Libby Stupica
Libby Stupica

‘Hamilton’ Realized
by Libby Stupica




I am pretty sure my mom brought home the Hamilton CD the day it was available to the public. My sister learned all the world listening to it daily with her roommate, while its part of both my morning and nightly routine. So, when tickets went on sale, my mom vigilantly stood guard. After a heart-wrenching moment when seemingly unobtainable tickets slipped right through my mom’s fingers because of a site crash, we accepted our fate. We would not see this new masterpiece musical until it toured, years in the future.

However, my mom did not give up her hunt for tickets. One evening, without my sister’s knowledge or mine, she fervently searched for tickets at midnight and came across some rare reasonably priced ones. She bought them before even thinking it through. (She later told us about her mini-crisis, wondering if she could make this trip work with Schuyler still away at college!). Schuyler and I received our gift Christmas morning … and we could not believe it. April 2 was just a few months away and soon we would be sitting in the PrivateBank Theatre watching Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2016 groundbreaking production.

Time flew, and we spent this past weekend in Chicago. Hamilton left me speechless and teary-eyed, but that goes without saying. I could tell you all about the staging and the cast and the incredible music, but there are already thousands of reviews about this production written by much more qualified people than myself. In fact, there is no way I could do a production like this justice through writing. Instead, I want to share how special it was sitting in the PrivateBank Theatre with every other Hamilton spectator. I had never been in this theater before, but it was small, intimate, and reminded me very much of the Valentine. Essentially, there seemed to not be a bad seat in the house. Everyone was just as excited as us to see the production, and the energy was infectious.

Once I was in my seat, I looked to my right to see an elementary school-aged girl walking down the aisle, wearing a dress that resembled that of Eliza Schuyler. People of truly every age were in attendance. It was easy to turn to the people around you and strike up a conversation. When the lights dimmed, the theater immediately hushed. As the opening number began, applause erupted. Unlike some theater productions I’ve attended, the audience at this show was responsive, cheering and laughing freely. There seemed to be a rare kind of appreciation for this show. Nobody was taking this experience for granted.

There was community in the room … a sense of connection. It was a show with current political undertones, but the positive response to lines like “Immigrants, we get the job done!” indicated collective support. Both the stranger sitting next to me and myself wiped away our tears simultaneously during scenes of lost loves and lost lives. I felt united to everyone in the theater, actors included, to look out for one another. Cast members holding buckets received donations for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. In a world where news often causes a sense of hopelessness, Hamilton reminded me of the humanity in all of us and the power we have to make a difference.


NDA Speech Team are District Champions, qualify in state/national finals

by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

The NDA Team included L-R, back row: Hope Thayer, Hannah Dailey, Ashley Keane, Anna Haudrich, Elizabeth Burchfield, Carly Krulikowski, Abbey Rose, Maddy Vesoulis, Chloe Knapp, Manar Kashk, Lauren Dionyssiou, Sarah Faisal, Gracey Chung, Anika Singhania, Nakita Nel and Sarah Watson; L-R, second row: Claire Kohler, Mary Gerhardinger, Ada Ogbonna, Aniya Jones, Libby Stupica, Sophie Nijakowski, Leen Yassine and Maria Bier; L-R, front row: Caroline Shull and Sadie Kaplan.

Notre Dame Academy Speech and Debate Team had three students qualify to compete at Nationals in June. Sylvanian Sadie Kaplan will compete in U.S. Extemporaneous Speaking, along with Caroline Shull in Dramatic Interpretation and Hope Thayer in Informative Speaking. The Team also had 26 young women who qualified for the Ohio High School Speech League State Tournament held in Columbus, Ohio.

The NDA Speech and Debate Teams have once again been named as a member of the 200 Club by the National Speech Debate Association, as the top eight percent of teams in the nation. They have also been named the Tarhe Trail District Champs for the eighth year in a row and have received national recognition by being given the National Speech and Debate Cumulative Sweeps Award. Along with the team successes, Assistant Speech Coach, Dave DeChristopher, became a National Speech and Debate Association Diamond Coach.

The following Sylvania area girls qualified for State Competition:

Declamation-Ada Ogbonna

Duo Interpretation-Elisabeth Burchfield

Claire Kohler and Libby Stupica

Humorous Interpretation-Anna Haudrich

Informative Speaking-Hope Thayer

Lincoln-Douglas Debate-Leen Yassine

Original Oratory-Maddy Vesoulis

Congressional Debate-Manar Kashk

Anika Singhania

U.S. Extemporaneous Speaking-Sadie       Kaplan

Public Forum Debate-Sarah Faisal



Shorties U Film Challenge application deadline nears

–by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

Parents, are you looking for something for your children to do over spring break besides play games on their phones? Does your student monopolize your Wi-Fi? Well, we have something better for them to use their iPod, phones or other digital devices for… make a short film with it!

It’s time again for the Shorties Film Challenge for kids in Kindergarten through 12th grade to create a short film (less than 3 minutes in length) and send it to us. Films will be screened at the Tree City Film Festival on April 30

As part of the 5th year of the Tree City Film Festival, the “Shorties” – a shorter short film challenge, is a creative opportunity for any student, in grade K – 12. Students are invited to create up to a 3-minute short, using an iPod, cell phone or other digital video devices. The goal of this challenge is to involve all kids in the art of filmmaking, on a smaller scale, using the digital devices that they already own and use.

Much like the main competition of the Tree City Film Festival, a panel will judge entries and selected entries and winners will be shown at the ticketed Shorties screening. Films made during the Shorties will also be shown and prizes will be given for a variety of categories. The Shorties screening will be held on April 30th at 3:30 PM at Sylvania Northview High School’s Performing Arts Center.

It’s free for students to enter, but all participating students and their guardians must complete the online registration and sign release forms. Completed entries must be submitted by April 20. Submission details, required forms and event tickets are available on the website:


Redistricting task force to release boundary maps, community survey before spring break

by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

The redistricting task force is completing work on the new boundary maps that will be released on or around April 10 according to Adam Fineske, Sylvania Schools Executive Director and task force co-chairman. “Those maps will be accompanied by a community survey,” he pointed out. “The survey will be available on our website for two weeks through April 24. We know that the community is most eager to see these boundary maps and we are anxiously looking forward to listening to their feedback on the survey to help us make the best decision,” he said.

“The task force will analyze the data collected from the surveys and will make their recommendation for either Option one or three based on what the community values and what is best for kids,” Fineske noted. “We continue to listen to the community and its feedback weighs heavily on the report we will make,” he emphasized.

That task force recommendation will be proposed to the School Board for a vote at the May meeting.

Option one is proximity based and students will attend the schools closest to where they live. Grade configurations in each school will stay the same. All seven elementary school boundaries would be adjusted to balance enrollment. Students would attend the middle school based on his or her proximity to the building and not necessarily the elementary school he or she attended.

Option three is based on keeping students together from kindergarten through 12th grade in a consistent feeder pattern. Maplewood and McCord will be converted to house fifth and sixth grade students. HillView, Highland and Whiteford elementary school students completing fourth grade will attend Maplewood for fifth and sixth grade and Arbor Hills for seventh and eighth grades. Those students will attend Northview High School.

Central Trail, Sylvan and Stranahan elementary school students completing fourth grade will attend McCord for fifth and sixth grade and Timberstone for seventh and eighth grades. Those students will attend Southview High School.

“After adjustments to the options have been made there is really not major cost factors involved for either option,” Fineske offered. “The task force has been also looking at proposed growth trends, which we are factoring in our process. This is an extensive process and the task force is working diligently. It is also very encouraging to see how the community is interested, involved and invested in this process,” he added.

For more information and to keep up on the redistricting please visit:


What we love about our schools
by Shannon Szperski

Shannon Szperski

In January 2008, my husband and I bought our first house in Sylvania. I had attended Maplewood, Arbor Hills, and Northview growing up, while my husband had attended Central, McCord, Southview, and Northview. Although we both graduated from Northview and were proud Wildcat alumni, the house we purchased happened to be in Southview district.

About a week after we bought our Southview-districted house, my husband announced that he wanted our children to attend Northview. “Well, we just bought a house in Southview district, so our kids are going to Southview.” I assured him. With that, we started attending some Southview events, collecting orange and brown attire, and enrolling the kids in Southview-based summer camps. As time went on, the thought of going Cougar became easier and easier and even seemed to fit.

One thing that helped shift our black-and-gold mindset was that we were already falling in love with another unfamiliar school: Sylvan Elementary. My husband was a Central boy, and my parents sent four kids through the halls of Maplewood. I loved, LOVED, being a Maplewood Panther and wore my blue and gold heart on my sleeve. I no doubt shed a few tears when my elementary alma mater was torn down, but I was also excited to know a better space was being built for a new generation of Panthers.

Despite living all but one year of my childhood in Sylvania, as far as I can recall I had never set foot in Sylvan Elementary until my oldest child enrolled there. I didn’t really know anyone who had gone to Sylvan, and, in fact, I didn’t even know where it was located prior to scoping out Sylvania real estate. The only vague recollection I had of the Sylvan Bobcats was seeing their name written across rec softball uniforms from time to time.

Sylvan turned out to be a little different from the old Maplewood. There was only one floor instead of two, and art class was in a nice, centrally-located room instead of a creepy basement labeled with an old bomb shelter sign (of course, the creepy Maplewood basement was somehow totally endearing at the time). Much like my beloved Maplewood, however, Sylvan was a welcoming place filled with a friendly staff and the love of learning. My kids quickly made great friends, and so did I. Quite by surprise, the place I had reserved in my heart for the love of an elementary school quickly doubled in size.

Our family has had a unique Sylvania Schools opportunity in that we have attended seven of the 12 schools. As the Sylvania Schools Parent Organization president, I’ve been in every building this year and have had the chance to enjoy the unique flavor of each. Experiencing the district as a whole and interacting with staff members and families from each building provides a much more comprehensive picture of the district we live in. Regardless of mascots, school colors, and square footage, each Sylvania school emits that same welcoming atmosphere and love of learning in 2017 that I felt first entering Maplewood in 1981.

There are multiple types of division that exist within a school system. We are divided by geography – north, south, east, and west. We are divided by building – seven ways at the elementary level, three ways at the junior high level, and two ways at the high school level. We are divided by role – parents, teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, transportation, disability services, custodial, and food services, to name a few. Though we are divided, we are also one.

With two very different paths to consider as Sylvania Schools treks through its redistricting process, a single focus remains: One Sylvania. Oneness does not mean uniformity, but rather unity. It means that we take all our unique parts and combine them to create a greater whole. It means that we do our best to create and maintain a community by appreciating our individual components.

Over time, we have all developed our own loyalties and the idea of creating a shift in this structure no doubt feels a bit daunting. In Sylvania, most of us have the wonderful problem of loving the place where we already are. It’s hard to think about being a Cougar when you were raised a Wildcat. Yet, when it comes right down to it, at the heart of it we’re all cats.

Shannon Szyperski and her husband, Mike, are raising three children in Sylvania.
She is a freelance writer and president of Sylvania Schools Parent Organization.

‘Legally Blonde’ is SV’s spring musical

–by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

The cast of “Legally Blonde” prepares for the upcoming production at Southview High School opening April 6.

The Sylvania Southview High School Theatre Department presents “Legally Blonde -the Musical” on

Thursday, April 6 – Saturday
April 8 at 7:30 p.m. and on
Sunday April 9 at 2:30 p.m.

The performances take place at Sylvania Southview High School,
7225 Sylvania Ave.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at

Tickets are $9 for students and senior citizens and $12 for adults.

Based on the novel and the hit movie of the same name, “Legally Blonde: the Musical” chronicles the journey of the famously perky Elle Woods (Allie Gehling), a fashion savvy, UCLA sorority girl who finds her life turned upside down when she is dumped by her boyfriend Warren (Peter Wurster). In an effort to prove to Warren that she is more than just some blonde sorority girl, she follows him to Harvard Law, where she struggles to fit in and do well. She finds out he has found a new love, Vivienne (Kendall Linnenkugel). No longer having her best friends Serena, Margot and Pilar (Serene Schwallie, Bridgette Dona, and Taylor Spurgeon-Hess) by her side, she befriends quirky stylist Paulette (Sena Abernathy) and helps her attract the attention of the UPS delivery guy, Kyle (Carson Greisiger). Elle struggles to succeed in school with the help of Emmett (Travis Hamman) on the legal team to defend Brooke Windham (Sunita Dhar). Unfortunately, she realizes the head lawyer, Professor Callahan (Nathan Davenport) is interested in more than her brain. Ultimately, she defies expectations and manages to stay true to her delightfully pink personality.

