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 iVisitYourSchool.com. 

EMS Helping Hands

A group of Ephrata Middle School students continue to reach out to classmates and the community to lend a helping hand and offer encouragement and positivity. 

The Helping Hands club is in its third year and completes a variety of service project in school and throughout the community, including posting encouraging notes on all students’ lockers and providing snacks and notes of appreciation to teachers during the week of parent-teacher conferences. 

Students also create items for community members.  Most recently, they crafted over 50 fall scarecrows and wrote notes to Ephrata Cancer Center patients.  “When these items are delivered, there are tears, smiles, and many thanks,” said Jennifer Trout, Helping Hands advisor and Middle School teacher. 

Ms. Trout noted there are students who ask her daily about ways to lend a helping hand. 

EHS Media Center Grand Opening

The recently renovated Ephrata High School media center is now open and inspiring 21st century learning.  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 finished project includes more areas to facilitate small-group and project-based learning, technology, collaboration, communication, and more components of 21st century learning. 

“We are excited about this design process, which included our students every step along the way, as well as the final product,” said District Superintendent Dr. Brian Troop.

A grand opening was held on October 3 for District families, staff, and community members to tour the space.  Approximately 25 High School students served as informative tour guides, greeters, and musicians.  Students highlighted different areas of the media center, including the interactive green room, café, Mounts Tech Support, learning stairs, vertical garden, flexible furniture, and much more.  Attendees were encouraged to “leave their mark” on the writable surfaces – walls, tables, or windows – with one word to describe the new areas. 

Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera also attended the event and spent time talking with students and administrators while touring and learning more about the space. 

“The new Library Media Center is able to promote collaboration, creativity, and independence while reflecting the wants and needs of our high school students. The variety of flexible seating, private and group spaces, learning stairs, and coffee shop are sure to make this the centerpiece of our high school,” concluded Dr. Troop.

District Embarks on MakerBus Project

What is the Maker Movement?  Sweeping schools and educational institutions nationwide, the Maker Movement inspires students to create without limits. 

After the implementation of a student-designed Maker Space at the Intermediate/Middle School two years ago and elementary STEAM carts last school year, Ephrata Area School District officials are ready to take the Maker concept on the move with the creation of an elementary MakerBus. 

“We value learning opportunities for our youngest learners to work with their hands and experience trades at an early age.  The MakerBus is the next step in providing these types of opportunities,” said Dr. Brian Troop, District Superintendent.

“When students have success working with their hands or ‘making,’ we believe they are more likely to see themselves in a trade later in life,” he continued.

Once completed, the MakerBus will travel to each of the four District elementary schools for students to experience hands-on, project-based learning.  The MakerBus will offer students learning opportunities beyond the classroom and inspire students to create and work collaboratively.

“We also realize not everything can be measured on a test.  Programs, materials, and learning opportunities –  like a MakerBus – are a direct reflection of our Life Ready Graduate profile that aims to prepare students and measure success beyond traditional markers,” concluded Dr. Troop. 

Plans are currently underway to begin the complete transformation – interior and exterior – of a traditional school bus into a MakerBus.  EHS students are working alongside District teachers and staff to repurpose a donated school bus to include a variety of hardware, technology, craft supplies, and an exterior vehicle “wrap.”

Additionally, Astro Machine Works Inc. is a project partner and will be working with students and staff through each phase of the project to offer support with the planning, design, and construction.  Not only will EHS students’ ideas guide the plans for the MakerBus, working directly with professionals from Astro will give students an authentic learning experience outside of the classroom. 

Approximately 100 students have shown initial interest in working on the MakerBus project, which is scheduled to be completed in March 2019. 

Funding for the project is being provided by the Ephrata Area Education Foundation.  To learn more about the Foundation and the programs they support, visit www.EphrataEducationFoundation.org, call 717-721-1598, or e-mail foundation@easdpa.org.

Students Use 21st Century Skills to Recycle and Produce Great Results

Students at Ephrata Intermediate and Middle Schools (EIMS) are continuing their efforts this school year after discovering first-hand what can be created from recycled materials.  

