FCPS Feature Articleshttp://www.fcps.netUmbraco / FCPS custom codeRecent articles published on the FCPS Web site featuring our kids, staff, and communityenWellington looks in mirror for expanded global awarenesshttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/goglobal2015-11-24T16:13:28http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/goglobalAt her school’s Global Arts & Cultural Awareness Day, the Korean music really drew in 8-year-old Miyun “Mimi” Santalucia. “I learned some things about who I am and where I come from,” said Mimi, whose mother is Korean and father is Italian.

Some three dozen nationalities and 17 languages are represented at Wellington Elementary, where the staff continually seeks ways to broaden students’ outlook. The specials teachers came together to organize the latest schoolwide event, in which the K-5 classes rotated through nine stations in the gym. Library media specialist Kim Blankenship and technology teacher Glen Boles showed students how to use a new app that enabled them to travel virtually and see authentic houses, pottery, instruments, and artwork in various locations around the world. Nearby, music teacher Laura Bosworth, art teacher Annie Lester, and P.E. teacher Caryn Ray used hands-on kits from the FCPS Teacher Resource Center to share elements of African and Mexican culture.

The day’s guests included Madison Kelley from Global Lex, presenting on France; Jamie Love from Global Lex, on Arabic language; Sanskriti Thapa from United Way of the Bluegrass, on Nepal; Donna Lee Kwon, associate professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Kentucky, on Korean music; Eimii Nishimura from the Japan/America Society of Kentucky, on Japan; and Sarah Martin, assistant director of Lexington Sister Cities, on Ireland, France, Japan, and England. They covered everything from native dress, ethnic backgrounds, and a country’s identity to making friends and promoting peace. “I was excited we had such a big response from the community and were able to pull in that global perspective,” Bosworth said.

Madison, a senior at Lafayette High School who is interning at Global Lex, told the youngsters what life is like in the French countryside and in the larger cities. She also noted the collection of artwork at The Louvre, compared the euro with U.S. currency, and led a short language lesson so the children could introduce themselves in French. “Going to different countries has opened my eyes so much and helped me choose a career path,” Madison said. “Learning languages and especially visiting a country opens up so many more opportunities.”

After the rotations, the Wellington students rated their experience – providing valuable feedback for teachers planning a similar event in the spring. Among the questions posed for the older grades: Why is it important to have an awareness of other cultures? How can this knowledge help you in the future? And what type of jobs would use global skills such as speaking a foreign language? The younger grades were asked about their favorite station and something new they discovered about another country.

“It’s nice to learn about different cultures,” said Mimi, a third-grader. “Here at Wellington we have a lot of people from different places, so we got to learn a lot about each other.”

Cardinal Valley’s Science Explorers deepen pool of knowledgehttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/scienceexplorers2015-11-24T16:08:57http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/scienceexplorersA group of fourth-graders at Cardinal Valley Elementary dove into a water-themed after-school series and came up sputtering all sorts of facts about water quality, conservation of natural resources, and frog slime. “We learned how to keep the water safe, about not using a lot, and keeping it from being polluted,” said 9-year-old Alauna Davis. “We don’t have much water, and if we pollute it, we won’t have it to drink. Also, frogs wouldn’t be able to breathe through their skin because pollution clogs it, and that’s how animals die!”

The excitement was contagious as the youngsters shared several experiments and hands-on activities they completed during the Science Explorers program, led by the Living Arts & Science Center (LASC). “I like science, and it turned out to be fun,” classmate Ruthie Worthington said after the six-week series.

Sixteen students participated in the program, meeting on Wednesday afternoons at Cardinal Valley. A total of some 120 youngsters signed up this fall, including groups at Arlington, Russell Cave and William Wells Brown elementaries and Booker T. Washington Intermediate Academy. Each site hosted a show-and-tell finale, with dinner for students and their families. The kids received award certificates and gift bags, and several took home T-shirts and LASC class coupons after the prize drawings.

Cardinal Valley science teacher Adonya Boyle, who has worked alongside the LASC instructors for six years, appreciates what Science Explorers offers her students. “They’ll pick a topic, and the things the kids learn are more in-depth,” she said. “They also do a lot of hands-on things that I might not have the time and resources to do. One year they got to touch human brains and spinal cords from UK. Overall, they get to do things they normally wouldn’t do. Mostly they have fun learning science.”

This semester’s free sessions, which were offered at five schools with high percentages of at-risk students, were funded by an LFUCG stormwater incentive grant. The lessons covered such topics as the Earth’s water cycle, amphibians, the chemistry of water, salt water and freshwater habitats, and conservation and pollution. Among the highlights that left an impression was the H2O Olympics, when students learned about the physics of water and then constructed tabletop sailboats, floated paperclips, and tested water’s adhesion down a string. The youngsters also tested water samples from five locations – Berea, Millersburg, an Alumni Drive creek, LASC, and their own school – checking the nitrate levels. “We talked about how plants need nitrate, but in excessive amounts it can be harmful,” said Debbie Harner, assistant to the LASC’s Discovery Education director.

The LASC staff gave pre- and post-tests and noted a significant jump in the children’s comprehension and knowledge base. “It’s interesting to see what they know and what they remember,” Harner said. “Science so many times gets overlooked, so I hope this plants a seed.”

Local entrepreneurs show high schoolers how it’s donehttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/jaentrepreneurs2015-11-24T16:08:16http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/jaentrepreneursFreshmen and sophomores taking the Business Principles class soaked up valuable strategies from professionals visiting Tates Creek High School during JA Entrepreneurship Week. Super Soul founder John Meister and marketing director Amanda Hudgins assured students that they, too, can excel even in a crowded field like video gaming. “It’s one industry that’s trying to grow in this area,” Meister said. “You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley. You can start a company here, and there are communities to support you.” “We’re trying to keep tech jobs local,” Hudgins added. 

Junior Achievement of The Bluegrass  (JA) lined up several business leaders to share their inspirations, challenges, and success stories with students at Tates Creek, Lafayette, and Paul Laurence Dunbar high schools. The group also included Warren Nash, director of the Kentucky Innovation Network, and founders Shylo Shepherd of Purrody Games, Leonard Wedderburn of Power on Games, and Tim Knowlton of Mildmojo Games. They helped students begin to see how through dedication to a dream and continued hard work, they can make their own opportunities. “We are so grateful to these local entrepreneurs for offering their time and talent in the classroom. We are excited for our students to meet them personally and understand what qualities are necessary to become a successful entrepreneur,” said JA President Lynn Hudgins. 

Four-year-old Super Soul is among several video gaming studios that formed a local nonprofit called RunJumpDev. They meet regularly to try out each other’s ideas and share feedback on everything from gaming technology and design, artwork and sound quality, to team-management approaches. “Marketing and prototyping and getting ideas out there applies to any company,” Meister noted. While Super Soul mainly develops educational games for the University of Kentucky and KET, it also offers products for PlayStation4 and Xbox 360. 

At Tates Creek, Meister led the students through an abbreviated “game jam” in which small groups brainstormed how to develop an idea into a viable product. They had to keep in mind the genre, storyline and characters, game mechanics, platform, money-making options, and their target audience. A spokesman from each group then had two minutes to pitch their proposal. 

