Education

Four file for empty seat on BG school board

By  JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Four people are hoping to make the grade as the new member of the Bowling Green Board of Education. Filing for the seat are: Bill Clifford, retired Wood Lane superintendent; Joanna Craig, a parent in the district; Barbara Moses, a retired BGSU professor; and Bryan Wiles, a pastor in the community. The four are seeking to fill the seat vacated by Ed Whipple, who had served on the school board since 2014, but had to resign when he accepted a position in higher education out of state. The board candidates will all be interviewed by the board of education this evening. According to Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci, the board intends to announce its decision on May 12, then swear in the new board member at the board meeting on May 17. The board is required to make an appointment within 30 days of the vacancy. If the board fails to fill the vacancy within 30 days, the probate court must fill the seat. Moses ran for a seat on the school board last fall. The initial vote count showed her winning by 10 votes. However, after the provisional ballots were counted, Moses lost the seat to Ginny Stewart by nine votes. Ed Whipple’s departure means just two of the remaining four board members have much experience. Paul Walker and Ellen Scholl have served multiple terms, but Jill Carr and Ginny Stewart are new to the board this year. “There’s something to…


Old tunes find new listeners at concert for young & young at heart

With an audience made up largely of kids age 4 through 7, the line between moving to the music and fidgeting is pretty fine. It didn’t matter that the music was not only before their time – because everything is before their time – but before their parents’ time, and likely even before their grandparents’ time. The beat was good. A few youngsters broke out the dance steps, a few swayed in rhythm in their seats and a few fidgeted. Teachers know the difference. For its Young and Young at Heart concert Friday, the Bowling Green bands threw open the doors of the Performing Arts Center to senior citizens and pre-school, kindergarten and first graders from Kenwood, Conneaut and Crim. The older listeners mostly took up the back rows, while the front of the house was packed with kids, and their outnumbered teachers. After some preludes on marimba, the concert got underway with the high school’s jazz band, the Jazz Cats. Their short set was devoted to swing classics from the 1930s and 1940s. But what’s 70 years when one of the songs is named “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” which is deliciously funny to say. During the switch between the Jazz Cats and Symphonic Band, Band Director Bruce Corrigan demonstrated how that bugle boy blew those notes. More funny sounds, more laughs. Corrigan knew his audience. Then the Symphonic Band stepped forward with Morton Gould’s “American Salute,” a fantasy on “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” then a bit of musical…


Sales tax holiday extended for back-to-school items

State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, announced that the Ohio House passed SB 264, which designates the first weekend in August 2016 as a sales tax holiday for the purposes of back-to-school shopping. The legislation creates a three-day period in which certain school supplies are exempt from both state and county sales tax. The bill allows clothing up to $75 per item, and school supplies and instructional materials up to $20 per item, to qualify for the sales tax exemption. The intention of the sales tax holiday is to provide families a tax break on back-to-school shopping, while also stimulating economic activity for local businesses. “I applaud the General Assembly for continuing to pass legislation that makes back to school purchases more affordable for families.  The 2015 sales tax holiday spurred economic activity in Wood County and I support this reauthorization.  As my district additionally is rich in collegiate institutions, this tax holiday will also reduce some of the financial burdens our college students face,” Brown said. In the previous General Assembly, the legislature passed similar legislation to create a one-time sales tax holiday in 2015 as a way to explore the potential impact. According to the University of Cincinnati’s Economic Center, the sales total for that weekend was 6.48 percent higher than anticipated and led to $4.7 million in additional revenue for the state. The study also showed an increase of sales near Ohio’s borders, indicating that people from neighboring states came to Ohio to do their back-to-school shopping…


