The deadline is fast approaching for applying to Westerville's magnet schools -- applications must be sent by Friday, March 18, to be considered for magnet programs at Hanby and Emerson elementary schools.

The deadline is fast approaching for applying to Westerville's magnet schools -- applications must be sent by Friday, March 18, to be considered for magnet programs at Hanby and Emerson elementary schools.

In preparation for the application process, families were able to tour both schools Friday, March 11.

"The Magnet Program provides an alternative to the traditional delivery of content through the lenses of math and science, the arts and world cultures," said Greg Viebranz, executive director of communications and technology.

He said students enrolled in the Westerville City School District are eligible for the magnet program, which consists of three options, math/science or the arts, housed at Hanby, or the world cultures program, housed at Emerson.

"Selection to the program is determined by a lottery process," he said.

Hanby

Hanby Principal Monica Brown said families taking Hanby's tour last week saw visual displays and information about each program.

"Parents, staff and current Hanby students served as tour guides in order to answer any questions," she said. "We teach the mandated state curriculum, with the daily integration of arts, math or science."

She said teachers use "laser focus and purposeful integration" of the chosen magnet strand into daily curriculum. For the arts strand, students receive "real world" connections through partnerships with the Westerville Arts Council, Columbus Museum of Art, Generations Dance Studio, Otterbein University, Inniswood Metro Gardens and others.

"Students might create songs and movements that help them remember math concepts," Brown said. "A grant from the Westerville Arts Council allowed all arts-strand students to take field trips to the Columbus Museum of Art and return to the classroom to make connections within the academic curriculum."

She said the math/science strand provides connections to those subjects in all areas of study.

"Students become investigators and problem solvers by making connections between evidence and results," she said. "Students explore and learn through a scientific lens and learn to recognize the role of science and math concepts in the real world around them."

She said students might also interact with practicing mathematicians and scientists in partnerships with Otterbein faculty.

A partnership with SIMPLR, an organization that leads STEM labs, led to a half-day Saturday camp, "Droids and Drones."

"Our partnership with Inniswood has led to the development of an outdoor learning space or school garden, which is currently in progress," Brown said.

Hanby has been a magnet school since 2002. Current enrollment is 281 students in grades 1-5.

Emerson

Referred to as "the castle school" by many, Principal Christine Doolittle said, Emerson has very high ceilings and large, wide windows, allowing a lot of natural light to flow into classrooms.

"Emerson World Culture Magnet School is in a beloved, historical building, built in 1896," she said.

She said the program integrates learning about other cultures and countries with state standards.

"We like to tie literature, writing, fine arts and music, in addition to social studies, into our curriculum wherever possible," she said. "This year, teachers and students have reached out to other schools across the world and communicated with pals in the form of writing, video or blogging."

Some of the countries to which students connected were Ireland, Rwanda, South Africa and China.

"After working through the time-difference challenges, we have used Skype many times with our student friends in China," she said.

Doolittle said Emerson enrollment is at 250 students in grades 1-5.

"There is one section at each level, with a maximum of 26 students in each classroom," she said. "The Gifted Education Program is also housed at Emerson, in grades three through five."

Emerson has been a magnet school for more than 20 years.

@PamelaThisWeek