Bowling Green Middle School

Girls Who Code get inspiration from Google user researcher

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News If the students in the Bowling Green Middle School Girls Who Code club Googled “inspiration,” Misa Gireau may very well be a top search result. Gireau’s video chat early this week with the students, though, was arranged in decidedly old-school fashion. Laura Leventhal, a professor emeritus in computer science at Bowling Green State University, has spoken to the club, and she thought they may want to talk with a woman who works for Google. So she asked her son, Sam Jaffee, who works for the tech giant, for suggestions. So Monday afternoon Gireau beamed into the Middle School classroom to talk about her path to a tech career and her job as a user researcher. Asking a young person what they want to do when they grow up “is a ridiculous question,” she said. A career path to a job you love twists and turns and involves false stops and changes of direction, she said. That’s what her path has been like.  Growing up she loved snowboarding and video games, and playing hockey. She dreamed of playing for her beloved Philadelphia Flyers. Or maybe she wanted to be a veterinarian, or scientist, or an astronaut, or Agent Scully from “The X-Files.” She went to school and studied psychology and computer science. She did coding for the aircraft manufacturer Lockheed-Martin and realized she didn’t like that. Her stint  in theoretical mathematics where she “sat in a room all day balancing really, really weird equations that meant nothing to me” also  proved not a good fit. Being someone who wants to help others, she tried counseling. As much as she loved her patients and being a therapist, “the mental health system was broke.” Instead she concentrated on research and that led her to her current career as a user researcher, first with the U.S. Census, then Capital One, and now with Google. But all those previous occupational forays have taught her something. A user researcher, she said, studies those interacting with software and devices to see how the experience can be improved. The researchers find the problems and then the software engineers write “this magical code” that solves them. She’s worked recently on a night camera app. Sometimes she conducts online surveys. Other times she’ll go out into the field to watch people. Other times she’ll have subjects come into her lab to observe them. That includes using a device that tracks their eye movements to see exactly where they’re looking. She demonstrated the technology. Gireau told the students that another important aspect is to find mentors.  At Google she has a co-worker who helps her navigate the interpersonal interactions in the male-dominated tech field. She said she has encountered instances where she’s been ignored or her ideas have been presented as a male employee’s idea.  In college, she recalled a professor who took her and a fellow student aside because they were his most curious students and were alway asking questions. The professor had developed a neuroscience lab to study sleep in a janitor’s closet and asked them to meet him there. While Gireau was describing the scenario, students and teachers started to nervously laugh, and comment quietly. Clearly this set up red flags among them. Gireau agreed that she had questions at the time,…

BGMS cheerleaders share the spirit with girls teams

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Two-four-six-eight, Bobcat cheerleaders show they appreciate girl athletes too. For the first time at Bowling Green City Schools, the middle school cheerleaders recently chanted on the sidelines for the seventh and eighth grade girls basketball teams. After only cheering for boys games in the past – cheering for girls seemed natural. The cheerleaders had planned to root for their female classmates a couple weeks ago – but got snowed out. “When the first game was canceled, everyone was pretty bummed,” said cheerleader Audrey Nester. So that made last week’s game even sweeter. “I feel like everyone was excited. We’re like friends with them.” Fellow cheerleader Emma Ferguson agreed. “Sometimes the girls say they never have as much of an audience,” Emma said. “They were really excited.” Cheerleaders Audrey Nester and Emma Ferguson Even though the stands weren’t full – (remember this is seventh and eighth grade basketball) – the gym was loud with chanting and cheering. “It’s a different atmosphere,” Emma said. “It’s a ‘we support each other’ atmosphere.” Melanie Ferguson, Emma’s mom and a middle school teacher, said the tradition has always been for cheerleaders to root for the boys teams. “That’s just been the thing,” Ferguson said. “But slowly, some schools are changing.” Some of the girls basketball players were actually unsure about the added pressure this might bring. “Some were nervous. It will be loud,” they told Ferguson. In preparation for the game, the girls basketball team made goodie bags for the cheerleaders, and the cheerleaders made cookies for the team, she said. “We love supporting all the sports,” said Jordan Betz, the cheerleading coach. “Our girls love to cheer,” and cheering is their sport, Betz said. “This is our chance to show them we are athletes, too.” Cheerleaders share the spirit at girls basketball game. Basketball player Audrey Geyman said the presence of the cheerleaders made the team feel good. “It’s like pretty amazing to have them here, and not just for the boys. They care,” Audrey said. As he stood on the sidelines cheering on the girls basketball team, Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh said he is supportive of the effort. “This is awesome. They are really excited – and the players are just as excited,” Radabaugh said. Logistically it may be difficult to continuing cheering for the girls as well as the boys teams, Ferguson said. “Personally, I think it would be awesome for them to share the spirit,” she said.

