By Darla Welchel
Imagine being surrounded by 462,455 pop tabs. That's a lot of aluminum – bags and buckets of the stuff.
The Newcastle 4-H Club, in sponsorship with the Newcastle elementary schools, collected over 360 pounds of pop tabs since last year. At approximately 1,267 tabs per pound, that equals nearly a half million tabs of all sorts and sizes.
No, the club is not obsessive compulsive; they are just doing their part to help the families of seriously ill or injured children by collecting all types of pull tabs from cans, said 4-H parent and elementary school speech pathologist DeAnn Smith.
The "Pull for Kids" campaign is part of the OK 4-H Foundation project to benefit Ronald McDonald Houses, she said. Individual clubs, like Newcastle's, collect from October to October each year and present their total poundage of aluminum tabs at the District Youth Action Conference.
"Last year, the total for all of McClain County was 75 pounds," Smith said. "This year, Newcastle 4-H collected over 362 pounds."
What made the difference? Smith said she got the idea to make it a project in all of the elementary schools when her students started bringing her pop tabs in their pockets and lunch bags. The reason they collect only the tabs is because the aluminum is a better quality, and it's much easier to save the tab instead of the whole can.
"I started just at the ECC last October, then added the elementary school in November," she said. "Kids would come up to me saying 'we brought you a pop tab, Mrs.. Smith.'"
Each month, that school is in session, all the classroom teachers have collection receptacles in their classrooms. Smith collects them with the help of her son, Brenden, who is the Newcastle 4-H vice president, and other 4-H students and takes them home to weigh and store.
Monthly, the class bringing in the most tabs earns the right to keep the recycled traveling trophy in their classroom. At the end of May, the class with the greatest poundage of tabs in each building wins a cookie party, Smith said.
"It's gone over really well. It kind of started from a challenge between the Blanchard 4-H and us as to who could collect the most," she said. "So we said, 'how can we get more,' and we came up with this idea."
The focus for the club is for community service and is a great project for the younger 4-H members, because they can put a pop tab in their pockets, Smith said.
Brenden even did a presentation on this project for one of his 4-H projects, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Newcastle 4-H, as well as explaining what "Pull for Kids" is all about.
The Newcastle 4-H is excited to attend this year’s conference and bring all the tabs collected, she said. The group will continue the project and look forward to bringing in even more tabs.
Individuals and business can also donate pull-tabs at any elementary site. The Pacer currently has a container in the staff kitchen to save pop and soup tabs.
By Darla Welchel
Pucker up, its time for the annual Hogs & Kisses fundraising event. From Monday, Oct. 6- Friday, Oct. 10, students can bring change each day to fill the piggy bank for the teacher of their choice.
"Teachers usually decorate a pig, which gets judged at the end of the week, and the winner gets a gift certificate," said PTO President Joanah Salas.
The teacher who raises the most money by the end of the week, will kiss the pig. The winner for PreK-1st will kiss the pig at the ECC, and the winner from 2nd-5th will pucker up at the 4/5 gym.
Last yearss winning teacher at the ECC was Mrs. Huff and since Mrs. Chlouber was less than $5 away she received 2nd place and was a good sport and went ahead and kissed the pig too, Salas said. Mrs. Sykes won the honors at the upper elementary schools.
By Darla Welchel
Amongst balloons, punch and cake, more than 30 members of the Newcastle chapter of FCCLA met for the first time this year last Thursday.
To kick the year off, students in Family Career and Community Leaders of America, the student organization affiliated with the Family and Consumer Science class, held a baby shower to promote its District Project, said FCCLA sponsor Debbie Chappell.
The students chose Operation Homefront: Star Spangled Babies for this year's project. This important program provides baby showers to enlisted service members and their families while they are away from home serving their country, she said.
To properly get in the mood, the students made and decorated baby shower cakes, had punch and played shower games, she said. The goal of the project is for students to collect and then deliver baby items by Sept. 30 during the District Meeting.
Often, military parents-to-be live far from their extended families and support systems due to deployments and relocations. Star Spangled Babies helps provide them with some of the necessities they might not otherwise get.
