Gardner disputes ‘tax shift’ as mostly myth not math

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The “tax shift” cited by some in election seasons, is more of a myth than real math, according to State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green. “You just hardly ever hear the other side of it,” Gardner said recently. So he decided to provide his own fact checking on the state budget and so-called tax shift. “Sometimes the truth becomes a casualty of the political season. Such is the case in 2016,” Gardner said. Across the state, citizens have been told the “tax shift” has required more schools to place levies on the ballot. Untrue, Gardner said. “In fact, in the past three years, fewer school levies for new operating money have been on Ohio’s ballot than any time in the past 51 years,” Gardner said.  According to the state senator, there have been an average of 42 such levies in the past three years. In 2010, Gov. Ted Strickland’s last year in office, a total of 173 new levies were on the ballot. In every year he was governor, more than 100 new levies were voted on in Ohio. Many people find those stats “unbelievable,” but Gardner pointed out the numbers don’t count bond issues or renewal levies. “There just hasn’t been the need for new operating money for quite some time,” he said, adding that increases in state funding in the past four years have helped many local schools. Of the 38 school districts in his senate district of Wood, Fulton, Lucas, Ottawa and Erie counties, only one district (Port Clinton) has had a net reduction in per pupil state funding in the past four years, and three districts are below the rate of inflation in state aid. A total of 25 districts have received greater than triple the rate of inflation increases in new state funding. Local school districts did lose state funding between 2009 and 2012. According to Gardner, the national recession affected Ohio’s budget and support for schools. Strickland’s last budget cut state revenues to local schools for two years – the first time that had happened in Ohio history – and Governor John Kasich’s first budget experienced similar reductions, Gardner said. “In fairness, for the most part, state aid has not been a partisan issue in Ohio,” Gardner said, “Governors and most legislators strive to provide funding for local schools, even in times when recessions impact the state budget.” But a lingering problem seems to be the uncertainty caused by the lack of funding predictability, he said. “It it challenging for a school district to plan and budget,” Gardner said. That problem falls on the state, he added. “The challenge is to provide more predictability and stability.” State cuts have hurt other local budgets, to varying extents, he added. Strickland flat-funded the local government fund but made major state cuts in almost every other priority – mental health programs, need-based financial aid for college students, public libraries and public television, Gardner said. Ohio also led the nation in early childhood education cuts. On top of that, Governor Strickland increased taxes by more than $800 million and took $1 billion from the state’s rainy day fund to try to balance the budget. “Being governor was hard in that recession,” Gardner said. However, Strickland’s cuts left fewer options for balancing the state…

BG Schools to arm doors with ‘Boots’ to keep out intruders

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A brutal attack on Rob Couturier’s daughter led the Michigan man to invent a safety system being used in schools around the nation. That system, called the “Boot,” will soon be installed on 344 doors in Bowling Green City Schools. Couturier’s daughter, a petite college freshman, was attacked and almost raped. That was just over six years ago, and he still chokes as he talks about it. “I still remember her face,” Couturier said to the school board Tuesday evening. “She turned to look at me and couldn’t see me. Her face was beat to a pulp.” Couturier knew the perpetrator and located the man shortly after the attack. Couturier tried to break down the door, dislocating his shoulder in the process. He then kicked his way through drywall to get the attacker. He saw the man barricading the door with his boots wedged up against the door. That gave the father an idea. He created the “Boot,” a rectangular-shaped plate of quarter-inch thick industrial steel. With two steel pegs, the plate can withstand 16,000 pounds of pressure and keep doors closed to intruders. But the idea stopped there, with Couturier continuing his job as a school custodian, facilities employee and coach. A couple years later, after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Couturier’s daughter called her dad about his invention. “It would have saved every one of those children,” she said to him. “I was so mad, I was only thinking of my daughter,” and not about how his invention could help others, Couturier said. So he resigned his job, sold his summer home, and started working with law enforcement and other security experts on fine-tuning his invention. His mission became keeping kids safe in the event of an intruder. His business, called The Lockdown Co., started making the “Boots” by hand, and has since installed safety equipment in more than 100 public schools and 18 private schools. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci recently saw Couturier make a presentation on the safety equipment, and immediately asked the inventor to walk the local school buildings with him. In addition to arming each door with the “Boot,” Couturier said the rooms need to be labeled more clearly to aid law enforcement when they arrive on the scene. “The signage in your building is absolutely horrible,” he said. Couturier also recommended that the district invest in a couple ballistic shields, which would slow down an intruder trying to get access through an outside glass door. He disagreed with the opinion from security experts that some victims at building entrances are “acceptable losses.” “The acceptable loss is unacceptable,” he said. Couturier emphasized over and over that he is not in the business to make money. “I am not a polished salesman at all,” he said. The entire cost to secure every door in the district is $106,108. There is no charge for installation. Couturier said if the district doesn’t have the funds now, it can pay in a year or work out a payment plan like other districts have done. Couturier also said if the district renovates or constructs new buildings, his company will reinstall the equipment at no charge. “Boots” for Bowling Green’s buildings could be ready in six or seven weeks…