Director and choreographer Brandi Shepard, the drama teacher at Southview, chose this for its high energy and large chorus numbers. Shepard stated, “We have so many strong female performers, this show is a chance to really showcase them. The storyline may seem fluff, but I keep reminding the students ‘Elle is a real person. I’ve been in her shoes.’ She’s just a girl chasing after a boy. She’s a woman who learns to believe in herself, overcome stereotypes and be more than she ever thought she could be.”

Miss Shepard is assisted by vocal directors Lindsay Andrews and Dawn Kingman, assistant choreographer Taylor Zaborski, technical director Jon Austin and pit orchestra director Dawn Kingman. Student leadership includes stage manager Yasmine Abdouni and set crew-head Bethany Morgan. Over one hundred students are involved in this production through the cast, crew, and orchestra.

For more information, contact Brandi Shepard at
419-824-8580, ext. 6202.


Alternative nonpublic school opens

by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

Abdurrahman Mustapha and Amal Abukaram look on as Sylvania AdVantage student interns Synenemaria Abukaram and Sundus Mustapha check out proofs for the April 4 newspaper.

In looking back over his school career, Sulaiman Mustapha realized that his experience lacked the support he would have liked for fostering his creativity and ingenuity. “I would have liked the opportunity to do cool things outside of school,” he recalled.

When his two younger sisters expressed frustration regarding their school experiences, Mustapha decided it was time to do something about it. “This school is an Islamic alternative,” he offered. “Here, we want to empower students to discover their passion and become creative and resourceful leaders inspired by Islamic principles.”

Last September, the 20-year-old opened the Bounty Collegium, an alternative nonpublic school for children grades seven, eight and nine. Next year, sixth and tenth grades will be added.

“The Bounty Collegium values real life experiences. To that end, we are partnering with local businesses who provide internships for our students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. We want our students to be exposed to several markets and to see different fields to evoke their imagination in innovation,” he stated. “The less time in the classroom, the more time students have out in the ‘real world’ to understand the value of their education. While we guarantee that these students will meet all the standards they need to graduate and excel, we will also encourage them to pursue their passions with full guidance and support from the staff.”

Mustapha continued, “Our teaching methods have come from many different influences, one being the Finland Education System, whose students are number one in the world.

According to Mustapha, the school is for innovative students who are willing to train and gain knowledge. “We interview each student and his or her family to make sure that the prospective student and his or her family’s values and goals coincide with ours,” he said. “We push each student to find an innovation in his or her chosen field and motivate each student to find an edge. We set a great plan for each student.”

In addition to Mustapha, his brother Abdurrahman Mustapha serves as the English director and his mother, Amal Abu Karam, is the superintendent. Triangle Director Mamdouh Abu Karam, Bayan Lahham, Sadaf Sediqe, Lina Jabri and Rahaf Kalaaji complete the current staff.

The Bounty Collegium is located on Monroe Street adjacent to the Sylvania Branch Library.

Mustapha also has locations and staff assembled for The Bounty Collegium in Dublin, Ohio, and Washington, D.C.
Future plans include establishing locations in Silicon Valley, Calif., Dallas, Texas, Orlando, Fla., and New York City.

For more information about The Bounty Collegium, please visit:


by Libby Stupica
Libby Stupica





My sister and I were ecstatic when it was announced last summer that our cousin was finally engaged. There are few things in this world that we love more than a big fat Italian wedding. However, our joy was stifled when we heard that she wouldn’t be married for a year. May was simply too long to wait for the big celebration! So, when we received an invitation to her bridal shower in March, we were so excited. We were guaranteed to see all our beloved extended family twice before the year was even halfway through.

The invitation to the shower provided more than an opportunity to see my family all gathered together; I had never been to a bridal shower, and this would be my first. I had been looking forward to my first bridal shower for as long as I can remember. My hopelessly romantic self enjoys spending evenings binge watching movies like 27 Dresses and Bride Wars, where I first learned how a wedding gift registry worked. My grandmother, sister, and I have made Say Yes to the Dress a monthly ritual. Needless to say, I was more than prepared for a real bridal event with the women in my family, some of my favorite people on this earth.

