STAR Foundation awards Beyond Crayons and Chromebooks grants to five Tomahawk educators

New applicants

By Jalen Maki

Tomahawk Leader Editor

TOMAHAWK – The Tomahawk STAR Foundation earlier this year awarded $4,515.00 in Beyond Crayons and Chromebooks grants to five School District of Tomahawk educators to assist in several projects and teach students a variety of skills.

Acting as a community chest for businesses and individuals, the STAR (Support Tomahawk Area Resources) Foundation makes charitable grants to community groups, clubs and non-profit organizations that contribute to the health and vitality of the Tomahawk area.

“The Tomahawk STAR Foundation provides support to groups and/or organizations when they need it,” the Foundation’s website says. “Since its inception in April 2004, the STAR Foundation has donated more than $400,000.00 to local community groups in both general and restricted contributions.”

The Foundation explained that its Beyond Crayons and Chromebooks grants are designed to “enhance and reward innovative teaching, learning and special motivated activities” in public and private Tomahawk-area schools. The grants affect pre-K through 12th grade students.

Grant funds awarded earlier this year were used to help district students learn how to sew and play cribbage, purchase new books to supplement the selections in middle school classrooms, update equipment used to help students learn first aid and CPR skills, create vision boards to help students plan their futures and reopen the school store.

Enriching Lives: Sewing and cribbage

A total of 13 middle schoolers and ten high schoolers participated in the sewing classes, making pin cushions and fidget quilts. Contributed photos.

District students took the advantage of an opportunity to learn to sew and play cribbage thanks to a $750.00 grant.

Library Media/Instructional Technology Coordinator Paula Norman, who applied for the grant, said there was an overwhelming response among Tomahawk Elementary School (TES) students who were interested in learning how to sew. She said she had hoped to teach 30 students, but 55 students in grades 3 through 5 signed up.

A total of 13 middle schoolers and ten high schoolers also participated in the sewing classes, making pin cushions and fidget quilts.

Norman said a total of 56 students – 36 from TES and 20 from Tomahawk Middle School (TMS) – signed up to learn how to students play cribbage, noting that 16 Tomahawk High School (THS) took part in a three-day cribbage tournament before spring break.

56 students – 36 from TES and 20 from TMS – signed up to learn how to play cribbage, while 16 THS students took part in a three-day cribbage tournament before spring break.

In the future, Norman said she’d like to continue to offer such enrichment activities, noting that finding funding for materials may be difficult.

“We have students who know how to play a life-long game using and applying math skills through cribbage,” Norman stated. “This can be carried on at home, hunting camps, etc. for a lifetime. As far as sewing, the students are not afraid of machines; they learned how to follow instructions and create something usable that they can be proud of.”

Book clubs

A grant of $1,000.00 went toward improving the book selection in the 6th, 7th and 8th grade English/Language Arts (ELA) classrooms.

In the grant application, 8th grade teacher Theresa L’Esperance said that she originally planned to only update the list of books used in the 8th grade book club curriculum, but after realizing that the entire ELA department was in need of new books, she expanded the scope of the application to include 6th and 7th grades.

“Book clubs are essential to learning,” L’Esperance stated. “Our TMS library is not capable of providing multiple books of the same genre or title to allow for supportive reading across multiple learning targets.”

L’Esperance noted that although the grant allowed for multiple grades to purchase books to support learning, a lack of diversity and a variety of selection of genres remains an issue.

Going forward, L’Esperance said the district will need outside support to maintain an up-to-date selection of books and advanced reading curriculum, noting that budget constraints make it challenging for the ELA department to maintain a library of high-quality books.

“Book clubs are extremely relevant to increasing knowledge and creativity in learning,” L’Esperance stated. “I would be devastated if this program and support ended. Reading is the single most important learning tool for everyone. Books in print can be costly, but they are tangible, and visual, and have a sense of belonging because you hold a book. Reading is an effective way out of poverty, it improves self-esteem, increases attendance and reduces discipline issues in the classroom.”

CPR/AED equipment

A total of $1,945.00 in grant funds were used to update CPR/AED equipment used in the district’s Advanced Health Class and Youth Apprenticeship (YA) program.

TMS/THS Health and Adapted Physical Education teacher Taylor Hudzinski-Pike, who applied for the grant, said district students have the opportunity to become First Aid/CPR/AED certified through the classes.

“Over time, CPR/AED equipment becomes outdated or technology has progressed to increase the effectiveness of hands-on learning,” Hudzinski-Pike stated.

Hudzinski-Pike said the grant went towards purchasing mannequins installed with LED feedback and choking training vests.

“With this new equipment, students are able to effectively learn the importance of depth and pace in terms of compressions when performing CPR because the LED lights show the path that blood takes from the chest to the brain and indicates in red/green lights if they are performing compressions correctly,” Hudzinski-Pike explained.

The anti-choking training vests show students the proper “in-and-up” motion when performing the Heimlich maneuver on a choking victim.

“This equipment not only helps the effectiveness of skill-learning, but it’s helping with differentiation of lessons along with adding fun to the learning experiences,” Hudzinski-Pike stated.

Hudzinski-Pike noted that as long as the classes are able to be offered and there is a certified instructor, students will continue to have the opportunity to become certified. Roughly 20 students enroll in Advanced Health each year, and approximately six become certified through the YA program. This year, four students earned certification.

Vision boards

A grant of $120.00 was used to lend a hand to THS students in plotting their futures.

A grant of $120.00 was used to purchase supplies to create vision boards.

In the grant application, Foreign Language teacher Toni Tourdot said she had previously used a vision board to help bring her own life into focus, and she believed it would be a great activity for students to help figure out their goals and dreams.

The grant funds were used to purchase supplies to create the vision boards, which students designed during their resource hour.

“Each student’s board was uniquely personal to them,” Tourdot stated. “Some students were excited to explain to me what theirs meant, and others wanted to keep their visions to themselves. The best part of the activity was the smiles on their faces when they finished.”

Hatchet Hut

The district’s school store, known as the Hatchet Hut, has been reestablished with the help of a $700.00 grant.

TMS/THS Business Instructor Scot Neu explained in the grant application that the THS Business Department has been working for three years to get the Hatchet Hut operating again. Last fall, students staffed the store for the majority of the school day, and a year-long class based on operating the store and earning business certification(s) has been approved for the 2022-23 school year and beyond.

Neu said that reestablishing the Hatchet Hut involved updating products and store equipment, such as a new cash register and signage, as well as access to the store online and via Smartphone apps. The class also plans on working with local businesses to offer products at locations throughout the community.

Between 12 and 20 students will run the store for the entirety of the 2022-23 school year. Neu noted that having up to 20 students interested in taking the class bodes well for the future of the course and Hatchet Hut.

“There are a lot of puzzle pieces involved for kids in the course, in addition to running the store – Microsoft Certification(s), FBLA and Lifesmarts participation, marketing and advertising campaigns for various school teams and groups, just to name a few, Neu stated. “The kids usually ‘sell’ a class to their peers during the course of a school year, so if the content and activities deliver, then I envision the course and store operation to continue and evolve with current business and operational trends.”

As the class progresses, financial assistance may be needed for other “larger-ticket” items, for which new grant applications would be submitted, Neu said.

New grant applicants

The STAR Foundation is currently seeking new applicants for Beyond Crayons and Chromebooks grants to be awarded later this year. Check out next week’s issue of the Tomahawk Leader for more information.

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