Former BGMS teacher allegedly gave student alcohol

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News A police investigation of the Bowling Green Middle School teacher who resigned last month found that he reportedly gave a high school student alcohol at a downtown bar. Dylan Stark, who was an art teacher at the middle school, has been cited with a first degree misdemeanor for furnishing alcohol to an underage person. He allegedly provided an alcoholic beverage to a 17-year-old BGHS student on the night of Oct. 13, at Vice & Video, a bar at 153 N. Main St., Bowling Green. Bowling Green Deputy Chief Justin White said the investigation is now concluded. “There was a lot of speculation and a lot of rumors floating around,” but this is the extent of Stark’s wrongdoing, White said. Stark, 24, will have to appear in Bowling Green Municipal Court on the charge. He had been hired by the district in 2017. He also coached football. The police were first notified of possible criminal misconduct by Stark on Oct. 19, when Superintendent Francis Scruci reported concerns to the police division. The issue was turned over to the BGPD detective bureau. Over a period of several weeks, multiple witnesses were interviewed, as were Stark and his attorney.  A summary of the findings was presented to Bowling Green City Prosecutor Hunter Brown. On Monday, Nov. 12,  Bowling Green Police Division served Stark with the criminal citation. The school district had also conducted its own internal investigation. Stark, who was on administrative leave, had turned in his resignation to the school district after that investigation was completed, on Oct. 29. After the school board’s vote to accept Starks’ resignation, Scruci explained district officials had been given information from another teacher who had received information from students about Stark. At that point, Scruci said the investigation showed “behaviors that we wouldn’t accept in our district.” After the investigation was underway Scruci sent out an email to parents and staff asking the community to not spread rumors and to wait for the results of the investigation into Stark. Most of the allegations proved to be unfounded, but some were found to be true, Scruci said.

Manufacturers building excitement in BG students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Decades ago, parents warned their children to get college degrees so they could avoid the dirty, repetitive work of manufacturing. That is no longer the case. “Our grandparents said, ‘Get your degree. Don’t go into manufacturing,’” said Lisa Wojtkowiak, senior talent learning and development manager at Betco. But on Friday, Wojtkowiak and other Bowling Green manufacturers were telling students just the opposite. “We make bubbles,” she said. “It’s not the old steel mills of the 1950s.” Bowling Green Middle School students got a glimpse of modern manufacturing Friday during the annual manufacturing day. The event included representatives from Vehtek, Rosenboom, Lubrizol, Betco, Regal, GKN, Phoenix and Penta Career Center. The students got to do learn about robots, virtual reality, heart dissections, density of liquids, helicopter designs and cleaning products. “This is to show our students what modern manufacturing looks like,” said Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator for Bowling Green City Schools. “We want to spark their interest in manufacturing as a career option.” Today’s manufacturing uses robotics not back-breaking labor. “They may have had a grandparent who had a different experience with manufacturing,” Anderson said. The annual manufacturing day at Bowling Green City Schools was introduced a couple years ago, when local plants started having trouble finding skilled workers. “Manufacturers are in need of qualified workers,” Anderson said. The event allows local manufacturers to introduce themselves to students before they’ve already chosen a career path. “I think it’s important for manufacturers to introduce themselves to younger populations,” Wojtkowiak said. “The sooner we’re in their schools, the better.” College is no longer the only path to good-paying jobs, said Carol Espen, senior human resources manager with Regal. “I hope that they recognize manufacturing is an exciting industry” for jobs in areas such as engineering and finance, Espen said. At the Regal display, students were making modifications to paper helicopter designs, then testing them to see which stayed airborne longer. At the Lubrizol display, students learned about different liquid densities, by dropping items such as eggs, ping pong balls, bolts and dice into tap water and salt water. “We’re hoping they leave with a little bit of excitement about STEM,” science, technology, engineering and math, said Lubrizol plant manager Matt Paquette. Nearby at the Rosenboom display, students were putting together hydraulic cylinders. “They are learning how raw materials are turned into finished products,” said Sherry Hintz, head of Rosenboom human resources.”They are learning how to go into a real work environment.” That hands-on work struck a chord with seventh grader Bradley Palmer, who said he was interested in building hydraulics. “This is showing people about engineering in Bowling Green,” Palmer said. Another seventh grader, Lydia Mullins, was eyeing the robotics. “We’re learning about a different career instead of going to college,” Mullins said. “I love a lot of the tech things and being able to code the robots.”

