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Foundation helps Apollo-Ridge School District enhance technology

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 12:46 a.m.

The proliferation of social media and technology in recent years has revolutionized the way teachers approach the classroom, and the Apollo-Ridge School District is now part of the movement.

That was evident on Tuesday, when the Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation gave the district more than $2,200 for six innovative classroom projects.

Four of them will bring new technologies to the classroom to enhance the students' ability to explore reading, geography and various life skills.

District Superintendent Matt Curci said students stand to benefit tremendously from the new tools and projects.

“It provides them with different avenues to grow and be more creative during the learning process,” he said. “There's a reason technology is growing more and more commonplace in the classroom, and I think we're going to see firsthand why that is.”

One of the foundation's grants will provide high school students with the Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablet reader. Foundation secretary Christine Kostiuk said the device will supplement, not replace, traditional learning materials with digital exercises to improve spelling, grammar and vocabulary skills.

The foundation will also provide the high school with new headphones for its Read 180 program. The program is designed to help struggling readers, and the new headphones and coinciding software will allow students to develop their reading skills without the pressure of reading aloud, Kostiuk said.

The grants' impact will also be felt at the middle school, where sixth-grade students will use a popular computer game called Minecraft to study geography. The game will allow teachers to replicate a region's topography for students to learn from and explore.

The foundation is also purchasing new hardware and software for the district's Life Skills program, which exposes students to a myriad of daily living experiences.

Other projects the foundation approved on Tuesday are a teacher committee to raise cyber-bullying awareness and a sixth- through 12th-grade baby-sitting curriculum to promote proper care of younger siblings at home.

Curci lauded the foundation for its contributions to the district.

“We're so thankful for everything the foundation does,” he said. “They're giving our students exposure to things that a lot of schools don't have.”

The foundation was formed in 1996 to encourage and support the development of programs such as the ones it approved on Tuesday. Funded through its membership, the foundation awards several grants capped at $500 each year.

It has awarded $80,000 worth of grants since its inception 17 years ago.

“This year,” Kostiuk said, “we wanted to really focus on technology. It's something the kids will have for a long time, and it will give them skills that are relevant in the workplace. That's what we aim for.”

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or bashe@tribweb.com.

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