Media Contact: Julie Sheedy or 315.413.3480


Westhill District Gets $27,000 to Fund 14 Grants

Syracuse, NY (December XX, 2017) The Westhill Central School District Educational Foundation announced its grant winners for the 2017-2018 grant season. Teachers across all grade levels submitted program ideas for consideration and as a result, more than $27,000 has been approved to fund 14 grants programs.


“We continue to be so impressed with the outstanding ideas and innovative projects our teachers and staff dream up,” said Julie Sheedy, president of the Westhill Education Foundation. “We are only able to do this each year because of the incredible generosity of our Westhill community and the hard work of our volunteer board.”


Work on these grants will begin in 2018. This is the fourth round of grants awarded by the Foundation. In just these few short years, the Foundation has donated more than $112,000 for 61 grants for the Westhill district. This is also the second year that a student has collaborated with teachers to submit grant ideas.


This year’s winning grants are:


Walberta Park Elemantary School:

  1. The Life Cycle of the Butterfly

This grant was submitted by first grade teachers Marilou Francisco, Wendy Snyder, Megan Vertucci, Patricia Vercillo and Jennifer Stanton . The first grade team will use butterfly kits to supplement their science unit on the life cycle of the butterfly. The students will see firsthand the stages of a butterfly’s development.

  1. Gadgets and Gizmos

This grant was submitted by Kindergarten teachers Theresa DeMatties, Peggy Byrne, Ally Files, Stephanie Merritt, Mary Klee, Mary Pat Hoag and Angie McShane. The Kindergarten team will supplement their math and science curriculum using the Bricks 4 Kidz physics module. The children will create tops that spin and use them to explore friction and symmetry while incorporating problem solving and cooperation strategies.

  1. It’s the Little Things

This grant was submitted by Principal Beth Kramer on behalf of the entire staff for the entire student body at Walberta Park School. This is a musical program that will be presented by musician John Farrell to support the Positivity Project with songs that focus on character building and character strengths.


Onondaga Hill Middle School:

  1. Positive History

This grant was submitted by art teacher Maggie Feyerabend, music teacher Kathleen Tompkins and Superintendent Casey Barduhn for fifth grade students. This trio will work with the students to combine art, music and history to create puppets that connect the Positivity Project initiative. The students will select people of strong character from American history to model their puppets after, and then write and perform a puppet show for the students at Walberta Park School.

  1. S. I Love You Day

This grant was submitted by Special Education teacher Amy Tooley and 6th Grade teacher Karla Prince. The 6th grade students will create a celebration for the school in consultation with Brooke DiPalma, the founder of the P.S. I Love You nonprofit organization. Students will present an assembly and a day of special activities for their peers promoting kindness and anti-bullying.

  1. Insights and Inspirations

This grant was submitted by librarian Penny Feeney, English teacher Desiree Wight and Principal Mark Bednarski. The middle school will host Alan Gratz, author of the New York Times best-selling book, “Refugee.” This grant will create building-wide activities that include reading and writing seminars, similar to last year’s author event.

  1. Imagination Station Video Production Lab/Maker Club/GNN Club

This grant was submitted by librarian Penny Feeney, 8th grade student Ryan Heffernan and Alyssa Newton from the Onondaga Free Library. Mrs. Feeney supervises the GNN Club (Good News Network) and this year will incorporate new iPads into their studio production. Many of the newer technologies purchased with past grant monies require an IOS platform so this will benefit members in both clubs.

  1. Westhill Master Artist Series

This grant was submitted by music teacher Liz Buell for 6th through 8th grade band students . There will be five professional musicians coming into the middle school to meet with different sections of the band. These classes would take place after school.

  1. Let Your Curiosity Soar

This grant was submitted by technology teacher Scott Crowell, librarian Penny Feeney and 8th grade student Ryan Heffernan. In conjunction with the Maker Club, which meets after school at the middle school library, the technology class will purchase a drone to use in the 7th and 8th grade classrooms and with the Maker Club. This group also works with the Onondaga Free Library and has a community presentation in the spring.

  1. Advanced Digital Learning with Learning Glass

This grant was submitted by science teacher Tracy Derrenbacher for her science students. Mrs. Derrenbacher will be using a Learning Glass Lightboard to enhance her flipped classroom method of teaching. She will use it to record lectures and the students will also create a presentation with the technology at some point in the year.


Onondaga Hill Middle School and Westhill High School:

  1. Teen Book Fest Road Trip

This grant was submitted by ELA teachers Karen McPeak and Desiree Wight and librarians Penny Feeney and Karen Fenner. This popular repeat grant will reach a wider audience this year as it is open to students in 7th-12th grade. Once again, the participants will receive a book written by one of the featured authors and attend the Book Fest at Nazareth College in the spring.

  1. Westhill Day of Jazz

This grant was submitted by music teachers Liz Buell, Tony Mastrobattisto and Erin Tapia for jazz-band students. Similar to last year’s event, the music department will invite professional jazz musicians from the community to a day of in-house instruction and follow that up with a community-wide performance at Westhill High School on April 11th. This was a very successful and rewarding experience for students as well as for the seniors in our community.


Westhill High School:

  1. Quadcopter Physics

This grant was submitted by science teacher Patrick Ferrick for his physics students. Mr. Ferrick will purchase a supplemental subsystem to add to an existing UAV (drone) that will allow data to be captured in real-time during physics classes and in the after-school physics club.

  1. Biomonitoring using Benthic Organisms; Exploring and Analysing Water Quality through Macroinvertebrate Sampling

This grant was submitted by science teachers Alaina Weinsztok and Helen Kemper for their biology students. Their students will be collecting and analyzing water samples from local water sources with the equipment purchased from this grant. They will take a field trip to Salmon River Fish Hatchery. The students also hope to share their findings with local organizations.

The Foundation is an official non-profit organization that raises funds to help support innovative learning experiences for all district students. This year’s annual fundraising event, “Chip In For Education,” will be held Saturday, April 14, 2018, at St. Ann’s Church. For more detailed information on the grants please like us on Facebook, visit or email us at