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 magic, a piece featuring a flute solo by Lilly Rakas, and a musical tribute to bugs that included a couple of comically cavorting butterflies. The time just flew until the show ended up in a galaxy a long time ago. First graders trooped up to the stage to take positions within the band, and don the visages of Stormtroopers, Ewoks and Wookiees. Then with their masked associates at their feet,  the musicians played music from “Star Wars,” a preview of a May 10 at 7 p.m. concert when the winds will join the string orchestra to play music from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Now it was time for the youngsters to troop out to waiting buses, and for the elders to convene in the atrium for cookies… sorry, kids. Emma Cook was on hand with her husband and two young grandchildren. The youngsters’ sister, who was there with her class, encouraged them to attend Cook was more than willing to make the outing. She has fond memories of being in band and choir in Bowling Green High and Otsego. It helped her, she said, when she went on to Bowling Green State University and studied to be a teacher. These musical programs are valuable, she said. Concerts show young kids what they’ll be able to do when they get older. “Kids need to be introduced to different types of music.” The school programs offer plenty of opportunities for expanding young people’s musical horizons, Cook said. She brought another granddaughter to see the musical “Footloose.” “She was mesmerized.”    

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 and take advantage of the sales tax exemption, Brown said. Provided that Governor John Kasich signs the legislation, the bill will take effect in time for the sales tax holiday to take place from Aug. 5-7 of this year.

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 the parking lot behind 143 S. Main St. Operating with a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, PathStone aims to provide a range of services for Bowling Green residents age 14 through 24. Niki Schroeder, regional administrator, said residency extends to university students, teens in foster care and inmates incarcerated at the Wood County Justice Center or Juvenile Detention Center. PathStone now has 54 participants, she said. It has funding for 125 through the end of December, when the program hopes to get renewed funding for another two years. For those 17 and under, she said, the emphasis is on education. That could mean help completing high school. The center provides correspondence courses through the Wood County Educational Services Center for students who need to make up courses they failed. Computers are available onsite, so students can work on the online courses that Bowling Green and Otsego offer for students who need to retake courses. “We help get them back on track for graduation,” Schroeder said. PathStone employs a certified teacher, Clayton Lutz, who tutors in the detention center and in schools as well as overseeing students taking correspondence courses. For those 18 and older, the educational focus shifts. PathStone provides tutoring for the GED and helps pay the cost of taking the test. Or if a participant has an eye on college, PathStone can pay the cost of taking the ACT. Center staff work with a number of training programs, including the nurse assistant program that Wild is in. Also, it offers training in operating a forklift, which can help some step up to a better paying job, or truck driver training. They help participants connect with training programs offered by Owens Community College and the Penta Career Center. Schroeder said that the assistance extends beyond training and…

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 confronting, according to the panel. Schools still have special education teachers, but now they are referred to with the politically correct name of “intervention specialists,” according to Christie Walendzak, special education coordinator with Bowling Green City Schools. The specialists look at every student to make sure they are keeping up with curriculum, and identify the areas a child may need extra help. They try to intervene early so children never qualify for special education services. Those who qualify for special education services are give Individualized Education Plans, addressing their specific needs, Walendzak said. Approximately 535 students in the Bowling Green school system have IEPs. Some families choose to send those students to private schools, which Bowling Green schools then have to fund. Bowling Green tries to reach children early who might need extra help. That means getting to kids before they start kindergarten. “We start when children are 2 ½,” Yenrick said. “We want to develop strategies to develop positive outcomes for them.” Suspected problems are reported by pediatricians who notice young children aren’t hitting milestones, or by day cares, parents, grandparents, or anyone with concerns. Reporting has become more common since autism diagnoses have “exploded,” Flick said. Programs such as Help Me Grow evaluate the children, and go to families’ homes to work with the parents. “Who better than mom and dad to serve that child every day,” Flick said. “The children make significantly more progress.” If identified early enough, the school’s services can start two years prior to the child entering kindergarten. “When they hit age 3, our services kick in that day if the parents want them,” Yenrick said. With such services as occupational, speech or physical therapy, the hope is that children will be up to speed by time they get to kindergarten. “The sooner we…

