children

BG Girl Scouts get real life government lesson in D.C.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation prepares for another birthday, a group of Bowling Green girls will celebrate this Fourth of July with new knowledge about their government. Members of Girl Scout Troop 10799 recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where they crammed in as many tours and sightseeing stops as possible in four days. They learned that George Washington didn’t smile for portraits because his artificial teeth would fall out. “He was a great leader, but his teeth … not so great,” said Girl Scout Natalie Hollands. They learned that while the Senate chambers is a serious and somber place, the House of Representatives is raucous and chaotic. “You could hear a pin drop in the Senate,” said Allie Parish. But not the House. “It was really crazy,” Paige Suelzer said. The leader kept banging the gavel for quiet. “They were like little kids.” And they learned that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is no place for giggling – even if one of their little sisters drops a water bottle that rolls close to the feet of the soldier on guard. Thirteen Bowling Green Girl Scouts, who will be entering sixth grade this fall, toured the city with their families. They visited the memorials to Lincoln, Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr., the memorials to those who served in the Vietnam War and those killed in the 9/11 attacks. They toured the East Wing of the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Pentagon. The girls all had their favorite sites. For Sophia Nelson, a big fan of Abraham Lincoln, her favorites were the Ford Theatre and the Petersen House, where Lincoln was taken after being shot. For Allie, it was the American National History Museum, where the huge flag is displayed that inspired the writing of “The Star Spangled Banner.” For Natalie Hollands, it was the White House, which the girls toured just hours after the shooting at the Republican baseball practice. For Reagan Otley, it was the Lincoln Memorial – though as you might guess, her favorite president is Ronald Reagan. For Paige, it was the Capitol, where the Scouts witnessed a rare event. “They saw something that rarely happens,” said Kristin Otley, Reagan’s mom. The House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing the valor of those who responded to the shootings at the baseball practice. “They passed a resolution unanimously and with a standing ovation.” “It was like we were in the middle of history,” Natalie said. The trip inspired some of the Scouts to set pretty high goals. “She’s going to be like the first girl president of the U.S.,” Sophia said pointing to Allie. “And I’m going to be her vice president.” Allie had previously planned to be an astronaut or an Olympian, but switched courses…


Earth Camp gives kids peek at the wild side

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By the end of the day, nearly 250 kids left William Harrison Park – some wearing paper butterflies with pipe cleaner antennae in their hair, some with dirt on their hands, and some with new ideas in their heads. Elementary age children from throughout Wood County gathered at the park in Pemberville for the annual Earth Camp Tuesday organized by the Wood County Solid Waste Management District for kids in the Community Learning Centers STARS program. “We get every single one of the Community Learning kids outside for the entire day,” said Amanda Gamby, who coordinated the event. A parent herself, Gamby said sometimes after a long day at work, parents just don’t have the energy to take kids outside to play. So for the 18th year, the Earth Camp gave them a full day to explore nature. This year’s theme was wildlife. “It’s pretty great,” said Jamie Sands, with the Wood County Park District, which partnered on the camp. “This is for kids to be active in nature while learning about wildlife.” Children went from station to station, learning about the declining Monarch butterfly population, “habitracks” using a map to explore habitat components for animals, the importance of pollination, local amphibians, and Nature’s Nursery. “Then they get to go down to the river and see some critters,” Sands said. “They go home and they are probably all exhausted.” At one station, the children learned about the efforts of Nature’s Nursery to help nurse wildlife back to health and return them to the wild. Some of the lessons focused on what the program does not do. Nature’s Nursery takes in 2,500 animals a year. The children guessed the types of animals are aided. Sea turtles? “We don’t take care of sea turtles, no,” Marquita Tillotson, of Nature’s Nursery said. Snapping turtles, yes. Fish? “Nobody ever calls us up and says, ‘we found a really sick fish,’” Tillotson said. Rabbits? Yes. In fact, about half of the animals taken in at the nursery are rabbits. “Tons of little babies,” Tillotson said. Beavers? No, but they would help a beaver if it was brought in. Moles? “We do get moles. We got a cute little mole the other day,” Tillotson said. When the animals are better, the nursery releases them back into the wild. Why? “So they can do their own thing,” a child answered. Why shouldn’t they keep the animals, Tillotson asked. If a child took in a raccoon and raised it as a pet, and dressed it in outfits, “would it love you forever and ever? No it’s still a wild animal.” At another Earth Camp station, children were learning about pollination. Bryan Bockbrader, of the Wood County Park District, was quizzing the kids on pollination facts. Which foods depend on pollination?…