Ninth-grader Sam Newman’s group came up with a game called Corporation Capitalist, which focused on adults creating their own business. “It would teach you real-world skills if you were actually going into business. It would be a good tool for schools, too,” he explained. Sam thought the 15-minute version of a game jam weekend was an effective way to test an idea and see not only if a video game made sense but also if it was fun. “This can work for marketing any product or service – just tweak it a little bit,” he said. 

Tates Creek teacher Eric Jackson, who plans to use JA curriculum in his Business Principles class this spring, welcomed the entrepreneurs’ contribution. “That real-world perspective brings that missing piece to the class. That’s why I like JA,” said Jackson, who volunteered with JA while in banking before moving on to a second career in education. 

Jackson also thinks his students can meet Super Soul’s entrepreneurial challenge. “They are capable of coming up with an idea, developing it, and seeing it through,” he said. “Hopefully they can take those ideas and pursue them. I can see some of these games coming to life.”

Global Entrepreneurship Week


BSHS group finds path to college well-lit by Transyhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/transyempower2015-11-20T16:57:57http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/transyempowerFor juniors and seniors who anticipate pursuing college scholarships, a series of mock interviews with staff and students at Transylvania University was a welcome chance to present their strengths and rehearse their pitches. “I fidget a lot and am really nervous and talk with my hands, so to come here and get the practice, I really love that,” said Taelaesha Hale, one of nearly a dozen students from Bryan Station High School visiting the Transy campus. “It makes you feel better about submitting applications and separating yourself from the crowd,” she added. 

Transylvania invited the Bryan Station group to take part in its College Empowerment Program, which is designed to help prepare teens for college and careers. Five times throughout this school year, the students spend time on the Transy campus where they can explore the steps to admissions and financial aid; network with faculty, staff and other professionals; and learn about the myriad options college provides. During lunch, the group also has informal chats with community guests such as the mayor and a state lawmaker. “It’s a good opportunity for them to communicate in an academic setting and a public setting. Networking is a skill that not a lot of adults are great at,” said Serenity Wright, associate dean for Diversity and International Student Experiences.

Heather Zoll Eppley, head of the Academy of Information Technology at Bryan Station, believes the mentor relationships at Transy will truly benefit her students as they tackle what can be an overwhelming process. “The financial sessions next semester will be huge for the kids because a lot of them don’t have anyone in their families to help them navigate that,” she added.

The Digital Liberal Arts coordinator in Transy’s computer science department has been working with the IT Academy, which fostered the connection with Bryan Station. Eppley then handpicked 10 students for the College Empowerment Program based on socioeconomic and diversity factors. For instance, Taelaesha will be the first person in her family to attend college, and girls remain underrepresented in IT circles. “Taelaesha wants to go to Transy, so for her to be on this campus four or five times and get to meet the admissions staff, it’ll be a huge benefit for her,” said Tina Williams, an IT Academy board member.

In the most recent session, Williams assisted with the three rounds of mock interviews and offered some advice. For instance, she told Taelaesha to think of how she had handled a tough situation and keep that story in mind. That’s the type of question students might expect, along with “What power would you most like to wield if you were a superhero?” “The person across the table expects you to toot your own horn and tell them why they should want you at their school or at their (company),” Williams noted.

In the September visit, the teens toured Transy’s Career Development Center and spoke with counselors about what colleges look for in resumes and admissions essays. “It’s really awesome, and I’ve gotten a lot of resources,” said senior Patrick O’Doherty. “It’s a lot of good information, and I can better prepare myself to apply for college and jobs. I’m also learning social skills and soft skills.”

The upcoming campus visits are set for Jan. 8, Feb. 5 and March 24. Topics will include FAFSA (federal student aid), living in community, student involvement and leadership, and academic resources and study skills. Afterward, the students will debrief and talk about how to share the experience with their peers at Bryan Station. “They will pick younger students to be involved next year so it becomes like a mentor program,” Eppley said.

Wright explained that Transy’s empowerment initiative aims to expose high school students to accessible opportunities that ensure success and to build up their self-confidence. “These children have amazing stories and they’re amazing people,” she said. “We’re trying to help them figure out how to tell their story.”

STLP project puts Woodson on track toward better healthhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/royalfitness2015-11-20T16:57:10http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/royalfitnessSTLP students at Carter G. Woodson Academy are leading the charge to promote healthier living, with positive outcomes predicted for individuals and the school as a whole. Their project, Royal Fitness, combines hard data and personal appeals – all aiming to ensure students and staff function at their best.

In this initiative, Woodson students researched fitness and obesity rates among adolescents as well as health issues such as the increase in Type 2 diabetes. A movie called “Fed Up,” which they watched in health class, also spurred them to action. “We found that the state of Kentucky has a problem with obesity, and it is continuing to accelerate. We have a problem that will impact Kentucky’s work force, economy, and well-being. When kids are not healthy, it impacts their learning,” said sophomore Jordan Lewis, the project manager. “We want to be part of the solution. With the data, we will help create individualized plans to coach students and adults to become fit and have an active lifestyle.”

The Woodson middle and high school STLP (Student Technology Leadership Program) teams partnered with freshmen at Woodford County High School to analyze the body composition of most everyone in the building for a starting benchmark. P.E. teacher Melody Hamilton brought about 20 students from the neighboring district to show their Woodson peers how to use the half-dozen InBody 230 machines, which Woodford County schools secured through a grant in 2010. The visitors also explained how to read and interpret the machines’ data, and they shared nutrition lessons and physical activities that have worked well in their schools. “It’s nice we can come together to help everyone get healthy,” said Kali Ratcliff of Woodford County High. Hamilton, who also used heart rate monitors and pedometers to track progress, noted the trends there indicate a 10 percent decrease in body fat and a marked improvement in cardiovascular health.

The InBody device, which features eight sensors, sends electrical impulses through the body to determine certain readings. After standing barefoot on the machine for less than a minute, an individual receives a printout with body fat percentage, water distribution, skeletal muscle mass, and other details. Everyone has his own ID number, so the results are confidential. “People don’t know whether they need to lose weight or gain muscle mass. If you over-exercise, you might lose too much, and these machines will tell you,” said seventh-grader Trenton Taylor. “The InBody machines will help long-term because people can make sure they’re on track where they need to be.”

Science teacher Melanie Trowel, the STLP adviser, commended her students for recognizing a problem and pursuing a solution. She also noted that colleagues have made it a schoolwide, interdisciplinary effort. For instance, the Spanish teacher translated the USDA’s MyPlate model while focusing on healthy lifestyle choices, and science classes are looking at how bodies use energy. Trowel thinks the Royal Fitness project will help students and staff set personal goals and follow a plan to improve their lives.

Hamilton’s group will bring the machines back to Carter G. Woodson in April for a follow-up. In the meantime, students here will try to organize activities – perhaps intramural games or a schoolwide 5K – to encourage people as they make healthy lifestyle changes. The STLP teams also plan to create a resource website. “We want to research healthy food videos and cookbooks,” said seventh-grader Dalen Cozart, “and one of our goals is to present to (several) elementary schools.” In addition, Jordan intends to apply for a grant in hopes that Woodson can have its own InBody machines. “I’d like to see half or all our school get physically fit between now and April when we do the next testing,” he added. 

