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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Oct. 23, 2017

Crestview recently inducted its newest class into the National Honor Society. Eligibility requirements include maintaining a 3.5 cumulative GPA, submitting an application, submitting three letters of recommendation from both faculty and community members, and completing an interview with the Crestview National Honor Society Faculty Board. NHS responsibilities include completing 25 hours of service during the school year and attending a cultural event. Shown is the newest Crestview High School NHS class: (front row, from the left) Alyssa Taylor, Savannah Smith, Chelsi Young, Caitlin O’Hagan, Ryleigh Dye, Olivia Skelton, Kassidy Klinger, Lauren Schumm, Elizabeth Bowen; (back row) Chelsea Taylor, Hannah Bouillon, Sarah Haggerty, Austin Sheets, Avery McCoy, Codi Miller, and Emma Bowen. (Crestview photo)

POSTED: 10/23/17 at 7:23 am. FILED UNDER: Youth

Crestview’s juniors and seniors recently spent some time thinking about the possibilities for their future by enrolling on the Van Wert Works website and listening to U.S. Army representatives about military options. Kris Kill, Crestview guidance counselor, guided students through the process of registering on the Van Wert Works website created by the Van Wert Economic Development group so they are able to keep up to date on local employment opportunities throughout high school and beyond. Sergeant Scott Walker also presented the students with military career opportunities and financial benefits. (Crestview photo)

POSTED: 10/19/17 at 8:00 am. FILED UNDER: Youth

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GREENEVILLE, Tennessee — Scott M. Niswonger, chairman and founder of the Niswonger Foundation, announced the award of an “Education Innovation and Research” (EIR) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. This grant, with the required matching funds, will provide more than $8 million to assist schools in northeast Tennessee.

Scott Niswonger

“This is a day of tremendous pride as I reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of the Niswonger Foundation,” Niswonger said. “It is gratifying to be recognized nationally for our work in public education but more important to me is that we have another a new and powerful opportunity to serve the children in this region, to ensure that they are prepared to be successful in post-secondary education and in their chosen careers.”

The United States Department of Education selected 16 grant recipients from 379 proposals based on recommendations from independent peer review panels. The 16 successful applications represented nine states and the District of Columbia.

The Niswonger Foundation is one of only six recipients in the “mid-phase” category. This grant will be used to fund a program entitled: Rural LIFE (Literacy Initiative Focused on Effectiveness). The purpose of the grant is to validate the use of personalized learning strategies, with the goal of focusing on literacy to improve academic achievement for students in grades six through eight. Rural LIFE uses the strategy of deploying technology-enabled literacy-focused personalized learning. Participating schools will identify specific technology needs as part of their learning model.

The grant will serve 17 school systems in northeast Tennessee (Bristol City, Carter County, Cocke County, Elizabethton City, Greene County, Greeneville City, Hamblen County, Hancock County, Hawkins County, Jefferson County, Johnson City, Johnson County, Kingsport City, Newport City, Sullivan County, Unicoi County, and Washington County). This grant will add another important scope of work to this unique consortium of schools that has drawn national recognition.

The majority of the 73 schools in this project are designated rural and 85 percent are Title I schoolwide. Approximately 19,700 students are served by Rural LIFE-participating schools.

Dr. Nancy Dishner, president and CEO of the Niswonger Foundation, commented on the strength of the Consortium of Northeast Tennessee school systems: “I credit receiving this second federal grant to the tireless efforts of our teachers and school leaders in this region. We are uniquely positioned to receive national attention because of this joint commitment to teamwork, excellence, and ensuring that every child in northeast Tennessee has the best opportunity for success.”

This marks the second U.S. Department of Education grant received by the Niswonger Foundation and the Niswonger Consortium of school systems. Previously, the Foundation received a $21-million Investing in Innovation Grant (i3), which was the precursor to this first-round of the EIR grants. The initial Niswonger grant was recently recognized for having five statistically significant research findings. Focused on college and career readiness, the data show that students in the Niswonger Consortium were more likely to: 1) have a higher ACT score; 2) complete an Advanced Placement (AP) course; 3) score 3 or higher on AP courses; 4) enroll in post-secondary education; and 5) persist in post-secondary education.

Dr. Richard Kitzmiller, Niswonger Foundation vice president, will serve as the executive director for this grant. Kitzmiller has over 40 years of exemplary service in education, including nearly 10 years as a district superintendent. He has been employed at the Niswonger Foundation for six years, including work with the Foundation’s previous federal grant.

