A group of Westlake High Spanish students became the newest members of the National Spanish Honor Society last month. Pictured are: (front row, from left) Diana Kalash, Rachel Cuellar, Madeline Dornon, Katherine Pavilonis, Leah Choban, Riya Desai, Christine Hughes; (second row) Catherine Frerman, Bushra Altabba, Nicole Korczak, Maura Ryan; (third row) Jeremy Schwochow, Mark Sargent, Bradley Katcher, Aris Jhaveri, Justin Krantz; (fourth row) Mohammad Alsi, Youseff Al-Shinnawi, Carter Hoon, Hong Liang and Alexander Lathem.
My third-graders at Westerly School in Bay Village learn about immigrants during the period that Ellis Island was open. Students get a chance to compare life today with life in the past. Throughout this integrated unit, the students learn about immigrants from fiction and nonfiction texts as well as going on a virtual tour of Ellis Island. They learn to write letters and poems related to immigration.
As a culminating activity, the students participate in "trunk day." Each student is assigned a country and they learn about real immigrant families that settled in the Cleveland area. Each group has a chance to explore trunks or suitcases with artifacts, journals, logs and more. Here are two summary paragraphs written by two of my students.
The Bay Village Board of Education approved new, three-year contracts with the district’s teachers and support staff members at its Monday, May 9, regular board meeting.
Both the Bay Teachers Association and the district’s OAPSE employees (including custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, maintenance staff and school secretaries) agreed to salary increases of 2 percent for the first year of their new contracts, with increases of 1.75 percent for each of the following two years.
"Thanks to the collaborative relationships between our administration, our teachers and our support staff, we can continue to offer a high-quality education to our students while maintaining sound fiscal management for our community," said Amy Huntley, president of the school board. "This stability is so important. It lets our board plan ahead to offer the best programs in the most cost-efficient ways. I know I speak for our board in saying how proud we all are of our staff members and their dedication to our children and to our community."
Bay Middle School fifth-grader Annabella Mayer was recognized as an Ohio Level 1 Honorable Finalist in the Library of Congress' Letters About Literature 2016 Contest.
Students entering the contest write letters to the author of a book that has made a difference in their lives. Annabella wrote her letter to author Jerry Spinelli about his book, "Stargirl."
Annabella explained that Mr. Spinelli's book helped her realize that she didn't need to fit in with the crowd. "I, like everyone, am not perfect. I don’t always fit in," she wrote.
Westlake High School senior Bradley Katcher was named a Jefferson Scholar for the University of Virginia.
The Jefferson Scholars Foundation award is intended to cover the entire cost of attendance for four years at the University of Virginia, plus coverage of the supplemental enrichment experiences. Those opportunities include Team Challenge Program, Institute for Leadership and Citizenship, foreign travel studies, Alumni Connections Program, career counseling, public service fellows, and enrichment dinners and receptions.
Bay High senior Alana Bernys has been named a National Merit Finalist. She is among less than one percent of U.S. graduating seniors who qualified for the distinction based on scores of the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) college entrance exam taken during their junior year.
Alana has previously been recognized for earning a top score of 36 on the ACT college entrance exam. She was also named a Presidential Scholar candidate earlier this year. She plans to pursue a double major in biochemistry and art history when she enters Darmouth College this fall to prepare for a career as a medical researcher in the field of genetics.
The Westlake Board of Education adopted the outline presented by Westlake City Schools’ Strategic Planning Committee at its April 25 meeting. The committee is a cross-representational group of over 50 residents including business, nonprofit, civic, mental health, higher education, clergy, parent and neighborhood leaders.
“We want to thank the Strategic Planning Committee members for being forward thinking and sharing their input and ideas to help ensure our school district’s priorities are aligned with the needs of the community and the skills required to compete in today’s society,” said Board President Carol Winter. “Their commitment to this process demonstrates the importance of strong schools and a strong community.”
Bay and Westlake high schools have been designated Silver Medal Schools in U.S. News & World Report's 2016 ranking of America's Best High Schools. Bay High ranked No. 24 in Ohio (out of 890 high schools), and No. 583 nationally (out of 19,908 public high schools). Westlake High ranked No. 41 in the state, No. 968 in the country. Bay narrowly missed the Gold Medal designation, which is awarded to the nation's top 500 rated schools.
