Article: BSEF's Strong Partnership With Bell Creek Intermediate Pays Educational Dividends

BSEF's Strong Partnership With Bell Creek Intermediate Pays Educational Dividends

Posted Wednesday, July 10, 2024
The Bellbrook Sugarcreek Education Foundation has done wonderful work over the years supporting district students and staff in their educational endeavors.

During the 2023-24 school year, Bell Creek was the beneficiary of at least four contributions that brought joy and big educational experiences to the students at the districts intermediate school.

Several of those events brought visitors to the district including author Sarah Weeks and scientist Bill Richey.
Other grants helped build gardens in the courtyard and fund a well-attended chess club.

“Educators everywhere are generous people,” BCI principal Donnie Phelps said. “They reach into their own pockets to support kids. But some efforts are bigger than that. We are fortunate we have a foundation we can turn to for more elaborate learning experiences that helps stretch learning beyond Chromebooks and classrooms.”

In total, the BSEF contributed more than $3,200 to Bell Creek Intermediate alone, and helped with funding of more than $11K in projects district wide.

The chess club at Bell Creek was brought back after a nearly decade long hiatus as Scott Anderson, Keaton Ott and Patrick Barker invited fourth and fifth graders to join the club.

While the trio expected some interest, 64 students showed up to join the Wednesday morning chess coterie.
The interest was so great, the club didn’t have enough chess boards, chess sets or clocks to run the club effectively. So the club turned to the BSEF for help through a grant.

“Through the generosity of BSEF, we were able to secure funding to purchase enough boards/sets/clocks to run a club of nearly 100 students,” Anderson said. “It was a great blessing to BCI and its chess club and will allow us to continue to help our students learn more about the wonderful game of chess for many years to come!”

Bill Richey came and wowed the crowd with science experiments during the school year as well. Richey, a former Xenia school teacher, works with students to show them the fun side of science with an impressive show.

“He makes learning about science FUN,” assembly organizer and fourth grade teacher Shelley Smith said. “I applied for the grant through BSEF because I know they want to use funds to provide learning opportunities to as many kids as possible. By having an assembly for the entire school, it allowed every BCI student to see science experiments in a creative way. I sincerely appreciate BSEF providing these funds that allow for such engaging learning experiences.”

Author Sarah Weeks also visited with the entire school, but in a different way. In an effort for students to ask more questions and have a more intimate setting with Weeks, it was broken up by grade level as a virtual visit.

BCI Librarian Kim Hanson said she spent hours on the phone with Weeks setting up the talks. Each grade level grabbed a spot on the floor in the gym and Weeks was projected on the screen for an interactive talk with the students. She showed off some of her many books and spoke to them about the process of being an author and what she goes through to write a book.

They chose Weeks to present to the school because Hanson, Smith and Debbie Bobick, as part of the BCI Book Committee, picked her book, Save Me a Seat for the entire school to read together as a read aloud project the year prior. That made Hanson research more activities they could do as part of the read aloud and ultimately brought her to the BSEF where the foundation split the cost of Weeks visit.

“The rest of the year students talked about her visit,” Hanson said. “I couldn’t keep any of her books on the shelf after that. Overall, it was an amazing experience. To take a book they love and see the author behind it creatively, it inspired them to read more books from her.”

Another of the projects was building sensory gardens in the courtyard. Greene County Career Center students from the Natural Resource Technology classes came to BCI to speak with third graders about the different steps it takes to build a garden.

The GCCC students tested soil, discussed light and the five senses, the water cycle, and more. 

“We went over the summer to look at gardens, then it was a matter of putting things together,” third grade teacher Julia Jones said. “We asked for raised beds, a composter, tools and soil. We didn’t get to hit the ground running, though. We got pushed back because of the ducks.”

Each year, beyond anyone’s control, the Bell Creek Intermediate courtyard is commandeered by a family of ducks. Once they hatch and make their way out of the courtyard, then the beds could be built and set up.

“It’s open to any grade level that can contribute to it,” Jones said. “There are so many science standards that can be taught to what’s going on out there. It’s such a nice space. Third grade has a plant life cycle so it’s perfect for them.

Thanks to the BSEFs partnership with BCI, the educational standards can keep growing at the intermediate level.

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