Munson Unites for Autism Acceptance
Munson Elementary students and staff are banding together in unity events to demonstrate their solidarity and support for Autism Acceptance Month.
Earlier this year, the Autism Society of America announced that it is shifting away from an awareness theme for the month of April to one of acceptance to better foster change and inclusivity for those affected by autism.
In support of this important cause, Chardon art teacher Beth Stickley led a collaborative project with each of her classes and all staff members at Munson Elementary, a one school, one project endeavor she had initially been looking forward to implementing in spring 2020. The dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of Ohio school buildings at that time, thereby prompting a postponement of the art project until 2021.
Mrs. Stickley’s vision came to fruition just last month with each and every student and staff member in the building having the opportunity to decorate an individually cut, eight-inch, paper puzzle piece using markers, crayons, colored pencils and embellishments. In addition, students viewed age-appropriate educational videos to learn more about autism.
Educational assistant Jane Marcotte and Catlain Stumph thoughtfully took on the task of piecing together the students’ and staff members’ finalized puzzle pieces — applying and “connecting” the pieces directly on a wall of the school’s main hallway to produce an impressive, finished project titled Individually Unique.
“We created a wall of puzzle pieces to show that we are all different, but we fit together like a puzzle,” explained Jill Kellogg who serves as an intervention specialist at the school.
In addition, Munson Elementary deemed April 8 as “Light it Up Blue Day” with all students encouraged to wear the color blue that day — a color thought to symbolize hope — while staff members donned blue t-shirts with the words “Be a Hilltopper, Be Kind, Be Brave, Be You”.
Trusted Adult Workshop
Exhibiting tremendous initiative, Chardon High School students Allison Reed, Jeremy Kosir and Jacob Stephans presented the Sandy Hook Promise — Being a Trusted Adult interactive training workshop to CHS staff during the school’s faculty meeting conducted virtually on March 10.
The training is designed as a reinforcing workshop to further help staff recognize the key role they play in being available for students to come to them with any concern — be it about the student themselves or a friend.
“For me, I got involved because I saw a similar idea in a book I was reading and thought that our school could really benefit from it,” shared Reed who is a sophomore at CHS. “I had seen around the school that the students were really stressed about many different things in their life and they had felt they didn’t know how to start the conversation with teachers. Having a connection with teachers and knowing where to begin the conversation was the part that we all needed help with.”
Kosir, also a sophomore, said he was glad for the opportunity to present and sees room for doing even more. Stephans, a senior, echoed that sentiment.
“These kinds of initiatives are so important to creating a better school climate,” added CHS senior Stephans. “And I hope we continue these kinds of programs after I leave this year.”
Forensic and Literary Course Success
With gratitude to non-profit Chardon Schools Foundation for its generous funding support, Chardon High School’s new Forensic Science and Literary Crime Drama course, a multi-disciplinary offering launched in fall 2020, has been having a successful school year, equipped with the needed lab tools for students to create and reenact simulated, realistic crime scenarios and investigations and use their analytical and imaginative skills to develop a forensic crime drama of their own.
Led by science teacher Jill Carpenter and English language arts teacher Holly Mihalek, students study criminal investigations through the lens of scientific, literary and theatrical concepts, exploring criminal historical contexts and the nature of good versus evil within a literary experience. Major topics include processing a crime scene, collecting and preserving evidence, and identifying different types of evidence such as hair, fibers, blood, DNA and fingerprints.
Among this year’s projects was a blood spatter lab as a followup to the class’ study of the true crime case involving Sam Sheppard.
“The blood splatter lab was one of my favorite activities this year,” said CHS junior Theo Jons. “We were creating blood crime scenes and analyzing blood patterns. Once you know what to look for, it’s not that hard. The materials are great if you’re into science or true crime drama.”
Mrs. Peine Dishes on Scoreboard Joys
For decades and counting, Mrs. Tammy Peine has been dedicated to the district’s food service department by day — currently serving as lead cook at Park Elementary. By night, she is the master of the athletics scoreboards for both Chardon Middle School and Chardon High School — covering the volleyball, football and basketball seasons for six different grade levels.
“I have been in the school food service department for 29 years so I am there from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., run home, and am back at the schools at 4 p.m. for scoreboards,” said Mrs. Peine. “I have been doing this (scoreboards) for 23 years now. Wow does time fly. I have been doing this for so many years that I am now running scoreboards for the kids of some of the athletes I ran scoreboard for in my first ten years.”
Between the two schools and all their games, in a traditional, non-pandemic year it is not unusual for Mrs. Peine to be operating a Chardon scoreboard five to six nights per week during the fall and winter athletics seasons.
“I get so much enjoyment watching these young athletes grow and improve over the years,” added Peine. “I come to think of them as family and even shed tears on senior night when I realize I won’t see them play after six years of watching them.”