Class of 2024 Seniors Come Back to Bittersweet

Every year the graduating seniors go back to their former elementary schools for “Senior Parades.” It’s fun not only for the students to see their former teachers, but it’s also fun for the current elementary students to see the graduates, congratulate them and wish them good luck!

Bittersweet’s Senior Parade was the last day of school Friday, May 31, 2024.

Last Day of School, 2023-24 School Year

Friday, May 31, 2024 was the last day of the 2023-24 school year. Our mascot the Bobcat made a special appearance joining the teachers and bus drivers to give the students a memorable send-off!

 

Honoring Heroes: Bittersweet Elementary’s Memorial Day Tribute

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, it’s essential to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday: honoring and mourning the brave men and women who gave their lives in service to our country. This year, our first-grade students embraced this spirit by creating patriotic decorations to pay tribute to these heroes.

student decorates grave

In a touching gesture, the students placed their handmade decorations at the graves of service members in the Veterans Garden at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens in Osceola.

decorations

Their heartfelt efforts brought a splash of color and a sense of gratitude to the resting place of those who served. This act of remembrance from such young members of our community serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of Memorial Day and the enduring legacy of our fallen service members.

 

P-H-M’s DVT & Planetarium Renamed Arthur M. Klinger Planetarium

Mr. Art Klinger, the man credited with being the “father” of P-H-M’s DVT & Planetarium, was honored today when the facility he helped create 44 years ago was officially renamed in his honor. The new P-H-M Arthur M. Klinger Planetarium sign now hangs on the exterior of Bittersweet Elementary School, where the facility is housed. It was unveiled to cheers and applause on the afternoon of May 14, 2024. Click to watch the video below.

On hand for the unveiling and dedication were Klinger’s wife, son, and longtime friends. Also present was P-H-M Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker, Executive Director of P-H-M Education Foundation Jennifer Turnblom, members of PHMEF Executive Board, P-H-M School Board Members Jim Garrett and Ryan McCullough, P-H-M Administrators, and current Planetarium Director Melinda O’Malley. P-H-M former Superintendent Dr. Dean Speicher also attended. It was under Dr. Speicher’s leadership that Bittersweet school and the Planetarium opened in 1980. Bittersweet first grader teachers and students added to the celebration. The students made a banners to mark the occasion.


PHM School Trustee VP Ryan McCullough, former PHM Superintendent Dr. Dean Speicher, Art Klinger, current PHM Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker, & PHM School Trustee Jim Garrett

Click to see the full photo gallery on P-H-M’s website.

Klinger began his 45 year career with P-H-M in 1970.  He taught Earth and Space Sciences at Schmucker Middle School, a position held for 10 years before taking over the Planetarium as its first director. Klinger’s interests in astronomy, aviation, and space travel made him a natural for the position. He was a pilot receiving his private pilot’s license in 1974. He was a member of the Great Lakes Planetarium Association and the International Planetarium Society. Klinger even authored an Introductory Astronomy text book that was used in Penn High School and IUSB astronomy classes; the last revision was August 2020. 

It was Klinger’s interest in the space travel history and NASA that really transformed the Planetarium. Astronaut Col. James Irwin, Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 15 (8th man to land on the Moon), was the honorary speaker at the Planetarium’s public dedication in February 1981. He was the first of six astronauts to visit the Planetarium over the years; a Russian cosmonaut even visited in 1994. With every visit, personalized autographed photos were donated.

The Planetarium’s Space Museum came about through a connection Klinger made with the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum because of his application for the “Teacher in Space Project” in 1984. From that connection, 47 artifacts, including 16 that have actually been on the Moon, were loaned to the museum. Klinger eventually secured autographed pictures of all flown astronauts. He even obtained the autographed photos of the scientific minds behind the “Space Race,” like Wernher von Braun and Yuri Gagarin. Klinger states that according to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, P-H-M is the only public school district that not only has artifacts from the space program, but also has items that have been on the Moon. Click here to watch a video of Klinger talking about the importance of space exploration.

Klinger served as Director of P-H-M’s DVT, Planetarium Space Museum for 35 years retiring in 2015 after working at P-H-M for 45 years.

