Tag Archives: L.A. Ainger Middle School

Englewood Rotaries to start school clubs

Englewood Rotary Clubs are working with local schools to introduce students to the world of the Rotary.

The Rotary Club of Placida will be working with Vineland Elementary School, Rotary Club of Englewood with L.A. Ainger Middle School, and Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Club with Englewood Elementary School. The three Rotary Clubs work together on the existing Interact program at Lemon Bay High School.

“It’s going to be an after-school service,” said Mark Grossenbacher, Englewood Elementary principal and a Rotarian. “The club is teaching the components of the Rotary — truth, fairness, goodwill, being a benefit to all.”

Grossenbacher said he estimates 20 students, which is a typical size of a club, may get involved with RotoKids. Membership is not limited.

“We’re doing the groundwork for it now,” said Ray LaBadie, past president of LBSRC. “Interact is for high and middle school. Roto-Kids are for fourth- and fifth-graders.”

LaBadie said the programs are designed to acclimate students to the Rotary.

“Rotary stands for service above self,” he said. “RotoKids is new to Rotary International. We’ve very excited about bringing in younger kids and teaching them about the Rotary.”

Lori Wellbaum-Emery, president of the RCE, said the programs at the schools should get started within the next month.

“Once (the students) get started (on a project), they become autonomous,” she said. “Roto-Kids tend to do environmental projects. Interact kids will decide whatever project they want to do local or international.”

Wellbaum-Emery said LBHS students last year compiled shelter boxes for victims of disasters, filling them with survival supplies.

Joe Mason, assistant governor of RCE, said Englewood Elementary students are collecting bottle caps for a recycling center that makes benches out of the recycled material.

“I call it a mustard seed program,” Mason said. “It starts out very small, then it starts blossoming. It’s important to get them involved in the community right now rather than just playing video games and going to the beach.”


Time off for good behavior

ROTONDA —Students who gathered in the cafeteria at L.A. Ainger Middle School were in for a treat Friday morning, as school staff provided a pancake breakfast at a Positive Behavior Intervention Support assembly. “(PBIS) is not only a statewide, but … Continue reading


Ainger donates $500 to EACF

SUN PHOTO BY TOM CHANG L.A. Ainger Assistant Principal Matt Whelden presents a check to Lou Long, president of the Englewood Area Cancer Foundation for $500 Friday raised from the Valentine’s Day “Think Pink” Dance held at the school.


Ainger STEM students grow mutant pumpkins

ENGLEWOOD — Students Kyle Frost, Romeo Ortiz, Corey Huntley and Chris Szoke might either be future mad scientists or agricultural pioneers after growing three giant pumpkins for Natalia Shea’s STEM class at L.A. Ainger Middle School. STEM is a hybrid … Continue reading


Embracing jazz at all ages

ENGLEWOOD — Tim Ostrow, band director at L.A. Ainger Middle School, had 80 students this school year who wanted to be in the jazz band and only 24 spots. “(Jazz) is a big hit with the kids,” said Ostrow, who … Continue reading


Ainger student places first at state science fair

SUN PHOTO BY TOM CHANG L.A. Ainger Middle School students Sarah Lown, Eleanor Keys and Kelsey Hansen participated in the 58th State Science and Engineering Fair of Florida March 26-28. Keys won first place in Junior Division botany.

ENGLEWOOD — Winning first place in Junior Division botany at the 58th State Science and Engineering Fair hasn’t sunk in for Eleanor Keys.

She is one of three state participants who attend L.A. Ainger Middle School. Others include Kelsey Hansen and Sarah Lown.

“Ever since I got back into the car, I’m like, ‘Did I really just do that?’” Eleanor said.

Eleanor’s agriculture project is based on Dr. Maynard Murray’s book “Sea Energy Agriculture.” She also took first-place honors at the Thomas Edison Regional Science Fair.

Her project involved growing tomato plants from seed using different watering solutions including sea water. It was titled “The Relative Impact of Ocean Solution as a Watering Medium for Plants and Its Implements of Mineral Content of the Fruit.”

“I read Murray’s book and all the tests he conducted in the 1950s had a 100 percent success rate,” Eleanor said.

The media she tested included deep ocean water (she acquired it online), household water from the tap, sea water from Boca Grande and Miracle Gro fertilizer.

“My hypothesis was that deep ocean water would produce the highest amount of tomatoes as well as the highest mineral content, because it contains 90 of the 92 natural elements,” Keys said. “What I found was that the seawater plants produced an average of 70 tomatoes compared to 45 of the deep ocean water, 17 for the household water and 14 for the fertilizer. I tested this for 133 days which is approximately 19 weeks.”

