The Merrill Area Community Foundation last Thursday presented 15 grants totaling $10,776 to public and parochial schools throughout the Merrill area as part of the Beyond Crayons and Computers grant program. Funded through the foundation, the Beyond Crayons and Computers program invites teams of teachers from Head Start and Early Childhood through the high school to submit grant applications that are not only innovative and creative but also involve parents, teachers and other members of the community.
The Merrill Area Community Foundation has been impressed with the variety of innovative and inspired projects that will enrich the educational experience, encourage students, educators and/or the community and fill specific needs in our schools, said Foundation board president Mike Ravn.
This year’s grants were awarded to both public and parochial schools at a variety of grade levels, from Pine River School for Young Learners to Merrill High School.
Grant recipients, projects and amounts are as follows: St. Francis Xavier Catholic School, “Literacy Tool Kit,” $500; Merrill High School, “NASP Archery into Physical Education,” $1,000, “Reading/Writing Academy,” $1,000, “Shoot for Success,” $1,050, “Glass Blowing,” $566; Maple Grove School, “All About Community: Compost Bin/Garden,” $1,000; NTC/MAPS 4K, “Real to Life Play,” $500; Pine River School For Young Learners, “Butterfly Waystation 2,” $400, “The Tune of Literacy,” $750; Jefferson Elementary School, “Should I or Shouldn’t I – Social Thinking,” $1,000; Washington Elementary School, “Connections, Collaborations and Celebrations,” $800, “Life Skills,” $500; Trinity Christian Day Care, “Enhancing Circle Time with Big Books,” $750; Northern Achievement Center, “Cabin Fever Relievers,” $260.
Pine River School for Young Learners will create and build a Grapevine Passage with a tunnel for children to play under and grapevines to grow upon. Blueberry bushes will be planted around the Grapevine Passage. Students will explore their senses, learn to care for plants and eat nutritious foods. The fatherhood committee will help build and care for the Grapevine Passage.
Students in grades 4-12 will learn the lifetime sport of target archery through the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). The program is designed to be done during school hours in physical education classes. Future plans include an archery club and tournaments in the Merrill community.
Maple Grove 1st and 2nd grade students will be learning about sustainable life styles by creating compost bins this fall to create their own soil. The soil will be used in the community garden they will create in the spring. Parent volunteers will help students build the compost bins and the raised beds for the community garden.
“Should I or Shouldn’t I – Social Thinking” will be implemented district-wide (Pre-K to grade 12) to meet the needs of students with Aspergers, Autism and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Students will be introduced to fun, motivational and non-threatening ways to learn social thinking and for developing strategies to modify behavior in meeting social expectations, and improving peer relationships.
St. Francis Xavier 2nd and 3rd grade students will focus on literacy skills with a Literacy Tool Kit. This will include phonics cubes, letter cubes, sentence building tiles, and soft whisper phones to listen to themselves read and do self-correction.
The Merrill Area Community Foundation is supported by individuals, corporations and foundations as a means of giving back to their community. This program began in 2006 and is designed to enhance and reward innovative teaching, learning and special motivational activities in our schools. Over $85,000 has been awarded to Merrill schools since 2006.
Ravn noted the importance of investing in the quality of our children’s education.
“The Merrill teachers, both public and parochial, make tremendous sacrifices in terms of their time and talent to provide a first-rate educational experience for our area students. These projects are innovative. The Community Foundation is proud to support our public and parochial schools with the Beyond Crayons and Computers grants,” he said.
The annual grants to the Beyond Crayons and Computers program are in addition to the grants the Foundation has provided to local organizations, including HAVEN, Merrill Soccer Association, Girl Scouts, St. Vincent DePaul, Disaster Preparedness for Senior Citizens, Merrill Youth Softball, Athletic Park Improvement Project, Merrill Free Clinic, Bell Tower Residence, EMT Paramedic Upgrade, Merrill Rotary Club, the Merrill Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the United Way for 211 development and the Merrill Historical Society.
Donations may be sent to the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin-Merrill Area Community Foundation Fund at 500 Third St., Suite 310, Wausau, WI 54403. Those wishing to be of assistance may contact Ravn at 715-536-5577 or Tom Cadwallader at 715-536-9784.