BROOKSVILLE — West Hernando Middle School can now boast of a new courtyard, built and decorated by sixth-graders.
One side of the newly bricked area is separated from a walkway by a wall. Mounted on the courtyard side of that wall, near a giant peace sign, are paintings.
Geography teacher Kevin McMann's sixth-graders recreated paintings by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Klee and Joan Miró i Ferrà as mosaics, with the help of some of Debbie Kelly's art students. .
The side of the wall facing the walkway was painted in '60s style by students from Meagan Woods' graphic arts class. The courtyard is flanked by palms, flower beds and benches. There is also a fountain.
The whole project was dedicated April 16 in front of students, administrators and guests. Wayne Raymond's band and Morgan Burburan's chorus entertained.
Four sixth-graders, Bowin Paterson, Courtney Davis, Amanda Robbins and Donte Rice, gave speeches. Donte's included thanks to the students, administrators and donors who supported the project.
Donors were Cornerstone Tree Farm, Pro Line Tile, Sherwood Forest Nursery, the School Advisory Council and a minigrant from the Hernando County Education Foundation.
• The school's Rock Hounds Club had an Easter hunt recently, giving students a chance to find plastic eggs filled with gems and minerals. The group, advised by sixth-grade social studies teacher Danie Thornton, 37, is new this year. It came about because of Thornton's own interest in rocks, which began when she was a little girl.
Thornton has some specimens on her desk, and students would ask her about them. She decided to form the group as a way to help them learn the rock cycle and rock identification. There are about 20 members, and they have been meeting every other Wednesday since January.
Many of the gems and minerals found in the hunt were donated by the Withlacoochee Rock Hound Club.
The students answered questions to earn their turns to search the classrooms for the gem-filled eggs. Each student was allowed to find four eggs. More eggs were available for correct bonus question answers.
Special Moton class receives three grants
BROOKSVILLE — Susan Moglia's special needs class at Moton Elementary School received three grants this year: $1,000 from the Wal-Mart Distribution Community Program, $800 from the Target Field Trip Grant and $500 from the Hernando County Mini-Grant Program sponsored by Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union.
The grant money has been used to fund community-based trips each month throughout the school year.
The purpose of these trips is to allow students ages 5-11 to go out in their community to develop skills that will allow them more social interaction. The outings include going to the movies, participating in arts and crafts, buffet luncheons, and bowling.
These students do not learn skills of this kind on a level equal with children of their age group. Many people learn functional life activities incidentally, but this is not the case with these special needs students.
Teaching leisure and productive activities in the classroom are not the same as teaching in real, functional life. These students do not learn community skills in an incidental way. There is a need to teach these skills directly and intentionally.
Community skills let students function at a greater potential in their world. This program also incorporates mainstream students in a program called Buddies, who work with and appreciate people in spite of their physical and mental disabilities.
Special needs students benefit from the mainstream, age-appropriate students teaching basic academic skills, aiding in their physical therapy and building self-esteem. They escort the students to class and to other activities each day.
All students help the community learn about patience, positive attitude, and determination. All students challenge the community with creativity, problem-solving abilities, reasoning skills, individual responsibility, self-management, ability to learn, and integrity.
The grants have allowed the students to take community-based trips to local establishments: Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, the Beacon Theater, the Hernando County Library, Lowe's, the Home Depot, Weeki Wachee Springs, Spring Hill Lanes and Michael's Arts and Crafts. After each trip the children stopped at local restaurants, which the grants helped support, including McDonald's, CiCi's Pizza and Sonny's Barbecue.
Two of the class' special contributors are Golden Corral of Brooksville and Papa Joe's Italian Restaurant. Both have donated and cooked food on campus for the students, and has invited them to the restaurants. A trip to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa is planned.
Kids Foundation gets credit union grant
BROOKSVILLE — Suncoast for Kids Foundation, funded by Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union, has awarded the Hernando County Education Foundation $49,500, the organization's largest grant ever.
The money will fund programs that include an expansion of mini-grants, the Special Needs Assistance program, HEART Literacy, the Turn-Around Student Celebration, four scholarships for certification testing for the Career Academies, and the Consortium of Florida Education Foundation's Marvelous Matching grant program.
The Mini Grant Program started 10 years ago for Hernando County teachers who apply for them in the spring and fall. The foundation has awarded teachers approximately $200,000, providing the tools to create special projects customized specifically for their individual classrooms and students.
The grant dollars were generated through Suncoast Schools FCU's Rewards Check Card program. Five cents is donated to the foundation each time a member who lives in Hernando County uses the check card and signs for the purchase. This ongoing program operates in every county in which Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union serves its members.