“This project offers a unique opportunity. While the middle grades are critical in the development of students, most reform efforts focus on other grades,” Kitzmiller said. “Most of the attention and support is directed to high schools or the earlier grades.”

The Rural LIFE grant will serve northeast Tennessee for the next five years.

The Niswonger Foundation was established in 2001 by Greeneville businessman and philanthropist Scott M. Niswonger. The Foundation’s mission is “To create opportunities for individual and community growth through education and other sustainable projects.”

The Foundation’s flagship initiatives are the Scholarship and Leadership Program, and the School Partnership Program. Additional information regarding the work of the Foundation is available at

POSTED: 10/06/17 at 7:27 am. FILED UNDER: Youth

The Van Wert High School Beta Club recently held its induction for new members on September 24 in the Niswonger Performing Arts Center Lecture Hall. Beta Club is an academic organization whose motto is “let us lead by serving others”.  The principles of Beta include academic achievement, service, character, and leadership. The VWHS Beta Club chapter, which welcomes 36 new members, embraces several projects throughout the year, including the VWHS homecoming dance, school recycling, sports concessions, participating in Kids Against Hunger, and will be working with The Salvation Army in the near future. VWHS’ Beta Club focuses on both school and community service. (photo provided)

POSTED: 10/03/17 at 6:42 am. FILED UNDER: Youth

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Do you know what an “allemande left” is? Did you know that “Stir the Bucket” isn’t something you do in the kitchen? Come learn with Van Wert County 4-H members and their families as they explore square dancing on Saturday, October 28, from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Those wanting to participate do not need to be experienced dancers to attend. Lessons will be provided throughout the dance by experienced caller John Wargowsky.

The event will be held in the Junior Fair Building on the Van Wert County Fairgrounds, 1055 S. Washington St. in Van Wert.

Local 4-H clubs are planning a family-friendly night of fun, lessons, and snacks. Join them as they learn all the fun dances and kick their heels up to learn a new skill.

Proceeds from the event will go to benefit the Van Wert County Friends of 4-H (previously known as the Van Wert County Endowment Fund), which is administered by The Van Wert County Foundation and allocated to support the Van Wert County 4-H program.

POSTED: 09/28/17 at 6:10 am. FILED UNDER: News, Youth

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Van Wert Lodge 1197, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, recently made a donation of $500 to First United Methodist Church in Van Wert. The monies are earmarked for the church’s Fifth Quarter program, which is in its seventh year.

Shown are Teresa Shaffer (left), Fifth Quarter Committee chair, and Mike Stanley, Elks National Foundation chair for the Van Wert Lodge. (Elks photo)

The funds come from a Promise Grant the lodge received from the Elks National Foundation. The grants are made available to local Elks lodges to provide drug- and alcohol-free events for youngsters.

The Fifth Quarter program is for middle school and high school students and events are held after all home football games. Middle school students gather at the YMCA and high school students gather at the S.F. Goedde Building.

Games are provided for the students, as well as pizza and a beverage. The students are provided with a safe place to meet with their friends in an alcohol- and drug-free environment, while volunteers are on hand to assist with games and to chaperone the students.

Van Wert Lodge is proud to be able to support this important program for the community youths.

POSTED: 09/16/17 at 8:23 am. FILED UNDER: Lifestyles, Youth

VW independent/submitted information

Buckeye Y Youth Inc. recently sent pre-registration forms to the Van Wert County elementary schools for distribution to students. The forms explain the programs and opportunities available to Buckeye Youth members.

Buckeye Youth is open to all youth ages 5 to 18, with activities for each age group, as well as events for all ages.

This past year, the boys and girls participated in many fun, educational, and volunteering activities. Buckeye Y Youth members had an Autumn Adventure Sleepover and went on a field trip to COSI in Columbus. The group also had summer camp and club meetings.

Members volunteered by Christmas caroling at the nursing homes, making Valentines for disabled veterans, and tray favors and cards for the hospital and nursing homes. The groups also sold chocolate bars and helped with a bake sale, and the Fountain Park food stand during a Fountain Park Summer Music Series concert.