BG’s Scruci tries to dispel rumors about bond issue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci tried to stop the rumor mill from churning Monday evening. For 90 minutes, he presented details and answered questions from a packed meeting room at the public library about the school district’s building plans and the bond levy to support them. Scruci has heard “all kinds of stories” about the district’s plans. “We wanted to get this information out now,” he said. “We want to get out in front of those” rumors about costs, cuts, kids and more. So he started by explaining the building plans and the $72 million cost to taxpayers. “I’m going to be the first to tell you that’s a lot of money, and we know that,” Scruci said. The 6-mill bond issue will appear on the November ballot for the projects. “Schools are always going to be the investment in the future in every city,” he said. “If we kick the can down the road, the cost is going to grow.” For the owner of a house valued at $100,000, that means an extra $210 a year. But since the average house value in Bowling Green is $170,000, Scruci said that would add up to $357 a year. And for those on the higher end, with a $250,000 home, the bond issue would mean another $525 a year. When he said the bond issue was for 37 years, someone in the audience whistled. “People are going to say that’s a lot of years, and it is,” Scruci said. But a bond issue with fewer years would mean greater payments that could be unmanageable for many residents. Scruci said he knows there are families in the district who will have difficulty paying the $210 a year. “I know there are some people in this community who can’t afford this,” he said. But Scruci maintained that the school district should not continue to put good money into old buildings that don’t have “good bones.” The board is not interested in taking state funding for construction, since the state would only contribute 11 to 13 percent, but would take control over the projects. The district is losing new students to newer schools. And Bowling Green students deserve better facilities. “We owe it to every student in this district to give them the best education,” he said. “Somebody paid for my education and it’s time for me to pay,” he said. The building plans call for partial new construction and renovation of the high school, plus construction of a consolidated elementary school north of the existing middle school and high school complex. If the bond issue passes in November, the elementary would be built in about three years, and the high school project could be done in three and a half years. No “swing space” would…


Energetic kids learn about renewable energy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the young girl pedaled the bicycle, her efforts first turned on the radio. As she pedaled harder, she created enough energy to turn on LED light bulbs. And if she pedaled really hard, she turned on the old-fashioned light bulbs. Pretty sneaky way to teach kids about energy. “You’re pretty strong,” Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of Bowling Green Public Utilities, told the young girl. “When you use these light bulbs, you’re making the electric company work really hard,” Stockburger said of the older bulbs. “Tell your parents to use LED bulbs.” Stockburger was talking about Bowling Green’s energy efforts recently to a group of kids gatherered at Wood County District Public Library. He talked about the new solar field, the wind turbines and hydropower. Stockburger, who is more accustomed to talking energy with adults, did his best to bring the discussion down to the level of the children. He was helped out by Maria Simon, head of youth services at the library, who is more accustomed to taking technical topics and making them understandable to young minds. Simon was the Gracie Allen to Stockburger’s George Burns. “She’s generating 5 amps,” Stockburger said as another girl tried pedaling the energy bike hooked up to appliances. “I think she should come to my house. I think she could run the dishwasher,” Simon said. The program was part of the library’s summer children’s program on Building a Better World. The children provided a challenging range, with one crawling around tracing the shapes on the floor, to another asking about geothermal energy. Stockburger talked about the city’s new solar field – which is the largest solar array in Ohio. He quizzed the kids about where the field was located. Columbus? That’s our capital, Simon offered. OSU? Go Bucks, she said. Prospect? Sounds promising, Simon said. When it turned out to be in Bowling Green, the kids cheered. So then they were quizzed on the number of solar panels in the field. Turned out to be 85,000. “Can anybody count that high,” Stockburger asked. Which led some kids to start counting. “Kids will take you seriously,” Simon advised. Later is was the kids’ turn to quiz Stockburger. “How many light panels are there in the whole world,” one child asked, successfully stumping Stockburger. Stockburger talked about fossil fuels, hydro power from the Ohio River, and the solar panels that generate power at Kenwood Elementary School. He talked about the wind turbines that tower over the county landfill, west of Bowling Green. “I think I’ve been in that one,” a boy said, pointing at a turbine photo shown by Stockburger. The doors at the base of the turbines are like submarine doors, he said. “That to me looks like a little mouse door,” Simon said. Again, Stockburger…


