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Cape Coral schools receive $18,695 in grants from Bonita Bay Group

By Staff | Nov 10, 2008

Three Cape Coral public schools were among the nine public schools in Lee, Hendry and Collier counties that received a total of $62,526 in grants from Bonita Bay Group on Oct. 15 for school projects that will enhance learning opportunities for students throughout Southwest Florida.

Sheryl Terepka, a science teacher at Challenger Middle School in Cape Coral, will use the school’s $4,935 grant “to get students out of the classroom.” The money will fund sixth-grade field trips to Randell Research Center on nearby Pine Island to study Florida history and Calusa Indians; four weekend visits for seventh-grade students and their parents to Six Mile Cypress Slough, including a moonlight walk; and a field trip for 30 eighth-graders to the county recycling center. The grant will also pay for environmental and nature presentations by local experts.

Challenger Middle School’s environmental club, cosponsored by teachers Holly Rollo and Lisa Nicia, will also participate in the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program Preserve festival, demonstrating geocaching and a watershed model. Family art and science nights will also tie into the lessons and foster parental involvement, she said.

Mariner High School in Cape Coral received $5,000 for its new Math, Science and Technology Academy. The money will buy the equipment and materials needed to implement original research experiments conducted by the academy’s 53 inaugural students, said Principal Erik Cioffi.

Students will build Kilroy Development Boards, personal circuit boards that collect data and serve as the “brains” for robots that will be entered in competitions. The program is designed to foster a higher level of critical thinking and incorporates elements of biology, English and technology.

Island Coast High School’s Academy of Natural Resources in Cape Coral will use its $8,760 grant to build solar-powered aquaculture ponds and aquaponic gardens and establish an environmentally friendly business model. An annual fish fry, featuring tilapia and vegetables grown by the students, will generate money for the following year’s project.

The Bonita Bay Group School Grants Program is an initiative that has contributed $630,793 to local schools since 1990.

The 2008-2009 grants were distributed during a breakfast event at Shadow Wood County Club, attended by representatives of the schools, community leaders and Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, a Cape Coral resident and graduate of the Lee County public school system.

The Bonita Bay Group School Grants Program funds innovative education programs not included in school budgets. The grant process is highly competitive, and grants are awarded based on a project’s ability to directly affect student learning. In awarding the grants, the company’s internal and external selection committees considered the number of students who would participate, plans for implementation, a summary of evaluation methods and proposed budgets.