Give Them an “A” in S.T.E.M.
by Cate Murway
Our nation’s future economic prosperity is closely linked with student success in the S.T.E.M. fields. S.T.E.M. is an acronym referring to the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics but Warren Snyder – John Girotti Elementary/ Middle School is going full S.T.E.A.M. ahead.
Mary Gesualdi and Rose Marie Strippoli are stamping an “A” in S.T.E.M., assuring that the integrated curriculum includes the Arts.
Title 1 federal program coordinator, Mary Gesualdi, adamantly promotes progress with a passion! She and Rose Marie Strippoli, Past President of the Artists of Bristol and the Snyder-Girotti Mural Event Coordinator are even more determined to continue to promote the legacy of arts and culture in the local school as well as the community.
Funding grants made available through the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) provided enrichment programs and activities for our youth in an intense effort to increase the chance of academic success in core academic subjects, including the much needed Arts. Participation increased self confidence, reduced absences and decreased disciplinary actions and other adverse behaviors. The students worked to maintain proficiency and many of the students demonstrated marked improvement in Mathematics and Reading.
In addition to daily academic support, children in the elementary and middle school have access to Young Rembrandts drawing classes, instrumental music lessons, hip hop instruction and various S.T.E.M. activities. The Bristol High School Garden Club created a self-sustaining aquaponics [a food production system combining conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment], growing both fish and plants. A wide variety of skills, including some basics of engineering, crop management, carpentry and plumbing, were fostered in this cooperative venture.
Thanks to a partnership with Sylvan Learning Center, SAT Prep courses including materials, diagnostic exams, a scored practice exam and prep with top SAT tutors that typically costs over $1,000, is offered at NO CHARGE for the Bristol Borough students.
Generously volunteering their time, Eugene J. “Gene” Williams, executive director of the Grundy Foundation, and Amy McIlvaine, the fundraising coordinator who also aptly publicizes Borough events, along with educator, Mary Gesualdi, all provide excellent community representation. They are members of the Advisory and Oversight Committee of the Bristol Borough 21st Century Learning Center that has provided free, all encompassing, academic, sports, and summer camp activities, including tutoring and recreation in a constructive atmosphere where the Borough children are given educational help, self-esteem building opportunities and positive role models. The 21st Century program began in 2010 and has been funded by a $1.2 million grant channeled through United Way of Bucks County. So far, Bristol’s 21st CCLC has served more than 250 students. This environment is supportive, safe, educational and fun, helping to prepare each child to better face the challenges in life and emerge victorious in adverse situations, encouraging them to be free thinking individuals, capable of making independent decisions.
Under the 21st Century Grant last summer, several of the current and former budding artists/students of Snyder-Girotti began their work of transforming an empty wall space near a stairwell and an elevator on the second floor of the school into a showcase of most attractive stuff. Michele Hager, one of the teachers of the 6th, 7th and 8th grades, surveyed the students, identifying the topics of Bristol history, sports, music and theatre they would prefer to include in the mural.
Now, after 6 weeks of wholehearted labor over the summer, the mural with the powder blue background “the sky is the limit”, highlighting both history and dreams, is completed, energizing “what was a very sterile environment”. The hand painted wall art has begun to define their school with their permanent remembrance.
Rose Marie shared, “The students are stopping to look at it and it is causing conversation.” She hopes to continue these programs along with other AOB members.
Mary agreed, “It’s such a nice way for them to show what they thought is important, and to show their school pride.”
Unfortunately, the grants have not been renewed for any schools in Bucks County and there is no more funding for programs at the completion of this school year. The AOC is looking for donations of time and money and they need solid community support. The committee is actively seeking partnerships with the businesses, the service groups and the residents of the local community to secure monies to help fill the gap caused by the loss of the 21CCLC funding. They are most thankful that despite any current economic dreariness, the people of this community have proven that they are always willing to reach out and help historic Bristol on the Delaware.
The Bristol Borough Learning Centers has teamed up with Pallotta’s Custom Tailoring & Dry Cleaning to raise funds for these programs. Anthony Pallotta will receive clothing requiring dry-cleaning services each Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at his shop located at 404 Jefferson Avenue in Bristol Borough. Return the following Wednesday for pick-up and delivery of any other clothing articles in need of dry-cleaning, and for every article presented for dry-cleaning service, 20 percent of the cost of the service will be donated to support after-school and summer camp programs for any students residing in Bristol Borough attending a public, private, parochial, charter or at-home school.
The organization’s single annual fund-raiser required in accordance with the guidelines associated with the CCLC grants is the annual Bristol Fall Classic, recognizing citizens who have impacted the well-being of Bristol. The 2014 ‘Leadership thru Service’ celebration, honoring Persons of the Year, John F. Cordisco, Esq.; First Federal of Bucks County President & CEO Jeane Coyle; Anna Bono Larrisey, Tax Collector & Community Volunteer; and Merle Winslow, Emergency Management Coordinator, will be held November 22nd in Bernard Mazzochi’s Canal Works, located at 10 Canal Street, Bristol Borough from 7:00pm- 11:00pm.
Tickets for the event are $100 per person and should be purchased in advance at one of these locations: Great IDs by Anne at 257 Radcliffe Street; Mignoni’s Jewelry Store at 200 Mill Street and the Bristol Borough Tax Office at Mulberry and Pond Streets. A cocktail hour with beer, wine and appetizers, buffet dinner, desert, silent auction and music and dancing by GTO is included.
Event information, ticket sales and questions will be handled at 215.788.0915.
Small towns are idyllic, cohesive, friendly, and unhurried and the ones with true heart, like Bristol Borough, work diligently for the youth who portend the future of the unified, proud community.
Clearly, there’s no place like home.
Come to Historic Bristol on the Delaware for a day, a decade or a lifetime. We have a lot to offer.
The children are our future.
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