2015, october, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews, westerville

Media center debuts with up-to-date amenities

Wednesday October 7, 2015 8:33 AM

A summer of hard work has resulted in a new Center for Inspiration multimedia center at Walnut Springs Middle School.

Even though school has been in session for a while, district officials still wanted to have a formal dedication. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Sept. 17 for students, staff and school officials during a tailgate to celebrate the new 7,000-square-foot library space.

Superintendent John Kellogg, school board President Tracy Davidson and members Richard Bird, Nancy Nestor-Baker and Rick Vilardo were on hand, as were Principal Becca Yanni and library media specialist Jean Trimble.

During the first week of school, students already had checked out three times the number of books as they did a year ago, according to information from the district.

Contractor GHM Inc. completed $374,538 worth of renovations (approximately $65 per square foot) approved by the school board Feb. 9.

The renovations were part of the district’s five-year capital improvement plan, which is funded by a permanent improvement levy approved by voters in 2009.

Yanni thanked the district, the school board, Kellogg, Jeff LeRose, Triad Architects, the construction team and Trimble for their vision for the Center for Inspiration.

“To be inspired is to be influenced with the spirit of something. This space magnifies that spirit for our students and staff,” Yanni said. “The students of Walnut inspire us each day. They are making middle school matter and making each moment count.”

The design concept evolved from a media center to a multimedia center that includes music, art and literature.

The back corner has a small room for a television studio and a green screen so students can star in and produce in the school’s WOLF TV, as well as a “maker space” for creative projects such as 3-D printing and die-cutting.

The space offers amenities such as coffeehouse-style furniture, booth seating, club chairs wrapped around a three-sided virtual fireplace, and a high-tech audio system.

There also are two offices, a computer bar, an outdoor learning environment and a flexible classroom that opens to the main area via two glass garage doors.

So far, students are loving the new space.

“The Center for Inspiration is like Panera Bread, but with books,” eighth-grader Madison Morrison said. “It’s a fun and comfortable place to do homework, research and do some reading.

“The maker space is also great for anyone who enjoys building or wants to use their imagination and add some more fun to your day,” Morrison added.

“The Center for Inspiration is an inspiring, comfortable place that has really cool opportunities for students to grow. I go in there every other day as much as I can,” seventh-grader Emylee Preston said.

Walnut Springs has about 950 students in grades 6-8.

The school opened in 1965 as Westerville Junior High School, the first junior high in the district. The name was changed to Walnut Springs Middle School in 1967, based on a recommendation from the Citizens’ Advisory Council.

Past projects to create inspirational educational spaces have earned national recognition for the Westerville City School District.


2015, october, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews, westerville

7th-grader already an entrepreneur with ‘Em’s Gems’