Middle School expansion makes room for three grades

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wednesday is moving day for teachers at Bowling Green Middle School. After years of cramming three grades into a building constructed for two grades, the middle school will now have a separate wing for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. “It really gives us the space we need,” Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh said last week as he walked down the hallway of the new addition. “It’s going to allow us to spread out and not be as congested,” he said. “It allows each teacher to have their own room – which I think is very important.” The new wing, with its 15 classrooms, is the one-story equivalent of the original two-story wing of the middle school. The eighth graders will get the new wing. The cafeteria is also being expanded outward toward the parking lot. The additional space will allow for 20 more tables, so all the students can eat in the cafeteria during the three lunch periods. The new exterior of the cafeteria will have bullet-proof shielding over the windows. And all the doors in the new classroom wing will be equipped with “The Boot” to keep out intruders, Radabaugh said. The middle school addition is being paid for with permanent improvement funds. “We’re fortunate the board made that decision,” Radabaugh said. The total project cost is $4.4 million, according to architect Kent Buehrer. The middle school was built in 2009 to house seventh and eighth graders. But after the district closed its older, smaller elementary schools, the sixth graders were sent to the middle school, Radabaugh said. “We have three grades in a building built for two grades,” he said. Each grade has an average of 250 students. That led to teachers having to share classrooms, plus some teachers and students having to use classrooms in the neighboring high school. Neither option was ideal, Radabaugh said. “We had to get really creative,” he said. “The teachers are really excited. The teachers coming from the high school are excited to be back in the middle school,” Radabaugh said. The original middle school was designed for future expansion, which aided in construction of the addition. The new wing has STEAM labs with collaborative learning spaces, new projectors, white boards, 3-D printers and flexible seating. The science rooms have mobile lab tables for student desks. “It’s more of a working environment for students,” Radabaugh said. The new wing also has a music room for choir classes, plus a teachers’ lounge. The wing is equipped with an updated fire alarm system, security cameras, and secure doors to the outside. The lockers are also in a more traditional configuration than those in the original middle school. The first day of school for students is Aug. 22.

Country singer shares her bullying story at BGMS

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   At age 5, Jessie Chris loved being on stage – even if that stage was a restaurant with just two patrons at the time. “I would literally perform anywhere that would have me,” Chris said. Then at age 10, Chris was given a guitar for her birthday, and started listening to country music stars Keith Urban, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. “I realized that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up,” she said. But country music didn’t exactly fit in with her Massachusetts school. “I struggled a lot in school with bullying because of it,” Chris said as she shared her anti-bullying message with Bowling Green Middle School students on Tuesday morning. Her message: Bullying is surmountable by the victims, and stoppable by the aggressors. The messenger in this case is not that far removed from her audience – being just 20 years old, still dotting the “I”s in her name with hearts, and asking all the students to join her in a giant selfie. Shortly after getting her guitar, Chris said her bullying began. Her classmates would tell her that only boys can play guitars, that she would never be good enough, and never be pretty enough to succeed. “It kind of crushed my spirit,” she told the 750 students from BGMS. “I heard this every single day from my classmates.” The bullying was more than verbal. “I would get body-checked against the lockers at school,” Chris said. And after school, the bullying on social media took over. “I felt like I was always being targeted just for being a little different,” she said. “I was afraid of my classmates.” Chris also became afraid of performing. So she buried herself in her music, which became her coping mechanism. Writing songs became her diary of the bullying she encountered. “I channeled that anger to my music,” she said. “It was my way of having a voice.” Chris was hoping for a fresh start in high school, but found that the rumors about her followed her to the new school. She joined the field hockey team, in hopes of making friends. But she soon found out the team captain told the players to not pass to the new girl, and the team’s Facebook page targeted her. “None of them took the time to get to know me,” she said. “It crushed me inside.” So Chris started singing her country music more, which then resulted in two girls telling her they could no longer be friends since they were embarrassed to be seen with Chris. But Chris prevailed, graduated early with straight As, and started performing her music. She was the first country artist to be the Today show’s “Artist of the Month,” was named a 2018 Billboard Artist to Watch, and was one of Disney’s “Choose Kindness” faces for its anti-bullying campaign. “As messed up as it might sound, I really am thankful” that she was bullied, Chris said. Being the victim of bullying taught her to be more sensitive toward others, she explained to the students. “It’s a huge part of who I am today.” One regret Chris has is that she did not talk with her parents much about the bullying. “If you are going through something, find a…

