It was a familiar sound this winter: the early morning phone call announcing school was closed due to snow. For some, the call prompted a few more hours of sleep, but for the men and women of the Governor Mifflin Buildings and Grounds staff, it was a call to action. The staff spent many long days removing snow and ice from the sidewalks and streets around the district. For all of their efforts, we say THANK YOU!
IMPORTANT CALENDAR CHANGES
Due to the abundance of snow days this winter, several amendments have been made to the Governor Mifflin School District calendar for the 2013-2014 school year:
April 16-17: Snow make-up days - School in session
April 22: Snow make-up day - School in session
June 9-13: Snow make-up days - School in session
June 13: Last day of school for students
June 14: Commencement
IN THE NEWS
"Addiction does not discriminate"The increasing use of heroin and its effects have made it into the local headlines lately. Aware of this dangerous trend, high school health and physical education teachers wanted to make sure students received a more personal message about the risks involved with drug use. So for two days, representatives from the Council on Chemical Abuse (CoCA) visited high school health classes to provide an honest and open discussion about the dangers of heroin and other drugs, as well as the overall effects of addiction.
Students and staff hear strong message about drug use
"Addiction does not discriminate," Paige Carroll, a prevention specialist with CoCA, told one class. "Whether we have a good home life, if we don't have some outlets to use when we're stressed or have things going on, there's a great chance we'll turn to drugs and alcohol to escape."
Carroll also explained that those who start using drugs prior to age 15 are five times more likely to develop a dependance later in life than those who start using drugs after the age of 21.
With so much recent emphasis on the growing use of heroin locally and its devastating effects, the conversation over the two days tended to revert back to the topic of heroin. According to the Berks County District Attorney's Office the number of heroin-related deaths has quadrupled locally over the past five years.
"No one starts with heroin. Other drugs lead to heroin," Carroll explained.
The two-day event also drew 30 faculty, staff and administrators, who joined students in asking questions and sharing stories.
"We had a lot of teacher support for this event," said Mary Cochran, a physical education teacher. "It was great to see staff take time to sit in on a class and inform themselves. We've also heard a lot of positive feedback from students and even had students share personal stories of friends or relatives who have battled addiction."
The conversation is just beginning. The CoCA presentation marks the beginning of the drug and alcohol unit in health classes.
"I'm hoping students can realize addiction can happen to anyone," said Cochran. "And they don't have to sit back and watch their friends do this. They can help."
Students Help Unlock District History Mystery
fifth grade students at Governor Mifflin Intermediate School took on the task
of deciphering documents signed by the school districtís namesake, Governor Thomas
Mifflin. The documents, both in aged
frames and both dating back to the 1700ís, had been discovered on the Governor
Mifflin campus. Governor Mifflin
Superintendent Dr. Daniel Bulinski challenged students at the Intermediate
School to trace the history of the paperwork and students in Sara Eastmanís
Gifted Education Program accepted the challenge.
Students began by translating and transposing the text of the documents and then highlighting key names and details. As the classes uncovered specific information, they expanded their research to the Internet and then across Pennsylvania, seeking help from the Jefferson County Historic Society. Students identified one of the documents as a land grant for what is now part of Jefferson County near Punxsutawney. Through more local resources, students discovered the second document was a land grant for 242 acres in what is now part of Greenwich Township, Berks County for an area once known as Kistlerburgh. The classes also traced the signatures of Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Mifflin and found he signed both documents because there was no county authority to do so at that time.
Throughout the project, participating students were in three separate classes. They used Google Docs and a shared website to collaborate and communicate updates and findings.
"This project was truly a challenge for me and the students," said Eastman. "Not only did students learn about these documents and some of the history of our state, but this type of research demanded they apply key 21st Century critical-thinking skills and significant communications skills to work together across the different class periods."
The students presented their findings to Dr. Bulinski and members of the media in March. Following their presentation, they received feedback and additional information from the community. They will present their findings and new information to the School Board at the meeting on May 5.
Water Polo Players Make a Splash at Regional Competition
Two Governor Mifflin Water Polo players are California-bound after being chosen for the National Water Polo Team Selection Camp. Juniors Emily Argentati and eighth grader Sarah Wentling were selected for the camp after participating in the USA Olympic Development Water Polo Regional Championships in Salt Lake City, UT in March. Juniors Argentati, Sarah Limanni and Morgan McMahon competed as part of the Northeast Zone team, which took second place in the championship. National coaches evaluated the players during games and chose 70 athletes from each age group to move onto the National Team Selection Camp.
Eighth grade students Malia Naugle, Cecelia Weiss and Sarah Wentling also competed in Salt Lake City. Their Northeast Zone team took first place.
The National Team Selection Camp in California is a stepping stone to the USA Water Polo Team. Of those attending the camp, including Argentati and Wentling, 28 athletes will be chosen for the national team.
World Down Syndrome Awareness
Mismatched and colorful socks were the style du jour on March 21 as the District marked World Down Syndrome Awareness Day. Each Governor Mifflin school encouraged students to wear crazy and unique socks to coincide with the World Down Syndrome Day "LOTS OF SOCKS" Campaign.
The day of Down Syndrome Awareness was prompted by a suggestion from Colleen Rodriguez whose twin daughters, Amber and Meghan, attend Brecknock Elementary. Amber has Down Syndrome. In addition to colorful socks in support of the day, Reach for the Stars provided each elementary school with a copy of the book High Fives and a Big Heart, a book written by elementary school children about having a friend with a disability. Mrs. Rodriguez read the book to kindergarten students at Brecknock and then answered questions about Down Syndrome.
