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6th graders pitch technology purchase to board

April 7, 2016
By David Prenatt ( , Westfield Republican

Although many Westfield Academy and Central School departments present budget requests to the Board of Education this time of year, three sixth-grade students took things up a notch at the most recent meeting on Monday, March 28.

Joanna Seminatore, Joy Kiswani and Asher Tefft, along with sixth-grade ELA and Social Studies teacher Ashely DeJohn, presented their request to purchase I-Movie technology by sharing their iMovie project to board members. Students explained that they were each required to select a Newberry Award novel in the fall which would be the basis of their trailers.

The students took turns demonstrating to board members how they were required to read the novels and complete book report checklists on their selections, with the understanding that if they completed their assignments by Jan. 8, they would be permitted to participate in the making of an iMovie Trailer.

Article Photos

Photo by David Prenatt
WACS sixth grader Joy Kiswani demonstrates her experience in creating an iMovie trailer at a March 28 Westfield Board of Education meeting. Kiswani, along with fellow sixth-graders Joanna Seminatore and Asher Tefft and sixth-grade teacher Ashley DeJohn, presented a request to purchase iMovie technology by sharing a recent project they did with it.

According to the students, they utilized a movie trailer planner with which they each selected a studio name and then decided how to use wallpaper, apps, images, music and so on to present the contents of their novels.

They explained that using iMovie to create a book trailer taught them many comprehensive skills, including time management, organization, and public speaking. Pupils also noted that they practiced specific things like cropping, video cutting, voice-overs, creating perspective and using a green screen.

"The satisfaction of finishing an iMovie project is amazing. Although it can be a stressful experience at times, it is also exciting," noted Seminatore..

Board members watched a trailer created by Kiswani and then received invitations to attend the students' official presentation of their work on April 7-8.

Tefft outlined their budget request, setting forth the goal of having an i-pad cart for use by student in grades 6-12. He noted that the experience in making iMovie presentations would help students to be accepted by institutions of higher learning.

Secondary School principal Ivana Hite noted that Ms. DeJohn really worked hard on this project, putting in many after school hours. "I've been watching their progress. It was just amazing, hearing the vocabulary that some of the kids were using," she said.

The board also heard a presentation by CSE/CPSE coordinator Amy Webb regarding the needs of the special education department, including a request for a full-time social worker. The district also employs a speech/language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, psychologist and psychologist intern, Webb said.

Special education is an area that can "change drastically," Webb said. "We've seen a lot of flux this year. We've had several transfers and families moving into the area."

The flux can go both ways, Webb said. "Recently we've had a lot of students who have made great progress and do not need these services any longer."

The current caseload includes 112 students in CSE and IEP services; 21 in CPSE (pre-school) services; and 96 students utilizing section 504 services, which involve disabilities. Webb also projected a slight increase in the need for services for the coming years, especially the area of counseling.

Webb noted that many students are involved in the Banana Splits program which is devoted to counteracting the day to day impact of divorce and death on teenagers and young children.

According to Webb, an ever-increasing number of students are in coping skills groups like Banana Splits, and in social skills groups. She said that overall there has been an increase in mental health needs throughout Chautauqua County.

WACS School Business Official Anthony Montoro outlined budget changes with the board. He noted that there is a new line item for tuition in the budget. "We need one because there are several students going to other places," he said.

However, the outlook for the budget looks favorable, Montoro said. "I think there is a good framework which we can work with," he said.

WACS Superintendent David Davison updated board members regarding the investigation into the district's telephone system being hacked. Davison said he was contacted by Fairpoint Communications who told him that 5,000 to 6,000 minutes of call time totaling more than $15,000 had been made to locations in Central and South American using the district's account.

Davison said that Fairpoint had believed they had resolved the problem, but the calls continued. After more investigation, the company was able to prevent the hacking, he said.



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