Dr. and Mrs. Thacker donated $10,000 to the Penn-Harris-Madison Education Foundation to rename the Planetarium the Arthur M. Klinger Planetarium.

This $10,000 donation is among four donations to PHMEF that Dr. and Mrs. Thacker have made as part of the Naming Rights Campaign. All recognize the contributions P-H-M employees have made to the community:

Per PHMEF’s Naming Rights fundraising initiative, 80 percent of the donation will go into Foundation’s endowment, which will in turn provide alternative and additional funding for various co-curricular and extracurricular programs. The remaining 20 percent directly funds professional development initiatives for
P-H-M teachers. Continuing the education and training of teachers is a major priority the School Corporation.

The mission of the Education Foundation is to develop alternative sources of income to support education initiatives in the School Corporation by strengthening partnerships between the community and the District. PHMEF supports education through awarding innovative teaching grants, staff development and other corporation-wide initiatives.

P-H-M Named 2024 Best Community for Music Education

Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation was named among the 2024’s Best Communities for Music Education (​BCME) in the country by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for the 11th year in a row! P-H-M is among only 17 Indiana school districts, out of about 300, that made the list.

Now in its 25th year, the 2024 Best Communities for Music Education program has recognized 583 school districts and 135 schools across the country for the outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community leaders and their support for music education as part of a well-rounded education for all children. This recognition celebrates and recognizes K-12 music teachers in school districts who found creative ways for the “show to carry on” despite schools moving online or to in-person settings where masks were required not only for student musicians and instruments.

In P-H-M elementary schools, music class is part of the regular curriculum following state standards. Students are instructed in both vocal and instrument classes. Beginning in 6th grade, P-H-M students at our three middle schools (Discovery, Schmucker and Grissom) have the opportunity to choose choir, orchestra or band as their music elective. Students at Discovery also have the option of choosing Piano Lab. Schools from elementary all the way up to Penn High School also perform musicals.

Horizon Elementary students perform Charlie Brown Christmas
Horizon Elementary students perform Charlie Brown Christmas

Penn High School offers the Fine Arts & Communication Academy as part of its unique academy structure. The seven academy design provides Penn students with relevant and meaningful coursework taught in smaller, supportive environments where each student is known well by his teacher and peers. Nearly a third of Penn’s total 3,500 students are enrolled in the Fine Arts Academy with the majority being involved with music programs, either Choir, Orchestra, Band or another music program.

Penn High School Band students perform A Evening of Jazz (Feb. 9, 2024)
Penn High School Band students perform A Evening of Jazz (Feb. 9, 2024)

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, P-H-M answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas. Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music.

In a series of landmark studies by scientists and researchers at Northwestern University a link was found between students in community music programs and life-long academic success, including higher high school graduation rates and college attendance. In another study from the University, it was discovered that the benefits of early exposure to music education improves how the brain processes and assimilates sounds, a trait that lasts well into adulthood. Beyond the Northwestern research, other studies have indicated that music education lays the foundation for individual excellence in group settings, creative problem solving and flexibility in work situations, as well learning how to give and receive constructive criticism to excel.

2024 PHM Elementary Spell Bowl Results

Tuesday, March 19 was P-H-M’s annual Elementary Spell Bowl event. Student 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teams from all 11 elementary schools compete. Click here to see the photo gallery below.

Below is this year’s “leaderboard”:

3rd Grade Winners:

3rd gr. winners, Northpoint

  • 1st place- Northpoint with 29 points, coached by Nichol Monday
  • 2nd place- Prairie Vista with 27 points
  • 3rd place tie – Bittersweet, Horizon and Mary Frank each with 22 points

4th Grade Winners:

4th gr winners, Northpoint

  • 1st place- Northpoint with 30 points, coached by Jen Payne
  • 2nd place- Bittersweet with 29 points
  • 3rd place- Prairie Vista with 27 points

The 5th grade competition was very close with Northpoint and Bittersweet neck and neck. The tiebreaker words were: panache, soup du jour, fluorescence, pharmaceutical and Albuquerque.

