APOLLO-RIDGE: Marching band up for honors
October 30, 2013 10:50 AM
by JULIE MARTIN

SPRING CHURCH — The Apollo-Ridge School District’s marching band is one of nine competing for WPXI-TV’s Band of the Year — and it’s giving fellow contestants a run for their money.

The band was in first place Tuesday afternoon, school board President Greg Primm said at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

As of 9:30 this morning, it had dipped to third with about 4,020 votes, trailing Chartiers Valley School District, which held the top spot, and second-place Cannon McMillan School District by roughly 1,000 votes.

“Apollo-Ridge is smaller than a lot of those other schools, so it would be a great thing for them to be able to do this,” Primm said today.

Voting takes place through Facebook and ends Nov. 15.

The top vote getter will get to perform at the 2014 Skylights Media Day at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

“It would be a great conclusion to the year,” Primm said. “This would just be the icing on the cake for them if people were able to vote for them and they were able to play at Heinz Field. That would be fantastic. Not only for them, but for the school district.”

Held in conjunction with Eat n’ Park, the Band of the Year contest is the final round of WPXI’s Band of the Week competition.

Open annually to every school in the Pittsburgh City League and the WPIAL, the Band of the Week contest puts out a call for voters to select their favorite band.

The nine-week contest was divided into categories based on WPIAL division and WPXI’s Skylights high school football programming schedule. In addition, Pittsburgh’s City League school bands were in the running with WPIAL A bands.

Other finalists include bands from the South Allegheny, Hempfield Area, Mars Area, Ringgold, Albert Gallatin Area and Central Valley school districts.

Primm encouraged those at the meeting and throughout the region to vote for Apollo-Ridge.

More information on the contest can be found at http://apolloridge.pa.schoolwebpages.com.

At the meeting, the Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation presented six mini-grants to teachers and administration totaling $2,210.

Bringing technology into the classroom was at the forefront of the requests.

Mini-grants will go to the following:

• The P.R.I.D.E. program, which aims to prevent bullying and other destructive behaviors through creation of teacher-led committees and student mentors. The effort is led by high school principal Clint Weimer and will serve students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

• Purchase of headphone technology for the high school’s Read 180 Center. The equipment, according to officials, will allow students to increase confidence in reading aloud.

• Support for bringing the computer game Minecraft into the classroom to teach geography concepts to sixth-graders.

• Support for the Light a Fire for Reading project, which will utilize Kindle Fire HD tablets to enhance learning.

• Purchase of a babysitting curriculum that will be used in sixth grade and high school Child and Family Studies classes.

• Hardware and software purchases to enhance the ability of Life Skills students in grades six through 12 to participate in art classes.

The education foundation has been distributing mini-grants on an annual basis since 1996.

Superintendent Matthew Curci said after the meeting that he was pleased with the requests’ emphasis on technology.

“I think that’s kind of a sign of the times and a sign that students and staff are more comfortable with technology,” he said, adding that the push to bring up-to-date learning technology into the classroom illustrates why the district wants to create a STEAM center.

STEAM — or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math — education aims to integrate those fields into a student’s learning experience.

Apollo-Ridge is seeking funding to overhaul its middle school library into a STEAM learning center for students and the community.

School directors also approved a series of updates to the district’s special education policy and several new hires, among them, that of a secondary French language teacher who will be paid about $52,000 per year.

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