Danville school foundation thanks donors, highlights funded projects

Apr. 20—DANVILLE — Meade Park Elementary School third- and fourth-grade students Mia Trimble, RaNiya Grimes and MiKylan Alexander told a room full of Danville Public School Foundation donors Thursday morning about the fun they have with their school's Lu system.

Mia said what she loves about the system is that "it uses technology to have kids have energy and it helps them run around without having to get bored."

RaNiya and MiKylan said they like to play games on it, such as throwing balls everywhere at the wall. Pieces can then crumble on the digital projection screen image on the wall. The system picks up on the pressure of the ball hitting the wall. It's all from a sensor projector, said Meade Park Principal Tanner DeLaurier.

MiKylan added that the system calibrates how you throw the ball.

The Lu system is now serving 327 students at Meade Park.

Physical Education Teacher Tyler Mink said it's not just used for PE, and it's inclusive for all students to use. It's also used for Positive Behavior Interventions and Support rewards, dance parties, music, school speakers, it hooks up to the Internet and YouTube, and has other uses by students and staff to learn and have fun.

Mink uses a lanyard with a remote control to teach and use it anywhere in the gym. He can walk up with his hand and slap it and the Lu system will interact with his hand.

Mink said he thinks this technology use is for the better for students. It's the only Lu system within 30 miles of area schools.

The Danville School District 118's Fine Arts Summer Camp students also have used the Lu to learn dance moves and for other interactive uses.

Thanks to donors with the foundation, Liberty Elementary School and Southwest Elementary School will be receiving the Lu system and more schools could in the future as well.

The Danville Public School Foundation thanked donors at its 2024 365 Club Breakfast at Turtle Run Banquet Center on Thursday and celebrated its fundraising. Donor funding helps with educational opportunities for the students in which tax dollars don't provide.

This is the 15th year for the breakfast and it's the only fundraiser for the foundation. They usually average about 130 people at the annual breakfast.

The Julius W. Hegeler II Foundation is the title sponsor of the event.

The foundation has provided more than $1 million in support for school projects since 1989.

Also at the breakfast, Mary Shutt, who retired in December as assistant director after almost 15 years with the foundation, was recognized by foundation executive director Bob Richard.

What the donors most look forward to at the breakfast, however, are the student presentations.

There were three presentations with students, teachers and administrators regarding projects that have been funded by donors this year.

The foundation raised a little more than $105,000 this year and awarded about $108,000 in support for the students with projects this year.

Projects funded most recently by the foundation:

* Playground Communication Boards — $2,200. All elementary school playgrounds and South View Upper Elementary and North Ridge Middle schools' playgrounds will be receiving eight communication boards. The special education department asked the foundation for the boards for non-verbal students. "These are the same communication boards they use in the classrooms. They're going to move them out, one on every playground, so the kids (non-verbal) that use them can communicate with the teachers and the other students," Richard said. The Danville AMBUCS chapter is looking to put the communication boards at the city's playgrounds, too.

* Digital Signage Project — $12,795 at Danville High School. Eighteen television screens will be going up throughout DHS with broadcasts by the multi-media students throughout the day. DHS is doing away with home room next school year where students don't always pay attention to announcements. The announcements will now be on screens in the hallways to better catch students' attention. The cost includes the television screens and first year of the software subscription. Several DHS multi-media students spoke about the new system, which are basically digital bulletin boards. The signs also can help with way-finding for school visitors.

* Rise Up Physical Education Measurement Equipment — $5,571, at Danville High School. Weightlifting is a popular elective at DHS and teacher Tyler Arnholt wanted to get away from just evaluating students on how much they can lift, said Richard and Stephanie Yates, foundation development director. This tracking system measures how high they can jump, with vertical jumps, and strength and performance. Plyometrics training, exercise training that uses speed and force of different movements to build muscle power, can be a bigger part of the weight room curriculum. It can be used for PE and athletics and should reach about 150 students per semester. Richard said having state-of-the-art equipment at schools also helps retain teachers.

* Lu Interactive Playground Systems — $66,830, at Liberty Elementary School and Southwest Elementary School. The other elementary schools also could receive them in the future.

* STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) carts and supplies — $14,215, Southwest Elementary School. Southwest kindergarten teacher Amy Toler said the carts can help with coding, chain reactions, problem solving, teamwork, power tiles circuits and other hands-on uses.

* Eclipse viewing glasses — $6,500, for all students, staff and schools. Edison Elementary School students made a large thank you card for the foundation for the glasses that was shaped like the eclipse.