AYER/SHIRLEY -- Lura A. White Elementary School third-grade students taking a weekly enrichment program with retired teacher Meredith Marcinkewicz demonstrated their problem-solving skills and strategies at the latest Ayer-Shirley Regional School Committee meeting.

At Marcinkewicz's instruction, students Leena Basma, Katie Brauckmiller, Joe Korhonen, Amber Maki, Olivia Pampinella, Annabella Pinault, Ella Razzetti and Lilly Robinson broke into pairs and wrote down all of the extracurricular activities available at their school.

An impressive list developed in just three short minutes: Destination Imagination, problem-solving, extended day, school council, before school activities, guitar, plays, musical performances, newspaper club, video club, camera club, Indian Hill music lessons, computer club, Christmas choir, and strategy games.

The student pairs were then charged with citing ways in which two of the activities were both alike and dissimilar.

School Committee Vice Chairman Pat Kelly said that he was impressed with the number and variety of activities at the school, most of which he had been unaware.

Marcinkewicz said that potential problem-solvers in grades K through three who could benefit from an extra challenge are recommended by their teachers. Some of their challenges involve teamwork, such as one would find in any business, charity, classroom, or educational organization, Marcinkewicz explained.

Lura A. White Principal Patricia Fitzgerald credited Marcinkewicz with acquiring the grants for and managing many of the school's enrichment activities.


They include Shirley history lessons, the annual talent show, theatrical performances, choir, and after-school clubs.

"Meredith does a lot behind the scenes," she said.

Fitzgerald also acknowledged the three third-grade teachers who were present, Mrs. Kristen Lynch, Mary Ellen O'Hara, and Cathy Nacke.

Nacke, who is retiring at the end of the school year, has been teaching at the school for 37 years.

Fitzgerald thanked her for all of her sound and logical advice, and the "amazing education" she has given her students over the years.

"It is a huge loss for us that you are retiring," she said.

"I've enjoyed every year of it," Nacke responded.

School Committee Chair Joyce Reischutz said that she was fortunate that she had children who were in both Marcinkewicz's and Nacke's classrooms.