‘Drive to Save Lives Tour’ to visit local schools

The Wood County Educational Service Center, Safe Communities of Wood County, and The Wood County Prevention Coalition have partnered to bring Cara Filler, an internationally known speaker, to present four school assemblies and one community event entitled, “The Drive to Save Lives Tour: Empowering Youth to Make Good Choices Without Peer Pressure, Alcohol & Drugs.” On October 25 and October 26, as a part of Red Ribbon Week, Cara will present to assemblies in North Baltimore, Rossford, Eastwood and Penta Career Center. Also, from 7 pm to 8 pm, on October 26 th at Bowling Green High School, there will be a community night event that Ms. Filler will speak to which will be made available to all youth and parents throughout the county. “It is imperative that we teach our youth to be conscious of the decisions they make every day, whether behind the wheel, in the classroom, or with their friends,” said Sandy Weichman, Coordinator, Safe Communities of Wood County. “Partnering with Cara Filler will be a wonderful opportunity for our youth, as well as their parents, to hear her story and put her ideas to work in their lives.” “We’re excited to have such an entertaining, powerful, and dynamic speaker such as Cara Filler come to Wood County and come and talk to our students, parents and schools.” added Kyle Clark, Prevention Education Director of the Wood County Educational Service Center. “ We hope her message resonates with the youth in our community so that they may make the best choices for themselves and have a more fulfilling, resilient life.” Recently, the Wood County Prevention Coalition Podcast had the opportunity to interview Cara Filler, as a preview of the event, and it can be found here:

Administration stands by high school soccer players’ right to take a knee

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN and DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   Bowling Green School District has chosen to stand up for the right of its students who refuse to stand for the National Anthem. Three members of the girls varsity soccer team recently chose to kneel rather than stand before a game when the anthem was played. “They have a right to peaceful protest,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “Currently our nation is experiencing one of the most trying times in its history,” Scruci said during Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting. “We have a presidential race that is challenging political parties, genders, ethnicities and the very freedoms that the Constitution protects.” Scruci referred to football player Colin Kaepernick, of the San Francisco 49ers, who peacefully protests by taking a knee during the National Anthem. “We have unrest in our communities with violence and people and police officers being shot on a regular basis,” the superintendent said. “We have professional athletes using their popularity to take political and societal stands and using their stage to make those statements in front of the world.” In a video posted by her mother on Facebook, one of the players Caroline Sayer explained why she “took a knee.” One of her fellow players, who is African American, was supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and was “getting a lot of negative feedback.” That prompted the player to say she would take a knee, Sayer said. Other students said they would come to witness her doing it “to get her in trouble.” The player took the knee at the next game, which Sayer was not playing in. “I felt that was so courageous of her, and I respected her so much for it,” Sayer said. She had her own concerns about the deaths of people of color at the hands of police, so she decided to join her teammate in the protest. She said she does not see this as disrespectful to the flag or the military or veterans, who fought so she had the right to protest. Nor does she feel police are bad. “The only thing taking a knee is meant to do is to bring attention to something that’s been hidden,” she said Scruci said that he personally disagrees with the approach, but added that he respects the rights of those who choose to kneel. The district will neither condone nor deny the peaceful protests. “We believe in upholding the rights of our students and appreciate their ability to grow as productive citizens. We want to help them understand the world and develop a voice to stand up for themselves and others in a respectful and positive way.” School district officials did hear complaints from parents who felt the student athletes were wrong and should not be allowed to choose whether or not to stand for the National Anthem. “We had some parents who were concerned about that,” Scruci said. “We assured them that it was their right.” Some of that spilled over onto Facebook where the parent of another team member said the action was an embarrassment to the team. That prompted a fierce debate. Those posts have since been deleted.   High School Principal Jeff Dever said he supports Scruci’s decision. “Oh heck, yes. I defended the Constitution for 10…