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. He failed art class – a couple times – but knew he wanted to be an artist. His simplistic, silly, bright, block lettered books are easy for kids to enjoy and digest. “It’s really hard to tell the difference between the kids’ art and mine,” he said as he shared pictures sent to him by his younger fans. “Remember, there are no mistakes in art.” He showed pictures of his three canine “kids,” named Pete, Tater Tot and Jerry, in various poses and in their Christmas sweaters. He showed a picture of his “Gram,” who read to him every night when he was a child. “She’s still reading,” at age 96, he said. Parr has written more than 40 children’s books, translated into 16 languages. He recently returned from a book tour in China, from where he showed a photograph of a dinner he ate there – mac and cheese, of course. While in Bowling Green, he ate dinner Friday evening downtown and then had his picture taken next to a Frisch’s Big Boy statue, which he hadn’t seen since he was a kid. “I realize now, that I now look like the Big Boy statue I loved when I was a kid.” On stage, Parr was very much like a big kid, reading aloud his stories. There was “The Goodbye Book” and “Teachers Rock!” “I decided to write a book that celebrates them,” he said. “Teachers are very special. They teach you new things and they take care of you.” Love, Todd. Then, “It’s Okay to Make Mistakes,” like spill milk, fall down, wear two different socks, forget your umbrella, change your mind, and ask for help. “It’s okay if you’re clumsy. You might learn a new move. It’s okay to get dirty. A bubble bath is a lot…

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 hit for the board. “It is a tremendous loss to our district,” Scruci said. “Those are big shoes to fill. He’s as good a board member as I’ve ever been around.” 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 say about the experience piece,” Scruci said. “This is a critical appointment because we’ve got some important issues coming up,” like teacher negotiations, facility discussions, and a levy to pass, Scruci said. “There’s some difficult things coming forward.” The process to fill the vacant seat begins Wednesday. “We don’t know the kind of interest to expect,” Scruci said. “It’s an open process to anybody.” Those interested in being appointed to the board must submit a letter of interest addressing the following issues: Reason for interest in joining the board. Qualifications and experience that would add value to the board. Most pressing or important issue facing Bowing Green City Schools. To be eligible, an applicant must be a registered voter and reside in the school district. Letters of interest should be sent to: Bowling Green City Schools Board of Education; Attention: Paul Walker, president; 137 Clough St., Bowling Green, OH 43402. The application deadline is April 29 at 4:30 p.m. Applicants will be interviewed by the board. The members reserve the right to interview only those candidates deemed qualified based on their written statements. The board anticipates conducting interviews beginning the week of May 2. The board is required to make an appointment within 30 days of the vacancy, and plans to fill the seat at the May 17 board meeting. If the board fails to fill the vacancy within 30…

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.” “You just need to have fun with it,” Brown said. “There’s a lot going on.” When it was selected last spring, the musical team was in transition, Gonzalez said. Shawn Hudson was ready to take a sabbatical, so they would have to work with a new musical director. The technical director Carmen Rowlands was also leaving, and they didn’t know who would replace her. Ryan Albrecht, with lots of theater experience at the university where he studied and in community theater, was hired. But at the time, that slot was an unknown. Also, part of the production team are Jeremy Sison,  orchestra director, Beth Vaughn, vocal director, and Sarah Caserta, producer. Also the theater students were undergoing a transition with a lot of seniors graduated. So the team opted for a simpler show without flying or major technical challenges. Gonzales said the cast is on the younger side, but have picked up what they need to do quickly. Also in the cast are: Grace O’Hare, Micah Smith, Claire Wells-Jensen, Maddy Utz, Mo Kellow, Drew Kelly, Kyle Nelson,  Jani Shope ,  Mikayla Trimpey, Elaine Hudson , Rachel Amburgey, Tyler Cook ,  Jeremiah Williams, Michael Martin, Taylor Barnette-Clifford,  Allie Larson, Tucker Pendleton, Allison Swanka, Hudson Pendleton, Natalie Carty, Micah McKanna, and Chris Brickner. Also: Sydney Adler, Stephanie Bell, Sophia Bird, Alyssa Clemens, Britta Hodgkins, Sarah Kelly, Sarah Kerr, Dea Kukeli, Miranda Lentz, Julia Maas, Charlotte Perez, Sharissa Savage-Brown, Katy Slaughterbeck, Jenna Urban, Michaela Urban, Megan Worthy, Ashley Cochrane, Jillian Crowe, Megan Eddington, Hailey Kirchner and Lily Krueger.

