Portable planetarium coming to West Orange – Stark Elementary

Published 8:45 am Saturday, June 2, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader

West Orange Cove Consolidated Independent School District (WOCCISD) Education Foundation awarded a $10,000 STEM grant to West Orange – Stark (WOS) Elementary School on Friday during a special end of year program. The grant award was funded through Chevron Phillips Chemical Company.

Friday’s grant will provide funding for a portable planetarium which will benefit the entire student body, approximately 1,100 students. All subject area educators on the campus will be able to utilize the dome to enhance how information is delivered to students.

“We are so grateful to Chevron Phillips Chemical Company for generously donating $10,000 to the WOCCISD Education Foundation and we are beyond thrilled to award the entire $10,000 to WOS Elementary campus for the purchase of a planetarium dome,” WOC Education Foundation President Krispen Walker said. “We are always looking to support innovative ideas in educating our children, and this planetarium will provide our children with a unique learning experience in the ever so important areas of science, technology, engineering and math.”

Planetariums are domed heaters which project images of the starry sky and create educational experiences while teaching astronomy and related sciences.

“One of my fondest memories of school was the planetarium,” Ashton Peddy said. “Up until now, the children have not had that experience. This will help put them in the environment of the lesson.”

Each of the four campuses were asked to submit a ‘wish list’ prior to the distribution of the grant. Peddy’s submission was the project selected by the Foundation.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics areas that can be addressed are unlimited and can included astronomy, optics, aerospace engineering, applied mathematics, biology, physics, geographic information system, and more. Students observing, hypothesizing, and drawing or plotting skills can be developed in the dome.

“Chevron Phillips is excited to support this wonderful opportunity to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math,” Chevron Phillips Community Relations Representatives Vicki Derese said. “Projects like this planetarium encourage students to continue developing skills that are important to their future success. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the innovative teachers of West Orange Stark Elementary and the WOCCISD Education Foundation to present this grant.”

This is the seventh consecutive year for the foundation to present WOC teachers with the grant awards.

Dr. Lois Bready and her brother, Doug Bready, in memory of their parents, established the Foundation in 2009 in memory of their parents Eva and Gerald Bready. Eva Bready was a beloved and innovative teacher in the district who prepared a generation of students to excel in science and to make significant contributions to their communities.

Since the WOCCISD Education Foundation began awarding grants in 2011, more than 50 grants in excess of $128,000, including this years grant, have been awarded to classroom teachers in the WOCCISD school system.

Dr. Rickie Harris, superintendent, said the teachers had done an outstanding job this year in a unique situation.

“We had a unique situation due to an unexpected visitor, Harvey,” Harris said. “Many are still struggling with the damages of Harvey,” Harris said. “You still came to educate our students, thank you.”

Vicki Derese added the projects suggested were all great projects.

“They were all great,” Derese said. “It shows the great teaching community here.”