Education

Wood County honors citizens for their contributions

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The best of Wood County was honored on Sunday. Farmers who help educate city folks about agriculture. Pastors who build bridges, not walls. And a retired teacher who is still committed to learning, even if that means going to a “Godzilla” movie. Wood County commissioners Doris Herringshaw and Ted Bowlus led off the 2017 Spirit of Wood County Awards in the courthouse atrium. Following is the list of people recognized in each category: Agricultural leadership: Cathy Newlove Wenig, Gordon Wenig, Paul Herringshaw and Lesley Riker. Liberty through law/human freedom: Dan Van Vorhis. Self-government: Tim W. Brown. Education for Civic Responsibility: Mary Kuhlman. Religion and liberty: Revs. Mary Jane and Gary Saunders. Industrial/economic development: Barbara Rothrock. Lyle R. Fletcher Good Citizenship Award: Gwen Andrix and Amy Holland. “This is one of those things that Wood County does especially well,” said State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, about the recognition of community service by citizens. The agricultural leadership award was presented by Earlene Kilpatrick, executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. For the last 12 years of the BG Leadership program, the Wenigs, Herringshaw and Riker have welcomed city business people on their farms. The day is a “real and powerful opportunity to educate citizens,” Kilpatrick said. “And we end up smelling like a farm at the end of the day.” “What an amazing experience for each class,” to learn about Wood County’s leading industry, she said. Initially the farm day consisted…


BG School’s 5-year financial forecast holding steady

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education was dazzled by math skills Tuesday evening – first by a couple elementary students, then by the district treasurer. Conneaut fourth grader Hayden Feehan and second grader Simran Gandhi impressed the board by demonstrating a new math program that helps kids learn number reasoning – all while making it fun. Unlike the monotony of flashcards, the computerized games allow the students to work at their own speed. “As you can see, the students catch on real quickly,” Conneaut principal Jim Lang said, noting that second graders like Simran are already doing multiplication. Then came the big numbers. Treasurer Rhonda Melchi, who is retiring later this year, presented her last five-year forecast to the board. When she started as school treasurer in 1995, the forecasts weren’t required. That changed in 1997, when the state started mandating the glimpses into the future. “It’s a snapshot in time – what we know when it is prepared,” Melchi told the board of the forecast for 2018 to 2022. “That’s a little scary, isn’t it.” The state’s biennial budget offered no surprises, she said. “As predicted, Bowling Green’s budget will remain stable for the next two years,” Melchi said. No big changes are expected in personnel or insurance costs, she added. This year was a little tricky because the number of employee paydays was 27, rather than the norm of 26. Looking ahead to 2021, the treasurer said the district will need…


“It’s clear that now is the time to invest in new school buildings”

Voters will be asked on November 7 to support a bond request to construct a new consolidated elementary school, as well as to significantly renovate the high school.  Much thought and study by our school leaders, as well as considerable citizen input, have gone into this request, and it is not being made without good cause.  Although a cursory drive-by of our current elementary and high school buildings might suggest that they are in acceptable shape, a closer examination – even a brief walk through any of the buildings, for example – will demonstrate that this is far from the case.  The buildings have long outlived their usefulness, and in their current condition are not conducive to teaching and learning.  Our teachers and students have done a good job of making due with patch worked buildings for several years now, but we have reached the point of diminishing returns.  The current buildings have become like that old car many of us have kept a little too long – in dire need of repair after repair, with no end in sight.  And just as we know when it’s time to trade in that old clunker that is nickel and diming us to death, it’s clear that now is the time to invest in new school buildings. Bowling Green voters have long displayed a strong commitment to education.  This support has produced an outstanding school system that benefits all of us, whether we have school-aged children and grandchildren or not.  A strong…


Horizon Youth youngsters tune into absurd comedy with “Magic Harmonica”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The stage manager in Horizon Youth Theatre’s production of “The Magic Harmonica and Other Fanciful Tales” has problems keeping her cast in line. They always want to veer away from the script. Officious, and controlling, the stage manager played Kaitlyn Valantine is not above yanking one narrator for another when they displease her. What she can’t control is the way the playwright Janet Layberry also has a mind of her own. These four one-act plays within a play all employ the tropes of fairy tales, but do so in absurd and comic ways. “The Magic Harmonica” is on stage at the Otsego High auditorium Thursday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5. Visit www.horizonyouththeatre.org/product/harmonica. The play uses the troupe’s younger cohort of actors, ages 6 through 12, but there seem few concessions to age. The humor is at times intentionally juvenile, often involving grade school word play. Nobody delivers those jokes better than an actual grade schooler. Sometimes the humor seems pitched to the parents, as when Michelle (Calista Wilkins) in “The Woobly Fiasco” tells the enchanted prince carrying an outsized sword: “People haven’t used swords for ages, now they have … lawyers.” And then there’s the jester played by Liam Rogel who trades in absurdist non-sequiturs. Each story has lessons here but they spare us the morals and never let messages get in the way of a good time. The first of the four plays, “You Call…


