EASD’s fourth gas-powered school

By on March 27, 2019

By the end of June, a fourth school building in the Ephrata Area School District will be powered by natural gas.

That’s when Fulton Elementary connects to the main line.

At the March 25 school board meeting, held in Clay Elementary School, the board approved the agreement for natural gas service with UGI Utilities of Reading to extend its natural gas facilities to Fulton Elementary School.

The district will be responsible for a contribution of $86,500 to aid in the construction for the main extension.

The district decided to go with natural gas for both cost-cutting and trying to find a cleaner fuel, but the decision to change from fuel oil to natural gas is a building by building decision, and has not been a district-wide decision.

Currently, the high school building, the middle school, and Highland Elementary School are connected to UGI natural gas.

The board noted that Highland Elementary burns about 22,500 gallons of oil per year. The conversion to natural gas should see yearly savings in the amount of $33,900, making payback for the change to be a little more than four years.

As part of the “Celebrating Public Education” segment of the board meeting Monday, several Clay second-graders and their teachers shared with the board and administration how they are learning to develop mathematical thinking. At first glance, games and mathematics might not seem like they go together, but games help students to develop their math skills, Clay Principal Tracy Blunt told the board.

“Kids learn best when they’re playing while learning,” Blunt said. Games can teach calculator skills, money exchange, or even something called geometric intuition.

“When you’re a math-thinker, or a mathematician, you think about the relationship between numbers,” she said. “Mathematical thinking is a whole language they need to learn.”

Teachers involved in the program are Tammy Deichman, Carissa Martin, Denise Shultz, Donna Weidler, and Susan Wenrich. The real question is how do young children develop mathematical thinking?

“We talk about real-life examples, like using money, so, as you’re learning concepts, it’s not just a number on a page,” Blunt said.

The teachers also use multiple methods, learning different approaches to a solution &tstr; and realizing that a solution has different ways to get there – is a help and by doing so, children learn how numbers relate to each other, Blunt said.

Of course, frequent practice is a big part of their success.

“We use the spiral curriculum design; learning skills, but in a new context,” Blunt said. “It’s kind of fun to see when that new learning takes place.”

The math games the students engage in are part of an approach to teaching math that uses the 4Cs, Blunt said.

Those concepts are communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

The social context of learning skills together shows the positive impact of shared education, Blunt said.

The second graders showed the board members how they use “quick-look cards” and “fact triangles” to help them learn.

“These are some of the things they do daily to help them learn this language of math,” Blunt said.

A number of upperclassmen were honored by the board for their recent winning performances in different areas, from agriculture to robotics to music. In another matter of learning, the high school’s robotics team has qualified for state competition, Superintendent Dr. Brian Troop told the board.

Team members Andrew Barnica, Alexander Bischoff, Nick Hoopes, Ashton Kunkle, and Derek Murphy built two robots that they used in a variety of competition events at the State Robotics Championship on March 2 at Norristown Area High School. In addition, Nick Hoopes recently won the VEX Amaze Award at the Knight’s Invitational Robotics Competition and the Skills Award at the Forest Hulls Robotics Invitational.

These awards qualify Nick to compete in the CREATE Foundation US Open Robotics Championship in Iowa, to be held in April. All students on the robotics team were recognized by the school board and received resolutions in honor of their achievements.

District students in grades five through eight recently participated in the Lancaster County “You Be The Chemist” competition, an interactive question and answer challenge developed for students to enhance their science education.

After several rounds of competition, eighth-grade student Lillian Sharpe was named the third place winner and will be participating in the state level of the competition at Penn State University on April 27.

Seventh-grader Nathan Buehler finished in fourth place and is an alternate for the state competition. At the Lancaster County Science and Engineering Fair, held at Millersville University, Ephrata High School had three first-place winners and one second place winner, Dr. Troop told the board.

“We’re still a pretty strong force in the science arena,” Troop said.

In the Cloister FFA Chapter, four freshmen students attended the Lancaster County Farm and Home Center to compete in the county FFA creed speaking contest. They had to memorize and present the five-paragraph creed, then answer questions from the judges.

They finished as follows: Mary Ribbeck, third place; Christopher Amick, fourth; Raina Foran, ninth; and Nicholas Shubinsky, tenth. Also competing in the public speaking events were sophomore Joshua Potts, whose subject was the timber rattlesnake. Lily Moore, who did a presentation on trout stocking, finished first, and Potts took second. Junior Clara Bollinger received a Star Red Rose after her Ag Placement interview and will be receiving $100 at the county FFA banquet.

In music, juniors Jamie Chon and Braden Mulcahy have been selected for two Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) All-State Music Ensembles. Both students will represent the district as performers at the PMEA All State Annual Conference April 3-7 in Pittsburgh. Jamie will be participating in the PMEA all-state orchestra. She also placed as 3rd chair violin at both the county and district music festivals, and second chair violin at the regional music festival.

Braden will be participating in the PMEA all-state band. Braden was also first chair baritone saxophone at the 2019 District 7 Band Festival and the PMEA Region V Band Festival.
The next regular school board meeting, open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. on April 29 in the Highland Elementary School cafeteria.

Marylouise Sholly is a freelance feature writer for The Ephrata Review. She welcomes your comments and questions at weezsholly@verizon.net. 

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