Composer Ben Taylor brings together music & entrepreneurship to create a ‘blessed’ life

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Benjamin Dean Taylor has been making up his own music since he was a young child. He would play his original songs on the family piano. His mother was impressed, and, as mothers are wont to do, she’d ask him to play that song she’d heard a few days ago for his grandmother. “And I couldn’t remember them,” the now grown composer said. When he was 8, she started having him take piano lessons “so I could write down songs so I could play them for grandma.” Now his music entertains grandmas, mothers, and listeners of all ages. Taylor spent a couple days this week in the Bowling Green High and Middle schools, working with students who were preparing to perform his music in concert. The residency culminated with a Thursday night show with the eighth grade, concert and symphonic bands each playing one of his pieces. A saxophone quartet from Bowling Green State University were guests at the concert playing another of Taylor’s compositions. He went on to learn other instruments, including trumpet. “In college I loved playing,” he said, “but the thrill of writing and having all those sounds in my head come to fruition was the real kicker. That’s what got me started.” Devoting himself to composition meant graduate school. He came to BGSU for his masters where he studied with Marilyn Shrude and Elainie Lillios, graduating 2011. After BGSU he earned a doctorate at the University of Indiana in Bloomington where he and his wife, Allyson, and their five sons, one month to 9 years old, still live. It’s where he makes his living as a freelance composer.  He works by commission only, and has a year’s worth of commitments on the books. The demand for his work grew at first from friends, then others he knew through conferences and other encounters. Just recently, he said, he was approached by two strangers who asked him to write a piece for them. That was a first.  Taylor said he’ll accept after they talk for a bit. He wants some familiarity with the performer. The Brigham Young University graduate says that the life of the freelance composer has its challenges, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. He makes enough to support his family, he said “We’re blessed.” Taylor gets up in the morning and sees his school age kids off, then composes until lunch which he shares with his wife and their youngest children. Then in the afternoon he teaches lessons, trumpet or composition. The schedule allows him to pick up gigs on trumpet or stringed instruments – guitar, banjo, and ukulele. He leads his own Dixieland Band. “And I have the time to dedicate to all the administration of running my own publishing company and maintaining a website (,” he said. He owns a commercial printing press so he can publish his own scores. That’s preferable to having  a  contract with  a publisher and only  earning 9 percent on his compositions. His wife contends, and he agrees, that were he not a freelance composer, he’d engage in another entrepreneurial activity, probably real estate. For now, music, especially composing or wind ensemble, is his territory. Soon after earning his doctorate in 2014, he realized “I could make it as composer…