BG students make the most of manufacturing day

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There were robots scooting across the floor, fresh packaged green beans and a guinea pig named “Lil Poundcake” – all part of National Manufacturing Day. Nine Wood County manufacturers set up shop in the Bowling Green Middle School on Friday to show students that manufacturing could be a great career choice. “We want to get this age to consider a career in manufacturing,” said Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation. “When you start in high school, they already have preconceived notions. So you have to start earlier.” This is the first time the middle school has held a manufacturing day, said Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator. “There is a crisis in manufacturing for skilled workers,” Anderson said. Friday’s event was intended to help students see that “old school traditional factories” are not the same as today’s manufacturing. Clark agreed. “We need young people in the pipeline” for manufacturing jobs, she said. Many students have archaic ideas of manufacturing jobs. “This is so kids see what modern manufacturing looks like,” Anderson said. “It’s changed drastically.” This manufacturers’ fair had students using virtual reality goggles and turning soap different colors. “I think some of them are surprised,” Anderson said of the students. The manufacturers set up in the gymnasium showed how their professions needed science, problem solving and creative thinking. Apio, the fresh produce processor, showed students how to test the bags of fresh green beans for oxygen and…


He jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge … and lived to tell about it to help others

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The second that Kevin Hines cleared the railing on the Golden Gate Bridge, he knew he had made a mistake. But by then, he was falling 220 feet at 75 mph. Up until that moment, Hines believed he had to kill himself. Hines spoke Tuesday morning to an auditorium full of Otsego High School students. Next month, he will talk with students at Bowling Green City Schools. He was asked to speak at local schools after the recent Wood County youth survey showed an increase in suicide ideation among 7th through 11th graders. In fact, the local rates were higher than the state and national averages. Hines told students they should not keep quiet about their pain. “I was falling apart at the seams, but I hid it from everybody,” he told the students. “Your pain is valid. Your pain matters, because you matter.” Hines was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder and paranoia during his junior year of high school. The diagnosis came after he had a role in the play “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” “I was on a stage, much like this,” he told the students, pointing to their auditorium stage. When Hines looked out at the audience of 1,200 people, he was certain they were all there to kill him. He ran off the stage. Hines went to a psychiatrist, who started treating him. But Hines was resistant. “I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t…


“Better schools do make better communities”

We have no children or grandchildren in the Bowling Green School district but we strongly support the proposed school levy because we love Bowling Green and will encourage any project that will improve the living and learning environment for its citizens. It may be true that buildings, per se, don’t make better students; but many studies have shown that the quality of school buildings directly effects student health, behavior, engagement, learning and growth in achievement. Of equal importance, the quality of school facilities has a direct impact on teacher recruitment, retention, commitment and effort. Given a choice, how many young teachers will opt for teaching in half-century old buildings with outdated and limited classroom spaces and technologies when virtually every other school district in the area offers state of the art facilities? The outcome of the school levy will also have significant impact on the community as a whole: one of the key outcomes of BG’s recently enacted Community Action Plan is to attract young millennials and families. Local real estate brokers will confirm that many of these families are choosing to settle in neighboring communities in part because our schools are not comparable to those in surrounding districts. Better schools do make better communities! We urge everyone to support the Bowling Green School District levy. Bob and Joan Callecod 1234 Brownwood Drive Bowling Green


