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SEF Grant Awards Enhance Student Learning in Southington

The largest set of awards granted yet helps members of the Southington Education Foundation make an impact on student learning at Southington High School, Kennedy Middle School.

Students will soon receive new hands-on opportunities thanks to nearly $10,000 in grant awards handed out by the Southington Education Foundation to establish new programs at Southington High School and Kennedy Middle School.

The largest set of grant awards to date will provide for a new salt water aquarium at the Vo-Ag Center, a “Who Wants to be a Science Extraordinaire?” computer-learning system at Southington High School and the “Take a Chance on Me” business program for aspiring business students at Kennedy.

“We are proud to have grown to a point where we can offer this type of assistance with our grants,” said George Costanzo, chairman of the SEF grants committee. “You have to realize how lucky we are to have children in our school system. The energy and time that our teachers put in is amazing and many of them do extra work on their own time and without any sort of stipend.”

The Salt Water Aquarium was the largest of the grant awards given, providing $4,731 for the purchase of a 55-gallon tank that will expand the marine biology program at the Vo-Ag Center.

Marin Biology Teacher Debra O’Brien said it’s a purchase that will benefit more than just students interested in marine biology, however, with all students having access to the tank and using it to study behavior of marine organisms in their natural environment.

Science students at Southington High School will also receive a boost with the “Who Wants to be a Science Extraordinaire?” system, a $3,840 computer-technology enhancement designed to encourage students to ask questions and take part actively in daily lectures.

“It’s something that will give us as teachers an opportunity to access prior knowledge and see how students react,” said David DeStefano, science teacher at the high school. “It will also allow students to answer or ask questions without anxiety or feeling as if they must hide.”

Perhaps the most original of the grants, however, was a $1,000 award given to Amy Perry, a math teacher at Kennedy Middle School, for her concept “Take a Chance on Me.”

Perry said the new program will encourage students to develop their own business, asking them if they had $100 to start a business, what would they do with it?

She said the funding allows them to put the student’s ideas in motion and gives aspiring future business leaders a chance to learn the ins and outs of developing a business proposal and learning how to effectively invest money.

“It’s a win-win opportunity that will introduce students to what it takes to run a business while forcing them to use their critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, leadership skills and more,” Perry said.

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