by Kathleen Duff
Grand Island High School's Viking Vision news class received a check from the Fuccillo Auto Group at the Monday evening meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education at Charlotte Sidway School.
The $1,000 check, presented to district Audio-Visual Technician/Viking Vision TV Club Advisor Mark Gorton by Jason Smith of Fuccillo Auto Group, is to be used toward the purchase of tech equipment to further enhance Viking Vision classroom efforts. The class produced one of the car dealer's recent TV commercials.
Other presentations to the board included a report on digital storytelling by Charlotte Sidway librarian Janet Balk. She showed the board a story researched, written and produced by first-graders at the school. In addition, Sidway Universal Pre-K teacher Michelle White told trustees about the "Creative Curriculum" she has implemented with her class of 3-year-olds. The program encourages the preschoolers to learn independently with a "hands-on" approach. White said that the first portion of a typical school day is "center driven" with her young students pairing off to do art, drama and other activities before they settle into group time on the rug with their teacher.
Sidway Reading Recovery teachers reported to trustees on their program's continuing success with the most "at risk" first-graders in the district. Each student receives intensive one-on-one tutoring from the specially trained Sidway teachers. The aim is to dramatically improve literacy and to reduce special education referrals - a goal apparently being met at the school. District administration and the Board of Education members voice continuing commitment to the program as critical to a strong educational foundation.
Trustees also heard a report from high school library teacher Kristine Bajdas regarding the "Put a Lid on Bullying Day" results from Sept. 29. Students raised $2,200.36 in one day by wearing hats in school to raise awareness about the problem of bullying. Part of the proceeds is to go to an educational fund for the 13-year-old Amherst boy who lost both his parents in the recent Cheeburger Cheeburger restaurant accident. Part of the proceeds will also go to an anti-bullying program at the University at Buffalo and to a memorial charity set up by the parents of Williamsville student Jamey Rodemeyer.
Superintendent of Schools Robert Christmann and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Karen Karmazin both voiced the district's commitment to addressing incidents of bullying on a case-by-case basis and also on the instructional level in the classroom. Karmazin said that the district's character formation program has been in place for seven years and will be augmented with classroom lessons on bullying from kindergarten through grade 8 for 30 minutes per week.
Christmann stated that his office has been recently flooded with calls regarding how the schools will address the issue and that the Board of Education would hear a presentation on bullying at its Nov. 21 meeting. In addition, he told students to "...be on guard. ...We want to encourage students to report (problems) to any one of our school staff." He noted that the biggest group to instigate bullying appears to be ninth-grade girls. "People think it's seniors, but it's not."