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Southern Local School District

Southern Local School District
SLJHS Sprouts Hydroponics Project
Posted 2/20/2024 at 11:28:50 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SLJHS Hydroponics
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local Jr. High School students are growing more knowledgeable about soilless planting through a new hydroponics project.
   Seventh-graders in Amanda Wrobleski’s science class are cultivating butterhead lettuce in a newly acquired system in the classroom. Wrobleski funded the project with a $660 Best Practice Grant from the Jefferson County Educational Service Center as well as some assistance from the school district. She said she chose the project because it can be completed year-round in a soilless system, unlike traditional planting which usually occurs outdoors. Her own personal interest in gardening sprouted the idea and she jumped at the opportunity when it became available this fall.
   “I wondered how to extend the growing season and decided on hydroponics,” she explained. 
    The equipment, which was provided by Crop King of Lodi, Ohio, arrived during the holiday break and efforts began in January to grow the seeds.
   The seeds were planted in rockwool cubes made from heated basalt rock and placed in the hydroponics system, which then feeds distilled water and liquid nutrients including hydroponic fertilizer and calcium nitrate. Students separated the rockwool and began growing the plants in rows. A total of 36 butterhead lettuce plants have taken root and the pupils are keeping close tabs on the germination process. Wrobleski continued that it was a new and exciting way to learn.
   “We plan on harvesting the lettuce and enjoying it with a celebration of the harvest in about two months,” she added. “Each student planted a seed and we’re really excited.”
   Her 42 students are also responsible for testing the pH level of the water and adjusting it accordingly so the plants flourish, plus they must replace and clean the 30-gallon reservoir at the base of the tank every two to three weeks.
  “Every day they see a little more progress. It gives them a reason to have fun and a little excitement,” Wrobleski said. “I’m also learning along with the students. It’s new and the kids are having fun with it.”
(Photo Caption: Seventh-graders at Southern Local Jr. High are learning about hydroponics by growing butterhead lettuce in a recently acquired system. Pictured are students, from left, Nathan Hawkins, Bryton Beadle, April Beadnell, Katie Kellogg, Addysin Andrenok and Elaina Forbes looking on at the new sprouts.)
Southern Earns Grant Funds to Aid At-Risk Students
Posted 2/16/2024 at 3:40:01 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-The Southern Local School District has obtained $20,000 to help at-risk students bolster their learning skills.
   During the Feb. 13 regular school board session, officials announced that Southern Local Elementary and Southern Local Jr./Sr. High Schools each gained $10,000 allocations from the Acellus online program to focus on students in grades K-12 in need of intervention.
   SLES Principal Emily Brinker said she and Assistant Principal Jordan Wrask will work with teachers in their building to decide who can benefit from the program.
   “We received a $10,000 grant for intervention through this online instructional program and we will add 12 students once we discuss more with staff,” Brinker said. “It’s online and geared toward an intervention instructional plan.”
   She and Wrask took part in a zoom meeting to learn more about it and said they will speak with teachers about which students would qualify. Wrask said it is based on an algorithm and elementary students will work on core subjects, but plans are still in their infancy. 
    “Each of the kids take an assessment and it’s geared toward their level of learning,” he added.
   “We hope to implement it soon and will work to identify the kids,” Brinker continued. “Once we do that, we can [start the program] as quickly as possible.”
    Brinker hoped to begin by the end of this month.
   Superintendent Tom Cunningham said the junior-senior high school earned the same amount to assist some of its students so they can thrive.
   “We received a $10,000 grant for the elementary school and the high school also received it to help grades 7-12,” he added. “Hopefully it goes well. It is computer-based and students need intervention at certain levels. They will be assigned work to do at their own pace.”
   In other grant news, Cunningham said the Jefferson County Educational Service Center obtained a driver’s education grant which would place an instructor and also a potential vehicle at SLHS. He added that the Columbiana County ESC was also seeking grant funds help students cover driver’s ed costs. 
  Among other matters:
--Southern Local Teachers Association President Ryan Smith thanked the board for contributing an extra $200 to the employees’ health savings accounts to assist with rising insurance costs;
--The board approved two-year calendars for 2024-25 and 2025-26. Cunningham explained officials worked with the SLTA and OAPSE members to finalize the calendars and it also assisted the Ohio Department of Transportation so projects would not impact school terms;
--Brinker said four fifth-graders participated in the district spelling bee on Feb. 7 including Brooke Akers, Brooklyn Glosser, Patricia Smith and Sophia Pierson. She added that her building was also implementing new Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) rewards by connecting the school building with transportation. Students who show positive character traits receive pom-pom balls to fill their classroom jars and earn a reward. Other SLES news included an Easter candy sale which produced a $4,000 profit increase for classroom activities, rewards and field trips; another visit from educational consultant Carri Meek to discuss strategies targeting issues that impact student learning; and a Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser to benefit the American Heart Association. A $2,500 goal has been set and if met, students will enjoy a picnic this spring while officials will dress as characters from the movie “Monsters, Inc.”;
--SLHS Principal Rich Wright said junior high science teacher Amanda Wrobleski obtained a grant through King Arthur Baking Co. for a springtime project. Each student will receive flour and other supplies to bake a loaf of bread that will be given to someone as a gesture of kindness. He added that Wrobleski’s hydroponics program is also successfully growing lettuce and should be ready in a few months. Other high school news included an upcoming PBIS event, SAT testing on Feb. 27 and students with entries in the Columbiana County Art Show on Feb. 27;
--The board also approved a series of personnel matters, including the resignation of Kyler Woodward as a paraprofessional; the hiring of substitutes Natasha Grim as teacher and secretary, Melissa Dugan as cafeteria, secretary, paraprofessional and teacher, Ernanie Black and Patty Bailey as cafeteria and custodians and Jennifer Timms as teacher; a one-year contract for Carla Phenicie as a three-hour cafeteria worker; the hiring of Brent Boyle as a softball coach for the 2023-24 school year; and the approval of Jan Palmer as a three-hour student monitor;
--Cunningham said he reached out to the county Veterans Service Office to do signup days for seniors planning to enlist in the military while social media personality Jordan Toma was speaking at SLHS on March 21;
--Athletic Director Bob Shansky said there was a move to create seven divisions in each sport next year, which may put volleyball in Division VI;
--Leaders approved a $1,634 contribution to the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding;
--The next regular meeting was set for March 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the SLHS Media Center.
Southern Local Kindergarteners Learn Kindness
Posted 2/9/2024 at 10:27:32 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SLES Aiming HIgh
SALINEVILLE-The Family Recovery Center put the “kind” in kindergarten as the Aiming High program kicked off for February.
   Lauren DeMarco, prevention educator for grades K-2 at the Lisbon-based organization, is making weekly visits to the classrooms to speak to students on social-emotional topics including bullying and self-esteem. She stopped by Feb. 9 to address kindness and read the book, “How Full is Your Bucket?”
   The book centers on a little boy who learns that each person has an invisible bucket that carries their feelings, and the happier they are the fuller the bucket. He then realizes that being nice to others his own bucket is filled. DeMarco also completed a project with the class in which they identified illustrations of people being kind and unkind, such as sharing or arguing. She explained to the children that while their teacher educates them on reading, writing and math, her job was to discuss social-emotional issues.
  “I will be back for three more lessons,” she said. “We also talk about communication, self-esteem and emotions.”
  DeMarco shares lessons at elementary schools throughout Columbiana County and said she and colleague Ashley McLaughlin have also spoken to grades 1-4 at Southern during the fall.
  “Each grade gets a specific lesson in social-emotional skills. There are four 30-minute sessions,” she added. “It’s really tailored to the grades and we usually have a book [in kindergarten] that correlates with the subject.”
   The Aiming High program is funded by the Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. It has been held at area schools, including Southern, for more than two decades.

