Syracuse, NY (January, 2020): This year’s crop of grant awards from the Westhill Educational Foundation contains a first for both the foundation and the district: the foundation’s biggest grant to date will fund a brand new course at the high school.

A $15,000 grant for Westhill High School will launch a new Audio and Video Production program at the school with the addition of a class in Audio Engineering Arts. The new program is an extension of an Audio and Video Production club started by music teacher Corey Riley, who wrote the grant. The money will fund new equipment and state-of-the-art technology, which will also be used to record concerts and performances in high definition. Those recordings can then be used to assist in teaching and critiquing performances.  

The AV grant tops the list of 11 grants that total almost $35,000 in funding. 

This is the sixth round of grants awarded by the Foundation since its inception in 2014. In total, the foundation has awarded more than 90 grants totaling more than $180,000. 

“Every year, we are overwhelmed with the outstanding ideas and innovative projects our teachers and staff come up with, and this year was no exception,” said foundation president Chris Centore. “Some of these are repeats based on how successful these programs have been, while other new submissions promote creative ways to use technology, the arts and more for innovative learning.” 

This rest of this year’s winning grants are: 

Walberta Park Elementary School:


  • Bricks 4 Kidz (First and second grade teams)


Bricks 4 Kidz will supplement the STEM curriculum using physics and space modules. The students will learn science, technology, engineering and math concepts along with problem-solving and team-building skills through creative play with Legos.


  • It’s the Little Things (WPS Principal Beth Kramer)


This program will be presented by musician John Farrell to support the Positivity Project with songs that focus on character building and character strengths.


  • Bluebird Music Together (Beth Kramer)


Bluebird Music Together will bring accomplished musicians into all Walberta Park classrooms to conduct a rhythm class incorporating music, movement and instruments. 


  • Playground Communication Station (WPS speech pathologist Monica Willsey)


This grant will fund construction of a weather-resistant communication board on the WPS playground. It includes universal communication symbols to help nonverbal or anxious students, or any other students having difficulty communicating their needs.


  • The Wild (Beth Kramer)


The Wild Animal Park in Chittenango will bring live animals to all students at Walberta to conduct class presentations offering hands-on experience and interaction with wildlife. 

Cherry Road Elementary School: 


  • Dancin’ with the Honeybees (Second grade teacher Julie Dennis)


Cliff Wright-Sunflower, master beekeeper, environmental educator, story-teller and performer, will bring the scientific magic of the honeybee hive to life for second grade students. He will visit the school for an assembly and several workshops.

Onondaga Hill Middle School:


  • Insights and Inspirations (Joint project between the library, art and English departments) 


The middle school will host Jennifer A. Nielsen, author of a number of popular books for teens, including the “Ascendance” trilogy. In addition to building-wide activities that include reading and writing seminars and an art project, this year’s event will also include dinner with the author for a select few students at the Onondaga Free Public Library. 


  • P2 Mural (Art teacher Maggie Feyerabend)


 All fifth-grade students will design and create a ceramic mural demonstrating the 24 character traits of the Positivity Project. The mural will remain on permanent display.


  • Passport to the Impossible (Sixth-grade teacher Karla Prince)


Through the use of virtual reality equipment, students in all grades will have the opportunity to explore different parts of the world, using the Google Expeditions app.

Cherry Road School, Onondaga Hill Middle School and Westhill High School:


  • Westhill Day of Jazz (Music teachers Elizabeth Buell, Corey Riley and Erin Tapia)


Continuing one of our most successful programs, this year the “Day of Jazz” will welcome Huntertones, a world-class Brooklyn-based jazz and funk fusion band that will spend the day with our students. The day includes performances for students in grades 2 through 8 and then break-out master class sessions for all jazz students in grades 7 through 12. The event will be capped off by the 42nd annual Westhill Senior Citizens Dinner and Concert, which features numbers by the various Westhill jazz bands and a final set performed by Huntertones. 

On Sat. May 2 the Foundation will host the “Westhill 60th Anniversary Celebration” at St. Ann’s Church, in honor of the district’s 60th anniversary. Tickets are available at

The Foundation is an official non-for-profit organization that raises funds to help support innovative learning experiences for all Westhill Central School District students. For more detailed information on the grants please like us on Facebook, visit or email us at