Miracle Tree program helps 128 Tippecanoe Valley families

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128 families in the Tippecanoe Valley area received assistance this holiday season through the Miracle Tree program – six more than last year’s total of 122 families.

Miracle Tree is sponsored by Mill Creek Missionary Church and has been going strong for years in the Rochester area. Tippecanoe Valley teachers Darren Parker and Crystal Heckaman helped expand the program two years ago after noticing a growing need for it in their school corporation.

“This year’s program was another huge success in the Tippecanoe Valley community. It wouldn’t have happened without all of the community support we received in buying gifts and volunteering,” said Parker.

Families who expressed an interest in receiving help this year were assigned a number. Those numbers were then placed on ornaments and hung on trees inside Bell Memorial Public Library in Mentone and Akron Carnegie Public Library in Akron. The numbers let sponsors know how many children were in each family. Sponsors were then provided a wish list for the family they selected.

All of the gifts were presented to the families on Dec. 13th at a special event that included food and activities for children.

“Even with the poor weather that night, we still managed to feed roughly 500 people and pass out gifts to 351 kids this year,” said Parker.

The Tippecanoe Valley High School Student Council was one of the largest sponsors of families this year. Heckaman, who also serves as student council co-advisor alongside Cami Shriver, says they adopted 13 families, spent $6,100 on 61 kids, and then another $300 to supplement gifts for 10 kids who didn’t receive many gifts from their secret givers. They also created, set up, and played games with the kids on the night the gifts were given out.

“It was fun seeing the kids that we shopped for having such a good time, playing games, and bouncing in the inflatables,” said Heckaman.

Student council members used donations from the community to purchase the gifts. They, along with students in Shelly Engle’s English 11A class, took a trip to Meijer in Warsaw to shop for the children. The students in Mrs. Engle’s class have been discussing philanthropy and wanted to see how they could help with the Miracle Tree program this year.  

“Thank you to all of the families that sponsored one or more of our households in need as well as to all of the local businesses and organizations for their support,” said Parker.

Those businesses and organizations include Regional Rehab, Akron Las Donas Club, Craig Welding, Splendor Boats, local area farmers, TVHS Student Council, Glam, Mentone United 4-H, Beery Construction, Biddle Auction Co., Cargill, Midwest Poultry, Mill Creek Missionary Church, Hoffman Body Shop, Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation, Meijer, Bell Memorial Public Library, Akron Carnegie Public Library, Silver Creek Church, 4-H Jr. Leaders, and Beta Epsilon-Psi Jota Xi Sorority.

VALLEY INSIGHT: Why Grants are Important to Public School Corporations

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Written by Aaron Leedy, TVSC director of marketing, public relations, and grant writing

There has probably never been a time when the purse strings for public school corporations have been tighter.

As the state legislature prepares to reconvene on Jan. 3rd, public school administrators and teachers across Indiana will again watch as state lawmakers debate and decide the future of education.  What bills will they introduce this year? How might those bills, if they become laws, affect public school funding? These questions come up every year along with the uncertainty of how the policies surrounding education might change.

One thing a school corporation can do to fill potential funding gaps is apply for grants. Grants can provide financial assistance for classroom projects that cost a few hundred dollars to corporation-wide projects that can reach six figures or more in price.

In the summer or 2016, TVSC created a Director of Marketing, Public Relations, and Grant Writing position to help research and apply for grants. Some grants submitted are also written by teachers and administrators. Grant writing is a collaborative effort throughout our school corporation to provide the best facilities and programs to meet the needs of students.

Since Jan. 1 of this year, the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation has received more than one million dollars in federal, state, and local grant funding. This is, in essence, free money that otherwise would have had to come out of the corporation’s budget to fund projects or services throughout Tippecanoe Valley’s five schools – Akron Elementary, Mentone Elementary, Tippecanoe Valley Middle School, Tippecanoe Valley High School, and the Burket Educational Center.