(Photo Caption: Lauren DeMarco, prevention educator for the Family Recovery Center of Lisbon, is meeting with kindergarteners at Southern Local Elementary to discuss social-emotional topics such as self-esteem and emotions. She is pictured here reading to students about the importance of being kind as little Ava Smith looks on.)
Contracts Approved at Southern
Posted 11/17/2023 at 2:33:02 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-Contracts were approved for staff and administrators during the Southern Local school board meeting on Nov. 14.
   Officials agreed to extend five-year pacts for district Treasurer Greg Sabbato, EMIS Coordinator Whitney Tsesmilles and administrative secretary Tammy Phillips while Southern Local Elementary Principal Emily Brinker’s agreement was amended to reflect pay levels across Columbiana County school districts.
   Board President Kip Dowling praised Sabbato for his work over the last decade, which included operating within a staff wage freeze over the last few years.
   “Greg does a phenomenal job for the school district,” Dowling said. “It’s been three years since he’s had an increase.”
   “Greg has done a fantastic job with the district’s finances and I appreciate our working relationship and collaboration,” added Superintendent Tom Cunningham. “He’s very deserving of a five-year contract.”
   Sabbato has been part of Southern Local for a total of 13 years, with about four spent as a substitute teacher then faculty member prior to holding his current post. Meanwhile, Cunningham recognized Tsesmilles and Phillips, who have respectively served the district for eight and 26 years, for their dedication to the schools.
   “Whitney and Tammy both have been great employees for a number of years and it’s nice to award their contracts for their hard work in the district.”
   Sabbato also noted Tsesmilles’ assistance with the EMIS program, saying it has effectively brought funding to the district for operations and educational programming.
   Regarding Brinker’s amended deal, officials said the move simply brought her salary in line with other administrators throughout the county.
   In other personnel matters, the board approved substitute teachers Abigail Cline, Steven Treadway, Ryan Koontz and Amanda Vernon, nurse Rebecca Frischkorn, paraprofessional Natasha Grim and cafeteria worker/secretary Meeghin Sloan for the 2023-24 school year; rescinded Athletic Director Bob Shansky’s previously approved contract for a technicality because the new union agreement did not include the post, but there is no change to the job; approved a one-year contract for Tiffani McAfee as a three-hour elementary cafeteria worker; approved staffing agreements for E-Rate Coordinator Marjorie Hiller, technology representative Bobby Westover and certified health workers Paige Compton and Jayce Sloan at the Utica Shale Academy; named Aiden and Brian Spahlinger assistant varsity football coaches for the 2023-24 school year; gave supplemental contracts to Greg Sabbato and Julie Dowling for MCTA services and an amended contract for Tammy Phillips, all for USA; awarded a supplemental contract for Julie Dowling for inputting requisitions for the current school year; and approved a stipend for SLHS Guidance Counselor Kenadee Pezzano for work while counselor Alannah Smith is on leave.
   Leaders also approved the pending retirement of longtime SLES Guidance Counselor Larry Rudloff at the end of the school year after 49 years of service, saying he has been highly respected and will be greatly missed. Officials also accepted the resignation of paraprofessional Sharon Skeens effective Oct. 23.
   In other matters:
--Highlandtown Fire Chief Jeremiah Cole informed the board of the need for some updated permits and procedures in light of a recent boiler system installation, namely a new carbon dioxide detector. Cole said he approved a temporary plug until a permanent one was installed and also discussed shutoffs and lockdown devices around the campus. He also mentioned options for the empty fuel tank onsite, including removal or being cleaned, filled with sand or related substances, but the state fire marshal would need contacted in either case.
--Agreements were approved with K Company and Greiner for ongoing services with technical support and maintenance of HVAC and water treatment, respectively.
--Brinker told the board the recent Special Person’s Breakfast event was successful and more are planned for the spring, while upcoming events include a Santa’s Workshop the week of Dec. 4 and the annual Christmas Parade on Dec. 8 from 5-7 p.m. 
--SLHS Principal Rich Wright announced juniors were taking the ASVAB test and Eastern Gateway Community College and Kent State University would hold College Credit Plus registration events. He added that the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports award was a trip to the Tri-State Bowling Alley on Nov. 30 and state testing would start Dec. 15. Wright added that character-building programs such as Anti-Virus and Aiming High were also set in the schools with sessions through the spring.
--Ron Sismondo, director of curriculum and professional development at the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, presented three $660 Best Practice Grants to SLES teacher Katie Forbes and SLHS educators Amanda Wrobleski and Lori Biser for their innovative programs.
--The next regular session was set for Dec. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the SLHS Media Center. 
Southern Local Teachers Awarded Grants
Posted 11/15/2023 at 1:59:51 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
Southern BPG
SALINEVILLE-The Jefferson County Educational Service Center presented three teachers in the Southern Local School District with 2023 Best Practice Grants to expound upon learning in their classrooms.
   Ron Sismondo, JCESC director of curriculum and professional development, awarded Southern Local Jr./Sr. High School teachers Lori Biser and Amanda Wrobleski and Southern Local Elementary teacher Katie Forbes $660 each for their ideas to enhance education during the Southern Local Board of Education meeting on Nov. 14.
   Biser’s 35 math students will benefit from her project, “Problem-Based Learning for Algebra 2,” which implements a problem-based curriculum from Math Media in her classes. She said learning method and activities will promote the development of students’ critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities and communication skills that are imperative to 21st Century education.
   “Their problem-based curriculum utilizes the ‘experience first, formalize later’ approach. Additionally, I plan to incorporate hands-on activities from All Things Algebra as student practice of the mathematical content being taught,” she added, saying this was her first Best Practice Grant award. “I am excited to have been selected to receive this grant and to try something new in my classroom.”
   Wrobleski’s project, “Hydroponics Gardening,” will benefit between 40-155 science students by helping them understand the growing process. She said her seventh-grade pupils will establish a hydroponic gardening system in the classroom to also encourage sustainability and biodiversity. Activities will include germinating seeds, creating the hydroponic system and experiencing the growth of edible plants.  
   “The hydroponics system will benefit my seventh-grade science students,” she said, adding this also was her first grant from the JCESC. “When I found out that I received the Best Practice Grant, I was both ecstatic and grateful.  My goal with the hydroponic system is to ignite learning and curiosity in this alternative planting method.”
   Forbes will implement “Early Literacy Intervention” to aid 130 Language Arts students at SLES. Her goal is to utilize the early literacy intervention space in the kindergarten and first-grade Title/intervention classrooms and provide multiple learning modalities of phonics and phonemic awareness activities and interventions for students.
   “These interventions will be utilized and offered to students who qualify for Tier II and Tier III interventions based on students' benchmark, screening and/or progress monitoring data analyzed throughout the school year,” she continued. “Any student who may require extra support throughout the school year and future years will benefit from the project.”
    She added that she was pleased to receive the grant—her first-- to provide extra support for her pupils and looks forward to utilizing the interventions so students will reach expected growth in reading and literacy and better meet their learning needs. 
   JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko congratulated the recipients on their awards and said the projects reflect new and exciting ways to bolster students’ education.
   “Our schools have many great teachers with innovative lesson plans and instructional strategies, and we at JCESC are happy to be able to fund many of those ideas so they may become reality for the students in the classroom,” Dr. Kokiko said. 
   JCESC has disbursed more than two-dozen Best Practice Grants this year with other recipients at Buckeye Local, Edison Local, Harrison Hills City, Indian Creek Local, Steubenville City and Toronto City School Districts and the Utica Shale Academy.
(Photo Caption: The Jefferson County Educational Service Center awarded three $660 Best Practice Grants during the regular Southern Local Board of Education meeting on Nov. 14 to expound upon student learning. Pictured are, from left, Southern Local Elementary teacher Katie Forbes, JCESC Director of Curriculum and Professional Development Ron Sismondo and Southern Local Jr./Sr. High School teacher Amanda Wrobleski while SLHS teacher Lori Biser is absent from the photo.)
SLES Students are Aiming High
Posted 10/6/2023 at 2:12:04 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SLES Aiming High
SALINEVILLE-First-graders learned the importance of self-esteem as the Aiming High program began another year at Southern Local Elementary.
    Representatives with the Family Recovery Center’s Education Department visited classrooms on Oct. 5 for the first of four 30-minute sessions and will appear each week to discuss a variety of social-emotional topics. Prevention educators Ashley McLaughlin and Lauren DeMarco led a reading activity on self-esteem with the book, “What I Like about Me,” and encouraged the children to embrace the differences in themselves and others. Students then drew self-portraits highlighting features they liked about themselves both inside and out, including their hair, eyes or even a big heart to show their kindness. 
   McLaughlin said the program uses age-appropriate lessons to reach children at a younger age and deter the likelihood of substance abuse in the future.
   “We go to schools for drug intervention, but for younger grades we focus on social-emotional issues. It’s really important to know coping skills because in some cases it can turn into drug abuse.”
   Kids will also touch on other life skills such anti-bullying, making good choices, building friendships, understanding feelings and communication skills. Aiming High utilizes “Botvin Lifeskills” and “Too Good for Drugs and Violence” curricula that have been recognized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), among other organizations. The developmentally appropriate lessons incorporate real-world challenges youth face today and the goal is to develop social and emotional competency; promote character education; address bullying; promote a peaceful environment; provide positive interaction between peers; teach resistance to peer and social media influences; and encourage youth to make healthy choices. Meanwhile, programs may likely inspire a reduced intention among students to use alcohol, drugs and other substances, fewer instances of violence and an increased likelihood of student success both socially and academically.
   SLES Guidance Counselor Larry Rudloff said the center, which has locations in Lisbon and Steubenville, has provided Aiming High programs for more than two decades and the lessons benefit kids as they learn and grow.
   “It’s a very good program and the teachers believe it has merit,” Rudloff commented. “They think it’s good for the kids.”
   More programs will be held through February for grades K-5 and topics include identifying emotions, kindness and empathy, conflict resolution, peer pressure, decision making, building self-confidence, introduction to medicine and risky behaviors while the Family Recovery Center also offers sessions for junior and senior high school levels. Aiming High is funded by the Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. For more information, contact Denise Kuhlman at (330) 424-0531, Ext. 146, or email [email protected].
 (Photo Caption: Ashley McLaughlin and Lauren DeMarco, prevention educators with the Family Recovery Center in Lisbon, led a lesson on self-esteem with first-graders at Southern Local Elementary on Oct. 5. Four sessions will be held throughout the month highlighting social-emotional issues and officials will continue programs through February in grades K-5. McLaughlin is pictured reflecting upon student Jack Stower during a reading activity as classmate Cali Britton looks on.)
Haugh Continuing as School Security Officer
Posted 9/26/2023 at 10:36:22 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SL Haugh SSO
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local School Resource Officer Deputy Jeff Haugh is continuing his work in the district, but this time he will have a different title.
   “It will be Officer Haugh now, not Deputy Haugh,” he said.
   Haugh recently received a three-year contract from the Southern Local School District and will assume the role as school security officer on Oct. 1, then officially step down as a deputy at the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office nearly a week later on Oct. 6. He had served the county for a total of 33 years, including 18 years as a detective sergeant, plus he was one of two local hostage negotiators and was part of a joint task force to investigate major crimes. Haugh retired from those duties in 2020 but remained in the patrol division before being assigned as SRO at Southern. He has patrolled the school halls for more than two years and led programs in classrooms such as the Kelly Bear character-building initiative for elementary students, while he brought the CCSO K-9 officer to visit pupils and has been actively involved in boosting campus security measures. During that time, he still performed duties for the sheriff’s office and will soon be commissioned as a deputy officer to lend a hand when needed.
   “I’ve been with the county since 1990,” he said. “I retired three years ago and worked in patrol service, then joined Southern Local. This starts my third school year and second full year.”
   An SRO is a legal term designated for a law enforcement officer who is assigned to a school district through a memorandum of understanding, but an SSO is fully employed through the school district. He has relished his time in the schools and is looking forward to another three years at Southern.
   “I’ve enjoyed it immensely,” he commented. “I enjoy working with the kids and have made a difference in some of their lives. I even got a few interested in going into law enforcement and talked one into staying on the right path. If you can make a difference in one person’s life and keep them from going to the dark side, that’s important.”
   Haugh has also appreciated the cooperation of teachers and officials in easing his transition.
   “The teachers, staff, school board and [superintendent] Tom Cunningham have been very supportive of me,” he added. 
   When not in the schools, he will spend time maintaining his new home in Yellow Creek Township and enjoying his family, which includes three children and six grandchildren. 
    Meanwhile, Superintendent Tom Cunningham said Haugh has proven himself to be an important part of the district.
   “Based on his hard work and dedication and his presence in the district, we know he’s been an asset and look forward to continue working with him,” Cunningham concluded.

(Photo Caption: Southern Local School Resource Officer Deputy Jeff Haugh will now be known as Officer Haugh when he assumes the role of school security officer on Oct. 1. Haugh will formally step down as a deputy for the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office after 33 years but will be commissioned as a special deputy to assist if needed. As SSO, he will be fully employed by the school district.)
Aiming High Presentations Set
Posted 9/20/2023 at 2:13:20 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-Presentations of the Family Recovery Center’s annual Aiming High program will be kicking off once again at Southern Local Elementary School.
   SLES Guidance Counselor Larry Rudloff said the program, which centers on life and character lessons, will return Oct. 5 and run into the new year. Weekly sessions will be led by the Lisbon-based center’s educational specialists Lauren DeMarco and Ashley McLaughlin, who will speak to grades K-4, and Denise Kuhlman, who will address fifth-graders.
   DeMarco and McLaughlin will begin by speaking to first-grade classes each Thursday from Oct. 5-26.
   “The program will consist of four 30-minute presentations in each classroom,” Rudloff added. “The focus of the program will be on life skills such as making healthy choices, building friendships, understanding feelings and communication skills.”
    They will then visit third-graders on Wednesdays from Nov. 1-29 to discuss conflict resolution, peer pressure, making healthy choices and the importance of clear communication and address fourth-graders on Tuesdays from Nov. 7-Dec. 5 on aspects of decision making, problem solving, respecting differences and the correct use of medicine. 
    Sessions continue at the start of 2024 with DeMarco and McLaughlin meeting second-graders on Wednesdays from Jan. 3-24 to discuss decisions and consequences, building self-confidence, risky behaviors and introduction to medicine, while Kuhlman will visit fifth-graders each Tuesday from Jan. 4-25 to talk about assertiveness, peer pressure, responsibility, communication and respect for oneself and others. DeMarco and McLaughlin will wrap up the program with kindergarteners on Thursdays from Feb. 1-22 to discuss making good decisions, character building and knowing how to be a good person or citizen. 
   Rudloff said the Family Recovery Center has presented the program at SLES for more than two decades.  In the event of a two-hour delay or school cancelation, the speakers will extend the schedule to complete their presentations.
Southern Bash a Success
Posted 8/22/2023 at 10:16:45 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SL Southern BTS
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local Schools’ 2023 Back-to-School Bash was another big hit, drawing students, parents and community members in the leadup to the first day of classes.
   Hundreds of people gathered on the campus Thursday for food, fun, free stuff and fall sports introductions prior to the start of school on Aug. 23. Sixth-grade and online orientations took place before festivities kicked off and about 40 vendors, including community groups, Columbiana County agencies, churches and school organizations, provided information, school supplies, giveaways and more. Kids also enjoyed inflatables from Sunshine Party Rental of East Liverpool plus music by DJ Chelsea Householder, face painting and a dunking booth while the night closed with a Meet the Indians event featuring school athletes.
   Organizer Laura Krulik, who serves as district special education coordinator, said the bash has been held for well over a decade and drawn upwards of 1,000 people. She added that the number of vendors doubled this time and she was grateful for the response.
   “This was the most vendors we’ve had including the District Showcase last spring,” Krulik continued. “It went really well. We had more community partners attend than ever before. We had a great turnout and the kids and their families spent a ton of time playing over at the bounce houses and games. We served every bit of food and drink that we had for families.”
   She added that the feedback from vendors and attendees was positive and thanked everyone who made it all happen.
   “There were so many staff members that helped make this event amazing!  Paraprofessionals, teachers, guidance counselors, related service providers, administrators, cafeteria staff and custodial staff gave their free time over the summer to prepare for the bash in the days before the event. Many also turned out to help that night. I take the reservations for spots and put the information out there, but without other staff members, this event would not be possible.” 
   Among the vendors were the Fair Foundation, East Liverpool City Hospital, Mercy Health of Youngstown, Columbiana County Department of Jobs and Family Services, Family Success Network, SNAP-Ed, RSVP, Ohio State University Extension, Southern Local Alumni Committee, AmeriHealth Caritas Ohio, MacLean/Martin Chapel of CARE Funeral and Cremation Specialists, Blue Sky Employment, Salineville Methodist Church, OhioRISE, Cinderella Project, Utica Shale Academy, Touchdown Club, Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, CAACC Health, Behavioral Health and Dental Center, CAACJC Head Start, CAACC Mobility Management, Family Recovery Center, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Columbiana County Educational Service Center/CASH Coalition, Salineville Church of Christ, Mahoning Columbiana Training Association, Southern Local High School Junior Class, Christina’s House and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and Ohio Children’s Alliance “It Takes Heart” Ohio campaign. School nurse Heidi McIntosh distributed about 200 bags of hygiene products at her health fair in the high school cafeteria while school counselors helped complete needed forms and the district gave away water bottles to use at the schools’ filling stations. Attendants also had an opportunity to tour the elementary and high school buildings to familiarize themselves with classrooms, faculty and staff.
   Several families on hand said they enjoyed the evening immensely.
   “I like it. There’s a lot of stuff for the kids,” said Tori Needham, who attended with grandson Leo Corbisello.
   “I liked the bounce house,” commented Corbisello, an incoming kindergartener at SLES.
   Others enjoyed seeing the children interact and receive free school supplies.  
   “It’s good,” added second-grader Cassidy Mercer. “I liked the fire truck [inflatable].”
    Southern Local Elementary Principal Emily Brinker was pleased with the community engagement.
    “It’s good to see everyone here and the kids seem excited to be back,” she added. “This is our biggest event.”
    SLHS Principal Rich Wright was ready to begin a new school year.
   “We’re ready to start and there’s excitement in the air. This is my second year as principal and I’m ready for a good year.”
   “I think it was a fantastic turnout,” Superintendent Tom Cunningham concluded. “We are appreciative of all the family members, vendors and staff who took part and look forward to getting back to school.”

(Photo Cutline: Superintendent Tom Cunningham sends Southern Local Elementary Principal Emily Brinker plunging into the water in a dunk tank at the district’s 2023 Back-to-School Bash on Thursday. Hundreds of people gathered on the campus in Salineville for food, fun, free stuff and introductions to fall sports teams while the event also included 39 vendors from school and community groups to county agencies, churches and hospitals. Organizers said this year’s festivities were another resounding success.)
Wrask Named Assistant Principal at SLES
Posted 8/17/2023 at 12:42:35 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SL Wrask New Principal
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local Elementary students will see a different face in the school office as Jordan Wrask begins duties as the new assistant principal.
   Wrask, of Minerva, began on Aug. 1 under a two-year contract but is not a new face to the district, having begun his teaching career at the high school in 2015. 
   The Guilford Lake native graduated from United High School in 2007 and initially earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing and finance from Waynesburg University in 2011. He worked as a pharmaceutical representative in Morgantown, W.Va., but went on to nursing school before his direction turned to education. He completed courses at Cuyahoga Community College and earned an alternative teaching license, beginning as a math tutor at SLHS in 2015 and then teaching at the school from 2017-18. From there, he taught high school math for three years in Lisbon and returned to his alma mater to instruct sixth-grade math and coach track. An opportunity arose with the assistant principal’s post at SLES and it turned out to be a fortuitous move.
   “My wife and I are building a house nearby and I thought it was a great opportunity to return to the district. It feels good to be back and it’s nice since I started my career here.”
   He and his wife, Madilyn, are eager to start their new lives in the area while three-year-old son Tate will join his dad when he begins preschool this fall. While it is a change from working with 93 sixth-graders to nearly 400 pupils in grades K-5, it is an opportunity Wrask is looking forward to.
   “Being in a classroom, I could make an impact on kids and I wanted to make an impact on more than just one grade,” he added. “I’m excited to be here and make an impact on the community.”
   SLES Principal Emily Brinker said Wrask would be a wonderful benefit to the school.
   “Mr. Wrask will be a great asset to Southern Local. With a background in math, we are hoping he can bring some great strategies to the table. He is dedicated to his career and has already helped make some improvements for this school year. We are ready for a great year.”
   Southern Local Superintendent Tom Cunningham also welcomed Wrask on board.
   “We believe he will do a great job,” Cunningham said. “His math background, leadership experiences and approachability will be welcomed by students, staff and the community.” 

