Learning Points

School board approves sex-ed curriculum

For months, Indian River School District officials have plodded through the divisive topic of how to teach Human Sexuality to 600 ninth-graders each year. This week, the Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a new sex-ed curriculum for high school. (The middle school curriculum process has yet to begin.)

The people speak

Ready for the new state test? IRSD hosts information session

Every year, public school students take a comprehensive state test. And, as the Indian River School District prepares to use the newest version of that test, parents and guardians can learn more, at a pair of public forums set for this week.

LB fifth-grader sweeps his second geography bee

Heavy snowflakes fell outside the gymnasium while, indoors, students talked about the icy Yukon Territory and Scandinavia. The National Geographic Bee had returned to Lord Baltimore Elementary School.

Star students stand out at Indian River High School

Whether the students earned stellar grades or just gave their best in the classroom, Indian River High School wants to celebrate its Students of the Month.

Moms Club to hold Preschool & Activity Fair this weekend

Not sure what activities are available in the area for children enjoy?

This weekend, the Moms Club of Coastal Delaware will be holding its Fifth Annual Preschool & Activity Fair to help give local families the opportunity to visit face-to-face with local preschool representatives, as well as businesses and organizations offering extra-curricular activities for children.

Stefan Botchie recognized for efforts as S.C. educator

BotchieBotchie“Outstanding Young Music Educator” is yet another accolade Selbyville native Stefan Botchie can now add to his resume.

“An outstanding educator is one who is dedicated to the success of their students and their craft of educating students. This is more than a full-time commitment and requires a tremendous of energy and enthusiasm,” said Dr. David Stern, associate professor of music in the South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University, who nominated Botchie for the South Carolina Music Educators Association (SCMEA) award.

“Stephan is extremely dedicated to excellence in music teaching. He is the comprehensive educator and model for all of us. This is easily demonstrated by the recent Emerald High School Teacher of the Year award that acknowledges the respect and admiration of his school community, as well as the numerous greater community activities in which he participates.”

Botchie, who previously received the Teacher of the Year award for 2014-2015 for his work at Emerald High School in Greenwood, S.C., said he learned he would be receiving the award after Stern, his close friend and former college professor contacted him.

Having ‘the Talk’: School district to host public forum for sex-ed curriculum

Although the Indian River School District has finished the first leg of the sex-education marathon by drafting a new high school curriculum, the next hurdle looms, with a public forum. Fulfilling a promise made to the public by district officials, the forum is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. at Millsboro Middle School.

The public is welcome to attend.

Indian River School District to host teacher recruitment fair

The Indian River School District, in partnership with Academic Partnerships LLC, will host a teacher recruitment fair on Feb. 21 at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel in Ocean City, Md.

No children on school bus in accident

Submitted • Roxana Volunteer Fire Company: Although no children were on the school bus in this Pepper’s Corner collision, the crushed vehicle is still a reminder to drive safely.Submitted • Roxana Volunteer Fire Company: Although no children were on the school bus in this Pepper’s Corner collision, the crushed vehicle is still a reminder to drive safely.Several fire departments responded to a three-vehicle collision on Monday, Jan. 5. Although a school bus was involved, no children were passengers at the time.

Millville Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched at 7:40 a.m. to a reported collision with one entrapment at Route 17 and Pepper’s Corner Road.

Three children and three adults were injured, but only five people were transported to local hospitals.

Roxana Volunteer Fire company assisted with patient care and debris cleanup. Delaware State Police continued the investigation.

SDSA Honor Society pitches in, serves community

Coastal Point • Submitted: Southern Delaware School of the Arts honor society members pitched in and collected canned foods to help those in need. They also wrapped gifts for homeless teens at One Coastal in Bethany Beach.Coastal Point • Submitted: Southern Delaware School of the Arts honor society members pitched in and collected canned foods to help those in need. They also wrapped gifts for homeless teens at One Coastal in Bethany Beach.For students in the National Junior Honor Society, even the most special celebration is an opportunity to help others. After wrapping up a successful canned food drive, the Southern Delaware School of the Arts Honor Society held a fancy holiday dinner — and wrapped gifts for homeless teens.

“I just feel helping out people who don’t have what the average human should have [is important],” said Zachary Ables, an eighth-grader. “It’s such a great thing to be helping out those children.”