In addition to receiving funding, another benefit to pursuing grants is the ability to foster great relationships with local community foundations. Simply put, money donated to these foundations can stay in the communities they serve. TVSC continues to work closely with local foundations such as the Kosciusko County Community Foundation, Fulton County Community Foundation, Dekko Foundation, K21 Health Foundation, and the United Way to research and pair grants with specific projects throughout our schools.

Some of the more notable grants received since Jan. 1 of this year include an $84,230 grant from the K21 Health Foundation for a paved walking/biking path at Mentone Elementary School, a $30,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment for counseling services, a $14,000 proactive grant from the Kosciusko County Community Foundation to enhance counseling services, a $16,000 grant from the United Way of Kosciusko County for kindergarten readiness, a $20,000 matching grant from the Dekko Foundation and a $10,000 grant from the Fulton County Community Foundation for library upgrades.

TVSC also received 10 Kosciusko Endowment Youth Services grants earlier this year. Teachers apply for KEYS grants to fund classroom projects ranging from $100 to $1,000. The grants are reviewed by KEYS members who are high school students from four area school corporations in Kosciusko County.

As we continue to watch for changes at the state and federal levels to education, grants will be the one constant we can rely on to equip all students to be successful today, tomorrow, and beyond.

Valley Insight is a recurring monthly article written by administrators on a variety of topics related to education and the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation. Articles will be posted to the district’s website and also shared with the local media.

TVHS students raise $650 for local food bank

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Students in Tippecanoe Valley High School’s National Honor Society chapter recently raised hundreds of dollars for a local food bank.

On Dec. 14th, the students presented a check in the amount of $650 to Jerry Secrist of Mary and Jerry’s Helping Hands, a food bank in rural Kosciusko County south of Mentone. The money was raised through a penny wars competition between grade levels by collecting change and bills during lunch for a week in November.

“We hope to make this an annual tradition and increase the amount of money we are able to raise and donate each year. It was great to see students throughout the building getting so excited about something positive and enjoying the competition between grade levels,” said Erin Eastgate, a teacher at TVHS and National Honor Society advisor.

Eastgate said the fundraiser was in line with the service, character, leadership, and scholarship pillars of National Honor Society.

“This chapter project required them to display service and character by giving to others and we wanted to help people within our community,” said Eastgate.

Pictured in the front row from left to right are: Gary Klinger, McKenzie Murphy, Amy Ortiz, Jerry Secrist, Carissa Ziemek. Back row: Jacob McDonald, Bryce Cudney, Travis Shull, Cody Craig, Camden Tucker, Cora Alber, Asia O’Connor, Susan Nickerson, Hannah Ames, Hannah Gibbons


TVSC board of trustees approves 2018-2019 school calendar

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The Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation board of trustees approved the 2018-2019 master school calendar at its regularly scheduled meeting on December 11th.

The calendar is almost identical to the current 2017-2018 school calendar, with only minimal differences between the two. The new calendar features 91 days of school for students in the first semester and 89 days of school in the second semester. School will begin on Monday, August 6th, 2018 and end Thursday, May 16th, 2019.

11 emergency make-up days prior to graduation are built in. The calendar also features a three-day Thanksgiving vacation for students, an 11-day Christmas break, and a week off in the spring. Registration for the 2018-2019 school year will be held on July 24th and 26th.

Click here to view the entire 2018-2019 school calendar.

Local author donates latest book to TVHS library

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Local author and Tippecanoe Valley High School graduate Truman Beaver has donated a copy of his latest book to the TVHS library.

Beaver stopped by the school on Dec. 12th to present his book Off Course, describing it as an action packed World War II adventure on the high seas.

The 1995 TVHS graduate went on to study at both Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College. After college, Beaver worked in broadcasting, marketing, and the industrial chemical industry. He is also an entrepreneur operating his own sign shop, DJ service, and campground.

