Photo by Eric Stoff

Bunker Hill, IN - Kelly McPike whispered, “kindness,” to more than 100-second graders, and they responded, “matters,” in a unified, hushed voice.

The call and response was part of a new challenge issued to every grade level at Maconaquah Elementary School last week by McPike, the principal of the school. The challenge was to complete 600 acts of kindness by the end of the school year and sign a No Excuses University flag, committing to work hard in the second semester.

“This is a reminder to the kids that it’s time to get back at it and get focused,” McPike said.

McPike and Assistant Principal Jeremy Fewell attended the No Excuses University conference in October, and one speaker named Leon Logothetis made a particular impact on them. Logothetis is the author of the book, “The Kindness Diaries,” which chronicles a trip he took around the world with no money. He simply relied on the kindness of others because he believes “kindness makes the world go round.”

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Bunker Hill, IN - It’s a win-win-win kind of idea, and Tara Rush’s fourth grade class at Maconaquah Elementary School has been doing it for four years.

Her class just wrapped up its annual Christmas toy drive, gathering 473 toys and more than $1,000 in donations.

First, the students receive a lesson in writing by drafting persuasive letters to family, friends, and local businesses. Next, the donors benefit by giving to a good cause during the Holiday season. Lastly, families in need benefit by receiving donated toys and funds.

“I am so proud of my students,” Rush said “Every student went above and beyond during this project.”

She said 17 families at Mac El will benefit from this year’s toy drive, and the remaining toys will be donated to Helping Hands in Peru.

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Bunker Hill, IN - A car accident involving two Maconaquah High School students the morning of October 24 left the school corporation shocked.

Zac (sr.) and Austin Straub (so.) were involved in an accident at the intersection of U.S. 31 and 800S last Wednesday morning at around 8 a.m.

First responders brought Zac, who was driving, to Dukes Memorial Hospital, and he was released later that day. Austin was flown to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, and he is still there.

The Straub family has asked that details regarding Austin’s condition remain private, although they did say doctors are “amazed” at his recovery so far, and they are “overwhelmed with love and support,” from the Maconaquah School community.

“I can't even begin to thank all of you in our family, community, school for everything you are doing to help support us and pray for us,” said Erin Straub, the boys’ mother, in a note to Maconaquah staff. “We will never be able to repay all of you for everything you have done for us.”

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Bunker Hill, IN - Maconaquah High School’s FFA is hosting its inaugural Trunk or Treat event Monday.

Alyssa Bell, FFA’s student president, said the event involves all student activities and will hopefully draw attendance from the community, which will make “a great experience for everyone.”

She said the event is not a fundraiser, but a way to give back to the community and bring attention to the great things student groups accomplish.

Bell described it as “an event to have fun and enjoy the holiday.”

Children and pets are welcome and encouraged to be dressed up for costume contests.

Photo provided

Bunker, Hill, IN - Maconaquah Elementary School was a pitstop last week for the President of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Eric Cardwell, the NAESP President, has been on a 4,500-mile round trip this fall. He’s been visiting elementary schools along the way in Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. And he visited Principal Kelly McPike at Mac El last week.

Cardwell said, “Schools are at the very center of this nation’s communities. I’m taking this listening tour as not only a celebration of schools and principal leadership but also to take a real look at the successes and challenges that they are facing.”

McPike said Cardwell visited Erika Reeser’s third-grade class and the school’s STEM lab. He learned about the process of Maconaquah constructing the lab and buildings its own STEM curriculum “from the ground up.”

Photo by Eric Stoff

Miami County, IN - Rainy weather didn’t stop a day of agricultural education Friday.

Fourth grade students from across Miami County gathered at the 4-H Fairgrounds for Ag Day, an annual event hosted by the Miami County Soil and Water Conservation District. There were 13 stations which students rotated between, including topics such as dairy and beef cattle, soybeans, farm machinery, apples and bees, and Maconaquah and North Miami high schools’ FFA programs.

Dawn Baker, Maconaquah High School FFA Faculty Advisor supervised some of her FFA students as they showed a mixture of personal animals, Baker’s animals, and the FFA program’s animals.

She said in today’s society, it’s easy to lose sight of the food chain.

“(The students) have become disconnected to the point that they don’t know where their food comes from at all,” Baker said. “We’re trying to provide that basic information firsthand. By showing the animals and teaching about where it all starts.”

She said it’s good for the FFA students to volunteer and educate younger students, too.

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Bunker, Hill, IN -- Last month, the Maconaquah School Corporation Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of a new endowment fund that will support student activities for years to come.

The Future Brave Endowment Fund will begin this school year, and funds will be invested with the Northern Indiana Community Foundation (NICF), of which the Miami County Community Foundation is a fund affiliate.

“This will go to help our students in a variety of different ways,” said Maconaquah Superintendent Dr. James Callane. “It is an opportunity for our alumni and friends of Maconaquah to give to our future students.”

Callane added that he was very thankful to accept the first donation of $250 from Gibraltar Design this week.

Mac Photo provided

Bunker Hill, IN - Maconaquah Cattle Company received a $25,000 Grow Rural Education Grant last month from the America’s Farmer’s Monsanto Fund. The grant was awarded to expand Maconaquah Middle School’s ambitious agroscience program, which is only a couple years old.

MMS Principal Craig Jernagan said this grant will be a big help the program.

“This program has grown tremendously and received incredible support from our community in the last couple years,” he said.

To be eligible for the Monsanto grant, schools had to be nominated by local farmers, and the nominations were considered in the application process.