Western Wayne Receives 7,000 Grant for Word Generation Program

Debates about banning rap music in school, using animals in cosmetics testing, and deciding who should pay for damage from a natural disaster are all topics that sixth grade students are discussing on a weekly basis as a part of a new cross-curricular program called Word Generation.

Last school year, Western Wayne Middle School Principal Kristen Donohue applied for a grant for Word Generation from the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) and got it. Donohue first heard of the program from Mary Lou Heron from the local NEIU 19 unit.

Word Generation is a cross-curricular program that has elements that are building wide. Each week, teachers introduce their students to five new words that relate to a specific debatable topic like the use of dress codes in schools. Students study these terms in their English language arts, science, and history classes.

The ELA teacher introduces the students to the words and then students apply them in their other courses throughout the week. As a culminating activity at the end of the week, students write a brief open-ended response piece where they have to use the new vocabulary correctly in the context of their writing.

“This program seemed to fall in line with things we were already talking about wanting to do to improve learning at our Middle School,” Donohue said. “We had already been in discussions about finding ways to do more cross-curricular activities. Word Generation has lent itself to be the avenue in which we are able to have even more of those conversations.”

Recently Mary Lou Heron from NEIU 19 and Mary Ann Dudak from PaTTAN came to observe Western Wayne’s use of Word Generation.

After seeing Western Wayne’s commitment to the program in their classrooms, morning announcements, and hallway displays, PaTTAN awarded Western Wayne a $7,000 grant to use toward their continuing work with Word Generation.

Donohue explained how the money will go towards the purchase of materials for the program and to pay for more training for Word Generation teachers.

This past December Donohue, Burke, and ELA teachers Grace Piconi and Jennifer Baldassari gave a presentation about their efforts in Word Generation at a training session at PaTTAN.

The Western Wayne team discussed how they are tailoring Word Generation lessons to their individual student needs and how they are working to make the lessons as high interest as possible to lead to meaningful classroom debates with the new words.

“I am proud of how our teachers presented at the session and of all of the work they are doing with Word Generation in their classrooms,” Donohue said. “I am also proud of the work our students are doing with this program.”


From left: Western Wayne Middle School Principal Kristen Donohue, Seth Dedonis, Ayden Connolly, Peyton Cook, Isis Christian, Gino Alcantara, and Dylan Davitt.

R.D. Wilson and Middle School Host Benjamin Franklin Assembly

Western Wayne elementary and middle school students were treated to an educational and extremely entertaining presentation about and “given by” Benjamin Franklin himself on Wednesday, Nov. 1. Elementary students at R.D. Wilson were treated to the presentation in the morning while students in the middle school enjoyed it in the afternoon in the newly renovated and recently dedicated Western Wayne Veterans Memorial Auditorium. The Wayne County Community Foundation made this presentation possible through a grant.

The Foundation has many programs and seeks proposals from organizations to secure grants that are meant to support efforts to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Wayne County.   A variety of programs received almost $ 40,000 from the foundation grants that were awarded in the last fiscal year.

In 1997 the Estate of Benjamin Franklin awarded $ 20,000 to the Wayne County Community Foundation.  The amazing vision of Mr. Franklin in realizing community organizations would exist more than 200 years after his passing, exhibits the man’s extraordinary vision.

The members of the Wayne County Community Foundation were glad students in Western Wayne’s R. D. Wilson Elementary School and the Western Wayne Middle School could experience a presentation about the life and accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin performed by professional actor Brian Patrick Mulligan.

Mulligan has been performing as Benjamin Franklin for over 25 years and his vast experience has proven to be an inspiration to all who have had the opportunity to witness his presentations.  He has an extensive repertoire of events and many characters that he portrays.

Mulligan entertained and educated the students dressed in a period appropriate costume. The program was very interactive with Mulligan discussing many historical facts from Franklin’s life. A number of students had the opportunity to act out scenes to help the group learn about this rich history. There was a scene about the functioning of the printing press and another about kite flying among others.

The Western Wayne School District is very grateful to The Wayne County Community Foundation for providing their students with this educational opportunity. The Foundation also provided this same program to students from the Wayne Highlands School District, Forest City Regional School District, Wallenpaupack School District, and Canaan Christian Academy.

From left: Mr. Josh Rowe, middle school teacher; Benjamin Franklin played by Mulligan; and Josh Mahnke, 8th grade, who got to play a role in one of the skits from the presentation

Western Wayne Celebrates Red Ribbon Week

Lead by example.  Be helpful to someone.  Nice is free.  Pay it forward.  This is a no bullying zone.

Students at the Western Wayne Middle School went on a hunt to find lids with these powerful words on them hidden throughout their school for just one of many activities in honor of Red Ribbon Week, which is observed from October 23 through October 31 each year.

Red Ribbon Week is a United States initiative for the education and prevention of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol abuse.  Both students in Western Wayne’s Middle and High Schools participated in a variety of events to celebrate Red Ribbon Week.

They included wearing red ribbons to symbolize  being drug and alcohol free, wearing black and gold to show school pride for making positive choices, wearing mismatched socks to spread the message of “socking it to drugs”, and wearing boots to show the idea of “giving the boot to drugs.”

These different dress days were done throughout the week in both middle and high schools.  Prizes were given for homerooms who had the most participants among other activities to earn rewards.

The two schools also set aside October 24 to commemorate the life of Rachel Scott and celebrate Rachel’s Challenge.  Rachel’s Challenge is a national program that promotes acts of kindness in memory of Rachel Joy Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine High School shooting.  Participating Western Wayne students wore orange on this day to pledge that they will always try to treat others with kindness just like Rachel did.

The CATS (Community Attitude Toward Success) Club lead this kindness and positive choices initiative in the middle school.  The group’s advisor is Western Wayne Middle School Guidance Counselor Lisa Jacques.

One project that  CATS Club members did this year was to work to cut out positive sayings to put on plastic lids that teachers hid throughout the middle school for students to find and turn in for prizes.

As students found the lids they put them up for display on a board in the cafeteria with the words reduce, reuse, and recycle on it.  The board was an effort to promote the idea of spreading a positive, drug-free atmosphere in the middle school along with encouraging students to treat their environment with kindness.

Western Wayne Middle School CATS Club members pose in front of the lid display in honor of Red Ribbon Week.  From left:  Mary Jane Gilligan, Halle Smith, William Dwyer, Josh Mahnke, Zoey Goldman, Sami Sharp, and Emma Gilligan.