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Impassioned plea for the arts at schools meeting

November 3, 2011
By Richard Sberna
The Oct. 24 meeting of the Boardman Board of Education at Center Middle School began with a public comment period that featured an impassioned plea for the future of music and art education.

Gail Demetruk, a graduate of Boardman Schools and mother of two current Boardman students, shared her concerns with the board about the recent scaling back of such programs in the district.

“Changes have been made at the elementary school that I believe threaten the future of the arts in Boardman,” she said. She cited the reduction of art and music instruction to a half year, with only one music teacher and one art teacher responsible for all four elementary schools.

In addition to decrying the potential loss of plays, concerts and other programs, Demetruk fears that students who aren’t encouraged in the arts when young may fail to live up to the talents they didn’t know they had.

“This must be encouraged while they are young enough to develop their skills and interests,” she said.

She cited the example of her oldest daughter who, though not raised with a musical background, now holds second chair, cello, in the BHS symphony orchestra and will perform in the high school’s upcoming production of the musical “Cats,” with no training beyond classes at Boardman schools.

Demetruk said that she understands the cuts that the board has been forced to make given the recent reductions in state funding, but emphasized the importance of the arts in the lives of the community and its children. She implored the board to increase art and music instruction back to previous levels as soon as the funding becomes available.

“It must be continued, it must be consistent. Do not allow the arts to die,” she said, her voice quavering with emotion.

School board President Ken Beraduce thanked Demetruk for her comments and agreed that the arts were a proud tradition in Boardman schools, in spite of the regrettable cutbacks.

“We will continue to look at being able to put back any programs that we can, as soon as we can,” he said.

Superintendent Frank Lazzeri had more positive news announcing that Robinwood Lane Elementary School was named a School of Promise by the Ohio Department of Education for the second consecutive year. The designation is for schools with more than 40 percent of students coming from low-income homes but still scoring high performance indexes. With 51.3 percent of Robinwood’s students in the 2010-2011 coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, they still ranked high in reading and math. In fact, the school earned a performance index of 110.5, the highest of the Boardman School district.

Also speaking at the meeting was Anthony D’Apolito, Mahoning County Juvenile Court administrator, who presented a plaque to Al Cervello, principal at West Boulevard Elementary School. The award was in recognition of third-grader Nick Geraci for placing third in the court’s 2010 poster contest. D’Apolito appeared in place of Judge Theresa Dellick, who initiated the contest and was unable to attend. D’Apolito, whose arm was in a sling from recent rotator cuff surgery, joked, “You can tell by looking at me, how I was sent here tonight, at what bad shape Judge Dellick is in.”

The board accepted a proposal to hold November’s meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 27, which is the same evening that a dinner will be held in honor of staff at West Boulevard Elementary for being recognized as a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. The dinner will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., with representatives from the offices of state Rep. Ron Gerberry, state Sen. Joe Schiavone and Rep. Bill Johnson scheduled to attend. The board meeting will follow at 7 p.m. at West Boulevard.

Also commended at the meeting for recent achievements were:

- The Boardman High School speech team under the direction of Eric Simione for placing in the top 10 percent of national Forensic League chapters nationwide and qualifying for the NFL’s “100 Club.”

- The BHS band under the direction of Thomas Ruggieri, for participating in the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ 2011 Levy Kickoff Rally.

- The BHS boys soccer team for the following recognition:

* The Federal League named head coach Ahmet Olgun “Coach of the Year.” There were also honors for Nicolas DiIanni and Christian Silvestri, who were named to the All-League First Team, Mathew Horvatich and Eric Thomas to the All-League Second team, and an All-League Honorable Mention for Luke Marsco.

* Nicolas DiIanni and Christian Silvestri were also named All-Mahoning County First Team, with an All Mahoning County Honorable Mention for Mathew Horvatich.

* In the Youngstown District, Nicolas DiIanni, Luke Marsco, Christian Silvestri and Eric Thomas were named to the Division I All-District First Team. Coach Eric Simione was named Division I Assistant Coach of the Year. Overall honors as Division I Top JV Team and Team Academic Recognition were also awarded.

- Students and staff at Stadium Drive Elementary School were commended for donating $342.40 to Akron Children’s Hospital Blood and Cancer Center as part of its third annual Cancer Awareness Day.


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