Lackawanna Trail also put to task
By TOM FONTANA
Wyoming County Press Examiner Correspondent
FACTORYVILLE – “You could hear a pin drop.”
According to Lackawanna Trail Elementary Center principal Tania Stoker, that was the reaction of students at an assembly for the “Rachel’s Challenge” program held in the district Wednesday, Sept. 26.
An assembly was held at Trail schools at 8 a.m. for grades 7-12, with student council training mid-morning; at 1:45 p.m. for elementary students; and for the community at 7 p.m.
At a district board work session Monday night, Oct. 1, Stoker, high school principal John Rushefski, and high school assistant principal Mark Murphy praised the program and public participation.
“The community really came out and supported us,” Rushefski stated. “The turn out for the evening assembly was impressive. It was a very positive experience.”
“Rachel’s Challenge” started several years ago in memory of 17-year-old Rachel Scott, the first student killed in the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. The intent of the program is to empower students to do good deeds, based on Rachel’s journal entries in which she expressed her belief that individual acts of kindness can cause a ‘chain reaction.’
Jack Debree, a ninth-grade student council member, told the work session attendees how effective the program was. “It got us very active in it,” he explained, “and brought out some very interesting points.”
Stoker said aspects of the program have been fused into the curriculum of elementary school classes, including the creation of a paper chain, with each link listing acts of kindness noticed by students.
“The program is not about anti-bullying as much as changing a way of life,” she noted. “It encourages all of us to be nicer to the people around you.”
“There was not one student not touched by the program,” Murphy added.
In other business:
Superintendent Matthew Rakauskas presented policy change proposals to be adopted or discussed at the next regular board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
One concerned advertisements at athletic events, changing the description to signage at the “athletic field” rather than “athletic facilities.” Rakauskas suggested a reconsideration of the type of material on which signage is constructed, to something more durable and long-lasting.
Board member Frank Tylutki questioned a proposed policy requiring independent volunteers who chaperone overnight school events and field trips to have police and child abuse clearances.
“People aren’t going to get clearances on the spur of the moment when a volunteer is needed,” Tylutki argued.
Rakauskas said the policy would only apply to overnight volunteers, not daytime ‘assistive’ volunteers. “But for overnight chaperones,” he stated, “I think clearances should be required. In this day and age, I think it’s a necessary safety precaution.”
“Well, if that’s the case,” Tylutki replied, “we could run out of volunteers when we need them. What if there are no chaperones for a trip?”
“Then the trip should be cancelled,” Rakauskas said. “I hope it doesn’t come to that. That’s why we’re proposing this now, to get out in front of it.”
On another volunteer matter, board member Joseph Strauch suggested that assistive volunteers who handle food should have some food safety training.
“You can’t be too careful when you have people touching food, then handing it to the children,” he said.
Another board member recommended that plastic sanitary gloves be provided to all food handlers.
The Community Foundation of the Endless Mountains offered an informational presentation on how it serves the community and schools by managing donor funds for specific needs.
CF chairman Earle Wootton gave an example of a donor who might want to support seventh and eighth grade football at Trail, and could set up a fund or endowment to administer for the school programs, assuring the intentions of the donor.
CF president Peter Quigg reviewed the variety of educational and health organizations in Wyoming and Susquehanna counties that have benefited from the services of the foundation.
“We have managed $1,700,000 over the last seven years,” Quigg stated. “We’ve got a good thing going here. We want you to let us know how we can help you out.”