by Janet Schultz
A festive atmosphere hovered over the Lewiston-Porter Board of Education meeting Tuesday, Dec. 20, as students performed, people were recognized and gifts from donors received.
A group of third-graders performed several traditional Christmas carols and the entire room joined in on "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Student carolers, under the direction of Nicole Mosier, included Elizabeth Teal, Maya Marcyan, Makenna Barrientos, Emma Sand, Nathan Rhodes, Olivia Naughton, Julia Thomas, Meghan Baio, Graciana Auer, Ciaran Edwards, Alexandra Lee, Ellie Phillips, Jaden Lombardo and Isabella Tolliano. Vicki Mehr accompanied.
The music continued as Erin Linnabery, a string student from the Intermediate Education Center, performed "March of the Giants" using a string bass donated by the Tim Henderson family.
Henderson's family and the Music Boosters donated the bass plus a trumpet and saxophone to the Lew-Port Music Department in memory of Ryan Henderson, a former student at Lew-Port who died in an automobile crash in January 2011.
"This donation is just the first installment for many years to come," said Tim Henderson.
The board also recognized students Zach Hayes, Collin Kemeny, Christina Chilberg, Emily Marra and Pat Wagner, along with teachers Michelle Hinchliffe and Colleen Glor, for their work on the International Water Forum.
In November, Lew-Port hosted the International Water Forum and a number of students from Japan. The students see water as the future of the world and look at ways to preserve and use it through use of science, technology and mathematics at the international level. The Lew-Port students partnered with the University of Buffalo doing research at the graduate level.
"This was the opportunity of a lifetime," said Hayes. "It was very enriching."
The Japanese students and Lew-Port students discussed their research findings one-on-one.
"I am very proud of what our students did and hope we continue to move this program forward," said High School Principal Paul Casseri.
Athletic Director Scott Townsend brought the board news of a donation of 20 athletic bags for the high school ice hockey team. The donation was given anonymously.
He also shared a report on the fall sports season, noting it was a very successful one for all sports.
Three students have signed letters of intent to play Division I sports at local colleges including Meghan Cuda, softball at Canisius; Eric Ebert, swimming at Niagara University and Ryleigh Fitzgerald, softball at the University of Buffalo.
The boys soccer team lost in the Section VI finals to East Aurora. Townsend noted that the team made it to the finals twice in two years, and that is a major accomplishment.
The boys cross country team is ranked ninth in Western New York, and the girls soccer team played two scoreless overtimes and went to a penalty kick shootout before they lost to Grand Island in the Sectionals.
Lew-Port was also the recipient of a Section VI Sportsmanship Award.
Townsend also told the board that Lew-Port is already in compliance with a law that will remove athletes who suffer a head injury from a game, and the individual would not be allowed to return until evaluated by a physician and the team's trainer.
"Lew-Port is on the front edge of concussions with the Standardized Assessment of Concussions program," said Townsend. "We do baseline assessments on all of our football, soccer, ice hockey, lacrosse and wrestling athletes."
"If a player suffers a head injury, they are taken from the game, given a baseline, we talk to the parents, they are to see a doctor who must determine they are healthy enough to return to play," explained Townsend. "Even though the doctor gives the approval, the athletic trainer still must examine them."
The board also accepted a $700 Target field trip grant, which will give middle school students the opportunity to visit Fort Niagara.
Lew-Port students are not only being taught reading, writing and arithmetic, but character-building, responsibility and caring for others. With that said, building principals reported on several initiatives that Lew-Port students came up with on their own and conducted.
•The Intermediate School held a food drive with three boxes of food going to the St. Vincent DePaul Society; collected 175 pairs of socks, which they donated to local agencies to distribute to people in need, and worked with Scholastic Books on a pajama drive that netted 113 pairs of pajamas. For that, Scholastic Books donated 113 books to needy children.
"These are things that people need to know about," said Intermediate Education Center Principal Andrew Auer. "These kids come to me on their own with an idea of what to do and how to do it."
"They even came up with an idea for the SPARK Award which is given to a student for doing something that maybe no one knew about and they just did it because they felt they should," said Auer.
A SPARK Award went to Ethan Fideli because he found a bus pass on the floor and returned it to the office. Another went to MacKenna Bulmer when she helped another student who was going through some rough times.
"It's real easy this time of year to give," continued Auer. "But if we instill it in them they will continue doing it the rest of the year."
"When we talk about character education it doesn't need to be learned through a book or program, but just by being kind to each other," he said.
•The Primary Education Center held a successful "Turkey Trot" for the second graders and the first graders held a "Jingle Bell Run."
•The middle school is gearing up to launch a relationship with a school in China. Parents will be receiving an invitation to a meeting in January to discuss the program. The MS is also working on a pilot project that will bring iPads into the classroom.
•In the high school, students are gearing up for a production of "Beauty and the Beast" in January 2012. They held a "Dance for a Cause," which raised $1,300 for United Network for Organ Sharing, an organization that works with organ donors and benefactors.
As with all good news, there is always some bad. In this case it's the Tax Levy Threshold Worksheet that the district must work with under the guidelines provided by New York state. The worksheet, with detailed formulas, will help determine the tax levy that the district will place on taxpayers.
"It will be difficult to maintain a 0 percent tax levy as we have done in the past several years," said Superintendent Christopher Roser. "The administration will be working within the threshold but we will be waiting for Albany to see what we are doing."
The board also passed several more policy revisions, including one on the treatment of students with head lice. The policy states that students with active head lice will be sent home and are to remain home until treated and cleared by the nurse, usually a 24-hour period. If the nits are not alive, the student may remain in school. A detailed instruction sheet can be found on the Lew-Port website.
The second policy pertains to the Administration of Medication by Self Directed Students. The policy provides the district with the option to approve or disapprove whether a student may self-medicate. The distinction is that it must be a life-threatening situation, the nurse must be aware of it and that a supply of the drug must be in the health clinic in case the student forgets it. The school must be assured that the student knows how and has to do it. Information and the form are available on the school's website.