PEACE was initiated on Sept. 19 at Fitch and Austintown Middle School as the district presented information on various drug awareness, violence and bullying prevention programs. Pupils and Educators Against Conflict Everywhere was quickly created by the district’s Safe and Drug Free Schools coordinator Peggy Bennet after learning that state grant money was available.
Fiscal and grant manager Barb Kliner said she learned about a grant that was already in effect at the end of August that was available through the Ohio Department of Education. The grant targeted safe and drug free schools, but the application had to be sent quickly because the funds had to be used by Sept. 30.
“My guess is the state had federal funds available that would be lost after Sept. 30,” Kliner said. “So we rushed to apply for it.”
Bennet's PEACE program played a key role in pulling off the quick program. On Thursday, the schools paid special guest speaker Cary Trivanovich, a nationally known performer, theatre director and humorist noted for his pantomime to visit with the kids. He presented his captivating but humorous anti-conflict presentation to the students.
To wrap up the week, a rally was held on the tennis courts on Friday prior to the football game. The rally featured free food and had several agencies involved in drug abuse and bullying on hand to offer information. Kliner said more than 700 attended.
“Thus we fulfilled our obligations for the grant,” she said. “Now we can get our $10,000.”
She said the grants happened so fast only 32 school districts were quick enough to take advantage of it.
“I’ve never seen a grant with such a fast turn around,” Kliner said.
The PEACE week grant wasn’t the only new funding to come into the district at the start of this school year. Kliner also mentioned another grant that was written by Frank Ohl teacher Shelly Culp. She was awarded a $2,900 grant to get boys reading. Kliner said she actually learned of and applied for the grant over the summer. She quickly got awarded the funds and prior to the start of school, she went out and bought books that would be of interest to boys.
“She got comic books and graphic novels,” Kliner said.
The grant, which was made available through the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, targeted young boys, who have less interest in reading than their girl counterparts. By providing books that followed the interest of young boys, the foundation hoped to spark interest in reading prior to middle school.