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 of the classrooms have whiteboards on all walls, so students can get up work out problems and brainstorm ideas. Then they take out their own personal technology and take photos for later use and sharing. John Fisher, vice provost for academic affairs, said the process of upgrading the classrooms began about three years ago with an inventory of learning spaces on campus, and a calculation of how many would be needed. This comes as the university is in the midst of a renovation boom, retrofitting classic buildings for the demands of contemporary education. Two years ago, work started on the west side of Olscamp Hall. This was the beginning of an “ongoing research” project to find what works best, he said. The classrooms in Olscamp were used as prototypes for the way learning spaces were then developed on the second floor of the Education Building, in Math and Science, in Eppler and in Business Administration as well as the new home for architecture. Some are fully tricked out with all manner of technology like document cameras and full video capability, not to mention white board tables and walls. Others, including most in Business Administration, received more modest make overs, but still reflect the new approach. At this point about half the university’s approximately 160 classrooms have been completed. That number will increase next fall when the new School of Media and Communications building opens and the renovations of Mosely and University halls are completed. In Mosley, which will be used for lower level science courses, the lab spaces will be built right into the classrooms, Fisher said. Mary-Jon Ludy said: “I always think about teaching as a grand experiment. You have to be willing to experiment and willing to fail. If your students know that and have that expectation they’re…

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 particular show tells of siblings who build a spaceship out of cardboard and spend the night in it in their backyard. The rocket blasts off in the night, taking the pair to every planet in this solar system. The students’ eyes were glued to the dome ceiling for the 40-minute trip to Pluto and back. The shows get routine for Smith, but the children’s questions after the show continue to thrill him. “Once the first one asks, the ice is broken,” Smith said. And the flood of questions began. “You never know what you are going to get.” Last week was no different, when the lights came on, the little hands shot up. How do the gas giant planets stay together? Are all the planets real? Why don’t all planets have gravity? Why is Uranus on its side, was it knocked over? Are ice crystals worth money? Smith answers them all. It would take nine years to travel to Pluto and back. A person weighing 100 pounds on earth would weigh 40 pounds on Mars. Yes, you would boil to death on Venus – right away. Astronauts can rest on spaceships because it’s not like driving a car. Once they blast off, it’s “sort of on autopilot.” Then comes the question specifically aimed at Smith. “How do you know all this?” Ahhhh, that allows Smith to share his other loves – books and imagination. Smith explains that he does his homework and reads lots of books. Then, like the siblings in the cardboard rocket, he opens his mind. “They used their imaginations,” he said. “With your imaginations, you can go anywhere.” Smith sends the students home with instructions to continue looking up into space, specifically where they can find Jupiter right now in the night sky. And, he adds a…

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 calamity day left due to few snow days this past winter, but Scruci would really like the students back at their desks. “We certainly want to get them back, they start testing next week,” he said. The district received no reports of children sickened from the water earlier this week. “I think that it’s fine, but until I’m 100 percent certain that’s the case, and there’s nothing in there that will harm the kids,” school will remain closed, Scruci said.

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 winter, the elementary has some “wiggle room,” he said.  

