More grandparents take over raising their grandchildren

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Parenting children the first time around is hard enough. Doing it again as a grandparent is even more daunting and exhausting. But more grandparents are finding themselves in the role of parent with their grandchildren. So on Wednesday, Bowling Green City Schools hosted a Grandparent Resource Night at Kenwood Elementary. “We have a lot of grandparents out there in the district raising their grandchildren,” said teacher Jonelle Semancik. “They don’t know where to turn for help.” Kenwood Principal Kathleen Daney said she previously worked in Lucas County, where a Kinship Caregiver program exists to help grandparents who find themselves as parents again. “There’s nothing here to support the grandparents,” Daney said. “And every year there are more and more.” So Daney asked Judy Paschalis, who previously coordinated the Kinship program in Lucas County, to share her expertise in Bowling Green. “It’s desperately needed everywhere,” Paschalis said of support for grandparents. “It’s one of the most complex family situations.” Paschalis said in 2010, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of children were being raised by their grandparents. That number has continued to increase, she said, with drugs and alcohol being the cause 99 percent of the time. “I can say I know what you’re going through – because I really do know what you are going through,” Paschalis told the audience of grandparents. She and her husband have been raising their 9-year-old granddaughter since she was 4. The job is tough for so many reasons, one being emotional. “It’s no fun having a grandchild cry because she wants her mommy,” Paschalis said. “She’s really angry at me because I’m not her mommy.” And when parents don’t show up for planned visits, the grandparents are left picking up the pieces again. So these children have lots of “trauma” and more “worries” than most children. There’s also the expense of becoming a parent again in later life, when incomes are fixed. “And then, of course, you have to buy new clothes and shoes every three months,” Paschalis said. Then, there’s the stigma that comes with raising grandchildren – as if their failures with their own children caused them to desert the grandchildren. “You didn’t do so hot with your children,” Paschalis said. “People can make them feel bad about that if they let them.” But Paschalis urged grandparents to disregard that judgment. “You have no reason to be ashamed,” she said. Paschalis stressed that services are available to grandparents parenting again. There may be cash benefits, Medicaid and child support. If they can’t get custody, they at least need power of attorney. “There is help out there that you may need,” she said. And since school has changed a lot since they first parented, they need to be persistent in asking questions. Don’t let educators use acronyms. “It’s intimidating to…

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.

BG students to join National School Walkout against gun violence

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Alyson Baker is sick of hearing about students being slaughtered in their schools. She’s not alone, so Baker and other students at Bowling Green High School are organizing a walkout to coincide with the National School Walkout on March 14. “It has a lot of us really shaken,” Baker said last week. “We’re scared and we’re fed up. We don’t want to see anybody in schools hurt because of gun violence.” The National School Walkout is planned for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. on March 14, to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than Tweet thoughts and prayers in response to gun violence in schools and neighborhoods. The walkouts are based on the following beliefs: Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school. Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day. Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that address the public health crisis of gun violence. Students want Congress to pay attention and take note: many of them will vote this November and many others will join in 2020. Bowling Green’s walkout will be held on the front lawn of the high school. The public will be able to join in the event. Organizing the Bowling Green High School walkout are seniors Alyson Baker and Luther Shinew, and sophomores Keanu McClellan and Jadyn Lundquest. The local youth are being inspired by their fellow students in Parkland, Florida, who have responded to the shootings at their school with eloquence and ideas. “I’ve been to protests before, but I’ve never really led a protest,” Baker said. “It’s just so important. Now’s the time to talk about gun control.” The National School Walkout makes the following demands of Congress: Ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Expand background checks to all gun sales. Pass federal gun violence restraining order law. Fund government research on gun violence. Promote safe storage. Though young, the students are feeling empowered by their numbers. “I think this walkout is definitely going to say something,” Baker said. “I don’t think our government can ignore it. The U.S. is covered with little pins” signifying all the school walkouts. “I feel like this is something that needs to be brought to their attention,” McClellan said. “School is supposed to be the safest place.” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci and High School Principal Jeff Dever have told the students that they won’t stand in the way of the walkout. “We can’t deny these students their First Amendment rights,” Scruci said. “I’m supportive of the protest to get some attention” on the…