Emily McGeorge, a seventh-grader at Heritage Middle School, doesn’t need to take any business classes. She’s getting firsthand experience.
She has been running her own jewelry business and selling her jewelry at Pure Roots, 18 N. State St., for more than a year now.
She’s occasionally sold her “Em’s Gems” at special events, such as an Aug. 29 special sale outside the Sunny Street Cafe, 644 N. State St.
Emily estimates she’s made more than 500 pieces of jewelry to sell.
For the Aug. 29 sale, which she prepped for by creating more than 100 pieces, she donated 10 percent of her profits back to Sunny Street Cafe so the restaurant could donate the funds back to a charitable cause of its choice.
“It’s very generous of them to let me borrow their space to sell my jewelry,” she said of Sunny Street owner Megan Ada.
“I wanted to give something back,” she said.
Before Emily began making jewelry, she had a duct tape crafting business she called “Tape It Up.”
She handmade bracelets, rings, lanyards, backpacks and pillows — all out of duct tape.
Then one year, for Christmas, her grandmother gave her a beading kit. Her business changed.
“I started playing with the bead kit and thought, ‘This is so cool,’ ” she said. “So the next day, my mom took me to the store and I bought some special tools and more beads.”
Emily visited her great-grandmother’s home and friends noticed the jewelry she was wearing.
“My friends placed orders for me to make them jewelry and I thought, ‘I’m going to need a bajillion more beads to make all these!’ “
In addition to using beads, she also incorporates stones she finds into her jewelry.
“Our family went to Michigan for vacation and I found all these neat-looking rocks. I polished them, wrapped wire around them and used leather strips to make necklaces.”
In August 2014, she worked with the owner of Pure Roots and started selling her creations there.
She explained that most months, when she sells $30 worth of jewelry, she will net $18 from the sales at Pure Roots. Emily estimates she spends about 20 percent of her profits on materials.
In addition to selling her jewelry in Pure Roots, she also makes custom jewelry.
“A friend from my dad’s country club placed an order for like 100 pieces, so I’m starting to do more bulk orders, but they are still all original creations.”
Stephanie McGeorge, Emily’s mother, is the assistant principal at Westerville North High School.
She said she is proud of Emily for getting real life experience while doing something she loves.
“I love that she is learning experience to budget her money and time while also finding a way to make money at something she loves,” her mother said. “She balances the hectic schedule of sports, school (and) her jewelry making.”
McGeorge praised Emily for valuing the importance of giving to others, especially in terms of donating some of her profits.
One of Emily’s favorite pieces is a bracelet she wears herself. It features birthstones — each of her parent’s with her own in the middle.
Her father, Collins McGeorge, is a regional sales manager for Industrial Magnetics Inc.
On top of running her jewelry business Emily is a member of the seventh-grade volleyball team at Heritage and a Student Ambassador. She plans to try out for the school softball team in the spring.
“Usually, I go to school, go to volleyball, eat dinner, do my homework and then make some jewelry,” she said.
“I like being busy but sometimes it can be tricky to find time to hang out with friends.”
Emily said she sees her enterprise getting bigger and better as she progresses more into the jewelry-making business.
“I don’t feel like I have enough to fill a whole store yet. But my goal in life is to get my jewelry in as many stores as possible.”
Next project? An e-commerce website.

johnstown, johnstownindependent, october, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Legion post plans Texas Hold ‘Em fundraiser event

Monday October 5, 2015 11:43 AM

Area residents can try their hand at Texas Hold ‘Em poker during a new tournament sponsored by American Legion Post 254.
The tournament will begin at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 10 in the Legion Hall, 180 W. Maple St.
Post Commander Rick Petersen said nine dealers have been practicing every other Tuesday since June. On Sept. 29 the Legion held a mini-tournament for the dealers to practice.
“We have a lot of serious players in the area so we want to be prepared and have well-trained dealers,” Petersen said. “We want people to feel good about playing with us.”
John Rinard, a Legion member, will be running the tournament. He is hoping at least 50 community members come out to play.
“It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to support the Legion as well as our community’s veterans.” he said. “The tournament will be similar to what people have seen on TV.”
Rinard has been playing the game for more than 10 years now and said he liked the strategy of the game.
“By now, I am able to almost guess what other people’s cards are,” he said.
The initial buy-in costs $40 for 5,000 in chips and $10 goes to the Legion while the rest goes into the pot.
To buy back into the tournament, before the fourth round, it costs $30 for 5,000 in chips and $15 goes to the Legion.
For those who make it to the fourth round, they can buy 8,000 in additional chips for $40 and all of that money goes to the Legion.
The money raised will be used in the general membership fund to support the community and veteran’s projects, Rinard said.
Registration is from 1 to 3 p.m. and snacks will be available during the tournament.
For additional information, call Rick Petersen at 740-901-1245.
johnstown, johnstownvillage, october, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Sixth annual book sale is Oct. 8-10

Monday October 5, 2015 11:40 AM

If you’re looking to donate some old books and stock up on new ones, stop by the Mary E. Babcock Library sixth annual book sale on Oct. 8-10.

The Friends of the Library group is currently accepting donations of gently used books in good condition, until Oct. 2 at the library, 320 N. Main St. in Johnstown.