Mailers sent out anonymously on school bond issue are incorrect

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The 8,400 mailers sent out by a Bowling Green man opposed to the school bond issue include incorrect tax numbers. The Wood County Auditor’s Office said today that the school bond issue taxes were calculated incorrectly on the mailers that Bowling Green School District voters are receiving in their mail. The mailers portray the taxes as much higher than they actually are, according to the auditor’s office. Though the mailers were sent out anonymously, Bowling Green businessman Bud Henschen has acknowledged that he sent them out. He said he wanted to make sure people were aware of the bond issue and of the effect it would have on their taxes. But improper calculations resulted in the incorrect information going out to 8,400 potential voters. The mailers state that for the owner of a $200,000 home, the new levy would cost $420, and would add up to total property taxes of $6,365 a year. That number is nearly $2,500 too high. Using the correct calculations, for the owner of a $200,000 home, the new levy would cost $420, but the total taxes would add up to $3,928, according to the county auditor’s office. “We can’t really speak to what he did. We’re just going on what we know is fact,” said Becky Graber, deputy auditor. Henschen said he was just trying to get information out to potential voters. The 6-mill, 37-year bond issue is unaffordable to the average person, he said. Henschen initially…


Scruci responds to anonymous mailer about bond issue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci has been talking himself hoarse about the school bond issue on the November ballot. Monday evening he took the pitch to Bowling Green City Council. In the audience were several teachers and school board members showing their support. But in addition to explaining the 6-mill bond issue, Scruci also had to spend time dispelling what he called untruths in an anonymous mailer being sent out to district residents. The mailer criticized the school district for not being open about the tax issue, and for not being honest about the costs to taxpayers. Scruci did not hold back. “I hope when you and your neighbors get this, you put it where it belongs, and that’s the trash,” he said. “It’s not worth the paper it was printed on.” “We’ve been transparent from day one,” said Scruci, who has been making almost daily presentations about the bond issue. The superintendent said the numbers printed on the mailers were false – painting a far worse picture of how much taxpayers will owe if it passes. That’s just not right, he said. “You can mess with me, but this is messing with the kids,” Scruci said. Though the mailers are from an anonymous source, a few people in the City Council audience believed Bowling Green businessman Bud Henschen may have been behind the material. When called after the council meeting, Henschen said that he was the person who sent out the…


‘Support the high school and elementary school construction projects’ – Mayor Dick Edwards

Dear Editor: Bowling Green as a city government and as a community has long been the beneficiary of forward thinking citizens and public officials. Wise investments in the past are paying huge dividends today and have positioned the city for an even brighter future. For example, Bowling Green has one of the best and most sustainable array of utilities in the region featuring reverse osmosis water production, extremely reliable electricity, and high EPA standards for sewage treatment. BG was the first city in Ohio to build utility-sized wind turbines. Now we have the largest solar field in Ohio: 85,000 solar panels producing 20 mega watts of power. We also have a vibrant, historic downtown business district, one that will soon feature at long last a public square, i.e., a gathering place, the Wooster Green. We have parks with miles of walking trails and features of nature, a nationally recognized garden park, a community center built on the principles of collaboration, and a water park overwhelmingly supported by the voters and located in historic City Park. As a university community, we recognize the importance and value of education. BGSU is investing heavily in its facilities, including those in its academic core. City-university relationships are being enhanced by mutually reinforcing improvements in the E. Wooster Street corridor, thus adding meaning to the city’s welcoming environment. The Bowling Green story is a good one, one that should be the source of pride and admiration by all its citizens with one noticeable exception: it…


Scruci fields questions from farming community on bond issue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci faced a tough crowd Monday evening – members of the local farming community, looking for information on the school district’s 6-mill bond request for buildings. The bond issue could be a hard sell to farmers, since owners of large amounts of acreage will be among those most affected by the property tax on the November ballot. This was the third time the superintendent has met with members of the farming community. And each time he has not pushed for them to pass the bond issue. Instead, Scruci has suggested they ask themselves two questions. “Does this help move the community forward and is it good for kids?” Then came the tougher one. “Can you afford it?” “We know there are people in this community who can’t afford it,” Scruci said. And they have to cast their votes accordingly. That doesn’t mean they are against the school district or the students, he added. But the district cannot wait until everyone in the district can afford new schools, he said. “This community will never grow and our kids will not get what kids in every other district in our area are getting,” Scruci said. The superintendent fielded questions about why the district can’t use an income tax, which wouldn’t hurt local farmers as much. An income tax cannot be used to pay for a building project, he explained. What about an increase in sales tax, someone asked. The schools…


