Lisa Mansfield of Akron Public Schools talks to Ray Horner about making the sidewalks a more safe place for children walking to school.

Published in Local

Soccer playing robots stole the show Saturday at Firestone High School.

The high school hosted the 5th annual Middle School Robotics competition, where students spent the day building robots to play in elimination soccer matches against each other.

Dan Spak, Firestone High School teacher and director of Project Lead the Way, organizes the annual event and has seen it grow over the years.

"When we started this five years ago, we had 8 teams, 3 schools.  Now we have 7 schools and 19 teams.  It's huge," says Spak.

This year's competition focused on getting girls involved in engineering.  The group worked with Women in Engineering to help formulate the teams. 

The effect of the event on its participants is evident in high school freshman Vi Truong, who participated in the event last year.

"I was never really into engineering because I thought it was so male-dominated," says Truong, who now has a goal to work in aerospace engineering.  "After I went to this event last year, it really changed my perspective of that."

Project Lead the Way, a national organization founded in 1997, works to prepare and engage high school students for careers in engineering.  Firestone's chapter of Project Lead the Way, started in 2003, organized the event.

In 2012, the school was listed as a model school in Ohio for Project Lead the Way.  

Spak is proud and enthusiastic of the organization's success in Akron.  He's got the numbers to prove it, too.

"To date, I've graduated my first graduating class in 2007," says Spak. "As of today, I have 64 confirmed engineers based on this program."

Published in Local
Friday, 14 November 2014 09:59

AUDIO: APS Board Members Talk 5 of 8 Rule

Akron School Board President Lisa Mansfield and board member Bruce Alexander spoke with WAKR's Ray Horner and morning news anchor Chris Keppler about the 5 of 8 rule, which has been a big topic of conversation as of late.

There is currently a proposal to eliminate  the mandatory staffing levels for school districts to hire five full-time teachers for eight different areas, such as physical education teachers, art teachers, and music teachers, for every 1,000 students.

Both Mansfield and Alexander attended the Capital Conference in Columbus  earlier Tuesday with various other school board members and superintendents who came together to discuss the 5 of 8 rule, among other items.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
Thursday, 23 October 2014 18:14

Akron Schools Give Ebola Situation A Visual

Numbers about the Ebola situation in Summit County are easy to find, but the Akron Public Schools are making those numbers easier to understand.

APS deputy superintendent Ellen McWilliams and head of elementary education Mary Kelly sketched out a "teaching tool" of concentric circles.

APS communications director Mark Williamson says it was made into a graphic that shows in visual terms how the Ebola situation in Akron affects the area and the schools.

"Exactly how many people, what state they're in in terms whether they're being monitored, whether the health department knows about them," Williamson explains, "are they part of our school system, do they live in the county."

Williamson says the graphic is much easier to grasp than a lengthy, wordy document.

"We need some teaching tool for this, which is what teachers do," Williamson says. "They think of ways to convey concepts and ideas without having to write 700 words in a document."

The Akron district has a section with Ebola information on its website.

Published in Local
Tuesday, 21 October 2014 14:00

AUDIO: North Closes Successful Soccer Season

Michael Keane, the North High Boys Soccer Coach, spoke with WAKR's Ray Horner Tuesday afternoon.

The Vikings won their first playoff soccer match against Benedictine recently. It was their first playoff victory in nine years, and despite being eliminated from the playoffs, Keane praised his team's work ethic and dedication throughout the season.

He also spoke about the many international students that make up the team, and he said that no matter if their first language was English, or something else, the universal language was teamwork throughout the season.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER

Akron Children's Hospital will be offering flu shots this week to a number of Akron area schools.

ACH is partnering with the organization Health Heroes to provide the vaccine to children, with parental consent, regardless of their health insurance coverage. Teachers and staff will also be offered the vaccine.

The participating schools are as follows:

Akron Public Schools
Akros Middle School
Coventry Local Schools
Edge Academy
Field Local Schools
Nordonia Hills City Schools
North Canton City Schools
Rootstown Schools
Walsh Jesuit High School
Woodridge Local Schools
Wooster City Schools
UDS Steel Academy

"This is a win-win for everyone," says Michele Wilmoth, director of School Health Services for Akron Children's, "We can save parents a trip to the doctor and keep kids in class. If we get more kids immunized, we can reduce the risk of influenza in our schools and communities and we can especially reduce the risk for our more vulnerable children, such as those with chronic health conditions."

State licensed nurses will give the vaccine, which will be available by both traditional injection and the pain free FluMist nasal spray. The vaccines are provided at no cost to students, parents, schools or local/state government.