“In my mind, it’s a good way for people to clean out their book shelves, buy more books and help out the local library,” said Charlotte Reichert, organizer of the book sale and a member of Friends of the Library.

She said there is a great mix of books at the sale such as fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, history, sports, classics, travel and more.

“We really appreciate all the community has done for us,” Reichert said. “They always surprise us with the large number of books donated each year.”

The Friends of the Library volunteer group is responsible for maintenance and upkeep projects as well as fundraising.

In previous years, the book sale has raised more than $1,000 and the Friends of the Library were able to buy new furniture for the library director’s office and organize a special event for the end of summer reading program.

More than 250 people came to the “Babcock Bash” which featured a magician, balloon artist, face-painter, petting zoo and root beer floats.

At the book sale, paperbacks will be 50 cents, hardcover books $1 and select hardcover books will cost a little more than $1.

The books not sold during the weekend sale, will be available for a donation.

october, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews, westerville

Candidates make case for school board votes

Thursday October 1, 2015 1:25 PM

Candidates running for seats on the Westerville Board of Education answered questions from about 20 community members at an open Meet the Candidates forum Thursday, Sept. 24, at OhioHealth’s Westerville Medical Campus, 300 Polaris Parkway.
Incumbent appointee Richard Bird and challengers Jim Burgess, Gerrie Cotter and Greg Lawson attended the event, which was staged by the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Incumbent Carol French is not seeking re-election. The top two finishers in the four-person field Nov. 3 will win four-year terms on the school board.
Westerville resident Mindy Drayer, weekend anchor for NBC4, moderated the question-and-answer session.
The majority of the questions were about the district’s current financial state and the recently approved teacher contract.
“The current board is already looking at reducing costs while still providing positive educational outcomes,” Bird said. “We were able to return $325,000 in health care savings in this latest teacher contract negotiations.”
The new three-year agreement included base salary increases of 2 percent each year, a $900 annual payment not included in base salaries and the addition of one step on the supplemental contract salary schedule.
Other candidates did not share Bird’s positive views of the contract.
“I don’t believe this most recent contract was a great deal for the taxpayers. Instead of the lump sum payment for teachers, we could have restored busing or budget cuts that were made to the magnet program,” said Burgess, who also ran for the board in 2013.
“I think we need to be careful with the those lump sum payments. I give the recent contract a ‘C.’ I would’ve liked to see some revisions in the collective bargaining agreement,” Lawson said.
For the majority of questions, Lawson and Burgess shared viewpoints whereas Bird and Cotter had differing views.
Lawson explained his desire to set up classrooms to compete with one another.
“My background working with charter schools showed me the value of incentivizing students to perform their best. I think bringing a competitive ethos would be beneficial,” he said in his closing statement.
At a recent Board of Education meeting, the issue of lessening pay-to-participate fees was raised and school board candidates threw in their two cents on the issue.
“I’m glad the current board is looking at this issue. I believe these extracurricular activities actually can impact academic outcomes,” Cotter said.
“If there is funding available, the board should consider some kind of a family cap. Students and families should pay some costs but this is one of those things that really inspires students.”
Burgess said he wanted to focus on classroom experiences the most.
“I got frustrated that my ninth-grade son had a take-home final in math. I don’t think he got the best classroom experience,” he said. “It’s a love for learning that we should instill in children.”
In his closing statements, Bird said it comes down to those who are interested in the position versus those who are committed.
“The population is not going to vote on issues or opinions. They will vote based on the person,” Bird said. “There’s a difference between committed and interested. I am committed to being on this board.”
Election day is Nov. 3 with in-person absentee voting opening Tuesday, Oct. 6.
For those who couldn’t attend, the forum was filmed and will be shown at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday on the local government access channel, WOCC-TV3, through the election.
The chamber also is hosting a second forum, starting at 6:30 tonight, Oct. 1, for the five candidates seeking three available seats on Westerville City Council this fall. That forum is taking place at the Westerville Public Library, 126 S. State St.
october, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews, westerville