Although FCCLA members are collecting the items, community members can become involved by delivering needed items to the high school before Sept. 30, Chappell said. Some of the needed items are:
Diapers (size 1-2)
Baby wash clothes
Diaper Cream, lotion, wash, etc.
Teething rings and rattles
The purpose of FCCLA is to promote personal growth and leadership development through family and consumer sciences education. This organization is available to anyone currently enrolled in FACS courses, or anyone who have previously taken the courses, Chappell said.
By Darla Welchel
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle might not be the 3 R’s that most of us grew up with, but in today’s ecology it is very important for the health of the planet.
The Newcastle Elementary School is turning lessons into practice and earning cash doing it. On Thursday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. the grade school will be holding a Recycling Event in front of the cafeteria.
The recycling extravaganza is being held as a fundraiser for the elementary school to raise money to beautify the front of both the first and second grade and fourth and fifth grade buildings.
Students have already been sent home with pink bags to fill with gently used clothing, shoes and small household items, but there is still a big need for more items, said event sponsor Duane Alexander of Recycle for Charity. Community members are urged to bring their boxes and bags of donations in to help fill the truck.
The school will receive $60 per 3x5 foot cart and there is no limit to the amount that Recycle for Charity will accept. The local donation center, located at 1612 NW 32nd St. to the west of T.G. Farms, donates 80 percent of what they take in back to the Newcastle community, he said.
“Parents get tired of all the school fundraisers,” Alexander said. “This is easy, they just have to clean out their closets and the school gets money.”
The event will accept all gently used items including small household items and battery operated toys and electronics, working or not, he said. Just no TV sets or monitors. Tax receipts will be issued and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the school. Special arrangements can be made for large furniture donations by calling (405) 681-9926.
The class with the most donations brought in will win a Pizza Party.
“Help us keep it out of the landfills and keep our community looking beautiful,” he said. “Feel Great and Donate.”
By Cody Johnson
Have you been craving some good Italian pasta? Do you also want the chance to help out the junior class put on a great prom?
Then come out and support the Newcastle junior class's fundraiser for Prom. They will be holding a spaghetti dinner on Thursday night. Come on out from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the high school cafeteria for a plate full of delicious pasta.
The junior class will also have their parents out to help serve the community along side them. A $5 donation will get you in the door for spaghetti with some traditional sides.
By Darla Welchel
The Newcastle Public Library isn’t just a place to get reading or viewing material; it is also a place to learn.
With a full calendar of events for all ages, the library offers instruction on a variety of subjects. From computer classes to discussions on health, the library has it all in addition to the fun and creative programs offered.
Intro to Computer class – Sept. 11, 18 & 25, 10 a.m.: Learn the basics of using the computer from getting started to searching the Internet and setting up email accounts. These classes are for those with little to no experience. In this class we will set up an email account. Learn to read, send, and delete emails.
Science of Concussions – Sept. 15, 6 p.m.: With the high school sports season under way, a topic of conversation is concussions, especially those that are sports-related. Steve Nedbalek with the Oklahoma State Department of Health will present the program The Truth about Sports Concussions. He’ll go over some of the basics of concussions and causes of traumatic brain injuries, as well as giving the signs and symptoms of concussions for those playing sports but also in children as young as infants or toddlers. Teen and/or adults may attend the program, but registration is required in advance.
Painting Apples in Acrylic – Sept 13, 10:30 a.m.: Learn how to paint a beautiful still life painting of fall apples in acrylic. All supplies provided. Registration would be helpful to library staff.
Cyber Space Series for Teens – Sept. 18, 3 p.m.: Those who attend have a chance to participate in favorites like video games, board games, craft projects and enjoy free food. There also will be a space for those needing to keep up on schoolwork to do so on a library computer and have access to homework and research help.
Registration is not required to take part in the group.
"No Ordinary Bird" at story time – Sept. 17, 3:45 p.m.: The library is telling a story of “No Ordinary Bird” at an upcoming after school story time and craft. Children will hear the story about a special parrot named Alex, and afterward can do a craft program related to the story. The activities are for kindergarten through third-grade children and their caregivers. Registration is not required to attend.
