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Mars, North Catholic swim teams to cooperate

Mars DME

ADAMS TWP — The Mars Area School District board heard a proposal for a cooperative agreement between the Mars and North Catholic High School swim teams at its work session Wednesday night in the Mars Area High School cafeteria.

Todd Slobodnyak, the Mars swim coach said the declining number of swimmers at both schools prompted the idea of combining the two squads. Slobodnyak said the Mars team currently had 16 swimmers and the North Catholic team had 15. He said North Catholic had approached Mars about combining the teams.

The co-op proposal would cover the 2024-25 and the 2025-26 school years. The two schools would split team expenses equally. Slobodnyak said many of the North Catholic athletes are residents of the Mars district.

Mark Gross, the Mars superintendent said, “The North Catholic students would swim here at Mars as part of the Mars team.”

Slobodnyak said a decision on the tentative swim team co-op would have to be made soon, as the paperwork had to be filed with the WPIAL by Dec. 1 to make the combined team eligible to compete next school year.

Board members also heard from instructional techonology coaches Sasha Zavacky and Jamie Waters on the use of iPads and instructional programs and apps in the teaching of kindergartners and primary school students.

Zavacky said, after her visits to area preschools, students are entering kindergarten well prepared to work with programs such as Reading Egg. The programs and apps make assessing students and identifying and solving students’ problems area much easier than in the past.

Waters said giving iPads to every student “has proven a lifesaver.”

“They can access them at any time through the school day, and they go home with the students,” she said. “We’re all working off the same device. They can send me assignments, and I can comment on them and send them back.”

Waters added the IXL online learning program provides comprehensive K-12 curricula as well as offering virtual learning and the ability to have remote learning days while the Generation Genius package offers science and math lessons and well as videos.

In other business:

— The board approved the placement of 13 student teachers from Slippery Rock University and LaRoche College at the primary center, the high school and Mars Area Elementary and Centennial schools. They will be in classrooms starting Jan. 16.

— The board approved the Mars Area School District Diving Team’s use of facilities agreement for pool usage with the Pine-Richland School for $11,925 for the 2023-24 school year.

— The board approved a service agreement with Wolf Creek Race Management to provide timing services for the Mars track and field meets for the 2023-24 school year at a cost to the district of $700 per meet.

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