AmeriCorps helps students reach out to troops overseas

PUNXSUTAWNEY — AmeriCorps helps students in the Punxsutawney Area School District to get in touch with the rest of the world by writing letters to soldiers of the 4th Platoon stationed in Kuwait.

Wednesday, AmeriCorps member Tony Ross spoke to Punxsutawney Area School Board members about his latest project.

Ross said he obtained the names of individual members of the 4th Platoon, and students were given the opportunity to write an individual letter to a soldier serving in Kuwait.

“We are receiving some amazing letters back from the soldiers,” said Ross, who was accompanied by two students, Emily Sweeney and Hailey Smith, who read two of the letters for the board members.

Ross said the return on this project is very large, as students learn about a soldier’s life.

“I hope whoever takes my place with AmeriCorps at Mapleview Elementary School next year will do the same project of Letters to Soldiers,” he said.

Ross said this summer, he plans to hold a summer school once again with elementary Principal Sharon Weber.

“It was very successful last year, and we’re planning on holding it again this summer,” Ross said.

In other business:
• Superintendent Dr. Keith Wolfe said the Punxsy district will soon be visited by board members and administrators from two school districts to observe Punxsy’s One-to-One laptop initiative.

Wolfe said a team of six to eight board members, administrators and teachers from the Penns Valley School District and a team of representatives from the Forest City Regional School District will visit PAHS March 8.

“This is quite an honor, because other districts are coming to PAHS to see how we do it, because they say we’re doing it right,” Wolfe said.
This is the second time in the past two months that other districts have contacted the district to observe and gain information about Punxsy’s model for this initiative, due to the reputation of having an outstanding program.

Wolfe said the last district to visit PAHS was Blairsville-Saltsburg.
“A lot of districts are doing it differently by allowing students to Bring their Own Device (BOD),” he said.

“The problem with BOD is, how does the school police the computer usage when it’s their own brought from home?” Wolfe said. “We have a handle on what our students are permitted to do because everyone has the same computer distributed by us and has the same limitations with no deviation.”

• Board member Bob Pascuzzo discussed proposed classes for summer school and asked if they are the same as regular classes.

Wolfe said the district offered six sections of history last summer. If those sections weren’t offered during the summer, they would have to be offered during the regular year, which entails hiring another full-time teacher.

Pascuzzo said true budget cuts would come by eliminating summer school or some of the courses offered.

Wolfe said students who fail the course during the regular school year have to pay for the entire course during the summer.

There are students who take summer courses in order to free up time to take an elective, Wolfe said, and that the minimum number of students needed to hold the class during the summer is 10.