U.S. News and World Report considers a number of factors in its ranking. First, they determined whether each school's students were performing much better than statistically expected for the average student in the state, factoring in the percentage of the school's economically disadvantaged students, on math and reading proficiency tests.
The Westlake Board of Education has begun the search process for a new chief financial officer/treasurer after Mark C. Pepera announced that he accepted a similar position with the Brunswick City School District. Pepera has been with Westlake City Schools since 1998 and received numerous national and state accommodations and accolades for excellence in financial reporting, a focus on transparency and superior audit results.
Pepera and his staff recently earned the district its 23rd consecutive national Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting award, the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting.
Five Westlake High School vocal and instrumental ensembles received top ratings in their categories at the Ohio Music Education Association High School State Large Group contests last month in Medina and North Royalton.
Symphonic Band received a Superior rating with straight 1s in Class AA. Chorale also received a Superior rating with straight 1s in Class AA and was the only AA choir to achieve that rating.
Men’s Chorus received straight 1s in Class C – one of only two schools to achieve that rating. Women’s Ensemble received an overall Excellent rating/2 in Class B. Concert Band received an overall Excellent rating/2 in Class C.
Scott Goggin, the current superintendent of Midview Schools and soon-to-be superintendent of Westlake Schools, addressed the Westlake Kiwanis at a recent meeting. Scott is originally from North Olmsted and attended St. Edward in Lakewood. He has a degree in special education from Bowling Green State University and a graduate degree in rehabilitation counseling from Kent State University. He is currently working on a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Ashland University, which he expects to receive in August.
Westlake High School sophomore Kimaya Bakhle, a German 2 Honors student, reached the Gold level for scoring in the 92nd percentile on the 2016 National German Exam sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of German. Her score made her eligible to apply for a free study travel award to Germany.
The National German Exam is given online each year to nearly 22,000 high school students. Each exam is comprised of 100 questions in listening and viewing, and reading.
Ohio PTA presented its top honors to two of Bay Village Schools' own at its state conference on Sunday, April 12.
Normandy Elementary School Principal Dan Sebring was named the Ohio PTA District 12 Outstanding Educator. He was also named Ohio PTA's Outstanding Educator for the entire state. In addition, the district's Director of Curriculum, Char Shryock, was presented the prestigious Ohio PTA Oak Tree Award for her advocacy work on behalf of all Ohio's children.
Ohio PTA presented its top honors to two of Bay Village Schools' own at its state conference on Sunday, April 12.
Normandy Elementary School Principal Dan Sebring was named the Ohio PTA District 12 Outstanding Educator. He was also named Ohio PTA's Outstanding Educator for the entire state.
In addition, the district's Director of Curriculum, Char Shryock, was presented the prestigious Ohio PTA Oak Tree Award for her advocacy work on behalf of all Ohio's children.
Sebring shared credit for the awards with his staff. ""Our students are at the heart of everything we do," he said. "I am extremely honored to accept this award on behalf of the tremendous work we do as a team at Normandy. Although my name is on the award, truly it is representative of and attributed to everything we do as a highly collaborative staff who supports and cares for our students and each other. The recognition goes to all of Normandy School and the culture we have all worked to establish and maintain."
Westlake High School’s Math Club Team placed first at the 2016 Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics (OCTM) Tournament at Lorain High School recently. The win ranks the team eighth in Ohio out of 80 teams from across the state.
Sophomore Ryan Karpuszka and junior Justin Krantz will advance to the Ohio High School Mathematics Invitational Olympiad in Columbus.
The Bay Village City School District held its annual State of the Schools event at the Board of Education office on April 7. The theme of the presentation was “fiscal responsibility” as the district approaches the limit of how far it can stretch the 2010 operating levy. The main topics in Superintendent Clint Keener’s address were Bay Schools’ strong performance indicators and stable financial management, but the prospect of a new levy request is looming.
Bay Schools has undertaken a number of measures to control costs – like using in-house labor for construction projects and buying gently used textbooks on eBay. The district has been aided by historically low natural gas prices and favorable collective bargaining agreements. Despite these efforts, treasurer Kevin Robertson forecasts the district’s reserve fund will be depleted after 2019 if revenue remains flat and expenditures rise with inflation.