‘Coffee with CASAs’ event to inspire volunteers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The opiate epidemic has reached down into the youngest and most helpless members of Wood County. Just as Wood County Children’s Services is seeing more child abuse and neglect cases, the Wood County CASA program is seeing those growing numbers stretch their volunteers. The numbers have increased so much that some families are being turned away, according to Kathy Hicks, a volunteer member of the Friends of CASA Board. Court Appointed Special Advocates are volunteers who advocate for the needs of children, and act as the voices of children in court, Hicks said. “So the court knows how the child feels,” she explained. “Kids don’t want to tattle on mom or dad.” The CASAs make home visits, speak in court on behalf of the children, and contact doctors, schools or other agencies to try to determine what is in the best interest of the children. The Wood County CASA program, with director Carol Fox, currently has 32 volunteer CASAs who are serving 45 families with a total of 90 children. The growing number of cases has led to about 10 families being turned away so far this year. Much of the increase is due to the opiate epidemic, Hicks said. “It is just amazing to me how many families have this drug problem. It prohibits them from taking care of their children,” she said. “That’s really sad.” The issues are often further complicated by multi-generational opiate problems. “It’s not just the parents. It’s the grandparents,” Hicks said. “Grandma and Grandpa can’t step in because they aren’t clean either.” So the children are often placed with foster families. In order to get more CASA volunteers so more children can be served, a “Coffee with CASAs” event is being held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green. Anyone who stops and chats with the CASA volunteers will be given a wooden nickel for a free cup of coffee from Grounds. “We want to get these families the help they need,” Hicks said. Volunteers CASAs will be on hand to explain what it takes to do the job. Volunteers must go through a training program, must pass a screening process, and must have “the desire to help people,” she said. Efforts have been made to streamline the training and volunteers are now allowed to work as a team. “They are in so much need,” Hicks said. Hicks, who previously worked as a CASA volunteer, said the work is difficult but worthwhile. “You can leave with the sense that you’ve helped a family, or put them on the right track,” she said. “It is very rewarding.” “Unfortunately, there’s just not enough to go around anymore,” she said of the volunteers. Anyone interested in the CASA program who cannot attend…


Playground gives foster kids place to play with parents

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A patch of grass outside Wood County Children’s Services has been turned into a wonderland for foster children. With the help of local service organizations and the county commissioners, a playground has been constructed on the grounds of Wood County Job and Family Services on East Gypsy Lane Road. The playground is to be used by foster children visiting with their birth families. “It’s for family visitation, so kids and their parents can play together in a natural environment,” explained Sandi Carsey, administrator of Wood County Children’s Services. During the average week, the Children’s Services office sees about 10 families come to the agency for supervised visitation with children who have been placed in foster care. “It’s critical that kids have contact with their families,” especially if the goal is reunification in the future, Carsey said. “The kids are attached to their families. They need to see them. They need to maintain those relationships,” she said. And the playground gives children an opportunity to do what kids do with their families – go down slides, climb equipment, be pushed on swings. In the past, Wood County Children’s Services used the Wood Lane facilities for visitation, since there was no space available at Children’s Services. But then an annex was added to Wood County Job and Family Services. The additional space gave families inside room for visits, but no outdoor play area. “The families really liked having the playground” at Wood Lane, Carsey said. So area organizations were approached about donating to the playground project. Money was contributed by Modern Woodmen, Bowling Green Exchange Club, and Perrysburg Rotary Club. Other funding was provided by the Wood County Commissioners, to be paid back by Wood County Job and Family Services. The cost for the playground equipment was $52,000. But with the addition of rubber flooring for safety, the total price was $120,000. The playground has equipment designed for ages 2 to 12, plus a basketball hoop for older children.