Last fall, students set a goal to collect a variety of plastic bottle and container caps to recycle to create a bench for their school. EIMS students were inspired by the work of a group of middle school students in the Midwest who initiated the creation of the ABC (A Bench of Caps) program; they wanted to personally participate in the program too.

Approximately 200 pounds of caps would be needed to create the bench, so students set a goal and began their collection efforts.  The EIMS Makerspace served as the hub for students to collect, sort, clean, weigh, and pack the caps.  “Before we knew it, we had collected way more than our initial goal,” said Mrs. Brooke Gerlach, EIMS Media Center Specialist.  In just two months, students collected 1,700 pounds of caps, enough to create three benches!

The caps needed to be transported to ABC headquarters in Indiana, where the benches would be created, so students brainstormed ways to get the caps there.  “Because of the expense to ship, we decided it would be better to drive the caps there,” explained Mrs. Gerlach.  The EIMS PTO covered the cost to have Mrs. Gerlach and her husband drive the caps to Indiana to have the benches produced.  A detailed summary of the process is available here: https:spark.adobe.com/video/sic64P9CfmuNW

“Our goal this year is to continue our collection and get as many benches as caps we collect,” said Mrs. Gerlach.  Students have already collected over 250 pounds this year.

This project has provided an authentic learning opportunity for students in many ways, from engaging classmates and community members through the collection, understanding the process of recycling to create the benches, and utilizing 21st century skills – including collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and more – throughout the duration of the project.  “Additionally, this project is a reminder of what we can do when we all work together to reach a common goal,” concluded Mrs. Gerlach.

Patriot Day

September 11, 2018 – Students in all Ephrata Area School District schools participated in activities and lessons to recognize Patriot Day on Tuesday, September 11. 

District administrators and teachers developed age-appropriate content to help students learn more about Patriot Day and the many heroes who took part in the national response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, many of whom continue to keep us all safe today. 

“As a District, we recognize the importance of our students having an age-appropriate understanding of the significance of 9/11, Patriot Day.  Through the events of that tragic day there were so many stories of heroism, resiliency, and grit – dispositions we want all of our students to embody,” stated Mr. Josh McCracken, Fulton Elementary School Principal. 

The scope of the content looked very different at each age level.  While some High School activities may have included watching news coverage from the morning of September 11, 2001 and discussing how the effects of that day impacted the world, students in elementary schools had a much broader experience recognizing heroes who go above and beyond in times of need, including our military, emergency responders, and more.  

Highlights of the activities in the District, included elementary students wearing red, white, and blue, a special school-wide assembly coordinated by Akron Elementary School second-grade teachers, and participation in the national Patriot Day moment of silence at the Ephrata Intermediate and Middle Schools. 

Ephrata High School Social Studies Teacher and Department Supervisor Mr. Larry Hagan said recognizing Patriot Day is important for two reasons.  “On a human level, our students are reminded of the bravery and the courage of the heroes who risked their lives to help others that day.  On an academic level, students are reminded of the importance of our institutions, our form of government, our history, and our freedom,” he said.

Patriot Day also provided an opportunity to discuss the importance of living a life with Resiliency and Grit – a key component of the Ephrata Area School District Life Ready Graduate profile.  “The inspiring stories of resilience and service associated with Patriot Day is something I am proud to have teachers elevating across the District,” said Dr. Brian Troop, Superintendent.

Back To School Donation Drive

September 12, 2018 – Ephrata Area School District students in need of school supplies will benefit from a recent donation by the Akron/Ephrata and Lincoln/Ephrata branches of Fulton Bank.  Backpacks, notebooks, binders, and much more will be distributed to students who have a need.

This is the fourth year both Fulton Bank branches have organized a donation drive of school supplies for District students.  A donation table is simply placed in the bank and customers generously drop off donations throughout July and August.

Seen above are Ephrata High School students and Aevidum Club members – Jacob Welsh, Jazmyn Spangler, and Carsyn Greene – who will help distribute the items.