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Shenandoah schools adding new student programs

Strasburg woman's estate provides grants to cover the costs

By Kaitlin Mayhew -- kmayhew@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- Multiple new programs are in the works for Shenandoah County Public Schools pupils now that the funds from the Moore grants have been allocated for the year.

Strasburg resident Helen Moore left her estate, worth more than $3 million, to the school system when she died in 2002.

Since then, every year, the interest from the trust is given to teachers and teacher groups for special projects.

Although a couple of the projects given funds this year are continuations of ongoing efforts, such as the summer strings program and free music program, the majority are new.

"What we are looking for is to hold up the mission statement of the Moore grants, which is to provide opportunities to our students that would not be normally funded through the school budget, something that's above and beyond the curriculum that's provided," said Stacey Leitzel, director of elementary education for Shenandoah County Public Schools.
One new project includes the purchase of a wind turbine from James Madison University for $14,550. The turbine will be constructed in the front lawn of Central High School.

The funds will also cover materials for routine maintenance, said Leitzel, including a laptop and flat-screen TV for projecting collected data.

The original plan had been to rent the turbine from JMU for a period of two years. However, now that the grant has been secured, Leitzel said the turbine will now be purchased and remain in place longer.

The project is intended to foster student interest in alternative energy as well as provide tangible examples for academic studies.

"It will be available to students throughout the county," Leitzel said.

Another new project will focus on geocaching, or using GPS coordinates to find objects in treasure hunt of sorts.

The grant provides $3,500 for the purchase of three GPS devices. The summer enrichment education class Geocache 101 will be open to rising fifth- through 12th-graders.

The 2012 Moore Grants encompass 17 special programs in the county totaling $100,407.75.

"I think this is a great opportunity for our teachers to have this available to them and enabling them to go beyond what is the expected curriculum," she said. "It's a great opportunity for them and for our students."

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