(Photo Cutline: Jordan Wrask is a familiar face as a former math teacher at Southern Local High School and has returned to serve as the new assistant principal at Southern Local Elementary. Wrask began his duties on Aug. 1 under a two-year contract and said he was excited to be back in the school district.)
Southern Focusing on Projects
Posted 8/14/2023 at 10:22:33 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-Projects are taking place at the Southern Local campus in an effort to maintain and update the facilities.
    Superintendent Tom Cunningham updated school board members on Aug. 8, saying improvements were underway to replace the pitched roof and boiler system at the school building. The projects total more than $1.3 million but will eventually save money down the road.
   Burns & Scalo Roofing of Pittsburgh is handling the estimated $799,000 plan to replace the pitched roof which has some leak issues. Officials said repairs had been completed more than five years ago and the new topper should last for the next three decades. The area will receive a shingled roof and should be completed soon.
  “The roof replacement started as soon as school was out and it was all a pitched roof. Everything should be completed this week,” said Cunningham. “It must get inspected and we have a 25-year guarantee.”
  Additionally, Prout Boiler Heating and Welding, Inc., of Youngstown is overseeing an estimated $525,000 project to upgrade the current unit to a propane-powered system. Work began in June and should wrap up in early fall, and the superintendent noted that the improvement will positively impact both energy and cost efficiency.
   “We replaced the old, inefficient boiler system and switched to propane. It will take our efficiency from 60 percent to 95 percent,” he added, saying crews must also burrow under the road to run a line.
   Officials had noted that propane costs considerably less and the project could possibly be paid in less than five years. Currently, expenses are being defrayed through a mixture of permanent levy and general funds. 
   Meanwhile, future updates form the basis of the district’s planned 0.5-mill, four-year permanent improvement levy that is up for vote during the Nov. 7 general election. Officials previously passed a motion to place it on the ballot to help maintain infrastructure to keep it operational. Leaders said the previous levy focused on updates under the school roof but the new measure could be used for paving the parking lots and continuous improvements of facilities. Officials added that it would not raise taxes and costs would remain the same. 
   Among other action:
--Southern Local Elementary Principal Emily Brinker said teachers were returning over the next week for training and they were getting prepared for the start of school on Aug. 23 while kindergarten begins on Aug. 28;
--Southern Local High School Principal Rich Wright said plans were underway for the annual Back-to-School Bash on Aug. 17 and Virtual Learning Academy (VLA) online students would hold orientation at 4 p.m. with sixth-grade orientation at 4:30 p.m. The bash runs from 5-7 p.m. with vendors, inflatables, giveaways and more, and it will culminate with the Meet the Indians event at 7 p.m. He added that teacher in-services were also set for Aug. 21 and 22;
--District Treasurer Greg Sabbato reminded everyone, including board members and spouses, to attend an upcoming health screening on Aug. 21 that has not only helped save lives but also kept insurance costs down in the long run;
--The board approved a series of personnel matters including Jan Palmer as a paraprofessional, Marianna Milajecki as a teacher and Jessica Buzzard as secretary under substitute staff while Ashley Dowling was approved as a school nurse for the 2023-24 school year and Charlie Puckett received a supplemental contract for construction projects. Additionally, Zach Almy and Jackline Donovan were approved to return to regular teaching duties following a reduction in force, officials accepted a resignation from cafeteria worker Julie Armentrout and a summer school agreement was approved with Utica Shale Academy for Fiscal Year 2024; 
--Board members John Sawyer and Linda Norris respectively were named Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) delegate and alternate;
--The next regular meeting was set for Sept. 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the SLHS Media Center.
SL Gains Ohio Auditor’s Award
Posted 6/23/2023 at 8:46:34 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local Schools has earned kudos from the state for its efforts in financial efficiency.
   District officials announced the school district received the Ohio Auditor of State Award for excellence in financial reporting in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and compliance with applicable laws for the fiscal year ending 2022.
   “The citizens you represent are well-served by your effective and accountable financial practices,” the award states.
     District Treasurer Greg Sabbato said it was the first time the district had gained the distinction.
   “I am humbled and I have a good staff,” he continued. “It’s everyone who works here. They do a phenomenal job.”
    He credited staff members Julie Dowling and Whitney Tsemilles as well as district Federal Programs Coordinator Kristy Sampson and said they were an integral part of it.
   “The state does the audit and did not have any findings, and they felt we did a good job with our accounting and financial reports,” Sabbato said.
    Superintendent Tom Cunningham praised Sabbato and his staff for their dedication and said it showed Southern was moving in a positive direction.
  “This is the first time I’m aware of that Southern Local has earned it,” Cunningham noted. “It goes to show the diligence of Greg and his staff working on the financial side, and that’s an honor we as a district should be proud of.”
Gruszecki Bids Goodbye to Southern Local Elementary
Posted 6/12/2023 at 1:04:30 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SL Gruszecki Retires
SALINEVILLE-Secretary Patty Gruszecki warmly greets 4-year-old Sofia Bailey as the preschooler enters the office at Southern Local Elementary.
   With a hug and a smile, she and the youngster share a delightful conversation and Gruszecki compliments the child’s outfit.   She tells how the girl calls her “Ladybug” and she has nicknamed Sofia “Sweet Pea,” adding that the youngster even had a haircut modeled after hers.
   “She visits me every day and says I’m her adopted grandma,” Gruszecki smiles. “I always say we’re connected at the heart. I don’t know what connected us, I guess it was just supposed to happen.”
   This is nothing new to her, and with the exception of the COVID shutdown, rarely a day passed by that she did not have similar interactions with other students. But after 27 years, she will fondly bid goodbye as she formally retires on June 16. 
   During the last day of school on June 2, she visited a kindergarten class and thanked them for their cards, flowers and hugs, saying she will return for school events. She warmly blows a kiss as she leaves the classroom and acknowledges that her life has always centered on children.
   “I did daycare since I was 11,” she said of her years growing up in her native Wellsville. “I was the neighborhood babysitter and my goal was to get married and have children. I loved the kids. While I was a stay-at-home-mother, I did daycare for nine years in my home.”
   Prior to her marriage to Frank, her husband of 47 years, she worked for Sterling China as a secretary and would return to the workforce when her three children began elementary school. She was a parent volunteer and then became a teacher’s aide, serving in that capacity for four years at Southern Local Intermediate School. Gruszecki then became a secretary when the primary and intermediate schools combined to form Southern Local Elementary in 2000 and has worked with 10 principals and hundreds of teachers and students in the years following, and each moment has made an imprint upon her heart.
   The Highlandtown resident intends to spend time with her family, which also includes seven grandchildren, and perhaps travel, become more active with her church and help people in her community. Two of her grandchildren attend SLES and she plans to return for activities and see the students she’s worked with for so long.
   “You work with a lot of great people, but being able to be with the kids, you get to watch them grow up [from elementary to high school]. That’s always been my greatest joy and I’ve never missed a prom. You also meet a lot of families and get attached to the kids.”
   Gruszecki has made an equal impact upon those who know her, and several of them shared sweet sentiments in her honor.
   “Retirement is one of those milestones that mark the ending of one chapter and the start of another. Trading in those long hours as a secretary for the never-ending days of playing with your grandchildren and spending time with Frank,” said SLES Principal Emily Brinker. “Patty has brought so much joy to this workplace that I also call my ‘family.’ The laughs and tears that have occurred over the years will now be a memory. She has been the face of Southern Local for many years and will be missed.”
   Brinker also noted the quotation, “Retirement is not the end of the road. It is the beginning of the open highway,” and wished Gruszecki to cherish the moments ahead.
  “Patty will be dearly missed in our school. She has a big heart, a great sense of humor and makes every person she encounters feel welcome,” added Assistant Principal Nicole Beadnell. “She enjoys making connections with students and always has a kind word for them. You could ask for her help with anything and if she didn't have the answer, she would be sure to find it. I will miss our shared experiences and conversations about life. I wish her many years of happiness in her retirement.”
  Fellow school secretary and longtime friend Sandy Lewis also wished her well.
  “She’s been great to work with. She’s a super, super friend and would do anything for me. I’m going to miss her,” said Lewis.
   “Patty will be dearly missed.  She has a great heart and passion for her job, the kids, staff and community,” commented Superintendent Tom Cunningham. “I was blessed to work with her every day as the elementary principal and she has made a positive impact on me and others in the district.”
    Gruszecki said she has a treasure trove of beautiful memories as she moves on.
   “Where can you work and get 35 hugs a day? I’ve always said I had the greatest job in the world,” she concluded. “I’m leaving my way and I can’t believe I’ve gotten all my wishes. I’ve been blessed.”

(Photo Cutline: Southern Local Elementary School Secretary Patty Gruszecki is retiring after 27 years of service on June 16, but her tenure has been filled with wonderful memories and connections she’s made with colleagues, parents and especially the students. She is pictured here with preschooler Sofia Bailey, who has visited her every day and established a bond. Gruszecki said connections like this have made her love her job even more.)
SLES Students Get Weather Lesson
Posted 5/8/2023 at 9:44:34 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SLES Weather
SALINEVILLE-Third-graders at Southern Local Elementary School had their eyes on the skies during a weather lesson on May 3.
     Meteorologist Paul Wetzl of WKBN-TV Channel 27 spoke to the schoolchildren about his work and shared that he grew up only a stone’s throw away.
    “This is home for me. I went to United and played on your field at Southern Local,” he said. “I’m happy to be back at the school.”
    He said he was inspired to study weather following a tornado outbreak as a child and he continued to study it intermittently to determine any potential snow days while in school. Wetzl originally planned to be a veterinarian but said he changed his course of study to atmospheric science at Mississippi State University. He later owned a storm-chasing company in the Great Plains and eyed a career creating forecasts behind the scenes; however, he ended up on-camera in Youngstown.
    “I love the weather,” he said. “It’s my passion and I love being able to do what I do.”
    He discussed the dangers of lightning, flooding and tornadoes and explained high and low pressure using an analogy with beach balls and bowling balls to explain density. Other lessons included the difference between warm and cold fronts and Wetzl used computer maps to help indicate conditions. He also shared interesting tidbits including that hailstones contained rings, much like trees, which denote how many cycles they went through during a storm. The lesson concluded with a question-and-answer session with the students and queries included what it took to be a meteorologist and the technology he utilized in his work. He replied that those interested in the field should continue to learn math and science because they will utilize plenty of it in the field, adding that he relies on computers for his forecasts.
   “I look for high- and low-pressure systems, jet streams and wind speeds, and I look at the radar features inside images for wind, rain and tornadoes. The computer does the work but our job is to determine what they are saying,” he said.
   Holly Keller, SLES Title I teacher, said the visit concluded students’ work on their weather unit, which included science, writing, reading stories and building their vocabulary. As a result, the children gained an understanding of tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes and more.
  “This was the first time we did this project, but we did a similar one three years ago about volcanoes,” Keller commented. She added that teacher Nancy Sakely had contacted Wetzl about visiting the school and he was glad to oblige.
    Sakely said students spent three weeks learning about all aspects of atmospheric conditions and even recorded themselves giving a news report.
    “Some were roving reporters and two of the three classes did [the lesson],” Sakely added, saying another 20 students in the third class will complete the unit soon. “It fulfills standards on science and technology and the kids were having so much fun that they didn’t know they were learning.”
   Meanwhile, several students found Wetzl’s visit fun and educational.
  “I learned about the clouds,” said student Jocelynn Jackson.
   “I liked when he showeed us the maps,” added classmate Kinzley Blatch.

(Photo Caption: WKBN-TV Channel 27 Meteorologist Paul Wetzl gave third-graders a lesson on the weather during a visit to Southern Local Elementary School on May 3. Students completed a weather unit in their classes and gained more understanding of conditions and forecasting.)
SL Golfers Partake in PGA Program
Posted 5/2/2023 at 8:55:24 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SL Golf Internship
SALINEVILLE-Two Southern Local High School students are learning the ropes of working with the Professional Golf Association through a special program this month.
   Seniors Brady Ketchum and Jason Riggs will take part in the 2023 Career Exploration Day at the PGA Championship in Rochester, N.Y., on May 13 and 20. They will be joined by SLHS Head Boys’ Golf Coach Kyle Exline and Head Girls’ Golf Coach Gerard Grimm and have hands-on opportunities during festivities at the Oak Hill Country Club. Exline said he and Grimm received the invitation during previous golf clinics and took the opportunity to attend this year.
   “The PGA is seeking younger individuals with a passion for golf to fill various job openings for the tour. This event attempts to entice those individuals by providing an inside look at the various career opportunities within the golf industry,” Exline explained. “They will be taken on a personalized tour of the grounds and have an opportunity to meet key individuals involved in the championship along the way. Tour highlights include tournament operations, technology, media relations and merchandising. Additionally, tickets to Wednesday's PGA championship practice round at Oak Hill Country Club will also be provided to attendees.”
  He added that they will also be able to watch the players as a bonus and the students were excited for the chance.
   “This event is a new mission for the PGA as they aim to appeal to younger generations,” he said, adding that Ketchum and Riggs would be a perfect fit. “Brady and Jason are two of our seniors from a successful class of golfers. Brady is continuing his golf career at Bluffton University this fall and Jason has expressed an interest in learning about professions in the golf industry.”
   Officials hope the students will utilize their passion for the sport to create opportunities that benefit them in the long run. Exline said having such opportunities available is a plus and he hopes to do more in the future.
   “With an opportunity like this, the PGA is providing a behind-the-scenes look at the many opportunities they offer. Hopefully, Jason and Brady can use this opportunity to broaden their horizons for life after high school and possibly, solidify their future plans,” he noted. “As long as it's offered, we will always seek out opportunities that benefit our student-athletes. Luckily, we have immense support from our school district to be able to make these events possible for our student-athletes. We are incredibly thankful for the support by our district, administration, and community in making these opportunities possible for our student-athletes. 