Painful loss turned into pleasure at pool for children

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Part of Leah Pekarik was dreading Wednesday. That was the day a new splash pad creature was being dedicated in honor of her daughter, Clara, who died last year at just 10 weeks old. But the other part of Pekarik was overwhelmed by the generosity of the community to turn her family’s pain into pleasure for other children in Bowling Green. With the help of community members who love Leah, her husband, Scott, and their son, Bobby, the day of dread turned into a day of joy surrounding Clara’s short life. “Everyone in this community knows Leah and loves her,” said Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “So many community members contacted us and said, ‘We want to do something.’” So the park and recreation program came up with a plan. “We asked people to help us remember Clara and give other children in the community something to smile about,” Otley said. When the new aquatic center was built in City Park, there were not enough funds to furnish the “splash pad” area with “creatures” that spray water on children. The idea was to add a frog creature to the area for $6,000. “We started just with that,” Otley said of the original plan to add a frog to the splash pad in honor of Clara. “We got an outpouring of support from people who knew her and from people who didn’t know her.” So the plan grew, with the Wood County Park District donating money for a “snake” creature spitting water at the splash pad, and the Bowling Green Community Foundation and Bowling Green Parks Foundation paid for “flowers” that dump water onto squealing children. “She had such an impact,” Otley said of Pekarik, who worked for the city parks for 11 years. “People wanted to do something to bring smiles to kids’ faces.” And that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday as the ribbon was officially cut at the splash pad. “We’re here to celebrate a heartfelt project that has a lot of meaning,” for the community and especially for the Pekarik family, said Earlene Kilpatrick, executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. As they lined up to cut the ribbon, Clara’s big brother, Bobby, 7, held onto the giant scissors with Mayor Dick Edwards. “This is a grand day,” Edwards said. “This is a wonderful occasion.” Though the day was chilly and windy, children couldn’t resist the new splash pad creatures. And Clara’s mom found comfort in that. “Bobby will not be the only child to get to play with Clara” at the splash pad, Leah Pekarik said. “She’s not with us at home, but we get to see her here.” Leah said Wednesday that her family still desperately misses their little girl…


Dunn hits home run with Hometown Hero award

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Playing ball at Carter Park is a rite of passage for many Bowling Green children. It’s where they learn to run for first base, not third after hitting the ball. It’s where their families fill the bleachers to root them on. It’s where they grab a handful of gummy worms and a slush after hot nights on the field. So Modern Woodmen recently honored the man who has devoted 41 years to the BG Youth Baseball program as a “Hometown Hero.” Tim Dunn was recognized at the Carter Park diamonds last month, and the fans seemed to appreciate the honor, since Modern Woodmen paid for hot dogs and drinks for anyone interested. “About 400 people took them up on it,” Dunn said. Many of the young ball players may be unfamiliar with Dunn and this enduring role with the youth baseball program. He started in 1976 by taking care of the grounds as a kid. He went on to umpire in high school, became Pee Wee League commissioner, then president of the BG Youth Baseball and BG Pee Wee League. Dunn has held that position since 1982. He coached teams for years, but now focuses on more administrative items like the scoreboards, sponsorship contracts, and organizing eight tournaments a year. Dunn still enjoys watching games from the stands, but now he usually has a pen and pad, so he can take notes on issues that need fixed. He knows a lot of people are counting on him and the program. This year there are nearly 400 children in the youth baseball program. Some years, the number reaches 500. It is a summertime staple for many Bowling Green kids, ages 4 to 15. Dunn knows it’s programs like this that start lifetime loves of the sport. He watches as kids start pretty raw in April and polish some skills by July. “They learn putting the gloves on their right hand, while they are digging in the grass,” he said. “The light really does come on over time.” Then there’s the lifelong lesson about sportsmanship. “They are one piece of the puzzle to make the team go.” The ballpark not only brings joy to kids, but also to their families who pack the bleachers. “You see friends and families,” Dunn said. “A lot of lifelong friendships occur out there. A lot of people tell me it was the best years of their lives when they came out here.” “That’s good stuff,” Dunn said, smiling. The nine ball diamonds on about 25 acres, are used for several large tournaments that bring crowds into the city. But they are also used by average kids who just want to play ball. “Where a kid just wants to come out and play 15 games a year,” for fun,…


