The Ottawa Hills Schools Foundation Trustees are in the midst of their second annual campaign with a goal of building the Foundation’s funds to $1 million in gifts and pledges through their “March to a Million” campaign. This year’s Annual Campaign Chairs are Steve (’66) and Mickey Swigart and John (’96) and Shanie Swigart.
This past year has been a productive one for the Foundation. A Washington, D.C. alumni event in May featured national sports columnist Christine Brennan ('76) and CNN correspondent Phil Mattingly (’02). Dozens of alumni members connected not only with each other, but also with OHJH 8th graders who were in Washington, D.C. for their annual trip.
In October, the Foundation hosted a donor recognition event on October 19 at Welltower, followed by the induction of the inaugural class of Ottawa Hills Distinguished Alumni on October 20.
However, the biggest impact of the Foundation has been the funding of many opportunities that have reflected the Foundation’s mission to “permanently enhance and extend the unique experiences of excellence that defines Ottawa Hills Schools”
Last summer, the OH Schools Foundation funded three different camps. A Robotics Camp gave incoming seventh graders the opportunity to construct and program a Clawbot using the VEX EDR Robotics platform. The camp ended with a lively competition between the students and their robots.
STEM Teacher Patty Dowd, who led the camp, shares, “The camp was a great experience for the campers and the students in my Robotics Club. The campers learned some skills with robots that we don’t typically have time for during their 7th grade STEM course, such as how to program a remote control. They also had a slight advantage in 7th grade STEM because they were already familiar with some of the parts and tools we use in class. My Robotics Club students volunteered a lot of their time getting the materials ready for the camp and helping the campers learn new skills. This also reinforced their own skills and allowed them to build better competition robots.”
The Foundation also sponsored a Science Olympiad competition camp for rising sixth through eighth graders. Students experienced a variety of Science Olympiad challenges, such as Robot Arm, Rocks and Minerals, Ecology, Disease Detectives, Mouse Trap Vehicle, and more. Members of the OHHS Science Olympiad program mentored the campers throughout the week, building meaningful partnerships between the elementary, junior high, and high school students. Because of this opportunity, many students joined our Science Olympiad team this school year.
Science Olympiad Advisor Jeremy Nixon notes, “The Junior High Division B participant numbers have nearly tripled in size with the introduction of the team camp. There are over 50+ students in grades 6-8 that will compete in a Science Olympiad competition this school year alone. The team is also very competitive this year because many of the students began working on their events back in August. The camp provided us a great opportunity to get a head start on the season, and things are looking very good as we prepare for the Regional competition on March 17 at BGSU.”
The award-winning Ottawa Hills Dance Team participated in a dance camp, thanks to a grant from the Foundation. The camp was led by national collegiate dancers from the Universal Dance Association. The team members’ training in technique and choreography has paid off, as the OH Dance Team recently captured first place in the pom and jazz divisions at the Maumee Dance Invitational.
Dance team coach Ariel DeMarco says, “UDA is a prestigious organization in the dance world. UDA hosts nationals for junior high and high school teams, as well as the UDA Collegiate Nationals (where former Green Bear Dance Team member Kendall Kropp competed with The Ohio State Dance Team this year, winning the National Championship for both Jazz and Pom for the first time in program history!). We were only able to have the honor of participating in this camp due to the gracious aide of the OH Schools Foundation. Our home camp was a two-day event where an instructor came to Ottawa Hills and worked with us each day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The girls were able to further their technique skills, learn new choreography, and tryout to receive the title of All Americans, among many other things. This home camp was a truly incredible experience and crucial step in furthering our program as a whole.”
The Dance Team will compete at OASSA Regionals competition this Sunday, February 11 at Southview High School beginning at 9:00 a.m. Doors open at 8:00 a.m. Come on out to Southview Sunday morning to support our OH Dance Team!
A gift from the Foundation is making it possible for elementary students to learn how to play the ukulele this school year. The grant purchased 30 ukuleles to augment the current elementary music curriculum. Playing the ukulele introduces students to string instruments while building their knowledge of note reading.
Elementary music teacher Kimberly Manchur notes, “The ukuleles have been a wonderful addition to the music program. The 6th graders have piloted this new unit this year and have done a remarkable job. They have learned enough to be able to accompany singers, even performing a song while singing at the same time in concert! I am excited to continue stretching the unit to other grade levels and the students can’t wait to get involved!”
And as Peter Pan, Wendi, and the Darling children take to the air this weekend, the Foundation will have a part in it, as the OH Schools Foundation is a Title Sponsor of Ottawa Hills Theatre productions. Artistic Director Darrin Broadway shares what the support of the Foundation means: “The theatre arts teach students camaraderie and discipline. The support of organizations like the OH Schools Foundation helps us to involve students in quality theatre experiences, instilling a life-long appreciation for the theatre. You can’t put a price on the types of skills built and memories made through our students’ involvement in our school productions.”
Thanks to a major gift from the Ottawa Hills Schools Foundation, on Thursday, February 22, the OHHS Choraliers will be heading to Chicago for a weekend of performing and learning.
While in Chicago, the students will perform at the Museum of Science and Industry and the Field Museum of Natural History. The Choraliers will hone their musical skills with a clinic conducted by Dr. Robert Sinclair, Director of Chorale Activities at VanderCook College of Music.
A special appearance will be made by the Choraliers to perform at an alumni reception hosted by OH alumna Samantha (Kabat) Schwalm (’93) and her husband Matson. The reception, sponsored by the OH Schools Foundation, will be held on Friday evening, February 23. If you live in the Chicago area or are traveling to Chicago that weekend, please consider attending. Contact Erica Silk, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, at 419-214-4838 to RSVP.
Through the generosity of over 360 donors, the Foundation continues to build the Talmage Family Fund, the general fund of the Foundation. However, Foundation supporters have also established new funds to enhance student experiences: The Eleanor Seifried Fund supports the performing and vocal arts, the STEM fund supports STEM-related programming and opportunities, the Athletic Fund supports sports programs, the Student Assistance Fund provides support for students to experience curricular events beyond the classroom, and the Cornerstone Planned Giving Society provides a venue to remember the Foundation in your estate planning.
OHS Foundation President George Lathrop notes, “Thanks to our Ottawa Hills alumni, community, and friends, the Ottawa Hills Schools Foundation is making a real and significant impact on our students. The many programs supported by the Foundation support our mission to inspire confident, compassionate, independent, and creative thinkers who embrace lifelong learning.”
You can become part of the legacy being established by the Ottawa Hills Schools Foundation by making a contribution online at ohschoolsfoundation.org or by contacting Erica Silk at 419-214-4838 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.