The dinner at One Coastal was meant to celebrate the hard work the Honor Society had already done in the fall. The group consists of 16 eighth-graders. Besides dressing up and enjoying a buffet with their families, they giftwrapped the hats and gloves they had purchased for 75 teenagers at the Hope & Life Outreach (HALO) homeless shelter in Salisbury, Md.

“I was really proud of them,” said Amy Hughes, teacher and Honor Society advisor. “They’re just so into it.”

Ables said the students were impressed with their guest speaker, who fundraises to donate items for HALO.

IRHS feeds those who fought for our freedom

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Student council members load boxes of food that Indian River High School students and staff donated to the Home of the Brave veterans shelter. Pictured, from left, are: junior Jared Ryan, seniors Clayton Hardy and Alison Jennings, freshman Olivia Garvey, and juniors Sofia DiGirolamo, Sami Mumford and Meghan Paulus.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Student council members load boxes of food that Indian River High School students and staff donated to the Home of the Brave veterans shelter. Pictured, from left, are: junior Jared Ryan, seniors Clayton Hardy and Alison Jennings, freshman Olivia Garvey, and juniors Sofia DiGirolamo, Sami Mumford and Meghan Paulus.Student council members are helping their classmates give back this holiday season. Indian River High School recently finished its second annual food collection for Home of the Brave, a Milford nonprofit helping homeless veterans transition to more stable homes and jobs.

“It feels like you’re doing something,” said senior and Council President Clayton Hardy. “This is meant to feed a veteran’s home.”

“They serve our country, so we have to give back on some level,” senior Alison Jennings said.

Regarding the most basic of human needs, junior Sami Mumford expressed the root of the problem: “I don’t like to be hungry,” she said simply.

Staff advisor Frank Shockley helped the students organize the food drive. Last year, he said, it was “really nice” to deliver the food in person and meet the facility director and some vets.

“They actually helped us unload. They were very thankful, a very nice group of individuals,” Shockley said.

He described the donations building, which serves the homeless:

“When they finally find a home for them,” the veterans “go shopping” to fill their homes with furniture and food.

“It’s the nice thing to do,” said junior Sofia DiGirolamo of the effort.

SMS students lead the pack in state student council

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: State student council officers got a special invitation to Return Day. Here, Uncle Sam stands with (from left) Jordan Ide, Dominic Patille, Gabrielle “Gabby” Tierney, Chloe McCabe and Maddie Weber.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: State student council officers got a special invitation to Return Day. Here, Uncle Sam stands with (from left) Jordan Ide, Dominic Patille, Gabrielle “Gabby” Tierney, Chloe McCabe and Maddie Weber.Selbyville Middle School has taken leadership to the next level, as local students fill four of five positions on the state student council (Delaware Student Council Association).

“We have had a great run of leadership at the state level in the student council,” Superintendent Susan Bunting has said. That’s due to help and encouragement of SMS advisor Patricia Jennings.

This year SMS students swept the entire council, aside from the presidency, held by Jordan Ide of Smyrna Middle School.

SMS councilmembers include Vice President Dominic Patille, grade 8, Secretary Gabrielle “Gabby” Tierney, 7th, Treasurer Chloe McCabe, 7th, and Historian Maddie Weber, 8th.

Half the battle was showing up, the students said. Statewide, only a few middle school delegations could break away from regular classwork to participate in elections.

The young leaders heard speeches by Delaware’s First Lady, Carla Markell, plus Carrie Hart of Volunteer Delaware.

‘Miss Dorothy’ bids farewell to Frankford library

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: ‘Miss Dorothy’ Fisch shares The Berenstain Bears with children one last time before retiring as children’s librarian at Frankford Public Library.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: ‘Miss Dorothy’ Fisch shares The Berenstain Bears with children one last time before retiring as children’s librarian at Frankford Public Library.After 15 years, a friendly face is retiring from the Frankford Public Library children’s program. “Miss Dorothy” Fisch led her last preschool storytime for a handful of wiggling children before she retired on Dec. 17.

But these youngsters are just a few of the hundreds of children Fisch read to since she arrived in 1999.

Although she turned 71 this month, Fisch grabbed a box of jingle bells and led a round of Christmas carols at her final storytime session. She and the children jumped up and down to the beat of the bells.

“She has a lot of energy,” parent Crystal Blakeney said. “She’s really joyful, and they love it when she sings.”

Fisch even filled a request for “The Alphabet Song.”

Shelley Stevens has seen her grandchildren cry at the thought of missing storytime. She takes young Bridget to library programs year-round.