Leestown Middle opens doors for ‘History Live!’http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/historylive2015-11-20T15:04:23http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/historyliveIn the “History Live!” social studies showcase, students at Leestown Middle School shared a taste of what they’re exploring this semester and why they’re passionate about it. “History is so vast, and there’s so much to know,” said eighth-grader Johnathan Hurley, president of the school’s chapter of the Kentucky Junior Historical Society. “Learning about all the horrid and the good things – that could entice someone to become an archeologist and also encourage people to study history.”

The showcase coincided with a parent-involvement night, midterm progress reports, and the school’s book fair. Each grade level set up to demonstrate games, crafts, and other examples from cultures and eras of focus in their class. For instance, seventh-grader Austin Asbury talked about how language and writing connect people through the ages. Highlighting ancient Egypt, his group offered a station where other students and families could try their hand at copying hieroglyphics. “It’s fun doing crafts and learning what people did then and how they did it,” said Austin, whose favorite topic this fall was Mesopotamia. (And yes, by the way, Austin confirmed that a relative on his father’s side founded what is now Asbury University in Wilmore.) 

While seventh-graders study ancient world civilizations, the sixth grade covers modern geography and culture. Their display featured Latin America, with a type of Mexican bingo and a paper-cutting craft as the hands-on elements. Across the gym, eighth-graders spotlighted Colonial America and demonstrated how to fashion cornhusk dolls, how to play cat’s cradle with colored string, and how to race with a simple hoop and stick. “Colonial kids would have used things they had available to make toys,” noted Charla Ridgeway, who heads the Social Studies department. “I want students to see what each grade level is doing and that there are ways to connect the things they’re learning in all three grades,” she added. “Especially with the modern geography and culture, they can see how it connects to their community directly.”

In addition to the students’ efforts, community partners set up resource tables promoting the Kentucky Historical Society, Mary Todd Lincoln House, Daughters of the American Revolution, and Ashland: The Henry Clay Estate. “We want our families to see there’s a lot of rich history in Lexington to experience,” Ridgeway said.

Hobbyist Tom Biliter, a friend of a teacher, even brought along some of his collection of knights’ armor representing the 1470s period, plus replicas of weapons and clothing. “Most of the body is protected by plate armor or solid pieces of steel,” he explained as students and visitors stopped by his corner of the gym. “Getting kids excited about history and other cultures is as important as the other core curriculum,” he added.

Ridgeway was pleased at how the showcase brought history to life for her students, saying, “They can see history is not just in a textbook – it’s things you can do and touch.”

Deafness no obstacle for dance team at Bryan Station Middlehttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/dhhdancer2015-11-20T15:02:26http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/dhhdancerWhen dance team coach Jeannette Jackson yells instructions to her 19 girls, sixth-grader Bailey Locker gets the message – albeit through body language and sign language. Since Bailey tried out and made the team at Bryan Station Middle School this fall, the paraeducator/coach has dealt her the same hand as the hearing students, whether that’s dispensing praise or doling out laps. “She’s learned everything the other kids have,” Jackson said one afternoon before practice. “I don’t treat her any differently because I don’t see her as any different.”

Bailey has danced since about age 6, though this is the first time in a group. “It’s really interesting and cool to learn. I like dancing by myself, but it’s nice to have a lot of girls,” she said through ASL interpreter Jeni Fredricks.  

Bryan Station Middle hosts one of the districtwide deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) cluster programs, and Principal Lester Diaz believes his school welcomes students like Bailey. “The other girls have accepted her and love having her around,” he said.

As the students gathered in the cafeteria for a two-hour practice, teammates greeted Bailey with smiles and hugs. Several are trying to pick up some ASL (American Sign Language) to better communicate. Being part of a team has given Bailey a sense of camaraderie and a new connection with her peers inside and outside class. “Bailey’s gained a lot more friends,” Fredricks noted.

These days, hip hop is Bailey’s favorite genre. “It’s a cool beat and a good way to dance. It’s something I have to practice every day,” she said. Since she cannot hear the songs, Bailey compensates with her other senses. “She learns the music differently,” Fredricks explained. “We can hear it, and she feels it.” All that practice might take a bit more effort, but Bailey finds it’s worth it. She’s even helping choreograph a number for the dance team to perform during halftime of a Bearcats basketball game.

While Jackson guides the girls through a routine, Fredricks stands nearby – signing the directions and sometimes stepping in to demonstrate the steps for Bailey. “I will dance with them and make the movements so she can see me, and I try to give her some feedback,” Fredricks said, such as adjusting a stance or speeding up a combination step. At one point, Bailey was singled out for an individual tip, but she wasn’t the only girl. This demanding coach expects precision from the whole team, Bailey included. “She feels the beat, and I’ve got her counting in her head,” Jackson explained. “The girl can dance!” 

Did you know?

Fayette County Public Schools has three support clusters of teachers and interpreters for students who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH): at Clays Mill Elementary, Bryan Station Middle School and Henry Clay High School. However, these students may choose to stay at their assigned schools. For more information, contact Karen Frohoff in the district's Special Education Department.

Lafayette connection broadens arts experience at Mary Toddhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/adoptart2015-11-20T12:44:45http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/adoptartWhen Alex Francke decided to help give more children access to the arts, she went all in. Now her nonprofit “Adopt an Art” program reaches dozens of students at Mary Todd Elementary, where they sample dance and movement, drama and acting, vocal and instrumental music, and visual art in a two-semester series of after-school workshops. “We want everybody to have a basic building block in each area,” Francke said, noting, “Kids just want to express themselves.”    

Francke, a 2015 graduate of Lafayette High’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts, developed the idea after attending the Governor’s School for the Arts in drama. She realized that while some Fayette County students can take private lessons and attend cultural events, others have little chance of truly experiencing the arts. Adopt an Art, which relies on grants and volunteers, provides free sessions designed by older students for elementary children. Francke, a freshman studying business management at the University of Kentucky, lines up the mentors. For instance, she hopes to secure a recent graduate of Tates Creek High School to lead the eight-week theater series this fall and a current SCAPA Lafayette student for the visual art lessons in the spring. Additional Lafayette students are expected to volunteer in the coming months.

Lafayette junior Lilia Thomas leads the Thursday afternoon dance workshops, which began this month. In a recent lesson, she and Francke demonstrated different types of choreography. Divided into small groups, the children then created some unusual steps – from synchronized motions in a tight circle to free-form breakdancing. The common denominator was the abundance of energy and laughter. “It’s a lot of creative movement and improv because they’re new to dance,” Lili explained. Dance is also a good form of exercise. It requires discipline, too, and memorizing combinations of dance moves can sharpen students’ skills in the classroom and build their self-confidence. “I hope they’ll believe in themselves a little bit more and realize they can do whatever they want to,” Lili added.

The sessions offer not only windows of active learning, but also opportunities to get to know fellow students in different grades. “The arts are a great way to let out stress and have fun with friends,” Francke said. “You have a really easy time connecting with kids in the same activity. It’s neat to see the relationships develop.”