5th Grade Winners:

5th gr winners, Northpoint  5th gr 2nd place, Bittersweet

  • 1st place- Northpoint with 38 points, coached by Ros Morehouse 
  • 2nd place- Bittersweet with 37 points
  • 3rd place tie – Prairie Vista and Horizon each with 26 points

Overall Bittersweet did so well that when the 5th grade team came out on stage to be recognized, the other students and parents cheered, clapped, and gave them a rousing round of congratulations!

Bittersweet team recognized  Bittersweet recognized

The teams spend weeks preparing for Spell Bowl with their teacher coaches. They may study word lists, learn about derivations (e.g., Latin roots) and rules (e.g., capitalization, pluralization), and how to spell correctly under pressure.

The format of the Spell Bowl is more like a written test. The emcee reads a word and uses the word in a sentence, the students listen and then write it on paper within a 15-second time limit. The students’ written entries are reviewed by a panel of judges and then their score is posted in front of the audience. Each correct word spelling is worth one point.

The annual event is held in Penn High School’s Center for Performing Arts to not only accommodate all the student teams, but also the students’ “fans,” which are their family, friends and other staff from their home schools!

Mrs. Cassie Scarsella, P-H-M’s High Ability Coordinator, manages the Spell Bowl and works to assure that it is a positive and enriching experience for students. Academic competition can give students confidence, increase their motivation to sharpen their skills and abilities, and expand their opportunities to receive recognition.

Ms. Lynn Named Culver’s Bus Driver of the Month

We’re happy to share the news that  P-H-M bus driver Andrea Enyeart, or “Ms. Lynn” as the students call her, was named Culver’s Bus Driver of the Month for February 2024!

Ms. Lynn drives for Bittersweet, Moran and Schmucker Middle School. Her positive and upbeat personality is highly valued by all in the transportation department.

The surprise took place at Bittersweet on Feb. 28, 2024 as she waited for her students to board for afternoon pick-up.

Transportation Administrators (Director Brandon Tugmon, Asst. Directors Amy Aschenbrenner and Robin Tharp) joined Osceola Culver’s restaurant co-owners Mark Nowak and Keith Remington, Bittersweet Principal Shonda Masterson, and P-H-M Education Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Turnblom to surprise/congratulate Ms. Lynn.

Thank you Culver’s and and the P-H-M Education Foundation for being valued partners to make this award possible! 

If you would like to nominate your student’s bus driver, click here to fill out the nomination form.

2024 Young Authors’ Conference, Books & Bots

This year P-H-M Education Foundation’s Young Authors’ Conference is partnering up with the Next Gen Robotics event to bring you Books & Bots!  This event blends literary innovations with robotic creations. It’s a wonderful opportunity for P-H-M students in Kindergarten – 5th grade. Click here to view photos on Facebook from last year’s Young Authors’ Conference; click here to view photos of the 2023 Next Gen event.

The event will start at 9:15 a.m. in Penn’s Fitness Center.  There will be the three rotations at three locations within Penn High School. Families and students will visit each station for 45 minutes, with a 15 minute break in between. The rotations will be an author visit, reader’s theater, and fun with the bots! Next Gen (the bots area) will be open until 1:00 p.m. Registered participants will receive a S’more with confirmation details the week of February 26. You and your student’s rotation schedule and starting location will be provided in the S’more.  If you have any questions after receiving the email, please contact ccussen@phm.k12.in.us.

Please enter Door D. Parking is available in the front of Penn, at Schmucker Middle School, and in the parking lot near River Valley Church. Click here to access a Penn Building Map. Once inside Penn, look for “Books and Bots” signage and please arrive at your room between 9:00-9:15 a.m. With record attendance expected, plan plenty of time to park and walk to your designated area.  

Books & Bots is completely FREE! Thank you to the P-H-M Education Foundation and P-H-M Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker and his wife Donna Thacker for covering the cost of the YAC for the second year in a row from the proceeds of #GivingTuesday donations.

NEW THIS YEAR … both events will be held at Penn High School!

While the events are FREE, registration is required! 

Registration is NOW OPEN! Click here to register today!  Registration closes Friday, February 23.

One parent only must accompany students! Younger siblings may not accompany adults.  Due to the planned activities and available space, this experience is for your young author and one parent.