(Photo Caption: Southern Local High School seniors Brady Ketchum, left, and Jason Riggs will head to Rochester, N.Y., for the 2023 Career Exploration Day at the PGA Championship on May 13 and 20, where they will get an inside look at the various career opportunities within the golf industry.)
SL District Showcase on May 18
Posted 5/1/2023 at 8:50:36 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local Schools will highlight students once again during the annual District Showcase on May 18.
   Laura Krulik, district director of special services, said doors will open from 5-7 p.m. and students, parents and the community can partake in raffles, community organizational booths, learning activities and more. Krulik said the date was changed to May last year to follow state testing and help wind down the school year.
   “It’s a time of year when teachers often complete more hands-on projects and problem-based learning with students. It gives staff more time to complete fun learning activities with students and create interesting products for parents to come see,” she added. “There will be basket raffles, student work displays, teacher and class demonstrations, musical performances, student artwork, fundraisers, a Southern Local High School FFA petting zoo and pasta dinner fundraiser for the football team, plus more.” 
   Approximately 30 community agencies, medical groups and school-related organizations are expected to provide items and information for patrons and activities are being conducted inside the schools and around the campus. Among the groups participating are the Utica Shale Academy, Southern High School FFA and school staff to the Columbiana County Department of Job and Family Services. Attendants may view displays of classroom projects from STEM to history, meet teachers and staff, enjoy music and artwork and obtain items during school nurse Heidi McIntosh’s health fair among other groups. 
  “The purpose of the District Showcase is for the staff and students to invite their families and the community in to see what we have been working on within the district,” Krulik commented.
   The event has been for the past 15 years, except during the COVID pandemic in 2020, and has attracted hundreds of people to attend.
Sloan Chosen Student of the Month
Posted 4/20/2023 at 1:24:34 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SL SLoan
SALINEVILLE- Southern Local High School senior Cameron Sloan has been chosen as the Salineville Kiwanis Student of the Month for April.
   Sloan, the son of Richard and Chastity Sloan of Wellsville, holds a 4.09 GPA and is ranked 15th in his class.  In addition to his exceptional academic achievement, he has also excelled in athletics and lettered for four years in football and track, two years in basketball and bowling and one year in baseball. Sloan has served as class president for all four years of high school and is currently the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) President, plus he is a member of the student council, Spanish Club and Varsity Club.
   Upon graduation, he plans to join the National Guard and then study business at Youngstown State University with the hopes of owning a business one day.
Marra Gets Five-Year Contract Renewal
Posted 3/28/2023 at 9:24:47 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local Schools Transportation Supervisor Rob Marra will remain on board a little longer after receiving a five-year contract extension.
   School board members approved the renewal during the March meeting, which will carry his tenure from July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2029. Marra has been part of transportation for 43 years with 11 spent at Southern Local, and his duties entail overseeing a fleet of 15 buses and 10 routes that span roughly 100 square miles throughout the district. Officials said they were excited to keep working with him.
   “We’re just fortunate to have his knowledge and experience in our district and we’re looking forward to continue working with him for the next five years,” said Superintendent Tom Cunningham. “He brings a lot of experience to the district and we have one of the finest bus fleets in the area.”
    Meanwhile, leaders are looking to develop an area to hold track and field meets at Southern Local High School in the foreseeable future. Cunningham said the district is eyeing a high jump pit to hold dual junior and senior high meets on the school track and officials are performing cost and location analysis for the project. Hopes are to have it ready for next year.
  “We put in a new cage for discus and moved the shotput pit to improve the facility for student-athletes,” he added. “We’re looking to put a high jump pit in so we can hold dual meets for the district. It should definitely be done by the next season, and it would be great for our students and community to be able to run and attend meets at Southern Local.”
   Officials also approved personnel matters such as affirming teacher Donna Hart, paraprofessional/secretary Ciara Leggett, paraprofessional/cafeteria/secretary Dorothy Ketchum and paraprofessional Kristen Smith on the substitute list; rescinding Alannah Smith as assistant softball coach on the supplemental list and approving Kyler Woodward for the post for the 2022-23 school year; approving supplemental posts for 2022-23 and 2023-24 with Jenny Brewer as freshman girls’ basketball coach, Brian Spahlinger as paid assistant baseball coach, Zach Almy as boys’ assistant track coach, Gerard Grimm as head baseball and girls’ golf coach, Kyle Exline as JV baseball and boys’ golf coach, Mike Skrinjar as boy’s head track coach, Jimmy Malone as boys’ assistant track coach, Kathy Randolph as girls’ head track coach, Michele Skinner as junior high cheerleading advisor and Rich Wright as junior high wrestling coach; approving a stipend for Matt Gates for Hutson Building maintenance for the 2022-23 school year; approving an amended staffing agreement for John Wright at the Utica Shale Academy for the current school year; and approving the resignation of bus driver Carrier Pierson.
   In other action, the board:
--Approved field trips for Southern Local High School Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) to PNC Park on May 10 and the Spanish Club to the Gateway Clipper on May 21;
--Approved the revised 2022-2023 calendar with June 2 as the last day for students and June 5 as the last day for teachers;
--Set the next regular meeting for April 11 at 5:30 p.m. in the SLHS Media Center.
Hurtig Shares Message of Hope Amid Adversity
Posted 3/27/2023 at 9:22:30 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SL Hurtig Shares Message
SALINEVILLE-Brad Hurtig was a high school junior, three-sport athlete and a youth with the world as his oyster, but it all changed in a split second.
   While working near his hometown in Northwestern Ohio, he was severely injured in an industrial accident and lost both of his hands. Hurtig received prosthetic limbs and his hopes on the football field appeared to be dashed, but he found the determination to overcome adversity and return to the game. He shared his inspirational story at Southern Local High School on March 21 and told students that they should find a way to reach their goals. Hurtig, who formed his Find A Way program in 2015, was joined by the band 10Talents and continued his motivational message of hope that evening in a separate event for the public.  
    He and his three brothers were raised in an active family and he said sports were a popular conquest. Hurtig played linebacker on his high school football team and was a stellar athlete, but one June night in 2002 he was working to earn some extra money when the fateful incident occurred. He, his brother and a friend were operating a 500-ton sheet metal press machine used to create car parts. While attempting to straighten a crooked piece of sheet metal, Hurtig’s limbs became trapped in the machine and he severed his left hand and right arm. 
   “The first thing I remember was not the physical pain. The first thing I remember is hearing someone scream at what they saw when they looked at me. When I looked down, part of my left hand was still attached...and half of my right arm was missing.”
    Hurtig was taken to one hospital but transported by medical helicopter to another facility and underwent multiple surgeries, but doctors were unable to save his left hand. He completed physical and occupational therapy but pondered not playing sports again. 
   “I desperately wanted to go back in time and change what happened, but I couldn’t,” he added. “I came home to start a new life without hands. For me, I wanted to keep pressing on...but it caught up with me. I started to feel overwhelmingly sad because of things I’d never do.”
   Hurtig returned to school the next term with an aide to help him in class but was later outfitted with prosthetic arms featuring moveable fingers. His computer was also adapted with voice-activated software to help with classwork and he would also be able to ride an adjusted ATV to have some normalcy. But support from his football coach led him to seek another dream—to join the team once again.
He was invited to attend practice and a simple gesture turned into a valuable lesson.
  “I saw a water bottle at the coach’s feet. My coach looked down at the bottle, then he looked back up at me. He thought for a moment and said something that would ultimately change my life. He said, ‘If you are thirsty enough, you would find a way,’” Hurtig recalled. “I said, ‘I could do this.’”
   He proceeded to pick up the bottle and take a drink, saying the water never tasted so good. That challenge gave him new perspective and the coach provided a chance to serve as a kicker for the team. It would take several attempts to kick a proper field goal before he switched gears and eventually returned as a linebacker; however, he faced some opposition to using his metal limbs during games. He was temporarily forced to wear padding on his arms before being permitted to play with his prosthetics. With grit and determination, Hurtig went on to lead the team in tackles and earn First Team All-Ohio during his senior year.
   Fast forward to adulthood, and he has since traveled around the country to motivate students and businesspeople with his words of encouragement and corporate safety. Hurtig, who has been featured on the likes of ESPN and in the New York Times, said anyone could attain their dreams if they tried hard enough.
  “We don’t know how strong we are until strong is the only option. You need to go after it relentlessly,” he added.
  The presentation was interspersed with music from the band while Hurtig invited students to participate in challenges to retrieve a water bottle using their mouths, elbows and knees to show determination amid adversity. He closed with advice and encouragement for the pupils.
  “If you are truly thirsty enough, you will push yourself further than you ever imagined,” he concluded. “If you are willing to have the right mindset, you will adapt and persevere and you will find a way.”

(Photo Caption: Motivational speaker Brad Hurtig shared a message of hope amid adversity with Southern Local High School students during a presentation on March 21. Hurtig lost both of his hands in an industrial accident as a teen and learned to use prosthetic limbs, and his determination helped him lead his high school football team in tackles as a linebacker and win First Team All-Ohio status.)
SLES Gets Moving for AHA
Posted 3/1/2023 at 10:34:34 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local Elementary students got moving and reached their $3,000 goal for the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge.
     About 385 students in grades PreK-6 solicited money throughout the month through letters, email and social media and collected the contributions, then they took part in the annual Move-A-Thon during special time in the gym on Feb. 23-24. Kids could dance, hula hoop, jump rope, perform a high jump and complete an obstacle course while teachers and school PTO members assisted. Physical education teacher Kathy Randolph said an incentive was put into place for the moneymaker and this was the earliest the school has achieved its goal.
   “This is the first year we met our goal before the Move-A-Thon,” she said. “We made more than $3,001.”
    One incentive was put into place to ensure they attained their objective, which is to hold a picnic this spring where Randolph, SLES Principal Emily Brinker, Assistant Principal Nicole Beadnell, district Director of Special Services Laura Krulik and school nurses Heidi McIntosh and Ashley Dowling will don dinosaur costumes, and now there’s another to help raise event more.
   “We’ve created another incentive to have the dinosaurs race on the football field,” Randolph added. 
   This year’s theme is “Be the Torch” and features dragons with a bevy of prizes available per funding level. They range from decorative clip-ons for backpacks and key rings to a KHC fitness watch, but students could also earn a mystery gift for every $50 raised with a “golden egg,” making them eligible for a drawing to take part in a virtual meeting with characters Finn and Kelly and possibly others. Randolph said second-grader Parker Locke and fourth-grader Sophia Pierson won so far but she hoped for more, and about 50,000 are available nationwide for a chance at the virtual reward. Meanwhile, students could also earn Finn’s Lifesaver Award by learning CPR and pledging to get healthy.
   SLES has raised in excess of $5,000 in the past for the organization and proceeds are used to fund education, research and more to battle heart disease. At the conclusion of one event, Randolph reminded a group of fourth-graders about the importance of their support.
   “This is why we do [the Move-A-Thon]. We do this to help kids get the technology and services they need so they can do what you kids just did.”

(Photo Cutline: Southern Local Elementary fourth-graders Jayce Tsesmilles and Lane Weston jump through hoops to benefit the American Heart Association during the school’s annual Move-A-Thon on Feb. 24. Nearly 400 students in grades PK-6 jumped rope, completed an obstacle course and more for the AHA’s Kids Heart Challenge and raised $3,000, but now they are eying a $3,500 goal with fun incentives including a spring picnic and school officials wearing costumes.)
SLES Students Step up for AHA Fundraiser
Posted 2/10/2023 at 11:53:10 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SLES Kids Heart Challenge
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local Elementary students are literally stepping up to help the American Heart Association during its annual fundraiser.
     About 390 PreK-6 pupils kicked off AHA’s Kids Heart Challenge on Feb. 2 and are currently collecting funds from contributors. Students solicit through letters, emails, Facebook and other social media and donations may be collected in person or sent to an online account. The kids will also take part in the school’s Move-A-Thon on Feb. 23-24 and complete a series of physical tasks such as dancing, hula hoops, jump rope, jumping and an obstacle course. Preschoolers are expected to participate that Thursday with the remaining classes joining in that Friday.
   Physical education teacher Kathy Randolph said different stations will be available during each class’s special time and jumping and jump rope contests are included. Meanwhile, incentives are in place to help the school reach its $3,000 goal.
  “Our goal is $3,000 and we were up to $900 after five or six days,” she said. “If we reach it, they will have a picnic this spring and select staff will dress up in costumes.”
   This year’s theme is “Be the Torch” and highlights dragons with decorative clip-ons for backpacks and key rings among the prizes. Others include socks, jump rope, a playground ball and T-shirt at the $5 to $250 levels to a mystery XL fidget popper at the $500 amount and a KHC fitness watch at the top level of $1,000. Students may also earn a mystery gift for every $50 raised with a “golden egg” making them eligible for a drawing. About 50,000 golden eggs are available nationwide with one winner to be named per region, and recipients will win a virtual meeting with the characters Finn and Kelly and possibly others.
    Randolph added that kids can also earn a prize by simply making a pledge to get healthy.
   “They can earn Finn’s Lifesaver Award by learning CPR and taking pledges to exercise and make healthier decisions with their family,” she said. 
   SLES has raised upwards of $5,000 in the past for the organization and proceeds are used to fund community initiatives, education, research and quality of care to battle heart disease, which is the No. 1 killer in the world.