BG board votes to consolidate elementaries

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education took a leap Friday afternoon to invest $72 million in a consolidated elementary and new sections for the high school. The board is now hoping the voters follow their lead. After months of discussions and public meetings, the board voted 4 to 1 to go ahead with plans for one consolidated elementary, demolition of Conneaut and Kenwood schools, and major additions to the high school. The vote against the project came from board president Ellen Scholl, who supported an alternate plan for new Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries rather than the consolidation. Though the millage to cover the $72 million project has yet to be determined by the county auditor, it is estimated it could be close to 6 mills on the November ballot. If the issue is approved by voters, the new consolidated elementary planned north of the current middle and high schools, could be completed by the summer of 2020. The high school could be completed by summer of 2021, according to architect Kent Buehrer. Construction is also planned for the middle school, where a wing will be added to adequately handle the sixth grade class. That project, which will likely begin in September, will be financed through $4.6 million in permanent improvement funds that the district already has, so it will not be part of the bond issue in November. The three options being considered for the bond issue were: Renovations of Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries (Crim was renovated recently) and major high school additions: $54 million. Build new Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries, plus the high school additions: $62 million. Build one consolidated elementary, plus the high school additions: $72 million. The renovation option was discarded first, since the 55-year-old elementaries don’t have particularly good “bones,” Buehrer said. Renovating those buildings would be “throwing new money” into old structures not worth the investment, board member Jill Carr said. Superintendent Francis Scruci talked about the benefits of a consolidated elementary. “It puts all our resources in one facility” and allows for optimum collaboration by teachers, he said. The elementary would have 1,500 children, but there would be separate wings for kindergarten and first graders, another for second and third graders, and another for fourth and fifth graders. “They don’t interact unless it’s by design,” Scruci said. The consolidation would also allow for the Crim building to be repurposed for administration, an expanded preschool program and an autism program. Kenwood kindergarten teacher Kisha Nichols read from a letter signed by several teachers at her building. She noted the strong support of teachers district wide for the centralized building. She told of children having to wear coats in school because the heat doesn’t work properly, and of suspicions that air quality and mold have led to student and…


Reading 1,000 books to preschoolers adds up to kindergarten readiness

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Children’s Place at the Wood County Library is building on its summer reading program for school age children to launch a new program for infants through preschoolers. The library is challenging parents and child caregivers, and others in youngsters’ lives to read them 1,000 books before they enter kindergarten. Children’s librarian Maria Simon said she’s wanted to offer the national initiative as a incentive to get parents, child caregivers, relatives, and maybe even a grandparent, via Skype reading to youngsters. The program will be launched Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to noon in the library atrium. Denise Fleming, an award winning author and illustrator, will be on hand. Each child who is enrolled will receive a copy of Fleming’s book “Alphabet Under Construction,” which ties into the summer reading theme “Building a Better World.” If there’s more than one child in the family signing up, another Fleming title will be available. About 100 children have already been enrolled. Simon is hoping younger siblings will sign up as older children sign up for the summer reading program. The kick-off will also include an Early Childhood Resource Fair presented by the Wood County Early Childhood Task Force as well as local childcare providers and agencies. Simon said each booth will have some sort of literacy activity. She said she’s letting them know about Fleming’s other books – she’s published more than 20 since 1991. Fleming will give a presentation to children and families, and then to those participating in the resource fair. Fleming lives in her hometown Toledo where she creates her illustrations painting with pulp. “She understands the value of this program,” Simon said. “Everyone who reads to kids is a fan of hers.” The 1,000 books goal is flexible. It can mean the same book read many times. Simon said she recently read “Alphabet Under Construction” three times to a group of children, along with singing the alphabet three books, she said. A book a day makes the goal in three years, three books a day achieves it in a year. Tiffany Rathburn said that at first 1,000 books seemed like a lot, until library staff explained all the ways that it could be accomplished. Telling a story to her 19-month-old Zoey counts, or having her 9-year-old Alexis read to her little sister counts. Rathburn said her older kids are involved in the summer reading program, and she liked that now there’s an option for littler ones. The 1,000 Books initiative lasts year round. It ends when the child meets the 1,000 book goal or enters kindergarten. Simon said that a few of the older children will be reading by the time they reach the 1,000 book mark. Simon said she hopes to have an annual celebration of the program in the…