As part of the morning activities, students will participate in two rotations: one with well-known children’s author and speaker, Carolyn Crimi; and the other with Jocelyn Dupuis.  Following these rotations, students will enjoy spending time exploring technology, with an opportunity to share a piece of their piece of writing on a FlipGrid or online writing platform. 

Thanks to Better World Books, parents can purchase ahead of time Carolyn Crimi books online and then bring them to the March 2 event. Click here to preorder your student(s) books.

As a way to support Better World Books’ mission of providing books to children around the world to do their part in achieving global literacy, a collection box will be set up near Penn’s Door D for families to donate their gently used books.

BACKGROUND ON CAROLYN CRIMI:
Carolyn Crimi enjoys snacking, pugs, Halloween, and writing, although not necessarily in that order. Over the years she has published 19 books for children, including Weird Little Robots, Secondhand Dogs, Don’t Need Friends, Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies, Where’s My Mummy?, There Might Be Lobsters, and I Am The Boss of This Chair.  When she’s not snacking, Carolyn enjoys giving author talks to elementary schools all over the country.

BACKGROUND ON JOCELYN DUPUIS:
Also as part of Young Authors’ Conference, participants and parents will also enjoy an interactive experience with P-H-M’s extraordinary Jocelyn Dupuis.  Jocelyn has a passion for music education and the performing arts. As a music teacher, she has taught many students to enjoy music as well. 

*Questions, please contact Candace Cussen at ccussen@phm.k12.in.us.

2024 Middle School Instrument Selection Night

Every P-H-M 5th grader who will be attending a P-H-M middle school as an incoming 6th grader in the Fall 2024 has the opportunity to join an instrumental music class, which includes either band or orchestra. “Instrument Selection Night” is when students and families get to make their choice!

Fifth graders at Moran, Bittersweet, Elsie Rogers, Walt Disney, and Prairie Vista Elementary Schools will attend Schmucker Middle School for 6th – 8th grades.

Schmucker’s Instrument Selection Nights are Monday, March 4th and Tuesday, March 5th.

Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation is nationally recognized as one of the “Best Communities for Music Education” offering choir, band and orchestra at Schmucker, Discovery and Grissom Middle Schools.

At “Instrument Selection Night,” a music professional will be available to give students advice about which instrument may be best suited for them. They will be allowed to “try out” instruments from various instrument groups. Click here to download, view and print more information on Instrument Selection Night.

In order to join 6th grade band or orchestra, students must select an instrument that they will learn, practice and perform for the school year. Click this link to sign-up for your appointment at your designated school and date. 

Bittersweet Receives PHM Education Foundation Grant

The P-H-M Education Foundation has wrapped up the grant announcements for the 2023-2024 school year; and it’s been a big year with tons of recipients. Bittersweet was the recipient of one grant!

First grade teacher Ms. Jenni McCarthy and 2nd grade teacher Stephanie Black applied for and received $959.20 to purchase “Cracking the Code on Letters and Sounds” toolkits.

Check out the excitement of Bittersweet students when PHMEF Executive Director Jennifer Turnblom arrived with the check …


 

The “Cracking the Code on Letters and Sounds” educational toolkits help teach students phonics  and consist of a book, posters and musical CD that provide opportunities for multiple modes of learning including visual icons, auditory and kinesthetic motor skill movement. This method shares stories while helping students tap into the sounds the letter/letter teams make to facilitate reading skills.

This cycle the Foundation Grants Committee awarded $42,819.63 in funding to 15 EZ grants and 20 traditional grants. Click here for the full list of funded grants.

PHMEF has moved to one grant cycle per school year, now moved to the Fall, to allow teachers and schools time to put their grant dollars to good use right away.

Turnblom traveled across the district to surprise various grant recipients with the good news of their funding amount. Grants awarded this year cover a wide array of innovative programs and activities from $10,000 to Grissom Middle School to purchase keyboards for the music room to milkweed plants for Madison Elementary so the school could attract monarch butterflies.

Click here to see the photo gallery on the District’s website of the check deliveries or click to follow PHMEF’s Facebook page.