(Photo Cutline: Southern Local Elementary fourth-graders Melanie Meek and Nate Forbes each earned more than $100 during the first week of the school’s Kids Heart Challenge to benefit the American Heart Association, making them the top earners so far. The school kicked off its annual fundraiser on Feb. 2 and will hold a Move-A-Thon later this month with jump ropes, hula hoops and other activities to reach a $3,000 goal for the organization. Students can earn prizes through AHA while school incentives include a picnic this spring and staff members donning costumes if they reach the goal.)
SLJHS Begins Anti-Virus Character Ed Program
Posted 2/2/2023 at 10:43:09 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SLJHS Anti-Virus Character Ed Program
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local Jr. High School students are learning about the importance of making good choices and how poor ones can lead to consequences through the newly implemented Anti-Virus program.
   Sixth-graders got their first lesson in January from Tom Coffee, associate director and mentor with Leader’s Edge. Leader’s Edge, which is located across Ohio, is based locally in Dover and provides leadership and character development. The Anti-Virus program is utilized throughout the world and the curriculum has been implemented in Columbiana County thanks to a generous benefactor. Coffee said it will be enacted in three volumes and he will visit each week for the remainder of the year. His first lesson touched upon corruption and how people can change from making bad habits to more positive decisions.
   “The only thing in life you have 100-percent control over is you,” he said. “Your character, the person you are and the person you’re becoming are under your control.”
   He noted that there are consequences to actions, and if a person continues to make bad decisions then it becomes a habit. Coffee provided journals for students to complete and said it will aid with self-improvement.
   “This is the hardest thing you’ll do in your life—work on your character.”
   Coffee delved into the theme of corruption, saying it can occur from a young age and someone may make bad choices to gain acceptance from others. However, a person who chooses the right path can avoid negativity. He described a virus as something found biologically and in electronic devices, and the key is to remove them by wiping them clean and putting up a wall or barrier to prevent further problems.
   “It’s like a wall,” he said. “Do you think we need barriers in life? Regardless of how cool it may be to do something, it may not be good to do it. It takes just one time to realize it was a bad choice. Corruption is something that can sneak up on us...and consequences can come later.”
   He cited smoking as one example with long-term consequences, saying it may lead to lung cancer or other health problems. Future discussions will also incorporate videos and touch not only upon drugs and alcohol, but choices in general. 
   During further talks, Coffee cited a list of bad habits such as lying, cheating, drinking alcohol, smoking, having a bad attitude, violence, risky behavior and gangs. He defined gangs as including cliques which kids may see in school, and he said risky behaviors not only impact the youth themselves but also others. He peppered his lecture with personal stories, telling of friends who made choices which were life-altering and even life-ending.
  “These aren’t just things you may struggle with, but it could be somebody at home,” he said. “Some of my friends didn’t make it to graduation because of their risky behaviors.”
   The Anti-Virus program focuses values such as hard work, responsibility, emotions, restraint, common sense and generosity. Coffee said he will continue speaking to the junior high students through the rest of the year while students can learn how they can change themselves for the better. He added a visual example by putting drops of green dye into a glass of water to represent corruption, then he placed the glass into a clear container and repeatedly filled the cup with water until the green liquid dissipated and the glass was clear once again. He said people can do the same to eliminate corruption and bad habits, but it will not be an easy fix.
   “You can change but it will take time, dedication, focus and effort,” he concluded. “I got rid of my bad influences and continued to make good choices.”
   Meanwhile, Assistant Principal Jess Krulik said Anti-Virus and the Aiming High program, the latter beginning at SLJHS in February through the Family Recovery Center of Lisbon, also tied in with the school’s Positive Behavior and Intervention Supports (PBIS) system to promote good choices and positive actions throughout the building. 
   “I think the movement coming from the elementary to the junior high is a big step and the kids are given a lot of freedom they haven’t had before,” he said. “With that, the character values programs we promote will mold them into better students. We’ve supported [Anti-Virus] and Aiming High and wrapped it in with PBIS, so when they get to high school they have moral and character development.”

(Photo Caption: Tom Coffee, associate director and mentor with Leader’s Edge of Dover, began the Anti-Virus character education program with sixth-graders at Southern Local Jr. High School. The program looks at making good choices and ties in with the expanded Aiming High program, which is coming in February through Family Recovery Center of Lisbon, and the school’s ongoing Positive Behaviors and Intervention Supports (PBIS) system to promote positive actions throughout the building.)
Southern Building Character Programs
Posted 1/19/2023 at 10:36:41 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SL Building Character Program
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local Schools will build upon its character-based programming by introducing Aiming High and Anti-Virus to junior high students.
   The district has hosted Aiming High, which is provided by Family Recovery Center of Lisbon, for more than two decades. More programs kicked off this month for second- and fifth-graders and it will expand to the seventh- and eighth-grade classes in February. During one recent visit on Wednesday, prevention educator Kierstin Fillman spoke to second-graders about identifying feelings and emotions and methods to cope during periods of sadness, nervousness, anger and more. 
   Fillman said her topics each week include self-esteem, feelings and emotions and coping skills, decision-making and growth mindset. She added that she has witnessed plenty of interaction among the kids and they have been very engaged in the activities. At her session, students described feeling happy, sad, angry and excited and the corresponding emotions from smiling and crying to yelling.
   “If we can start to recognize those emotions, especially that you get a red face when you are angry, [you can] prevent yourselves from getting angry,” she said, noting that in those situations, they should try quietly counting to 10 or 100, or even taking a few deep breaths.  “We want to be able to help ourselves. We want to be able to care for ourselves.”
   Fillman also provided information and activities for the students to keep so they can help recognize their emotions and ways to counter negative feelings. 
   Aiming High has been provided in grades K-5 and offers age- and grade-appropriate programming for each class. When it begins at the junior high next month, those students will learn about such subjects as drug prevention and social relationships. SLHS Assistant Principal Jess Krulik said the intent is to spread positivity and help build values that carry forth in the students’ lives.
   “Aiming High will be put in the English curriculum and they will do presentations then,” Krulik said. “We are planning to implement it Feb. 2 in grades 7-8. It will be done on Thursdays through February and they will discuss self-esteem, social relationships, good morals, drug prevention and violence prevention.”
   SLHS will also host the Anti-Virus program to the sixth grade on Feb. 30 to help develop character and leadership while speakers will also pay a visit come this spring. 
   “Anti-Virus is done once a week for a nine-week period and that’s also done through the Family Recovery Center,” he added. “It relates to character values such as hard work, responsibility, emotions, restraint, common sense and generosity. We want to address the junior high and instill programs now so they could carry them forward and we can continue through high school.”
  Krulik said everything ties together, even with the school’s Positive Behavior and Intervention Supports (PBIS) system to promote good choices and positive actions throughout the building. 
   “The Family Recovery Center supports the values with the speakers and we are using these character values to bring speakers such as Markus Folling,” he added, referring to a recent session with the former football player and drug addict who turned his life around and now speaks out on positivity and suicide prevention. “[SLHS Principal Rich Wright] has been speaking to Beaver Local about the speaker they were bringing in and it was perfect for what we are doing.”
   To that end, Brad Hurtig is expected to visit around March and discussed how he faced his personal struggles and overcame them. Hurtig is a double-hand amputee who went on to become an All-Ohio athlete and now speaks to his theme, “Find A Way.”
   “It all works with our PBIS. Once we had Markus Folling, we started incorporating it into the PBIS so we can support the values of what the speakers were pressing—staying away from drugs and having positive thoughts.”
   He said there has been a growth in PBIS rewards among SLHS students, who have been treated to ice cream sundaes and snacks as a result of their good deeds. The most recent PBIS reward was extended to about 200 pupils.

(Photo Caption: Kierstin Fillman, a prevention educator at the Family Recovery Center of Lisbon, talks to second-graders at Southern Local Elementary about feelings and emotions during the latest session of the Aiming High session.  Aiming High will expand into the junior high starting in February in addition to the Anti-Virus program and visiting speakers for character building and enrichment. Southern Local officials are aiming to incorporate positivity and values throughout the buildings so all students learn to make good choices.)
Southern Local Resets for 2023
Posted 1/19/2023 at 10:08:36 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SLBOE Resets 2023
SALINEVILLE-The Southern Local School Board of Education hit the reset button during its first gathering of 2023.
    Kip Dowling and Scott Hart remained in their respective positions as board president and vice president with John Sawyer still acting as legislative liaison and Karl Blissenbach named student achievement liaison during an organizational meeting on Jan. 10. Officials conducted a series of sessions to discuss tax budget and records retention matters and capped it off with a regular meeting. During the latter, the board submitted final numbers to the Columbiana County Budget Commission.  District Treasurer Greg Sabbato said there were no major changes and Southern was looking at future projects.
   “The budget is the same except we have the old and new permanent improvement (PI) fund,” he said. “We paid off our bond and moved money into the new PI fund.”
   He referred to the retirement of a 4.21-mill bond that was approved in 2000 and fully remitted last year. By doing so, it helped lower numbers by 40 basis points to the benefit of taxpayers. Meanwhile, Dowling asked how much money the district saved by fully remitting the bond funds and Sabbato estimated the sum at more than $170,000. He added that all of the funds will have a healthy balance for the end of Fiscal Year 2024.
    Now leaders have their eye on upgrades over the next few years, including the replacement of the 20-year-old roof which has been prone to leaking and new turf on the football field. Sabbato said officials had looked at the roof project two years ago, but COVID affected those plans and costs have since risen. However, he said $800,000 has been allocated for the work should they move forward. Long-term goals include replacing the turf at Wigwam Stadium over the next few years and putting a restroom in the wrestling room, yet any movement on an auditorium or the expansion of the elementary school parking lot are further down the road. In the meantime, the Classroom Facilities Fund is defraying costs for a new propane boiler. Sabbato said the old PI fund was more restrictive when it came to projects while the new fund provides more latitude and allows for such improvements as security. He noted that the district may also qualify for grants to complete work.
   In other matters, the board heard reports from Southern Local High School Principal Rich Wright, who said ASVAB testing was being set while Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) rewards were being given to about 200 students. He continued that the Aiming High program would begin at the junior high in February with discussions on substance abuse and social relationships and ACT testing would be held for juniors in March. He added that state testing was set for April 25-May 4. Southern Local Elementary Principal Emily Brinker planned to approach PTO members about volunteering during lunch duty to free up classroom aides and said SLES teachers would be working with consultant Carri Meek during professional development on the next waiver day.
  Superintendent Tom Cunningham said high school officials reviewed an ACT prep program over the holiday break and are looking to implement it in classrooms. He added that tests were free and mandated by the state while the software tools could be used in class and students can also work online at home. Cunningham said two-part waiver days were eyed for Jan. 20 and Feb. 10, at which time the elementary school would work on educational improvement projects and the high school would focus on the Bridges Out of Poverty program regarding disadvantaged students. The programs will then be swapped in February with SLES discussing Bridges Out of Poverty and SLHS discussing curriculum. On a related note, the panel approved the waiver days.
   Among other action:
--The board approved the hiring of substitute personnel including Brittany Crow, Jamie Clemens, Regina Conley, Kayla Cope, Jackie Giovenco, Lacey Locke, Angela Martin, Vicki McCauley, Joy McIntosh, MaryEllen Palmer, Jocelyn Parrish, Shawnna Parrish, Michael Peters, Carla Phenicie, Heidi Price, Michelle Salus, Richard Sloan and Dawn Spooner, cafeteria workers; Dawn Gotschall, Taylor Gauntt, Melanie Glosser and Tara Javens, bus drivers; John Farnsworth, Bob Fox, Daniel Helman, Vicki McCauley, Emily May, Jocelyn Parrish, Heidi Price, Michelle Salus, Dawn Spooner, David Ulbright and Samantha Vest, custodians; Brooke Echols, Julie Garner, Kim Smith, Kayla Cope, Jamie Clemens, Vicki McCauley, Joy McIntosh, Angela Martin, MaryEllen Palmer, Michael Peters, Carla Phenicie and Michelle Salus, secretaries; Kaylynn Barnhart, Ann Chamberlain, Jada Derrington, Brian Eastham, Lexie Elliott, Jody Lockhart, Tony Martini, Jacob Melott, Marianna Milajecki, Jan Palmer, Kathryn Pastore, Frank Rose, Hannah Sevek, Kate Spahlinger and Pam Tedeschi, teachers; and Kaylynn Barnhart, Jean Boley, Jamie Clemens,Kayla Cope, Brittany Crow, Julie Garner, Jackie Giovenco, Richard Haught, Lacey Locke, Angela Martin, Jan Palmer, Jocelyn Parrish, Shawnna Parrish, Richard Sloan and Amanda Vernon, teacher’s aides. Sabbato said the state auditor suggested approving them twice a year;
--Alanna Smith was named assistant girls’ softball coach for the 2022-23 school year;
--Leaders accepted a $150 from Blissenbach for the athletic fund;
--Athletic Director Bob Shansky noted that the school’s bowling team has improved while the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams were in the Top 4 in the OVAC and spring sports were getting underway;
--Food Service Director Samantha Fryman updated leaders on happenings in her department, saying the elementary school was working on an Elmo’s Birthday theme in February and a Super Bowl event was eyed for the high school;
--Pencil-and-paper assessment testing was approved for OST ELA and OST Mathematics for third-grade students for the school year;
--Sabbato informed the board that most school records have been maintained in a warehouse with separate backing systems kept secure digitally in Clouds and any historical information would be sent to the historical society;
--Cunningham honored officials for School Board Recognition Month for January and distributed certificates of appreciation, plus a dinner was being set for February;
--The next regular meeting was set for Feb. 14 at 5:30 p.m. in the SLHS Media Center.