Meanwhile, the instructors watch for special talent and potential, and share feedback with the kids’ families. For example, fifth-grader Lauren Taylor seemed to naturally take the lead in her small group, offering up dance steps as the girls brainstormed to the music. Fourth-grader Tracy Belongia is another repeat participant, having attended all of last year’s pilot series. He likes dance, art and music the best – especially guitar. Another highlight last year was when the Mary Todd group saw Francke perform at the Opera House. “We went to see ‘42nd Street’ and it was really good,” Tracy recalled. “It had a lot of action!” Inspired, the youngsters later sang “It’s A Hard Knock Life” from “Annie” during the school’s talent show. This fall, they might learn the “Thriller” dance for the downtown street performance around Halloween. 

The interest and numbers have increased significantly among grades 3, 4 and 5. “It’s for kids who really have a passion and want more. It’s also a springboard to other resources in the community for kids who need a little extra assistance to make it work,” said administrative dean Jennifer Bell, who keeps the children on task, along with paraeducator Nathan Ward.

Bell praised Francke and the other young mentors for investing time at Mary Todd, where the students benefit from the extra attention. “It’s forming a significant relationship with somebody outside our school that they love and know loves and respects them. It’s opening a window to a world they’ve never had access to, and in that window, they have a connection through their relationship with Alex,” she said. “These kids have never known a world that did include the arts until now, and it’s made a huge difference.”

Did you know?

Sept. 13-19 is National Arts in Education Week.

Channel 13's coverage 


SCAPA welcomes chance to commemorate Veterans Dayhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/veteransday2015-11-18T12:15:50http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/veteransdayWhen SCAPA sixth-grade teacher Macy Andrews shared what Veterans Day means to her, she couldn’t hold back the tears as she recounted her father’s service in Vietnam. It particularly struck her when, as a 10-year-old SCAPA student, her class visited The Wall in Washington, D.C. “I will never forget seeing all those names and realizing it could have been my dad,” said Andrews, who since then has worn an MIA/POW bracelet every day. “Can you imagine putting your life in danger for someone you don’t even know?” she said at the Nov. 11 schoolwide assembly. “The freedoms Americans enjoy today are possible because so many gave so much. Veterans truly understand what is important.”

Andrews, who organized this year’s Veterans Day program for SCAPA at Bluegrass, reminded students they can do their part today by being good citizens, supporting programs for veterans, and remembering their love of country and honorable service. “Veterans are the ultimate citizens,” she said. “They know life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are more than just words on a dusty page.”

The hour-long SCAPA program included a variety of tributes, from the singing of the national anthem by SCAPA alumna Gabrielle Barker, who is now an opera major at the University of Kentucky; to a performance of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by students in the after-school contemporary Dance Exchange program. Theater majors presented a phrase-by-phrase interpretation of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” vocal majors offered up “America the Beautiful,” Dance Exchange ballet students performed to “American Pageant,” and seventh-grader Sarah Sajadi shared a poem. Kentucky Windage, a quintet from the 202nd Army Band of the Kentucky National Guard, played two traditional numbers, while SCAPA’s orchestra and band students later closed with “Ashokan Farewell,” the de facto theme song for the Ken Burns miniseries “The Civil War.”

Nearly 75 students had brought in photographs and written short profiles of veterans for a bulletin-board display. Honorees who could attend the program stood when their names were called. The list was followed by the playing of “Taps” and a moment of silence. Earlier, the keynote speaker talked of how Veterans Day has changed since the armistice of 1918. “Our understanding has evolved over the generations and through the wars. The scope of our observance has changed,” said Maj. Carla Raisler, commander of the 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment of the Kentucky National Guard. From the original solemn and reflective approach, Veterans Day often now features parades for heroes and other festivities, though some – like Korean and Vietnam war veterans – didn’t always receive their due. “Today, thankfully, we recognize the heroic self-sacrifice of all veterans,” Raisler said. “Society has evolved and now can separate the politics of America’s wars from the participants.”

Fifth-grader Seghan Justice, who danced to “Bugle Boy,” said SCAPA was glad to do its part to remember military members’ commitment. “We wanted to thank the veterans because they served our country and let them know they’re welcome,” Seghan said. “We celebrate it because it’s a very important holiday.”

Channel 13's Veterans Day broadcasts

SCAPA at Bluegrass

Crawford Middle School

Liberty Elementary

William Wells Brown Elementary



Day Treatment students embrace buddies at Ashland Elementaryhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/buddies2015-11-17T11:45:06http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/buddiesOn Friday mornings, a group of teens spends about an hour mentoring children with special needs. This 10-year partnership between Lexington Day Treatment Center and Ashland Elementary fosters ties among diverse students who can become best buds. “The Day Treatment students develop empathy skills and learn a lot about being patient. The students at Ashland enjoy having their special buddy come to see them each week. It is definitely a win-win for both sets of students,” said Lisa Berman, the center’s clinical services manager.

Each homeroom team at Day Treatment (teacher, social worker and paraeducator) nominates students to participate in the program, and they must commit for at least one semester. This fall Ashland needed 10 mentors to pair with K-3 students. The buddies get to know one another as the relationships develop over time, and the program heightens the teens’ sense of responsibility.

Sophomore Tayshawn Bynum didn’t sign up initially but filled in once and became a regular. “They were short on people and I mentored and I liked it,” he recalled. He already had some experience working with children at church and entertaining his younger siblings, and he sees how the extra attention boosts the Ashland kids’ self-esteem.

During one recent visit, the children practiced writing their spelling words in alphabetical order, read books aloud to their buddies, and then played board games like Sorry! and Clue. “We make up our own rules,” added Tayshawn, whose buddy is a third-grader named Cole. The previous week, they colored Halloween pictures and made snacks to share. 

Ashland teacher Enrika Wright appreciates the efforts and the positive attitudes as the teens help with academic skills and social/emotional interaction. “One of our students is having a tough time, and this is the highlight of his week,” she said. As a bonus, this boy’s buddy will also become a pen pal – emailing notes of encouragement between visits.  

The program shows the youngsters that other people care about their education and are concerned about them personally, according to 10th grader Kamari Walker, who wants to someday be a teacher or a pediatrician. “We think back to when we were little, and we help them because they need it,” she said. “Some kids need more help than other students and need more attention.”

Berman said it’s good for the older students to feel that someone depends on them, noting, “They’re pretty protective of their buddies, and that’s a good thing.”  

Winburn teens test out grown-up responsibilitieshttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/careerclass2015-11-16T15:57:55http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/careerclassA group of eighth-graders spent a day testing their wings as part of the “Pathway to the Future 101” elective at Winburn Middle School. From navigating the city via Lextran to discussing mortgages with a banker to touring a college campus, these young teens got an eyeful of what lies ahead. Thirteen-year-old T’Antre Dixon appreciates the career-oriented class, which also incorporates workshops and guest speakers. “It gives us new experiences and helps you be prepared for adult life,” she said as the group visited Bluegrass Community & Technical College on Cooper Drive. “It gives you a head start,” added classmate Devon Sandusky.  