Young Feminists Club hopes to educate at North

After noticing a lot of students didn’t understand the word “feminism,” a group of dedicated students at Westerville North High School came together to start a new Young Feminists group.
Senior Dion Mensah was one of the founders of the club.
The idea came up in March of this year, when she was researching feminism in the media, for an article for the school newspaper, Mensah said.
“I wanted a change to be made in how feminism is understood and thought, if we don’t start talking about this now, then when?” she said.
The club’s first meeting was in April and more than 30 students attended, including several boys.
Mensah said the club has come a long way since then.
“I’m really happy with how it’s matured so quickly. It was good to start so late in the (school) year and I feel like we succeeded in creating a lot of buzz about the club,” she said.
Mensah and other members put up posters that stated “Don’t be afraid of the F word” to entice students to come to the first meeting.
Unfortunately, these posters did cause some backlash.
“Some guys were bothered by the posters. They called us the ‘Young Lesbians Club’ and tore down our posters and put them in the urinals,” she said. “I think some people hear the word ‘feminism’ and think it means angry militant women or that we hate men. That’s not the case.”
She hopes the club can educate students about promoting equal rights for all genders and that it’s OK to call yourself a feminist.
So far, the group has been watching TED Talks, discussing how feminism is portrayed in the media, designing club T-shirts, crafting a mission statement, making plans to celebrate women’s history month in March and listening to guest speakers that adviser Kim Swensen has invited to meetings.
Swensen, an AP language arts teacher at North, has a master’s degree in women’s studies from Ohio State University. She said she was excited when students approached her and wanted to talk about feminism.
“In my first women’s studies class in college, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, why didn’t I learn about this in high school?’ ” she said. “With Young Feminists, we don’t want to be a self-serving club. We want to make our community better but we still have a lot of growing to do.”
In the future, group members plan on volunteering at a local women’s shelter, organizing a prom dress drive and implementing a “This is what feminism looks like” poster campaign.
“The term ‘feminist’ is a maligned word in our society. In the media there have been conversations about feminism and some young people might want to adopt the word or may not fully understand the meaning,” said Swensen.
Students from Westerville South and Central high schools also have attended meetings and stated an interest in starting clubs at their owns schools.
The group meets at 2:15 p.m. Wednesdays in Swensen’s classroom at North and has a Twitter account at @wnhsyf.


2014, blog, book, book review, october

Book Review

This is from my Goodreads review of I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson 

I have mixed thoughts on this book.

At first, I rolled my eyes while reading and was like “Are you serious?” because some of the hyperboles, metaphors, similes, whatever you want to call them, were just too much. I remembered how much I liked her last book, The Sky is Everywhere, so I kept reading.

I ended up staying up late to finish the book. You know it’s good when you keep reading instead of going to bed. I suppose I did grow close to the characters and became invested in the plot. I didn’t realize I was starting to care so much about Noah and Jude.

The book is written in alternating points of views. Part of it is told from Noah when he is about 13 and the other part is from Jude when she is about 16. They are twins and are both very artistic. Before the action starts happening, we realize that Jude and Noah used to be really close but now they don’t speak to each other. Whenever Jude tries to make a piece of art, it breaks. Seeking help, she reaches out to a well-known sculptor who changes her life forever. Through their alternating points of views, we slowly piece things together about what happened to Jude and Noah’s family.

I liked the ending and how things all came together. I won’t spoil it. If you hang in there til the end, it’s worth it.

I think Nelson did a good job with putting her characters in tough situations, making them do awful (arguably unforgivable) things but she still loved her characters. Some authors I think would be afraid to make their characters do such things but she lets them happen and lets the characters face the consequences.

I’d recommend this book for young adults, teenagers and especially those studying literature, writing or screenwriting. It’s good story-telling.

It doesn’t get five stars for a reason that I think is why so many other people have given it five-star reviews. The writing style. You either hate it or love it.  I found it to be distracting this time. In her previous book, I really enjoyed the style and it worked for that novel. In this one it felt forced and comical (in a bad way.) I get that it’s a unique way of writing but it’s not for everyone all the time.