Grizzell teacher 'bullish' about frogs
Shawn Kaeser knows something about persistence.
The 8th grade Grizzell Middle School teacher spent nine years with students petitioning the state to make the bullfrog the state frog.
He and students are back with Bullfrog Project 2.0.
"The kids were asking, 'What can we do,' " Kaeser said.
After some brainstorming, students are working to get the Bullfrog its own license plate.
"There are different wildlife plates," Kaeser said.
"There's one for the cardinal," Kaeser said. "This would raise awareness for amphibians."
Students started researching how to get the state frog on a license plate with eighth-grader Leah Holtman taking the lead.
"Everybody was working on their scrapbooks and I'm in the library calling senators and emailing them," Holtman said. "It was a unique experience."
The class has gotten help from State Sen. Jim Hughes and State Rep. John Patrick Carney, Kaeser said.
Information provided by Hughes gave the students a goal: 500 signatures of Ohio motorists and art for the license plate are needed. If the Bullfrog makes the license plate, 500 must be purchased each year for the state to keep making them.
Lexi Gellegani is hoping her artwork makes it onto license plates. From a photo of a bullfrog, Gellegani drew the frog and next has to upload it so it can be sent to the state in a specific format.
"We need an Adobe program and only one computer in the school has it," she said.
Eighth grader Michael Silvestri has been handling the communications end of the project and has contacted local news organizations to try to get the word out.
Students will also be talking to neighbors and family members over the holidays.
"We're planning over Thanksgiving break ... to take home the (signature) sheet and talk to people," he said.
If each student can get four or five signatures, Kaeser said, the plate could soon be a reality.
Holtman has been knocking on neighbors' doors to gauge interest and gather signatures for license plate.
"I think just trying to get the word out to people teaches leadership," she said.
For Gellegani, the highlight of the project has been seeing what middle school students can accomplish.
"I think it's so cool that people our age can make a difference," she said. "I think it's really inspiring that we can do this stuff. And if people buy (the license plate) it would be awesome."
"It is cool to be able to see kids reaching out to their community," Silvestri agreed.
Kaeser said the project will continue until all 500 signatures are gathered and hopes to have it completed in January.
With a bullfrog effort that has gone on since 2002, Kaeser is hoping to see signatures from former students on the petition as well.
Anyone interested in signing the petition can do so in the Grizzell Middle School office. Information including license plate number is required.