(Photo Caption: The Southern Local Board of Education got organized for 2023 but kept Kip Dowling and Scott Hart in place as board president and vice president, respectively. Pictured are, from left, Karl Blissenbach and Linda Morris. Back: Hart, Dowling and John Sawyer.)
Southern Staff Seeks to Help Disadvantaged Students
Posted 1/18/2023 at 3:00:55 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE- Southern Local School District administrators and staff are looking to help disadvantaged students by taking part in a Bridges Out of Poverty program.
     Two waiver days are set for Jan. 20 and Feb. 10 for all-day professional development sessions, and at that time each building will have a chance to learn how to support students living in low-income households.  District Director of Special Services Laura Krulik organized the session and junior and senior high staff will complete the workshop next week while elementary personnel hone their focus on student learning with educational consultant Carri Meek. SLES will switch gears at the Feb. 10 session and be introduced to Bridges Out of Poverty while SLHS will talk education.
   With the district’s poverty level currently standing at 73 percent, officials want to find ways to support the students so they can achieve success in life. Participants will center on the economic class and learn strategies for communities to alleviate poverty. According to the program, they will review poverty research, examine a theory of change and analyze poverty “through the prism of the hidden rules of class, resources, family structure, and language” with a goal to build resources, improve outcomes and help support those to move out of poverty.
    SLHS Assistant Principal Jess Krulik said students are impacted because it affects their ability to learn.
   “Kids have had a hard time learning because they’ve been raised in poverty. [The session] gives a deeper understanding of challenges that people with poverty face and ways we would battle the pitfalls they have,” he noted. “It also gives insight into hidden rules people in poverty have. I think it will be helpful to our staff.”
 Superintendent Tom Cunningham said he took part in sessions many years ago and it would definitely be an advantage today.
   “We are using this workshop as a way to work collectively to improve strategies dealing with social and financial disadvantages. Poverty, both situational and generational, impacts student learning and we want to look at ways to increase student success across the board.”
Southern Local Boosting Security with Grant
Posted 1/9/2023 at 10:07:52 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-A $200,000 grant allocation is helping Southern Local Schools boost its security systems and promote a safer learning environment.
   Southern was among more than 700 school districts selected for Ohio K-12 School Safety Grants with about $100 million being disbursed in 57 counties, and it will utilize its portion to upgrade cameras and access mechanisms around its buildings. District Federal Programs Coordinator Kristy Sampson said the elementary and junior/senior high school structures each gained $100,000 for the upgrades, and some of the equipment has already been purchased while more was being procured.
   “We are getting camera upgrades and security upgrades in the buildings and it has to be done before September of 2024,” Sampson said. “It can also reimburse the schools for costs of work done between Jan. 1, 2022, and Dec. 30, 2023. We had to complete a safety needs assessment that was done by our School Resource Officer Deputy Jeff Haugh and Advanced Training Group Worldwide (ATG) of Lisbon. The goal is to increase our score on the safety assessment and align ourselves with the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) school safety checklist and decrease vulnerabilities to catastrophic situations.”
   The schools’ assessments showed some areas in need of improvement with regards to equipment and monitoring, and now leaders are taking steps to rectify the matter so the district’s faculty, staff and estimated 745 PreK-12 students can focus on education.
   “They will be updating outdated equipment as well as adding more safety features for areas that may not be efficiently covered,” she said. “Some of the items have been purchased and we’ll be reimbursed and others will be completed by the end of this school year.”
   Deputy Haugh and District Technology Director Josh Manist have already helped acquire updated hand-held safety radios, windshield dashcams for school buses, metal detector wands, Tattletale security pagers and additional scanners for badges that are mounted at the entrances. Future purchases include ballistic window film, cameras, software upgrades, portable road barriers and weather stations, the latter of which will be placed outside the elementary and high school buildings.
   Sampson noted that some work may continue, but all of the updates should be completed by the 2024 deadline. Meanwhile, she was pleased to see the district gain a grant award since it was a competitive process.
   “It’s great to be approved and be able to provide more effective and efficient safety and security measures in both buildings.”
   Superintendent Tom Cunningham echoed the comment, saying Sampson and Deputy Haugh were very involved in the planning stages.
   “We’re really fortunate to receive that funding. Mrs. Sampson and Deputy Haugh did a lot of work with the analysis on our buildings and what the security needs were,” he said. “It definitely helps the district and the upgrades will be long-lasting.”
   Meanwhile, the district previously conducted safety drills involving an active intruder scenario and bomb threat, which also included the lockdown and evacuation of students and participation of local safety forces to test the school safety plan. Officials said more scenarios are eyed in the future.
Aiming High Program Back at SLES
Posted 12/15/2022 at 1:36:47 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local Elementary students will learn about character building to peer pressure as the Aiming High program returns this January.
    Representatives of the Family Recovery Center in Lisbon have visited SLES throughout the fall to address life skills topics with pupils in first, third and fourth grade on such issues as making healthy choices, conflict resolution and problem solving. Now they will resume in January and February and speak with children in the kindergarten, second- and fifth-grade classrooms. SLES Guidance Counselor Larry Rudloff said FRC educators have been visiting the school for more than two decades to discuss how kids could be their best selves.
     “The program will consist of four 30-minute presentations,” he said. “In the event of a two-hour delay or a cancelation day, they will extend the schedule to ensure that all four programs will be presented to the students.”
   Second-graders returning after the holiday break will learn life skills such as decisions and consequences, building self-confidence, risky behaviors and introduction to medicine on Jan. 4, 11, 18 and 25 while fifth-graders will hear about assertiveness, peer pressure, responsibility, communication and respect for oneself and others on Jan. 5, 12, 19 and 26. Kindergarten classes  will hear about   during their sessions on Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 22. Representatives Kierstin Fillman and Ashley McLaughlin will speak to second-grade and kindergarten students while Denise Kuhlman is scheduled to address the fifth-graders.
McFolling “Speaks Life” at Southern Local
Posted 12/15/2022 at 12:50:17 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SL Speaker
SALINEVILLE- Markus McFolling was a football player when an injury led him to a downward spiral. Now he’s sharing his message of hope and encouraging others who are facing struggles in their own lives.
   McFolling, of Canton, visited Southern Local High School on Dec. 9, where he led two sessions with junior and senior high students and also met with teens at lunchtime. A high school and college athlete from Seaside, Calif., he was a running back for the San Antonio Talons professional arena football team for more than three years when he injured his shoulder. He underwent surgery following the mishap and ultimately developed an addiction to painkillers. 
  “My doctor prescribed Percocet and I would do whatever I had to so I could get high,” he said. “I was a star athlete who became an addict.”
   His addiction impacted his family, which included wife Chelsea and then baby daughter Averie. McFolling would purchase narcotics on the street and was arrested after attempting to acquire more from various doctors. In 2017, he was charged with deception to obtain prescription drugs and chose the honest path by pleading guilty in court, and his words moved the judge to drop the charges. McFolling sought help in a faith-based rehabilitation program and has worked to stay on the straight and narrow. It was also around that time that he decided help others.
   “I wanted to use my pain and turn it into message. I realized I was someone who was good enough,” McFolling added. “When I was in rehab and I was at my lowest of lows, I said I was going to do great things.”
   He went on to form the Reach1 organization, which stands for Reconciling Every Abandoned Child Home, and has traveled to schools, conferences and community events across the country to share his story of overcoming adversity. In October of 2018--nearly one year to the day he made that choice—he spoke to his first high school. Since then, he has addressed 310,000 people across the country and his next ventures were in the Dominican Republic and a session with the Seattle Seahawks. His personal life has also improved when his family expanded with the addition of another daughter, Dakota.
   McFolling said people should use positive, life-affirming words to help others who are facing depression, anxiety, addiction and other struggles.
   “There’s someone in this room right now that’s going through it right now,” he added. “In 2017, about 57,000 people lost their lives to an overdose. That’s more than the Vietnam and Korean Wars combined.”
   He asked students if they or someone they knew had been facing struggles with addiction or other issues, to which many teens raised their hands. He also conducted several exercises where the youth closed their eyes and raised their hands if they had thoughts of harming themselves within the past month to year. Other activities involved having several pupils look at themselves in mirrors and say affirmations, plus they shared positive words with teachers.
   He said the purpose was to “speak life” and lift up themselves and others, and McFolling noted that teachers, parents and other adults were available for the youth to talk to. 
    “If you remember anything else I say today, remember this: I see you and I see you’re struggling, but your life has so much purpose.” Promise me you will talk to an adult sometimes when you need to.”

(Photo Cutline: Speaker Markus McFolling addressed junior and senior high students at Southern Local on Dec. 9 as he shared his journey from athlete to addict and his mission to encourage positive living in others. McFolling developed his Reach1 organization and has since spoken in schools, churches and other venues. He is pictured here performing an exercise with junior high students during one of his sessions.)
Students Learn about Problem Solving
Posted 11/29/2022 at 8:54:08 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SLES HelpNetwork
SALINEVILLE-Students got a lesson in problem solving when it comes to personal issues as part of the ongoing Safe Student, Healthy Student program at Southern Local Elementary School.
   Cathy Grizinski, associate director of the HelpNetwork of Northeast Ohio, who spoke to fourth-graders on Nov. 22 about how they can address personal issues in an effective manner. HelpNetwork NEO provides crisis intervention services for Columbiana, Mahoning, Trumbull and Ashtabula counties when dealing with mental health, homelessness, substance abuse, victims assistance, health, utilities assistance, special needs, seniors and more.
   “All of us go through problems whether we are adults or your age,” Grizinski said. “A lot of you are already dealing with issues. People call a place like the Help Hotline or Phone Friend because they need someone to talk to.”
   She and the students discussed instances which could create stress, such as fighting with others, and how stressful situations could impact the body both physically and emotionally. 
   “It’s such a challenge,” she added. “When it comes to problem solving, some are easy to solve but others have to be figured out. There are many times where we have to learn how to make better choices. When you are stressed, you feel scared, overwhelmed, mad, sad or upset. Emotions sometimes take over how we respond.”
   She said the key is to identify their feelings when a problem occurs, decide how to respond and find solutions.
   “Anytime we look at the pros and cons and then we act, we become good problem solvers,” she noted, saying it was important to be good problem solvers.
   She added that the hotline is available when needed, but others such as parents, teachers, coaches, pastors and siblings would also be willing to listen. She provided informational cards to the kids for further assistance. For more information about HelpNetwork, call 211 or go online to HelpNetworkNEO.org.
    SLES Guidance Counselor Larry Rudloff has conducted classroom sessions throughout the fall and will continue through the year with virtual and in-person programs also involving local and state organizations. Upcoming events include a natural gas program for fifth-graders on Dec. 2; the Ohio Optometric Association with virtual programs featuring “Sammy Safe-Eyes” for kindergarten students and “The Adventures of Rhet and Tina” for first-graders on Dec. 6; and “Bullies Are Not Welcome in Our School” with promotional materials being distributed throughout the school on Dec. 7.

(Photo Caption: Cathy Grizinski, associate director of the Help Network of Northeast Ohio, spoke to fourth-graders about solving personal problems as part of the school’s yearlong Safe Student, Healthy Student program. She informed students about finding effective solutions and encouraged them to speak with parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, siblings or other trusted individuals if they need help while HelpNetwork’s 211 help hotline was also available.)
Southern Local Elementary Teachers Earn Classroom Grants
Posted 11/10/2022 at 1:10:54 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]

SALINEVILLE- Three Southern Local Elementary School teachers will be sharing more than $1,000 in grant funding to provide interesting learning experiences for students. 


   Holly Davis, Karen Marquis and Tracey Richards each received a $660 Best Practice Grant through the Jefferson County Educational Service Center that will be put towards innovative classroom projects. JCESC Director of Curriculum and Professional Development Ron Sismondo doled out the awards during the monthly Southern Local school board session on Nov. 7 and praised the educators’ creative ideas. 


   “I am here to deliver three Best Practice Grants to three of your teachers,” he said. “We raised [the amount] by 10 percent to $660, or about $1,980 total. There were 45 applications and five from Southern Local. They were all good and we selected three from your district.” 


    Davis, who instructs kindergarten, plans to share her “Daily 5 in KC” reading and Language Arts project with other kindergarten classes and provide activities for hands-on, independent learning. She will purchase supplies so teachers can focus on individual student needs while keeping the children engaged. Among the choices are “Read to Self,” “Work on Writing,” “Read to Someone,” “Listen to Reading” and “Word Work,” which she said would help students become independent learners as well as better readers and writers. 


   “I have 18 students in my classroom,” she said. “I will also share the activities and supplies with the other three kindergarten classes for use in their Daily 5 rotation. 


    Davis previously applied for and received another Best Practice Grant and said she was blessed to receive the latest allocation. 


   “My students will benefit for years to come because of this grant. I am truly thankful for this opportunity. I would like to thank JCESC and Southern Local for the opportunity to apply for such an amazing program to benefit my classroom today and in the years ahead.” 


    Marquis, who instructs fifth-grade math and science, will utilize her windfall for “Creating Stories in the Sky.” She will purchase a Homestar Flux planetarium project while students work together and use problem-solving skills to construct a 16-foot-by-10.5-foot planetarium. It could be set up in the gym and is large enough for classrooms of 23-25 pupils to view constellations which could only be seen from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere.  


    “I will have all of my 44 students working to construct a planetarium. All of the elementary students will be invited to use it this spring after it has been constructed,” Marquis said. “I am so excited I received the grant because it will allow me to bring the universe to life for my students. Instead of us going to a planetarium in Pittsburgh, the students can experience a smaller version of it every year by making our own reusable planetarium here at Southern. I want the students to be able to see the universe from different aspects of the Earth. It went with this year’s theme of ‘Build, Build, Build.’ 


   She added that students also experience math and engineering on a real-life level by using them to form different shapes from triangles and hexagons and create the dome planetarium. 

   Marquis previously received a Best Practice Grant to purchase eight CUE robots that students can control through coding. The robots are used to construct projects and complete engineering tasks and challenges, while the district helped acquire eight iPads and a cart for storage. She said the iPads are extremely useful in helping students complete coding for the robots. 


   Richards, who serves as a full-day preschool teacher, plans to implement “Preschool STEM and STEAM” kits in a cross-curriculum method to assist with literacy and engineering skills. Teachers will read stories to students in a group activity, then the pupils will be able to act out the stories using puppets and complete an included STEM challenge. 