The day began with the 15 students boarding a city bus for a ride to the downtown transit center. T.C. Johnson, Winburn’s Youth Services Center coordinator, thought the real-life application would be useful. “A lot of times when you go to college, you don’t have a car and you have to rely on public transportation, and a lot of our students don’t have that experience,” she said. The teens also had a chance to talk with Lextran employees about job opportunities in that field.

The next stop was U.S. Bank on Nicholasville Road near Southland Drive. The previous week, administrative assistant Katrina James spoke with the class about bank jobs as well as checking and savings accounts. “We talked about where you go to open up an account and then they actually got to see it,” Johnson said. In their walk-through at the bank, students met the commercial relationship manager who deals with businesses and the head of the mortgage department. They also got a peek at the old vault. “People trust us with their money, and that’s a big part of what we do. Taking care of our customers is our No. 1 mission,” said branch manager Josh Carter.

Carter urged the teens to be smart with their money and careful with their credit history. “There’s nothing wrong with being in debt or having a car loan or credit card. It’s about being responsible and keeping up with it,” he told the group. He also compared a credit score to a GPA, noting, “If you don’t start out on a good foot, it’s harder and harder to get it back up.” Carter said too often, young people aren’t as diligent as they should be. “We want to convey the importance of not spending more than you have and making your payments on time. We want people to be in a better position financially,” he said. Eighth grade is not too young to establish good money-management habits. When Carter asked how many students wanted to eventually buy a house, every hand went up. “They’re already thinking about it,” he noted.

The final stop on the day-long field trip was BCTC, where Visitor Center coordinator Gabby Dixon greeted the students after lunch. She shared a brief rundown of the community college’s three options (certificate, diploma, and two-year associate’s degree) and the 40-some program offerings. She also touched on credit hours, tuition, and financial aid, and gave out folders that included an application checklist, campus map, and other resources. Dixon pointed out that since the Cooper Drive location is surrounded by the University of Kentucky’s campus, BCTC students have access to many of the same perks, such as parking passes and dorm living. “There are a lot of things students get to participate in at UK,” she said.

Touring BCTC gave the Winburn students exposure to a smaller campus and a more affordable option. “You don’t necessarily have to go to a four-year college to continue your education,” Johnson noted. College and career readiness is a chief component of her “Pathway” course at Winburn, where students explore areas of interest, aptitudes and skills using the Individual Learning Plan or ILP. The pass/fail course serves as a good transition to high school, and as Johnson said, “We plant the seeds now so they’re prepared when they graduate.”

STEAM’s radio club dials up on-air experiencehttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/radioclub2015-11-11T16:31:05http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/radioclubAt the STEAM Academy, students can find their voice through the afternoon radio club, where they learn how to promote their school and neighborhood, practice producing original content, and sample multimedia career possibilities. “I absolutely want to go into something creative, so I look forward to putting this on my college resume,” said freshman Jaycee Taylor. “It’ll definitely give me an advantage.”

STEAM students have the opportunity to air their work through the nonprofit Lexington Community Radio (LCR), which the school hosts in a basement classroom space on East Sixth Street. “While looking for a place to locate, we came across Principal (Tina) Stevenson, who was very open and receptive to the idea,” said Kakie Urch, an LCR board member and station programming director. Wils Quinn, a junior, said one benefit since the station’s mid-September launch is the foot traffic of notables coming in for interviews, such as poet Frank X Walker. “The people who make the city work are walking in and out of our school every day,” he said.  

The proximity prompted Urch to start the after-school club as a way to incorporate STEAM students. As many as 30 teens gather every Monday to drill on FCC regulations, learn production elements, and develop their first radio shows. The club also welcomes occasional guest speakers like LCR news director Hayley Hansen, who talked about her internship at Chicago’s WGN. While LCR focuses on the immediate community and local issues like public safety, health and wellness, the STEAM club is more wide open on topics. For instance, Wils and his brother planned a session of lo-fi music in a variety of genres, while Jaycee’s group aimed to interview local bands and broadcast a playlist of favorites. Jaycee suggested prepping for this kind of show would be easier in a way, noting, “You don’t have to make eye contact.” “But being more fluent and eloquent plays a part of being on the radio,” she added.

Urch provided guidance and the voice of experience as students reported the status of their legwork at a recent club meeting. She praised one group’s decision to abandon a magazine format because of their disparate ideas; instead, they’d go with NPR’s StoryCorps model and highlight fellow students’ lives. When another club member mentioned trying to reach Rowan’s now-famous county clerk Kim Davis, Urch pointed out it would be impossible to arrange an interview. She suggested instead talking with Fayette’s county clerk about how issuing same-sex marriage licenses has affected his office. Amid the brainstorming, one teen proposed creating a template of a formal letter to request interviews with public figures.

“Radio involves language and writing verbal abilities and understanding specific technologies and equipment that has to do with sound reproduction and electrical circuits and systems, and it has to do with business management and project management. The students get those sorts of academic skills as they become media makers,” Urch said.

Once the students’ shows are ready – potentially in mid-November – the 3 to 4 p.m. window on Mondays will be the radio club’s on-air time slot on WLXL-95.7. Some segments will be pre-recorded; others will be broadcast live. Urch might also record the teens’ programs for the club to review and dissect later. In addition, club members plan to offer the radio training to fellow students. “It has the ability to affect the whole school,” as Wils said.

Arts teacher Gary Fisher, the club’s staff adviser, noted that many students have already been involved with Lexington Community Radio. Several helped paint murals on the broadcast booths during construction this past summer; others joined in with the kickoff scavenger hunt, and STEAM’s steel band played at the opening event. Students have also recorded lead-ins for the low-power FM station. Fisher thinks students are most excited about coming up with ideas for their own hour-long spots and said they now realize with the diverse roles that it takes more than the deejay or radio personality to make a station run.

“It’s real-world experience. It’s not learning about a radio station or going to intern and watch someone else run it. They’ll be able to execute their plan. They get to execute in real time what they’re working for,” Fisher said. “The radio station is there, and it’s live.”  

Discovery Day opens up community for Cassidy kidshttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/discovery2015-11-10T15:56:32http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/discoveryDiscovery Day brought some 30 community partners into Cassidy Elementary to share performing and visual arts, science experiments, cultural and culinary lessons, and music and movement. “The gist of it was to cover everything,” said library media specialist Melissa Adams, who helped the specials teachers coordinate the rotations, with huge support from the PTA. “As an adult, the things I remember about school were these types of days. That’s what we wanted for the kids – a chance to engage and learn more about what’s out there. We really tried to tie into our community and make as many connections as we could.”

Room 101: Insects and arachnids

Kelly Rexroat, from Fayette County’s 4-H Youth Development, showed youngsters live examples including an Arizona blond tarantula and an African forest scorpion. The little ones pressed in closely to see the creatures as Rexroat described their bodies and habits. “A lot of spiders are not aggressive,” he said reassuringly. “If you scare them or they think they’re in danger, then they’ll bite. They’re defensive.”