Close to a half-million Syrians are now refugees fleeing their civil war-torn country where more than a quarter-million have been killed. The numbers are sure to climb, with another 6.5 million still inside Syria forced from their homes. The world must decide how to respond.
Bay High students explored the intricacies of this human catastrophe by adopting the roles of 15 different countries. They conducted deep and extensive research into each nation’s past positions on opening borders to refugees. They estimated potential costs of providing asylum. When the debates about how to help the refugees began in the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center meeting room on Friday, April 15, passions flared and the students learned there are no easy solutions.
Lee Burneson Middle School intervention specialist Erin Blahnik and her special needs students recently presented a check for $1,000 to Guiding Eyes for the Blind to cover expenses of training guide dogs.
The students – Natalie Menta, Kevin Spieth, Jacob Blood and Mikey George – raised funds earlier this year through the sale of dog biscuits to the community. Guiding Eyes will use the $1,000 to cover the following expenses:
- A guide dog’s annual vaccinations
- Mobility training in urban areas
- Meals for one month for one guide dog
- Home-cooked meals and housing for a blind student in training
- Costs toward raising a puppy in the foster family program
- Special home training when needed
Westlake High School junior Sara Massa’s collage art work was selected for the 2016 Ohio House of Representatives Student Art Exhibition. Her art will hang in the Verne Riffe Center for Government and the Arts for one year.
Sara’s piece was the only art chosen from District 16. The exhibition represents all 99 House districts in the state and recognizes the talents, creativity and innovations of students who receive high quality arts education instruction as part of their academic experience.
The exhibition is open to the public at the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts lower level Statehouse connector through Dec. 30.
On Monday, April 11, at 6 p.m. at Lee Burneson Middle School, a group of parents, teachers and community leaders from Westlake City Schools’ Strategic Planning Committee will present their goals and initiatives for the district at the Board of Education meeting.
Westlake City Schools brought together a cross representational group of over 50 residents including business, nonprofit, civic, mental health, higher education, clergy, parent and neighborhood leaders in a six-part planning session. The purpose of the Strategic Planning Committee was to gather input, strategies and ideas to help set the course for the district’s future.
A mysterious man came to Westerly Elementary School on March 4. He had a white beard, a green shirt, red suspenders, black pants, and played the recorder. It was Rick Sowash, author of "Heroes of Ohio: Critters, Flitters & Spitters" and "The Boy Who Would Be Famous."
All the students learned about some of the greatest heroes of Ohio. Mr. Sowash taught us how to walk like a hero. You must have your chin up, walk straight, and be proud.
Thirty students practiced their parts for the assembly during the lunch and recess times. When the big day came, they all dressed up in costumes. I am betting that you want to know some of the heroes’ names. Emma Gatewood walked the entire Appalachian Trail at 68 years old and did it alone. Elizabeth Hauser wanted all the people of America to be able to vote because America belonged to all the people not just men. Last we learned about Jesse Owens who won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics.
Despite increasing standards required for inclusion on the NAMM Foundation's Best Communities for Music Education list, the Bay Village City School District has once again been so honored for its exemplary music program. It is among just 476 districts nationwide to achieve the designation recognizing an exceptionally high commitment and access to music education. The district has been named to the list each year since 2003.
The designation takes on added significance with new research showing strong ties between music education and overall student success. A new body of evidence, released last year by Northwestern University brain researcher Dr. Nina Kraus, shows that participation in music education programs helps improve brain function and sparks language development. The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio highlighted the new research.
Westlake High School's Computer Science Principles class team of Nick Irwin, Steve Columbro, Jack Bogart and Sneha Ramachandran took first place at the Hyland Software Innovation Showdown, held at their headquarters in Westlake on March 19.
Their entry, titled "Suitable," was selected as the winner among 16 entries from all over Northeast Ohio. "Suitable" is a virtual online apparel shopping experience, where customers can see how different clothes will look on them without having to go to a store, using their home computer or mobile device. It uses a 3D model able to be viewed from 360 degrees.
Bay High staff members and students collaborated with Bay Village police officers to prepare for the possibility of an armed intruder at the school. The training exercise took place Friday, March 11 – a day off school for students and a professional development day for faculty.
