In recent years, there has been increased scientific research related to adolescent sleep.  As a result, a growing number of school districts have made changes to school start times.  Since last spring, the Ephrata Area School District has been studying a significant body of research on this topic to ensure school times within the District meet the sleep patterns of our students.  

 The study included the review of research on adolescent sleep patterns and its impact on student performance and well-being.

  • The District has consulted with WellSpan Health to learn from licensed psychologists who have compiled research on school start times and the importance of adolescent sleep.
  • Data from Ephrata Area School District parent and student surveys on sleep habits continue to be reviewed and used as a reference.  A summary of this data is available here.
  • There has been an assessment of the impact of any potential time changes to transportation, athletics, extracurricular activities, food service, and other District operations.
  • Additionally, leaders are learning from others’ experiences as they glean insight from districts who have already adjusted their school times.

Ephrata Area School District leaders will continue to explore options while facilitating conversations with stakeholders, including School Board members, teaching staff, and District families, to meet this goal.  It is anticipated a recommendation to adjust school start times for the 2020-2021 school year will be made to the School Board in early 2020.

A community information session was held on Monday, December 9.  CLICK HERE for the presentation from this event.

“This effort represents an additional way that we as a district can look at research about how to best serve our students.  It helps us identify ways to better align District operations to reflect this research and to improve how we serve students,” said Superintendent Dr. Brian Troop.

As this study continues and potential next steps are determined, information will be made readily available on the District website or sent directly to parents and guardians as necessary.

HAVE A QUESTION about the District Sleep Study?  CLICK HERE to submit.

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Young Writers USA

Ephrata High School sophomores Kimberly Earl and Leah Kreider decided to follow through on a creative writing contest made available to them through the EHS Language Arts Department and recently got word their works were selected to be published.

The Young Writers USA contest theme, “Mission Contamination,” encouraged students to write a “Survival Saga” in 100 words about a wave of contamination that almost eliminated the entire human race.

Leah wrote about a character whose father was a scientist and contributed to the demise of the contamination, while Kimberly’s story was about a girl surviving alone after losing her family in the epidemic.  Both students let their creativity drive the story that took them less than two days to write.  “I had most of it drafted in about an hour,” Kimberly said.

Young Writers USA reported over 10,000 entries were submitted.  “Choosing work is, to an extent, subjective and editors’ preferences do come into it. However, to achieve our aim of encouraging young adults to enjoy creative writing, we take a broad view of what makes a good story: perception, imagination, and creativity are important as well as expression, originality, and use of language,” explained Allie Jones, Young Writers USA Editor.

“Our aim at Young Writers has always been to get kids to be passionate and confident writers.  Having work published is a fantastic way to boost confidence and showcases writing skills as well as giving students a real audience and purpose for their writing. Having your students’ work chosen is something to be proud of,” she concluded.

“I was very surprised when I found out my piece was selected,” Leah said.  Unsure if their future careers will provide creative writing opportunities, both students say they will always have a love for reading and writing.

Mission Contamination – Tales From Pennsylvania is scheduled for publication on February 29, 2020.  A copy of the book will be sent to the United States Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

Kimberly and Leah received certificates to mark their achievement and will find out in April if they are a grand prize recipient of the Young Writers’ Award of Excellence.  One winner will receive an iPad and a trophy, and three runners-up will receive $50 Amazon gift cards.

Small Business Saturday Scavenger Hunt

It’s likely you’ve heard of Small Business Saturday.  It falls every year on the day after Black Friday to encourage shoppers to support local businesses.  This year, a group of Ephrata High School students helped to localize this national initiative and engage shoppers in downtown Ephrata with a Small Business Saturday Scavenger Hunt.

Students created a variety of Scavenger Hunt cards that list participating Ephrata businesses, each with a related question or task to perform at the business and shopping item suggestions.

“The students did a fantastic job.  They traveled to downtown businesses to do marketing research and used their graphic design skills to create the cards,” said Ephrata High School teacher Greg LoPiccolo.

From the assortment of Scavenger Hunt concepts and card designs, Mainspring of Ephrata Executive Director Kelly Withum selected a winning card.

The cards will be available to customers throughout downtown Ephrata businesses on Saturday, November 30, Small Business Saturday.  Completed cards should then be turned into the Mainspring of Ephrata office at Whistle Stop Plaza to be entered into a drawing.  A winner will be selected on December 18 to win a gift basket.

Akron Elementary School Courtyard Project

The Ephrata Review – November 6, 2019

 

Akron Elementary School kids shine at school board meeting

By Marylouise Sholly

Akron fourth-graders and their teachers showed the Ephrata Area School Board just how talented they can be and what they can accomplish when motivated.

During a presentation at the school board meeting on Oct. 21 in the Akron Elementary School, students displayed their project of a renovated courtyard which actually took two fourth grades to work on – one last year and the current students.

Fourth-grade teacher Kristen Selzer told the board about the courtyard design challenge and initial layout, which began last year and which was student-led, and the actual construction that began this year.

The courtyard requires a few finishing touches and when complete, will be used as an outdoor teaching area, Selzer said.

An Art Showcase was Oct. 29 at Akron Elementary School for area residents who wanted to see the students’ artwork, mural, and sensory pathway they created.

The students were able to participate in the artist-in-residence program through a grant from the Ephrata Area Education Foundation Venture grant.

Selzer and several students showed the board members what the kids had accomplished after a walk Monday evening from the auditorium to the newly designed courtyard.

Accompanying them was the school’s artist-in-residence, Katie Trainer from Millersville University, who guided the students with the project.