DCHS celebrates opening of arts and athletic center

After one basketball season, one graduation, two volleyball seasons, two banquets and several performances, the opening of a new Arts & Athletic Center became a reality on Wednesday, Dec. 10, for Delmarva Christian High School.

SDSA students named to honor roll

The following students at the Southern Delaware School of the Arts were named to the school’s honor roll for the first marking period of the 2014-2015 school year.

Receiving Honors were:

Students, local residents hold fast on curriculum concerns

Although not quite so packed as its meeting in October, the Indian River School Board still had a larger audience than usual on Nov. 24. Nearly every member of the public present wanted to discuss the proposed health curriculum and, more specifically, Board Member Shaun Fink’s comments in favor of abstinence-only sexual education and the exclusion of homosexuality from the curriculum.

JROTC shares pride and tradition at Marine Corps Birthday celebration

Coastal Point • Laura Walter:  Indian River High School’s JROTC cadets present colors.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Indian River High School’s JROTC cadets present colors.Most students at Indian River High School aren’t old enough to join the armed forces. But that doesn’t mean the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) can’t celebrate the ideals and 239th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

“It’s honoring the Marines and the way they celebrate their founding. Without them, we wouldn’t have this,” said sophomore Kayla Emerson.

The U.S. Marine Corps was founded Nov. 10, 1775. Every year, JROTC cadets stand tall at the annual school dinner celebration, hosted with friends and family, this time on Nov. 13.

Those families are “integral to our success” — fundraising, driving students, cleaning uniforms and much more, said instructor Maj. Frank Ryman (Ret.).

“It’s fun giving them a taste of what we do every day at school and sharing fellowship with them,” Emerson said.

Now dressed in camouflage and taking a leadership class, she joined JROTC because she was impressed by a middle-school recruitment day. But she stayed because of “the support from everybody. And you get really close to Gunny and Major,” she said of instructors Lester “Gunny” James and Ryman.

Wreath of Wealth being raffled off to support IRHS band

For the second year, the Indian River Band Boosters are raffling off a “Wreath of Wealth,” full of gift cards, to raise money for the upcoming spring band trip.

IR JROTC remembers its roots at Marine Corps Birthday Celebration

Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Indian River High School’s JROTC cadets present colors.Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Indian River High School’s JROTC cadets present colors.An American military force that’s older than the United States, the Marine Corps was immensely proud to celebrate 238th birthday last week, and Indian River High School JROTC cadets stood just as tall as their military counterparts at the annual school dinner celebration on Nov. 7.

Founded in 1775, the U.S. Marine Corps now use the cake-serving ceremony as “a symbol of passing traditions, customs and courtesies from the old corps to the new corps,” said JROTC instructor Maj. Frank Ryman (Ret.).

After cutting the cake with a sword, the oldest cadet passes a slice of cake to the youngest cadet. Therefore, C/Pvt. Annel Calles Vildiva ceremoniously passed more than 200 years of history to C/PVT Jessie O’Neal in front of their classmates, families, guests from AMVETS, American Legion, Indian River School Board and more.

Special guest 1st Sgt. Jonathan Dixon told the story of his first experience driving tanks in a training exercise. Smashing through the wilderness was “the best thing in the world” for the 18-year-old, until he drove the tank into a ditch. That night, he was terrified of the flak he might receive from his comrades.

District: Suspected school heroin case was isolated incident

Suspected of swallowing heroin while at Selbyville Middle School, a 13-year-old student now faces drug charges.

During an after-school dance on Friday, Oct. 31, a male student allegedly went into the boys’ bathroom and ingested suspected heroin, said school district spokesman David Maull.

Delaware students can make free, easy college applications this week

Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Indian River senior Logan Hearn logs information into his college Common Application.Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Indian River senior Logan Hearn logs information into his college Common Application.In the guidance office of Indian River High School, senior Logan Hearn is typing on a computer, dreaming of a future in marine biology. With just a few clicks, he could apply to more than 500 colleges through one single website, no postage stamps needed.

Between free applications and the online Common Application, it’s easier than ever for Delaware students to apply for college. And now is the best time, according to education officials.

During College Application Month, Delaware is waiving college application fees for six colleges, until Friday, Nov. 21. All Delaware students are eligible for the waiver from the University of Delaware and Delaware State University, and students can also apply to Delaware Tech, Wilmington University, Wesley College and Goldey-Beacom College without charge until Nov. 21.