The morning began as a relaxed gathering in the cafeteria to enjoy coffee and donuts. Unexpected gunshots soon rang out, and two armed attackers had students running for their lives. Most students quickly escaped, but several were left injured by gunfire and screaming for help. Police officers killed or subdued the attackers before tending to the bleeding students, using tourniquets or other first aid for a variety of gunshot wounds.
The bullets were blanks, of course, and the injured students were playing roles. Teachers who tried to help the injured get away were asked to leave them there, as they were an important part of the officers’ training.
Westlake High School freshman Katie Cirincione's animated short film, "Checkers the Cat," was accepted and is part of this year's Cleveland International Film Festival, which runs March 30-April 10 at Tower City Cinemas.
Her stop-motion animation film is about a drawn cat named Checkers who comes to life. The piece was created when Katie was in pre-engineering teacher Kurt Thonnings' Electronic Communications class.
A pair of eagles nesting outside an Avon Lake elementary school became a lesson for Kathy Nash’s Hilliard Elementary School preschool class.
Since the students were beginning a unit on national symbols, Nash incorporated the eagles into an International Baccalaureate unit of inquiry. The lesson helped her preschoolers develop questions and research skills, while incorporating math, science, social studies, language arts and social skills into the lessons.
Lee Burneson Middle School eighth-grader Lauren Havelka was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award by the Corporation for National and Community Service, recognizing her for achieving 250 service hours.
Lauren was nominated for the award by her school. She is involved in a number of programs and organizations, including Builders Club (where she serves as president) at the middle school, Girl Scouts, Coats for Kids, Mutt Hutt and Second Hand Mutts.
The Westlake High School speech and debate team enjoyed a successful state tournament at Cincinnati Princeton. Over 1,000 students from 106 schools participated in the competition this year.
Bradley Katcher, Allyson Simon and Avi Kirpekar qualified for the state tournament after an excellent season with a winning record at the district tournament.
A group of Westlake High School students are organizing a Demon Fest rock/acoustic concert with pop music to raise money to adorn the hallways of the high school with international flags.
Leadership Challenge’s Diversity group was working on the international flag installation the past two years, but the project stalled. Junior Austin Goetz, an International Baccalaureate (IB) student from Avon Lake, revived the project as part of his IB Creativity, Activity, Services project.
At its Feb. 22 meeting, the Westlake Board of Education approved the hiring of Scott Goggin, superintendent of Midview Local Schools, as its next superintendent effective Aug. 1. Goggin was given a three-year contract.
The Board began its search for the next superintendent in December 2015 with the assistance of a consulting firm. After developing a superintendent profile that was based on information provided by parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, senior citizens, major stakeholders and students, the Board reviewed 22 highly qualified individuals.
Bay High students present the wonderful "Wizard of Oz" musical Thursday through Saturday, March 17-19, at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, March 20, at 2 p.m. at Bay High Auditorium.
Audiences will join Dorothy (Stephanie Jordon) after she finds herself in the Land of Oz following a Kansas twister. She and her new friends, the Scarecrow (CJ Hyland), the Tin Man (Phil Lally) and the Cowardly Lion (Matthew Szekely), enlist the help of Glinda the Good Witch (Kerry O’Brien) to get Dorothy back home. They appeal to the Wizard himself (Brad Beverly), who demands the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West (Salem Stacey) in exchange for his help.
From the dainty presentation of the Lullaby League, to the brusque welcome of the Lollipop Guild, to the scary Monkeys controlled by the Wicked Witch, the talented cast performs the roles and songs that everyone knows from this much-loved musical. It is sure to captivate every age group.
Bassett Elementary School fourth-grade students Ireland Shea and Halle Stephens saw a need and decided to take action.
Saddened by news of victims of childhood cancers, Halle and Ireland decided to do something about it. They chose to plan a spirit week to raise money for cancer research and to plant a tree in honor of all sick children in conjunction with their International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) exhibition project. The project focused on self-expression and the national parks.
With the support and encouragement of their teacher Pam Hughes, IB coordinator Deb Wadden and their parents, the girls researched organizations and navigated the process of planning their event, including a presentation of their detailed plan to Principal Jim Sanfilippo for approval.
Bay Village Schools and the Spirit of America Foundation will provide a hands-on boating safety education program this summer for sixth- through eighth-grade students. The nationally recognized program, known as Spirit of America (SOA), provides students both classroom and on-the-water sessions to teach safe boating skills.