Pre-School Story Time - Sept. 17, 11 a.m.: This time of stories, songs, rhymes and activities is sure to spark the learning juices of the smallest library patrons. The program is for ages birth to 5 years and their caregivers.
In addition to these programs, young readers can improve their reading skills by reading to therapy dogs Maggie and Riley each Tuesday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the ante-room off the library.
For more information about these or other upcoming programs, contact the library at 387-5076 or visit www.pioneerlibrarysystem.org/newcastle.
By Darla Welchel
Newcastle Schools has received its report card for the 2013-2014 school year, and Superintendent Tony O'Brien is proud of his kids' success.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education's A-F Report Card is in, and the Racers received a B+ on the testing - a score that has O'Brien baffled. Although each site brought up their individual grades, the districts' overall grade dropped from an A- to a B+, he said.
Newcastle's overall scores show reading, English and mathematics to be the strong areas of testing, while the areas of science and biology were trouble areas. Detailed information each individual campus and subject can be analyzed on the SDE website at www.ok.gov/sde/.
But still, in comparison with the other 10 schools in McClain and Grady Counties, Newcastle came in ahead all but one - Tuttle. And, the high school raked in an A+ and was named a "Reward School" by the SDE for scoring 100 percent.
Reward Schools are those in the top 10 percent of performance in all assessments, or those in the top 10 percent of schools that have made high progress in reading and math.
"We are proud of the work the students and the educators at these schools have done to merit the distinction of being Reward Schools," State Superintendent of Instruction Janet Barresi said. "The students have proven they are on track to being college, career and citizen ready by the time they graduate."
In addition to the news about the state report card, O'Brien is also excited about the recent ACT trends for NHS. According to information provided by the district, Newcastle high school students scored on average two percent higher in every category from 2013 to 2014. And, they scored higher than the state average in all subjects.
"When you move up two percent on the ACT - that is a major accomplishment," he said. "This is probably one of the two greatest academic achievements for the school along with dual credit."
Newcastle Schools is offering 59 hours of dual credit classes on its campus, O'Brien said. The classes are advanced placement courses taught by the Newcastle faculty and offers students the opportunity complete roughly two years of college.
"These classes are very intensely rigorous and therefore students not only get their high school credits but also college credits, because they are doing that level of work," he said. "For young students who may not be ready for the 'college' atmosphere yet, they are getting the academics while still being in a very structured environment. We control the class, attendance and books that they use for these classes."
Currently students can attain dual hours in English, mathematics, social sciences, sciences and some elective classes. For a complete list, contact the high school department.
By Darla Welchel
The people have spoken and soon construction will begin on the Bridge Creek School campus.
After last Tuesday's election, the Bridge Creek Bond Issue passed with a 65 percent win, said Superintendent of Schools David Marrow. The proposal was for $15,680,000 to make much-needed additions and improvements to the District's facilities.
"In this bond issues, we wanted to get something for all age groups, and we chose items we felt would relieve the most stress to our facilities," he said.
These are the projects slated to be completed, according to the Bridge Creek Bond Issue website:
Construct and furnish a Community Safe Room/Multi-Purpose Activity Center, which will include, a Gymnasium, Wrestling Room, boys and girls locker rooms and lobby.
Construct and furnish a Middle School Cafeteria addition.
Construct and furnish two additional classrooms at the High School.
Remodel the Elementary Gymnasium with a new floor and air conditioning.
Remodel the original brick Elementary School.
Upgrade technology district-wide.
The district demonstrates care for its community by proposing the community safe room inside the new gym. When asked why they were building it, Superintendent Marrow said, that last year's tornado showed them that the community members, especially the elderly, who came to the school seeking shelter in its classroom safe rooms, had difficulty navigating through the hallways.
"The school had let out for the summer, and we had already begun waxing the floors, so the hallways were filled with desks and chairs from the classrooms," Marrow said.
The new community safe room will be one large room, he said. Another reason for the need of a community shelter is because the school does not have the ability to house the community members in the event of a storm that occurs during school hours.