Daddies and daughters put on their dancing shoes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ben Otley tried to brush up on his Macarena dance moves Friday. But in the end, it didn’t really matter if his arms went up when they should have gone down, or if his hips went right when they should have gone left. It just mattered that he was there at the annual Daddy Daughter Dance at the Bowling Green Community Center. “It’s just a great time to spend with my girls to make memories,” Otley said as he waited for dinner with his daughters, Reagan, 12, and Maggie, 8. Maggie took off across the dance floor to show her ballet and gymnastic skills. Her dad opted to sit out that trial. “If I did, I’d have to go the hospital,” Otley said. Both girls had already posed for photos with their dad, and were waiting for a chance to dance. “Some of the girls don’t want to have their dads on the dance floor,” Reagan said. But it appeared Otley’s dance card would be full for the evening. As the 75 dads and daughters gathered in the gymnasium, the room filled with little girls in glittery dresses, sparkling shoes, and fancy hair buns. At one table, Michael Abraham and his daughter, Angellica, 8, tried to put beads on a string to make a bracelet. “I wanted to spend time with my dad,” Angellica said. “He works all the time.” Abraham, who works as a quality engineer at Jeep, was struggling to complete the bracelet, while Angellica was looking forward to dancing with her dad. “I usually step on his feet,” she said with a grin. In the kitchen, George Nicholson and his crew from Campus Pollyeyes were making pizza, pasta, breadsticks and salad for the annual dance. “They ask me to do this every year, and it’s a lot of fun,” Nicholson said. This was the second year for Beau Holley and his daughters, Morgan, 6, and Erika, 8, to attend the event. “The girls like getting dressed up and seeing their dad dressed up,” which doesn’t happen very often, Holley said. “And eating pizza is always good.” The girls were there for more than pizza. “We get to spend time with Daddy,” Morgan said. Holley was setting the expectations high for his performance on the dance floor. “I’m the best dancer you’ve ever seen,” he said with a smile at his girls. “Sort of,” Erika replied with the same grin. Jeff Peters and daughter Raylie, 5, came decked out with a yellow rose boutonnière for Dad and a matching wrist corsage for daughter. The pair was working diligently on completing the handmade bracelet. “We’ve dropped it twice already – almost a third,” Peters said as he secured the bracelet on Raylie’s wrist. Raylie had plans for the next portion of the evening. “I want to…

BG district scrutinizes safety after Parkland shooting

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In response to growing violence at schools across the nation, Bowling Green City Schools had each classroom equipped with a “Boot” last year. The “Boot” was created by Rob Couturier, of Michigan, after his daughter was the victim of a violent attack. The “Boot,” is a rectangular-shaped plate of quarter-inch thick industrial steel. Secured by two steel pegs, the plate can withstand 16,000 pounds of pressure and keep doors closed to intruders. The safety mechanism has been installed in more than 100 public schools and 18 private schools in the region. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci rests a little easier knowing every classroom in the district has a mechanism to keep an intruder out and keep the students safe inside. However, Scruci also realizes nothing is completely safe. “Anytime we’re talking about student safety, there is always more you can do,” Scruci said Thursday, the day after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed at 17. “We want to make sure kids are safe. But we can’t with 100 percent certainty,” he said. “We don’t have the resources to make them as safe as possible.” But in the case of the Parkland shooter, who reportedly went door to door to classrooms, the “Boot” would keep him from entering rooms. “That’s the beauty of the ‘Boot.’ He’s not getting in there,” Scruci said. In addition to the “Boot” on classroom doors, the Bowling Green school district also relies on students and staff to point out troubled students, hold training drills at the school, and work with local police on responding to threats. By law, every school must hold a lockdown drill at least once a year. “We just had a meeting and discussed that we need to do it more often,” Scruci said. “We don’t ever want to think this is a new normal, but we want people to be prepared.” Of course, the school district can’t prepare for every possibility, he said. The accused shooter in the Florida school pulled a fire alarm first, reportedly to have easier access to students leaving their classrooms. “Regardless of how many times we practice, you don’t know what to prepare for,” Scruci said. “We could prepare for 100 scenarios, and there would still be another 100 other scenarios we didn’t think of.” The school staff is also trained in ALICE, which urges people to leave the building safely if they can. If they can’t escape, they are trained fight back with anything available. At the suggestion of Couturier, the district’s hallways and classrooms have improved signage so police can more easily identify areas of the schools. Police are aware of the lockdown drills and have floor plans for all the schools. “We can’t say enough about partnering with our police department,” Scruci said. The police and sheriff departments also…