Rexroat also displayed glass cases with about 250 mounted specimens such as beetles and butterflies as he doled out basic information. While insects have six legs, for instance, not all have wings attached to the thorax. He also quizzed students about insects’ various external parts. “They can smell and taste and hear and feel with their antennae,” Rexroat explained. “That’s how they figure out what’s going on around them.”

Room 207: Wire sculpting

After marveling at a local artist’s work, students tried their hand at wire sculpture – twisting and bending fuzzy pipe cleaners into small animals, letters and other shapes. “It’s fun, and the kids have a blast,” said presenter Luke Eldridge. “I pretty much just get out of the way.”

Room 204: Spinning wool

Several Nepali women in the Bhutanese Charka Circle demonstrated how to spin wool into yarn, which fascinated the students gathered around them. They also showed how to wrap skeins of yarn as Luella Pavey, a job developer with Kentucky Refugee Ministries, noted that people everywhere can weave, knit and crochet yarn into scarves and sweaters. “It’s a cool art that we don’t want to go away ever,” she said. During the 40-minute session, the youngsters learned a few Nepali words as well.

Pavey and volunteer Robyn Wade, who shared her fiber arts expertise, were delighted to spend the morning with students at Cassidy. “It’s more stimulating because they see the actual people doing it, and they get to ask very technical questions,” Pavey said of the spinning. The culture and language elements also add to the experience, as she said, “It brings them to a place they haven’t been before.”

TCMS wood-shop students pay it forwardhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/woodshop2015-11-06T08:08:58http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/woodshopSeventh-graders Mohammed G. Shalash and T.J. Slone aren’t students to rest on their laurels, though they did pause to reflect on one of their latest accomplishments. The boys, who recently completed the nine-week “Tools of Art” class at Tates Creek Middle, donated some of their wood-shop handiwork next door at the elementary school. “We ended up doing two benches and a table,” T.J. said. “We saw that they needed them.”

Mohammed, whose little brother attends kindergarten at Tates Creek Elementary, noticed that families picking up youngsters had little space to wait comfortably in the front office and outside the building. “We saw all the parents sitting on the floor and the grass,” he recalled. The TCMS woodshop class, led by long-term sub Jim Lamirande, had built about 30 benches altogether. Recognizing an opportunity for action, the boys took the initiative to ask Principal Eric Thornsbury about donating one to TCE. “At our school, everybody helps each other out,” Mohammed said.

After praising the boys’ generosity, the elementary school staff requested a second bench as well as the small table that sits next to the office door, where they can stack handouts. Mohammed and T.J. stained the office pieces to match the existing furniture. The unfinished bench, which the elementary students will decorate in art class, will end up in the garden. “It makes the inside look a little nicer, and outside, people will have a seating area,” T.J. said.

TCE Principal Julie Wright was bowled over by the two students’ efforts. “They gave me a problem I really didn’t know existed and presented a solution,” she said. “It’s such a great example of the type of teamwork and community we have on the Tates Creek campus. Our students are all on the same wavelength in terms of taking action that’s meaningful.”

Wright noted that as the elementary joins the middle and high schools in the International Baccalaureate Programme track, all the students on the IB campus will focus on inquiry learning, global connectedness, academic rigor, and trying to make a difference. “It can be a social issue or any number of things,” she said. “Basically, students are called to action.”

UK’s Singletary Scholars connect at TLChttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/singletaryscholars2015-11-04T10:35:33http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/singletaryscholarsJonah Whiles, a junior at The Learning Center at Linlee, and Faiza Hassan, a senior biology major at the University of Kentucky, might not have crossed paths if not for the partnership that brings UK Singletary Scholars into the alternative public school. More than two dozen of these college volunteers drop in regularly for intense tutoring and group mentoring in a successful program that has expanded greatly these past four years. “We started just doing ACT prep,” said Hassan, who was part of the initial group meeting on Saturdays. “We now integrate ourselves in the classes and make sure the students are doing their work but also having fun.”

One morning recently, UK scholars spread out from the TLC library to the outdoor garden to the beekeeping station as they worked alongside the younger students. Another cohort focuses on the afternoon TLC Tech class, which grew out of this collaboration. “It’s definitely a symbiotic relationship because not only are we giving but they’re giving as well,” said Hassan, who called this community service a highlight of her pre-med college experience. “It wouldn’t have been as enriching and fulfilling if we hadn’t found this way to give back. Education and working with people are important even if that’s not what you’re doing with your life.”

Because of the Singletary Scholars’ dedication at TLC, Fayette County Public Schools this fall presented the UK group with a Golden Apple Award as a high-performance community partner. Jonah confirmed the UK mentors are appreciated, saying, “They’re genuinely there for you and being good role models.” And as he’d say to them, “‘You’re studying biology, you’re studying programming. You don’t have to be here but you are, and it’s nice to know that.’”

The connection stems from Kate FitzGerald, TLC’s universities and community liaison, recruiting a Singletary Scholar to volunteer at the school. The formalized partnership began when she and then-Principal Ron Chi reached out to the UK group to help their students focus on college and career readiness and improve standardized testing skills while reducing anxiety. TLC staff and Meg Marquis, then the scholars’ adviser, later decided to have the college students volunteer during the school day – sometimes even serving as guest lecturers. As a result, three UK scholars proposed a Web engineering club and subsequently the tech class, both of which were a hit with the TLC crowd.

“Our students are coming in so they can learn how to do service, but they are allowed to adapt and change as the needs change,” said Hannah LeGris, who now coordinates the UK volunteers. “TLC has allowed our students to have creativity. They’re saying ‘We are open to your ideas, too.’ This makes for more active participants, and that’s what we want for our future leaders. And we want it to be a personalized experience for the TLC students, too. Our scholars have worked hard to respond, versus saying ‘This is the way we’ve always done things.’ There’s not just one way to serve or just one way to connect with the people you’re working with.”

The Singletary Scholars are conscious of expressing kindness and empathy toward the TLC students who – close to their same age – are keenly interested in talking about college life, classroom expectations and career goals. “They can connect with the students where they are,” as LeGris said.

TLC’s FitzGerald said the volunteers’ intentionality and tailored assistance enable things to run smoothly. “The more regular they are, the more our students respond,” she said. “The near-peer aspect seems to be so important and critical for our students.” The mentors can explain why it’s vital to do one’s best in school and on standardized tests, FitzGerald said, adding, “It’s a different perspective and for some of our students, one that they’ve never had.”

Channel 13 video


Church’s volunteers nurture relationship with Harrisonhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/greatleaps2015-11-03T12:50:35http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/greatleapsCommitted volunteers from Christ Church Cathedral continually stoke excitement about reading and math by tutoring youngsters at Harrison Elementary. Retired UK professor Loys Mather founded this outreach program, which draws about three dozen church members to regularly work one-on-one with students. “These little kids have us in the palm of their hand, and you can see the children appreciate this attention,” Mather said. “They look forward to the contact. If you’re gone for a while, they’ll tell you they miss seeing you.”  