BG Middle School ‘Ending the Silence’ on mental health

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Silence can be soothing – but not if it allows warning signs and the stigma surrounding mental health issues to go unnoticed. Bowling Green Middle School counselors Debra Ondrus and Alyssa Santacroce presented a program to the board of education Tuesday evening about “Ending the Silence at BGMS.” The school partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Wood County to focus on emotional and mental health. National statistics show that one in five Americans suffer from mental health issues, Santacroce said. For students, those problems can affect their academics and daily lives. Bowling Green Middle School is the first school in Wood County to work with NAMI to offer this for students, Ondrus said. Staff and students worked together to recognize the signs of mental health problems. Through the program, they tackled the topics of: Decreasing the stigma Identifying warning signs Finding positive coping skills Treating the problem Recognizing signs of suicide Students not only talked about how to help themselves, but also how to help others who are suffering. “I was amazed,” Ondrus said of the ideas students came up with to help others. One student vowed to stop calling other people “crazy.” Another wanted to start reaching out to those in obvious distress. The students learned that mental illness is not a life sentence, Ondrus said. “Just like a physical illness, mental illness is treatable.” One area that Santacroce and Ondrus found especially lacking was the area of positive coping techniques. When students were asked to identify how they cope with life stresses, their answers primarily focused on playing video games, watching TV or using their cell phones. Students were given ideas of other stress relievers, given information on area resources and were reassured, “there is help,” Ondrus said. A video called “If we all speak loud enough,” stressed that mental illness needs to be talked about in the open. To understand the impact of the “Ending the Silence” program, all the students were given pre- and post-tests with questions about identifying signs of problems, how to help themselves, and being comfortable talking about mental health. The post-program tests show significant positive changes. Eighty-five percent of the students said they had learned something new. “Which is great. These are life lessons,” Santacroce said. Twenty-four students filled out referrals forms either for themselves or for their friends who they are concerned about. Those students are being reached out to by staff. “I’m really glad kids shared with us,” Santacroce. Though the topic is uncomfortable, Ondrus stressed the importance of getting it out in the open. “Knowledge is power,” she said. In an effort to offer more coping options for students, a “Why Not Wednesday” program is scheduled each week after school. Students do activities like hula-hooping, zumba, and participate in an “escape” room. Yoga and healthy relationship groups are also being planned. Ondrus explained the high school already has a “Signs of Suicide” program and the elementaries are looking for an age-appropriate mental health program. In other business at the board of education meeting: Winners in the Safety Kids Calendar Contest were recognized, including Whitney Bechstein, middle school; Isa Wan, Crim Elementary; Claire Rieman and Charlotte Grillot, both of Conneaut Elementary. Superintendent Francis Scruci reported his “coffee chats” have…

BG Middle School earns state ‘Momentum Award’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City School District has taken some heat for low scores on the state’s testing. But the State Board of Education has notified the Bowling Green Middle School that it will be receiving an award for student growth in reading and math. Now in its third year, the “Momentum Award” is the state board’s effort to recognize districts that have received “A”s on each Value-Added measure included on Ohio’s school report cards. That means the middle school’s report card for the 2016-2017 school year showed students made greater than expected growth in reading and math. That’s a big deal, according to Principal Eric Radabaugh. “It really is meaningful for our school,” Radabaugh said Wednesday afternoon. The “A” grade means that Bowling Green Middle School students made more progress over the year than most other students in Ohio. “To me the most important measure of a school is the growth from one year to the next,” the principal said. “We are honored to receive the award.” Radabaugh praised teachers for making the difference. “I credit our dedicated staff,” he said. The teachers use a team approach. “We have a learning environment where teachers share ideas of what’s working and what’s not working.” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci was pleased with the state recognition for efforts at the middle school. “This is another example of the great things happening in our district,” Scruci said. “We as a district are pleased and proud of the work being done at the middle school and for the hard work being recognized.” The “value-added” grades measure growth in all the sub-groups of students, including those with disabilities. That in itself is notable, Radabaugh said. The State Board of Education agreed. “Your accomplishment makes you part of an elite group of districts that are ensuring the academic growth of students from every background and ability level,” state board president Tess Elshoff wrote to the school. “This is especially admirable when your district is operating multiple schools with diverse student populations and varying needs and challenges.” The letter from Elshoff asked that the praise be extended to school administration, staffs and parents. “Members of the State Board of Education congratulate you on recruiting dedicated school leaders and school staffs and equipping them with the tools they need to ensure academic growth for every child,” she wrote. “Please convey our thanks to your teachers, support staff and parents for believing that every child can achieve. Your district is a wonderful example for all Ohio school districts.” The state board is also planning to hold Bowling Green Middle School up as an example for other districts. “Members of the State Board and Ohio Department of Education look forward to sharing information about your success with districts and communities throughout our state, hoping they can follow your model of excellence,” Elshoff wrote. “Thank you for the work you do to help Ohio’s students succeed every day.”

