TOWER CITY – A national spotlight will shine on Williams Valley School District’s after-school curriculum.
Just as the district’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program is coming off the success of its first Mini-THON event, the Vikes’ program received news that it has been selected for nationwide attention.
Superintendent Donald Burkhardt and Elementary Principal Caitlin Mohl announced at the March 13 school board meeting that Williams Valley was chosen to represent Pennsylvania as a featured Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program in a “virtual showcase” sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.
“I am honored to have been chosen for this prestigious award. It is shaping up to be quite an event,” Williams Valley Site Coordinator Susan Diegert said.
According to Diegert, a team of professional videographers was to come to Williams Valley Elementary School on Wednesday to create a video for the U.S. Department of Education for national release. This recognition is a STEM award, presented by the U.S. Department of Education to Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29, who then chose Williams Valley’s 21st CCLC as the site for a virtual showcase of STEM activities.
At Williams Valley’s CCLC program, activities are aligned to the classroom curriculum. That means instructors cover the topics in the curriculum, but in a different manner to meet the students’ needs. The after-school program is completely free and open to students, regardless of their current academic scores or progress. It’s hoped, however, that students will boost their academic scores in math, reading and science; reduce the number of discipline incidents; and improve their attendance records as a result of attending the program.
At Williams Valley Elementary, the program is open to fifth- and sixth-graders and homebound busing is provided for them every evening. The 21st CCLC program is popular – there are approximately 80 students registered for the program, which runs from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Those responsible for operating the after school curriculum include Diegert, and a staff she hand-selected, including Matt Fickinger, high school science, STEM coordinator; Kathi Welsh, junior high reading, Title I reading specialist; Kristina Miller, elementary Title I reading specialist; Wendy Hueston, assistant coordinator, all subjects, 3rd grade; Sharon Scheib, science camp coordinator, lead teacher for grades 4, 5, 6, all subjects, fourth grade; Carmen Moore, science/health, fifth grade; Mandi Jobe, U.S, history/social studies, fifth grade; LeAnn Unger, math, fifth grade; Morgan Williard, PSSA prep, grades K-6; Edie Tanner, special education, grade 4; Jen Minnich, third grade, all subjects; and Joel Guldin, instrumental/vocal music, grades 4, 5, 6-band, all other grades-vocal.
One of the more recent activities that Williams Valley’s 21st Century staff and students coordinated was the district’s first Mini-THON held March 8 in the elementary cafeteria and gym. So far, $3,686.25 was raised for the Four Diamonds Fund at the Children’s Hospital of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Diegert and Michael Leiter Sr., Tower City, presented the request to host the event to the school board and it was approved. The district will submit its donations in memory of the late Michael Leiter Jr.
Leiter’s son, Michael, 19, died after being diagnosed with liver cancer.
Leiter and his wife, Christy, assisted at the Mini-THON.
“I’d like it to be an annual event because I benefitted from it and I’d love for it to grow,” Leiter said. “It’s been seven years since Michael passed away.”
“One of the things I like about the Four Diamonds Fund is that you know where the funds go,” he said.
Students purchased T-shirts for a $10 donation to the Mini-THON, collected dimes and had an opportunity to earn raffle prizes. Students could dance in the cafeteria, or gymnasium, and time-slots for participating were based on grade-level. Disc jockey Melanie Yeager donated her time to spin the tunes.
Jennifer Miller, Tower City, joined in the Mini-THON with her son, Rayce, 8.
“He really likes to dance,” she said, noting her son had special needs, was premature and doctors thought he may never walk. “He’s an amazing, little guy. He just wanted to help others.”
A crowd of peers gathered by Rayce, while he glided across the floor to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.
School board Director Christopher Stroup brought his daughter, Madilyn, 9, and twins, Ella and Emma, 7, to show support.
“I think this was a nice way to get the kids involved, and Mr. Leiter and Mrs. Diegert deserve the credit for putting this together,” Stroup, Williamstown, said.
Diegert delivered 161 new teddy bears and other assorted stuffed animals to the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House. She was assisted by her daughters, Lauren Beaston and Morgan Diegert, a freshman at Williams Valley, and her friend, Tianna Yanoscak, a Williams Valley 10th-grader.
“Both locations were very grateful to receive the donations and thanked us for thinking of them and the children,” Diegert said.
Diegert reports she’s still in the process of finalizing a grand total for the Four Diamonds donation.
“We can collect through May first, and we have two additional fundraisers going on now,” she said.
Volunteers will be taking orders for $10 ticket vouchers to any future Harrisburg Senators game or for their Mini-THON night on April 25. For each voucher purchased, the Senators will give a $4 donation to the Four Diamonds Fund.
Williams Valley is also running a Scentsy Buddy Sale through Karestin Davis, Tower City. Anyone can purchase a Scentsy Buddy animal to be donated and receive a free scent pack of their choice. For every Buddy purchased, Karestin will give a $5 donation to the Four Diamonds Fund, also through the Williams Valley Mini-THON. Anyone who is interested in either Senators tickets or Scentsy bears may contact Diegert at email@example.com.