News 11/8/13

By Vincent Gallegos

News Editor

The Sierra Schools Foundation awarded $9,858 in grant projects to four different recipients last spring for use during the summer and fall semester. The recipients include Janet McHenry, Kim McKinney, Megan Meschery, Pat Doyle and Laura Calabrese, all teachers in the SPJUSD. All who applied for grants in the spring cycle were given the grants for which they applied.

A total of $1,708 was given to McHenry and McKinney to conduct a three-day SAT preparatory workshop.

McHenry said, “Some of the grant went to the purchase of 32 SAT prep books. The rest went towards paying for the time spent in the workshops.

“The workshops worked out great. We had fourteen students go to one or more workshops.”

Several anonymous students also had comments in a survey about the workshops.

“It really helped me know how to put an organized story together in a small amount of time.”

“Mrs. McKinney simplified things and gave us example problems to work on.”

“It was good and helped more than I thought.”

Positive student and teacher feedback suggest that the $1,708 was very appreciated.

Meschery was awarded a $7,000 grant to fully fund a digital media library and after- school film program. The money went towards buying new high quality cameras, sound equipment, lighting and film processing programs. As a result, there is now a functioning after-school film and news broadcasting program that several students are a part of.

Meschery said, “Some kids were saying that they were interested in filming, so I decided to up the bar. Some people from the Bay Area Video and Arts Coalition guided me toward what equipment to buy. The program is meant to give students an alternative activity to do after school if they want.”

Two seniors, Brenton Kludt and Matt Tennison, have even made the film casting program their senior projects.

Calabrese received a $650 grant for a yearbook training and summer institute. The participants of this training camp were Danica Gressel and Cheyenne Little.

Gressel said, “The camp trained us in how to make the yearbook look better. It benefited our skills and use of the editing website.”

Calabrese said, “The grant was simple to apply, and I was encouraged to do so. The training was needed because the technical aspect of making a yearbook is amplified. I don’t have the expertise personally, so additional training was needed for this and next year’s editors. The camp also encouraged creativity and lessons as to how to make the yearbook better.”

Doyle received $500 to fully fund a Yuba River Riparian classroom. This program is meant to combine classroom learning of ecology with a field research program in the Sierra Valley.

Doyle said, “We have such a nice area, but we don’t utilize it.”

The classroom will educate elementary students about plant and animal life, while giving them a different perspective about the environment. The $500 is simply the seed money, Doyle said. He reported that it will go to any expenses for travel or research that may develop.

All of the grants were a part of the Roots & Boots initiative. This initiative is a grant program designed to fund the “roots” or rural landscape and facilities, as well as the “boots” or skills and training students need to succeed in their endeavors. Each grant is categorized as either Roots or Boots. Any training program or educational opportunity is a Boots fund, and any facility improvement or landscaping improvement is a Roots fund.

The 2013 winter grant cycle is now open for application. All teachers and site administrators may apply for grants. All with ideas that need support are highly encouraged to apply for the grants. Nearly all who received grants in the last cycle claimed that the process was quite simple. The deadline is Dec. 9.

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