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Boy credits grandfather

Sun., March 15, 2009

Mountain View Middle School seventh-grader Leo Shollenberger has undergone a behavioral transformation in the last year that his principal and teachers call “miraculous.”

Shollenberger gives all the credit to his grandfather, also named Leo Shollenberger, who is raising him.

Shollenberger, 13, recently competed in his school’s Guiding Light essay competition and wrote about his grandfather’s influence. His was one of six winning essays selected to be read during a special Guiding Light evening at the school. “I just pretty much poured everything I had into it,” he said. “He’s always there for me.”

Shollenberger calls his grandfather an extraordinary person. “He is always pushing me to be a better person,” he wrote in his essay. “I always know there is a lot of love in his heart for me. Thank you, Grandpa.”

His grandfather has been a widower for 30 years and took over raising his grandson when his mother became incapable of doing it and an aunt became too ill to help out. Last year the younger Shollenberger was frequently in Principal Jim McAdam’s office. He spent a lot of that time shouting and swearing at the top of his lungs, McAdam said. But something clicked over the summer, and a new Leo Shollenberger walked through the door on the first day of school. “He had a goal that he wanted to be an all-star,” McAdam said. A student must have good behavior and not show any disrespect to get the recognition.

The new Leo Shollenberger is kind and helpful to other kids, said school counselor Carla Bagby. “I don’t think he had confidence,” she said. “He can talk to anybody now. He’s a star.”

Now Shollenberger volunteers to help out in the kitchen and the library every day, and will do any task. Librarian Rikki Dorsh said Shollenberger is “just wonderful. He does whatever I need.”

His acceptance of his grandfather’s work ethic came in handy last fall when Shollenberger had to raise $2,000 to go on a school trip to Washington, D.C., this summer. He did odd jobs for neighbors and got a couple scholarships. He’s excited about seeing the White House. “I’ve never been anywhere that far,” he said.

Shollenberger’s grandfather is pleased with the boy’s progress. “His grades are just unbelievable,” he said. “I really don’t think he had an A before, and he had four or five. He’s grown up and become more mature.”

Nina Culver

Kids taking pollution solution to Denmark

The 40 school buses in the Lakeland School District drive a total of 3,300 miles a day. The buses warm up for about 15 minutes, pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

A group of district fifth-graders put their minds to the question: How can we reduce the carbon emissions from the buses? Their solution earned them a trip to Denmark in May to present their idea at the European Children’s Climate Call.

The students, dubbed the Super Seven, are enrolled in Lakeland’s talented and gifted program, called STRIVE, which meets weekly at Lakeland Junior High School. They also are members of Lakeland’s First LEGO League, a global program to interest kids in science and technology.

LEGO League competitions are twofold. First, each team uses LEGO building blocks, motors, sensors and other tools to create a robot. The second part includes researching a specific topic related to an overall theme. This year’s theme, Climate Connections, sparked the interest in carbon dioxide emissions and school buses.

“We come to STRIVE every Tuesday on a bus,” said Tyler Siegford, 11, a student at Betty Kiefer Elementary. “We noticed our buses were idling a lot, so we decided to see if we could make them stop idling.”

The Super Seven won in the research and presentation category at both the regional and state FIRST LEGO League contests. That enabled them to apply directly to the global competition, to be held May 1 through 3 in Copenhagen. They will be one of six teams from around the world to present their “climate action” idea at the Climate Call, along with teams from Illinois, California, Germany, Australia and Mexico.

A panel of engineers will serve as the judges, and the winning team will have its idea designed and implemented for real-world use, said Beth Brubaker, Lakeland’s STRIVE teacher.

The students’ winning idea is to hook up tanks to the idling buses to collect carbon dioxide emissions. Then the collected vapors would be pumped into a man-made pond, where they would feed blue-green algae. Blue-green algae, which double in size every day, then could be harvested for a number of uses, including biofuel, fertilizer and even nutritional supplements. Also, the students would surround the pond with cattails, which are good natural carbon scrubbers.

The team has been at work on the five-minute presentation since October. Their Tuesday STRIVE sessions have been dedicated to it, and all have worked on it at home. Along the way, they’ve learned a lot about buses, exhaust and greenhouse gases.

The Lakeland School District Super Seven team is raising funds to help offset travel expenses to Denmark. The goal is to raise $16,000 to cover registration, airfare, food and lodging for the seven students and their coach. An account has been set up to collect donations. Money may be directed to the team through Panhandle State Bank, P.O. Box 1367, Rathdrum, ID 38858.

Carolyn Lamberson

Liberty Lake police welcome new hub

Officers in Liberty Lake’s nine-person police department were so eager to move into the new police station at 23123 E. Mission Ave. that many of them moved in before the phones or Internet were hooked up.

Last week, before the station was officially open for business, officers cycled in and out throughout the day. Offices were labeled with names and phone numbers written on blue painter’s tape. “These are for the phone guy, so he knows which lines go where,” said police Chief Brian Asmus.

The 18,000-square-foot station, which shares a building with the Liberty Lake Library, is expansive compared with the 1,500 square feet the department has been crammed into at City Hall. All the rooms will not be in use right away, leaving room for growth.

The department now has a holding room with two booking stations, which it did not have before. A wooden bench is bolted to the wall with eye hooks and a metal bar to hook handcuffs and ankle cuffs to. “I built that myself,” Asmus said of the bench.

Video surveillance will be installed in the room and is also planned for the two interview rooms.

Asmus didn’t just build a bench for the new station. His hand can be seen everywhere. He and his wife spent many weekends painting the walls and his wife painted a mural in the weight room, which is filled with donated equipment. Visitors to the station while it was under construction could find him on his day off polishing furniture.

The new police station offers 400 square feet for evidence storage, plus a large safe.

Nina Culver


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