Learn and Serve grant gives G-ASD students opportunities

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

Greencastle-Antrim School District recently received a service-learning grant award of $15,000 from Learn and Serve America, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. G-ASD was one of only six school districts across the state to be awarded funding. The grant was used for three service-learning projects: a video production of high school student interviews with local World War II veterans and Holocaust liberators; a collaborative literacy project of 9th grade English and primary students; and the creation of a 5th grade student advisory board to provide service learning mini-grants to primary and elementary teachers.

Service learning gives students the opportunity to apply their classroom learning to real-life situations through action. The elements of service learning include: student involvement in the project planning and implementation; projects must be linked to the curriculum; activities must provide a service; and students must be given the opportunity to reflect on what they learned.

Social Studies teacher Ellen Kirkner wrote the grant with assistance from Ginny Lays, a professional grant writer.

Martina Fegan's Human Rights Literature classes at G-AHS are using the funds to produce a DVD featuring the local veterans' interviews. The DVD and a companion book will be released in a premiere on May 1 at 7 p.m. at the high school.  The event is free and open to the public. Proceeds from the sale of the items will benefit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Wounded Warriors Project. The veterans, survivors and students will conduct a DVD/book signing. To pre-order “The Glorious and the Brave,” contact Fegan at 717-597-3226 or 717-264-1008.

Ninth grade English teachers Marci Stover and Chelle Bingaman are using grant funds to purchase books that their students will read to primary school students. The 9th graders are receiving literacy training from reading director Molly Moran, who is also educating them about the importance of reading. The freshmen are Book Buddies with their primary students.

For the past three years Kirkner supervised the student committee STARS - “Students and Teachers Achieving Results through Service.” It is comprised of civics students elected by their peers to market and oversee service-learning mini grants throughout the school district. Under the terms of the new grant, last year's high school STARS trained a new committee of 5th grade students from Sarah Diller's class. These children, Madison Cosey, Jae Jenkins, Lexi Klein, Roman Porterfield, Anessa Reid and Seth Runshaw, gave presentations to primary and elementary teachers to explain the mini grant application process.

Last year's STARS committee members were Erika Crum, Gabbie Hissong and Abby Byers. They oversaw the funding of 15 projects, including a G-AMS Veterans Oral History Project, an astronomy field trip to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Wellness Week activities by Peer Leaders, a Martin Luther King Day service project and funds for psychology students to assist with the Special Olympics at the Franklin Learning Center.

Last year's mini grants at the elementary and primary levels included funds for a cross-cultural library project for a school in Peru, Alex's Lemonade Stand for childhood cancer research, a Kindle reading project that addressed bullying, a Chesapeake Bay Watershed Awareness project and a nutrition awareness campaign, “Eat This, Not That.”