North Rockford Middle School’s (NRMS) eighth-grade band took top honors at the Michigan School Band & Orchestra Association’s state festival on April 23 at Big Rapids High School. “The kids were amazing,” said NRMS band director Cullen McCarthy. “This is the band’s fourth straight superior Division I rating at a festival. They received superior ratings at both district and state festivals last year in seventh grade, too.” The band received superior Division I ratings across the board from all three concert judges as well as the sight-reading judge. They qualified for the state festival by receiving a superior Division I rating at the district level in February. “The students performed wonderfully and we all had a great time,” said McCarthy. “They are very talented and motivated students and I love working with them.” For more information on NRMS bands please visit www.sites.google.com/site/northrockfordmiddleschoolbands/.
Rockford Education Foundation Fall Grants
Area youngsters put on lifejackets and boarded the research vessel the W.G. Jackson on May 7 for a two-and-a-half-hour hands-on, investigative science experience which is truly a unique learning experience. In this floating classroom, aquatic science instructors guide participants in the use of sampling equipment and instruments to compile water quality data from Lake Michigan and shoreline water bodies. Sampling equipment used on a standard cruise includes a plankton net, Van Dorn water bottles, and a PONAR dredge. Equipment for determining water color, transparency (secchi disk), and temperature is also found on the vessels. Each of the main cabins on the vessels has a laboratory with stations for water analysis including dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, and conductivity. Other types of analyses can include nitrates, phosphates and alkalinity. Microscopes with video cameras are used for examining biological samples. Other instruments on the vessels are a global positioning system (GPS) and depth finders. Data from sampling stations are compared and contrasted to develop an understanding of Lake Michigan and inland lake or river ecology. For school groups, attention is paid to aligning the cruise experience with Michigan science standards.
The Rockford High School (RHS) Advanced TV Studio students recently competed in a video competition sponsored by the Kent County Sheriff’s Department. Their assignment? Produce a 30-second public service announcement that addresses the issues of distracted driving. The distractions? Everything from texting while driving, to putting on makeup, eating, dropping CDs and reaching to pick them up, drinking, and using cell phones. The students were also instructed to encourage teenage drivers to use their seat belts. The campaign is titled, “Buckle up, heads up, hang up, it all adds up!” The 25 students in Advanced Broadcast Communications put their heads together to discuss and execute the project. “When it is a teenager that produces the video and its message, I think other teenagers tend to pay more attention to it,” said RHS senior James Springvloed. “We had so many great ideas and it was tough to narrow the project down to 30 seconds,” RHS senior Ali McNamara explained. RHS senior Emily Pitcher said, “This project was like making a short film. It is incredible how much hard work goes into making great videos.” What the groups came up with were powerful public service announcements that impressed Sheriff Tim Erhardt. “Rockford High School always produces quality work in their video department and the class worked so hard on this community project. I was very proud of all of their efforts,” Erhardt said. The students took second and third places in the video competition, and some of their work will be shown on WOOD-TV 8 during the month of May. The RHS Broadcast Communications/TV Studio courses are taught by Colleen Pierson, and Jason Springer is the TV Studio technician and RCTV station manager. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Pierson at (616) 863-6030 or email@example.com.
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.