BG students make the most of manufacturing day

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There were robots scooting across the floor, fresh packaged green beans and a guinea pig named “Lil Poundcake” – all part of National Manufacturing Day. Nine Wood County manufacturers set up shop in the Bowling Green Middle School on Friday to show students that manufacturing could be a great career choice. “We want to get this age to consider a career in manufacturing,” said Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation. “When you start in high school, they already have preconceived notions. So you have to start earlier.” This is the first time the middle school has held a manufacturing day, said Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator. “There is a crisis in manufacturing for skilled workers,” Anderson said. Friday’s event was intended to help students see that “old school traditional factories” are not the same as today’s manufacturing. Clark agreed. “We need young people in the pipeline” for manufacturing jobs, she said. Many students have archaic ideas of manufacturing jobs. “This is so kids see what modern manufacturing looks like,” Anderson said. “It’s changed drastically.” This manufacturers’ fair had students using virtual reality goggles and turning soap different colors. “I think some of them are surprised,” Anderson said of the students. The manufacturers set up in the gymnasium showed how their professions needed science, problem solving and creative thinking. Apio, the fresh produce processor, showed students how to test the bags of fresh green beans for oxygen and carbon dioxide. “Beans breathe just like we do after they are picked,” Ginger Povenmire, of Apio, said as she showed how to measure the gases in the bags of beans. At another table, students were donning virtual reality goggles used by Rudolph Libbe on construction projects to help people visualize the final product. “It’s easier than an end user who can’t read 2-D drawings,” said Trent Mahaney, virtual design and construction manager for the company. Employees from Lubrizol taught some lessons on hydraulics, air pressure and fluid flow, using a series of water tanks to see which fills up first and how the water flows. The company threw in an added attraction of goldfish in one of the tanks. “We put goldfish in there because we thought they were cool,” said Matt Paquette, Lubrizol plant manager. “They come over here to see the fish and they end up learning something.” The employees from Control Design Solutions showed students that one company can make several different products. The same plant in Bowling Green processes and packages foods – like Golden Grahams cereal and Goobers peanut butter and jelly combo – and produces parts for car seats. The Marathon Special Products display showed kids how engineering is used from the concept stage to the final product. They had a 3-D printer on hand. “Manufacturing is so innovative,” said Carol Espen, human resources manager at Marathon. “We want to excite them about the opportunities that exist. That’s our goal.” The robots came compliments of Penta Career Center. Students were making them spin across the floor, pick up items or even move a chair across the room. “Kids this age are crazy about this stuff,” said Ryan Thomas, from the manufacturing and transportation sophomore exploratory program at Penta. At the Rosenboom display, students learned…

Public library offers programs for middle school students

From WOOD COUNTY DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY The ood County Distruct Library is launching its fall series for middle school students. Weekly Tween/Teen Coding & Creative Writing Clubs The library offers two tween/teen after school club opportunities on alternating Mondays from 4-5 p.m. Youth ages 10 and up are encouraged to explore and participate in both the Coding Club and Wordplay Creative Writing Club. No previous experience is required for either group. The Coding Club investigates computer programming with several Sphero robots, as well as guided coding practice through for students who would like to experiment with more in-depth coding. Wordplay is a new creative writing group, where students will play word games and consider writing prompts as they learn about how to craft stories through their writing. The two groups meet Mondays from 4-5 p.m. in the Children’s Place, alternating weeks. Coding Club meets September 11 and 25, October 9 and 23, November 6 and 20, and December 4 and 18. Wordplay meets September 18, October 2, 16, and 30, November 13 and 27, and December 11. Middle School Book Group The middle school book group, “Pizza and Pages,” meets for the first time this school year on Tuesday, September 12, at 2:30 p.m. in the Bowling Green Middle School’s Media Center. “Pizza and Pages” is a partnership between BGCS and WCDPL and is open to all area 6th-8th graders. The Children’s Place of the Wood County District Public Library has multiple copies of the pre-selected books available to check out. This September, youth can choose one or more of the following “Middle School Experience” titles: Posted by John David Anderson; Ungifted by Gordon Korman; and The Friendship Experiment by Erin Teagan. Posted by John David Anderson is the story of Frost and his friends who start communicating through sticky notes left all over the school when cell phones are banned. Soon other kids start following their example, triggering a wave of bullying activities in the wake of a new girl’s arrival. Ungifted by Gordon Korman is the story of Donovan, whose thoughtless prank accidentally destroys the school gym during the Big Game. In the aftermath, he is mistakenly sent to a school for gifted students and has to learn how to be one of them. The Friendship Experiment by Erin Teagan is the story of scientist-in-the-making Madeline Little, starting sixth grade and learning that middle school is nothing like a perfect lab experiment–and that she now has to find the cure for her newly messed-up life. The discussion with staff from BGMS and WCDPL will include any or all of these titles, along with pizza snacks. Call the Children’s Place desk at 419-352-8253 with any questions.

