The meeting place seemed appropriate.
After all, college professor Steve Shaner wanted to thank someone who had opened up his eyes to the power of words.
And so it was that Shaner, 62, walked into the Frankford Public Library on Tuesday, March 7, and got to thank his eighth-grade English teacher.
He had not seen Dorothy Fisch, who now lives in Ocean View, since he finished eighth grade back in 1968. After all that time, his search for Fisch was started by remarks by a colleague who encouraged students and staff at Harding University, in Searcy, Ark., where Shaner is employed as an assistant professor of mass communication, to reach out to someone who had made a difference in their lives, and to thank them.
“Above and beyond” were the words most frequently used to describe 17 individuals who were named Special Education Ambassadors this week.
The Indian River School District honored educators who serve as role models for their colleagues while promoting a positive message of inclusiveness for students with disabilities.
“Ambassadors will be those who clearly support a mission to allow students identified with disabilities to become emotionally, socially and academically successful learners ready to fulfill their lifelong goals,” according to IRSD officials.
“[These are] folks in our schools who really make it possible for our students to achieve their goals,” said IRSD Board Member Heather Statler.
Grade-school memories follow people through life, for better or worse. And, although the old Richard Allen School was born of segregation, people are being inspired today to transform it into a community and cultural center in Georgetown.
“When Richard Allen opened its door [in the 1920s], it was a beacon of hope for African-Americans living in Sussex County,” according to the Richard Allen Coalition. “When it reopens next year, it will welcome all of us who want to learn about the past while helping our youth explore their talents and prepare for a wonderful future.”
The non-profit Richard Allen Coalition wants to restore the school’s legacy as an educational and community center. Physically, the old building won’t just become a museum to freeze history, but a community center to breathe life into the town.
Lord Baltimore Elementary School students were able to do something a little unorthodox last week, as students were able to duct tape Assistant Principal Matthew Keller to a wall.
The students had participated in “Penny Wars” for two weeks to help raise funds for a new school sign.
“We had the grade levels compete against each other to bring in change — pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters. Some students even brought in bills,” said Jennifer Lovellette, president of the school’s PTO. “Each cent was worth one point... The grade level that brought in the most money won the Penny Wars.”
The students raised a little more than $2,800, which Lovellette said was likely driven by the prize the winning grade would receive.
“They were able to duct tape the assistant principal, Mr. Keller, to the wall, which was fantastic.”
The first grade won the Penny Wars, and Keller, being a good sport, spent his afternoon taped to a wall.
“It was such a great event,” said Lovellette. “He was taped to a wall in the cafeteria. We had mats stacked up, so he was able to stand on the mats and then the PTO officers started by putting a couple of larger pieces of tape around him, just to start it, just to make sure he was secure to the wall. We had fun, different duct tapes — Gummie Bears, Minions — cut into pieces.
PCS students wear their kindness proudly
Kindness can be like a rock in water. One good deed can ripple outward to distant shores.
Phillip C. Showell Elementary School celebrated January as Kindness Month by encouraging children to be kind and witness kindness in their lives.
With handmade Kindness Bracelets, students can now count and remember random acts of kindness each day.
“As they witness, give or receive an act of kindness through the day, they’ll move a charm,” said Laurie Hall, teacher of art and special education at the school. Hopefully, later, at home, “they talk about what they’ve done to move them.”
The bracelets are threaded so that people can slide the 10 beads deliberately, without them slipping backward again.
Children across the land have been preparing for the upcoming slate of holiday concerts almost as diligently as they’ve worked on their lists for Santa. Horns are tooting, drummers are drumming and singers are tuning their pipes in anticipation of the chance to shine in front of their families and friends and spread some holiday cheer while they’re at it.
At the G.W. Carver Center in Frankford on Nov. 18, the APELL (Advancing Proficiency of English Language Learners) staff was thankful for community.
With local residents coming together to not only donate, but volunteer, that’s how they were able to put on their second annual Thanksgiving feast for immigrant students, introducing most of them to their first traditional Thanksgiving with a celebratory feast.
“I think it was wonderful to see so many people involved with trying to make the kids have a welcoming first Thanksgiving in our country,” said Lori Ott, who teaches English and serves as the program’s unofficial “lead teacher” after 22 years in the district.
“The students really appreciated it, and I think the volunteers really enjoyed getting to meet the students. Even though there were language barriers, you could still see them communicating.”
“Our veterans are very special to us. We pray our program shows them how much we care,” said second-grader Megan Brining, who opened Lighthouse Christian School’s (LCS) annual Veterans Day program with a prayer.
