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School board— Eighth graders may travel to NYC

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Thanks in part to the success of the seventh-grade “Into the Wild” trip, McKinney Middle School teachers are seeking to enlarge the scope of the annual eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., scheduled to depart on May 4. The three day/three night trip normally covers the classic sites — monuments, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the White House — but dramatic arts teacher Lorrie Sparrow-Knapp and social studies teacher Brian Knostman recently presented their plans to add an extra leg that will take students into New York City to see a musical and have a one-on-one Q&A with its director.

The teachers gave a presentation to the school board at the board’s Oct. 13 meeting, entitled “Out of the Darkness and Into Enlightenment: the 8th Grade path to restorative justice in modern civilization.” The overarching theme will be conflict resolution, using historical precedent to inform future decisions, the teachers said. Students will visit Gettysburg, for example, but will also explore this theme on the proposed extension to New York City, where students would see “Oslo,” a musical about the 1995 Oslo Peace Accords.

The teachers described the trip’s PBL crossover: students will be recording their own Gettysburg Addresses, while “Oslo” ties in with a project in which students are writing their own works based on news headlines. Sparrow-Knapp said she is planning to contact an Israeli diplomat to speak with the students about the conflict as they take the train to the capital.

The trip  will cost $595 per student, with an additional $233 for the New York City portion. Sparrow-Knapp said she is hoping to do some fundraising and grant-seeking for the estimated $10,500 it will cost for the students and chaperones to do the proposed NYC addition.

In other school board business:

• A request for qualifications (RFQ) was published two weeks ago in the Yellow Springs News, soliciting the qualifications from design firms interested in working with the school on a study of its buildings and infrastructure. The chosen firm will assess the district’s facilities and offer suggestions on repairing the existing structures or building new facilities, and will then lead a campaign to gauge public interest in the project and ultimately the feasibility of a levy should new facilities be recommended. The deadline for the qualifications is Oct. 28.

• McKinney Middle School and Yellow Springs High School principal Tim Krier expressed his appreciation for the turnout at recent meetings aimed at students’ parents. The first was a workshop aiming to help parents become more “social media savvy.”

Going forward, the PTO will meet the second Monday of each month, from 6–7 p.m. in the YSHS/MMS library.

• Basora said that school administrators and board members are being asked to donate to the Community Foundation’s Public School Fund as part of the 2016-2017 fundraising campaign. According to district literature, the goal is to raise around $150,000 per year, with an ultimate goal of raising around $5.5 million by 2026. The fund is primarily used to fund project-based learning (PBL) activities.

“The district is trying to raise funds by asking for private donations. I want to put my money where my mouth is,” Basora said.

He said it is a personal choice if administrators chose to donate or not.

• Approximately 25 teachers and staff from district schools will attend a Youth Mental Health First Aid Training seminar this weekend in Yellow Springs. The Yellow Springs Community Foundation is providing the district with funds to attend the seminar. NAMI volunteer (and News employee) Kathryn Hitchcock told the board that one in five people will have a mental health issue.

• The board expressed its official gratitude to longtime district custodian Jerry Upton, who is retiring on January 1. Upton is the second-most senior member of the district’s staff. He is currently finishing his 30th year working for the district.

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