Fourth-grade teachers Kristen Rubeck and Ryan Levan were also integral to the courtyard transformation project.

Selzer also credited Bryan Redcay, director of facilities, with his help on the project, the construction of which began this past summer.

The courtyard had been a grassy, brushy area that was hard to maintain and little-used, Selzer said. After the area is completely revamped, with outdoor furniture included, it can be used by teachers for their students, Selzer said.

“On nice days, teachers can bring their students out here for a class,” Selzer said.

Still to come is a pergola to make sure there is some shade in the outdoor area.

First up, after a design had been decided upon, several students used an Adobe Spark computer program to create a sign for the courtyard area.

Next, using all sorts of smooth stones and rounded rocks, the students created a sensory walkway.

Also designed by the kids was a slate walkway. Intermingling with the slate and stone path will be artificial grass.

During the project, the kids learned about everything from geometric design to how to mix concrete, Selzer said.

“It’s a theme throughout the district to include students in projects like this,” said Sarah McBee, public relations coordinator for the district. “This was student-driven, shows a lot of initiative, and gave the students a choice to do what they wanted, to help them ‘own it.’ ”

Two dozen students and a few adults worked on making the walkway, Selzer said.

“It’s a sensory path and it’s supposed to be very calming,” Selzer said.

The next addition to the courtyard will be a four-feet-tall and 12-feet wide mosaic, also created by the students, who were given direction by artist Trainer.

“They worked hard on this and it’s really impressive,” Selzer said. “The design is from last year’s fourth-graders, and these guys just picked it up and ran with it. They were very diligent and they’ve done a tremendous job.” The multi-colored mosaic is made of glass and ceramic pieces and it has a name, “The Wave of Knowledge.” In one corner of the mosaic, the word “Mounts” pays homage to the district.

“It’s amazing what they’ve accomplished,” said Kristee Reichard, business manager for the school district. “You give the kids a project and they run with it.”

Annual Corny Days Experience

Students in Grade 6 visit the Ephrata Area School District farm every year for the annual Corny Day field trip.

Community volunteers are stationed throughout the farm grounds with interactive activities to engage students.  What are bio-plastics? What is moisture content and how does it affect harvesting? What everyday products contain corn? These and many other questions were answered as the students visited several stations. Students calculated the yield of the crop based upon the data they collected, learned what role the parts of the corn plant play in the development of the plant, and discussed the many places corn is found in everyday life, from food to toothpaste to some types of medicine.

“The experience is always fun and educational.  Chances are that these students won’t pass by a corn field without remembering some of the important and surprising ways this plant serves us,” said Mr. Josh Haupt, District Science Supervisor and Ephrata Middle School teacher.

The Ephrata Area Education Foundation provides the annual funding for the annual event.

Fulton Elementary School First Grade Murals

First grade students at Fulton Elementary School are wrapping up learning about civil rights and leaders like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Ruby Bridges.  They are using related symbolism – such as a bus, the Washington Monument, and a school – to create a mural for their school.

“Rather than a paper/pencil test, students are incorporating their learning in a creative, meaningful way,” said Josh McCracken, Principal.

The students gained inspiration after a walking tour of the Whistle Stop Plaza murals in Ephrata Borough, where they interacted with Ephrata High School students and Mainspring of Ephrata leaders who created with artwork downtown.

Newly Renovated EIMS Media Center

A new and improved Media Center for students in grades 5 – 8 opened this school year.  Construction began in May 2019 to make more efficient use of the space and improve areas for collaboration and small-group instruction.  Additionally, a student lounge with learning stairs has been included, as well as portable furniture, a user-friendly Mounts Tech Support area, revamped MakerSpace, and more.  Students have been involved in the process, from selecting furniture to providing input on design elements.

EHS Media Center Receives National Recognition

Featured in the October 2019 issue of Learning by Design magazine, Ephrata High School and RLPS Architects received an Award of Excellence for their newly redesigned media center.  A full renovation of the media center and surrounding areas of the school began as part of an interactive student design challenge in 2017.  Students collaborated in small groups to create plans for a renovation and worked alongside District administrators and architects to bring their ideas to life.  The project was finished in 2019 and includes more areas to facilitate small-group and project-based learning, technology, collaboration, communication, and more components of 21st century learning.

A judging panel discussed and looked for unique and new concepts being implemented to improve education facility building design. Projects, such as the Ephrata High School Media Center, were scored on six measures: Innovation, Community Need, Interior Design, Sustainability, Functional Design, and 21st Century Learning.

 

The judging panel commented, “This is a wonderful example of how to renovate an old fashion high school library to meet modern pedagogy, student taste, contemporary social community customs in multiple cluster oriented, light infused, bright spaces. The learning stairs, the cafe, labs and acoustically appropriate study spots all add to the success of  this project. The renovation brings a lively, flexible space into the interior of the building and accommodates informal learning and meeting with new technology capacities.”

National Fountainhead Essay Contest Finalists

Ephrata High School students – Khalid Brelvi (grade 12) and Ezekiel Jones (grade 11) – are finalists in the Fountainhead essay contest, which is sponsored by the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), the source for information on the life, writings and work of novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand.  After submitting an essay in their Advanced Placement Language and Composition class last year, Khalid and Ezekiel recently received word they were named finalists.

 

According to the Ayn Rand Organization’s website, essays were judged on whether the student was able to argue for and justify his or her view. Judges looked for writing that was clear, articulate, and logically organized. Winning essays demonstrated an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of The Fountainhead.

All finalists received a $50 cash prize.