The program, held on Nov. 18, featured a presentation of the colors, the “Pledge of Allegiance” and seventh-grader Izzy Donihue singing “The Star Spangled Banner,” and focused on honoring all branches of the military services.
Eighth-grader Danny Williams introduced Airman 1st class Rudy Viguie, who served as F-86 crew chief in the U.S. Air Force, noting the branch was created in 1947, after President Truman signed the National Security Act.
“What did the Air Force do to me as an individual?” said Viguie. “In 1952, I was a 16-year-old kid growing up on the streets of New York City, totally unsupervised. I came from a single-parent home, basically did what I wanted. I don’t know how I stayed out of trouble.
This Friday, the students of Lighthouse Christian School will be hosting a special tribute to all the branches of the military and thanking veterans for their service to the country.
“It’s a labor of love. I just love it,” said Pat Viguie, who works at the school and has been coordinating the event for nine years.
The program will be held on Friday, Nov. 18, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Dagsboro Church of God. The program will feature children showing their love of country and freedom, while also expressing their appreciation for the men and women who have served and are serving in the military.
“They are trying to pay back in their own way — whether it be with songs or poems or a letter of thanks — just to let them know how much we love them, we appreciate them, and that we know without them we could not have the freedoms that exist in this great land.”
Any book will do. When Nichele Lobo invites special guests to read to her third-grade classroom, she doesn’t care which book they choose.
“If you’re reading something you enjoy … [you’ll] bring it to life,” said Lobo, a teacher at Southern Delaware School of the Arts.
Because students didn’t have school in mid-November, Lobo’s class celebrated National Young Readers Week a week early. That meant a week’s worth of special guests, sharing new stories with both third-grade classes.
Guests bring a book that is special to themselves or their own children. The students connect the stories to their own lives and classroom lessons.
One lucky person could be driving a brand-new 2017 Toyota Camry this December, as the Sussex Technical High School Band Program is now selling tickets for the raffle of a vehicle donated by Hertrich Toyota of Milford.
“I give all the credit to the parents,” said Band Director Ian Kenney of the Ravens Music Boosters, who have organized the raffle. “We have one band parent who knew somebody up at Hertrich in Milford and was able to say, ‘Hey, this band is taking a big trip and it’s costing them $1,600 per student. Any help you can give us would be appreciated.’ They ended up saying, ‘Well, we can give you a monetary donation, or we can get you a car to try to sell tickets to raffle off.’”
This is the first new-car raffle the band has done, said Kenney, noting that in a previous year there had been a used-car raffle.
Tickets cost $100 each and can be purchased online, by mail, during Sussex Tech home football games and at the band’s winter concert, while supplies last. Only 750 tickets are available for the raffle. The car is valued at up to $21,000.
A Lighthouse Christian Middle School sixth-grader has been granted a special exception from the Dagsboro school’s dress code for the last year. Dillon Polly, 11, of Laurel, has spent the last year growing out his blond hair to donate to a wig-making charity for children.
For one week this summer, Drew Szlasa was flying airplanes, or controlling them from an aircraft carrier ship.
But this Selbyville Middle School eighth-grader wasn’t really up the air or at sea. She was in an immersive National Flight Academy summer camp, with hints of virtual reality, at Pensacola, Fla.
The whole building was designed to look and feel like a ship. Even the dorms were laid out like an aircraft carrier.
There were two teams — those flying the aircraft, plus the mission control team helping the aircraft navigate.
“They had these flight simulators where they taught you how to fly it,” said Szlasa. “There was this place called the JIC [Joint Intelligence Center] where you told the planes where to go.”
When flying, the plane started on the actual boat, “and then you take off from there,” she said. “The aircraft was really fun. … It was laid out like an actual airplane. It would be just you and a co-pilot.”
Every day at the flight simulator, campers sat in front of screens, maps and diagrams to complete the mission.
Life has changed since Gov. Jack Markell graduated from Newark High School in 1978. Back then, he said, people could get a decent job immediately after high school.
Nowadays, to find a job “that’s going to allow you to pay the kind of life you probably want to lead, you’re going to have to pursue additional training after high school,” Markell told Indian River High School seniors this week. “That doesn’t mean you have to start immediately after high school. But in order to advance, you’re really going to have to continue to invest in your education.”
Markell isn’t saying everyone needs a two- or four-year degree.
But the State of Delaware has invested in post-secondary training, and students should, too, Markell told the IRHS senior class on Sept. 20.
His visit was part of Delaware Department of Education’s third annual senior class tour, which supports students in transitioning from high school to college and career.
The Delaware State Police Explorers program consists of young men and women who have an interest in law enforcement.
