Education

BG to vote on school renewal levy, council candidates

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green voters will face a school tax, two liquor issues and a truckload of city council candidates when they cast ballots in the primary election next week on May 2. Bowling Green City School District will have a 0.5 percent income tax renewal for current expenses for five years. The income tax for the district began in January of 1993 and has been renewed every five years since. It makes up 11 percent of the district’s general fund revenue, generating $3.34 million annually. Superintendent Francis Scruci has stressed that the income tax issue is a renewal – not a new tax. Also on the ballot are several city council candidates. A total of 16 candidates have filed for the open seats. None of the ward seats will be contested in the primary election. However, filing for the two open at-large seats were four Democrats, four Green Party members, and one Republican. The deadline for filing for Independent candidates is May 1, too late to appear on a primary ballot. Nathan Eberly has indicated interest in running as an Independent. The primary election will narrow down the at-large race to a maximum of two candidates from each party. Since only one Republican filed, voters will be given the choice of ballots for the Democratic Party, the Green Party or for issues only. Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections, said this is the first time the Green Party has had enough candidates to warrant a primary ballot in Bowling Green. Burton said the lack of a Republican ballot in…


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…


BG Spanish students immersed in Cuban culture

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., trips abroad by Bowling Green City School students were halted. Concerns about student safety took priority over the desire to let youth experience the world outside U.S. borders. But last month, a group of Bowling Green students not only traveled overseas, they went to a nation that had long been off-limits to many Americans. Spanish students traveled to Cuba for a week of learning the nation’s culture, food, music, history, lifestyle – and an opportunity to use their Spanish speaking skills. “None of us are going to forget” the week-long trip, Spanish teacher Dallas Black told the Bowling Green Board of Education on Tuesday evening. English teacher Tom Ross, who also traveled with the group, encouraged the school board to allow more student travel overseas. “I want this to be a stepping off point,” after a long dry-spell of international travel, Ross said. “Let’s get traveling again with our classes and our students.” Three students – Griffin Black, Elle Ross and Maddie Smotherman – who went on the Cuba trip presented photos and observations from their travels. The students talked about traditional Cuban food, art, extreme poverty, monuments to revolutionaries, the beach, a cathedral, the University of Havana, the Bay of Pigs museum, and a botanical garden. “What an incredible opportunity it was for us to see all this,” Smotherman said. “Cuba was amazing. I couldn’t have picked a better country to visit.” And the timing was perfect, Black and Ross said. Cuba is “on the cusp of change,” Ross said. “It’s…


Survey results in on BG Schools building options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The results are in for Bowling Green City Schools’ building options survey – but the numbers are so close that school officials need time to digest the 91-page report before deciding which path to take. “We do have some tough decisions,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said during the board of education meeting Tuesday evening. During the past year, Scruci has held several open houses in different settings to find out if citizens want to construct new buildings, renovate the old, or do nothing. He has met with parents at each school building, with the community at coffee klatches, and with the farming community at two gatherings. To reach even more people, surveys were mailed out recently to 2,000 randomly selected taxpayers in the Bowling Green School District, excluding BGSU. A total of 344 surveys were returned – which is a 17.2 percent response rate – higher than the average expected 10 percent return rate. The meat of the survey asked residents to rank the building options for the district. Those choices are: Combine the three elementary schools into one new building, and build a new high school. Combine the three elementary schools into one new building, and renovate the high school. Renovate Conneaut, Kenwood and the high school. Build a new Conneaut, and renovate Kenwood and the high school. Keep all the buildings as they are. Residents were asked to rank their top three choices. Coming in with the most top choice points (at 29.9 percent) was the option of combining the elementaries and building a new high school. The next top choice…


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…


Michigan author Patricia Polacco Literacy in the Park guest

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University’s annual Literacy in the Park event will feature popular children’s author Patricia Polacco. The Lansing native has written and illustrated more than 115 books for children in addition to being a playwright and penning for adults. She is a much-sought-after lecturer and keynote speaker. Some of her most popular books include “The Keeping Quilt,” “Thunder Cake” and “Thank you, Mr. Falker.” Presented by BGSU’s College of Education and Human Development, Literacy in the Park will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 29, at Perry Field House. The event is free and open to the public. Last year, more than 2,000 people attended the event. Literacy in the Park, which has taken place for more than a decade, promotes the importance of literacy in the lives of children and features more than 40 interactive exhibitor booths and displays. The focus of the event has been expanded to address all of the different ways literacy is important in our lives. In addition to reading and writing activities, families will have opportunities to engage in activities about digital literacy, science and environmental literacy, financial literacy, nutritional literacy, physical education literacy and many other forms of literacy that can be found in their lives and communities. In addition to these literacy-related activities going on throughout the day, there will also be entertainment on the main stage and two presentations from Polacco. Born in Michigan, Polacco’s family on her mother’s side were Jewish immigrants from Russia and the Ukraine, and her father’s people were from the County of Limerick in Ireland….