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 shores of the northern portion of New Zealand. Calista showed photographs of the small dolphins, including one called “Scratchy,” named so because of the scars left on his body by fishing nets. Scratchy was lucky, since the fishing nets are responsible for killing many of the Maui dolphins. Since the dolphins live close to the shore, the New Zealand government has declared a safe green zone lining the coast. However, many continue to fish in the protected areas, and the government does nothing to stop them, Calista said. The Maui dolphins aren’t the intended catch, but they often get swept up in the same nets as the fish. And since the dolphins can only remain underwater for 2 ½ minutes without breathing, they perish. “Fishermen gut dolphins so they sink to the bottom, so they don’t get in trouble,” Calista said. From her step stool, the 9-year-old criticized the New Zealand government for adopting a slogan of “100% Pure New Zealand,” but failing to live up to the name. “They are not enforcing the fishing laws,” she said. The Maui dolphins do not repopulate quickly, having just one calf every two to four years. The slow breeding leads to slow recovery. “It will be the first dolphin to go extinct because of humans,” Calista said. “The government doesn’t care and they aren’t doing enough to protect them.” So it’s up to Calista, who quoted Jane Goodall – one of her many role models. “The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Recently Calista entered an essay contest with each student asked to write about who they would like to be. “I wanted to be the prime minister of New Zealand so I could save the Maui dolphins.” “I didn’t win the contest, but…

Gloria Gajewicz honored for home grown science teaching skills

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green teacher Gloria Gajewicz was inspired through her career by her own teachers, and further by her mother’s pursuit of education. So it is fitting that she should receive an award named for the late Neil Pohlmann, an educator and BGSU professor who left his mark on science education. Earlier this month Gajewicz won the first Neil Pohlman Award given by Bowling Green State University at the spring conference of the Northwest Ohio School Boards Association meeting. Patrick Pauken, director of the School of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Policy, said the award “is given in recognition of valuable contribution to Educational Administration and Leadership Studies at BGSU.” Gajewicz is working on her doctorate in the program. The award carries a scholarship. Pauken wrote: “The faculty selected Gloria for the award because of her endless dedication to teaching, learning, and leading in our schools. She is an excellent graduate student, as well, inspiring her classmates with her professional stories of student success. Our classrooms and schools are special places, indeed, with teachers and leaders like Gloria Gajewicz.” Gajewicz has taught science for 20 years, the last 16 at her alma mater, Bowling Green High School where she teaches biology and honors physical science. Finishing her second semester of what she expects will be a four-year process, Gajewicz’s goal is to become a curriculum specialist with her particular interest in science. She said she was inspired to pursue science by the many great science teachers she had in the Bowling Green system. That included Roger Mazzarella, “the wizard of Mazz,” in seventh grade and Bob Rex in eighth. In high school she had Bev Anthony for chemistry and Beth Snook for biology. “I had awesome science teachers all the way through,” she said. And she was pleased that when she started teaching in Bowling Green, Anthony was still on staff so she had “one of my inspirational teachers as a colleague.” “They definitely inspired me to do something in science,” she said. Her inspiration to go into teaching came even closer to home. While she was in high school her mother, Randye Kreischer, went to BGSU to get her education degree. She worked at Woodlane for 25 years. “It was interesting to see her do that,” Gajewicz said. “Having watched her go through that process inspired me to become a teacher.” She got her undergraduate degree at BGSU, and then got her master’s in environmental biology from an Antioch College satellite campus in New Hampshire. “It had an awesome program,” she said. She took a break from teaching and devoted herself to getting her masters, then returned to Ohio. As a teacher she believes strongly in a hands-on approach.  “I use modeling instruction. It really flips things around,” Gajewicz said. Instead of giving students the equation and then sending them home to work out a set of problems, “I start with a lab. We try to pick it apart.” That approach “gives them not just math skills, but problem solving skills, higher order thinking.” She doesn’t believe in teaching to “the big state test.” Instead she believes if students have the analytical skills they can tackle unfamiliar material. “I’m more interested in the skills. It takes them further.” The students work at white boards in peer review…