Levy renewal sought for child and adult protective services

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For 30 years, the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services has relied on voters to provide funds to protect local children and seniors. This year will be no different. There have been times when expenses and needs are lower, that the voters have been given a break and the levy has gone uncollected for a year. But that is unlikely to occur again anytime soon considering the most recent increase in abuse and neglect reports. “They are on a record pace for child abuse and neglect complaints,” said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. It doesn’t help that Ohio is “dead last” among the states for funding of child protective services, according to Dave Wigent, director of Wood County Department of Job and Family Services. Even if Ohio were to double its spending for child services, the state will still be last, he said. “We’re forced to support with levy funding from the local level,” Wigent said. “We’re in an embarrassing situation for child welfare support,” he said. Also not helping is the uncertainty of the federal budget. If the cuts were to proceed as proposed by President Donald Trump, child abuse and neglect funding would be slashed further. “It would have a devastating effect on us here,” Wigent said. Wigent presented his request to put the renewal 1.3-mill levy on the November ballot this year to the Wood County Commissioners. The commissioners gave the levy request their verbal blessing, and will have staff prepare a resolution to get it on the ballot, Kalmar said. The millage, to be collected for 10 years, will raise an estimated $3.7 million annually. During the last 10-year period, there have been two years when the levy was not collected at all, and two other years when just half of the millage was collected. “We only take the money that we need,” Wigent said. Kalmar said the commissioners talked briefly about reducing the millage going on the ballot. But there were several concerns. “We try not to confuse voters,” he said, noting that even if the levy were to be reduced it could not be labeled a “renewal” levy. Plus, the commissioners realize the needs are frequently changing. “We don’t believe the millage is excessive,” Kalmar said. “It’s better to not collect the existing levy than try to guess ahead.” And the likelihood of needing the full amount this year is quite high, Wigent said. Both child and adult protective services have seen an increase in cases. Last year saw the most child abuse and neglect cases ever in the county, and 2017 “is trending even bigger.” Some of the increase is related to the opioid epidemic, he said. “With our increased volume and costs, we’ll be running tighter,” Wigent said. “We appreciate the community…


School board looks for building option voters will buy into

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The building options for Bowling Green City Schools are gradually being narrowed down to a project that will best serve students and not scare off supporters at the voting booth. The board of education members met Tuesday morning, and plan to make a decision during a special meeting on June 2 at 11:30 a.m., in the central administration office on Clough Street. The two primary options left on the table are: Building a new centralized elementary school north of the current middle school; demolish the old elementaries; build an addition onto the middle school for the sixth grade; and partial demolition of the high school along with the construction of a new academic wing, new gym, and new cafeteria and kitchen. That option comes with an estimated price tag of $72 million. Building two new elementary schools at Kenwood and Conneaut; demolishing the old elementaries; plus the same middle school and high school plans as above. That option is somewhat less, estimated at $62 million. After the board makes its final choice, the next challenge will be convincing the public to buy into the plan. Superintendent Francis Scruci and the board agreed that just as the building option discussions have been very transparent – so will the plans and the financing. “I think it’s vital. They need to be able to see what they are going to be investing money in,” Scruci said. And it’s important to get stakeholders on board – like teachers, students, parents and community groups. Depending on the duration of a bond issue, the $72 million project could be financed with 6.24 mills. The $62 million option could be paid for with an estimated 5.2 mills – which may be much more appealing to voters, according to Kent Buehrer of Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering Inc. For the owner of an average Bowling Green house valued at $165,000, the average cost for the larger project would be about $371 a year. Put in perspective, that’s about the cost of a daily cup of coffee or a monthly pizza night, Scruci said. And while some Bowling Green district residents already feel pinched by taxes, the school millage in the county is higher for Lake, Northwood, Perrysburg, Rossford and Fostoria. “It will attract families,” Scruci said of new schools. “It is an investment – not only in our children and staff, but also our community.” Bowling Green facilities not only pale in comparison to other districts when families are looking for places to settle, but the district also sees many students leave for other schools each year. Many go to Otsego and North Baltimore – which both have new facilities. “We can’t match,” Scruci said. “We’re faced with one of the toughest decisions – possibly one of the most game-changing…


