Education

BG High’s musical “Shrek” delivers a message about acceptance on way to a fairy tale ending

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A musical based on an animated film shouldn’t feel this timely. But you can’t escape the echoes of the news when a host of refugees flood onto the stage of the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center. Yes, the refugees are a motley assortment of your favorite fairy tale characters. Still one feels the very real pang of people displaced. These refugees end up in a swamp, the home of the misanthropic ogre, Shrek, who wants no part of them. “Shrek: The Musical” like its predecessors “Shrek” the movie and the original picture book by William Steig turns fairy tales on their heads. The show, directed by JoBeth Gonzalez, still delivers a happily-ever-after ending. Along the way there’s plenty of comic patter, tuneful melodies, dances, and a few heart-tugging moments. “Shrek, the Musical,” Bowling Green High’s all-school musical, opens tonight (April 20) at 7 p.m. continuing Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. in the PAC. The animated film really sets the bar for the cast and crew. Technical director Ryan Albrecht and his team capture the atmosphere and settings, and manage to make these shifts without interrupting the action. The dragon is a particularly nice piece of stage puppetry. Justin McKenzie does a good job as the gruff Shrek. He shows that a lot of that grouchy exterior is an affectation. He lets the ogre gradually open up emotionally. That process begins with his relationship with Donkey played with a sure sense of comic timing by Josh Coleman, who is able to capture the antic spontaneity of Eddie Murphy from…

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JoBeth Gonzalez inducted into Ohio EdTA Hall of Fame

From THE EDUCATIONAL THEATRE ASSOCIATION: OHIO CHAPTER The Educational Theatre Association: Ohio Chapter (Ohio EdTA) is thrilled to announce the Hall of Fame induction of Dr. JoBeth Gonzalez and Mr. Scott Wilson. Dr. JoBeth Gonzalez – known affectionately as Dr. G by her students – has been a leading advocate for theatre education in Ohio for decades. As a teacher at Bowling Green High School, she has directed innumerable plays and musicals, and served as the long-time leader of her school’s thespian troupe. Over 23 years at BGHS, she has earned a reputation for addressing challenging subjects of special relevance to her students, including eating disorders, teen suicide, bullying, and human trafficking. “Several years ago, JoBeth and I were part of a research group called Critical Links at the Educational Theatre Association. I had known JoBeth prior to that project, but became even more aware of the depth of care that she brings every day to her students and to her craft,” says Irene Imboden, Ohio EdTA co-director. “JoBeth is my inspiration. I often tease her, saying ‘When I grow up, I want to be JoBeth.’” Gonzalez is the author of two books: “Temporary Stages” and “Temporary Stages II: Critically-Oriented Drama Education,” which have inspired many theatre teachers to provide audition feedback rather than posting of cast lists. She is the past president for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the 2014-2015 Ohio EdTA Theatre Educator of the Year, and Bowling Green State University College of Education and Human Development’s 2016 Educator of the Year. Scott Wilson has taught theatre in Westerville, Olentangy and Columbus Public Schools for 19…


‘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…


Funding defended for programs Trump wants to slash

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While President Donald Trump’s administration is attacking the value of federally funded community programs, the proof is right here in Wood County. Local officials suggested the administration look at the seniors kept in their homes by the Meals on Wheels program, the children nourished through the WIC program, and the small villages improved through the CDBG program. When Trump’s budget proposal was unveiled Thursday, the winners were the military and border control. The losers were the arts, the environment, the poor, the elderly and the very young. And the cuts weren’t made with a scalpel, but with a guillotine. Local officials who normally make tempered responses to hot button political issues could no longer bite their tongues. When Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget director, said the Meals on Wheels cuts were justified because the program was “just not showing any results,” the comments pushed Denise Niese past her normally polite poise. “I heard that last night and I was appalled,” said Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. The local Meals on Wheels program is not as dependent as some areas on the federal funding, but it is vital to local residents, serving 132,000 meals last year. Sometimes it’s difficult to collect hard data on social services, but Niese said the proof is in the pudding – and all the other menu items. “We do know that people with home-delivered meals can maintain themselves in their homes at a much lower cost than going into long-term care,” she said. Considering the fact that the local Meals on Wheels cost…


