children

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


Author overcomes learning disabilities to become storyteller

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of more than 100 books, remembers the horror of being forced to read in front of her class. She would clutch the book so hard, her nails would break. “To me, that was like being asked to stand in front of a firing squad,” Polacco told her audience of parents and children Saturday at the Literacy in the Park event at Bowling Green State University. “I could not read until I was 14 years old. I could not write. I couldn’t do math,” she said. “I felt stupid. I felt dumb.” Polacco recalled the unintentional cruelty of her classmates. “The whole class started laughing at me,” when she tried to read aloud. “Please don’t laugh,” she told her audience on Saturday. “You have no idea how much you are hurting that kid.” Polacco’s life turned around at age 14 when one of her teachers finally realized that she was dyslexic and dysgraphic. She was also unable to learn when sitting still – something that wasn’t understood till years later. “In my day at school, I had to sit like a rock.” So Polacco is a big believer in the individuality of children and the way they learn. “I believe all children are gifted. The trick is, we don’t open our gifts at the same time.” Polacco, who lives in Michigan, has turned her gifts into beautifully illustrated children’s books. “For me, art is like breathing,” she said. She didn’t started writing books till she was 41. “Older than dirt,” she told her young audience. In the last 31 years, she has written about 115 books. “They come out of me so fast, I can barely keep up with them.” Polacco comes from a family of storytellers – her mother’s people were from Russia and Ukraine, and her father’s people were from Ireland. As she was growing up, her family did not own a television. She asked the children in the audience to guess what she and her…


Crim Elementary stages musical to make learning fun

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The backstage was buzzing with nervous actors. The frog and toad were preparing for their big scenes. The snail was brushing up on her slow motion moves. The squirrels were getting ready to make a mess. And the understudies were standing by. In front of the stage, on the gymnasium floor, the eager audience sat with their legs criss-cross applesauce style. When the curtains opened, an excited “ooooooooohhhhh” filled the gym. That’s just the reaction second grade teacher Stacey Higgins was hoping for with the debut of the first musical Thursday at Crim Elementary School. A dress rehearsal was performed in the morning for fellow students, with the big show to occur in the afternoon for parents and other fans. The musical, “A Year with Frog and Toad Jr.” featured all the second grade students – an ambitious endeavor with such young students. “It ties in with our curriculum on the seasons,” Higgins was quick to say. But she added that the performance was also something more. “They need these types of experiences,” she said. “Too much time is spent testing and preparing for tests. We need to get back to making school meaningful and enjoyable for kids.” The musical got the kids singing, dancing, acting, reading narration and designing the colorful set. That is all learning, Higgins stressed. “We want them to have experiences other than just taking tests.” As the audience filed into the gym, and the second graders fidgeted back stage, Higgins admitted to being a little nervous herself. “It’s a good nervous,” she said. “This if the first time they get to do it in front of an audience.” The story began as the best children’s stories do – with “Once upon a time…” It went on to tell the tale of two best friends, frog and toad. With the help of an animated chorus and able narrators, the friends navigated the seasons, playing in the summer, raking leaves in fall, sledding in winter, and waking up from…


More staff needed to handle spike in child abuse

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There is no “normal” when it comes to child abuse and neglect cases. On Monday night, five children were taken into custody when their parent was arrested on the highway in Wood County. Last week, Children’s Services was called in when a parent died of an opiate overdose. So Wood County Job and Family Services Director Dave Wigent got on the county commissioners’ agenda to request an additional Children’s Services staff member. But by time the meeting rolled around on Tuesday, Wigent’s request had grown to two additional employees. “The situation has gotten worse,” he told the county commissioners. “We’re setting all-time records” for the number of child abuse and neglect cases being investigated. Child abuse investigations increased in Wood County by nearly 25 percent in 2016 – a jump never seen before by the staff at Children’s Services. The number of cases went from 718 in 2015 up to 894 in 2016 – meaning 176 more child abuse investigations. Cases of abuse were reported in every community in the county. And so far, 2017 looks no better. “This year we are trending above that,” Wigent said, noting that March set an all-time high of 90 new cases. And most are not simple. “These cases are very time consuming.” The lack of local residential facilities for children with special needs is also creating more work for staff, who have to make monthly visits with the children. Most children with special needs in custody are not living in Wood County. “We have children across the state,” Children’s Services Administrator Sandi Carsey said. “There’s a lack of adequate placement beds,” Wigent said. “In a perfect world, all the kids would be here in Wood County.” The closest facility found for a girl with some psychiatric problems is in Missouri. More than 50 facilities turned down the child before the Missouri facilities accepted her. Again, she must be visited by a staff member at least once a month. “Physically laying eyes on the child is…