’13 Reasons Why’ gives parents and schools reasons to worry

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Across the nation, parents are checking their Netflix history to see if their adolescents have been watching the “13 Reasons Why” series. The show tells the story of a high school junior who commits suicide. Prior to her death, she records a series of audio tapes describing the 13 reasons why she chooses to end her life. The story has parents and school officials watching for the slightest sign of copycat behavior from young viewers. So they want kids to know this: When you die, you do not get to make a movie or talk to people anymore about how they wronged you. Leaving messages from beyond the grave is a dramatization produced in Hollywood and is not possible in real life. Bowling Green City School officials held a program Wednesday evening for parents who have concerns about “13 Reasons Why” and its effect on their children. “The reality is, students are watching this and we want parents to be equipped for it,” said Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning. In addition to a very graphic suicide scene of the main character cutting her wrists in the bathtub, the show also shows instances of rape, bullying, sexual assault, violence, drug and alcohol use. “It’s a very graphic series,” said Jake Tapley, Bowling Green Middle School counselor. Glaringly absent in the series are school staff or parents who intervene appropriately, Tapley said. While some parents may have no idea that their children are watching the show, it is the talk of teenagers in the cafeteria, on the bus and on their phones. Many students have told Tapley that adults are over-reacting to the show, and that teens aren’t going to commit suicide just because they’ve watched the drama. But those are the kids who are talking about it, he said. The concern is that teenagers’ minds are already pretty messed up. “Puberty hits and hormones are kicking in,” Tapley said. Mental health professionals are worried the series could be misinterpreted by impressionable and developing minds. The show could be seen as glorifying suicide as a viable response to problems and as a form of revenge. The show also provides no helpful adults and no hope for depression. Worsening the impact is the fact that the Netflix series can be binge-watched in 13 hour-long episodes. “The series could influence someone already at risk of suicide to choose to take their own life,” Tapley said. School officials take the risk seriously, since suicide is second only to accidents as the leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24. Mental illness affects 20 percent of those 13 to 18 years old, and 11 percent of adolescents are living with a mood disorder such as depression, according to Elizabeth Syrowski, district behavior specialist. Counselors…


Luck of the draw sends BG kindergartner to Disney

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Disney World video had the gymnasium full of children at Kenwood Elementary School glued to the screen showing costumed characters and wild rides. They had no idea that one of their school mates would be called to the stage to win a trip to the magic kingdom. Ryan Frankart, from Clubs Choice which runs the annual fundraiser at Kenwood, stopped the film and talked to the children about their efforts last year to raise funds for school technology, the school dance and fifth grade camp. Many of the children won prizes including lunch in a limousine. But Frankart had another surprise for the school on Tuesday. Each year, the fundraising company has a prize drawing covering all 40 states in which it operates. The prize – a trip to Disney World. The chances of winning – one in 75,000. When the company pulled one name, it was a Kenwood student chosen for the trip for four people over four days and three nights. The winner was kindergartner Hudson Karpuleon. When the curtain opened to the gymnasium stage, there sat Hudson’s family with Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears on their heads and balloons surrounding them. Hudson is quiet anyway. But put the kindergartner on a stage in front of 500 or so school mates, and she completely clammed up. “She’s just really shy,” said her mother, Colleen Karpuleon. Most of the questions to Hudson were met with a nod of the head and swinging legs. “It will be a totally different ballgame when you get home tonight,” her father, Steve Karpuleon predicted about Hudson’s excitement level. Her brother, Sebastian, on the other hand, was nearly bouncing off his chair with delight over the Disney trip. Colleen Karpuleon said she was just focused on Hudson selling enough fundraiser items – like candles, wrapping paper and frozen food items – to get a limo lunch ride. She had no idea that her daughter could win a trip for the family to Disney World. When the gym cleared out a bit, Hudson, grasping a bouquet of flowers and wearing a set of mouse ears on her head, was able to talk about which Disney characters she most wanted to see – Rapunzel, and her two favorite princesses, Ariel and Belle.


School program to focus on ’13 Reasons Why’

(Submitted by BG Superintendent Francis Scruci) Dear Parents, As you were made aware last week, the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why is generating a lot of publicity nationwide with both students and parents.  We understand that the topic of mental health and suicide is a difficult, but very necessary conversation to have with your teen.  In an effort to partner with our parents and assist you with discussing these issues, we invite you to join us for “Adolescents and Mental Health: Discussing 13 Reasons Why.”  This program is brought to you by BGCS Department of Instruction and will feature: Jake Tapley, Professional School Counselor at BGMS, and Elizabeth Syrowski, District Behavior Specialist and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. This program is designed to help parents identify the warning signs of mental health issues, discuss the implications of suicide, and address some of the apprehension behind 13 Reasons Why.  We will involve you in discussion about the Netflix series as well as provide you with strategies and resources to approach the subject if needed. Please join us on Wednesday May 10th in the Performing Arts Center beginning at 7:00 p.m. This program is open to all parents. Thank You, Dr. Ann McCarty Executive Director of Teaching & Learning