You Be The Chemist Challenge

Ephrata Area School District students in grades 5 – 8 recently participated in the Lancaster County You Be The Chemist competition, an interactive question-and-answer challenge developed for students to enhance their science education

After multiple rounds of competition, Ephrata Middle School student Lillian Sharpe was named the third place winner.  Lillian is an eight-grader and will be participating in the state level of competition at Penn State University on April 27.  Seventh-grader Nathan Buehler finished in fourth place and is an alternate for the state competition.

Ephrata Intermediate School participants: Breelyn Beyer, Drew DiCicco, Nadia Drobot, Alex Diegel, Max Herman, Andrew Ingham, Alex Wilson

Ephrata Middle School participants:  Nathan Buehler, Desiree Buitrago, Natalie Newswanger, Nicolas Romaniw, Lillian Sharpe, Sophia Slater

“The You Be the Chemist Challenge gives students the opportunity to explore their chemistry interests outside the classroom.  Our students were strong throughout the challenges, and we are proud of their efforts and accomplishments in the program.  It is exciting to see the program expanding each year, due in part to the volunteer efforts of Brenntag North America,” said Miss Jennifer Trout, Ephrata Middle School teacher and You Be the Chemist Coordinator.

Ephrata Intermediate/Middle School students have been meeting after school to review science topics, including the scientific method, properties of matter, chemical formulas and equations, chemistry in the human body, and much more to prepare.

The You Be the Chemist Challenge was created by the Chemical Educational Foundation (CEF), a national non-profit organization dedicated to fostering a greater understanding of the value of chemistry.  The program is sponsored locally by Brenntag North America, a chemical distributor in Reading.

Students Lead Schoolwide Monthly Positive Behavior Assembly

Ephrata Intermediate School has a schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support System that has been in place for the several years.  The system specifically encourages and incents students who demonstrate desirable traits, including respect, empathy, and positivity.  Each month a different trait is highlighted through an assembly and classroom lesson.

Compassion was the trait highlighted in February, which inspired three sixth-grade students to take the lead.  Rafaelia Mirsaidova, Morgan Alexander, and Emily White agree they are compassionate about dogs and wanted to use their passion to inspire their classmates.  “We wanted to show everyone in the school and our community that we can make an impact,” said Morgan.

Upon getting the green light from their principals to lead the February assembly, the girls began weeks of research to educate their classmates on animal abuse and inspire compassion to help combat the problem.  Their research revealed stunning statistics – both positive and negative – which they organized into a presentation before addressing over 600 of their fifth- and sixth-grade classmates.

Additionally, the students contacted KPets, Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue, PAWS, and PetValue to tie-in a real-world connection to their presentation.  KPets agreed to bring five dogs to participate in the assembly and visit classrooms.  The girls agreed having the dogs visit with students really helped connect the monthly trait of compassion to their mission of animal abuse awareness and prevention.

Finally, the students organized a donation drive – open to the public – to obtain pet supplies for local animals in need.  “It would mean the world to us to get the community involved,” the students said.  Donations may be dropped off in the Ephrata Intermediate School office during school hours.

The students hope the energy and support they have received will continue to grow.  “We could use help taking our ideas to the next level.  We’d love to get together with more animal rescues and continue discussions with our classmates and students in other schools.  It would be awesome if we could help organize a community event or pep rally to raise money for this cause,” they said.

Shadow A Student Challenge

Ephrata Area School District Leaders Shadow Students

How does it feel to be a student for a day?  After participating in the nationwide School Retool Shadow A Student Challenge for the fourth year in a row, Ephrata Area School District administrators are able to speak from their own experiences to answer this question.  District and building leaders will shadow students in secondary schools on Tuesday, February 19 and elementary schools on Wednesday, February 20 to experience a school day as a student first-hand and gain a new perspective on learning.

District administrators are encouraged to participate with empathy and an open mind to feel what it is like to truly adopt a student’s point of view.  “As part of the District theme to embody a growth mindset and a desire for continued improvement, administrators are trying to fully immerse themselves in student life for a day with the goal to better understand the students we serve,” said District Superintendent Dr. Brian Troop.

