‘A Great Morning’

Southwestern Reports Successful STEM Wars

The Southwestern Central School held its first elementary STEM Wars event last week. Superintendent Maureen Donahue told board of education members about the event’s success. The board also reviewed initial budget proposals for the transportation and buildings and grounds departments. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

While students from the Southwestern Central School District have often participated in local STEM Wars events, those in the elementary school received their first taste last week.

Superintendent Maureen Donahue reported to the Board of Education on Tuesday that the STEM Wars (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) event was successful.

“We had our first annual elementary STEM Wars. Thank you to Matt Langworthy (elementary school principal) and Shannon Sauder (district tech integrator). They did a phenomenal job,” Donahue told board members.

Held on Feb. 6, Southwestern hosted five other school districts including Chautauqua Lake, Falconer, Frewsburg, Bemus Point and Panama.

At the middle school and high school level, Southwestern students have been participating in local STEM Wars events for several years. This year’s event served as Southwestern Elementary School’s first hands-on introduction to the competition event that is based around STEM education.

“Matt and Shannon have taken a group of kids every year to STEM Wars and the kids finally said last year, ‘Listen, we don’t want to come over here and watch. We want to do this in our own school,'” Donahue said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Groups from each elementary school participated in competitions including categories such as robotics, catapult and marble runs. A maker fair was also available for students when they weren’t competing that featured other activities for students to test their STEM knowledge. Much of the event was held inside Southwestern’s Makerspace multi-purpose room.

According to district officials, Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel was in attendance and provided opening remarks to kick off the first ever elementary STEM Wars at Southwestern.

Clark Patterson Lee sponsored the event while the Audubon Society and WNY P-TECH were on hand to engage the kids with displays and activities. Guest judges from the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua Lake Association, Jamestown Community College, Falconer Printing, the Stark Tech Group and Cummins were present.

“It was just a great morning,” Donahue said. “We’re just thankful. We anticipate hosting it next year.”

In other news, the board discussed the initial transportation and buildings and grounds budget proposal for the 2020-21 school year.

John Spacht, Southwestern transportation supervisor, recommended to the board that the district purchase three 66-passenger buses and one 35-passenger bus while trading/selling three 65-passenger buses and one 14-passenger bus for the 2020-21 school year.

Spacht and Donahue said an emphasis has been placed on keeping newer buses and vehicles that are within warranty in the district fleet. By purchasing, trading and selling vehicles on a yearly rotation, the the district is able to reach its goal while saving money on avoiding major repairs on older vehicles.

During the transportation presentation, it was noted that members of the transportation department are driving students to locations in Cassadaga, Falconer, Ashville, Fredonia, Chautauqua, Randolph, Jamestown, Kennedy and Buffalo. In total, there are 11 sites that district drivers are visiting each day.

“It’s difficult to not replace those vehicles when you’re driving them every day,” Spacht said.


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