Published in Local
Friday, 17 October 2014 07:54

AUDIO: Akron Continuing To Address Ebola

Dr. Margo Erme, Medical Director for Summit County Public Health addressed Ebola victim Amber Vinson's time in Akron, including her visit to the bridal shop. Dr. Erme says that the CDC and Summit County Public Health are still looking into new information into Vinson's whereabouts when she was in Ohio, including talking to family and friends, along with Vinson herself down the line.


Mark Williamson, the Spokesperson for the Akron Public Schools spoke with WAKR's Jasen Sokol Friday morning about the closing of Resnick CLC in Akron.

Superintendent David James said Thursday in a news conference the school will be closed Friday and throughout the weekend. The APS learned through the Akron Summit County Health Department that the mother of a Resnick student had spent time with Ebola victim Amber Vinson during her time in Ohio. Both the parent and the child are in quarantine at this time.

Dr. Terry O' Sullivan University Of Akron spoke about the overall response to the Ebola situation from health authorities in Summit County.

He says they've been doing a good job of attempting to calm people's fears about the disease and taking necessary precautions to ensure the public's safety.

Dr. O' Sullivan, like others, have emphasized there has been no diagnosed cases in Ohio at this time.


 Dr. Shanu Agarwal, Infectious Disease Physician from Summa Health Systems spoke about if Akron hospitals including Summa, have an Ebola protocol in place in case of a diagnosis in Akron, Summit County, and the surrounding area.



Published in WAKR RAY HORNER

About 20 parents and community members gathered at Firestone High School Thursday, asking about the closure of Resnik Community Learning Center through the weekend.

Akron Public Schools decided to close and clean the school after learning that the mother of a student had spent time with Amber Vinson - both mother and child are quarantined.

Akron school superintendent David James told the town hall that closing Resnik was done out of extreme caution...even though the student did not have contact with Vinson.

"We wanted to really be proactive in this," James said, "and really try to mitigate a much larger emergency, where kids are absent from school because of fear."

In addition to questions about Ebola, how it affects the schools, Akron and in general, some parents wanted to know what grade the student is in....that information wasn't offered. James cited privacy concerns.

Melinda Hicks, parent of four Resnik students, says she's disappointed with that, but says she's not concerned unless the situation changes.

"I'm more concerned about the fact that if symptomatics come with the other people that are currently being quarantined and one of those was the children," Hicks tells, "then I would become more concerned at that point."

Superintendent James says Resnik will open on Monday.

Published in Local
Thursday, 16 October 2014 14:13

UPDATE Resnick CLC Closed Over Ebola Link

UPDATED 2:13 p.m. An Akron school is being closed through the weekend for cleaning after notification from the Akron Summit County Public Health Department that the mother of a student is among those who "spent time" with Ebola patient Amber Vinson.

Resnick Community Learning Center, an elementary school, will reopen Monday, October 20th.

Superintendent David James noted in a letter to parents the student did not hae contact but both mother and child have been quarantined as a precaution. James has scheduled a public meeting for 7:30 p.m. at Firestone High School's auditorium this evening to answer specific questions relating to the school district and Resnick CLC. There are no plans to close any other Akron schools at this time, the District reported.

The Summit County Health Department responded there was no "known threat" and the decision was not a public health decision but supported Akron Public Schools. The Health Department also noted a list of items parents needed to know, including children are not at risk for attending school in Summit County and the virus isn't contagious but requires contact with bodily fluids. A list of the points is included below.

In addition, FirstEnergy reported one employee had direct contact with Vinson over the weekend and another "self-identified" as having contact. Neither had interaction with the public, the Akron-based utility says, but both were put on 21-day leave as a precaution.

- - -

(Summit County Health Department) At this time based on the information collected by Summit County Public Health there is no known threat to the public's health. Summit County Public Health is not advocating for the closure of schools and the cancellation of events. However, Summit County Public Health supports Akron Public Schools and their decision based on their assessment of the situation. 

Summit County Public Health has released a list of the top things parents need to know about Ebola.

1. Your child is not at risk while attending school in Summit County. A risk for Ebola only comes when you come into close contact with a person suffering from Ebola. The health care worker who passed through Summit County did not visit any county schools.

2. Being near someone who is sick with Ebola doesn't mean you'll get infected. The disease isn't contagious like the flu or common cold. You have to be in contact with a patient's body fluids or blood, and you have to have a break in your skin or have the fluids touch your eyes, mouth or nose. 

3. Ebola does not live long on surfaces or outside someone's body. Soaps, detergents and hand sanitizers are effective at killing the virus. Keeping your area clean and washing your hands will help prevent infections. 

4. You and your children are really only at risk if you have traveled to West Africa, where Ebola is currently spreading. 

