Contact: Julie Sheedy


Westhill Foundation Awards $30,000 for 2016 Grants for Robotics, Bat Houses and More

SYRACUSE, NY – December 8, 2015

The Westhill Central School District Educational Foundation is proud to announce it has awarded more than $30,000 in educational grants to teachers in Westhill Schools. This is the second round of grants to be awarded since the Foundation’s inception in September 2013.

“The grants truly reflect the commitment and creativity of our teaching staff,” says Deborah Moriarty, chair of the Foundation’s grant committee.  “Our students will benefit greatly from the projects the Foundation will be funding this year.”

Funding for the grants will be given to teachers in January 2016, when work on projects will begin. The projects address interdisciplinary learning, including; science, technology, fine arts and literacy.

Proposals were submitted by teachers from each building, representing a wide range of interesting and unique opportunities for our students.

This year’s grants are

  1. Inquiry Through Robotics

Fourth Grade Students at Cherry Road School — Submitted by: Christian Engle, Nina D’Amico, Tammy Phillips

Students will work in teams with interactive robots and share lessons and accomplishments   with classmates. Teachers will collaborate with other classes and with robotics programs at OHMS and Walberta Park. Robots will be used in shared activities to build skills in math problems, literacy, engineering problems, sequencing, storytelling and history.

  1. On the Lookout for Bats

Second Grade students at Cherry Road School — Submitted by: Marianne Glose

Grant will fund the purchase of a night camera to record and watch bats in bat houses when they are most active.

  1. Reader’s Road Trip

Interested Students Grades 7-12 at OHMS and Westhill High School —  Submitted by: Desiree Wight

Students will participate in a Google Classroom virtual book club. Book talk videos will be shared from last year’s participants. Students who participate in the virtual book club will receive a copy of the book to have autographed at the Teen Book Festival.

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird Theater Experience

Ninth Grade English Students at Westhill High School — Submitted by: Marietta Lachenauer, Jennifer Donegan

Provide tickets and opportunity for all ninth grade students to attend a Syracuse Stage production of To Kill a Mockingbird to enhance their classroom experience reading and discussing the book.

  1. Sophomore Wellness Day

All Sophomore Students at Westhill High School — Submitted by: Debbie D’Angelo, Tammy Hollis-Breen

A 10th grade Wellness Day will be planned for Spring 2016 to augment a December  keynote address by Dr. Matt Bellace. The grant will fund the return of Dr. Bellace to the high school to talk about neuropsychology and how drugs and alcohol impact the developing brain. Dr. Bellace will discuss and provide a small-group experiential, hands-on workshop in which all 10th grade students will participate.

  1. Senior Scholar Symposium

Seniors Participating in the Senior Scholars Group at Westhill High School — Submitted by: Sarah Fleming

A Senior Scholar Research Symposium – This academic conference will be held at the end of the year and will be designed and implemented by the scholars. They will share and      highlight their research with peers, teachers, and family and community members.

  1. Academic Decathlon Lecture Series

Academic Decathlon Students at Westhill High School — Submitted by: Sarah Flemming

Funding for a pilot lecture series program, thematically organized around the Academic Decathlon team’s curriculum topics. There will be four to five lectures with Q&A’s.

  1. 8. T he Rice Bowl Project

Fifth grade students at OHMS — Submitted by: Maggie Feyerabend

Students will be involved in a creative project brainstorming themes and designing techniques for painting and glazing bowls to be sold at district events e.g. open house. Money for the bowls will be donated to a charity of choice. The bowls will be designed congruent to the chosen charity- e.g. ASPCA painted with animals.

  1. Symphoria – Making Musical Connections

All Students Grades 2-4 at Cherry Road School — Submitted by: Greg McCrea

Symphoria – Making Musical Connections will reach the entire Cherry Road School population including incoming second grade students.  Project will immerse students in high quality, live musical performances. The performances are coupled with supplemental classroom teaching and are designed to expand learning and connect students’ classroom and musical experiences. Also, music classes will study the organization, structure, and collaboration of live music.