   “I am very excited to have been chosen to receive a Best Practice Grant from the Jefferson County Educational Service Center,” she said. “The goal of the project is to make a multi-dimensional approach in supporting students’ language and literacy skills as well as supporting their creative expression that will allow them to master early engineering.” 


   The project will benefit about 24 full-day preschoolers annually as well as an additional 32 students each year in half-day classes. She said this was her first such grant application and she was pleased to be chosen as a recipient. 


   “I am very thankful, excited and honored to receive this grant. I am very excited to be receiving a Best Practice Grant because I believe that it is important to teach STEAM/STEM to my students because it will help them learn skills relevant to the 21st Century, including innovation?and cultural sensitivity. Thank you to the Jefferson County ESC for giving me the opportunity to apply for this grant so I can supply our two preschool classrooms with resources that we would not normally have. I can't wait to start using these resources and improving my class.” 


   JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko congratulated the recipients and said the grants helped support education so all students may thrive. 


   “There are certain events or occasions that folks look forward to each year.? At the JCESC, one of those events is when the board and staff can read the innovative teacher Best Practice Grant applications that have been submitted,” he added. “Our schools have many great teachers with ground-breaking lesson plans and out-of-the-box instructional strategies, and we are happy to be able to fund many of those ideas so they may become reality for the students in the classroom.??Congratulations?to our winners and we look forward to seeing what unique ideas will be submitted next year.”? 


(Photo Caption: Three Southern Local Elementary School teachers were recipients of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center’s 2022 Best Practice Grants for ingenuity in classroom education. The grants were awarded during the Southern Local school board’s meeting on Nov. 7 and pictured are, from left, Tracey Richards, Holly Davis and Karen Marquis with JCESC Director of Curriculum and Professional Development Ron Sismondo.) 

Students Learn Many Lessons with Food Drive
Posted 11/2/2022 at 10:29:47 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SLJHS Food Drive
SALINEVILLE-Some Southern Local Jr. High students are learning more than one lesson by spearheading a food drive.
   Pupils in Tiffany Scheel’s sixth-grade math class are collecting items for the Southern Community Center Food Pantry in Salineville until Veteran’s Day and bins are available in the lobby of both the high school and elementary buildings. The class is accepting nonperishable items including instant mashed potatoes, turkey or brown gravy, boxes of stuffing, cake, brownie and Jello mix, cake icing, egg noodles and canned vegetables for the pantry’s Thanksgiving distribution.  
   “The math class is using this for their statistics unit and will collect data on the items donated,” Scheel said. “We began (on Oct. 24) and will collect until Nov. 11. This is something new this year to get the students interested in data collection and analogies.”
   The collection bins are separated by grade levels as part of the process, and she said several lessons are being instilled with the project. In addition to providing information for their math calculations, it gives back to community members in need. The food pantry has served dozens of  households and Scheel welcomed others to contribute to the cause.
   “The entire school is collecting Thanksgiving food items and the public is invited to donate.”
Food Program Starting at Buckeye West
Posted 10/17/2022 at 11:32:59 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
BL West Food Program
ADENA-Buckeye West Elementary is starting a new food program to ensure students are sustained outside of school.
  School nurse Mandi Cook has circulated letters to the community about the Blessings in a Backpack program modeled after a similar venture in the Harrison Hills City School District. Cook said there was a definite need and she is collecting items to make sure kids don’t go hungry when classes aren’t in session. 
   “I am looking for monetary gifts or nonperishable food donations to start Blessings in a Backpack,” she said. “It’s designed to meet nutritional needs of school-aged children, so I am accepting ramen noodles, oatmeal, cereal packs and granola and Nutrigrain bars. Being here, I see the different needs of kids and hear their stories. I wanted to be able to do something so if they are not in school they can still get nutritional food and snacks.”
   She contacted officials at Harrison Hills for input on their program and sent letters soliciting donations for her collection. There has been a response thus far with some drinks, snacks and food supplied by local individuals and groups. Among them is the Dillonvale Food Pantry, which provided tuna, spaghetti rings, canned goods and juice for the weekly meals. She is also accepting fruit cups, cheese crackers, applesauce, pudding and canned goods and items can be dropped off at the school in Adena during business hours. Cook plans to provide needy students with bags of food for the weekend and eventual plans are to supply enough for holiday breaks.
   “My goal is to start by Nov. 1 and then every Friday I will send them home with a backpack. Sometimes people need extra help, and this is a good way to make sure the kids are getting some sustenance so they are not going hungry. It’s an opportunity to give back to the community and help our youth.”
  Cook is also seeking grant funds to support the program and is pondering a possible Thanksgiving project. Her idea is for students to help collect food items with the class raising the most receiving a prize. Monetary checks for Blessings in a Backpack may be made to the Buckeye West Elementary School and sent to the school at 243 N. Mill St., Adena, 43901. For more information, contact Cook at (740) 546-3331 or 546-3413.

(Photo Caption: Buckeye West Elementary School Nurse Mandi Cook is starting a new program to ensure students are fed outside of school and is collecting items to take home on weekends. So far, she has received contributions of juice, fruit cups, soup and cereal and anyone wanting to help may contact her at (740) 546-3331 or 546-3413.)
Southern Local Educators Undergo Safety Training
Posted 10/17/2022 at 11:25:05 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
Southern Teacher Training
SALINEVILLE-The Southern Local School District is addressing safety by training staff to subdue aggressors in an active situation.
   Two educators underwent intensive training through Advanced Training Group in Lisbon between Aug. 24 and Sept. 1 to assist in incidents if needed. Southern Local High School guidance counselor Alannah Smith and junior high teacher Todd Walters spent four days working with ATG staff learning skills that may be utilized by the likes of military and safety forces. Deputy Haugh said he has attended ATG training in the past and it was no easy feat, especially for the likes of everyday citizens. 
    “This is not something the average person would have to go through,” he said. “The training is normally reserved for Navy SEALS and SWAT teams, but a lot of what they go through could be used in a school scenario.”
   He said he had been in talks with ATG operator Adam Newbold, who had conducted trainings with the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office over the years and also worked with federal officials.  The duo spoke about educating some educators and two representatives were sent from Southern for some hard-core instruction.
    “They train that you can do anything if you have the belief,” Deputy Haugh added. “It’s something you can’t imagine going through yourself and it affects you physically and mentally. It’s far more advanced than anything I’d put anybody through, but the opportunity came up and we grabbed it.”
     Smith concurred, saying the experience was very intense.
   “It was four days, or 16 hours, of training with hand-to-hand personal defense, recognizing a potential threat and acting accordingly,” she commented. “There are opportunities to go back for train the trainer. It was extremely useful and I’ll be able to use it throughout my life. I definitely learned life-saving skills to save yourself in any situation.”
    Walters described the training as very demanding and structured and said Newbold showed them techniques that make a huge difference in a desperate situation.
   “I believe the training was well worth it and all of it has merit,” he noted. “It was one of the most unique instructions I’ve had and he puts you through the paces. It was very physically challenging. I’ve told people, ‘You’ll never experience anything like this in your life. It doesn’t matter your size, age or gender.”
    Newbold, a retired Navy SEAL, has also served as a special advisor to the CIA and commended Smith and Walters for their dedication to the unarmed defense sessions.
   “They did an exceptional job and are very capable. We took them to a whole new level,” he said. “It’s fighting in a high-risk, life-or-death arena. It’s used on SEAL teams and special tactics teams and shows reflexive reaction to a threat and situational awareness,” Newbold explained. “I’ve worked with thousands of civilians and we do a lot of training with different schools in active shooter, aggressive response and armed and unarmed defense.”
   He said having those skills is vitally important, and having that added layer of protection in a school scenario makes a difference.
  “When my child goes to school for seven or eight hours a day, I want them to be protected, and our faculty and administrators have to be protectors. I believe it’s every adult’s responsibility to protect the children. We’ve been working with schools and churches for the past 10 years, but for the past four years it’s become a high priority for schools. Even if you have an SRO and they are on the other side of the school and something happens, we feel within every school system there are people with proper instruction who can fill the gap.”
   He said the training also helps give people opportunities to get away quickly or help until authorities respond to the scene. Meanwhile, more school staff were expected to undergo training at ATG and officials may also take part in a threat identification program with criminal profiler Phil Chalmers in Massillon on Oct. 26.
    Deputy Haugh said it was just another way to prepare should an actual event occur in the schools, and it takes a hard lesson from the tragedies at Uvalde, Parkland and other schools.
   “One thing in common with the school shootings is everyone believed it would never happen there. The Southern Local school board and administration have been very supportive of ways to enhance safety.”

(Photo Caption: Adam Newbold, owner of Advanced Training Group in Lisbon, presents certificates to Southern Local School District teacher Todd Walters, at left, and guidance counselor Alannah Smith for completing intensive training at the facility. School leaders said it is another layer of protection in the buildings should an active situation occur.)
SLHS Students Learning about Aquatic Life
Posted 9/30/2022 at 2:57:24 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SLHS Koi Pond
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local High School is giving pupils a closer look at underwater life through the creation of a manmade aquatic ecosystem.
   Biology II students developed a koi pond last year and recently stocked it with goldfish with the intention to observe the creatures in their natural habitat. SLHS Assistant Principal Jess Krulik, who headed the project as a science teacher last year, said it will hopefully be used as a perpetual tool for hands-on learning. The project was funded with a $600 Best Practice Grant through the Jefferson County Educational Service Center and Krulik said students and members of the FFA organization helped create the pond in the school’s courtyard, but the maintenance and research will be done by current teacher Lisa Houck’s class.
   “I had an ambitious group of kids and they wanted to do it. We started it with the environmental science class and created it to have an aquatic environment to test the water and vegetation samples and study microscopic life,” he said. “I wanted to show them that life begins with the smallest microscopic organism and includes the largest water life.”
    The project’s development took some time, but once plans were in order students and FFA members dug up the ground and added the pond this past spring. Krulik added that it has been fruitful thus far.
   “There were already microscopic organisms and it became its own environment,” he said.
    Classes will be responsible for testing, analyzing and modeling ecosystems to learn how the fish and other water life survive and thrive in the environment. 
   “We’ve been watching the algae and so far, we have tadpoles,” said junior Tyler Rawlings, who aided in its creation. “It will be used in the future between the biology and other classes to take samples and will be monitored further.”
    Meanwhile, Krulik said the goal is to teach more students in the years ahead as part of a sustainable program.
(Photo Cutline: Students Landyn Bess and Gage Murphy view the koi pond established last year in the courtyard of Southern Local High School. Biology students developed the pond for testing, analysis and modeling aquatic ecosystems and the pond was recently stocked with fish to aid the experiment.)
Tribe Time Program Open to SL Students
Posted 9/3/2022 at 10:48:47 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-The Tribe Time Before and After School Program is open to Southern Local students for some fun and learning.
   Operated by Aubrey Bach and Jamie Mitchell of the A&J Kiducation Learning Center LLC in Wellsville, the program is now in its second year at SLES and sessions are available for students in the school library from 7-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. About 20 kids in grades PreK through age 12 take part but Bach said there is always room to grow.
   “This year is going to be much bigger. We offer a multitude of activities and will run a club theme in the afternoon,” she said. “We’ve had Lego night and movie nights and are planning a luau and a pizza night. We have a calendar for the parents to let them know what they are.”
   Tribe Time was formed when the district teamed up with Kiducation leaders to provide a program for students, and now two sessions are offered each weekday. Children can participate in the morning sessions for homework assistance and hands-on activities until their classes begin while afternoon sessions continue with the themed events to provide some extra fun. Attendance presently averages between 10 to 13 children per day with Erin Smith serving as lead teacher and Kayla Terdina acting as assistant teacher.
   Southern Local and Kiducation officials work with families during the enrollment process to develop a transportation plan but families may self-transport if they choose. Costs are $5 per session or $40 per week and $100 per month unlimited and may be covered by the Columbiana County Department of Job and Family Services’ assistance program if eligible, but children need not attend all week. Bach said Southern Local staff members may also enroll their children into the program for free in appreciation for welcoming Tribe Time to the school community. All they need to do is follow the enrollment process for services.
   “We’ve also just received our star rating and will soon be able to access county assistance, plus we’ll have funding options for those who self-pay to fit their needs,” she noted. 
   For more information, contact Bach at (330) 853-6390 or Mitchell at (330) 383-7860.
SLES Open House on Sept. 16
Posted 9/2/2022 at 10:47:14 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local Elementary School is inviting students and their families to an open house at the building on Sept. 16.
   Activities will be held from 5-6 p.m. and teachers and staff will be on hand to welcome kids and parents to view grades PreK-5 classrooms, meet educators and take part in some fun learning activities. Principal Emily Brinker said about 420 children are enrolled and the gathering, which was usually held during the district’s annual Back To School Bash, will allow guests to get acquainted with the people and educational environment.
   “There will be make-and-take activities and people can see the classrooms,” she said. “It’s a replacement for what we would do during the Back To School Bash. There will also be refreshments and snacks and it’s a good time to get the parents in to see what their kids are doing in class.”
   Students will also receive a free ticket to attend the Southern Local High School Indians’ Hall of Fame football game against Columbiana that evening at 7 p.m. For more information about the open house, contact the school at (330) 679-2305.
SL Back to School Bash Set for Aug. 18
Posted 8/8/2022 at 2:43:20 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-Students in the Southern Local School District can enjoy some fun before they return with the annual Back to School Bash on Aug. 18. 
    Events run from 4-6 p.m. and will include inflatable rides to giveaways. District Director of Special Services Laura Krulik, who is organizing the bash, said there will be something for the entire family to celebrate the upcoming school year.
    “There will be a bounce house, slide, games, food, D.J. and giveaways,” she said.
   About 30 vendors will be on hand from community agencies and health providers to churches to provide free school supplies, hygiene items, T-shirts and more. Fundraisers will also be held and something new includes a double slide for the little ones to enjoy to inflatable sports games. Close to 1,000 people have attended the bash, which has been held for roughly a decade but was temporarily put on hold during the COVID pandemic. It was restarted last year with alterations to meet safety protocols.
   In addition to activities, there will be a sixth-grade orientation at 4 p.m. in the gym with a Meet the Indians presentation to close at 6 p.m. Krulik said Southern Local Elementary will not hold an open house during the bash but instead has plans for September.
Southern Honors Seniors at Assembly
Posted 6/3/2022 at 12:24:33 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SLHS Senior Assembly
SALINEVILLE-Graduates-to-be gathered once more at Southern Local High School before collecting their diplomas for the annual Senior Assembly on May 25.
    Proud family members looked on as many of the 48 seniors collected more than $137,000 in scholarships, including a four-year university grant plus other awards, in the school gym. Senior Class President Ronni Mayfield congratulated her peers and thanked everyone for supporting the seniors as they attained their milestone. SLHS Principal Jay Kiger also heralded the class for their amazing accomplishments, saying they made him extremely proud.
   “I continue to be amazed by these accomplishments. You have demonstrated resilience and grit.,” Kiger said. “This class has been motivated and hugely impactful. You’ve set the bar high for future graduates.”
   Academic and athletic awards plus $137,150 in scholarships were distributed during the event. Among the recipients were the following:
--Emily Walker, K.L. Martin Award for $300, 
--Emily Walker, Franklin B. Walter Scholarship nominee, $100;
--Emily Walker, Southern Ruritan Club Scholarship, $500;
--Elizabeth Mostella, Southern Local Perfect Attendance Award K-12;
--Elizabeth Mostella, Columbiana County Coaches Association Scholarship, $500;
--Adriana Gilliam, Bethany College Kalon Scholarship for $27,000 annually for four years ($108,000);
--Emily Walker and Elizabeth Mostella, American Red Cross Scholarship for $250 each;
--Abbey Powell, Kampfer Family Scholarship, $750;
--Andrew DeSellem, Columbiana County Farm Bureau Scholarship, $1,000;
--Andrew DeSellem and Emily Walker, Marcus K. Walter Memorial Scholarship, $1,100 each;
--Kaden Korbel, Ira Lewis Thompson Memorial Band Scholarship, $250;
--Andrew DeSellem, Silas Black and Mariah Anderson, career tech honors diplomas;
--Andrew DeSellem Silas Black, Mariah Anderson, Marissa Stewart, Makya Shaw, Emily Walker and Caleb Prendergrast, FFA honors cords;
--Christopher Mason, Andrew DeSellem, Silas Black, Mariah Anderson, Marissa Stewart and Makya Shaw, Columbiana County FFA Scholarships for $250 each;
--Marissa Stewart, 4-H honor cord;
--Emily Walker, Student Council Dedicated Member Scholarship for $500;
--Ronni Mayfield, Student Council Above and Beyond Scholarship for $500; 
--Rebecca Possage, Delta Kappa Gamma Teachers’ Scholarship, $300;
--Elizabeth Mostella, Kim and Ashley Bergman Memorial Scholarship, $1,000;
--Silas Black and Elizabeth Mostella, U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Awards;
--Andrew DeSellem, U.S. Marine Corps Scholastic Excellence Award;
--Ronni Mayfield, U.S. Marine Corps Semper Fidelis Award for Excellence;
--Jordan Powell, American Legion Unit 442 Auxiliary Scholarship, $250;
--Andrew DeSellem, Sebastian Bach, Silas Black and Emily May, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 442 Scholarships for $1,000 each.
   Additionally, SLHS teacher Alyssa Lockhart presented Southern Local Alumni Scholarships and said a total of $341,500 has been given to 375 awardees with $18,000 provided last year. This year’s recipients included Emily Walker, $2,500; Sebastian Bach, $2,250; Emily Flannery, $2,000; Andrew DeSellem, $1,750; Abbey Powell, $1,750; Elizabeth Mostella, $1,750; Cameron White, $1,500; and Rebecca Possage, $1,500.
   Shansky then announced Ohio High Schools Athletic Association Awards for Ronni Mayfield and Bryce Foster, who earned the Archie Griffin Sportsmanship Awards, and Elizabeth Mostella, who received the Scholar Athlete Award.
   Family members bestowed honor cords upon seniors and recipients included Damon Allen, Mariah Anderson, Sebastian Bach, Sophia Beatty, Silas Black, Riley Collins, Alexis Crooms, Mason Dalehite, Andrew DeSellem, Emily Flannery, Adriana Gilliam, Grace Haught, Emily May, Ronni Mayfield, Elizabeth Mostella, Rebecca Possage, Abby Powell, Jordan Powell, Jordan Rannick, Logan Rhodes Ella Rose, Makya Shaw, Marissa Stewart, Emily Walker, Robert Westover and Cameron White.
  Ronni Mayfield and Marissa Stewart presented a class history while Andrew DeSellem and Emily Walker provided a humorous class prophecy regarding the grads at their 10-year reunion. Meanwhile, the junior class took their place in the senior seating section and Mayfield closed the celebration with a thank you to the crowd and congratulations to her fellow seniors.

