The Telegram - 12/23/2014
All day event blends learning at Vinton County Middle School
A combination of both informational and hands-on learning took place Thursday afternoon, December 18 at Vinton County Middle School. The program included guest speakers Columbus police officer Don Stanko and Dr. Tim Conrad, Internet and social media abuse information, a health and wellness fair, as well as students using creative presentation skills.
These day-long activities were coordinated by middle school teacher Megan Macke along with Guidance Counselor Nicole Waldron who arranged for the speakers. There were also key roles performed by teachers, staff members, and students.
The speakers had many various experiences in the Columbus metro region and shared it with the students.
Officer Stanko has professional experience with several social programs and also works with D.A.R.E., R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense), Ground-fighting, Internet Safety, Cyber Bullying Prevention, and Terrorism Awareness for citizens. Dr. Conrad, a specialist in motivation and support, has vast experience in crisis recovery, helping school systems work through the sudden death of students and school staff members. He has also written several books.
During their presentations, Officer Stanko and Dr. Conrad shared their experiences with the students and pointed out cyber abuse often can negatively and sometimes tragically affect the lives of young people.
As he assessed the event, middle school Principal Jeremy Ward explained it was the students who learned well from the experts and he noted they picked up on many of the examples the speakers presented. While students get on line, Ward said, the issues associated with Internet safety often involve websites such as TOPIX, Facebook, and other social posting sites.
On these sites, people can post negative comments about other people without facing him or her face to face.
Ward explained this kind of abuse may be new, but can definitely impact the progress students are making and counteract positive activities the school is providing to them.
"In these times we live in, Internet safety is a pressing issue for us," said Ward. "Issues coming from social media happening outside of school often filter into the school. So, protecting our students cannot be ignored. The involvement all staff members and allowing the kids to be the center of the learning, that is what I am most proud of here at the middle school."
In another part of the program there were many presenting groups including 7th & 8th student groups making their own presentations such as Packages of Care, Vinton County military service, the middle school walkers, drug awareness, a student support group, bullying, elementary school visits, a school garden, composting, recycling, student involvement, and after school hangouts.
In the afternoon there was a health fair where students learned first-hand the effects tobacco and other drugs have on them.
The professional organizations and individuals attending and spending time with the kids were: The Ohio State Highway Patrol, Vinton County Emergency Medical Services, Integrated Services, Woodland Centers, Hopewell, Health Recovery Services, Sojourners, TASC, Vinton County Sheriff's Department, Ralph Henneman, Holzer Hospital, Teresa Kimes-Brown, Vinton County Drug Court, Doris Clary-Drug Awareness, Keith Wilde-Community Food Initiatives, Heather Fuston & Luke Black-Zero Waste@Rural Action.
Ward, Mackie, and Waldron thanked everyone for coming and all viewed the day as a big success.