  1. Innovative Spaces

All Students at Westhill High School — Submitted by: Karen Fenner

Provide a student-centered innovative learning space in the high school library. Space will integrate interactive technology for meaningful, self-directed learning which fosters collaboration and creativity. Funds will be used to purchase an Epson Interactive Digital Projector that will interface and connect and maximize the technology we have in place: Wi-Fi, BYOD Google Chromebooks. It was also allow students to use their own individual smart devices.

  1. 3-D Sandbox

Ninth Grade Earth Science Students at Westhill High School — Submitted by: Jean Pounder, Eric Primrose

Use of state-of-the-art technology to help Earth Science students learn how to interpret topographic maps and better understand stream erosion and landscape development. This project will allow students to be creative and manipulate their learning environment, make predictions and see the outcomes immediately.  Augmented Reality Sandbox will be used to teach units of study on Topography & Interpreting Topographic Maps, Landforms/landscape Development, River & Stream Development, and Weathering & Erosion.

  1. Raku Ceramics Project

Grades 9 – 12 Ceramics Students at Westhill High School — Submitted by: Michelle Ramos-Burrows

In partnership with Clayscapes, students will create ceramic pieces and learn the history of Raku. Clayscapes will provide 250 pounds of clay and the glazes. They will also send two ceramic artists to assist and do the firing of the ceramics.

  1. Integrating Digital Learning with STEM

Eighth Grade Science Students at OHMS — Submitted by: Tracy Derrenbacher

Students will use Nexus 9 tablets with Google School Platform to enhance science lab work through highly engaging digital activities. E.g. Nearpod, QR codes, video recording apps, Google classroom, Google docs, Google Earth, Prezi, Socrative and a teacher made app.

  1. OHMS Innovation Lab

 All Students Using the Library at OHMS — Submitted by: Penny Feeney

Students will explore and learn through STEAM education (science, technology, ELA, arts, mathematics.) This project was piloted through a Lego robotics program during IA at OHMS with the partnership of the public library this fall and received an overwhelmingly positive response. The partnership with the library will continue beyond the school day and year- offering similar opportunities. *** find video examples on product websites and YouTube

  1. Sphero Ball- robotic ball programmed to move with a smartphone or tablet
  2. Circuit Scribe kit- an invention kit where a ball point pen with conductive ink that creates instant electronic surfaces. The kit includes batteries and pens … the paper actual becomes a conductive surface.
  3. Makey Makey – USB plugins that transform ordinary objects into circuits and electronic surfaces that can be used as digital touchpads. E.g. piano stairs and playdough controls
  4. Lego robotics kits
  1. Master Artist Series

Instrumental Students in Grades 6-12 at OHMS and Westhill High School — Submitted by: Elizabeth Buell and Erin Tapia

Hour-long clinics with 10 local musicians known for their pedagogical experiences. Clinics will include teaching points regarding fundamentals of sound production, instrument maintenance, practice tips, warm up routines, technique and ear training. Classes will be held at the high school and will take the place of one band lesson. The clinic will run from January to March. The clinic will be followed by a question-and-answer period with the master artist over refreshments.

  1. OHMS Video Production Studio

All students at OHMS — Submitted by: Penny Feeney                                                                                                        

Creation of an OHMS video production studio. The studio could be used to produce videos and eventually broadcast a morning announcement program. A studio space already exists in the library/ media center. Students will learn to use the video equipment and software. They will learn post-production editing. Projects could be written in ELA classes, developing both writing and communication skills. The studio would be equipped with a green screen, video camera, lights, computers and video editing software.

  1. Community Wide Dialogue to End Racism joyous

Up to 20 students from the High School C.A.R.E Club — Submitted by:  Alaina Weinsztok                                                                                                                        

Program conducted through InterFaith Works. Westhill High School students and Henninger High School students will shadow one another at their respective high schools and participate in guided discussions on their experiences. The ability of the Foundation to award grants again this school year, is a testament to the tremendous community support the Foundation has received from Westhill parents, teachers and alumni.

This year’s grant awards are also due to the success of the Foundation’s 2nd annual “Chip in For Education” fundraiser. The 2016 “Chip In” will be held April 16, 2016 at St. Ann’s in Syracuse. The Foundation is actively seeking sponsors, silent auction and raffle donations and event volunteers.

The Foundation is an official non-profit organization that raises funds to help support innovative learning experiences for all district students.  For more information or to get involved, please visit our website at