(Photo Cutline: Southern Local High School Senior Class President Ronni Mayfield addresses the crowd during Senior Assembly on May 25. Nearly 50 seniors were on hand with many collecting among $137,000 in scholarships and other awards while their proud family members looked on.)
District Showcase at Southern
Posted 5/20/2022 at 12:26:02 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SL District Showcase
SALINEVILLE-Southern Local Schools opened the doors once again for its annual District Showcase on May 12, welcoming families to view their students’ skills and talents on display.
   Crowds circled the exterior of the campus to meet vendors which included school groups and community organizations, from Utica Shale Academy, Southern High School FFA with a petting zoo and school staff providing popcorn and goodies to RSVP of Columbiana and Jefferson Counties, the Columbiana County Fair Board and county Department of Job and Family Services with information and give-away items. Attendants viewed displays inside of classroom projects from STEM to history, met teachers and staff members, listened to the musical stylings of the fourth-grade and high school choruses, looked at student artwork and obtained more info and goods from Akron Children’s Hospital and school nurse Heidi McIntosh’s health fair among other groups. 
   District Director of Special Education Laura Krulik, who organized the event, said it was good to return to more normalcy after COVID stifled previous activities. Krulik added that 23 organizations took part and quite a few new ones hopped on board after she submitted an invite through the county’s Family and Children First Council, of which she’s a member.
   “Last year, we had it all outside [for social distancing]. This year, I thought we could have it both inside and outside,” she said. “I’ve been part of the Family and Children First Council in Lisbon and sent them a flyer, then I got more responses. We have a lot of new people. Utica Shale Academy brought their new instructors and we have RSVP of Columbiana County, Pierpointe Behavioral Analysts, the Columbiana Fair Board, Christina House and the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development.”
   Others included the Assembly of God, United Health Care Family Recovery Center’s ADAPT Program, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD), Help Me Grow, the Salineville Church of Christ, The Counseling Center of Wellsville, Camp Gideon, Youngstown State University, Blue Sky Employment Counseling, the Mahoning and Columbiana Training Association (MCTA) and the Community Action Agency of Columbiana County. Participants also had a chance to bid for original artwork in a silent auction to benefit the people of Ukraine; buy lemonade from SLES fifth-graders to help furry pals at the county dog pound; purchase clay bowls made by elementary children for the “Empty Bowl” benefit with proceeds going to the Southern Community Center to help end hunger; dine on delicious pasta during the football team’s fundraiser; or seek to win gift baskets and other prizes. People were encouraged to collect nine puzzle pieces from participating vendors and complete the picture, then submit it for a chance to win a drawing.
   Krulik said she received many good responses and people were happy to be back.
   “I think everybody’s happy. For some people, it was their first event. We were spread out and trying to enjoy it safely.”
   A few attendants voiced their pleasure at returning to the showcase.
   “I like to see what the kids are doing and what the community has to offer,” said parent Jesse Johnson.
   “I got to meet teachers and catch up on things they did, and they have a lot of free stuff for the kids,” added mom Myrna Baker.
   “I like the fact that I got to sing,” said SLHS sophomore Marah Morris. “I also enjoyed looking at the projects.”
   “I enjoyed the art show,” said freshman Paige Morris.
(Photo Cutline: Students and parents turned out for the annual District Showcase hosted by Southern Local Schools on May 12. Warm weather did not disappoint and participants got to view displays, meet teachers and staff, take part in fundraisers, receive information and prizes from vendors and more. Pictured is little Hudson Reed, 1 ½, as he and aunt Jamie Boyle of Wellsville get a feel for some textured artwork created by elementary students.)
Coaches Remain on Job at SL
Posted 5/20/2022 at 12:14:56 PM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SALINEVILLE-Two coaches will remain in charge after being backed by parents and athletes during the May 10 Southern Local school board meeting.
   A crowd of people attended the session in the Southern Local High School cafeteria, many of whom had spoken in favor of coach Mike Skrinjar at the April meeting after learning he may not return to the court. However, the board overwhelmingly approved his return for the next season and were met with applause. Skrinjar also noted his gratitude for the response.
 “Thank you for all the support,” he said. “I will continue to challenge the athletes and do all I can.”
  Coach Rich Sloan addressed the board saying he and his family faced retaliation for what his backing of Skrinjar, while he received a letter saying he may not return to his athletic post. 
  “People with good intentions make promises; people with good character keep it,” he said. “My intentions have always been to motivate people. Since this happened, I’ve been torn down. It’s never been about me; it’s been about the student-athletes.”
   One parent said it was unfair for Sloan to have received a letter to step down and that the parents expected someone to support and motivate the kids, which Sloan did. Others agreed, saying Sloan was a good coach. Following more talks, board President Kip Dowling said the panel was unaware anything had transpired and it would be addressed. Superintendent Tom Cunningham later read a statement to the audience indicating the letter was rescinded.
   “A lot of people were here for concerns,” he said. “The board appreciates the input and there are always areas to grow. The district has rescinded the letter and corrective actions have been taken. We wanted to make it known to the public.”
   Meanwhile, school leaders approved a bevy of new and returning faculty and staff in the district. Decisions included three-year teaching contracts for Terra Rauschenberg, Karla Calderon, Kyle Exline; two-year contracts for Erin Newburn, Jessica Coleman, Victoria Nuske, Matt Gates and Breann Jones; one-year teaching contracts for Alannah Kutan, Nick Woods, Paige Jackson, Kenadee Pezzano, Elizabeth Callahan, Larry Rudloff and Bob Shansky; a two-year contract for Marjorie Hiller as the central administrative technology specialist; one-year teaching contracts for new intervention specialists Abby Dalton and Abigail Monte; and a supplemental contract for Charlie Puckett for stadium maintenance. Additionally, officials approved Kylee Maple and Jesse Liggit as full-time substitute teachers for the 2022-23 school year as well as the resignations of custodian Calvin Sell for retirement effective June 3 and three-hour elementary cafeteria worker Lacey Locke effective May 3.
   In other business, the board:
--Approved Kyle Exline, Zach Almy, Gerard Grimm, Brett Hughes and Kelly Malone as summer school teachers plus a $2,500 stipend for the instructors which will be paid through ESSER funds;
--Approved the five-year forecast with Treasurer Greg Sabbato expected a positive balance for the next four years but he was also being cautious since the state funding model was not clear;
--Heard from Southern Local High School alumna and elementary art teacher Kim Adams, who said the SLHS Alumni Association invited them and the latest graduates to take part the 128th banquet on May 28. Adams said the 181st class was being inducted and the event also would celebrate 25 years for the Classes of 1995-97 and 50 years for the classes of 1970-72. She encouraged the board and newest alumni to take part, saying Southern was built on history and traditions;
--Heard from Southern Local Elementary Principal Rich Wright that students were participating in field days while fifth-graders were learning about entrepreneurship through a lemonade project. He noted that a picnic will be held May 23 to celebrate raising funds for the American Heart Association and administrators would be dressed as characters from the movie “Toy Story.” SLHS Principal Jay Kiger added that the year was winding down with a successful prom and FFA banquet while the aviation students visited the Columbiana County Airport to view aircraft, including teacher Emily Forbes Bowling’s plane;
--Heard that Kya Sloan and Maddie Jones qualified for the junior high state meet;
--Approved the list of Class of 2022 graduates;
--Heard from a former student and his mother about being told by a coach to play sports while suffering injury and health issues and claimed he still suffered long-term damage from a massage gun the coach used to relieve pain on his neck. Both said they had spoken to officials and a formal investigation occurred but they were never contacted, while the mother recently quit her job with the district and enrolled her son in another district;
--Set the next regular meeting for June 14 at 5:30 p.m.
SLES Students Lead Food Drive
Posted 5/4/2022 at 11:40:29 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SLES Food Drive
Southern Local Elementary School students collected more than 700 canned and boxed items during a recent drive for the Salineville Community Center Food Bank. The event was held over a two-week period in April and top homerooms included Elizabeth Callahan’s kindergarten, Taffy Voorhees’s third-grade and Karen Marquis’s fifth-grade classes, which collected more than 100 items each and will receive a sundae bar as a reward. Pictured with the donations are, front from left, Mackenzie Rohrer, Easton Gowin, Liam Crawford, Kaylynn Hannan, Remi Rector, Garrett Shaw and Tyler Barnhart. Middle: Madyson Gruszecki, Serenity Wallace, Wyatt Ketchum, Eric Slagle, Jayce Tsesmilles and Jacob Hickman. Back:Addysin Andrenok, Vaida Jo Willis, Justice Younger-Hart, Katie Kellogg, Kalayah Crute, Eliana Forbes, Payton Davison and Lucie Lee.
Students Take off with Flight Simulator
Posted 5/3/2022 at 11:06:32 AM by Kristina Ash [staff member]
SL Aviation Simulator
SALINEVILLE-Students can head to the Wild Blue Yonder without leaving the classroom through a unique new flight simulator at Southern Local High School.
      District Technology Director Josh Manist and his group of high school tech inter