BGHS Drama Club staging “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”

From BOWLING GREEN HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA CLUB  The Bowling Green High School Drama Club will present the classic C.S. Lewis story “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” on Nov. 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. and Saturday Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. in the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center. The Drama Club’s interpretation of the four children who enter the land of Narnia through a wardrobe and find themselves caught up in a war between the White Witch and the Aslan, the King of Beasts, features snow and fog, actors on stilts, a giant puppet operated by three actors, music, and masks. In addition to the Drama Club’s cast and crew members, 40 students enrolled in the high school’s Theatre Design course are designing, constructing and painting the play’s major set pieces. Under the leadership of director Dr. Jo Beth Gonzalez and technical director Ryan Albrecht, these students are crafting the oversized wardrobe, the great Stone Table, the Witch’s sleigh, the giant puppet Aslan, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver’s home, and the tree-scape background. Tickets, available at the door, for this family-oriented production are $6 for students and senior citizens, and $8 for adults. Production stage managers are Meagan Worthy and Josiah Brosius. The cast includes: Elaine Hudson, Martin Simon, Claire Wells-Jensen, Michael Martin, Megan Carmen, Bob Walters, Lily Krueger, Rachel Amburgey and Alexis Reinbolt. Also, Moe Kellow, Devon Jackson, Nova Cullison, Thomas Long, Ethan Brown, Olivia Strang, Charlotte Perez, Sydney Adler, Abraham Brockway, Alyssa Clemens, Sophi Hachtel, Jessica Miller, Narnia Rieske, Alexis Roehl and Anne Weaver.

Local candidates face questions at forum

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation was preparing for the second presidential debate Sunday evening, Wood County residents filled up seats in a Bowling Green church to listen to local candidates. Though the forum was much less contentious than the presidential debate, there were a few accusations lodged at the local level. The League of Women Voters from Bowling Green and Perrysburg hosted the candidate forum for nine county, state and national races. Questions for the forum were accepted from the audience on note cards ahead of the event. But because there were 17 candidates sharing the stage, only two questions were posed to each. The candidates were all given a couple minutes to sum up at the end. The biggest sparks flew when the candidates for the Ohio House – Republican Theresa Gavarone and Democrat Kelly Wicks – were called to the microphones. The first question asked each to identify their top two priorities. But in response to multiple flyers mailed to local residents and a television commercial accusing Wicks of not paying his taxes, Wicks took the opportunity to set the record straight. “I’m Kelly Wicks and I pay my taxes,” he said.  Several years ago, he missed the deadline for a property tax payment, but paid it as soon as he realized the error, Wicks said. He questioned why his opponent and the state Republican party were spending so much on untruths. “Why is she willing to go so ugly, so early?” Wicks said. “What are you hiding?” Gavarone said she did not review the ads against her opponent. “They were produced out of Columbus and mailed out of Columbus.” She also stated her top priorities would be the economy and education. “It’s important to keep Wood County working,” Gavarone said, suggesting the need to reduce taxes and regulations on businesses. Schools need to be funded adequately and the concerns of educators need to be heard, she said. The second question for the House candidates was about charter schools and the need to make them accountable financially and in terms of student progress. Gavarone said recent legislation is making charter schools more accountable, but added “we need to stay vigilant.” Wicks voiced a much different opinion. “I’m against charter schools,” he said. “They have done damage” by draining dollars from the public school system, he said, adding that charter schools are not held to the same standards as public ones. The state’s policies on charter schools are “failing our children and our communities,” Wicks said. In her summation, Gavarone talked about her business, law and city council experience. “I have a track record of working in a bipartisan manner,” she said. Wicks also talked of his years in business and as a community leader, and said he was someone who would “fight for real and meaningful change” for Wood County. Listed below are the other candidates who appeared Sunday evening. A wide variety of topics were covered, from deputy body cameras to water quality. Wood County Sheriff The forum’s other contentious moments came during the time allotted to sheriff candidates Democrat Ruth Babel-Smith and incumbent Republican Mark Wasylyshyn. Babel-Smith said her mantra is “public safety, not politics.” “The citizens of Wood County don’t feel safe under the current sheriff,” she said. Babel-Smith…