Participants will take the Ohio Boating Education Course on two Saturdays in May. This meets the Ohio law that requires "any person born on or after Jan. 1, 1982, to show proof they have completed an approved boating course if they are operating a power boat over 10 horsepower." This OBEC class is mandatory and students must attend both days and pass an exam. Boy Scouts can earn their small boat sailing, canoeing, and motor boating merit badges by completing the course and some additional requirements.
The Westlake Board of Education has narrowed down two finalists for the superintendent position from a slate of eight professionals.
Scott Goggin, superintendent of Midview Local Schools, and Roxann Ramsey-Caserio, assistant superintendent of Lakewood City Schools, are Westlake’s two superintendent finalist candidates.
The Board of Education invites the public to two “Meet the Finalist” nights on Wednesday, Feb. 17, and Friday, Feb. 19, at 4:30 p.m. at Parkside, 24525 Hilliard Blvd. Ramsey-Caserio will present on Feb. 17, and Goggin will present on Feb. 19. After meeting with the community, both candidates will have a final interview with the Board of Education, which anticipates hiring a new superintendent before the end of February.
Bay High senior Alana Bernys and Westlake High senior Alex Ikezawa have been named as Presidential Scholar candidates in the first round of the highly selective national academic honor.
The United States Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by Executive Order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors. The selection of approximately 4,000 original program candidates generally is made based on SAT and ACT scores. Approximately 800 candidates are named semifinalists and forwarded to a Commission on Presidential Scholars for further review. The commission will select up to 161 Presidential Scholars finalists.
Seniors modeled the latest gowns and tuxedos at the annual Westlake High School PTSA prom assembly on Feb. 10. Safe driving and responsible behavior during prom and graduation season are the main messages of the assembly, but the prom fashion show is always the highlight.
The Bay Village Foundation is accepting applications for a $2,000 scholarship towards tuition for students enrolled in a full-time college or trade school program. Multiple scholarships may be awarded.
The application form is available in the high school guidance office or it may be downloaded from thebayvillagefoundation.org. Completed applications should be submitted back to the high school guidance office by Wednesday, March 2.
After several years of being homeschooled, Emily Billings entered Westside Christian Academy in Westlake as a third-grade student and graduated five years later. This academic year she returned to WCA, now a K-12 school, to teach third grade.
“When I returned to WCA in the fall, I felt as if I was coming home. I always felt cared for and genuinely loved by my teachers,” said Billings.
Their love and care extended beyond her time at WCA. One teacher in particular, Kathy Foldesy, now the Director of Curriculum and Instruction and an Upper School teacher, was Billings’ “go-to” person in high school and college. When her father became sick during her college years, Foldesy was a consistent presence, becoming her life coach with a healing touch. Now as colleagues, Billings knows she can draw on Foldesy’s teaching experience at WCA. In addition, Billings was recently married. Now the women and their husbands have become close friends outside of the school.
The kindergarten students at Westshore Montessori in Westlake recently completed a science activity in brain building with STEM. The students naturally have many questions and were taught to ask beyond the "why" question, but ask a "what" question too. "What" questions focus on what is happening, what are you noticing and what are you doing.
Those answers were right in front of the students recently when we explored the solar system. The planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are in an ellipitical alignment and can be see in the very early morning until Feb. 20. The students were able to make observations and apply problem solving by using variety of materials to create their understanding of the planets in our solar system.
On Monday, Jan. 11, students from St. Raphael School traveled to far away places like Congo, Mount Rushmore and the Great Barrier Reef. But they never left Bay Village. Thanks to staff members Amy Allen and Libby Mason, Google selected St. Raphael as one of only a few schools in the state of Ohio to be part of a Google pilot called the Expeditions Pioneer Program.
Using just a Google Cardboard viewfinder equipped with a smart phone, and guided by their teacher using a tablet, students were able to experience field trips across the globe that school buses certainly couldn't take them. Many students had the chance to get up close and personal with a gorilla.
The Bay Village Board of Education is accepting applications from Bay Village residents who are interested in serving on the school board. Board member Michael Caputo announced that he will resign his position effective Jan. 14, citing his increasing career responsibilities.
The newly appointed board member will complete Caputo's current term, which expires Dec. 31, 2017, and could run for election to an additional four-year term on the November 2017 election ballot.