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History made: Harlan Rowe places 15th at National Science Olympiad

ITHACA — A group of Athens students completed a historic season over the weekend as the Harlan Rowe Middle School Science Olympiad team came home from Cornell University with a 15th-place finish at the national tournament.

“This is the first time anyone from our area has gone to nationals,” said coach John Slocum, who has coached the middle school team for three years. “There are 7,000 teams in the country. The 7,000 teams got whittled down to 60 teams and out of the 60 we finished 15th. We were pretty excited and pretty pumped.”

The Harlan Rowe team had to beat out some schools considered powerhouses in the science olympiad world like Pittsburgh private school Shady Side Academy to earn the trip to nationals.

“The teams that we’re beating out from this are pretty prestigious schools. It’s pretty remarkable when a small school like Athens gets to (dethrone Shady Side Academy) to go to nationals in their place,” said Slocum, who saw his squad finish second at states in late April.

Leading the way for Harlan Rowe at nationals were a pair of teams placing third in individual competitions. The team of Carter Henry and Ronel Ankram finished third in the Boomilever competition.

Henry would also team up with Katie Gorman to take the bronze home in the Game On competition.

Jacob Sickler and Mea Abbott placed fifth in the Rollercoaster division, and Andrue Andrus and Ankram were fifth in Disease Detectives.

“It’s almost unbelievable to think that they can do that. First of all, the opportunity to compete in anything at this age — where you can say ‘I’m going to be ranked this number in the nation’ — those opportunities are very few and far between. Any place that you get at nationals puts you in a very elite group,” said Slocum of his students’ performance.

The Harlan Rowe squad also brought home the Lockheed Martin Spirit Award, which came with a $2,000 prize, and is “given to a school whose team members exhibit sportsmanship, teamwork, team spirit and respect that exemplifies the spirit of Science Olympiad competition.”

“This is one of the awards that I’m most proud of because it’s not just about learning science in science olympiad. We try to teach them a lot of things. We want to teach them the value of hard work. The value of working with people and discipline and just being a good member of a community and that community being the science community,” Slocum said.

“They are all incredible kids. They are all really focused and they understand those concepts of just being a nice person and that’s really what got us the spirit award,” Slocum continued. “Our team has a good reputation in the (Science Olympiad) community for being a team that plays fair and isn’t cocky or doesn’t talk trash and things like that. That’s why the award is very special to me.”

Slocum is extremely proud of his team — and he has been thrilled with the support they have received from the school district and community as a whole.

“With all of the attention coming toward STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) in recent years ... I think now the general public and society in the U.S. is realizing that it is important and we’re seeing incredible support from the community and the school board, too,” Slocum said. “I couldn’t be more happy with the school board, the teachers and the principals and all that. They are behind us just as they would any other sports team or any other team of any type that would be competing at this level.”

DPost / Dave Post/Morning Times  

With Waverly Principal Ashlee Hunt are 2019 Principals’ Award winner Alex Tomasso (left) and 2019 Forbes Award winner Dylan Ward. For more on the winners of the prestigious awards, check out page B1.

Pickett to host 19th annual Senior Expo on June 21

ATHENS — A Valley tradition will continue later this month when State Rep. Tina Pickett hosts the 19th annual Senior Expo on Friday, June 21.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lynch-Bustin Elementary School in Athens.

There are nearly 80 exhibitors signed up to participate in the event, according to a press release from Pickett’s office.

“I encourage all seniors, their family members and caregivers to make plans to join us and learn about the various services available to them in our area,” said Pickett. “This information can sometimes be difficult to obtain. Our expo makes it easier and more convenient by bringing service providers and seniors together at the same time, under one roof.”

Information will be provided on health care, insurance, nutrition and exercise, financial planning, fraud protection, government services, veterans benefits and more. Refreshments will also be offered.

At 11:30 a.m., Pickett will hold a town hall meeting in the school’s cafeteria to provide an update on state budget negotiations and discuss her legislative priorities during the current session.

The school, which is air-conditioned, is located at 253 Pennsylvania Avenue in Athens. From Route 220, take the second Athens Business Exit to Pine Street. Signs will be posted directing participants to school parking. Shuttle service will be provided from the school’s parking lot to the building’s front door.

Anyone with questions about the expo can contact Pickett’s Towanda office at (570) 265-3124 or her Sayre office at (570) 888-9011. To prepare for the Expo, Pickett’s district offices will be closed all day on Thursday, June 20.

State audit: Sayre schools ‘performing adequately'

SAYRE — The Sayre Area School District is performing adequately in numerous areas per the performance audit completed by the state for the period between July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2017.

The school district is performing adequately in financial stability, transportation operations, administrator separations and bus driver requirements. The audit resulted in no findings, according to the report.

“It went pretty well. There were no deficiencies, so we couldn’t be more happy with the way it turned out,” acting superintendent and business manager Barry Claypool commented.

Also included with the performance audit were the district’s school scores including School Performance Profile (SPP) scores, Keystone Exam scores and Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) scores.

For the 2016-2017 school year, the SPP score of the Sayre Area School District average was 70; Sayre Area High School scored a 70 and Snyder Elementary School scored a 69.9. The SPP statewide average is 69.0.

For the Keystone Exams, the Sayre Area High School English proficient average was 89.3, with the statewide average being 69.8. The Math proficient average for the high school was 64.3, with a statewide average of 61.8.

For the English PSSA scores, the Sayre Area School District average was 48.2, with the high school averaging at 42.9 and the elementary school at 53.5. The statewide average for English is 61.5.

For the Math PSSA scores, the district average was 28.3, with the high school averaging at 21.1 and the elementary school at 35.6. The statewide average for Math is 44.6.

“We’ve put some effort into developing some programs. We use a GO Math program that is more in-line with the testings standards. That takes a long time,” Claypool said.

Claypool stated that the district is looking at various other programs to help bolster student’s learning capabilities and their state test scores.

“We’re looking at different things ... It takes time to build it, understand it, learn how to teach it the best you can,” Claypool said. “It’s something we look at all the time. We’re hoping scores improve. But it’s a long process, it’s not something we can (do overnight).”