Westerville News & Public Opinion

Grant funds support creative projects

The Westerville Education Challenge has announced that $14,411.01 will be awarded to six grant applicants in support of innovative educational programming for the Westerville City School District.

Originally formed in 2009 to underwrite Challenge Day initiatives at all three Westerville high schools, the mission of the Westerville Education Challenge has evolved to also fund creative projects that enrich curricular and extra-curricular activities, and that directly enhance educational opportunities for a significant number of students in the Westerville City Schools.

Fundraising initiatives, such as "Boots 'N' BBQ at the Barn," have allowed the nonprofit to achieve its mission through its competitive grants program, which began last school year.

Grant recipients this year are:

* Beth Dalin, Emerson Magnet School, $2,390 for the Emerson Early Risers Club. Eight to 10 incoming third-grade students who have been identified as "at risk" in reading will be invited to participate in a four-day-per-week, yearlong, before-school shared reading program. The effort will pair one or two students with a volunteer student reader from Otterbein University to develop a love of reading. Students will hear and participate in reading literature accessed through Kindle Fires.

* Rachel Schultz, McVay Elementary School, $768.50 for a culinary arts project designed to help young pupils with multiple disabilities to acquire mathematical, reading, and daily living skills while planning and preparing food. The yearlong project will offer two to four lessons per week.

* Jane Elliott, Walnut Springs Middle School, $2,229 to expand the Leaders are Readers Project. Last year, leaders from around the country were invited to Skype with seventh- and eighth-grade students to discuss how reading is an important part of their lives in business and leisure. This year, sixth-grade students will be included. Through participation in the "I'm Listening, Convince Me" program, pupils will learn to recognize what constitutes good writing and see how good writing influences decision makers.

* Lisa Huelskamp, Walnut Springs Middle School, $5,000 for National History Day participation. Seventh-grade language arts and social studies teachers, a media specialist, and the middle school gifted education coordinator will collaborate to prepare and instruct students as the students develop National History Day projects. A class set of digital tablets will enhance the educational value of the projects and the final products.

* Susannah Lee, Westerville Central High School, $500 for microphones and adaptors to aid students enrolled in Film and Literature courses formulated around the overarching question, "What does it mean to be a citizen?" Students will participate in various film projects throughout the school year.

* Kyle Campbell, $3,523.51 for Conservation and the Preservation of Biodiversity at the Westerville North High School Land Lab. Multiple grades, classes, ages and disciplines will be invited to study, record, observe and experiment in this multi-annual comprehensive study of game fish, turtle populations, nesting sites and habitat requirements of the organisms that inhabit the land lab pond facility.