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January 25, 2010     Cape Gazette
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January 25, 2010

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School & Education 80 FRIDAY, JANUARY 22 - MONDAY, JANUARY 25, 2010 Cape Gazette Cape signs onto Race to the Top plan By Leah Hoenen The Cape Henlopen school board has decided to accept re- quired guidelines if Delaware wins a Race to the Top grant from the federal government. Districts that signed a memo- randum of understanding would be eligible for funding to imple- ment certain programs. Districts that did not sign on would have to make the same changes, but wouldn't get any money, a good reason to sign on, said board member Andy Lewis. Board President Camilla Con- Ion said, "We don't want Cape to be the district missing out if the state gets this grant" Lewis said if Delaware wins the grant, Cape should not put it- self in a position to pay to imple- ment changes out of local funds. Cape Superintendent George Stone said Delaware appears to be in the running for the grant, to be given to several states. The amount of the grant has not yet been specified. Like other Delaware districts, Cape held a special meeting Thursday, Jan. 7. The state needs all 19 districts to sign to have a better chance of winning the grant, said Stone. Under terms of the grant, dis- tricts would have to implement accountability standards for teachers and administrators and participate in regional student testing, Stone said. The grant al- so requires routine communica- tions among state and district of- ficials, and compiling and using student achievement data to im- prove results statewide. The grant also encourages the best teachers and administrators to get into the state's worst per- forming schools by offering fi- nancial incentives, said Stone. He said half the grant money would go to the worst schools in the winning states, and the rest would be shared by all other schools who had signed the memorandum. The state has not yet released the list of the worst-performing schools, said Stone, but they have .. . STEVEN BILLUPS PHOTOS REHOBOTH VFW POST 7447 AWARDS SCHOLARSHIPS THE REHOBOTH BEACH VFW POST 744"7 AWARDED six students cash prizes for placing in the top three in the VFW's Annual Patriot's Pen and Voice of Democracy Essays contests Wednesday, Jan. 13, at the post home. The Voice of Democracy (VOD) scholarship program is an audio-essay contest for high school students in grades nine through 12 that annually provides more than $3 million in scholarships. The first-place winner, who competes with all the first- place VFW Department winners, receives a $30,000 scholarship that is paid directly to the recipient's American university, college or vocational/technical school. Shown above are (I-r) Auxiliary President Frances Turner, essay Chairwoman Estelle Tabasko, first-place winner Emily Baptiste, second-place winner Rebecca Lusk and third-place winner Alexa Medda and Post Commander Tracy Bowen. All three winners are ninth-graders from Cape Henlopen High School. "The first-place winner will ad- vance to the district contest, with the opportunity to advance to the state and national contest. Below, Patriot's Pen is a nationwide competition that gives students in grades six through eight the opportunity to write es- are  it.  saysexpressing their views on democracy. Annually, more than 115,000 students participate in the contest. Contestants write :: Le   .aWe!S a]|? a =400 word essay based on an annual patriotic theme. The first-place winner receives a $10,000 savings bend and an all- s Would likely givethe He a :nse-paid trip to Washington, D.C. The top national winners each receive a savings bond anywhere from $1,000 to better chance of successfully im- plementing changes. Board member Sara Wilkinson said be- cause Delaware is small, it has been able to implement innova- tions in education. Board member Esthelda Park- er Selby said the money could go far in helping Cape and other Delaware schools, realize better academic achievement. Conlon cautioned against counting on the money before it is handed out. All board members present voted, 6-0, in favor of signing the memorandum. Board member Gary Wray was not at the meet- ing. $10,000. Shown are (I-r) Auxiliary President Frances Turner, essay Chairwoman Estelle Tabasko, first-place winner Madison Long, second-place winner Henry Pfeifer, third-place winner Claire Carnevale and Post Commander Tracy Bowen. All three winners are eighth-graders at Beacon Middle School. When tragedy strikes, look for signs of anxiety in children atching hours of news reports on TV can be disas- trous for children. The recent earthquake in Haiti has reawakened our sense of horror with vivid pictures of people buried inside their homes. When the New York World Trade Center towers were struck by terrorists and the im- ages were replayed over and over again, it was difficult for adults to cope with that kind of violence. Now imagine the damage that repeated viewings of world dis- asters can have on young chil- dren. Devastating. What we experience visually is bumed into our memories and- is critical material for night- mares, traumatic stress and act- ing out. In our culture, it is common for the television to be on con- stantly. Some households have TVs in every room and children have access to private TV view- ing in their bedroom. There is no monitoring, no explanation of events and no attempt to ad- dress some of the humanitarian help that is being offered. In short, there is no balance for young minds to create under- standing. Media Awareness Network is a collaborative from Canada that has some advice to offer in help- ing kids cope with media cover- age of war and traumatic events. Dr. Aflette Lefebvre, staff psychi- atrist, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, relates that the intense media coverage that accompa- nies traumatic events, such as war, acts of terrorism and natu- ral disasters, can be very dis- turbing for children and teens. Certain young people are partic- ularly vulnerable and some can be seriously distressed simply by watching TV replays of such events. "Parents, educators, health practitioners and others who. work with kids can help to lessen anxieties arising from the coverage of catastrophic events if they monitor media exposure, mediate media images and mes- sages and mitigate the media's impact" When a disaster is being re- ported, be advised that children are aware of the event and it is important to question them about what they have learned and how they're feeling. Look for signs of anxiety in children. Lefebvre writes that some children are more susceptible to anxiety about events reported in the media. Various factors influ- ence children's reactions, includ- ing age, temperament, a tenden- cy to worry or a vivid imagina- tion. Children are more likely to dwell on certain news events if they themselves have been vic- tims of violence, war or similar tragedies, if they have relatives or friends living in the affected area, or if they have family in the military or in emergency-re- sponse professions. Parents are cautioned to be se- lective in choosing programs, particularly with young children, and it is important to protect kids from intensely disturbing or frightening TV images. Don't leave the TV or radio on as background noise; don't watch coverage of traumatic events with young children in the room; and avoid media "replays" in the days following a catastro- phe. Parents can reassure children that the events are not a direct threat and that world relief or- ganizations are working hard to make the world a safer place. The Haiti earthquake can be an opportunity to educate older children about how the media works. Watch news coverage with older kids and talk about it. Explain that news is a business and that the need to attract audi- ences can influence editorial de- cisions on how events are re- ported. After a tragedy there is usually an outpouring of grief and at- tempts to help. This places an emphasis on the value of life that can be a powerful lesson for all of us. Emphasize the positive things that may arise from traumatic events and ways that children may be able to help the victims. Diane Saienni Albanese is a writer, parent and teacher in the Cape Henlopen School District. For previous columns and other writings, visit her blog at