Those interested in more information should fill out the form on the flyers sent home through the schools and return or mail them to the Buckeye Y Youth Inc. office, 147 E. Main St., Suite D, Van Wert, OH 45891.  There is a drop-off box outside of the north door to the office inside the complex. Those interested may also email their child’s name, school, grade, gender, and parent/guardian’s name, address, and phone number to, or call 419.238.3546 and leave a message.

Those doing so will receive an October/November newsletter with more information about club meeting times and events.

Buckeye Y Youth Inc. is a United Way agency, a Van Wert County Foundation grant recipient, and received donations from Wetzel Motorcycle Club.

POSTED: 09/09/17 at 8:01 am. FILED UNDER: Youth

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Lincolnview Local Schools will be hosting Rick Mann, a nationally known expert and speaker on Internet safety for students. Mann will be presenting to parents on Wednesday, September 20, at 7 p.m. and to junior high and high school students the next morning during school.

Rick Mann

Mann is an attorney who attended Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, and graduated from Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in education in 1968, and a law degree in 1970. He is admitted to practice before the United States District Court, Southern Division, and the Ohio Supreme Court.

He is a widely published author who served as primary state legal counsel for the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators for over 42 years. He is also a 30-year member of the National Education Law Association and has been listed in “Who’s Who in American Law” for over 25 years.

An educator himself, Mann has been a music director, college teacher, and coach of various sports. Along the way, he was also a soldier in the U.S. Army, serving as an officer in the Judge Advocate General branch.

Mann’s own history as a parent and a teacher, and later as legal counsel to school administrators, has made him passionate about the safety of students in changing times. His primary focus is on the dangers of accidental misuse of digital media and its associated pitfalls, including, but not limited to, social networks, cyber cheating, cyber bullying, sexting, sextortion, chat rooms, and dangerous apps.

His presentations to over 85,000 students emphasize helping students avoid becoming perpetrators or victims of exploitation in the Cyber World. His presentations to over 2,000 teachers and parents emphasize what they need to know about pre-teen and teen actions in the cyber world, the dangers created, and what they can and should do to safeguard their children. Mann stresses that the first line of defense is knowledge, and the end game for every student and parent is, “Think Before You Click”.

For more information, contact Lincolnview Principal Brad Mendenhall at or call the school office at 419.968.2214.

POSTED: 09/01/17 at 7:25 am. FILED UNDER: News, Youth

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Calvary K’Motion (Kids In Motion) is gearing up for another season of mid-week programming for preschoolers and elementary kids.

From September 6 through May 16, 6:30-7:45 p.m. weekly, kids from the community are invited to be a part of Calvary’s K’Motion, where each month a new theme challenges kids to apply Bible lessons to their everyday lives.

Every week, boys and girls will hear a Bible story through interactive teaching; will experience worship through high energy music and movement; will take the lesson to a new level through a creative, fun activity; and will connect to their peers and small group leaders through conversation and prayer.

Parents are asked to walk their children into the church and check them in to ensure safety.

Calvary is located at 10686 Van Wert-Decatur Road in Van Wert. For more information, contact Children’s Ministry Director Carrie Pauquette at or visit

POSTED: 08/23/17 at 7:09 am. FILED UNDER: Church, Youth

VW independent/submitted information

On Tuesday, the Van Wert County Foundation (VWCF) hosted its annual scholarship celebration. This event was held at Wassenberg Art Center to recognize recent student scholarship recipients’ accomplishments and provide an opportunity for them to connect with VWCF Board of Trustee members, staff, and community business leaders.

Van Wert County Foundation scholarship recipients are recognized at an event held Tuesday at Wassenberg Art Center. (photo submitted)

Several recipients took this opportunity to learn about the donor fund associated with their scholarship.  Many felt it was important to know the person or family who established the fund and is assisting in their education and future.

The Van Wert County Foundation awards annual scholarships through an application and review process. For 2017, 241 recipients received a combined total of $803,985 provided through 83 funds established for scholarship purposes.

The Van Wert County Foundation, a nonprofit community trust serving Van Wert County and surrounding area, inspires philanthropy and mobilizes resources to enrich lives and the community. VWCF is a permanent local resource that facilitated over $2.3 million in charitable giving last year.

For more information about The Van Wert County Foundation scholarship program or how to establish a scholarship fund, call Executive Secretary Seth Baker at 419.238.1743 or email

POSTED: 08/02/17 at 9:26 pm. FILED UNDER: Youth