The purpose for her project, she said, was to prove how invaluable seawater can be in developing countries for agriculture.

“There are millions of starving people around the world and the farmers in these countries are suffering,” Eleanor said. “They can easily get access to the seawater around their countries and it’s abundant. Instead of importing fertilizers into their countries, they can use the seawater if they dilute it to 1:100 ratio and if they put it on their plants, it produces bigger crops. Their crops grow more quickly and which in turn, saves lives. It feeds more people. These also have a higher mineral content which is better for consuming.”

Only high school students compete at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix in May, Eleanor said.

Port Charlotte High School student Angelique Noles, who placed fourth in Senior Division botany, will be presenting her research at the International Science Fair.

Eleanor said she hopes to study law and natural science at Harvard or be an entrepreneur.

Kelsey won third place overall and first place in animal sciences for her project, “Painting Dolphins” at the Thomas Edison Regional Science Fair.

She explored human and dolphin communication through painting. The project took three months of study and research with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

“My goal would be to go to Cornell University to major in animal training and animal psychology,” Kelsey said.

Sarah won first place in environmental sciences at the Thomas Edison Regional Science Fair.

She studied the carbon dioxide intake from weeds and trees.

“It was a continuation project from two years ago when I tested carbon dioxide intake between five different trees,” Sarah said. “I was in contact with an Australian scientist who was working on something similar on a grand scale.”

Sarah hopes to be a teacher and is looking at Eckerd College or Florida Gulf Coast University after high school.



Introducing Englewood’s Iron Man

Daniel Lopez

L.A. Ainger Middle School student Daniel Lopez invented the Robotic Exoskeleton Shoulders and Arm (REXSA) after seeing the film “Iron Man.” With mentoring from Engineering Society of Naples, he will present in front of Gator Cage, an angel investment group.

ROTONDA WEST — Eighth-grader Daniel Lopez may not have the vast resources of Tony Stark, the Marvel Comics superhero who saved the world in “Iron Man,” but he may be just as creative.

Daniel’s robot won him first place for eighth-graders and middle schoolers overall at the Thomas Alva Edison Kiwanis Science and Engineering Regional Fair in early February.

Now the Rotonda West teen has the opportunity to present his invention, the Robotic Exoskeleton Shoulders and Arm, or REXSA, to an angel investment group.

With mentoring from the Entrepreneur Society of Naples, Daniel hopes to show REXSA to the investor group Gator Cage later this spring or summer.

“The movie ‘Iron Man’ was my inspiration,” said Daniel, 14. “I saw the suit and I wanted to build one of those.”

The robot is built using parts from Vex Robotics, a provider of educational robotics products to middle and high schools and colleges and used to teach science, technology, engineering and math, according to vexrobotics.com.

The robot is mounted across Lopez’s shoulders with Velcro straps attached from top to bottom on the front side. The right arm is affixed with an adjustable claw that has enough pressure to hold a water bottle and can exert enough force to press buttons.

“This is the first design,” said Daniel, an L.A. Ainger Middle School student. “I plan to build the second version of it within the next couple months.”

Andy Green, an Ainger science teacher, helped Daniel with his invention.

“He’s a special young man,” Green said. “He’s a really inventive person.”

Green praised Daniel’s resourcefulness in building this and other original designs.

“He built a model airplane from scratch,” she said. “It’s the same with his REXSA project. He found a program online to help with the design and he was able to program it. It’s pretty incredible.”

The Entrepreneur Society of Naples is mentoring Daniel and he plans to present the robot to them on March 13. They will prep him for a meeting later in the summer with Gator Cage.

Daniel said he wants the robot “to be completely autonomous.”

The final product will be a full body suit with a microcomputer for processing and will run off of a motorcycle battery, he said.

“It’s not going to be gasoline (powered),” he said. “It’s going to be full electric and I expect it to have a full battery life of 45 minutes.”

The current model runs on a 7.2 volt battery, which is ideal for the “small little battle robots,” Daniel said.

After he finishes high school, Daniel said he plans to go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and be an aeronautical engineer. He hopes to start his own technology company and work in the fields of medicine and nanotechnology.

But first he has to finish middle school.

Daniel’s more immediate plans are to attend the EnergyWhiz Olympics at the Florida Energy Center May 4.