High school teams Bet the Farm in BGSU robotics competition

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Robots invaded farm country Saturday. They came with only the best intentions though. Farmland in question was a course set up on the floor of the Stroh Center at Bowling Green State University. The robots were miniature farm tractors tricked out by 17 teams from high schools from around the state and Indiana. The teams came to compete in the fourth Falcon BEST Robotics Game Day… this year the theme was Bet the Farm. The “farm’ in this case was divided into four quadrants, one for each team. The teams had to maneuver their machines through the course to collect and plant corn seeds, harvest corn cobs from racks as well as plant lettuce, and harvest lettuce and pumpkins – all plastic facsimiles. For Laura Dietz, the advisor for the Bowling Green High School team, the event, gives students as chance “to learn engineering process and problems solving.” For the Bobcat team that problem solving involved a working on a last minute adjustment to their robot’s arm. That’s all part of the competition, said Brandi Barhite, a member of the Falcon BEST committee. “If something breaks down you have to make adjustments,” she said. In that, the robotics competition is much like a sports event. That wasn’t the only way. Parents were on hand to cheer on the teams. School mascots added to the spirit. And a couple drummers beat out their cadences between the three-minute rounds of competition. Then there were the trombones and vuvuzelas contributing tuneless blats of encouragement. The 17 teams, Barhite said, were the most since the competition started in 2013. The university provides all the robotic kits. The cost means it must expand the field slowly, and seek corporate sponsors. Lathrop Corp. And First Solar were this year’s sponsors. She said President Mary Ellen Mazey was key to bringing the program to BGSU. She wanted something to promote the study of science, technology, engineering and math on campus. More than 300 students competed this year. While the focal point is the robotics competition where teams maneuver through the farm course vying to see who can harvest the most, the competition has other aspects. Students present marketing plans as well as a design t-shirts, websites and make streaming videos. “We don’t want students to think engineering is only about robotics,” she said. “There’s a lot of avenues students can take in engineering, including working on marketing and communications for a company.” Teams can range in size from four to 30, with students choosing to specialize in certain activities. The competition is “definitely a recruiting tool for BGSU,” Barhite said. The dozens of student volunteers helping to run the event, she said, were competitors during their high school days. One of the Bowling Green team members might be one of those switching from competitor to volunteer next year. Cameron Roehl has been on the team since he was a freshman, competing in the inaugural event. Next year he plans to attend BGSU to study mechantronics in the College of Technology. As someone long interested in robotics, being on the team as a natural. As the only senior on the team, Roehl had to develop leadership skills. David Tyson, a seventh grader, is new to the team. He said a teacher who’s…