PathStone paves way to success for young adults

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Amber Wild arrived in Bowling Green last year. Pregnant with no place to go, she headed east from Washington State to stay with a friend. She didn’t have a permanent place to live, had a juvenile record and was pregnant. She was “couch surfing.” Then Wild contacted PathStone in Bowling Green. The private social service and employment agency helped her get a place to live, she said. They helped her find an obstetrician. Helped her find a fast food job and set her up with training to become a State Tested Nursing Assistant. Helped her sign up to get food assistance. PathStone helped with the day-to-day needs as well, providing her with mattresses and dishes. All that she needs, Wild said, “so I can raise my kid correctly.” “They’re definitely more laid back,” Wild said. “They tried to help with everything you might need help with. They don’t limit themselves. I think that’s a good thing. They helped put me on the right path, so I could do what I wanted to do.” PathStone, which is part of a national non-for-profit human services and community development organization with headquarters in Rochester, New York, opened up shop in Bowling Green in January. At first the office was open part time and shared space behind Panera Bread with the Children’s Resource Center. As of Sunday, PathStone has taken over the lease and is open full time, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. off…


Meeting special needs of children in BG schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Children with learning disabilities used to be removed from regular classrooms, away from regular curriculum, away from regular kids. When Lorraine Flick started teaching 30 years ago, children with special needs were tucked away from her classroom. “They went away to some other teacher. I never saw them.” That is no longer the case. Those children are taught in the “least restrictive environment.” So many of those students with special needs are now in regular classrooms. “Over the years, we have found that students who are segregated or separated from their peers,” can learn in regular classrooms if given a little extra support, said Flick, a former elementary principal who is now director of children’s services at Wood Lane. How Bowling Green schools meet the needs of these children was discussed Monday evening during a panel discussion on special education for the League of Women Voters. Schools are legally bound to offer education in the “least restrictive environment,” said Bob Yenrick, executive director of pupil services for Bowling Green City Schools. If a child can “access the curriculum” with the extra help of being paired with a “para-professional” in the classroom, then that child does not need to be put in a different class. “We need to make sure we are honoring that least restrictive environment at all times,” Yenrick said. That change has consequences for schools, and challenges for teachers as well as for the children. But those challenges are worth…


Children’s author a big kid himself – advocates for underwear on head, mac and cheese in bathtub

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Todd Parr’s suggestion that kids eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub did not go over well with their parents. “Moms and dads were very mad at me,” Parr said, smiling. But mac and cheese is a recurring theme in Parr’s books for children. That and underwear. Parr talked about them both with children during his appearance as guest author at the annual Literacy in the Park event Saturday at Bowling Green State University. “His books remind us to be ourselves. That it’s OK to be different,” Tim Murnen, interim director of the BGSU School of Teaching and Learning, said as he introduced Parr to an audience of eager children and their parents. “His books remind us that everyone should wear underwear on your head at least once in your lifetime,” Murnen said. But beyond the silly subjects of food and undergarments, Parr’s underlying message was for the parents as much as their kids. It’s OK to be different. It’s OK to wear glasses, to be missing teeth, to get mad, to have a pet worm. From the stage in the busy, noisy field house, Parr read some of his books aloud to the children. The underwear book outlined the “dos” and “don’ts,” suggesting that underwear not be put in the freezer, always be worn when fishing, but never be used as bait. Each book ends with the same salutation. Love, Todd. Parr told the kids a little bit about his life….


Whipple resigns; BG school board needs new member

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Ed Whipple got his first teaching job, teaching English and French in Chicago Public Schools, he didn’t think too highly of the board of education. “You remember Welcome Back Kotter?” he asked. “I was Kotter. I had the Sweathogs.” But times changed, and so did Whipple, who has come to appreciate that school boards perform a valuable service. And now times are changing again, and Whipple submitted his resignation Tuesday evening from the Bowling Green Board of Education. He will be moving back to Salem, Oregon, where his life in education first began. Whipple practically grew up on the Willamette University campus, where his father was alumni affairs director.  His father later became the school’s first vice president of student affairs in 1967 – the job Whipple will be filling on June 1. But that means Bowling Green Board of Education now must find a person to fill Whipple’s seat here. “He did a fantastic job,” Board President Paul Walker said. Whipple’s resignation was accepted, “reluctantly” and “begrudgingly” by fellow board member. “It’s been a great honor and privilege to serve as a board of education member,” he said. “I thank you for the opportunity to serve.” Whipple, who was vice president for student affairs at BGSU, said as his son went through school in Bowling Green, he was pleased with staff, school leadership and the community support. “I’ve been so impressed.” Superintendent Francis Scruci said Whipple’s leaving is a hard…