When we arrived, my mom, sister, and I were greeted warmly by my cousin’s bridesmaids and given our table assignment. We walked into a Tuscan-themed room. Wine bottle centerpieces filled with sunflowers adorned every table. After grabbing some Italian appetizers of parmigiana and prosciutto, my cousin introduced us all to her matron of honor and her bridesmaids. They kindly gave us tickets for their raffle and directed us to some guessing games. One I especially liked contained six pictures of my cousin at various ages. We were instructed to guess her age in each picture and write it down. The winners would later receive extra raffle tickets for the gift baskets.

After I put all my tickets into a Coffee & Tea Lovers gift basket, we lined up to get our meal of salad, cooked vegetables, and gnocchi (which led to an intense discussion about the correct pronunciation of the word). As we finished our tiramisu desserts, one of my favorite moments began – my cousin started opening the gifts she received. I loved watching as she unwrapped each one, so many of them kitchen or household items that she and her fiancé would use as they began their married life together. I loved sitting there as she opened a brand new china set, or an Italian pasta serving dish, thinking about the family meals to come. I imagined the stories that would be told, and memories that would be made over these dishes. She was gracious and genuinely thankful. My heart was warmed thinking about how all of us would be with her as she and her husband began the next chapter of their lives together.

The whole afternoon ended on a special note. My cousin approached my sister, two of my cousins and me. She asked us all to be a part of the wedding. My cousin, Melissa, and I were asked to hand out the programs. She asked Schuyler to do the reading for the ceremony. I was touched. Of course, we gladly said yes. The shower was over, and I was reluctant to leave the family members I love so much. However, I was able to leave with a full belly, a full heart, and happy anticipation for May 13.


Smart tech used by St. Joe’s to stop flu

by Sylvania AdVantage Staff


From the thousands of applications for Kinsa’s FLUency program, St. Joseph School Sylvania has been given Smart Thermometers donated from Kinsa, a health technology company headquartered in California, for early detection and containment of the flu.

As schools everywhere battle the end of this year’s flu season, St. Joseph School Sylvania has had a little help from Kinsa in beating the bug this year and keeping more kids healthy with the assistance of Kinsa Smart Thermometers. Just one year ago, St. Joe’s closed its doors for three days due to a flu epidemic. This may have contributed to why St. Joseph School was selected as one of just 500 schools nationwide to participate in Kinsa’s FLUency school health program. As part of the program, all SJS families have received a free Kinsa Smart Thermometer, normally priced at $19.99 retail. This has allowed those opting to participate, to see anonymous information about symptoms and illnesses going around the school.

“The flu is disruptive to learning, challenging for parents who must find childcare, and hard on schools that are already struggling with strapped resources,” explained Kinsa founder Inder Singh. “In addition, to the disruption, it is heartbreaking for both parents and students. Since the thermometer is the first thing a parent uses when their child falls ill, we designed Kinsa to be smarter, capturing symptoms and providing guidance on what to do next.”

“Our priority is keeping our students in class learning,” explained Carol Lindsley, assistant principal of St. Joseph School Sylvania. “With this innovative program, we hope to contain the spread of illness, increase attendance, and continue giving our students the education they deserve.”

To learn more about the Kinsa Smart Thermometer visit:

Academic Excellence Hall of Fame Class of 2017 inducted

by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

L-R: Daniel Norris, Sarah Smith-Barczak, Stephen Leslie, John Crandall, Dr. Susan Kaminski Faja and Peg Eding were honored on March 17 at the Academic Excellence Foundation’s Hall of Fame dinner.

John Crandall was presented the 2017 Legacy Award and Peg Eding was named Educator of the Year at the Sylvania Schools’ Academic Excellence Foundation’s Hall of Fame dinner on March 17 at Sylvania Country Club.

Crandall, a 1955 Burnham High School graduate, is a former member of the Sylvania School Board and is currently a Sylvania Township Trustee. Eding is the reading intervention specialist at Stranahan Elementary School

They were joined by Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame Honorees Daniel Howard Norris, Burnham High School class of 1951, who earned a Ph.D. in botany from the University of Tennessee; Sarah Kathryn Smith, Northview 1994 graduate and coordinator of National Media, VIP, and Disney Vacation Club Events; Dr. Susan Kaminski Faja, Northview 1994 graduate, who received a Fellowship from Boston Children’s Hospital and is a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School; and Stephen Andrew Leslie, Northview 1984 graduate, an associate dean at James Madison University, and is the department head and professor in Department of Geology and Environmental Science.