Horizon Youth Theatre delivers another winning show with “The Great Cross Country Race”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In “The Great Cross Country Race,” Horizon Youth Theatre again let animals talk and deliver very human lessons. Last spring, “Honk!” was a lesson in humility. This fall’s production for older troupe members is a lesson in perseverance and impulse control. And it’s clear the cast and crew, 28 in all from 13 different schools, have learned their lessons well about how to work together to entertain an audience. Alan Broadhurst’s elaboration on the Aesop’s Fable “The Tortoise and the Hare,” directed by Cassie Greenlee, is on stage at the Otsego High School auditorium Saturday, Oct. 8, at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5. Now there’s really not much to the original tale, a skeleton of a story with a moral tacked on to the end: slow and steady wins the race. The only characters are the plodding tortoise and the over-confident hare. In “The Great Cross Country Race,” the tortoise, Ms. Sloe (Sophi Hachtel) gets a back story as an imported pet from a nearby household who wanders into the woodlands. This strange creature baffles the woodland animals who can’t tell even if it’s alive, or just a rock. They’re too busy arranging for their animal sports games. None of which are competitive because they are so tailored – like grass eating – to the qualities of particular animals. In the course of this we meet a variety of animals: the bunny, Ms. Warren (Amanda Cloeter); the hedgehog, Mr. Spiney (Grace Holbrook); the rat, Mr. Paddle (Isaac Douglass); the squirrel, Mr. Brush (Maddox Brosius); and the crow, Mrs. Dark (Calista Wilkins). Only the cross country race offers any competition. But the fox, who is the only creature who would have a chance against the conceited hare Ms. Fleet (Scarlet Frishman), has stepped aside because of an injury. This is most troubling to Mr. Sett (JJ Poiry) who is organizing the games. Then Ms. Sloe offers to compete, a challenge Ms. Fleet brushes off. Only when faced with the disgrace of losing by default does the hare deign to run. Well, we all know how this plays out in the fable, but here there are more complications than just the hare taking a nap. The troupe maps out the entire three-mile course. That means the tortoise and the hare are moving about in the aisles, and there are scene changes for the various posts along the way. Each post poses a challenge – often food that tempts the scatter-brained hare, causing her to get trapped or sick, and lose ground to the determined Ms. Sloe. Scarlet Frishman makes her character  just obnoxious enough to root against, and plenty ridiculous enough to laugh at. Sophi Hachtel imbues Ms. Sloe with a stately grace, never lumbering, always sure of herself, and unmoved by the notions of others. The competitors and the other woodland animals must navigate through a host of clueless human beings. The dog Mr. Basket (Thomas Long) serves as the mediator between the human world and the woodland world, at home at both. Long does a great job of interpreting dog behavior as being more intentional than people perceive. The woodland creatures duck for cover whenever the humans are around, and Mr. Basket does his best to divert…

Scruci explains school delay and closing decisions

(Submitted by BG Superintendent Francis Scruci) Allow me to explain the process that our district follows when making decisions on delays and closings.  At approximately 4:15 a.m. each morning we get out of bed and get in our vehicles to drive the district. Our first bus departs from the bus garage at approximately 5:50 a.m. We do everything in our power to make the decision by 5:30 at the latest. I pull over and send info out on Twitter(@francis_scruci) and Facebook.  When I get back home then I make the all call while submitting the delay or closing information with the TV stations.  I suggest if you want the earliest notification then follow me on Twitter or Facebook. A reminder that our district is the 98th largest district in the State in terms of square miles (118).  My transportation director and I drive the district and divide the area in terms of northern and southern. He and I are in constant communication throughout the early morning drive to determine the safety of putting buses on the road. Because of the size of the district, there could be a different weather condition in one area and in another area it could be totally opposite.  For instance, this morning in the southern part of the district it was clear with just small patches of fog, while in the northern part of the district there was dense fog.  Fog is difficult to predict as it can appear instantly within minutes. This is one of the most difficult decisions that a superintendent makes each day as safety is the priority for our buses, drivers, students, student drivers, and staff.  We try to give as much notice to prevent any inconvenience to families but there are times where that becomes impossible and we apologize for the stress it may cause. We appreciate your support and understanding on these types of days and I can assure you that we take the decision extremely serious as educating our students is a high priority coupled with their safety. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at your convenience.

