Categories Elizabethtown Area School DistrictFeaturedNewsSchoolSchool Board News

E-Town Schools Starting Online Video Game Club

Elizabethtown Area High School students who are into online gaming will have a new outlet to pursue that pastime in the form of a high school “esports” club.

Elizabethtown school board members heard about plans to get interested students involved in gaming through the North America Scholastic Esports Federation, whose mission is to provide opportunities for students to use esports to acquire communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills. Curriculum was developed in partnership with the California’s

Orange County Department of Education.Superintendent Michele Balliet first heard about the federation at a December superintendents’ meeting for the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13, during a presentation made by a representative of the Lancaster-based Emerald Foundation, which is providing support to bring the program here. She described it as a way of engaging students who are otherwise not engaged in school activities.

High school Principal Maura Hobson reported that already, 25 to 30 students are interested. Such a program gets students to communicate with others across the nation and in other countries like China and Australia, she said.

“It takes a special type of student to really get involved in this,” Hobson said. “We have these students who go home and they put on that headphone and they communicate, they collaborate, they’re creative and they’re thinking all the time. You just don’t see it in school.”

Hobson noted that the program has GPA and attendance requirements for students to participate. The club is being organized quickly in order to register this month to participate in the League of Legends game.

Although a vote was not required to proceed, board members expressed support for the club. M. Caroline Lalvani said that when she asked her son, a student at Rochester Institute of Technology, what he and fellow students thought of the idea, the response was “awesome.”

The board also heard about problems with sinks in five classrooms used by kindergarten classes at East High Street Elementary School. Building and groundsdirector Adam Bergens said that the drain lines for the sinks have collapsed, a problem that has been developing for some time. Because those sinks are out of commission, the classes have had to use sinks in the rooms’ bathrooms.

Bergens said it would cost less than $7,000 to remove the sinks and between $20,000 and $40,000 to excavate and replacing the lines; either job would be done over the summer. At the board’s direction, Bergens will get estimates on replacing those drain lines and possibly the drain lines in the six other classrooms with sinks, to avoid the problem in the future.

The board also heard about proposed curriculum changes to the high school Educational Planning Guide for 2019-2020. These include deleting courses, such as 10th grade physical education, to be replaced by cooperative team games and fitness for life. Other new proposed courses include Advanced Placement Psychology,

Pennsylvania history and the Vietnam War. The changes will be voted on at the board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

The board also approved the hiring of Jeffrey Ammerman as the new business manager, replacing George Longridge. Ammerman, the business manager at the Coatesville School District, will start on March 18 at a salary of $135,000, according to district spokesman Troy Portser. The board also approved a contract for interim business manager services with the Pennsylvania Association of School Board Officials. The interim business manager is Gwen Boltz. Also, board member Craig Hummer was elected as the board treasurer, replacing Longridge.

The board also renewed a three-year contract with Lancaster-Lebanon Virtual Schools to run the district’s in-house cyber school program. Portser said that theestimated “cost avoidance” of not paying for outside cyber schools for the 2017-18 school year was $800,000.

The board also adopted a resolution that it would not seek exceptions to exceed the state’s Act 1 index for the 2019-20 budget. The district’s index this year is 2.9 percent.

In citizens’ comments, two district parents, Christine Keyser and Ben Hoover, expressed concerns about next year’s busing changes for child care centers. (The district will no longer provide busing to child care centers outside of an elementary school’s zone.) Melissa Derr, mother of a second-grader at Bainbridge Elementary, praised the creative homework her son was assigned, adding that teachers are already implementing the innovative approaches to learning, a subject the board has been discussing.

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