Conneaut students suffer chemical burns likely from toilet seat cleaner

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ten to 11 students at Conneaut Elementary suffered some type of chemical burns suspected to be caused by a cleaning product used on the school’s toilet seats. An email was sent out to Conneaut parents this morning alerting them to the situation. Principal Jim Lang explained that on Wednesday, four or five students reported to the school office complaining that the back of their legs and/or backsides were itching. The nurse examined the students and could see nothing more than irritation from where they had been scratching. The students were offered hand lotion, since it was thought the irritation was a result of dry skin. Then this morning, the school was notified by two parents who reported their children had experienced what appeared to be chemical burns from exposure to a toilet seat. By the end of school today, Lang said a total of 10 to 11 students were reported to have the red raised welts. Most, if not all, of the affected students were at school today, the principal said. “We immediately began an investigation by contacting the distributor of the cleaning products we use who assured us the product was widely used and safe for the intended purpose of disinfecting hard surfaces including toilet seats. They did suggest this could be a case of cross-contamination of chemicals or cleaning supplies,” Lang wrote to parents in the email. The directions on the cleaning product suggest that it can be sprayed onto hard surfaces and then left to air dry. “We immediately closed the bathrooms involved,” the principal said. The facilities were cleaned again with new materials. “I have instructed our custodial staff to not use it on any surface the students will come in contact with,” Lang said when reached at the end of the school day. “We will continue to investigate this matter and will take all precautions to continue to provide a safe environment for all of our students,” Lang said, urging that any parents with concerns contact him.

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Disabilities melt away for Ice Frogs hockey team

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Off the ice, they are kids with autism, cerebral palsy or attention deficit disorders. But once they leave the bench, their disabilities melt away and they become part of a team. They are the Black Swamp Ice Frogs, an ice hockey team for players with disabilities. The team makes room for people to play the sport regardless of their abilities. “It’s really neat to watch the kids play,” said Heather Sayler, whose son, Ethan, plays with the Ice Frogs. “It’s making them fit in.” “No one is looking at you and judging you,” said Ethan’s father, Todd Sayler. The Ice Frogs’ current players range from age 4 to 35. Some of the common disabilities are autism, Down syndrome, respiratory problems, physical impairments, cerebral palsy, and attention deficit disorders. The Ice Frogs hockey team was formed in 2012, and has about 15 players. All the teams in their league play no-contact hockey. Sue Kepling’s grandson, Dylan, 18, is non verbal and has 13 disorders. But that doesn’t keep him off the ice. “To see him stand on ice skates, with all his disabilities, is amazing,” Kepling said. But ice hockey is expensive. And ice hockey for kids with disabilities can have crippling costs. The parents are not asked to help with expenses, since that would make it impossible for some of the players to participate. “We want the kids there,” Kepling said. Ice time alone at the BGSU Ice Arena costs the team $2,600 a year. The team has never had new equipment. They started out five years ago with hand-me-downs, and continue trying to make do. It became glaringly obvious last year at a tournament game that the Ice Frogs looked like the rag-tag Bad News Bears of hockey. “We’ve been using used hockey equipment since we started,” Heather Sayler said. Shoelaces are missing from the skates. Pads are falling apart. Helmets are far from the latest technology in protection. Then there’s the unpleasant factor of incredibly sticky equipment, with a mouse…

St. Aloysius marks Catholic Schools Week

Submitted by ST. ALOYSIUS CATHOLIC SCHOOL An open house, mayoral address and teacher/student appreciations will highlight a week of activities at St. Aloysius Catholic School in honor of Catholic Schools Week on January 28-February 3. “So many good things happen at our school year round, and Catholic Schools Week is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the great successes of our faculty and students,” said Andrea Puhl, principal. “I particularly encourage the public to visit St. Aloysius during our  pen house and experience the education of which we are so proud.” The open house kicks off the weeklong celebration, which will be held Sunday, Jan. 28 from 11:15 a.m.  to 1:30 p.m., following the 10 a.m. Mass; all are welcome. Building tours will be available, as well as presentations for preschool (11:30 a.m.), junior high (11:30 a.m.) and kindergarten (12:00 p.m.). Other activities throughout the week include:  Monday, Jan. 29 Community service projects by various grades.  Tuesday, Jan. 30 Bowling Green Mayor Richard A. Edwards will present a proclamation to the entire school at 2:45 p.m.  Wed., Jan. 31 Students get to dress up as their future profession. Sweet treats will be distributed to locations around the community who help show students the way to success.  Thursday, Feb. 1 Teacher luncheon in gratitude for their service. All-school liturgy and dress-up day.  Friday, Feb. 3 School spirit day, treat at lunch, plus a Catholic Schools Week gift for all. Academic pep rally, followed by 1BookBG kick-off for preschool-Grade 5. More information on St. Aloysius School is available at

Girl Scouts prepare their pitches for annual cookie sales

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Eighty gung-ho Girl Scouts got a crash course in cookie sales on Saturday in Bowling Green. It’s not like the cookies need much of a sales pitch. Customers already find the young salespeople and their products are irresistible. But the girls got some tips on making a solid spiel for Samoas and peddling the popular Thin Mints. The young salespeople, who gathered at First United Methodist Church, stoked the excitement over Girl Scout cookie sales season with chants and songs. (Yes, there are songs about the cookies.) If that wasn’t enough to inspire their sales, there was a “cookie tasting station.” Led by Jen Codding, the girls pledged to “make the world a better place.” …. And what better way than through cookies. The cookie kickoff was held so the older, more experienced Girl Scouts could coach the younger members on the skills of goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. The young scouts spent time at several stations learning about the products they are selling, how to talk to potential customers, and how to make change once the sale is complete. The scouts in sixth grade and above were sharing their sales experience with those aged 5 to 9. The best part of the training was it focused on the product – Thin Mints, Trefoils, Samoas, Tagalongs, S’mores, Do-si-dos, Savannah Smiles and Toffee-tastics. “We’re here to have fun and celebrate cookies,” scout leader Erica Grossman said. Of course it goes far beyond the sweet treats. Much of the training focused on social skills. “I’m teaching them cookie skills, like how to sell better and how to be safe going door-to-door,” said Nora Brogan, 12, of Bowling Green. “I just like to go door to door,” said Nora, who is in her sixth season of selling Girl Scout cookies. Between selling in her neighborhood and her mom taking the cookie form to work, Nora has sold as many as 650 boxes during a season. She admitted the cookies…

BGSU center has spent decade tracking changes in family life

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The last few decades have not been easy on the Norman Rockwell portrait of the American family’s holiday dinner. Those neatly delineated generations and family relationships are a thing of the past. The grandchildren may be the products of parents who live together without marriage. Or they may be the children of a same-sex couple. The grown son or daughter still lives at home with mom and dad, who may be contemplating divorce. Grandma has brought along her special friend. They are a committed couple, but live apart from each other, and have no intention of altering that arrangement. All this change, say Wendy Manning and Susan Brown, co-directors of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, may cause some observers to despair. Some take a dim view of the decreasing marriage rate and see it as a sign of the decline of the American family, said Brown. But “if you’re open to a diverse range of shapes a family can take, it has never been better because people can form the types of families they want to form. We’re more accepting of a wide range of family relationships, and people have the opportunity to build the kind of families they want to be part of.” “There’s a lot of trends that are ongoing that make this an especially exciting time to be studying the American family,” Manning, a distinguished research professor, said. The two researchers and their faculty colleagues and graduate students have had a front row seat, and even a role, in these changes through their research. Manning did research for the American Psychological Association’s amicus brief for the two Supreme Court cases that established same sex marriage in the United States. Her research found “overwhelming evidence that children fare as well in same sex families as in different sex families.” Manning said: “That research made a difference.” It demonstrated “the appropriate role for us to play in examining the literature.” This fall, the center marked…

BGSU Hosting Around the World Creativity Fair

Submitted by BGSU College of Education and Human Development BGSU’s Creative Learning Environments class will be presenting the Around the World Creativity Fair on Saturday, December 9 at First Presbyterian Church, 126 S. Church Street, from 1:00 – 4:00 pm for children ages 4 to 12. Upon arrival, children will receive a mock passport which they will get stamped at each location they visit. Stations representing sites from around the globe will feature hands-on educational activities based on cultural celebrations and customs, demonstrated and supervised by students from the College of Education and Human Development. Stations include decorating sugar skulls (Mexico); designing paper henna tattoos (India); building cardboard box pyramids (Egypt); stringing beaded necklaces (Nigeria); fashioning felt hats (Germany); making Carnivale masks (Brazil); and decorating (and eating!) traditional star cookies (Italy). Crafts, activities, games and snacks will allow your child’s creativity to flourish while they learn about cultures around the world in a warm, educational environment. Sponsored by HDFS 2300, Family and Consumer Sciences, and the College of Education and Human Development.

The Kids and Families of BSP’s “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”

By Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel HYT Board Member BG Independent News contributor At a Horizon Youth Theatre board meeting over the summer, someone casually mentioned that Black Swamp Players would once again be producing the one act holiday play The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, based on the children’s novel of the same name by Barbara Robinson. There were excited gasps and clapping, and I believe I may have squealed. Full disclosure: yes, I am on the HYT Board. Yes, I am an occasional contributor and ad manager for BG Independent News. And yes, I did get a role in the play, along with the rest of my family. In 2013 and 2014, Guy and Janet Zimmerman directed the play, and the two productions had many repeat actors, though only Bob Walters kept the same role (Charlie) both years. Johanna Slembarski played the narrator and wise young protagonist Beth, and the next year played the antagonist, bossy cigar-smoking Imogene Herdman. Stephanie Truman had the role of adult protagonist Grace Bradley in 2013, and the next year played the antagonist Helen Armstrong. My entire family was in the 2014 production as well. For many of us, Pageant was our kids’ first theatre experience, a sort of “gateway play” to a happy, creative future of being thoroughly immersed in children’s theatre. The Players decided to take a break from Pageant for a few years, so as to not over saturate the Christmas play market which would surely cause attendance to dwindle. But three years have passed, so the time for this spirited family friendly comedy has come around again. This year it is being helmed by Keith Guion, who often directs and leads workshops for Horizon Youth Theatre. Stage Manager is Macey Bradam, Wendy Guion is Queen of Props, and Producer is BSP regular Melissa Kidder. Most of the adult actors happen to be HYT board members as well as parents of children who were cast (the exception being Linda Lee who has the role of Helen Armstrong). New HYT Board President Thomas Edge was given…