How donors make a difference: The impact of fall 2023’s grant awards

What kind of exciting things are happening this school year thanks to donor support for the Mardi Lowry McDonough ’87 Student Opportunity & Grant Fund? The fall awards cycle funded a wide range of requests that will, as always, impact students at all grade levels at every school in the district. Here are just a few.

A mobile garden

The SCASD Food Service Department is spearheading an innovative project: the acquisition, operation, and maintenance of a tower garden. This vertical system is set to become a dynamic tool for growing nutritious greens and imparting valuable lessons on year-round indoor gardening. The tower garden, a mobile unit that occupies minimal space, is designed to grow fresh vegetables indoors. The mobile nature of the garden allows it to traverse across different elementary schools, providing students in Grades K-5 district-wide with an opportunity to witness an entire plant life cycle from seed to harvest.

Growing in STEAM

Students at Radio Park Elementary will deepen their STEAM learning with Erector by Meccanoid XL 2.0 – Robot Building Kits, known for their high level of engagement, challenge, and innovative design. The goal is to empower the students to become the next wave of creators and problem solvers equipped with the skills and mindset needed for the ever-evolving world of technology.

Phonics fun

Spring Creek Elementary students will benefit from fresh new phonics materials. Primary learners thrive on hands-on experiences, so the new materials will serve as the catalyst for fun, lasting, learning experiences, allowing our students to explore graphemes, phonemes, spelling patterns and more through various creative activities.

Wind and solar challenges

A portion of Mount Nittany Elementary’s power supply comes from a functioning turbine on campus, providing a unique opportunity for students to not only delve into 4th-grade science and STEM classes but also expand their understanding of renewable energy. This year, the school will send two 4th-grade teams to participate in the PA KidWind Challenge and two 5th-grade teams to take on the KidWind Solar Challenge. Both challenges will culminate in regional competitions hosted at Penn State Altoona, with the possibility of advancing to the state competition at Penn State University Park.

Afterschool success

In an effort to enhance the after-school experience at Easterly Parkway for 4th-5th grade students, a compelling initiative is set to break ground. Recent data reveals that only 37% of 4th– and 5th-grade students at Easterly Parkway Elementary actively participated in extracurricular activities last year. To address this gap, a plan will offer diverse after-school opportunities, fostering connection, creativity and community through creative writing, mindful movement and a global read-aloud book club.

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Music for all

A set of Orff Instruments will broaden the musical horizons of students in the Adaptive Music class at State High. The class gives students with special needs the opportunity to explore their musical talents. Characterized by durability and longevity, the Orff set will replace the small bell sets currently being used and will last for decades, impacting current and future students.

Grief support for all ages

To support students navigating grief, every library in the district will receive grief-specific books in collaboration with Tides, a local grief support organization. This initiative aims to make grief-specific resources available to students of all ages, offering comfort and educational tools for facing the emotions and challenges of loss.

Safety and efficiency

To enhance safety and cleanliness in the CTC’s Materials Processing Lab, the Technology Education department will acquire a vacuum-operated downdraft table. This addition will mitigate airborne particulates during the finishing process of woodworking projects, ensuring a healthier environment for students and a more organized, efficient workspace.

A new sound

Six pairs of new cymbals for the Marching Little Lions will replace the aging pairs, older than 20 years, which are showing signs of wear and tear, affecting the uniformity of sound in the drumline and causing safety concerns. The purchase will rejuvenate the drumline’s musical arsenal and accommodate the anticipated growth in the number of participating students.

Other projects supported in this fall’s funding cycle include a mentoring program at Mount Nittany Middle School, a student-run magazine for Delta Middle School students, various field trips, lab equipment, and more.

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Thank you to the generous donors who helped to make all of this possible! You can help fund more exciting initiatives like these in the Spring 2024 funding cycle by making a tax-deductible gift before December. 31.

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