‘Bobcat Basics’ to supply students with toiletries, school items

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Like many teachers, Erica Slough often sees students in her classroom who struggle with daily issues that most Bowling Green students don’t have to worry about. They don’t have the basic toiletries, clothing or school supplies they need. So Slough, a high school English teacher, came up with the Bobcat Basics program to provide supplies to students in need. “They do a good job of pretending to be OK. They don’t want to talk about it. But we see kids who are in need and we don’t have anywhere to turn to,” Slough said. “This is a much needed program.” It might be that their families can’t afford to keep supplies of shampoo, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, or notebooks. It may be the family has suffered a job loss, or a disaster such as a fire, or has a more ongoing crisis. “If they don’t have their basic needs met, how are they going to focus on academics?” Slough said. “They are thinking about survival. We want to help them out the best we can.” The plan is to supply the Bobcat Basics program by asking parents to donate items and by working with student organizations to collect donations from businesses. Student groups will also be in charge of keeping track of the inventory and making sure the program is stocked. “It’s set up for students to help students,” Slough said. But that is as far as the students and community will be involved, since the program must be discreet so students in need feel comfortable picking up items. “This is for the teenagers,” Slough said. Students will be approached by their guidance counselors, referred by their teachers, or questioned if they receive reduced cost lunches. “We do have a significant amount on that list,” she said. They will be called down to the Bobcat Basics room during study hall. “People get called down for different reasons all the time,” Slough said. The students can pick out the items that they need, bag them up, and put them in their locker without anyone knowing. BGHS art teacher Lloyd Triggs, who designed a logo for the Bobcat Basics program, said he liked how discreet the program was and how it gave the community an opportunity to help. “It seemed like a good fit for the community,” Triggs said. While the program will start out offering toiletries, some Bobcat school clothing and school supplies, Triggs is hoping it can he expanded in the future to help students with some classroom costs that they can’t meet. “We see a lot of students who come through the art department, that when we ask them to purchase supplies, they can’t,” he said. To begin with, Bobcat Basics organizers hope to collect the following toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, toilet paper, Band-aids, Kleenex, body wash, face wash, soap, baby powder, sanitary pads (panty liners, regular, heavy and overnight), tampons (light, regular, super, super plus), chapstick and lotion. The following school supplies will also be collected: pencils, lined paper, pens, backpacks, binders, calculators, folders and erasers. Anyone wanting to help may drop off donations in the high school office or email Slough at  

BGSU sees slip in student retention rate

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   BGSU’s student retention rate slipped this fall, sending officials scrambling to find ways to help students stay at school. It’s not enough for Bowling Green State University to attract new students to come to school. The university has to keep them coming back for more – until they graduate. That’s because universities in Ohio no longer get state funding per student headcounts. Now they get paid if students return to school each year and earn diplomas. So the recent dip in returning students at BGSU was concerning Friday to the BGSU Board of Trustees. Last fall, the retention rate was 77.5 percent. This fall, the rate of returning students had dropped to 75.8 percent – creating a bigger gap between reality and the retention goal of 80 percent. “Obviously, we’re not satisfied,” said BGSU Provost Rodney Rogers. “The goal is 80 percent, so we will continue to work on that.” Retention rates dropped for on-campus students (78.4 to 76.5 percent) and for commuter students (67.9 to 64.7 percent.) Meanwhile, several other universities in Ohio were meeting their goals of 80 percent or higher retention rates, Rogers said. Rates at Ohio University, Ohio State University, Miami University and Kent State were all higher than BGSU, while the University of Toledo’s rate was lower. But Rogers assured that BGSU could achieve the higher rate. “That 80 percent is a very appropriate goal for us,” he said. BGSU Trustees President David Levey questioned how the university would meet the goal. “Everybody’s focused on retention and our numbers are slipping,” he said. “What are we going to do this year?” However, Trustee Dan Keller cautioned the board to not over-react to one slip in the retention rate. If the one-year blip turns into a trend, then it will be time to worry, he said. Rogers and Tom Gibson, vice president of student affairs and vice provost, explained that several efforts are already underway to improve the rate. “The two of them are taking this very, very seriously,” Keller said. Among freshman, the highest risk groups for non-returning students are commuters, first-generation students, and Pell-eligible students. “For each of these, we have strategies in place,” Rogers said. “We’re very much focused on these sub-populations.” “We’re seeking to better understand their needs,” Gibson said. Commuting students sometimes don’t feel fully engaged with the university. So advisers to these students are being made aware that they may need help finding ways to get involved on campus. To Pell-eligible students, offering scholarship assistance may be key. “It tends to be a financial reason why they don’t return,” Rogers said. And first-generation students may not be aware of the support systems available to them. “They’re most at risk,” he said. Gibson listed several facilities, programs and supports that may help retain these and other students. He pointed out the new $33 million Greek Village which houses 33 Greek groups. “Students who reside on campus retain at a better rate” and do better academically, Gibson said. In an effort to teach students resiliency, the university offers Grit Week which focuses on mazes and building blocks that may be frustrating. “This would also encourage them to persist,” and increase the students’ ability to stick it out when school gets tough, Gibson said. The…