5. There are currently no known cases of Ebola in Summit County or Ohio.

- - -

(Akron Public Schools) As an extreme, precautionary measure, and due to the Summit County Health Department notifying us of the quarantining of a parent and child from Resnik CLC, Akron Public Schools has made the decision to close Resnik until Monday, October 20.

The health department informed APS this morning that a parent at the school had spent time with Ebola patient Amber Vinson when she visited the area this past weekend. Her child did NOT have contact with Ms. Vinson but has been quarantined as a precaution, with the mother and is being monitored by the health department.

As an extra precaution, we will perform a thorough cleaning prior to its reopening. The Summit County Public Health Department has given us no indication of anyone else within the APS district having had contact with Ms. Vinson. Therefore, we have no plans to close any other schools at this time.

Please be advised, tonight at 7:30 at Firestone High School auditorium, Superintendent David James will be available to answer questions regarding Resnik CLC.

For more information, you may call the APS Hotline between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 330-761-1661 or the Summit County Health Department Hotline at 330-926-3939. You may also go to the APS website and the health department site

We will continue to give this our full attention.
David W. James
Akron Public Schools

(FirstEnergy Corp) FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) learned on Wednesday, October 15, that the second nurse who helped care for the Ebola victim in Dallas – and was later diagnosed with the virus – visited with one Akron-area employee of the company during her stay in Northeast Ohio. The employee was notified by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). A second employee has self-identified as possibly having contact.

These two employees do not have direct contact with FirstEnergy's customers. Out of an abundance of caution, the company immediately requested that the employees remain home from work, with pay, through the incubation period for the virus, which is up to 21 days.

The company will provide employees with access to medical information, respond to any employee questions and concerns and implement other measures as appropriate.

Published in Local
Thursday, 09 October 2014 10:56

Goodbye Lockdown, Hello "Safe School"

Goodbye "Lockdown" -- hello, "Safe School." Akron schools making good on a name change for the status of local schools after concerns the word "lockdown" should only describe the worst of a school security nightmare.  "Safe School" will be the new term the district uses. It'll be up to local media and parents to see if "lockdown" goes the way of other more focused terms as well and the softer new language will be used. School spokesman Mark Williamson says it won't change any security protocols but is simply a word change to note the difference between an external threat such as a police action outside the school compared to a more serious threat inside the school building.
(APS) When it comes to school safety and security, Akron Public Schools has always used one term - lockdown - to describe its response to security threats whether they emerge outside or inside a building. 
Beginning today, the public will begin hearing and seeing the term Safe School mode to describe action taken when a security risk comes from the neighborhood around the school building. 
Mark Williamson, APS director of communications, said, "Safe School distinguishes to the media and the community the vast difference between what we do when a threat comes from outside, as opposed to from inside a school building." 
"The reality is," said Superintendent David W. James, "the vast majority of our measures to secure buildings due to an emergency are initiated by situations outside of our schools, in our neighborhoods, and not from within our learning centers. If there is trouble outside, we keep it outside. And we will now refer to that precautionary step as APS engaging its Safe School procedure." 
Denying school building access during police activity in neighborhoods ensures the schools do not become escape routes for fleeing criminals being pursued by police. Safe School mode is a preemptive way of ensuring student and staff safety. 
APS Director of Student Services and Security Dan Rambler says that, when it comes to a descriptive term, one size really does not fit all. "We had always used the broad term lockdown for the sake of simplicity," Rambler said. "But, in reality, lockdown is more accurate if the risk comes from within the building. That is when we lock all interior doors, prohibiting movement by students and staff, while denying access to the building by anyone outside of the school." 
Akron police officer and APS Chief Resource Officer Don Good is a veteran police officer. "Keeping students in locked classrooms - in what we call lockdown - limits their exposure to possible danger inside a school building. And prohibiting entry through exterior doors protects anyone else from either unwittingly walking in on the emergent situation or coming into a school to add to the already-existing threat," Officer Good said. 
"The reality is our buildings are always locked, and visitors must be 'buzzed' in. No one should simply walk in," said Akron School Board President Lisa Mansfield. "But when we engage Safe School procedure, when there is police activity in the neighborhood around a school, no one is allowed to enter. Students still move about the building freely, and learning is uninterrupted." 
Mansfield added that most times the students are not even aware that the building has been closed to visitors. "They might only learn of it if a parent is coming to take them to a doctor or dentist appointment and is temporarily denied access because we're in Safe School Mode." 
APS works closely with Akron police and all area law enforcement for daily security and on-going training to deal with crisis situations. They also work together to keep families of students informed whether the situation necessitates a lockdown or going into Safe School Mode.
Superintendent James said, "Using the term Safe School only changes the terminology so we may eliminate any confusion between that and a true lockdown. We continue to maintain the strictest of safety and security standards for our students and staff and provide regular updates to our training." 
Published in Local
Page 1 of 16