BG high’s “Footloose” is about more than fancy footwork

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News This is not just some footloose and fancy free musical. The stage musical version of “Footloose,” a story told twice on the big screen, touches on some serious issues, said Jo Beth Gonzalez, who directs the theater program at Bowling Green High School. “There’s domestic violence,” she said, “loss of family, and death. … I actually think the stage play is richer.” And, of course, lots of dancing. It is, after all, called “Footloose.” “It’s a big dance show,” Gonzalez said.                     The musical will be on stage Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available at the center’s box office Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. The dancing is one of the reasons senior Logan Brown wanted to audition for the lead. He loves to dance and used to perform with his sister Lauren. Brown was excited that he would work with Bob Marzola, who is serving as choreographer. Brown has been in all the musicals during his high school career, he said.  He’s said he was “super excited” to be taking on the role of Ren Mac Cormack, a teenager from the east who ends up in a southern town where dancing has been banned. He’s an outsider “with daddy issues,” Brown said. He’s more than willing to push back against rules “that don’t make any sense.”…


Education learns new moves in active learning classrooms

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News It’s not even 8 o’clock yet and Susan Kleine’s morning Business 1100 class is already on a roll. As students come in, they gather Sharpie markers, Post-It Notes, tape and colored pipe cleaners from a table at the front. Then Kleine directs them to get into groups of four. The students roll their chairs, some without even getting up, around small tables, also on wheels. The assignment is to design the ideal wallet. Now students face off to question each other about their wallets, or the equivalent, how they use them and what their drawbacks and advantages are. The students, meeting on the second floor of the Education Building, are involved, though they may not be aware of it, in a movement to redesign the university classroom. Bowling Green State University is engaged in an ongoing effort to improve its classrooms. The project is part capital renovation, and part ongoing experiment. These new active learning classrooms have their share of technology, yet the emphasis is on the human touch. They are reshaping teaching on campus. “In traditonal sense, we think of the classrooms as being neat rows of students and the teacher in front of those rows spouting out information,” said Mary-Jon Ludy, who teaches nutrition classes. “If I think about that happening in classrooms today, if they’re not engaged, they either fall asleep or they do something else.” Instead of fighting those tendencies, the new active learning classrooms put them to use. Many…


Smith reaches for the stars at planetarium

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the stars filled the domed sky and the cardboard rocket took off into space, one of the students quietly slid over to sit in her teacher’s lap. “This was so real, one little girl thought the dome took off,” teacher Nancy Frankart said after the planetarium show was over and the lights came on. “She thought we were traveling to space.” That is music to Dale Smith’s ears. Smith has been director at the Bowling Green State University Planetarium since it opened in 1983. “I came with it. That makes me the best director they’ve ever had and the worst director they’ve ever had,” he said, smiling. Smith started focusing on the stars as a child in upstate New York. “In third grade, a friend lent me a book about planets, and I was hooked,” he said. “A lot of astronomers have similar stories. Something grabbed ahold of us.” For some, like Smith, it’s not enough to look skyward themselves. They want others to enjoy the view as well. “Something inspired us and we want to share our love of the universe with audiences.” And that’s exactly what Smith does as he turns off the lights, asks the children to put on their imaginary seatbelts, lean back in the planetarium chairs and travel through space. Last week, he took first through third graders from St. Wendelin Catholic School in Fostoria on a ride in the “Secret of the Cardboard Rocket.” This…