Christ Church Cathedral, downtown on nearby Market Street, adopted Harrison about 15 years ago, and the tutors are only one facet of the relationship. “It’s just a stone’s throw from our church,” Mather noted. “We’d hear what needs the school had, and one thing kept leading to another. It’s quite a variety of things we’re doing now.” For example, volunteers organize an angel tree and holiday gift store with donated toys, clothing and food; and members routinely help with the snack pack program, which provides easy-to-prepare food for students to take home on the weekends. The church also enables Harrison to purchase two copies of each Kentucky Bluegrass Award book for the school library, provides funds for third-graders to enjoy the hands-on “Fizz Boom” experience at the Living Arts & Science Center, and donates school and classroom supplies each August. In addition, the Cathedral’s music staff has invited youngsters on a field trip to see the church, hear the organ and the girls’ choir, and learn about the stained-glass windows.

Because of its dedication to Harrison, the church this fall received a Golden Apple Award, which Fayette County Public Schools presents to its high-performing community partners. Perhaps making the biggest impact is the tutoring program, which began about 10 years ago when a handful of volunteers assisted about 20 children in reading. Last fall, Harrison added math to the equation, and the numbers continued to grow. Nowadays, some 35 volunteers turn out every week to tutor nearly 100 students using the Great Leaps curriculum. The majority are Cathedral members, with a handful of supporters from other churches and the University of Kentucky. Most give an hour a week and see four or five students in quick succession. Many of the parishioners are retirees; others fit it into their work schedules. All of them love it, especially Mary Mc Lisle, who typically spends two hours at Harrison three mornings a week. “Volunteering is the armor that shields me emotionally and makes me happy,” she said. “The good feeling you get is seeing these kids learn. You see so much progress in them. I’m so high on this program because it really does have results.”

The Harrison teachers handpick students for Great Leaps, and Mather coordinates the needs with his volunteers’ availability. At first, the parishioners receive one hour of training; then they’re paired with experienced volunteers for a few sessions at the school. “We show them the framework, but we welcome diversity (in how they tutor),” Lisle said. For instance, some use a magnetic letter board to review phonics with first-graders, read aloud with older students in chapter books, or work through math problems together with pencil and paper. Each child receives about 10 minutes of extra attention each day. “We work on a team system and try to schedule at least three times a week for a child to be tutored,” Lisle said. “It’s built on repetition and progression. The goal here is to give them the same thing that other students from advantaged circumstances get. We’re trying to ensure success.”

The youngsters respond with hugs and thank-you notes, and the support from Harrison’s staff also ensures the parishioners feel appreciated. “The students change from year to year, but the attitude of the principal and the teachers is paramount to keeping them coming back,” Lisle said. “The teachers love us, and that’s an easy environment to work in. We are useful, and we are cared for.”  

Resource specialist Cecelia DeSimone, who coordinates Great Leaps at Harrison, praised the volunteers for helping students improve their academic skills. “Someone’s there giving them that positive praise and corrective feedback,” she said. “It gives them that little boost in what they need to move ahead.” The tutors are also invaluable because of the relationships they foster with the children, as DeSimone noted, “It’s knowing that they matter and that someone cares.”

Channel 13 video


Mix It Up Day keeps diversity in forefront at Yateshttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/mixitup2015-11-03T12:50:23http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/mixitupLike a lot of students, children at Yates Elementary tend to sit with close friends at lunch. But on Mix It Up Day, they shifted out of that comfort zone to connect with new schoolmates – particularly those from different socioeconomic backgrounds, races, and cultures. The aim was to rebuff misconceptions and to illustrate tolerance and acceptance at a level the fourth- and fifth-graders could easily grasp. “It is a simple act with a profound implication. Interactions across ‘lines of difference’ can help reduce prejudice,” said PGES coach Katina Brown, who organized the cafeteria activities.

In one exercise, groups of students worked together to unscramble letters into words related to diversity such as beliefs, languages and traditions. Then they offered up examples like the Thanksgiving holiday. In tabletop discussions, they also dissected the word “diversity” and talked about what it looks like and how it happens. “We have to figure out a way to be more accepting and be a global Yates,” Brown said. “We’re very diverse here, and we’re so blessed to be this mixed up!”

When Brown called up students for open-mic sharing, she got some profound answers. Among them was fifth-grader Kevin Jones’ response, “(Diversity) happens when people from different cultures come together and become friends and learn about each other.” And this from fifth-grader Marcella Hite, “The great thing about diversity is the world would be boring without it.”

The simple element that pulled everything together was when students removed the wrappers and bit into the center of their lollipops, which came in various sizes, colors and flavors. As Principal Twanjua Jones noted, “We’re more alike than we are different.”

Mix It Up Day was part of Yates’ ongoing efforts to encourage culturally responsive teaching and learning. The school, which is in the fourth year of a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is building a welcoming environment led by teachers working with myriad children. The faculty came up with the idea for Mix It Up Day.

“It’s about all children feeling appreciated and respected,” said Carolyn Witt Jones, a consultant from Georgetown College who assists at Yates four days a week. “We coach the teachers to a more inclusive kind of instruction so they’ll ask questions that all children can address. We find this raises achievement for all students as all children feel like they can give their best.”

Hayes sixth-graders apply STEM skills to aerospacehttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/aerospacestem2015-10-29T10:29:23http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/aerospacestemSeated at the flight simulator controls, the sixth-graders listened for the “Cleared for takeoff” signal from aviation instructor Jim Cagey. Accelerating to 60 knots, they slowly pulled back the wheel to rotate the nose of their Cessna 172 and generate lift. When one girl asked how to increase speed, Cagey cautioned, “The faster you go, the harder the aircraft is to control.”

This hour-long session was a highlight for two dozen students from Edythe J. Hayes Middle School who visited the Aviation Museum of Kentucky for a program called “Aerospace Motivates Kids … A Context for STEM” (science, technology, engineering, math). They interpreted and applied information from basic panel instruments and practiced with directional controls and throttle. And although a Cessna 172 uses rudder pedals, the simulator was equipped with hand steering. “Go-karts are a lot more sensitive to the wheel. On airplanes, it takes a lot more force to make it turn,” 11-year-old Miles James noted. “We also learned how to make the speed settle to where we were going straight, and not too fast or too slow.”  

This program, funded by NASA Kentucky and the University of Kentucky’s College of Engineering, is designed for gifted-and-talented middle school students across the region. Hayes was the final participant of the year. Classes from Morton Middle attended in the spring, as did students from Scott and Lincoln counties. “This is something new our students haven’t been exposed to. Our sixth-graders are eager to learn, and they’re excited about it,” Hayes G/T coordinator Ashlee VanHoose said beforehand.

The Saturday field trip gives youngsters a good overall feel for aviation, including commercial and military flight and space exploration. “The main focus is to get kids interested in aerospace and find a way to apply what they’ve learned in math and science and to realize there are excellent career opportunities to use those skills,” said museum president and COO David Riggins. “This is the perfect age. We add the ‘wow’ factor and hope to spark some excitement.”

VanHoose and science teacher Jessica Bohannon divided the Hayes students in two groups for the day: the Eagle Squadron and the Falcon Squadron. They rotated through seven sessions mostly in the main hangar at the museum, adjacent to Blue Grass Airport. Topics covered aerospace technology and design, aeronautical navigation and instrumentation, earth orbit, the International Space Station, and NASA space challenges.