"During the school day, there is only room [in our existing 10 classroom safe rooms] for our students," Marrow said. "This new safe room will allow room for the community with outside access. We feel this will be easier for the community, especially the elderly to use because they can come in one door and won’t have to navigate through students or the hallways."
The new gym, which will be air conditioned, will be connected to the existing old gym with a new girls and boys locker room in the middle, he said.
"When the old gym was built, we only had four basketball teams, now we have 10 teams," Marrow said.
The other much-needed building project is a middle school cafeteria with a kitchen and dining area, he said. The middle school, which moved to the old high school, does not have a cafeteria.
"Right now, I have 750 students using a cafeteria built for 450," he said. "It will also add another meeting room that we can use."
To help alleviate growing pains at the high school, the bond issue will allow the district to add two more classrooms to the building, Marrow said. The addition will up the schools capacity to accommodate 50 more students, sustaining it for five to six years.
Two other projects will take place on the elementary campuses. First the gym at the elementary will be remodeled with new flooring and with the addition of air conditioning, he said. Next, and only after the high school gym project is completed, the original red brick elementary building will be remodeled and updated to accept students again.
After having some walls removed, the building is being used as the Bobcat wrestling room.
Marrow hopes that the district will be able to start on some of the smaller projects like the gym remodel and high school classroom as soon as school lets out next May. Kahle Wilson with Design Architect Plus will be drawing up the designs for the construction project.
"I appreciate the community’s support," Marrow said. "The passage of this bond was a community effort and it is greatly appreciated."
By Darla Welchel
Can you almost taste it?
Slow cooked pulled pork, baked potatoes, baked beans, and other yummy for the tummy fare.
That's right; it is time for the Newcastle FFA Annual Pork Dinner. This year, tickets are being sold for $10 each. For that price, customers will be receiving bigger portions than last year, said FFA member Nicole Lee. In addition to the scrumptious pork, sides include: baked potatoes, salad, bread, beans, dessert, drinks and all the fixings.
Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 15 at the Middle School Cafeteria located on Fox Lane east of Main Street and will close at 7:30 p.m. Although you can buy your ticket at the door, FFA students are pre-selling tickets as part of a contest.
Don't miss this opportunity to not only fill your stomachs but to help out the FFA program.
By Darla Welchel
Newcastle Public Schools has just a few more projects to complete - most of them pertaining to the safety and welfare of its youngest students.
During the State of the School Address at the Newcastle Chamber Business Luncheon, Superintendent Tony O'Brien told community leaders that work on the new Administration Building was almost complete pending some final security and technology upgrades.
But one of the most urgent jobs is a two-pronged fencing project. The first one will be to enlarge both of the playgrounds at the Early Childhood Center; this will double the space of both areas, he said. The addition will come from existing yard space surrounding the current playgrounds.
With the current student enrollment, there is not adequate room for the students in the existing playgrounds, he said. With the extra space, the grounds will need some additional equipment. A new playground apparatus shaped like a pirate ship will be docked on the north playground.
"We are doing this for safety of the Little Racers," O'Brien said. "We have so many of them running and jumping around there are collisions on a frequent basis. We hope to give them more space so to lessen the amount of collisions."
A second fencing project is still in the early planing stages, he said. A fence will be constructed to connect the 2nd-3rd grade buildings and the 4th-5th grade buildings to the cafeteria to help keep the campus secure.
"This is to keep our students safe and behind some type of enclosure, so that they are less vulnerable to outside influences," O'Brien said. "That area is ripe for some bad person to drive up and snatch a kid off the sidewalk."
The final project O'Brien addressed was securing the entrances at all of the district’s sites either into the buildings or onto the campuses, he said. Every site will eventually be dealt with to make certain the students and staff of those buildings are behind controlled access points.
"Long story short, Mammas and Daddies wont be able to walk in and go where they want to go anymore without first being cleared through the office and controlled access points," he said. "We very much want parent involvement in the lives of their students and will work hard to make sure that continues, but with the added security of a controlled access point, so that we know who is having access to students."
He added that parents can expect their students to be safer and more secure than ever before. This will be a work in progress, and the board will need to finalize a priority list in the months ahead. This project is in the planning phase and will be let out for bids soon.