Pirate Parrot highlights day of learning — with a baseball theme
The key member of the Pittsburgh Pirates who made a stop at North Hills Middle School never hit a home run or caught a fly ball, but he still is a special one — the Pirate Parrot.
He came by invitation of Zachary Skrinjar, a seventh-grade social studies teacher, and the timing couldn't have been better for the big bird to rally the young fans as they celebrated the team's first winning season in 21 years. A few days after the Sept. 20 visit, the team clinched a spot in the playoffs.
The playful mascot was the lunchtime highlight of a day devoted to Pirates- and baseball-related lessons in seventh-grade math, science, social studies and language-arts classes — and some tailgating.
“Everyone designed lessons,” Skrinjar, of Pittsburgh's Morningside neighborhood, said of his colleagues. “We're delivering differentiated intercurricular instruction at its best.”
His parents, Dick and Barb Skrinjar, had given their son the parrot visit for his birthday. He waited for just the right moment to schedule an event for the students.
Students in Skrinjar's classes plotted the latitude and longitude of Pirates players' hometowns.
“This was a cool way to learn about latitude and longitude,” said Wyatt Mays, 12, of Ross Township.
As the students worked, Skrinjar passed around an authentic St. Louis Cardinals baseball bat and some game balls he had caught. At the back of his classroom on a high shelf sit all manner of bobble-heads from his collection. At 35, he still can remember holding his World Series tickets as an eighth-grader.
In Nate Wilkinson's English classes, students watched a 20-minute ESPN video on the late Roberto Clemente, who perished in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972, on an earthquake-relief mission to Nicaragua.
Wilkinson, of Ross, touched on words such as “humanitarian” and “trailblazer” to describe the famed Pirates right fielder. “Isolated” and “overshadowed” were two other words that could be applied to his life.
“They recognize his name and know about the Roberto Clemente Bridge and his statue,” the teacher said. “Now, they'll see why he is so important to the city.”
In Clemente's memory, students brought in food to contribute to the district's Backpack Initiative. More than 300 food items were donated to help feed needy students on weekends.
Teacher Meghan Naim's math classes learned about batting averages and tried to calculate how many more seasons Andrew McCutchen would need to catch Pete Rose's record of 4,256 hits.
Classes were a bit more active for Sharon Hamlett's and the other science teachers' students who ran their own outdoor races just like the pierogies — Sauerkraut Saul, Jalapeno Hannah, Cheese Chester and Oliver Onion — do during every home Pirates game. Students raced 280 yards and clocked their time in seconds.
The Pirate Parrot's visit to the Ross school also built team spirit. The entire day was a blend of the social, emotional and academic, a perfect win-win for the students in the middle school, said Principal Beth Williams, of Ben Avon, who giggled at the prospect of being the Pirate Parrot's “wingman.”
“It was better to learn with a theme rather than learning boringly,” said Tony Palma, 12, of Ross Township.
Alyssa Aguglia and Gianna Albanese, both 12 and of Ross Township, said they thought the lessons were really cool. The baseball focus mirrored their own interest in the game.
Along with all the fun, Alyssa always will have a special memory.
“The parrot tried to eat my head,” she said, “but I got a hug.”
Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hampton grad grabs lead in music video
- Charity named for late Hampton boy keeps raising funds to battle cancer