In one exercise, for example, students used a flight plotter and a sectional aeronautical map to prepare a simple flight plan between two airports, including compass headings, minimum altitudes and nautical distances. In another activity, the youngsters got a grasp on how lift occurs (Bernoulli’s principle) – basically, that the greater air pressure underneath pushes the plane up because of the wing design. “He taught us how and why planes lift off and how the air pressure density matters,” 12-year-old Michael Vaughan explained. Michael also noted how the shape of the wings and body are important for reducing drag, which the students saw in examples throughout the museum. They also competed to see who could land a simple glider most closely on a model airstrip. Michael thought all of the day’s lessons would help in science class at Hayes, saying, “We’re about to go into spacecraft and how they work, so this is very good.”

The teachers did receive materials to take back for classroom use. “There’s been a lot of exploration with the Curiosity Rover on Mars and the New Horizons spacecraft, and the students are really interested in it. They love to hear about NASA and aviation, but don’t really see it as close to home. A lot of students didn’t even know we had an aviation museum here in Lexington,” Bohannon said. “The new science practices are a lot about engineering with models and design,” she added. “This opportunity really fit with what we’re trying to do (at Hayes).”

Cooking club puts Arlington kids in charge of kitchenhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/cookingclub2015-10-28T16:15:37http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/cookingclubChildren from Arlington Elementary stirred in some excitement and added a dash of love while preparing dinner for their families to cap a seven-week after-school series. With volunteers providing nearly one-on-one guidance at Arlington Christian Church, the seven students served up a tasty meal – showing they had learned their way around the kitchen. “Whenever my mom needs help or she goes to a meeting, I can help her cook. And if there’s nothing on the table and I’m starving, I could cook for my sisters,” said fifth-grader Maleni Casas, the second-oldest in a family with four girls.

The Arlington Cooking Club, which this fall met on Tuesday afternoons, has operated for several years. Linda Prater, the school’s Family Resource Center coordinator, selects a limited number of students based on short essays. Maleni, for instance, wrote that while she could already make eggs and help with cakes and bread, she looked forward to learning how to prepare more foods. Ten-year-old classmate Wendyam Samne, who moved here from Africa about a year ago, also hoped to branch out with American recipes like roast chicken and pasta.

In response to Wendyam’s essay, the leaders developed a lesson about how foods prepared in the United States are influenced by immigrants – for example, Chinese on the West Coast, Italian in New York, Spanish in the Southwest, and African and Caribbean in the South. They also covered nutrition and food safety. “They talked about why it’s important to wash your hands,” Wendyam recalled. “If you get germs on your food and then eat it, you could get sick.”

Volunteer Janet Timberlake, who offered to sew aprons for the children a few years ago, now runs the outreach program for her church. “We have a big fellowship hall and a good-size kitchen, and we’re close to the school so it works out well,” she said. Her crew walks a few blocks to the elementary each week to escort students back to the basement, where they spend about two hours absorbing kitchen basics and practicing their craft. “We don’t want them to learn bad habits. The rules are ‘Be clean, be careful, be kind.’ We’re really careful with the cleanliness and the knife cuts and using the stove,” Timberlake said, noting how volunteers spot the children when measuring ingredients and handling utensils. “We do very brief lessons or points of interest while they’re cooking,” she added. “We try to emphasize fresh foods and make everything from scratch. We try to promote healthy eating. It’s a good learning experience for them.” 

Jacqui Denegri, a nutrition educator with the Fayette County Extension Office, also lends a hand. Before the family dinner, she organized the youngsters to fold napkins and put out place settings at tables in the fellowship hall. “They do everything from make the placemats to decorate the tables with paper flowers to write the invitations,” she said. The kids also took home their chef hats and aprons.

Earlier, during a trial run with the pineapple cake, Denegri focused on the amount of sugar called for. “They learn how to follow a recipe and learn the proper measurements,” she said. “Just being able to do that is a major accomplishment. Everybody’s on the same level, and they develop a close friendship.”

The children started out the series by putting together a simple after-school snack. Maleni’s favorite was cooked apples sprinkled with cinnamon, while Wendyam was keen on the personal-size pizza. They moved along to more complicated dishes, and the finale meal included fruit salad, Caesar salad, minestrone soup with meatballs, Sloppy Joes, and pineapple upside-down cake for dessert. “On the whole, everything has been popular,” Timberlake said. “It’s gratifying that the kids usually try everything they make and, for the most part, like it.”

PTA 5K organizers execute smooth passing of batonhttp://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/pta5k2015-10-27T15:58:19http://www.fcps.net/news/features/2015-16/pta5kWhen Jennifer Upton and husband Paul took over as race directors, the 16th District PTA’s 5K Run/Walk was already on firm footing because of former president Liza Holland’s dedication to the countywide fundraiser. “She put so much of her time and energy into this event. We’ve got big shoes to fill,” said Upton, who described herself as the communicator and Paul as the techie guy. “There’s a fabulous committee working on it from the beginning and putting the pieces together. A lot of people spend a lot of time to make this happen.”

From all accounts, this fall’s fifth annual event was another big success. More than 1,300 people signed up for the chip-timed 5K or the 1-mile fun run on the Legacy Trail, starting behind the Embassy Suites off Newtown Pike. Awards went to the three fastest overall male and female runners as well as the top three runners in each age group. And, thanks to generous sponsors, all of the proceeds from the entry fees will go back to the participating school PTAs and PTSAs for wellness nights, playground equipment, outdoor classrooms, STEM fairs, literacy initiatives, and other programming.

“We’re runners, but the PTA 5K is so much more than a 5K,” Upton said. “The fundraising component is a whole other ballgame. It’s a ton of work, but it’s still better than each individual school trying to have a 5K. It’s so much better to pool resources.”  

The Oct. 18 event – which included healthy snack stations and fun activities like bumper balls and inflatables in the staging area – drew families, students, staff, and school groups from across Fayette County Public Schools. “It’s a great healthy lifestyles event. There are families who have been exercising and out together for the past eight to 10 weeks (to prepare for the 5K) and hopefully making changes that will last,” Upton said. “The course stays open until the last participant comes through,” she added. “It’s more about getting out there than what your time is on the clock when you get back.” 

Jennie Hayes, the PTA president at Stonewall Elementary, completes the 5K each year with her husband and two children (a fourth-grader and a sixth-grader). “It’s a good fundraiser and a nice way to show our kids the importance of getting out and exercising,” Hayes said. “I love the course. It’s nice and flat, and it’s an easy course to do with kids.”

Twelve-year-old friends Brianna Dowell and Evie Layne seemed eager to tackle it. Evie, who plays volleyball at Southern Middle, admitted she was a little nervous about her first 5K. Brianna felt a bit more prepared since she’s on the school’s cross-country team and her dad was a sprinter. “I like to run, and my mom says I’m built for it,” she said.

Chianna Dowell hopes her daughter’s avocation develops into a life-long healthy habit. “If you run like a gazelle and make it look easy, then it’s for you,” she said of Brianna’s distance running. “Anyone can do it,” she added. “All you need is the shoes.”

Race results