School Funding

FR Panther Foundation funds gardens, microscopes, mariachi festival and more

The latest round of grants from the nonprofit FR Panther Foundation will help fund a portable podcast studio, a mariachi festival and more.

Jim Passarelli, a teacher at Franklin Regional Senior High School, has secured a $9,900 grant that will allow the district to take advantage of a long-abandoned area.

“We had an outdoor space almost 20 years ago, and a former teacher wrote a proposal to do education programs there, but it never happened,” Passarelli said.

“I thought it would be great to have a garden, raised beds and a greenhouse and use what little green space we have on an otherwise paved campus.”

Passarelli worked with the high school garden club to help write the grant proposal.

“Our plans are to include all aspects of gardening: raised beds, a greenhouse and some hydroponic growing systems,” he said.

“The kids will have to design them, so there’s part of that STREAM aspect with building the greenhouse and creating the hydroponic system.”

Passarelli also recently earned Penn State Extension’s certification as a master gardener and plans to show students some of what he’s learned on topics like plant propagation and grafting.

“I hope to get trees and show students how to graft seedlings and also how to take tomato cuttings and create clones,” he said.

Mark Wolfgang, a high school science teacher, is also looking to up his students’ tech game with a $3,000 grant for digital microscopes.

“Until now, we’ve had more of an analog system where kids looked through the microscope and then drew what they saw,” Wolfgang said.

“There’s an element of that that’s important, but they also spent a lot of time drawing, rather than looking at the actual structure of the object.”

Wolfgang said the microscopes will give students the opportunity to conduct their research “in a way that’s closer to the 21st century.”

The FR Panther Foundation last week announced over $40,000 in innovation grants for 2022. They also include:

• $11,000 to purchase improved robotics equipment for a program called “Code Further,” which will encourage students and teachers to better understand robotics and how it relates to the district’s school curriculum.

• $7,000 for the creation of a custom licensed Panther mascot, helping the district market its brand locally and regionally.

• $5,500 to help the National Hispanic Honors Society organize a district-wide mariachi festival to promote cultural diversity and global citizenship.

• $1,965 for a portable podcast studio for use by journalism and broadcasting students.

• $1,850 to support a campaign focusing on what RF officials have dubbed the “five Cs”: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and citizenship.

Patrick Varine is an editor at Tribune-Review. You can contact Patrick by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .