Lauren Sevigh Smith releases debut album Threshold

by Jennifer Ruple

Lauren Sevigh Smith – by Rick Luettke

Vocalist Lauren Sevigh Smith is introducing a whole new generation to jazz. Her sophisticated sound and talent have given Smith the opportunity to perform with notable jazz musicians such as Clifford Murphy, Johnny O’Neal, and Jon Hendricks; earn her a host of honors and awards; as well as release her first CD Threshold – all before she turned 16 years old.

A sophomore at Southview High School, Smith released her CD with a two-hour performance at Shorty’s Back Forty on Feb. 13, which also happened to be her 16th birthday. “It was fantastic. There were almost 100 of our family and friends and people we really didn’t know,” said Smith. “It was really a thank you to all of the people who have helped me and supported me throughout the years. It was a great time performing with all of the guys who helped me with the album.”

Threshold represents the beginning of Smith’s lifelong pursuit of music. The album gained its namesake from an oil painting by her mother, Kerri Smith, which is featured on the album’s cover. Threshold features eight jazz standards including: Cheek to Cheek by Irving Berlin, They Can’t Take That Away from Me by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, and Agua De Beber by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius De Moraes.

Smith began her musical journey at a young age. “Ever since I was little, my parents would play music around the house, and I would sing. Before long, I realized I had a passion for music,” explained Smith. At age 10, she began studying with vocalist Jean Holden, also known as “Toledo’s First Lady of Song.”

“Jean Holden was my first vocal coach. With her I had my first vocal performance outside of school.” At age 11, Smith, along with Holden, performed with a live band for the first time. At that performance, Smith was introduced to Kay Elliot of the Art Tatum Jazz Society who arranged for Lauren to sing on several occasions for the Jazz Society. “Looking back, I didn’t know anything,” laughed Smith. “I don’t know how I managed.”

Smith currently studies with vocal coach Barbara Kondalski, who she started with three years ago while she was preparing for an Ohio Music Education Association competition. For the past two years, Smith has been selected to participate in the OMEA District 1 Honors Choir. She also earned the highest rating, two years in a row, on a class A solo by performing an Italian aria during the OMEA District 1 Solo and Ensemble Contest. In addition, Smith is a 2017 Young Art Merit Winner in Jazz Voice.

Smith mentioned, “Since taking lessons with her, Barbara has really helped me vocally and introduced me to musical theater and classical repertoire.” It was Kondalski who recommended Smith audition for Toledo’s premier chamber choir, Masterworks Chorale. Smith was selected for a high school internship with the group for the 2017 season.

In addition to voice lessons, Smith studies piano and performs with Toledo-area legend Gene Parker. Parker was instrumental in the development and creation of Threshold. “During one of my lessons with Gene, he thought it would be good to put out a demo album. I think it was a month later that we recorded it. We just knocked it out in a day,” reminisced Smith. The album features Gene Parker on piano and flute, Ray Parker (New York) on bass, and Sam Miller (Toledo) on drums.

Smith looks forward to studying vocal performance in college, but that’s still a couple of years away. “Right now, I just want to keep gigging, learning about music and get better with piano to further my experience with jazz.”

Smith’s CD, Threshold, is available for purchase at


SV soccer player to play in Israel

by Patrick Andres

Charley Kale

Charley Kale, a Southview High School senior soccer player who will be playing collegiately at Akron next year, is headed east. And not just headed east to the Rubber City. Over the summer, she is headed east to the Old City.

Yes, Kale will play in Jerusalem this June and July in the 20th Maccabiah Games, a Jewish multi-sport event she describes as a “mini-Olympics.” She will play on a junior girls’ soccer team representing the United States in the festival of 10,000 athletes, which trails only the Olympics and Pan Am Games in participation. Notable American soccer players who have competed in the Maccabiah in the past include National Soccer Hall of Famer Jeff Agoos and 2007 Gold Cup champion Jonathan Bornstein.

Kale, a versatile, reliable contributor to the Cougars this year who was named Honorable Mention All-District, is admittedly apprehensive ahead of the excursion. “I’m really nervous about playing in such as a big thing,” she says.

Kale will be playing in the Junior Division, a division exclusively for female athletes born between 1999 and 2001. The schedule for the Games has yet to be released in detail.

“I always wanted to go to Israel,” Kale said, adding she is looking forward to visiting the Dead Sea, which surely beats the Cuyahoga River.

Success is first on Kale’s mind, as the United States men’s and women’s teams both won gold at the 2013 event in the Open division and she is hoping to add to that legacy of victory. “I’ll be going out there, giving 100 percent, and trying to win the gold medal,” she says, which the team should have a decent shot at barring unforeseen circumstances.

Anyone interested in donating to Charley’s trip should navigate to:
click “Donate” to make a contribution.


Kindergarten Readiness:
Parent Edition
by Shannon Szperski

Shannon Szperski







The very first newspaper column I ever wrote was about my oldest child heading off to kindergarten. It was a big moment in life, not just for my child but for me as well. Even though my son had already been through two years of preschool, sending him off to a big building five days per week with unfamiliar adults and much bigger kids seemed like a daunting task for both of us. It also signaled the beginning of a whole new direction – the road to independence.

As you navigate this winding road, veteran parent after veteran parent will tell you just how fast the whole thing goes, and it does. However, you still have thirteen years of new experiences, uncertainties, failures, and triumphs to go through first.

As one of those veteran parents, I’d like to welcome you to the fold by imparting a little bit of what I’ve learned along the way:

Start with a Clean Slate – Whether you loved school or hated it, don’t put your own educational experience on your children. Education is about moving forward. Your children are not entering the same classroom you once entered, and that’s OK. Your children are also unique individuals who will take on academia in their own way. The best thing you can do is support them through understanding, a positive attitude, and an open mind.

Be Brave – I recently saw an unattributed quote that read, “Sometimes the fear won’t go away, so you’ll have to do it afraid.” You’ll want to keep this in your back pocket for the next decade or two because it’s something you’ll experience time and time again during the school years. More importantly, it’s an essential lesson to teach your children. Your children need to be brave to be successful, and modeling bravery starts with you.

Let Them Grow – Adversity creates an opportunity to develop strength and skill. You will do your children many favors by taking on the role of facilitator instead of fixer. It’s hard to watch your children struggle, but teaching them how to swim through rough waters instead of quickly pulling them to safety will give them the tools needed for long-term success.

Prepare Yourself – If the first five or six years of parenting didn’t shock you in some way, you may have slept through the whole thing. You and your children are going to see a lot of stuff and feel a lot of things over the next several years. Expect the unexpected. Academics, friendships, activities, and life, in general, will be full of plot twists and other surprising turns, so be ready for anything.

Get Organized – The school years bring a whole lot of people, activities, responsibilities, and copious amounts of paper into your life. Take the time to create simple, functional contact, calendar, and organization systems for your family. Don’t have a plan for how you’re going to sort and store homework, projects, fliers, school pictures, grade cards, and the 58 million other paper items that will soon be coming into your life? Make one ASAP and use it wisely.

Be Their Guide – If school is a journey, you are your children’s tour guide. Whether they make it obvious or not, they will be looking to you for guidance along the way. Ask questions, talk, and be sure to remain approachable so that your children know they are never in it alone.

Make Connections – School is not a goodbye; it’s saying “hello” to a whole new realm. If you want to make the most of it for your children and for you, put in the work to connect. Read through informational packets, learn about the school and the district, go to parent meetings, volunteer, follow social media, and introduce yourself to other parents and staff members. Involved parents produce successful kids. Your children are entering a whole new world and you are welcome to enter it with them.

Be a Good Education Partner – Education is a joint venture between students, parents, teachers, administrators, bus drivers, and other staff members. It takes a district to graduate a student. Discover how you fit into your children’s education equation and put the effort in to play your part effectively.

Focus on the Big Picture – Bumps and bruises, some literal and some figurative, are bound to happen along the way. Keep things in perspective. Is a missed homework assignment, a small friend tiff, or a minor disagreement with a teacher going to matter in a year? Most often, they probably won’t. Nip issues in the bud and then move on.

Enjoy – Your children are entering a pathway that will lead to the rest of their lives. This is a joyful occasion! Your job as a parent is to deliver reasonably well-adjusted humans to adulthood. Despite the difficulties along the way, each new level your children reach should be a happy reminder that you are moving toward parenting success.

Some parents are perfectly excited to begin this independence process, while others are crying all the way to the bus stop. Regardless of which camp you’re in, remember that we’re all in this together. The 5-year-old I once wrote about having to detach from will be entering high school this fall. The realization is no doubt bittersweet, but watching my children mature academically, physically, socially, and emotionally is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

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


Southview student assists acid burn victims in India

–by Mary Helen Darah

Kaartikeya Gupta

For Sylvania Southview student, Kaartikeya Gupta, participating in humanitarian efforts is a family affair. His father and grandfather, both plastic surgeons, have traveled to India to assist victims of acid attacks. “They need help in India,” explained Gupta. “Dr. Ashok Gupta, no relation, sets up residents with my grandfather (Dr. Raj K. Gupta). Dr. Ashok Gupta is a renowned plastic surgeon. At times, half of his work is for nonprofit. My grandfather does a great deal of cosmetic surgeries when he goes abroad to work with burn victims. This past December, I was able to go with my sister Ishani (a student at Maumee Valley Country Day School), to assist these brave women as well.”

Being from a medical family, Gupta was able to read manuals on surgical procedures and watch videos online of actual surgeries before his journey to India. Upon his arrival in India, he interviewed a patient who had been victimized. “Her story was so terrible,” recalled Gupta. “Her name was Lalita. Someone had victimized her by taking away what makes us identifiably human, her face. The only thing she was guilty of was getting into an argument with an 18-year-old cousin. He had threatened to throw acid in her face. At the time, Lalita thought of it as something said in the heat of the moment and nothing more. He hunted her down for five months. When he found her, he pinned her to the ground and slowly dripped acid on her face.” After she was victimized, she was at a local hospital but that was simply not sufficient. “In India, the hospitals are outdated and are not equipped to handle acid burns,” explained Gupta. “The body has ways to counteract the acid but it must be flushed out. It can still be gradually eating away at a person for weeks.” In order to pay for the care, her family had to use all their savings and quickly ran out. “After two months, she was no longer able to stay at the hospital. She spent many months in excruciating pain with no medical treatment. Thankfully, she found Dr. Ashok and his organization. She has had over 60 operations. Without reconstructive surgeries, she wouldn’t be able to get a job or get married. She now relies solely on charity. It is not just socially debilitating but psychologically devastating as well.”

Lalita has had over 60 surgeries since being attacked by a cousin.

Sadly, only a small percentage of victimizations are recorded. Many women, especially in Pakistan, are considered the property of the father or brother until married so they cannot file a report. “Even when women go to the police, there is little they can do,” stated Gupta. “Often victims have been blinded and cannot identify their attacker and it is easy for attackers to flee to other villages.” In 90 percent of the cases, the eyesight is severely affected.

For legal reasons, Gupta could not be part of the surgical process but served in other capacities. “I took photos and did preoperative work and talked with the victim about the surgery and what they will be experiencing. There was a doctor with me at all times, of course,” he explained. “A chemical burn eats away the skin and then the skin starts to harden. When that happens, you make incisions to open the area. Skin grafts follow later. There are two types of skin grafts; half and full thickness. Half skin grafts are used for the places like the cheek area and the places the skin is taken from are usually able to regenerate the skin. The graft is not super durable. Full grafts are used for eyelids. A full thickness skin graft places a huge burden on the area the skin is removed from. Skin cannot be regenerated in a full graft procedure but they work a lot better when the skin needs to withstand lots of wear or movement. The doctors I worked with utilized both.”

Lalita only has one functioning eye. The skin around her eye had hardened. Her eye was pinned open from the acid and the eye was dehydrated. We saved the other eye just in time and replaced the skin in that area and rehydrate the eye. Her vision is impaired but at least she can see.” Kaartikeya and Ishani are passionate about helping these women especially after seeing firsthand how their lives have been affected. “Lalita, the woman I worked with, wants to work. She has a dream,” he stated. “The aggressors aren’t just taking away their faces. Victims are no longer seen as people. It breaks them for a lifetime. A victim’s money is used to stay alive. If they have children, they also suffer.” Kaartikeya and Ishani hope to raise awareness and continue to support the work of Dr. Ashtok’s national foundation. “Currently you can buy a bottle of acid for the equivalent of 10 US cents,” stated Gupta. “Progress is being made, however. In India, attackers could get out of prison in six months. It has been extended to a ten-year sentence and is now treated as an assault case. Think about it like this, if something like this happened in the US, it would be a national public outcry. But in countries where this happens, people do not react. That is unacceptable to me. I have had a fairly privileged life. Giving back to these women and fostering their dreams has been so much more rewarding than you can possibly imagine.” Gupta is uncertain where he will attend university but he is certain that he will continue his family’s legacy of humanitarian efforts. “I want to go where I can help the most people. I will start small and see where it takes me.”

Sylvania Schools Redistricting

These are the three conceptual options that were presented to the Task Force on Monday, February 6th. The Task Force will work through these three options going forward. Their focus will be to determine the advantages and disadvantages all of the options. For each option, they will consider the educational, geographic and financial impact. They will then report to the Board of Education, who will make the final decision regarding redistricting. The Board will have the option to follow the task force entirely, in part, or come up with its own decision, but the intention is to give the work of the task force significant consideration.

In effort to gain feedback from students, parents, staff, and community members, the Task Force has created a survey about the redistricting options presented. Please feel free to click on the link and fill out the survey:





by Libby Stupica
Libby Stupica






As the holiday season winds down, things can get a bit melancholy without the twinkling lights and merry holiday tunes everywhere you go. I certainly felt a dip in my mood as my winter break came to a close, especially when my sister went back to school, but my mom seemed to know exactly what to do to keep my spirits up.

We decided to cozy up and watch one of her favorite best-friends movies, Beaches, starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. We ordered Chinese takeout and snuggled up on the couch in front of the crackling fire to spend some mother-daughter time, where a movie that had always been special to my mom became special to me. I even made some tea later in the evening, maximizing the coziness of the night.

I think it’s so important to find ways to keep one’s spirits up during this time of the year. Amidst the grey skies, slushy roads, and barren trees, I often find myself falling into a rut where motivation and excitement are nowhere to be found. However, I’ve noted several fail-proof ways I’ve used to avoid falling into post-holiday blues, or how to pull myself back if I do:

1. Taking a bath. Sometimes I make this a whole occasion and use bubbles, candles, tea, and face masks; however, I don’t always have the time or materials for all of it. Simply filling up the tub and giving myself ten to fifteen minutes of me-time (either in the silence of my own thoughts or listening to my favorite soothing playlist) does wonders when I’m feeling stressed or unmotivated.

2. Getting out of the house (especially to see someone). I have met up with friends at the new King Road library or at the Biggby near my house, because I find it helps me stay focused. My friends and I have also planned several impromptu evenings at the movies, and I have found that just getting out and around people who fuel my soul for one night can really have an impact on my week.

3. Making good food. I don’t mean just good yummy food, but wholesome meals that make me feel strong and healthy. I don’t consider myself to be a chef, but there’s something empowering about getting in the kitchen to concoct a fresh meal, experimenting to make it just what you want. The holidays are filled with delicious food, but often it leaves me feeling lethargic. So, finding food that keeps my mind and body running is key.

4. Setting aside at least one night a week to really focus on self-care. “Pampering” could be another word for it. I make time at least one evening a week to take an extra-long warm shower, put on my softest, cleanest pajamas, light a candle, and read some poetry or a book I normally don’t have the chance to open. These evenings I try to avoid checking emails or social media, and just embrace the moment without letting my constant stressors get in the way. I find it helps to make a list of everything on my mind before starting my pampering session, so I have a clear and happy mindset to truly relax.

5. Making a playlist. I’m not an extremely creative or artistic person, but I find this is a great way to express myself and organize my interests. I collect all the songs that speak to me and often end up categorizing them for different moods or situations. Discovering new music can be so exciting, and after the playlist is made I have something to come back to whenever I’m feeling the way I was when I made it. It’s something that isn’t time consuming and offers a little creative stimulation before tackling a harder task.

6. Finally, I remind myself that the grey skies won’t last forever, and it’s important to make the most of them while they’re here. As the cheer of the holiday season is coming to an end, find a way to keep your spirits up and start the New Year strong! 

Gang intervention subject of talk

–by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J.
Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J.

The Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J., New York Times best-selling author and founder/executive director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the world’s largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program, will speak at:

St. John’s Jesuit
5901 Airport Hwy.
Tuesday Jan. 31
at 7 p.m.
in the Chapel of St. John Berchmans.
The program is open to the public.

“Gang violence is about a lethal absence of hope,” Father Boyle said. “Gangs are the places kids go when they discover their life to be a misery, and misery loves company. It’s about kids who can’t imagine their future, so they plan their funerals. Hope is an essential thing. Nobody has ever met a hopeful kid who joined a gang.”

Father Boyle is the author of the New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, which was named one of the Best Books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly and received the PEN Center USA 2011 Creative Nonfiction Award.

Father Boyle was ordained a Catholic priest in 1984, and in 1986, he was appointed pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Los Angeles. At the time, Dolores Mission was the poorest Catholic parish in the city, located between two large public housing projects with the highest concentration of gang activity in Los Angeles. He witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during what he has called “the decade of death” that began in the late 1980s. In the face of law enforcement and criminal justice tactics and policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, Father Boyle and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treating gang members as human beings.

By 1988, having buried an ever growing number of young people killed in gang violence, Father Boyle and parish and community members sought to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth by developing positive opportunities for them, including establishing an alternative school and day care program, and seeking out legitimate employment. They called this initial effort Jobs for a Future.

In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Jobs for a Future and Proyecto Pastoral, a community-organizing project begun at Dolores Mission, launched their first social enterprisebusiness in an abandoned bakery that Hollywood film producer Ray Stark helped them purchase. They called it Homeboy Bakery.

Father Boyle’s term as pastor ended in 1992, and he spent his tertianship (the final year of Jesuit formation) serving as a chaplain at the Islas Marias Federal Penal Colony in Mexico and at Folsom State Prison in California.

Father Boyle returned to Jobs for a Future in 1993, and the success of Homeboy Bakery created the groundwork for additional social enterprise businesses. This  led to Jobs for a Future in 2001 becoming an independent nonprofit organization, Homeboy Industries.

Today, Homeboy Industries employs and trains former gang members and felons in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to 15,000 men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.

Father Boyle is the subject of Academy Award winner Freida Lee Mock’s 2012 documentary, G-Dog. He has received the California Peace Prize and been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, the White House named Father Boyle a Champion of Change. He received the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation, the national culinary-arts organization.

Father Boyle entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1972 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1984. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from Gonzaga University, a master’s degree in English from Loyola Marymount University, a Master of Divinity degree from the Weston School of Theology, and a Master of Sacred Theology degree from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

For more information on Homeboy Industries:

SCS offers BeInstrumental options for After School Childcare students

–by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

Adison Stevens, Jillian Casey-Debacker, Audrey Ogren, Kennedy Kaiser and Hailey Beck listen attentively to instructor John Cleveland as he plays the trombone.
Adison Stevens, Jillian Casey-Debacker, Audrey Ogren, Kennedy Kaiser and Hailey Beck listen attentively to instructor John Cleveland as he plays the trombone.

