View Recent Grants

View Recent Grants 2022-03-31T20:16:13+00:00

Grants for 2021-2022 Academic Year

The Westhill Educational Foundation is pleased to announce grant recipients for the 2021-2022 academic year.  The Foundation has streamlined the grant submission process and will now review grants throughout the academic year. This updated process will allow the Foundation to be more adaptive to the changing needs of the school district.  The spring grant cycle is still open and will continue to take grant applications through the end of June, or until the budget limit is reached.  This year, thanks to support from our generous donors, the Foundation has been able to grant over $9800 to support innovative ideas and programs for Westhill students. Winners to date are:

Fall Grant recipients

An Evening with Author Jason Reynolds, Penny Feeney 

This grant provided funding for 50 students in grades 6-12 to attend a lecture from New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds, as part of the Rosamond Gifford Authors Series. Students were transported to the OnCenter to listen to Reynolds’ storytelling and insights.

Measuring Carbon Output; Designing Innovative Solutions to Reducing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Alaina Weinsztok and Helen Kemper

This grant purchased 15 GoDirect CO2 Gas Sensors that students in 9th and 10th grade biology will use in their Cycle of Matter unit.  These CO2 probes allow students to measure in real time the amount of atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. The probes will generate a live graph that can be sent directly to their cell phones (via bluetooth) or school chromebooks/laptops. This will encourage students to make better decisions as consumers and illustrate that their decisions have a positive impact on the environment as they attempt to reduce the amount of Carbon being released into the atmosphere.

Mush On: Voices from the Iditarod, Karen Fenner and Tracy Crisafulli 

This grant provided funding for a unique learning opportunity for Environmental Science students at  Westhill High School.  Students were given copies of Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Alaskan Dog-Racing by award-winning author Gary Paulsen which complimented classroom lessons on genetics and adaptation. This experience culminated in a presentation by former Alaskan Iditarod racer Karen Land who brought a sled dog, race gear, and insight into many aspects of dogsled racing including weather, animal behavior, and personal experiences in the wilds of Alaska.  In addition, there was a second session, open to all interested WHS students, to meet Karen Land and her dog during IA.

Let Your Curiosity Soar II, Penny Feeney  

This grant, which was co-written by OHMS 7th grader Owen Wilmot, funded the purchase of a DJI Air 2S drone to be used at Onondaga Hill Middle school in conjunction with the Technology Class and GNN Video Production Club. Students will be able to learn how to use the drone and will be able to earn their drone “OHMS License”.

Spring Grant recipients

Insights and Inspirations with Dusti Bowling, Penny Feeney 

This grant is designed to generate excitement for an upcoming visit to Onondaga Middle School from author Dusti Bowling.  In addition to funding a daily author book giveaway the month before the visit, the grant will also help to fund a breakfast and lunch with the visiting author.

Fitness Room Upgrade, Jason Clavijo

This grant funded the purchase of 3 rowing machines for the Onondaga Hill Middle School fitness room.  The rowers will be used to increase the versatility of creating a fitness routine for the students.  The rowers can accommodate every student providing expanded opportunities for all students at the Middle School.

Game on!, Penny Feeney

This grant encourages students to socialize and build relationships at Onondaga Hill Middle School through the purchase of a variety of board games and mindfulness activities. The games will be available in the library, will be accessible to all students during study hall and will serve as a way for students to engage, de-stress, build problem solving skills and strengthen community.

Lightning Grants – Spring 2021

The Westhill Educational Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of its first round of spring lightning grants. Lightning grants have a streamlined application, are for $1,500 or less, are simple in their implementation, and are meant to boost year-end enrichment activities.

“The lightning round of mini-grants provided a much needed shot in the arm,” said Superintendent, Casey Barduhn. “It was a refreshing reminder of opportunities and creative ideas our staff have every day, and the important role the Foundation serves to provide resources and support to that creativity. Again, thank you Westhill Educational Foundation for your ongoing support of Westhill students and teachers,” Barduhn said.