For more information on Beaver’s background and books, visit the Pen It! Publications, LLC website.

Pictured above from left to right are Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation Superintendent Brett Boggs, Author Truman Beaver, and Tippecanoe Valley Library Director Andrea Michel.

December Health Tip from Kosciusko Community Hospital

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As part of the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation’s ongoing partnership with Lutheran Health Network Kosciusko Community Hospital, each month we will be sharing a health tip with our parents and staff. December’s health tip is all about combating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and how to treat the winter blues.

More information about the KCH Wellness Center can be found here: http://kch.com/wellness

More information about SAD can be found here: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad.htm

“Mix It Up Lunch” allows students to network

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Tippecanoe Valley Middle School held a “Mix It Up” lunch on Thursday, Nov. 30th, 2017.

TVMS blended grades for each lunch, mixed up tables, and had a Tippecanoe Valley High School PEER at each table facilitating discussions and activities.

“It’s a really interesting time to see the middle school students open up and to see the high school students get pushed out of their comfort zone to become better leaders,” said TVHS Instructor Kris Walker.

The TVMS staff joined in the activities and also helped clear tables so the fun could continue uninterrupted. This was another piece of the “see each other” unit that sixth and eighth grade worked on with the book Wonder. 

“It was a great success,” said TVMS Principal Scott Backus. “I want to thank the TVHS PEERS for their great and powerful work. They truly are outstanding role models for our middle school kids. I want to thank the TVMS staff and Mr. Walker at TVHS who were involved in planning and carrying out the activity. I also want to thank our kids for jumping into an uncomfortable situation and still making the best of it,” Backus said.

TVMS held a similar event during the 2016-17 school year.

Mix It Up lunch at TVMS today. Students from different grades "mixed" for some "see each other" activities and…

Posted by Tippecanoe Valley Middle School on Thursday, November 30, 2017

$4,600 donated to Boomerang Backpacks program

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Mill Creek Church in Rochester made a large donation to the Tippecanoe Valley Boomerang Backpacks program on Sunday, Dec. 3rd.

Pastor Chris Beall presented TVHS Life Skills Instructor Emma Coppes with a check for $4,600.

Tippecanoe Valley Boomerang Backpacks is a program in which the weekend nutritional needs of approximately 160 children/families from Akron Elementary School and Mentone Elementary School are met by the provision of food and snacks sent home in a backpack each Friday afternoon. Students receive enough food for the entire weekend. Boomerang Backpacks helps eliminate hunger and allows students to concentrate better on learning throughout the week.

Anyone interested in donating to Tippecanoe Valley Boomerang Backpacks may do so by contacting Tippecanoe Valley High School at (574) 598-2100.

Pictured are Mill Creek Church Pastor Chris Beall and TVHS Life Skills Instructor Emma Coppes on Sunday, Dec. 3, after the announcement was made.



Four TVHS juniors recognized as Rising Stars of Indiana

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The Indiana Association of School Principals recently announced the Rising Stars of Indiana Class of 2019.

Each Indiana high school was invited to recognize up to four students currently in the 11th grade based on their academic achievement. According to the IASP, 1,025 high school juniors from 265 schools are being honored across the state.

Olivia Ellenwood, Elijah Holder, Shayleigh Shriver, and Dylan Wood were chosen by TVHS Principal Chad Cripe to represent Tippecanoe Valley High School.

Each student will receive a certificate as part of the honor during the Jan. 15th school board meeting held at the Burket Educational Center. Also, at a later date, the Rising Stars of Indiana program’s college and university sponsors will receive a list of the students who indicated an interest in their school, along with the possible fields of study noted on their submission form.

For a full list of the Rising Stars of Indiana go to http://www.iasp.org/dsp/allstars/.

Pictured from left to right are Elijah Holder, Dylan Wood, Olivia Ellenwood, Shayleigh Shriver, and TVHS Principal Chad Cripe.