Ainger student’s essay ranks 33rd out of 140 000

Elearnor Keys

Eleanor Keys

ENGLEWOOD — Veterans of Foreign Wars is honoring L.A. Ainger Middle School student Eleanor Keys, who ranked first in Florida for the Patriot’s Pen essay competition, with another accolade — $500 for ranking 33rd nationally.

The writing contest asked the question, “What would I tell the founding fathers?”

Eleanor spent 30 hours researching the founding fathers.

Here’s an excerpt from the essay:

“Although America has made its own mistakes over the years, and seen and experienced its fair share of war, poverty, political divisions and acts of slavery, the fundamental principles have always survived and remained true. And as time progresses, these principles…have brought both challenges and great changes that have united a country with its people.”

The essay touched on themes of adversity, principles and perseverance.

“It’s a great honor to be awarded,” Eleanor said. “I’m putting (the money) into a savings account for college.”

The Keys family celebrated the state honors at a ceremony in Orlando.

“I think it is tremendous Eleanor won first place in the state,” said Darryl Keys, her father. “We learned (Wednesday) that as Florida’s representative, she placed 33rd nationally, which is remarkable considering she was one of 140,000 entries nationally.”

Roger Luedtke, VFW Post Commander 10476 in Rotonda, was present at the ceremony.

“It’s terrific to see a bright young lady with such an honor,” Luedtke said. “We submitted three (essays) to our district. Our post never had such a participant before. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment with 92 entries (to our post).”

Eleanor’s older sister, Katie, who attends Lemon Bay High School, sang the national anthem at the ceremony.

“(Eleanor’s) essay clearly answered the question and articulated it very well,” Luedtke said. “She nailed it. It speaks well for the school, parents and her teacher. ”


A Christmas wish comes true

Shayne Brooks, Garrett and Deborah Legan

SUN PHOTO BY TOM CHANG U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Shayne Brooks, left, his brother, Garrett Legan, 11, and their mother, Deborah Legan, share a hug after Shayne surprised Garrett at L. A. Ainger Middle School Tuesday after being away for four years.

ENGLEWOOD — All that sixth-grader Garrett Legan wanted for Christmas was to see his big brother, Air Force Senior Airman Shayne Brooks, again.

On Tuesday at L.A. Ainger Middle School, he got his wish. The last time the 11-year-old saw his brother was four years ago.

“I found out about this around last Thursday,” said Joan Mangone, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Ainger. “We told the kids that I was getting an award.”

Shayne and Garrett’s mother, Deborah Legan, organized efforts to set up the reunion with the school.

Prior to the reunion, Ainger was on a minimal lockdown following the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown, Conn., on Friday. The visit brought some serenity back to the front office staff.

Deborah snuck Shayne in the night before without Garrett noticing.

“It feels special,” Deborah said. “We need to get Garrett through finals and we’re going to be spending a lot of time together.”

Deborah found out a month ago that Brooks was saving up money for the trip home.

“He bought his ticket about two weeks ago,” she said. “We called the school to ask permission for Shayne to come in during Ms. Mangone’s class. Before I knew it, the attention grew to the point where I got a call from Ms. (Marcia) Louden, the principal, for pictures of the boys and TV media started calling me. Everyone was looking for a feel-good story.”

Brooks, who was stationed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany before taking leave, is an Ainger and Lemon Bay High School alumnus. He attended Ainger from 2001 to 2003.

Brooks said he wasn’t sure he would be able to come home for the holidays, but he optimistically put in a leave request anyway.

“Sometimes it’s harder to get out if you’re lower ranking,” Brooks said. “They said, ‘Sure, nobody is going anywhere.’ So it was accepted when it was put in.”    The brothers love to play sports, Deborah said. Brooks tore his ACL playing soccer and will have surgery when he gets back to Germany on Jan. 8.

“He loves the normalcy of being home and having family dinners,” Deborah said. “He loves having his relatives over. I feel blessed I get to have my boys over for Christmas while others might not.”

Brooks left to serve in the Air Force when Garrett was 8 years old. Garrett really admires what his brother has done for his country, the family said.

Brooks said that when he arrived at the airport in the U.S., it was as much culture shock to come back home as when he was deployed.

“To see familiar faces and see your family again, it regrounds you,” Brooks said. He and his brother have “very similar interests. I’m learning more about his artistic side since he’s been into it when I left. He draws and stuff like that.”

Brooks is focusing on what Garrett wants to do in his leave.

“If he brings it up, we’ll do it,” Brooks said. “Last time I was home, we went fishing. I brought some handmade German stuff (this time) and some cultural stuff. He’s very interested in the military lifestyle.”