BG Schools good bond rating should help with addition

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City School’s healthy bond rating should pay off for the district when it finances the middle school addition. During Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Kent Cashell, of RBC Capital Markets, reported on the middle school debt issue. Last month, the school board voted unanimously to request bids for a $4.15 million expansion of the middle school to relieve serious overcrowding. The plan is to pay for that project with permanent improvement money, so it will be completely separate from the bond issue project on the November ballot. Cashell explained this financing is different than most building bond issues, since the school district will not need to ask voters for new funding to repay the loan. The district will use already voted on permanent improvement funds to pay for the debt incurred for the middle school addition. Cashell said the district will be looking to borrow for the shortest period of time, with comfortable payments, to save on interest rates. The Bowling Green district has a solid bond rating – at AA2 by Moody’s – which is one of the best in the state, Cashell said. “The district is in good financial standing,” he said. The middle school is the newest building in the district, having been constructed in 2009. But the problem is that it was built to house two grades – seventh and eighth graders. However, when a couple older elementary schools in the district were closed, the sixth graders were also moved into the middle school. The middle school currently houses about 750 students. Unless the building is expanded, the overcrowding issue will worsen in a couple years when an abnormally large class entering fifth grade now reaches the middle school, pushing the student count close to 800. To relieve the overcrowding, another classroom wing is planned. It will be situated to the south and parallel to the existing classroom wing. An open courtyard area will sit between the two wings. The new one-story addition will likely be used for the eighth graders. The goal is to have the new wing open for the 2018 school year. An addition to the cafeteria is also planned, with that work scheduled to begin next spring. The building is estimated to cost $4.15 million, and the furnishings are expected to cost just over $200,000, according to Kent Buehrer, of Buehrer Group Architecture. Buehrer said last month the new wing will not be identical to the existing wing, since the district learned from current design problems. For example, the lockers in the new wing will run along the perimeter of the hallways.

BG Middle School addition to relieve overcrowding

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Schools is facing the challenge of passing a bond issue in November to build a consolidated elementary school and a major reconstruction of the high school. But first, the district has to respond to a more immediate construction need. On Tuesday evening, the board of education voted unanimously to request bids for a $4.15 million expansion of the middle school to relieve serious overcrowding. The plan is to pay for that project with permanent improvement money, so it will be completely separate from the bond issue project. The middle school is the newest building in the district, having been constructed in 2009. But the problem is that it was built to house two grades – seventh and eighth graders. However, when a couple older elementary schools in the district were closed, the sixth graders were also moved into the middle school. The middle school currently houses about 750 students. Unless the building is expanded, the overcrowding issue will worsen in a couple years when an abnormally large class entering fifth grade now reaches the middle school, pushing the student count close to 800. To relieve the overcrowding, another classroom wing is planned. It will be situated to the south and parallel to the existing classroom wing. An open courtyard area will sit between the two wings. The new one-story addition will likely be used for the eighth graders. Construction bids will be opened by the board next month, with construction planned to start by September. The goal is to have the wing open for the 2018 school year. An addition to the cafeteria is also planned, with that work scheduled to being next spring. The building is estimated to cost $4.15 million, and the furnishings are expected to cost just over $200,000, according to Kent Buehrer, of Buehrer Group Architecture. Buehrer said the new wing will not be identical to the existing wing, since the district learned from current design problems. For example, the lockers in the new wing will run along the perimeter of the hallways. In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the school board voted to proceed with the bond issue for the $71,990,000 elementary and high school construction project. A second public forum will be held on the issue Thursday, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., in the school’s Performing Arts Center. In addition to answering new questions, Superintendent Francis Scruci said answers will be posted to the 26 questions asked at the first public forum. Also at the meeting, drama teacher Jo Beth Gonzalez and the students who traveled to London reported on their trip. They told of visits to the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the Globe Theater and a theater workshop. The students shared lessons learned, like the value of not judging people, taking chances, and exploring the world beyond the U.S. (See: In other business: Mayor Dick Edwards voiced his appreciation for Middle School principal Eric Radabaugh’s service on the city’s Human Relations Commission. Teacher Jenny Dever will be taking his place on the commission. Athletes Noah Cook and Nick Lane were recognized for their success in track and field state championships. Scruci noted that high school science teacher Gloria Gajewicz is a finalist for a national honor. (See: Board member…