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This feature documentary brings you inside the world of "Odyssey of the Mind; a creative thinking competition for students from Kindergarten through College, and locations around the world. Our cameras follow a group of students from Woodrow Wilson Middle School; on their journey from local competitions, through the 2012 World Finals. Please see site shortcuts to view this.
As part of NJEA’s Teach for a Day, Assemblyman Chivukula taught students in Wendy Hurwitz’s seventh grade Social Studies about state government. Chivukula represents the 17th District, which includes part of Middlesex and Somerset counties. He has been in the state legislature since 2002 and was the first Indian-American elected to state office in NJ. After a successful career in electrical engineering for three decades, he felt it was important to give back to the community and state where he experienced such success.
Assemblyman Chivukula began by sharing his most recent travels to China with the students. After entertaining them about seeing fried scorpion on a stick in the marketplace, he emphasized the importance of traveling in order to understand other cultures and gain knowledge. He often travels to teach democratic principles, and these travels have taken him to places as far away as Algeria and Azerbaijan.
Since the end of the fiscal year is approaching on June 30th, Assemblyman Chivulu taught about how a budget works. He explained the importance of having enough income and revenue to meet expenses, otherwise the government might be forced to shut down. He also spoke about the various committees on which he serves, from Telecommunications and Utilities to Homeland Security. Students engaged him in a variety of questions about the environment and alternative energy.
When asked what advice he would give to students interested in becoming involved in politics, he replied, “Public Service is very gratifying since you are able to help others. However, you must have a thick skin. People will sometimes say bad things about you, but you need to stick to your ideas and remember that what you are doing will help the public.” Other advice he shared with students included the importance of homework to learn beyond the classroom, as well as using their intellect to create ideas and jobs.
Overall, it was a very informative visit. My students were treated to a unique experience which they will remember for a long time into the future.
Woodrow Wilson Middle School is a remarkable school in which students relish in their academic pursuits while developing a strong sense of social consciousness. Academics are the thread around which all other programs are woven. Our school is recognized as a high performing institution, based on the results of the NJ state assessments.
The student body of over 850 abounds with cultural diversity, and the students embrace the richness of the blending of those cultures. Students live by the Six Pillars of Character Education, raising money for community needs, such as Lainie’s Angels, an organization that supports families of children with cancer. Students from WWMS exhibit responsibility, arriving early and staying late for extra help or co-curricular activities. The school mascot, the Challenger, represents what all WWMS students strive to be; students willing to take on academic and community challenges.