STEM in the Park embraces every day science & fun

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – are infused in daily living. Don’t believe it? Take a stroll through STEM in the Park that sprawled inside and outside of the Bowling Green State University Field House Saturday. You’ll see feats of engineering, and owls, starfish and other fauna from around the world, and bottles with multicolored water  that illustrate the ocean layers. You’ll also see kids making pizza dough, and taking those first tentative sounds on musical instruments. You’ll see kids tumbling and watching bubbles float high above them. And don’t forget the slime. That was the favorite of Melissa Works’ four children, age 4 to 10. Logan, 8, was especially enthusiastic about the slime, his sister Rozlyn, 6, liked the bubbles and gymnastics, and all including Benjamin, 10, and Serena. 4, were enjoying the free hot dog and mac and cheese lunch provided by Tony Packo’s. Well, Serena was more interested in leaving her mark with a crayon to the paper table coverings. Work said that the activities held the interest of her crew. They still had the outside to explore, she said. This is the eighth year the event has been staged on the campus of Bowling Green State University, Emilio Duran, who teaches in the College of Education and Human Development, said the idea for the event first occurred to him and his wife, Lena Duran, who also teaches in the college. The college, they realized, offers many…


BG fifth graders take learning from classroom to camp

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For one week, the fifth graders left behind their classrooms, their parents, their cell phones. But they found nature, social skills and how to learn without being tied to technology. The fifth grade teachers and principal from Crim Elementary School talked with the Bowling Green Board of Education Tuesday about the experiences of the nearly 250 fifth graders who traveled to Heartland Outdoor School last month. The best explanations perhaps came from the students themselves, who wrote letters to people in the community who helped pay for the week-long learning adventure. “I learned that fear was just a word,” one student wrote after reaching the peak of the rock wall. Another student talked about the different environments they observed and the different types of rocks they studied. “We learned so much, I could fill the whole page,” the child wrote. And another told of learning how to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy streams, how to shoot arrows, make candles and throw a tomahawk. Not typical classroom lesson plans. This was the first year of camp for Crim’s new principal Alyssa Karaffa. “It was a great experience,” she said. And for the teachers who return year after year, “they are absolutely saints,” Karaffa added. Science and social studies teacher Tyler Nye said it’s easy for him to explain when people ask why the students go to a week of camp every year. Where else can they have hands-on learning about crawdads…


Scruci joins other districts questioning state report cards

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The state may need a refresher course on how to do testing. Once again, Bowling Green City School District scored low in some areas on its state report card. But according to Superintendent Francis Scruci, that may say more about the tests than the school district. In the area of “achievement” – which represents the number of students who passed the state tests and how well they performed on them – Bowling Green scored a D. The sting from that grade is lessened a bit by the similar grades earned across the state, Scruci said. Of the 607 districts scored, only 22 got an A, 15 scored a B, 22 got a C, and 58 earned a D. The vast majority – 490 – earned an F. “As educators we know when we create tests for classrooms, there should be a bell-shaped curve,” Scruci said. The fact that most districts failed, raises “obvious questions.” “This is a pretty good illustration that this system is not working,” he said about the state grade cards. Scruci is not alone in his harsh opinion of the state tests. Many Wood County superintendents share his criticisms. “Everyone is frustrated with the system itself,” he said. “The system is flawed. If a teacher were to give a test and get scores like that,” they would do it again. In addition to the “achievement” area, the other grades given to Bowling Green schools include: D for gap closing….


Margaret Neifer turns 100 with a lot of spunk and stories

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Margaret Neifer turns 100 on Wednesday, she will be bucking the odds. “I eat too many sweets. I use too much salt,” said Mrs. Neifer, a retired teacher living in Bowling Green. “I don’t drink enough water. I’ve never been a health nut.” She had a rocky start to her life. Growing up in East Toledo, Margaret had frequent bouts of pneumonia. The front door of her home was often posted with warnings of contagious illnesses. Yellow for chicken pox. Red for scarlet fever. Another color for measles. “I got them all,” she said. For much of the first six years of her life, Margaret would sit inside and play on her windowsill with her friends outside the window. But those early illnesses must have toughened her for later in life. One day shy of 100, and she has the health that many half her age would envy. She takes no medication, lives in her home with Tilly the cat, takes care of herself, writes her own checks, keeps up on current events, and can carry on conversations for hours  – seriously. “She does have a cane. However, she carries it rather than using it,” said her son Don Neifer, who lives in Bowling Green. “I have been blessed with good health,” as an adult, Mrs. Neifer said. “I see the doctor next week. He is always worried about my legs holding me up.” Mrs. Neifer wasn’t the only one in…