Tickets on sale for BG High’s production of “Shrek”

From BGHS THEATRE The musical “Shrek”  is based on the beloved Dreamwork’s cartoon about an ogre, named Shrek, who along with several other fairy-tale creatures who are forced off their land by the evil Lord Farquaad.k the Musical” The show will be on stage at the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center, April 20-22  at 7 p.m. and April 23 at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at showtix4u.com until April 14. Then tickets can be purchased at the PAC box office April 17-19th from 3-6 pm. In an attempt to regain his land, Shrek decides to take Lord Farquaad’s challenge to rescue the “fair Princess Fiona” from a tower that happens to be guarded by a dragon. Shrek, with his “trusty steed” Donkey, and Fiona make the journey towards Lord Farquaad’s kingdom. Along the way, Shrek and Fiona discover that they are now friends who are also in love. The play teaches us to love our true natures which sometimes include “our warts and all.” Shrek is played by junior, Justin McKenzie. Fiona is played by junior Elaine Hudson. Donkey is played by senior Josh Coleman with the voice of “the dragon” sung by Olivia Strang. Lord Farquaad is performed by senior Micah McKanna. The cast includes  Rachel Amburgey, Stephanie Bell, Alex Bellavia, Sophia Bird, Hannah Bowlus, Abraham Brockway, Ethan Brown, Natalie Carty, Alyssa Clemens, Megan Clifford, Brian Condon, Nova Cullison, Kaitlyn Dorman, Fran Flores, Saralynn George, Sophi Hachtel, Devon Jackson, Moe Kellow, Sarah Kelly, Sarah Kerr, Darin Kirchner, Hailey Kirchner, Luke Kobylski, Dea Kukeli, Thomas Long, Jadyn Lundquest, Julie Maas, Michael Martin, Jessica Miller, Darryl Moorehead, Sophia Nelson, Naila Ortega, Hudson Pendleton, Mr….


BG Schools athletic director resigns after 9 months

The athletic director hired by Bowling Green City Schools last June has resigned after getting an opportunity he couldn’t refuse. As the district begins its search for a new athletic director to replace Jonas Smith, former athletic director Mike Vannett has agreed to fill the position on an interim basis. “He was offered a position that he couldn’t pass up,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said Friday afternoon about Smith. Smith did not reveal what the position was, but said there would be a press conference Saturday announcing his new job. Scruci said he is pleased with the job Smith did in his brief stay at Bowling Green. Smith, whose annual salary was $90,000, believed in putting academics ahead of athletics and believed in being accessible to parents. Prior to coming to Bowling Green, Smith served as athletic director for Dayton Public Schools, where he oversaw seven high schools and a $3.6 million renovation of the district’s Welcome Stadium. Scruci said he was attracted to Smith’s 20 years of experience overseeing a large program, his reputation in the state, his winning record at Dayton, and his success securing corporate sponsorships for the renovated stadium. When hired last summer to replace retiring Scott Seeliger, Smith said he was attracted to the “very welcoming” community, the good schools, and the potential to build relationships in Bowling Green.


Horizon Youth Theatre presents 2017 Festival of Shorts

Submitted by Horizon Youth Theatre Horizon Youth Theatre is pleased to announce its 2017 Festival of Shorts. Three different shows will consist of one act plays written and acted by students; monologues by students from Cassie Greenlee’s Character Acting & Monologue workshop; and the emcee talents of Scarlet Frishman and Katie Partlow. Performances are at Otsego Elementary School, 18505 Tontogany Creek Road, on Friday March 31 and Saturday April 1 at 7:00 pm; and Sunday April 2 at 2:00 pm. Admission is by donation. The plays, with their performance days and cast lists, are as follows: Featherwary by The 2017 Devising Class, directed by Keith Guion Performing Friday and Sunday Cast: Firecloud, an elf-dragon thief – Alexandra Roberts-Zibbel Lainey, a mushroom fairy – Paige Suelzer Penny, a bewildered sudden visitor – Katie Partlow Tim Brown II, a squatter and housekeeper – Eli Marx Vanessa West, a spoiled, rich brat – Emma Kate Holbrook Dr. Cecilia Goldberg, a medical prodigy – Grace Holbrook Greenhouse by Bindi Hoskay, directed by Terra Sloane with mentor Brittany Albrecht Performing Friday and Saturday Cast: Gardener – Ethan Headley Daisy – Isobel Roberts-Zibbel Sunflower – Scarlett Strausbaugh Rose – Calista Wilkins Primrose – Alice Walters Shopper 1 – Noah Carpenter Shopper 2 – Lydia Korzeniewski Shopper 3 – Elise Allen Gwen – Izzy Douglass Home? by Alexandra Roberts-Zibbel & Rose Walters, directed by Alli Kulbago Performing Friday and Saturday Cast: Mom – Sasha Meade Karsyn – Lydia Mackiewicz Cassidy – Lauren Clifford Penny – Bindi Hoskay Peyton – Gray Frishman The Secret Alliance for Lonely Kids by Terra Sloane, directed by Kelly Frailly Performing Friday and…


School board wants to wash away shower room woes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Education agreed to seek bids for a project that few people will actually see – but some may smell the results. The board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to go out for bids for repairs to the boys shower room in the high school locker room. Large cracks in the room have meant athletes and gym students have not been able to use the showers. The estimated cost for the work is $373,800, according to Kent Buehrer, of Buehrer Group. In addition to fixing the shower room, the project will also make other improvements. “Whenever you go into a 50-year-old building for renovations, there are other issues,” Buehrer told the board.  Improvements will make the area ADA compliant, add adequate storage and increase the training room space. “We’re trying to get the most bang out of the buck,” Buehrer said. The board also approved going out for bids for resurfacing of the track, with an estimated cost of $75,000. The new track surface will be latex, which should last eight to 10 years. With routine maintenance, it could last even longer, Scruci said. Both projects are scheduled to take two months to complete, which is an “aggressive” schedule, Buehrer said. In other business, Scruci gave an update on the 2,000 surveys mailed out to random district residents on the school building options. As of Monday, 300 had been returned, which is a rate of 15 percent. Another 300 online survey questionnaires have been submitted. The results of the survey will be presented at the board’s meeting in April….


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…