Members of the Plainfield Township Fire Department were recognized for their years of service on Monday, October 5 during the township’s regular board meeting. Recognition began with firefighters with 25 years serving their community followed by 15-year awards. The board members expressed gratitude to the department and all the services provided to the public by the firefighters. Firefighters must take 400 to 500 hours of training before they are qualified for the position.
The second-graders in Mrs. Sanders’ and Mrs. Schroder’s Crestwood Elementary classes will have special light diffusers coming to their classrooms very soon. A student grant was awarded to this second-grade class by the Rockford Education Foundation (REF) last week. These students requested light lenses for the fluorescent light fixtures in their classroom. The students put in their own words their needs for these light diffusers or, as they called them, “skylights.” These diffusers have a photo printed on them, giving the effect of looking up to the trees or clouds. This request so moved the REF that a surprise presentation of the grant approval was recently held in the students’ classroom. In addition to the student grant, the REF awarded 69 grant requests from community members, teachers and staff of Rockford Public Schools, Our Lady of Consolation, Assumption BVM, and Rockford Christian School for a total distribution of $35,035.93. In addition, an annual $1,000 grant was awarded to Rockford Seniors Unlimited. The REF gives out “mini” grants—those totaling less than $400—and “large” grants—those totaling between $401 and $3000. A few of the mini grants approved this year included “Snap” circuits to build electrical and electronic circuits, art history teaching DVDs, GPS receivers for geocaching classes, as well as various teaching programs for reading, math and music classes. The large grants funded this year included materials to support and enhance phonemic awareness for resource room students, and a program to provide fourth-graders the opportunity to raise Chinook Salmon eggs to be released into the Grand River. Also awarded were online math resources, a music file storage system for the Rockford Area Arts Commission, trees for a botanical park at North Rockford Middle School, as well as headphones and light diffusers for students with sensory and movement challenges. The REF will again award grants in January. The deadline for grant applications is January 13, 2010. Applications can be found on the REF website at www.rockfordschools.org/ref. You can also find the REF on Facebook.
RPS’s Mike Cuneo offers breakdown on millage spending It may look as though the lion’s share of $45.8 million in remodeling for Rockford’s schools went to athletic fields, but that could not be further from the truth, stated Mike Cuneo, Director of Finance at Rockford Public Schools. Cuneo said improvements to athletic fields throughout the district are easy to see, while improvements in the school and to the buildings themselves may be less obvious to the public. He shared this information Thursday, November 5 at the Rockford Historical Society meeting. Cuneo said building improvements took up 70 percent of the money slated for the building fund that voters approved in May of 2008. The vote, just as this November’s was, was a renewal that did not increase taxes. According to Cuneo, technology improvements took up 17 percent and the athletic field improvements constituted only 13 percent of the spending. “We cannot use any of this money for operations,” he reiterated. Some have questioned updating technology and buildings at a time when the school faces dire cuts from state funding. “There is a building fund and there is an operation fund,” Cuneo said. “It is two different monies that cannot be co-mingled.” For technology, much of the money was used to put projectors in every classroom. On the elementary schools, classrooms were added to bring students out of mobile classrooms outside schools. “With as many schools as possible we have tried to increase parking,” Cuneo said. Cuneo received a bit of a grilling over the question of a second high school. He explained that Rockford could likely build a second high school, but there isn’t money to operate a second high school in the district. Rockford’s Superintendent Michael Shibler has also addressed this issue in the past, pointing out that the high school seems huge, but is actually not at capacity, where many elementary schools in the district are over capacity. Cuneo told the audience that it costs $3 million to operate a high school annually.
What if normal was weird? That was the question asked by Valley View fifth graders during a recent school assembly. Mr. Derksen’s class put on a fabulous play written by one of the parents and led by student teacher Brad Ingersoll. The performers showed the entire school what it would feel like to be different, inspiring the kids to remember, “We’re all the same where it matters… on the inside.” Mr. Ingersoll stated that he was forced outside of his comfort zone for this project, yet felt the kids did an amazing job. School principal Bob Siegel spoke before and after the skit, reminding students of their social contract and requirement to treat others as they want to be treated themselves. Overall it was a good reminder that it is our differences that make us special. Good job Mr. Derksen’s class.
As a new twist to school PTA fundraisers, the students at Crestwood Elementary participated in the school’s first Rockin’ Walkin’ Pregame Bash at North Rockford Middle School on October 2. Over $14,000 was raised by the students through pledges they received and food and activity fees. “The Crestwood PTA wanted to try a different approach to fundraising this year,” according to organizer Lorrie Haney. “Our goal was to have only one fundraiser for the school, to make it fun, and to have all the proceeds go to Crestwood. A walk-a-thon seemed the perfect solution.” Each grade took a turn at walking around the gym track for 20 minutes. The Rockford Ram mascot was on hand to encourage the students in their efforts. Walkers were also greeted by cheers from a group of junior cheerleaders from Crestwood, and emcee for the evening was fourth-grade teacher Mr. Fowle. While waiting for their turn to walk, students enjoyed the carnival-type atmosphere by playing in bounce houses, participating in face-painting and tattoos, and enjoying fun foods. A highlight of the night was a massive game of dodgeball with the students against fifth-grade teacher Mr. Karel, gym teacher Mr. Tucker, and school principal Mr. Hoogerland. “The Crestwood families are so supportive and involved with the school, and the support from the Crestwood staff is amazing,” said Haney. “We walked and celebrated our success at the Rockin’ Walkin’ Pregame Bash. The fundraiser turned out to be very fun and successful.”