High school robotics teams to compete at BGSU Oct. 8

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Teams of students from 17 area high schools and middle schools will showcase their talents during the fourth annual Falcon BEST Robotics competition Oct. 8 at Bowling Green State University. Area schools with teams competing this year are: Anthony Wayne High School, Bowling Green High School, Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School, EHOVE Career Center, Hamilton Southeastern High School, Maumee Valley Country Day School, McComb High School, Millstream Career Center, Patrick Henry High School, Paulding High School, Perrysburg High School, Port Clinton High School, Sandusky Central Catholic School, St. Francis de Sales School, St. Ursula Academy, Sylvania Southview High School, and Vanguard Technology Center. Game Day kicks off in the Stroh Center at 9:30 a.m. with opening ceremonies, which will include a welcome and parade of robots. The competition will follow at 10 a.m. as the teams and their robots master Bet the Farm 2016, a competition of skill and strategy. The event will conclude with awards at approximately 3:15 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend Game Day to support the teams and their robots as they compete; all events are free. Students are coached by dedicated and enthusiastic teachers and team mentors, some of which come from the professional tech community. Each team is provided with an identical kit of parts and equipment, and then spends a month and a half designing, building and testing a remote-controlled robot that the team expects to outperform those created by its competition. The BEST Award is presented to the top three teams that exemplify the concept of BEST – Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology. Criteria include creativity, teamwork, sportsmanship, diversity of participation, application of the engineering design process, ethics, positive attitude/enthusiasm and school/community involvement. Awards are also presented to the top three robotics game teams, and to the top teams that compete in oral presentations, educational displays, project engineering notebook and spirit/sportsmanship. New award categories for this year include Most Photogenic Machine, Best Web Page Design, Best CAD Design, Best Team Video and Top Gun (most points scored in a single round). Falcon BEST is hosted by BGSU’s College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering and the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Educational. Sponsors include BGSU and BGSU’s College of Business. Corporate sponsor Lathrop, who has been involved since the first robotics competition, has been joined by First Solar this year. Both companies have committed to supporting the student competition each year. Support from sponsors ensures students the continued opportunity for early involvement in their field of interest, while preparing them to become the industry’s future leaders.

Kids with special needs benefit from challenge of sports through Rally Cap

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The turf room in Field House at Bowling Green State University is full of voices on Sunday afternoon. Lower voices of parents murmur from the bleachers along the wall near the door. Spread across the green before them are the encouraging, sometimes cheering, voices of college students. Rising above it all are the high, happy chatter of children at play. All this is punctuated the sounds of balls bouncing and being kicked. Welcome to a new season of Rally Cap Sports. The program, now in its fourth year, offers individual sports experiences in a non-competitive environment to children with a range of special needs, said Melissa Wilson, a BGSU senior who directs the program. Sunday’s kickoff marked the start of the program’s fourth year on campus. A few dozen kids are spread out around the turf room, each working with two or three college students. This kickoff, Wilson said, serves as an introduction for new participants, and a welcome back for participants from previous years. After Sunday there will be a basketball league this fall as well as a couple dances. For information contact: The program serves children with a wide range of needs, she said. Some are non-verbal, while others have mild learning disabilities. About 70 have participated to date. For all of them, sports in another setting is not a possibility. Jodi Clifford said her children are unable to play sports either at school or in private programs because of a variety of disabilities including bilateral coordination issues. “But coming here they enjoy it. They look forward to it. They don’t feel left out. They feel part of the team.” Cicely Watkins said her sons “tried traditional sports and they were very discouraged. They hated sports.” One has cerebral palsy and all have sensory processing issues. Now they will gladly talk about all the sports they play at Rally Cap, and how good they are at them. Shelley Davis said her daughter who participates has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, with symptoms similar to autism, and low IQ. Her daughter proudly displays all her Rally Cap trophies. “They’re discounted at school, but not here,” Davis said. That the program is run by students makes it all the more appealing the mothers said. “You can tell the students love it, and it makes my child feel special,” Watkins said. “They look up to them,” Clifford said. “You always have more than one student who wants to take a child on.” Wilson said the program recruits any college student interested. Many, she said, are special education majors like her, others major in speech pathology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. The program also has a lot of athletes volunteer to share their expertise in the particular sports. “We really take pride in showing college students how to be more inclusive and more accepting of people with disabilities,” Wilson said. For the 30 or so kids at the kickoff, there were more than twice that number of student volunteers. Wilson said she’s learned a lot from the families. “It’s made me a lot more humble to understand the things they go through and provide them something to alleviate some stress.” Rally Cap has deep ties to BGSU. Paul Hooker founded a challenged youth sports program about…