Children attending the Sylvania Community Services After School Childcare program held at Central Trail Elementary School have the opportunity to explore BeInstrumental, a musical program that fosters music education.

Beginning this January,  a group of kindergarten to second grade children chose to participate in the half hour program to learn about music and various musical instruments.

Local musician and former manager of the Sylvania branch library John Cleveland serves as the instructor for the Centra Trail program.

Gina Black, of SCS, is the administrator of the Before and After School program at Central Trail and is the liaison for the BeInstrumental pilot program. She said children were given the chance to volunteer to participate in the program, which is held each Wednesday from 3:45 to 4:15 p.m. in the Central Trail cafeteria.

BeInstrumental was founded in 2009 by John Mackewich and Jeff Green. Carol McElfresh serves as executive director for the program.

Because of declining funds for musical education, BeInstrumental came into being to ensure that every child has access to a musical education.
BeInstrumental offers everything from lessons to musical mentoring, living up to its motto of changing world one instrument at a time.

BeInstrumental also has a musical instrument bank that lends instruments from horns, strings and drums to pianos without charge. They are available to students who need them.

According to Claire Proctor, “We continue to look for ways to enrich our after school program, and music education seems like a perfect fit.  Upbeat music has many effects on children. It can bring great joy as well as other terrific benefits.”

For more information visit:

Local First Lego League Team wins first place ‘Grand Champions’ award

by Laural Lovitt

L-R: Catherine Thie, age 11 and Joshua Lovitt, age 11, Central Trail Elementary, Sean Wolfe, age 12, Arbor Hills Junior High: Adam Wolfe, age 10, Whiteford Elementary, Leo Chow, age 9, Central Trail Elementary Reese Krell, age 11, Central Trail Elementary, hoist their winning trophy.
L-R: Catherine Thie, age 11 and Joshua Lovitt, age 11, Central Trail Elementary, Sean Wolfe, age 12, Arbor Hills Junior High: Adam Wolfe, age 10, Whiteford Elementary, Leo Chow, age 9, Central Trail Elementary
Reese Krell, age 11, Central Trail Elementary, hoist their winning trophy.

A local First Lego League Team, the I-BOTS won the coveted first place “Grand Champions” award at the Versailles Regional Tournament held at Versailles High School on Saturday, Nov. 19. As stated by the Masters of Ceremonies, “This team exemplifies all the qualities of FLL.” The team members all represent Sylvania Schools. They include Adam Wolfe, Whiteford, Sean Wolfe, Arbor Hills, Joshua Lovitt, Leo Chow, Catherine Thie, and Reese Krell, Central Trail. The team received the first place “Grand Champions” award and medallions to commemorate their achievement. They were also recognized for their superior Gracious Professionalism with special bands. They earned the opportunity to compete at the District Tournament on Jan.14  held at Bowling Green State University. The team meets at the home of Estel and Jody Lovitt, who are the I-BOTS coaches.

In early fall every year, FLL releases a new challenge, which is based on a real-world scientific topic. This year’s challenge, Animal Allies, focuses on a solution for a problem that exists between human and animal interactions. Each challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project and the FLL Core Values. Teams participate in the challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game), developing a solution to a real-world problem they have identified (Project), all guided by the FLL Core Values. The I-BOTS created an innovative solution regarding pets living with people with allergies, which is definitely a real-world problem. The I-BOTS designed, built and programmed an autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS technologies to perform programmed missions based on the Animal Allies theme. After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates with high-energy, sports-like tournaments. Like any other organized “sport,” teams create their individual identity and travel to compete against other teams. Even though they are in competition with other teams, they demonstrate gracious professionalism by sharing knowledge and solutions with the other competing teams.

The Robot Design and Programming judges said that the I-BOTS had the best programming and documentation. The team had a rough start on the game table and was in last place after their second run. After tweaking their programs, their third run put them in third place in the Robot Game with a score of 106. This comeback helped them to win the first place overall “Grand Champions” award.