Here are the winners:

GNN Good News Network, Penny Feeney

This grant will purchase several pieces of equipment for the video production club at Onondaga Hill Middle School, which is open to all students. This year’s grant was co- written by sixth-grader, Owen Wilmot, who researched the equipment and costs. The grant will fund a portable green screen, a padcaster dolly, clapboards, Apple Lightning adapters, light reflectors and a studio lighting kit, all of which will further improve production and expand possibilities for the students. Mrs. Feeney started GNN in 2016 with a Foundation grant and has received several grants over the years to improve and streamline the club’s video production process.

Beach Reads with Purpose, Karen Fenner

This grant is aimed to generate excitement around Westhill’s summer reading program. Recent surveys of the students revealed that mysteries and thrillers were among their favorite genres and that New York Times best-selling author April Henry is a favored author. This grant will fund the purchase of 25 books by Henry and pay for a virtual visit with her this fall. The hard copies of the books will be randomly distributed in a promotional give away. Ebooks and audio books of the same titles will be available via a Westhill reading app for all students interested in choosing one of Henry’s books for their summer reading. Henry writes mysteries, thrillers and young adult novels.

Coming Together For Teen Book Fest, Karen Fenner

This grant encouraged middle and high school students to participate in the (Virtual) Greater Rochester Teen Book Fest, and included an in-person event at OHMS in May. This grant funded the purchase of books written by the festival’s presenting authors, and all participating students received a book. Gannon’s Ice Cream catered the live event.

Pollinators Come Alive, Kim Kennedy

This grant purchased butterfly kits for all second grade classrooms, where students have been learning about plants and pollinators in their EL modules. Raising the butterflies will bring a new dimension to what they are reading, and allow them, for example, to examine the bodies of pollinators up close instead of in photos. The butterflies will be released into a pollinator garden the students are creating by growing seedlings. The seedlings were planted in clear trays to allow the students to watch the plants grow above and below the soil.

The Foundation Board has wanted to add this second round of grants for the past few years, and this year several things came together to make it happen. The Foundation canceled its fall grant cycle due to Covid and instead launched its Chromebook Challenge to help the school purchase much needed Chromebooks during the height of distance learning. Thanks to the generosity of the community, the Foundation raised $30,000, which helped the District purchase 100 chrome books to help the District have one Chromebook per student.

This article was originally published in the Hill & Vale newsletter:

2020 Chromebook Challenge

In lieu of its annual Chip In For Education 2020 spring fundraiser, the Westhill Educational Foundation held an online fundraiser this fall to help bridge a district budget gap and allow the district to purchase 100 Chromebooks needed for distance learning.

Westhill families and the greater community responded overwhelmingly to the Chromebook Challenge, and the foundation met its $30,000 goal. The new Chromebooks will help ensure that the district has enough to loan to any student who needs one for this year’s online/hybrid model of learning made necessary by the covid pandemic. (The foundation also did not make individual grant awards this year due to the pandemic.

Due to a national shortage, the district is still waiting on an order of 400 Chromebooks it placed last summer to replace outdated models and to work toward having one Chromebook available per student. It has been able to purchase 75 of the 100 paid for by the fundraiser by purchasing them outside their standard BOCES cooperative purchasing. There is no word on when the additional 25 will arrive.

“When the pandemic hit last March and schools across the country switched to remote learning, the need for Chromebooks skyrocketed,” said superintendent Casey Barduhn. “With the assistance of the Foundation’s generous donation, we were able to place 75 devices in the hands of students immediately. The Westhill Educational Foundation continues to make a difference in the lives of students.”

More than $11,000 of the total was supplied by local businesses who had committed to sponsor Chip In 2020 and donated their sponsorship money when the event was canceled. The rest of the money came from the Westhill community, including from other school-based groups. The Westhill Booster Club, which had also been a Chip In sponsor, and WEST both donated $1,500 and the Westhill girls’ soccer program added $200. More than 75 individuals in the school community made donations ranging from $20 to $7,500.