Service award helps Mariana Mitova rally support for sports program for kids with special needs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Receiving the Faculty Senate’s Community Involvement award wasn’t just a boost for Mariana Mitova. It was also a boost for the causes she espouses, especially RallyCap Sports. Mitova, who teaches in Bowling Green State University Apparel Merchandising and Product Development Program, said that in addition to being a personal recognition – “the glass plaque is proudly displayed in my office” – being honored last year has greatly benefited RallyCap Sports. The program, which was founded by alumnus Paul Hooker, offers the chance to be active in sports to young people with special needs. BGSU was the first campus to host the program.  (click for related story.) Mitova is the BGSU chapter advisor, and her son, who is blind, is a participant. Mitova told Faculty Senate Tuesday that her recognition has increased awareness about the program, donations have increased to RallyCap, and more faculty became interested. They then promoted it to other families who may benefit. Her receiving the award is being used by this at national headquarters who are trying to find campus advisors at the 12 other RallyCap locations. Mitova said she used the monetary award to host a dinner for 22 core student volunteers. (More than 1,000 students volunteer putting in more than 5,200 volunteer hours.) Those broader effects, said Mitova, are the reason faculty members should take seriously the calls for nominations. If Associate Dean Mary Murray had not nominated Mitova this would not have happened. She conceded faculty get a lot of emails, and it’s easy to delete them. Mitova said she deleted the first two calls for nominations herself. “Guilty as charged,” she admitted But after being asked to address senate, “I started thinking more about what would have happened if Dr. Murray hit the delete button,” she said. “Instead she took the time to solicit support, write the nomination letter, and submit the nomination package.” That time is valuable, Mitova said. “However, she thought this nomination is worth the time.” In addition to RallyCap, Mitova is also active with the Cocoon Shelter, Victim’s Services, the Giving Store, and other charities. She said the deadline is approaching, and urged her colleagues to act. “I would imagine there is at least one person in your immediate unit, your school or college who deserves to be nominated. I am constantly inspired by the most amazing things people on our campus do. Let’s get them recognized.”

BGMS teacher inspires students in class and on court

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This was no hum-drum history lesson. This was the story of the Boston Massacre told through hip-hop. Under attack by a mob of angry colonists, the British soldiers shot and killed several men – setting a spark for the American Revolution. This was a history lesson from 1770 set to a 2018 beat by a Bowling Green student inspired by her eighth grade social studies teacher, Mandy Pasley. Pasley, who has taught at Bowling Green Middle School for 19 years, was honored Thursday as an inspirational educator of the year by the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. She played the Boston Massacre recording to the club to show the creativity of her students. “Mandy’s one of our best educators,” Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh said after Pasley was given her award. “Her passion for students is what drives her to be the best.” But Pasley, who also coaches the varsity volleyball team, passed on all the credit to her parents, her husband, her “kids” at home and in the classroom – but mostly her favorite teachers who left lasting impressions on her life. “I was blessed to have some of the best teachers I’ve ever been around,” she said. Pasley, who grew up in Bowling Green, fondly remembered her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Daly. “She was way ahead of her time,” using problem-based strategies that are popular in today’s classrooms. Some lessons stuck with Pasley, like the day the class made gingerbread men, then arrived at school the following day to find the cookies had disappeared. The students had to solve the clues to find the missing gingerbread men. Then in third grade at Crim Elementary, Mrs. Sullivan was her sweet, kind teacher with very high expectations. “We never wanted to disappoint her,” Pasley recalled. But one day Pasley and her friend did disappoint their teacher, when they wrote a secret note to a boy in their class. Pasley felt horrible, and Mrs. Sullivan knew her young student well enough to know she didn’t need to say a word. “I was already mortified by what I had done,” Pasley said. The next year, Mrs. Simmons in fourth grade shared her love for literacy and reading. She would read aloud to the class every day. “Her storytelling was so amazing and powerful,” Pasley said. In seventh grade English, Mrs. Abel let her students explore, learn and “figure it out on our own.” She often peppered her lessons with current events, making them even more memorable. And in high school, it was Karol Kampe, who was her teacher and coach, and then went on to be her mentor and friend. Kampe taught some powerful lessons in the gym. “She empowered us as female athletes,” Pasley said. Girls were taught to believe in themselves. “We were just as important as the football…