Nothing has been discussed about Garrett’s future in regard to serving. Brooks said he didn’t make his decision until he was 19.

“The thing I missed most about leaving was my family,” Brooks said. “It’s much better being here than talking to them over Skype.”

Student voters learn to have an opinion

Lemon Bay High School on Election 2012

A few students in Marty Blair’s senior civics class at Lemon Bay High School are eligible to vote today. They include Taylor Katsarelas, Justin Zepf, David Lenard, Katie Scott, Jenny Morehouse, Tim Holloway, and Kyler Constantine.

ENGLEWOOD — Schools are using the 2012 election as a learning tool about civic duty.

Vineland Elementary and L.A. Ainger Middle school students voted in recent mock elections after spending much of the semester learning about the presidential candidates.

‘The children are talking to their parents more compared to before’ said Heidi Adams, who coordinated the mock election at Vineland. Adams said the idea for the mock election may have been inspired by the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest.

‘Supervisor of Elections Paul Stamoulis came in a few weeks ago and did a presentation with the fifth graders on how their vote counts,’ said fifth-grade teacher Michele Meservey.

Students filled out paper ballots after registering. Barack Obama won 62-61.

Students used laptops to vote online at http://www.floridastudentmockelection.com/.

‘We decided as a department that we needed to get the students engaged in the election especially in a presidential year, combined with the fact that this is the first year of teaching civics in seventh grade here in Charlotte County,’ said Tina Wood, a civics teacher at Ainger. ‘So we came up with a plan of action then we’ve been going through it the past few weeks. We decided before we can have the students vote, we wanted to put them through the campaign.’

Students were randomly selected into groups. Each group campaigned for a candidate.

‘They have to research that candidate and report out to the class,’ Wood said. ‘We’ve also been presenting bipartisan information to the students. We don’t share our views. The kids ask us who are we voting for. We don’t share that, because we like to play devil’s advocate.’

Wood said the class had a lot of Socratic-style, open-forum discussions where students didn’t raise their hands, feeding off of each other as the discussion progressed. Some of the topics included gas prices and the economy. Bullying came out as a major issue for students.

‘(Bullying) is a big deal to us,’ said Dave Quackenbush, an assistant principal at Ainger. ‘This component of the election — it’s a hot topic in the media. What we want to see is kids step up when they recognize when bullying is happening.’

Students were encouraged to research candidates through the debates and newspaper.

‘I don’t want them to just read,’ Wood said. ‘I want them to be able to summarize and come up with an opinion. I kind of challenge their opinion and they (have to be) able to defend it.’

Obama won slightly more decisively in L.A. Ainger’s mock election, 221-213.

Lemon Bay High School did not have a mock election this year, but Stamoulis registered new voters in September.

Marty Blair, a civics teacher at Lemon Bay High School, said students were very involved in the presidential debates in their class discussions and analysis.

‘There’s been a lot of excitement,’ Blair said. ‘I’ve been very pleased with the fact that students have been that interested. They just continue to build each time you give them something. In the end, they feel confident. They feel like, ‘Yes, I can make a decision.”

About 10 to 20 students are eligible to vote in her classes, Blair said. She said she’s confident even those not old enough to vote will make informed decisions in the future with what they take away from her classes, which were focused locally as much as nationally.

Seniors Jenny Morehouse and Justin Zepf are eligible to vote in the election.

‘It was a big choice we had to make,’ Morehouse said. ‘We finally got to make it on our own.’

‘For me, it was a scary experience,’ Zepf said. ‘I actually went into the (voting) place instead of getting it to the mail. As you walk in, you get all these people trying to change your opinions.’

Both said they felt pressure from their more politically-minded friends.

‘Everybody has their own opinion, but I just watched the debates and made the decision which candidate would be the best for my future as a young adult,’ Morehouse said. ‘I learned a lot in Ms. Blair’s class. I learned things about government I never learned before.’

L.A. Ainger Middle School on Election 2012

Right: Samantha Bibens and Adriana Basile register to vote at L.A. Ainger Middle School’s mock election. The final tally had President Obama winning 221-213 over Gov. Mitt Romney.

Vineland Elementary School on Election 2012

Ayden Penney, Amya Paige and Jessica Dalton sign up to vote in a mock election at Vineland Elementary in Englewood. The final tally for the mock election had President Barack Obama edging out Gov. Mitt Romney in a 62-61 decision with a single blank ballot.