210 pinwheels-for each child abuse & neglect case in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Each of the 210 spinning pinwheels decorating Wooster Green represents one case of child abuse or neglect investigated in Bowling Green last year. “The number jars our senses,” Mayor Dick Edwards said Tuesday morning as the pinwheels whirled in the wind at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. “I know all of us feel sad to see that number up there,” he said, referring to the sign noting the 210 cases last year. The pinwheels stand as a visual reminder, the mayor said. “Children are Bowling Green’s most valuable and precious resource. This must be remedied.” The pinwheels at Wooster Green represent only those cases in Bowling Green. For the first time, Wood County Children’s Services will be posting pinwheels throughout the county, to let people know that child abuse and neglect happen everywhere. “This year we decided to take pinwheels on the road,” said Maricarol Torsok-Hrabovsky, of Wood County Job and Family Services. They have already been posted in Lake Township, Northwood, Rossford and the Eastwood area. In all, there will be 894 pinwheels planted in the ground. “Child abuse, unfortunately, in Wood County is on the rise,” said Dave Wigent, director of Job and Family Services. Child abuse investigations increased in Wood County by nearly 25 percent in 2016 – a jump never seen before by the staff at Children’s Services. The number of cases went from 718 in 2015 up to 894 in 2016 – meaning 176 more child abuse investigations. Cases of abuse were reported in every community in the county. The increase is being attributed to more people reporting child abuse or neglect cases when they see them, and to the rising opiate epidemic. The number of physical abuse cases investigated in 2016 was 224, the number of sexual abuse cases was 142, the number of neglect cases was 439, and the number of emotional abuse cases was 19. Drugs were involved in 212 of the cases. Wigent said the numbers so far this…


‘Buddy Benches’ bring smiling faces to playgrounds

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Chris Ostrowski still gets choked up when he reads the note from the Kenwood Elementary student thanking the Kiwanis Club for the “Buddy Bench” on the school playground. “I am a new kid at my school so I do not have any friends to play with at school. So sometimes I sit by a tree and do not play or I play by myself,” she wrote. “It is not fun and all the other new kids have someone to play with but I do not,” she continued. “I am in Kenwood right now so soon I will have a friend very soon. So thank you for thinking of the bench, so much.” Ostrowski keeps the thank you notes on file in his office. And though Kenwood staff presented a program on the new Buddy Benches during the Bowling Green Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening – the pencil scrawled notes with pictures of smiling children on benches seem to tell the story as well. “I am grateful for Buddy Benches because last year I had nobody to play with and I was sad, and I don’t want nobody to have nobody to play with,” one student wrote. The benches were installed on all the elementary school playgrounds in Bowling Green. Their purpose is to be a place for children without playmates to sit, so other children will ask them to join in. “Recess can be a very challenging time for students,” Kenwood Principal Kathleen Daney told the school board. “A lot of feelings happen there.” The idea for the benches came to the U.S. with the help of a little boy who moved from Pennsylvania to Germany, where the benches were used on playgrounds to help foster friendships and eliminate loneliness for children. When he moved back to the U.S., he brought back the bench idea. The idea came to Bowling Green through the Ostrowski family, a Girl Scout Troop and school counselors. With the help of community donations, the benches were…