ss davies swat

Student Steven Gaskill, 13, of Mays Landing, worked in May on a video project in the Students Working Advancing Technology (SWAT) Program at the William Davies School in Mays Landing.

This is one in a series in which readers share why their local school is special. Today former students in Kelli Costello’s social studies classes at William Davies Middle School in Mays Landing share what they believe makes their school special. To read all of the responses, click on this article at


“Our school is special because we have an excellent technology program that I am currently part of. S.W.A.T., or “Students Working at Advanced Technology,” is what we call it. We film and advertise school events. It has made me realize that I want to be a computer engineer, and I’m sure it has had the same effect on others. I enjoy staying after (school) and helping others out. It teaches teamwork and helps you understand a variety of programs and experiences you could only have there. It helps me excel in other subjects, too. The world is supported by technology, and I believe that learning to use technology will help you have a successful life in the future. That is why I believe my school is special. I hope that others can relate, too.”

Latest Video

Steven Gaskill

The Sock Hop Dance

“The William Davies Middle School does many cool and fun things (dances, assemblies, etc.), but the one thing that stands out is the Sock Hop Dance. I have been to the school two years now, and the Sock Hop Dance is like a tradition. All students stay in school until a certain time and dress up in their own costumes from the 1950s to 1970s and dance to the popular, old music. The chicken dance, the twist and all of those dances are taught at the Sock Hop Dance. Teens today don’t know those dances, so it’s fun to learn.”

Kaylee Johnson

After-school sports

“William Davies Middle School is special because there are a lot of sports, such as soccer, track and field, cross country, basketball and more. I think that it is important and fun to have sports at a school, because you can get your energy out and also have fun with your friends or teammates. Sports are special to me because when I play sports, I get aggressive; and it’s better to get aggressive after school at sports rather than getting in a fight at school. When I fall or mess up, my team picks me right back up.”

Gabrielle Ade

The band

“There are many things that make my school special. One thing that I think makes it special is that it has a band program. Not all schools have band, but, luckily, mine does. In our school, we do not only have one band. We have a jazz band, concert band and a premiere band. We also have all different kinds of ensembles. Also at the William Davies Middle School, we have something once every year called Performing Arts Night. This is when it’s your turn to shine by picking a solo of your choice to perform on stage. This to me makes my school special.”

Julianna Marie Johnson

The ESL teachers

“There are hundreds of things that make this school special, but the one thing that is specifically special to me are Mrs. (Tammy) Mulino and Mrs. (Virginia) Dzialo, my ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers. They help me with my English. And thanks to them, I can write this essay to you. My ESL teachers helped me communicate with people in the United States when I did not know English. And now I know two languages, and that could help me find a career path and help me help other people that don’t know English. One day when I grow up, I want to be like them.”

Kaiomi Rivera Garcia

Birthday Brigade

“The William Davies Middle School is an amazing school. Our school is very different from other schools. For example, our school does Birthday Brigade. The teachers sign up. Then students that are in band and choir get to dress up in sparkly black top hats and blue vests. They then go to the teacher and sing “Happy Birthday.” After the song, the teacher receives a goody bag filled with treats. Birthday Brigade is something both the teachers and the students involved enjoy. Not only does it set us apart from other schools, but it is really fun to be in.”

Arianna Roman

The talent show

“The one extravagant thing that makes William Davies Middle School special and stand out among all the rest is our annual talent show, Davies Got Talent. Each year, we are honored to provide and analyze the talent in our school that makes us unique. Some may dance, some may sing, some may just make the audience laugh, but this is how we show ourselves to let people know that our school is the perfect educational experience in which we still have that privilege to be ourselves and enjoy the fun and activities.”

Sam Corso


“The reason why I think the school is special is because we have netbooks (laptops) to use in class. I like the netbooks because we can type all of our projects and essays on the laptop and the spelling will be right. Also we can research our information on the Internet and not just the old-fashioned textbook even if they are new books. Last is that we get to have them all day, one for every student. This is why I think my school is special.”

Christian D Almodovar

The Davies Dragon

“The person that makes our school stand out is the mascot, the Davies Dragon, because he represents our school’s pride. Our school has assemblies and fun events. He represents what the school is, fun and awesome. The reason I want to go to school every day is him. I just think he is so cool.”

Tony Totoro

The dodgeball tournament

“Davies Middle School is the most extraordinary school ever! Yes, lots of students might say the same for their middle school, but I’m positive none of them has an annual dodgeball tournament featuring teachers from around the school district, teacher-against-student basketball games, amazing sports teams and great teachers. The dodgeball tournament brings many audience members, even citizens from Philadelphia, to come and participate in the fun event. Competition is tough in Davies, but it doesn’t interfere with our learning environment.”

Ndinelago Coleman

Netbooks and respect

“You know what makes my school special? The fact that they gave us netbooks to do our school work on, and the teachers are so nice and very fair. They don’t give us too much homework, and they give us a really good amount of respect. Some of the teachers are even funny, and they are usually the favorite teachers. And the school lunches … mmmm … they are just so delicious. Whenever you don’t want to get hot lunch, you can get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or you can have a salad. The salad changes every day.”

Apryl Marie Rodriguez

Work and fun

“The main thing I like about my school is that we work and have fun at the same time. My two favorite subjects are gym and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). One reason I like gym is because we play and learn how to use new equipment and new games. One reason I like STEM is because I like to get messy and build or be creative. I also like math. I like math because my teachers are cool; and when we learn, we also do fun things. Social studies is another good subject I like because it’s fun to learn about the world and different cultures.”

Aliyah DeShields

A nice garden

“The William Davies Middle School is special to me because it has a nice garden and a cool pond in the front that you can look at when coming into the school. Also the cool netbooks they hand out for a year, kind teachers, up-to-date books, two big gymnasiums and the events like ladies’ tea and the boys’ barbecue. We also have a backup generator; so in case the power goes out, we would be able to continue to see and work.”

Westley Ney

Walk for Water

“My school is special because we help fight the water crisis. Our school every year hosts a Walk for Water to help people in Third World countries. Also for our school, we become more aware of global water issues. Our school is special because we fight for a cause. Last year, William Davies Middle School raised enough money to put a freshwater well in a Third World country called Ghana. This helped lessen the water crisis in that country.”

Kayla Larson

Smiles and safety

“My school is very special because the teachers are very welcoming and always have a smile even through the worst times. When you walk through this door, it’s just a safe place. I love all the kids because all the kids are nice. I moved here in fourth grade and was welcomed ever since.”

Madison Puccio

It’s like home

“My school is the best because on a bad day they cheer me up and always make me feel at home, and they always take care of me like they’re my parents. When I have lunch here, I am always impressed with the food. It’s not Ruth’s Chris or anything, but it makes you feel like at home. I really like the part of the day when I come in to my class (each one) and I see my awesome teachers. This is the best place besides home.”

Daniel Kimmelman

Everyone matters

“My school, William Davies Middle School, is special because the staff treats you like you matter, and that feeling can’t be taken away. When you walk through that door, if you’re a new student, or a teacher, or a sub, you’re automatically a part of the William Davies family no matter who you are. School is a happy and safe place; and when you walk into William Davies Middle School, you feel that in your heart.”

Cheyanne Bockus

More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.

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