Kenwood open Friday…with stipulations

Dear parents and guardians, We have received the most important test results and I am happy to report that there are no harmful chemicals in the water.  We however are waiting for one test which will verify that there is no bacteria in the water and we are expecting that mid-day tomorrow.  Therefore, Kenwood Elementary WILL BE OPEN for students tomorrow,Friday, April 8, 2016 with a few stipulations.  Water bottles will be made available to all students throughout the day and hand sanitizer will be provided in all restrooms until we have received the final result.  Essentially the building is following a boil alert protocol like we follow in our homes.  As I stated yesterday, the problem was simply Kenwood is an older building with older pipes that was closed for 10 days (spring break) resulting in discolored water.  We have worked with the City, the EPA, and the water testing company the past two days and are confident to allow students to come back to school.  Therefore we will have a normal day of school beginning with breakfast through dismissal.  Again, we will always err on the side of caution for the safety of our students.  Thanks for your continued support and understanding through these past two days. Bobcat Proud, Superintendent Francis Scruci


Kenwood closed again Thursday; water test results not complete

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Kenwood Elementary School will be closed again Thursday since complete test results are not back on water at the school. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci closed the school on Wednesday due to discolored water at a drinking fountain in the school. Initially it was believed the greenish colored water was due to a back flow valve failure. However, Scruci said this evening that the water problem appears to more likely be the result of the older pipes in the building going unused over spring break. The pipes went unused for 10 days during break. After being run, the water was clear this morning, Scruci said. Tests conducted this morning showed the water being fine but the full scale contaminant test results will not be available until after noon on Thursday.  Therefore, Kenwood Elementary will be closed again Thursday. All other schools in the district will be open. “Our first responsibility is to keep our students safe,” Scruci wrote in an email to parents.  “I am not willing to take any unnecessary risks and want to err on the side of caution.” Water samples were taken to a testing site in Toledo from Kenwood school and other schools in the district for baseline data. Initially the testing facility said the results would be complete in eight to 10 days, but Scruci said it was made clear that was unacceptable. “We cannot wait eight to 10 days,” he said. The district has one more…


Kenwood Elementary closed Wednesday due to discolored water

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Discolored water in a drinking fountain at Kenwood Elementary School has resulted in the school being closed Wednesday. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said this afternoon that the water fountains were all shut off after greenish colored water was noticed. City utility workers were called, tested the water, and found no bacteria in it, Scruci said. As a precautionary measure, a water testing company was called, but was unable to get to the school today. “We have the company coming tomorrow to ensure that the water is without question safe,” Scruci said. Boiler technicians and plumbers are also working on the issue to identify and correct the original cause for the discoloration, he added. Because the water was clear on Monday, it is believed the problem was caused by a boiler backflow valve malfunction. “We believe that we know the cause of the problem but until we are 100 percent certain that the water in the building is safe, we cannot put students and staff at potential risk,” Scruci wrote in an email to parents. Scruci is hopeful the school will be open again on Thursday. But that will only take place if he can be assured the water is safe for students and staff to drink, he said. “If they can’t guarantee me tomorrow that the water is safe, I will cancel school again,” Scruci said. Since the school district did not use all its snow calamity days during the mild…



Little girl makes waves saving rare dolphins

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Standing on a step stool to reach the podium, the 9-year-old told how she has taken on a nation’s prime minister and a local corporation to try to save dolphins on the other side of the globe. Calista Wilkins, a fourth grader at Otsego, has been working two years to preserve Maui dolphins, the smallest of its species, that live off the coast of New Zealand. On Thursday, Calista shared her story with the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. The serious little girl with long blond hair is not intimidated by leaders whose words praise the preservation of the dolphins, but whose actions do the opposite. Her efforts have earned her a grant from Jane Goodall’s organization to continue her dolphin-saving work. Calista was also at ease speaking to the group of Kiwanians, trying to engage them in the presentation. She showed slides of New Zealand, where the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was filmed, and asked if anyone was familiar with the small statured characters called hobbits. “The Maui dolphins are sort of like that,” she said. Though Calista has never been to New Zealand, and has never seen the Maui dolphins, she confidently explained their plight. The rare dolphins number only about 50, and risk becoming extinct by 2030 if nothing changes to reverse their fate. The black, white and gray dolphins have rounded noses, dorsal fins shaped like Mickey Mouse ears, and like to swim in groups close to the…