said physical education teacher Judith Stone, who was serving hot chocolate to students who were finishing up their skating, "Even the first-time skaters are doing pretty well out there."

Stone, when asked if days like this are more stressful, as educators, than average school days, she laughed and noted that she was no stranger to kids running around. "No," she said, "this is good."

The Riley Rink at Hunter Park is, "a non-profit organization with a goal of providing the community with healthy active Adult and Youth programs at a facility where all are welcome," according to its website. Riley Rink is the area's only Olympic-sized rink, and accommodates public and private skating times. For the staff, their day was only beginning as the students began to file out, as another large group had booked the ice later that afternoon.

This is the second full-school field trip the Monument students have taken this school year. They visited a pumpkin patch in the fall.

As students were coming off the ice, Jared Stemp, who was on hand to photograph the students, said "It's tough keeping up with them on a day-to-day basis. I think the ice slows them down!"

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB