children

Book about tiny mouse is a big deal to BG students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two years ago, the school district’s first “1 Book BG” about Humphrey the hamster caused hamster sales to spike in the Bowling Green area. Parents should be warned that this year’s district-wide reading book is “Ralph S. Mouse.” Bowling Green City Schools has officially started its third annual 1 Book BG program, which engages all 1,700 of its pre-kindergartners through its fifth graders to read the same book. This year, the book is “Ralph S. Mouse.” The unveiling of the 1 Book BG title had students waiting for the big announcement Friday afternoon. The kids filled the gymnasium at Crim Elementary School, as third grade teacher Jonelle Semancik gave them some clues. First, the book heads back to school. Second, the main character is small but mighty. And third, readers should be prepared for an “a-maze-ing” time. Students cheered and gave a drum-roll as Semancik revealed the book they will all be reading – “Ralph S. Mouse” by Beverly Cleary. “I wonder if we can get Ralph to come and say ‘Hi’ to you guys,” Semancik shouted. With that cue, a staff member disguised as a mouse appeared on stage, with a small motorcycle. Those readers familiar with “Ralph” may remember the cute rodent from two earlier stories in Cleary’s “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” series. In this year’s book, Ralph has the ability to speak, but only to certain people – primarily those who are loners. The 1 Book BG program gets everyone in the three public school elementaries, plus Montessori and St. Aloysius, on board reading the same book – whether it’s being read aloud to the younger students, or being read themselves by the older students. The goal is to team up as a community to build a love of reading with the kids. So the program doesn’t stop at the school doors. The entire community is asked to get involved. Again this year, several Bowling Green businesses have…


Classroom is a stage for Conneaut’s Bob Marzola

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The fifth grade classroom at Conneaut Elementary School is Bob Marzola’s stage. “There’s storytelling. There are props. There are costumes. At least when I teach there are,” Marzola said. Marzola, who teaches social studies and English language arts, knew his teaching style was reaching his young audience when a parent came in for a teacher conference. The student had told her mother that Marzola memorizes a new script every day. “‘Mom, I don’t know how Mr. Marzola does it,’” the parent explained her child said after school one day. “‘He puts on a different show every day.’” Ta-da. Lesson learned in a most pleasant way. Marzola was recognized Thursday by the Kiwanis Club as Bowling Green’s elementary inspirational educator. The organization honors outstanding teachers each year. Later this month, inspirational educators from the middle school and high school will be recognized. Marzola is definitely not a traditional type of teacher. His skills are known throughout the district, leading teachers from his own and the other elementaries to recommend him for the award. “He’s creative. We want kids to think outside the box,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “He brings the classroom to life. The kids love him.” And Marzola loves them back. “I’m here receiving this award because of them,” he said. “I have become a better teacher because of my relationship with them. They inspire me. Just as I’m teaching my students, they are teaching me.” Marzola gets to reconnect with a lot of his students when they get into high school, since he choreographs all the district’s musical productions. “Building on the relationships we had when we were in the elementary is amazing,” he said. “They truly are attached to your heart forever.” Marzola credited his parents with being patient with his love of dance as he was growing up. Their support was steadfast even when his first performance consisted of him standing on stage crying. He stuck with…


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…


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 www.stalbg.org.


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…


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…


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…


BG school board to revisit levy options next month

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education is giving itself one month to heal from the school bond issue defeat – then it’s back to the drawing board. At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Francis Scruci said defeat of the 6-mill levy was “disappointing.” But on the morning after the election, the focus had to shift – there were still 3,100 students to educate, he said. Scruci suggested the school board take a break from levy discussions, then reconvene in December to consider the district’s next steps. He also asked that newly elected board member Norm Geer be present during those discussions. Though the loss of the levy by 550 votes was discouraging, Scruci said he was most dismayed by the discourse from the levy opposition. “The most disappointing part was how divisive it became and how personal attacks occurred,” he said. The levy would have paid for the construction of a centralized elementary building north of the middle school, and an addition and renovations to the existing high school building. Scruci has stated that the district will not come back with a watered-down version – since that won’t meet students’ needs. But next month, the discussions will begin of where the district goes from here. “We have a difficult decision going forward,” Scruci said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board hired Cathy Schuller as the new district treasurer. Schuller, who is currently the assistant treasurer at Rossford school district, will be taking the place of Rhonda Melchi, who is retiring after 22 years in the position. The board also voted unanimously to give Scruci merit pay of 2.25 percent for achieving the district’s goals during the 2016-2017 school year. Other business at Tuesday’s board of education meeting included recognition of outstanding efforts, like those of athletes Gracyn Amos, Zachary Applegate, Macy Hanus, Alli Fahy and Nicholas Jackson. Middle school lunch monitor Darlene Hecht was recognized for performing the Heimlich maneuver on a choking…


County voters support child, elder protective services

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Voters responded to the increasing numbers of child abuse and neglect in Wood County by passing the 1.3-mill renewal levy for Human Services on Tuesday. The Wood County Human Services levy passed with nearly 68 percent of the votes (19,126 to 9,151.) That wide margin of approval was welcome news to Sandi Carsey, administrator of Wood County Children’s Services. “I think that people understand that child protection and protection of the elderly is very important,” Carsey said. “Wood County has always been very supportive,” she added. Since the levy was last passed 10 years ago, Wood County has seen six deaths of children under 3 years old due to abuse. Five suffered from head trauma, and one was smothered. There are no plans to use the levy funding to add staff. A pressing need is to provide safe placements for children removed from their homes. “The number of kids in care has gone up drastically,” Carsey said. Wood County is on its way to setting a record for 2017, as the numbers of child abuse and neglect cases continue to grow. Since 1987, the Children’s Services and Adult Protective Services portions of the agency have relied on the 1.3 mills to support their work. The 10-year levy generates $3.7 million a year, and costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $36 a year. The funding provides for child abuse and neglect investigations and, if needed, placement of children in foster homes or other settings. The levy also supports elder services, such as home health aides, homemaker services and investigations of elder abuse and neglect. The needs of the protective services at both ends of the age spectrum continue to increase. Following are the statistics for 2016: 894 child abuse investigations. 260 elder abuse investigations. 212 of the child abuse investigations involved drugs. 142 of the investigations were child sexual abuse investigations. 59 children were placed in substitute care such as foster…


Anti-abortion protesters picket outside BGHS

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As students left Bowling Green High School on Wednesday afternoon, they were met by anti-abortion protesters with graphic photos of aborted fetuses. Principal Jeff Dever said the protesters showed up with no notice to the school district. “I didn’t want those people there, especially with the kids,” Dever said this morning. “Some kids were afraid to go past them.” However, the six protesters stayed on the sidewalk along West Poe Road – “which is a public space,” he said. Bowling Green police responded, and along with Dever, talked with the protesters and advised them to stay off school property and not go past the public sidewalk. Dever said he asked one of the protesters why they would want juveniles to see the graphic images. The protester reportedly told Dever that he first saw such photographs of abortions when he was 6 years old. “Shame on your parents,” the principal said he responded to the protester. The anti-abortion group was reportedly at Bowling Green State University earlier in the day, then moved over to the high school in time for school dismissal. There remained there from about 2:15 to 3 p.m. “The bad thing was it scared the kids. They were spooked about walking through,” Dever said. “It kind of stunk. They shouldn’t do that.” Some other students were angered by the protesters, the principal said. “We had kids who wanted to argue with them.” According to Dever, this is the first time anti-abortion protesters have taken up space in front of the school. He’s hoping it’s the last. “I don’t want schools to become battle grounds for national issues,” he said. “It wasn’t healthy yesterday.” The anti-abortion group outside the school Wednesday is reportedly going across the country, visiting university campuses and public schools. “Unfortunately, we became their target,” Dever said.


Two views on Melrose – Great news for Wood Lane kids; new concerns for neighbors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After decades of providing homes for adults with developmental disabilities, Wood Lane is working on its first home for children. The home, at 1022 Melrose St., Bowling Green, will be home to four children whose families need assistance in caring for them. “It’s new for us, but it’s something that everyone connected with our program knows we need,” said Brent Baer, superintendent of Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “In the last year, not a week has gone by that I haven’t heard that we can’t wait,” to offer homes for children, Baer said. The board’s housing plan originally planned for a children’s home to be opened in 2019-2010. Then the house on Melrose became available. “What a great place to grow up,” Baer said. However, some neighbors on the quiet Melrose Street, that borders Wintergarden Park, are wondering how this new home will affect their neighborhood. Wood Lane had initially planned to use the Melrose home for the Horizons program, as a home for adults with unforeseen homelessness or behavioral difficulties. But the Horizons program home will instead be located near Portage. “The owners live next door and they contacted us because they want us there,” Baer said. That gave Wood Lane an opportunity to open its first children’s home on Melrose Street. “There were cheers and claps from the staff,” when Baer told them a home for children could be opened sooner than expected. “These individuals and their families are in desperate need of this home. Their needs are just too much for one human being to keep up with.” The staffing for the maximum of four children will likely be two workers during waking hours, and one at night. During the school year, the children will attend Wood Lane School or other local schools. Wood Lane Residential Properties has 26 homes in Wood County for people with various levels of developmental disabilities. In addition to the Melrose Street home…


Have to deal with guts to get glory of jack-o-lanterns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Breanna Serrato reached into the pumpkin and pulled out the guts, she got a huge grin on her face. “I love it, actually, getting messy. The squishiness of it,” the 17-year-old from Bowling Green said. Not everyone shared those feelings. At a nearby picnic table, Jessica Nekoranec, of Risingsun, grimaced as she scooped out the juicy innards. She was enjoying the carving, but the “sticking your hand in – not so much,” she said. Nearly 40 people picked out pumpkins Thursday evening for the annual jack-o-lantern making sponsored by the Wood County Park District. The pumpkins were carved at a shelter house on the Wood County Historical Center grounds, where they will be put on display for the annual Folklore and Funfest this weekend. Some came armed with their own carving equipment, accessories and definite ideas for their pumpkin art. Others just let the spirits take them. With spooky music playing in the background, the carvers got to work. “I thought at home what I’m going to do before I got down here,” said Pam Douglas, of Portage. Her plan was to turn the pumpkin into Mickey Mouse, with two Folger coffee can lids acting as the big mouse ears. “He may not end up looking like Mickey Mouse, but that’s my plan,” she said. Mary Grzybowski, of Bowling Green, won last year for carving a cat. She was hoping to repeat that winning design. “I had an idea, but it’s not turning out right,” she said. Grzybowski wore her gardening gloves for the task – more out of habit than due to the gooey guts. “I’m a gardener, nothing bothers me,” she said. Sheila Kratzer, of Bowling Green, had no grand plans for her pumpkin. “Just your basic jack-o-lantern,” she said. But she was hoping for good placement on the historic center grounds for the Folklore and Funfest. “You don’t want to be by the outhouse,” she said with a…


Horizon Youth youngsters tune into absurd comedy with “Magic Harmonica”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The stage manager in Horizon Youth Theatre’s production of “The Magic Harmonica and Other Fanciful Tales” has problems keeping her cast in line. They always want to veer away from the script. Officious, and controlling, the stage manager played Kaitlyn Valantine is not above yanking one narrator for another when they displease her. What she can’t control is the way the playwright Janet Layberry also has a mind of her own. These four one-act plays within a play all employ the tropes of fairy tales, but do so in absurd and comic ways. “The Magic Harmonica” is on stage at the Otsego High auditorium Thursday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5. Visit www.horizonyouththeatre.org/product/harmonica. The play uses the troupe’s younger cohort of actors, ages 6 through 12, but there seem few concessions to age. The humor is at times intentionally juvenile, often involving grade school word play. Nobody delivers those jokes better than an actual grade schooler. Sometimes the humor seems pitched to the parents, as when Michelle (Calista Wilkins) in “The Woobly Fiasco” tells the enchanted prince carrying an outsized sword: “People haven’t used swords for ages, now they have … lawyers.” And then there’s the jester played by Liam Rogel who trades in absurdist non-sequiturs. Each story has lessons here but they spare us the morals and never let messages get in the way of a good time. The first of the four plays, “You Call That a Bedmonster?” is a typical fairy tale set up. Here we have a princess (Addie Smith) upset by a monster, except what troubles her is that this monster, Humphrey (Jonah Truman), has disappeared. She dispatches her guards (Cordelia Webber, Emily Coan, Calista Wilkins, and Paige Suelzer) to find him. They return with all manner of beasts but not Humphrey. Though the animals sometimes stick around to entertain her, Princess Julia will not be pleased until Humphrey is back at…


BG students make the most of manufacturing day

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There were robots scooting across the floor, fresh packaged green beans and a guinea pig named “Lil Poundcake” – all part of National Manufacturing Day. Nine Wood County manufacturers set up shop in the Bowling Green Middle School on Friday to show students that manufacturing could be a great career choice. “We want to get this age to consider a career in manufacturing,” said Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation. “When you start in high school, they already have preconceived notions. So you have to start earlier.” This is the first time the middle school has held a manufacturing day, said Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator. “There is a crisis in manufacturing for skilled workers,” Anderson said. Friday’s event was intended to help students see that “old school traditional factories” are not the same as today’s manufacturing. Clark agreed. “We need young people in the pipeline” for manufacturing jobs, she said. Many students have archaic ideas of manufacturing jobs. “This is so kids see what modern manufacturing looks like,” Anderson said. “It’s changed drastically.” This manufacturers’ fair had students using virtual reality goggles and turning soap different colors. “I think some of them are surprised,” Anderson said of the students. The manufacturers set up in the gymnasium showed how their professions needed science, problem solving and creative thinking. Apio, the fresh produce processor, showed students how to test the bags of fresh green beans for oxygen and carbon dioxide. “Beans breathe just like we do after they are picked,” Ginger Povenmire, of Apio, said as she showed how to measure the gases in the bags of beans. At another table, students were donning virtual reality goggles used by Rudolph Libbe on construction projects to help people visualize the final product. “It’s easier than an end user who can’t read 2-D drawings,” said Trent Mahaney, virtual design and construction manager for the company. Employees from Lubrizol taught some…