This past spring, Indian River High School students collectively took 152 Advanced Placement exams. They blew those exams out of the water, earning “qualifying scores” on 76 percent of those exams, far exceeding the national average of 57 percent. They also won about two dozen scholar awards.
Patricia Dailey-Lewis, who heads the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, recalls the moment the foundation was born.
The Delaware Botanic Gardens has selected four expert speakers for its upcoming lecture series, beginning in September 2016 and continuing through April 2017. Admission to all lectures is free.
• Sept. 24 — Donald Pell, “Embracing the Regional Landscape,” 10 a.m. to noon, South Coastal Library, 43 Kent Avenue, Bethany Beach.
Indian River School District will welcome more than 10,000 students back to school when the 2016-2017 school year begins on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Preschool programs, including Project Village and TOTS, will begin on Monday, Sept. 12. The last day of school for students is Friday, June 16, 2017. The last day for preschool is Friday, June 9, 2017.
Indian River School District officials have been telling people for years now that the student population is growing much faster than once anticipated. This month, the school board slashed the district’s budget by about 13 percent, amidst plans to potentially build three new buildings and renovate three more in the near future.
The cafeteria at the Southern Delaware School of the Arts resembled a giant classroom on the morning of Monday, Aug. 22, with fresh faces seated at rows of tables, surrounded by shiny, colorful new school supplies — except that many of those at the desks had brought their own cups of coffee and all were at least in their early to mid-20s.
Readers who think young people today spend too much time on computers might want to stop right here. On second thought, keep reading… and be impressed.
Two students in Indian River High School’s Junior ROTC program spent a week in August at CyberPatriot camp at the Randolph Macon Academy in Front Royal, Va. The camp is part of a cybersecurity education program in which teams from all over the country learn cybersecurity tactics and compete against each other to identify threats and defuse them.
The program was started in 2009 by the U.S. Air Force Association and funded by the Department of Defense.
The AFA has been increasingly concerned with cybersecurity — keeping the nation safe from threats against computer systems. Disruption of computer systems can cause major damage to the country’s banking, commerce, manufacturing, defense and other industries — and the CyberPatriot program has several goals that address those threats.
This year, hundreds of Indian River School District parents will begin navigating a new pathway they didn’t expect: special education services for their kids.
It’s a tricky road to follow. Families try advocate for their children, sometimes not even fully understanding the educational process and their rights.
August is National Family Fun Month, so here are some ideas of free or low-cost activities brought to you from Beacon Pediatrics and Beebe Healthcare, to keep your family healthy, safe and active for the rest of summer!
Teachers are trusted to manage classrooms, from grades to discipline. But when parents are unhappy with a teacher’s decision, they’re sometimes taking advantage of the system, according one local teacher.
At Indian River High School, students aren’t getting equal treatment when parents demand that the administration intervene, said physical education teacher Wendy Megee.
This year, 10 students of all ages won college scholarships from the Indian River High School Alumni Association.
The group far surpassed their original goal of awarding four IR Pride Scholarships, which were presented to college students and to recent high school graduates at their Aug. 1 meeting.
Five recent grads won the $1,000 IR Pride Scholarship; four alumni won the $500 IR Pride Scholarships for Current Alumni; and one grad won a special memorial scholarship of $3,150.
The award celebrates school spirit, beyond the usual academics or athletics.
The Indian River School District recently announced its adult education course offerings for the fall of 2016. They can now be viewed online at irsd.net.
Fall 2016 courses for youth include:
• Babysitting Course by Delaware Safety Council (ages 11-16): Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 17-18, 5-7 p.m., $50, Southern Delaware School of the Arts library. Advance registration required.
The Bethany Area Repertoire Theater (BART) has been providing stage performances to the area for three years, and last week the theater company’s goal of funding scholarships for area students bore fruit.
BART awarded scholarships to three students, all recent graduates from Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes, during a ceremony at BART’s home stage at the Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville on Friday, July 23.
Robert Ravida, chairman of BART’s scholarship committee, said BART’s intention from the beginning was always to fund arts scholarships with the proceeds from ticket sales for its plays, which are performed on the Dickinson Parlour Theatre stage by an ever-growing group of volunteers from within the community.
Scores from the 2016 Smarter Balanced Assessment, released by the Delaware Department of Education on July 21, revealed that the percentages of Indian River School District students who were proficient in English language arts (ELA) and math were higher than the overall state averages, district officials announced this week.
The Indian River School District is continuing to produce new episodes of its “IRSD Spotlight” podcast. The episodes can be accessed free of charge through iTunes, soundcloud.com, the district website at irsd.net and several mobile podcast apps.