Readers Go for the GoldFirst it was Sochi, now Governor Mifflin is preparing to host the Olympics. The 16th Annual Berks County Middle School Reading Olympics will be held at Governor Mifflin High School on April 23. More than 600 students are expected to compete in the event, sponsored by the Berks County School Librarians Association.
Teams of students at Governor Mifflin and across Berks County have been preparing for the competition for the past several months, reading books from a designated list. During the event, students will go through three rounds of competition where they will be quizzed on a variety of information from the books. The winning school will receive a banner to display in their school for one year.
This is the first year Governor Mifflin will host the event. The Middle School Parent Advisory Council will provide support for the Reading Olympics and dinner for the students will be provided by Dairy Queen of Kenhorst.
Volleyball Games Spiked in March
March Madness at Mifflin involved just one net of the volleyball variety. Winter blues were banished by boisterous volleyball units in high school and middle school gym classes. Fundamentals were followed by competitive games that lead up to two highly anticipated showdowns between students and faculty.
At the Middle School, the seventh grade All-Star team made history with the first win against the faculty in the tournament's history. The Middle School faculty team fought back against the eighth grade team and were able to eek out a victory.
At the High School, the student All-Star team remained competitive throughout the game. A last-minute play at the buzzer clinched the game for the faculty team by one point.
"March Meltness" Sweeps the High School
Students in Mrs. Jan Jack's Pro Foods Class put the "Mmmmm..." in March with a menu of regional American cuisine for faculty and staff at the high school. The March Meltness luncheon offered a menu of culinary creations representing all corners of the U.S. For a small donation, faculty and staff were invited to sample student-prepared dishes, including Southwest Chicken Tortilla Pie, Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes and Jambalayah. Proceeds from the event were donated to the Greater Berks Food Bank.
Cumru to Host Walk for Angelman Syndrome
On Saturday, May 17 Cumru Elementary School will host the annual Angelman Foundation Syndrome Walk. The event, which helps raise money and awareness for those with Angelman Syndrome, is part of a national effort, which raised more than $1 million for the cause in 2013. The event is a labor of love for students, staff and families at Cumru Elementary as second grade student Aiden Peppers has Angelman Syndrome. Aiden and his family will participate in the walk.
The Angelman Syndrome Foundation is the largest organization dedicated to funding research for this specific neuro-genetic disorder. One in every 15,000 children born are diagnosed with Angleman Syndrome. Symptoms of the disorder include developmental delay, lack of speech, seizures, inappropriate laughter and walking and balance disorders.
Registration for the Angelman Syndrome Foundation Walk at Cumru Elementary begins at 8:00 a.m. on May 17. The walk will begin at
9:00 a.m. Those interested in joining the event may register at www.angelman.org.
SCHOOL BOARD UPDATE
District Reaches Agreement with AFSCME
Later this month, the School Board is poised to approve a two-year contract agreement with the union representing the district's 211 clerical staff, custodians and paraprofessionals. The agreement between AFSCME Local 1332 and the district will take effect July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2016.
At the April Work Session of the Board, board member Jill Koestel commended AFSCME and those involved with the negotiation process.
"Lisa [Peterson] and I were present for all of the meetings and they went extremely well," Koestel said.
The agreement includes the addition of Easter Thursday as an additional paid holiday for 10- and 12-month full-time staff, provided students are not in session on that day. AFSCME employees will also receive a 40-cent per hour salary increase effective July 1, 2014. They will receive a subsequent increase of 32-cents per hour beginning September 1, 2015.
The agreement also alters the health care plan provided to AFSCME employees. Beginning July 1, 2014, any AFSCME employee hired after this date will only receive single coverage from the district with the option to purchase coverage for dependents. Additionally, AFSCME employees whose spouses have access to medical insurance through his or her employer, will no longer be eligible for coverage under the Governor Mifflin plan.
The AFSCME representatives came to us with an understanding of the impact of the increasing cost of health care and offered compromises while keeping the best interests of our district at the forefront," said Mark Naylon, Business Manager.
Budget Meeting Added in May
As the School Board prepares to pass a 2015-2016 spending plan, the Board will hold an additional budget meeting on Monday, May 12.
Earlier this month, Business Manager Mark Naylon presented board members with updated budget information to reflect more definite savings through retirement and state subsidies. The current version of the budget includes a .63 mill tax increase, down from the 1.4 mill increase the board approved for the preliminary budget in February.At the meeting on May 12, the board is expected to further discuss the potential reduction of positions at the high school and elementary level through attrition. They will also examine the need for additional positions for speech therapy and administrative support at the Intermediate School.
The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Governor Mifflin Education Center and is open to the public.
For a complete listing of upcoming events and details, please click here.
4/9-4/10 - Brecknock Open House, Book Fair & Art Show
4/9/-4/10 - Cumru Open House, Book Fair & Art Show
4/9 - Football Club Meeting
4/10 - Mifflin Park PTO Meeting
4/11 - Student Council Leadership Banquet
4/12 - ACT Exam
4/15 - GMMA Meeting
4/16 - Cumru PTO Meeting
4/16 - High School Booster Club Meeting
4/17 - Cumru PAC Meeting
4/18 - No School
4/21 - No School
4/24 - National French Honor Society Induction
4/26 - Mifflin Park Eco-Fest
4/27 - High School Honor Society Induction
4/29 - GMIS PTO Meeting