This season, the I-BOTS discovered that one of the top 10 reasons that pets end up in animal shelters is because of human allergies. They were inspired to help solve this problem and help give more pets a “Forever Home” and allergy sufferers the opportunity to successfully live with a pet. For their project, they created a unique and innovative “Air Quality and Pet Care System” to make this happen. They used a specialized device to measure the allergens in the air by parts per million and then give the family with the allergy sufferer a brochure which includes “helpful tips” to help reduce the allergens in their home. The I-BOTS have partnered with the PET Bull Project of Toledo to help them identify families to test their system and to help the allergy sufferer foster a pet. Once the pet is placed in the home, the I-BOTS refer the family to the brochure for more “helpful tips” on how to take care of the pet to keep down the allergens on the pet itself. The team then tests the air in the home again to see if the allergens are low in the home and determine if the allergy sufferer can live with the dog or cat with little to no allergic response. If all goes well, the family will be able to give the pet a “Forever Home.” The team has already successfully tested this in one home and the Pet Bull Project is already in the process of identifying other families they can help. The I-BOTS, along with the Pet Bull Project, hope to help many others with this “Air Quality and Pet Care System” and help many other allergy sufferers to have a pet and lower the number of pets placed in animal shelters.

FIRST Lego League is an international program for 9 to 16 year old children created in 1998 to get children excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) – and teach them valuable employment and life skills.


by Libby Stupica

Libby Stupica









By the time you read this Halloween will be behind us, but I feel you should know that Notre Dame students take Halloween very seriously. So seriously, that I walked out my front door rocking a teal velour tracksuit, a cheetah print shirt, sneakers, and gold hoop earrings. Aqua the Cheetah Girl was making a comeback. Each year at NDA we have a costume contest where winners receive Golden Gourds in various categories, and I was dressed for the show. Walk through the halls on Halloween at NDA and you’ll have no need to scroll Pinterest!

As a member of Executive Student council, I had arrived to school early to pass out candy. I got my first glimpse of everyone in their Halloween finery as they made their way to homeroom. Halloween music played over the PA. However, the main event took place that afternoon in the performing arts center, where students could display their costumes on stage for the whole student body to see. The energy from all the students for one another’s creativity was so supportive. I’m not sure if this kind of enthusiasm for Halloween is universal among teens, but I find it refreshing that girls, grades 7-12, feel comfortable on stage sharing their creative spirit, while being judged by the whole student body. Their willingness to be so vulnerable illustrates a supportive culture at NDA; no girl went on stage and didn’t receive a resounding cheer from the crowd.

The cheers continued as the Golden Gourd award winners were announced. Two girls who dressed as Powerschool and the yellow “down” arrow (which appears when a grade drops) won Scariest costume. Two others dressed as North and Kanye West won in the duo category. The Most Creative was given to a girl who was a sky dancer, dressed head to toe in a red body suit with tassels hanging from her arms. She shimmied up and down like an inflatable outside a car wash. Finally, a group of girls who dressed as taxidermy animal heads with boards around their painted faces (which created the illusion that they were mounted on the wall) stole the show and took home the Group Golden Gourd.

Students weren’t the only ones being applauded and winning awards. The faculty never fails to show us up, and this year was no exception. My biology teacher dressed as a witch, sporting a flowy dress, black wig, and donning elaborate makeup. One of the Sisters of Notre Dame was a dragon, complete with dragon tail, feet, and hands. However, it was my math teacher that went home with the faculty Golden Gourd. He shaved his head and dressed up as Gru from Despicable Me! Being surrounded by teachers and administration that participate in the spirit of Halloween just as much as the student body makes it even more fun to go all out each year.

Yes, we take our Halloween at NDA more seriously than the students of Halloween Town High. I may no longer stroll through my neighborhood collecting candy in my jack-o-lantern bucket, but Notre Dame has instilled in me a new love for Halloween. It was a daytime celebration this year, and despite sitting inside working on schoolwork later that evening, I didn’t feel like I missed out on the holiday one bit. I just experienced it in a different way.