By Linda Dillman
The Canal Winchester High School Marching Band will take the field later this year in new uniforms.
With some jackets and pants dating back more than a decade, the Canal Winchester Board of Education accepted a $10,000 donation from the Band Boosters as part of an agreement purchasing 130 new uniforms at an individual cost of $380, for a total price tag of $49,100.
The board agreed to cover the remaining amount to facilitate the purchase, while setting up a multi-year payment plan for the booster organization in order to recoup the cost with $5,000 annual payments to the district.
“We feel this is money well spent,” Superintendent Jim Sotlar said. “The boosters do a marvelous job for the district. The number (of students) in the band has doubled since 2006-07. They are expecting 115 band members next year. The program is growing.”
Band Instructor Chad McGee said there are opportunities to sell the old uniforms to other districts or use them in other ways to raise funds, but he expects to make little more than pennies on the dollar in return.
“This is a huge project,” McGee said. “The uniform is similar (to those now in use), but updated. The hat is similar, but the plume is a whole different style (twice as tall).”
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Sotlar discussed the district’s foray into the STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—and Project Based Learning (PBL) methods.
“STEM is about readying for the world,” said Sotlar. “It’s not just a program, but an educational approach. STEM is a movement from a teacher-centered classroom to a more student-centered, hands-on approach. The courses are an opportunity to give students a head start towards a possible career.”
Focus areas include the health field, medicine, pharmacy, business and a CISCO networking academy. Possibilities include certification in a focus area like pharmacy tech or CISCO before graduation, but STEM and PBL are also part of the classroom approach in the lower grades as well.
“We’re moving away from memorization and regurgitating information and toward more in-depth, more hands-on,” said Sotlar. “All teachers are being trained in Project Based Learning. (PBL) is a dynamic classroom approach where students gain knowledge and skills by exploring problems and challenging and developing a solution.”
According to Sotlar, PBL makes meaningful connections between the school, the community, work and world issues and engages students in the learning process.
“We want kids to be motivated, independent learners that are self-directed, persistent and goal-oriented,” said Sotlar.
While the district continues to implement STEM and PBL, Sotlar said it will take some time before it is fully embedded in the K-12 curriculum.