Elm on Conneaut hill has to go so sledders will be safe

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For an unknown number of decades, the towering elm tree on Conneaut hill provided shade in the summer and something for sledders to swerve around in the winter. But on Monday, yellow “caution” tape was stretched around the hill, warning sledders to stay away. It’s not like Bowling Green has many sledding options for kids on snowy days. But on this rare occasion, the snow on the hill was not lined with new ruts from sleds going down and little feet climbing up. The stately elm, it appears, will have to go. And since sledding will not be allowed while the tree stands, the elm will have to go soon. “A very large crack has developed in the tree,” Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter told City Council on Monday. “This large part of the tree is separating from the rest of the tree.” The giant tree was examined by Bowling Green’s city arborist and by an Ohio Department of Natural Resources arborist. The two came to the same conclusion. “We couldn’t have children on that hill with that tree there,” Tretter said. So the tree will come down this week, she said. Not only will that allow children to keep sledding this winter, but the best time to take down a tree of this size is when the ground is still frozen, Tretter added. The city has tried for years to stretch out the life of the shapely elm tree. Years ago, some limbs were braced together in order to shore up the aging tree, according to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. But that was only a short-term fix. No one has been injured by falling branches from the tree, Fawcett said. The city faced some options – with none of them being pretty. First, cut down the elm. Second, close the park. Third, aggressively prune the tree, removing about two-thirds of the tree and making survival very difficult. To make the loss of the tree a little more palatable, Tretter said the lumber from the elm will be used to make some benches near the sledding hill at Conneaut and Haskins roads. Also, more trees will be planted in the park to offer shade in the future.

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 gotten involved by becoming trivia question sites for the students. Each week, new trivia questions about the book are posed at the sites – giving the children a chance to win prizes for reading. “We’re going to be reading this book all month long,” Semancik told the cheering students. After the rowdy assembly in the gym, the students went back to their classrooms, where each was presented with their own copy of “Ralph S. Mouse.” They then gathered together with classmates to read the first chapter. In Megan Reed’s first grade classroom, the students sat on the floor, eagerly awaiting the book. After handing out a copy to each student, Reed gave them a minute to explore the book themselves. They flipped through to see pictures, found the table of contents, and identified parts like the spine of the book. Then Reed introduced them to…

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 it, and they stuck by him. And that has helped make him the teacher who stages his lessons for eager young minds. “Teaching and theater – it’s the same,” Marzola said. “Students don’t want to be talked to. They want to be taken on a journey.” And like any good performer, Marzola knows when his audience is not responding. “There’s a lot of thinking on your feet. A good teacher flips the script” and finds a different way to reach the students. “I want to inspire them to always achieve their best.” Marzola also credited his fellow teachers for inspiration. Educators are always sharing strategies that work in the classroom. “If you keep it to yourself, it does not help your students,” he said. “They’ve helped me to be a better teacher.” Marzola also thanked the school administration for being tolerate of his non-traditional techniques….

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 nest being found in one of the equipment bags last year. “When we meet other teams, we look like the Bad News Bears on ice skates,” Kepling said. Beyond uniforms and regular gear, there’s the expense of adaptive equipment. One player uses a metal harness system, and some use “walkers” on the ice. Others need special ice walkers that include seats. “Some of our players have physical disabilities that require a special blade on the skates,” said Shannon Anderson, secretary of the Ice Frogs team. During a recent weekly practice at the Ice Arena, the players put on their gear and got on the ice. There was no yelling by coaches, and pucks that didn’t quite make the goal were given a helpful push into the net by BGSU hockey players who were helping out….

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 are not a hard sell. “Everyone loves the cookies,” Nora said. And even if they don’t want boxes for themselves, she can often convince customers to buy boxes to donate to soldiers overseas as part of “Operation Cookie.” The newer S’mores seem to be a favorite this year, though Nora has her own favorites. “It’s a tie between Tagalongs and Thin Mints,” she said. Samantha Codding, 13, of Bowling Green, was offering the newer scouts some tips on social skills. “As you get older, you start to realize how to talk to people,” said Samantha, whose top pick is Thin Mints. Though Samantha has been selling cookies for several years, she is still excited when cookie season rolls around. It gives her an excuse to reacquaint with neighbors. “I just kind of like talking with…

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 the 10th anniversary of its founding. In July, 2007, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, put out a call for proposals for a national center for marriage research. Given BGSU was already the home for the Center for Family and Demographic Research, and that BGSU faculty were already heavily involved in studying a range of issues relating the family, this seemed a natural fit. “We felt we had the expertise to satisfy those goals,” said Brown, who chairs the Sociology Department. “We were in a position to articulate for scholars what the key questions were surrounding family structure, child well-being, adult well-being, community well-being. For us, it wasn’t a stretch. We felt we have the people and the critical mass here and the track record to be successful.” They had a month 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.