Local students honor veterans

Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Students at Lighthouse Christian School show their thanks to local veterans during the school's annual Veterans Day program.Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Students at Lighthouse Christian School show their thanks to local veterans during the school's annual Veterans Day program.Approximately 140 students at Lighthouse Christian School were able to honor area veterans last week at the school’s annual Veterans Day program. During the program, students sang songs to the veterans in attendance, including “God Bless America” and “My Country ’Tis of Thee.”

Army veteran and VFW Post 7234 Commander Fulton Loppatto spoke to the students about the area’s Operation SEAs the Day program, whose mission is “to organize and facilitate a beach week event for our wounded soldiers and their families as a means of showing our appreciation for their service and sacrifice. It is our hope that such a community-based gesture of support will be comforting and help ease their transition back into civilian life.”

“This is something we can all get involved with,” said Loppatto.

He said that, in the creation of the nonprofit, it was important for the founders, Becky Johns, Diane Pohanka and Richard Katon, to provide a week for the warriors and their families, who are with the veterans through thick and thin.

Vietnam Mailbag brings old stories to Frankford library

Lynch to share letters from her popular column

Where would a journalist be without her source? During the Vietnam War, American troops sent Nancy E. Lynch nearly 1,000 letters and hundreds of photos from overseas, which she published in her popular column, Nancy’s Vietnam Mailbag.

Students bring civil rights concerns to school board

Story edited online Oct. 31, 2014.

Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Cole Haden was one of many Sussex Central High School students who encouraged the school district to teach about homosexuality and offer comprehensive sex education.Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Cole Haden was one of many Sussex Central High School students who encouraged the school district to teach about homosexuality and offer comprehensive sex education.On Oct. 27, for the first time in many years, students flooded the Indian River School District’s school board meeting, to denounce a board member’s recent comments about the place of homosexuality and abstinence in health education.

This is just another civil rights movement, said Sussex Central High School senior Matt Price.

Board Member Shaun Fink has made no secret of his desire to eliminate the discussion of homosexuality from the new health curriculum, based on his own religious beliefs. He prefers an abstinence-only course that excludes even the definitions of homosexuality and transgender and related terms.

School to honor wounded warriors at Veterans Day program

For seven years, Lighthouse Christian School has been doing their part to honor the nation’s veterans. Each year, around Veterans Day, the school holds a program to honor veterans in the community.

Auburn student from Dagsboro recognized for leadership

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) recently presented a Congressional Record detailing the leadership skills and accomplishments of Auburn University student Carol Linde on Oct. 7 at the Auburn Student Center.

Today & Tomorrow Conference to feature ‘SELLebration’ theme

Next week, leaders from across the state will visit Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC) to attend the 21st Annual Sussex County Today & Tomorrow Conference.

Selbyville native named Teacher of the Year at South Carolina high school

Earlier this year, Stefan Botchie was selected as the 2014-2015 Emerald High School Teacher of the Year in Greenwood, S.C.

John M. Clayton beats the odds, wins national award

Just three Delaware schools were named 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools, including Frankford’s own John M. Clayton Elementary School. JMC, Lake Forest North Elementary and the Academy of Dover charter school and are among the 337 schools that will be officially honored in November in Washington, D.C.

IR pride shines in new school sign

Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark : With community funding, Indian River High School’s new sign came about nine years early and nine years too late, but it’s here to stay. Above, members of the Indian River High School Alumni Association and Principal Bennett Murray pose with the sign.Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark : With community funding, Indian River High School’s new sign came about nine years early and nine years too late, but it’s here to stay. Above, members of the Indian River High School Alumni Association and Principal Bennett Murray pose with the sign.For nearly a decade in Dagsboro, Indian River High School has made a name for itself in sports, service, academics— in all ways, but one: literally.

IRHS has never had a school sign, until now.

A rainy Saturday couldn’t stop the new 10-by-14-foot electronic sign from proudly glowing on its dedication day. Funded by the IRHS Alumni Association, with support from the community and local legislators, the new sign was dedicated on Oct. 11.

When the new school building opened in the fall of 2005, former principal Mark Steele began socking away extra funds to eventually buy a sign. Principal Bennett Murray continued the tradition and brought that request to the IRHSAA, which began fundraising for it one year ago.

The dedication this week might not have happened for another decade without significant contributions from local lawmakers. State Reps. John Atkins and Ron Gray and state Sen. Gerald Hocker Sr. all donated thousands of dollars, footing the majority of a $40,000 bill.

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