The following Chip In sponsors donated to the cause; Empower Federal Credit Union and Syracuse Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons ($2,000); Ferrara Fiorenza PC ($1,500); Eye Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeons of CNY and Haylor, Freyer & Coon, Inc ($750); Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, Geddes Federal Savings & Loan, Henderson Wholesale Lamps, Paulus Development ($500); Barton & Loguidice, D.P.C. ($300); BeerBoard, Day Automation, Dussing Land Surveying, Leonard Bus Sales, Inc. ($250); Cameron Group LLC (Township 5), Integrated Strategic Systems, Inc., Solvay Tigers A.C., Inc., and Your Syracuse Family Dentist ($100).

The foundation is grateful to each and every donor for their continued support and for helping it reach the $30,000 goal. Follow the Foundation on Facebook for all the latest updates.

This article was originally published in the Hill & Vale newsletter:

2019 Grant Winners

This year’s winning grants are:

Walberta Park Elementary School:

  • Bricks 4 Kidz (First and second grade teams)

Bricks 4 Kidz will supplement the STEM curriculum using physics and space modules. The students will learn science, technology, engineering and math concepts along with problem-solving and team-building skills through creative play with Legos.

  • It’s the Little Things (WPS Principal Beth Kramer)

This program will be presented by musician John Farrell to support the Positivity Project with songs that focus on character building and character strengths.

  • Bluebird Music Together (Beth Kramer)

Bluebird Music Together will bring accomplished musicians into all Walberta Park classrooms to conduct a rhythm class incorporating music, movement and instruments. 

  • Playground Communication Station (WPS speech pathologist Monica Willsey)

This grant will fund construction of a weather-resistant communication board on the WPS playground. It includes universal communication symbols to help nonverbal or anxious students, or any other students having difficulty communicating their needs.

  • The Wild (Beth Kramer)

The Wild Animal Park in Chittenango will bring live animals to all students at Walberta to conduct class presentations offering hands-on experience and interaction with wildlife. 

Cherry Road Elementary School: 

  • Dancin’ with the Honeybees (Second grade teacher Julie Dennis)

Cliff Wright-Sunflower, master beekeeper, environmental educator, story-teller and performer, will bring the scientific magic of the honeybee hive to life for second grade students. He will visit the school for an assembly and several workshops.

Onondaga Hill Middle School:

  • Insights and Inspirations (Joint project between the library, art and English departments) 

The middle school will host Jennifer A. Nielsen, author of a number of popular books for teens, including the “Ascendance” trilogy. In addition to building-wide activities that include reading and writing seminars and an art project, this year’s event will also include dinner with the author for a select few students at the Onondaga Free Public Library. 

  • P2 Mural (Art teacher Maggie Feyerabend)

 All fifth-grade students will design and create a ceramic mural demonstrating the 24 character traits of the Positivity Project. The mural will remain on permanent display.

  • Passport to the Impossible (Sixth-grade teacher Karla Prince)

Through the use of virtual reality equipment, students in all grades will have the opportunity to explore different parts of the world, using the Google Expeditions ap.

Cherry Road School, Onondaga Hill Middle School and Westhill High School:

  • Westhill Day of Jazz (Music teachers Elizabeth Buell, Corey Riley and Erin Tapia)

Continuing one of our most successful programs, this year the “Day of Jazz” will welcome Huntertones, a world-class Brooklyn-based jazz and funk fusion band that will spend the day with our students. The day includes performances for students in grades 2 through 8 and then break-out master class sessions for all jazz students in grades 7 through 12. The event will be capped off by the 42nd annual Westhill Senior Citizens Dinner and Concert, which features numbers by the various Westhill jazz bands and a final set performed by Huntertones.

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