Administrators have been asked to keep a variety of questions in mind while shadowing students, including:

  • How does it feel to be a student for a day?
  • What is your student’s favorite moment of the day, and what makes it special?
  • What do you notice makes your student feel uncomfortable, anxious, or bored? Why?
  • When is your student engaged in learning?
  • As you go through your day, what opportunities do you notice for use of critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and effective communication skills?

Following the events, administrators will reflect on their insights to compare students’ experiences with the learning and skills necessary for success through their academic careers.

EIMS Geography Bee Winners

Students at Ephrata Intermediate and Middle Schools recently participated in the annual school Geography Bees.

  • The Ephrata Intermediate School winner was sixth grader Kimo Washington, and the runner-up was sixth grader Hayden Cline.
  • The Ephrata Middle School winner was eighth grader Jacob Huntington, and the runner-up was seventh grader Christopher Timasonravichkit.

As top finishers, the students will now take a written exam and attempt to qualify for the state competition held at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.

The school and state competitions are stepping stones to ultimately qualifying for the National Geographic Bee. National competitors are granted an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in the national championship in May 2019. The national champion will receive a

$50,000 college scholarship; a lifetime membership in the Society, including a subscription to National Geographic magazine; and a National Geographic Expeditions trip to a national park in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. The national finals will be televised on the National Geographic Channel and PBS stations.

EMS Student Writes & Publishes Book

Paige Reddig, a seventh-grader at Ephrata Middle School, is having an exciting start to her school year.  She wrote and recently published a book before also being named the 2018 Distinguished Middle School Student of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE).

“Three Sisters of Doom”

It all began last spring when Paige attended an Ephrata Intermediate School assembly with author and publisher Stephen Kozan.  Mr. Kozan challenged students to write a one-page book pitch.  The student with the most creative entry would have the opportunity to complete his or her story and have the book published.  Paige submitted a start to a story she entitled, “Three Sisters of Doom” and was notified in May that she was the winner.

Over the summer, Paige worked with a publisher, editor, and illustrator to complete her book.  The 165-page story has 13 chapters and is geared for readers ages 8 to 15.  She used inspiration from her own family members when writing the book, specifically noting her grandparents and cousins.  She also found a way to incorporate some of her hobbies, including sewing. 

“Three Sisters of Doom” depicts a magical place between the Known and Unknown, where each character represents something specific. Hope, the youngest royal daughter, discovers that her sisters, Greed, Envy, and Sickness, plan to seize control of the kingdom. Hope searches for a way to stop her sisters and finds an ancient spell that she believes will save her family. With a heavy heart, she casts the spell altering the princesses’ lives unexpectedly sending them somewhere in the Known but as objects, not themselves. Elsewhere in the Known, a young girl named Phoebe is visiting with her grandmother. Everything in Grandma’s house has a story, from the furniture to her jewelry. On this visit, they come across things that Grandma does not remember, and when Phoebe touches them, the objects seem to be telling her their own story, pulling her into their lives.

Paige said her ideal writing surroundings are at a computer, silent and uninterrupted.  “I wrote the whole thing in about six weeks,” she said.  “I really had nothing but an outline guiding the story.  It all just came to me as I wrote.  I would sit down at my computer and write whenever I had time, whether it was for a couple of minutes or hours.  My longest stretch writing at one time was four hours,” she continued.

It is not hard to believe that Paige is an avid reader in her spare time.  “I read five or six different books at the same time.  The book I pick up to read just depends on the mood I’m in that day,” she said.  While she considers her love of reading and writing a hobby, her favorite school subjects are math and science.

2018 Distinguished Middle School Student of the Year

Just days before “Three Sisters of Doom” was finished being printed, Paige was notified by the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE) that she was named the 2018 Distinguished Middle School Student of the Year.  She will be presented with an award and a $100 cash prize at the 66th Annual PAGE Conference in Pittsburgh at the end of November.

Paige completed an application process with four letters of recommendation, including one from her book publisher, Mr. Kozan and one from an Ephrata Intermediate School teacher, Mrs. Marcie Lloyd.  “Paige is very eager to learn and gives her all in everything she does.  She is a very talented writer and a positive school leader,” said Mrs. Lloyd.

“I feel super proud but am also a little nervous about it all,” Paige concluded.

Book Signing

JavaTeas at Doneckers will be hosting a book signing on Saturday, November 17 from 10:00 AM to noon.  Books will be available for purchase at the event or can be ordered on Amazon or