BG Schools program focuses on positive behaviors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s hard to teach science theories, sentence dissection, or just about anything when kids are acting up. So Bowling Green City Schools are adopting a program called PBIS – Positive Behavior Intervention Supports. The program provides consistent rules throughout the district and reinforces positive behaviors by students. In order to have good learning environments, “we have to get the behaviors under control,” Crim Principal Melanie Garbig said during a recent board of education meeting. Each school in the district has a PBIS team, spearheaded by the guidance counselors, with the goal to have the program fully implemented next year. The program reinforces the same expectations to all students – from preschoolers to seniors. Students are reminded to be responsible for themselves, respectful of others, and safe in their schools. That common language will follow the students every year of school. “Those expectations are going to be the same,” Garbig said. “I think it’s going to make a difference.” The PBIS program focuses on positive reinforcement. Students caught being good are given “pride” slips. “Pride” postcards signed by teachers, are addressed to children and mailed to their homes. “It’s a way to celebrate the positive behaviors,” said teacher Stacey Higgins. Posters stating expectations of students are placed around the school, defining good behavior in the hallways, cafeteria, playground, bus, or during assemblies. To trick is to make it fun to behave. Crim staff and students made a video showing examples of bad and good behavior. The twist was that the teachers were the ones misbehaving, and the students were schooling them. The video…


BG students speak up without making a sound

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the students in Laura Weaver’s class last week practiced a new language, there were no new words coming from their mouths. They were talking with their hands. The fifth grade students in the PACE gifted and talented class held at Kenwood Elementary were learning American Sign Language. They fired off words, asking for their signs – please, thank you, hello, family, numbers – and the necessities like cookie, ice cream and popcorn. Marta Crow, a retired Penta Career Center teacher for hearing impaired students, kept up with their requests. The theme in Weaver’s class this year is “communication,” so she thought it would be good for the students to learn unspoken language. “I wanted them to understand the foundation of it,” she said. And the lessons went beyond the words themselves. “You have to understand diversity and adversity,” Weaver added. “It just seemed like the right thing to do with these kids.” “We’re so used to speaking language, when you don’t hear it, it’s a whole different world,” she said. Weaver planned to take the sign language lesson further later in the week, with students putting in ear plugs and trying to communicate. They would also be creating clay hands forming a sign language symbol. “I’ve got 50 pounds of clay waiting,” she said, smiling. And then they might give Braille a try. “That could be something cool to try,” Weaver said. Meanwhile, the students were mastering some simple sentences in sign – many having to do with cookies and popcorn. And they were learning that placement of the hands is…


Trump ruling won’t change BG Schools’ transgender policy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Despite President Donald Trump revoking restroom rights of transgender youth in public schools, Bowling Green City Schools plans to continue accommodating the students. The Trump administration recently withdrew Obama-era protections for transgender students in public schools that let them use bathrooms and facilities corresponding with their gender identity. That change won’t affect Bowling Green schools, according to Superintendent Francis Scruci. “We were already accommodating kids before” President Barack Obama’s ruling, so they will continue doing so now, Scruci said on Monday. “We’re going to do what’s right for kids,” he said. Scruci referred to a non-discrimination policy adopted by the board of education in 2014. That stands, regardless of an attempt by Trump to revoke rights of transgender students. “We’re still going to protect kids and give them a safe place and a non-threatening environment,” he said. Last year, when the Obama administration issued the restroom order, Bowling Green High School was already accommodating transgender students. Principal Jeff Dever said last year the high school already had taken steps to make transgender students feel safe and welcome – by allowing students to use the restroom for the gender they identify as, and by calling students by their chosen names and pronouns. “What I have heard from students is their greatest angst comes from using the restroom,” he said. “I understand that completely.” The school also tries to accommodate transgender students in other ways. As soon as the student identifies as the other sex, the staff is instructed to use the student’s chosen name and matching pronoun. “I’ve been told anecdotally that we…