Donation page set up for Buddy Benches

A First Giving donation page has been set up for the Buddy Benches program at Bowling Green schools. The benches are to help children without playmates on school playgrounds to find other children to play with at recess. The link to the First Giving site to make donations online is Those donors who prefer to write checks should make them payable to NWO Apraxia Support. They can be mailed or dropped off to Kenwood Elementary.

STEM in the Park makes learning loud, messy & fun

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Learning can be pretty loud and messy. Just ask the kids covered in foam bubbles. Or the kids making concrete. Or the ones building rockets. For the seventh year in a row, a whole lot of learning masqueraded as fun at STEM in the Park at Bowling Green State University on Saturday. “We want to make learning fun and we want to spark interest in the STEM fields” of science, technology, engineering and math, said Jenna Pollock, coordinator of the event organized by the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education. An estimated 5,000 grade school kids, their parents and volunteers showed up to play. All the events were hands-on, with the messier ones relegated to the outside. There was a “Cootie Camp,” where kids could enter a black tent to get a peek at the germs covering them. There was a giant foam machine shooting foamy bubbles all over kids. There was a sloth and a vulture from the Toledo Zoo. And yes, before you ask, this is education – just in a sneaky form. “We do make it fun,” Pollock said. “They are learning without thinking they are learning.” One outside tent was devoted completely to water issues. Children – and in some cases, their inquisitive parents – got to use a remotely operated vehicle, similar to those used by oceanographers to study shipwrecks and coral reefs that are too deep for divers to venture. “They go places man cannot,” explained Matt Debelak, of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. Another display showed kids about erosion in watersheds. Powdered hot chocolate represented the dirt, powdered Kool-Aid represented pesticides. As the young scientists sprayed water onto the “terrain,” they could see how rain sends soil and pesticides into waterways. At a nearby display, dirt and roots were turned into a lesson on how plants can hang onto nutrients and water. “They are really into shaking the jars of dirt,” said Jessica Wilbarger, of the Lucas Soil & Water Conservation District. “They’re really impressed when the water reaches to bottom,” following along roots that extended about two feet deep. One of the hot spots of the STEM event was the foam pit, where an endless stream of bubbly foam was shooting out at kids. Jodi Recker, of Spark Enriched Classes for Children, called it a “sensory extravaganza.”  Next to the foam pit was a “bubble pond,” where kids dipped hoops and created giant bubbles.   “We are not constrained by a test,” Recker said. “We are here digging in, taking it to the kids’ level.” Kids were learning about the surface tension of bubbles and how foam is formed. “We are helping kids see that learning is for our whole lifetime,” she said. And experiments are good – whether they are successful or not. “You won’t know until you do it.” At the construction area, kids were pulling on ropes to see how pulleys make it easier to lift weight. They also got to make “concrete popsicles,” that set up in about 15 minutes. “It’s about as fast of a concrete lesson as we can do,” said Scott Gross, an instructor with the BGSU Construction Management program. Inside the Perry Field House, other experiments were taking place. Kids were looking through virtual reality…