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News Articles & Press Releases
 

Fifth graders give Cinderella her day in court

Published in the Port Clinton News Herald, October 25, 2015

PORT CLINTON - Thanks to the fifth grade students from Port Clinton's Bataan Memorial school, Cinderella finally got her day in court.

The students performed the mock trial live in the actual primary courtroom for the Ottawa County Court of Common Pleas. Probate and juvenile court Judge Kathleen Giesler oversaw the trial.

Cinderella, now crowned princess, was suing her wicked stepmother's estate for all of the back wages earned during the many years of housework as a scullery maid.

Following a brief yet quite dramatic trial, and much to the surprise of those in the courtroom eagerly awaiting the verdict, the jury found in favor of the defendant, Lady Tremaine.

When Judge Giesler polled the jury, asking each how they voted and why, the foreman initially protested, not wishing to reveal why he voted the way he did. Giesler used the opportunity to explain, in real trials jurors have the right not explain why even when polled; however, this trial was an exception. The jurors then happily obliged.

The majority of the students said that they felt that as a member of the family given food and shelter, Cinderella did not have the right to demand payment for household chores. A few students felt differently, explaining that Cinderella's awful stepsisters were spoiled with expensive clothes and jewelry without having to ever do any kind of work, while the hardworking Cinderella never got those things.

The verdict turned out differently than it had in rehearsal. One student said she was able to change the minds of few other jurors by pointing out that Cinderella's servants are doing the same work she did without being paid wages. During trial, the plaintiff's attorney objected to a question about her servants' earnings, arguing it was irrelevant to the case at hand, but the judge overruled.

Giesler said that, though she has not been on a jury herself, a persuasive juror during deliberations probably happens in real trials as well.

The most important thing she hopes students take away from the mock trial experience, Giesler said, is realizing how important the role of the jury really is in our justice system.

"Getting the opportunity to be on a jury is a privilege," she said. "But it's difficult to sit in judgment of people."

jstinchcom@gannett.com

419-734-7504

Twitter: @JonDBN

 

Judge Kathleen Giesler visits class - Published Article
(click image to enlarge)

 

Till Next Time- Published Article

 
 

Judge Giesler visits fourth graders

PORT CLINTON -- On Sept. 17, Judge Kathleen Giesler visited the fourth grade class at Immaculate Conception School. Judge Giesler is the judge of the Ottawa County Probate/Juvenile Court. She is the first woman to be elected to judicial office in Ottawa County.

Giesler came to Immaculate Conception School to promote the "You Gotta Love Parents" writing contest. She discussed the judicial process with the students. She then explained the contest, which is part of Ottawa County Parents' Week, Oct. 14 through 20. The students must write either a letter to their parents describing what makes them special or an essay about what makes a good parent. Letters or essays will then be judged by Giesler and several others. One winner from each fourth grade class in the county will be chosen. The winners will be invited to attend breakfast with their family at Saint John Lutheran Church on Oct. 16.

The students had some great questions for Giesler. They are very excited to write a letter to their parents. It gives them a chance to take the time and think about how special their parents really are.

Published in The Port Clinton News Herald on Oct. 04, 2012

 

From the pens of children ...
Students write essays about mom, dad

PORT CLINTON -- Two dozen fourth-graders and four dozen smiling parents ate breakfast Tuesday at St. John's Lutheran Church before diving into the real treat -- essays students wrote about their parents as part of a countywide assignment.

"Hope Taft began Parents Week celebrations," Ottawa County Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Geisler said. "Many counties have continued it, and we are one of them.

Geisler praised the celebration of parenthood established by the former Ohio first lady.

"Oh, yes, the parents are happy," Geisler said. "It lets them know they're appreciated."

Twenty girls and four boys read their 100-word essays for those gathered. During the readings, the appreciation for parents was generous, and obvious.

Essays were packed with thanks for just about everything, from the basics like food and water and a place to sleep to the extra perks, like rides on all- terrain vehicles and trips to the beach.

Some fourth-graders were proud of their parents for working two jobs, saving money and cheering them on at sporting events. Geisler read lines from a number of non-winning essays after the winners read theirs.

Some were even happy, and thankful, their parents didn't keep their word.

"Mom, you let us get a cat when ours died, and Dad, you don't throw the cat out the window like you say you will," one student wrote.

If one thing was apparent, it was that many of the area's fourth-graders are very honest.

"It's amazing what fourth-graders write," Geisler noted with a smile, before quoting a line from another essay: "She's loud and needs to be in charge all the time. And she has big hair."

The winning essays included wide-ranging descriptions of parents who specialized in choice activities, such as helping with homework, cheering kids up when they're sad and not staying mad at them for too long. Many also contained references to receiving punishment, guidance and curfews.

Throughout, the audience was rapt with "oohs," "aahs" and laughter.

Sierra Robinette's mom, Tina, was more than willing to stand up with her daughter, one of the essay winners.

"It was exciting," she said. "I didn't even know anything about it until last Thursday."

Tina Robinette said a teacher called the residence for Sierra and she thought her daughter might be in trouble.

"It was cute," she said of Sierra's reading. "We always tell her she's beautiful."

Carroll Elementary School's fourth-grade class was represented by Hannah Genzman.

"She was absolutely delighted to be with her mom and dad," said Carroll Principal Judy Peters. "She's a great, well-rounded kid."

Peters said the visits by Geisler and Ottawa County Probate Court Administrator Lori Clune were helpful.

"They talked a little about government and what Judge Geisler does," Peters said. "The essays were an assignment for language arts class."

Peters said the classroom teachers look forward to their students putting writing skills to work each year.

"It's a great opportunity to showcase our kids," she said.

A drawing was held afterward and gift certificates to Island Adventures, African Safari and Pizza Hut were awarded.

Published in The Port Clinton News Herald on Oct. 19, 2011



CASA honors volunteers with special event

PORT CLINTON -- The Ottawa County Court Appointed Special Advocates Board of Directors held an event in appreciation for volunteer advocates.

Volunteer advocates serve abused, neglected and dependent children of Ottawa County. An evening of champagne and chocolate was hosted by Board Member Linda O'Brian and her husband, Wade.

CASA volunteers are specially trained to work and speak on behalf of children in the courtroom. These volunteers spend countless hours learning about the lives of the children they serve. This information helps the court make decisions in the best interest of the children.

Several awards were presented to volunteers who have gone above and beyond. The Rising Star award, presented to a volunteer who has been serving for less than two years, went to JoAnn Behlke. The Volunteer of the Year award went to Rosalyn Barnhill, who in addition to serving many children, organized and coordinated a day of "Celebrating Oneself." This was a day of special pampering and self-esteem building for young moms involved in the program.

The Jennie R. Dornbusch Beacon of Light award was presented to Judge Kathleen Giesler for her assistance to the program. Giesler has been instrumental in guiding the board of directors, danced in the inaugural Ottawa County CASA Dances with the Stars event and continues to support the program in many ways.

Ottawa County CASA is recruiting volunteers for a new class. The number of children and families being served continues to grow. Anyone with a desire to help the county's most vulnerable children is welcome to apply. Call the office at 419-301-0225.

Published in The Port Clinton News Herald on Oct. 19, 2011


Left to Right: Judge Richard Carey (Clark County); Judge Jack Puffenberger (Lucas County); Judge Thomas Swift (Trumbull County); Judge Charles Hague (Ashtabula County); Judge Giesler; Judge R.R. Denny Clunk, Retired; Judge Philip Mayer (Richland County); Judge Kenneth Spicer (Delaware County); and Judge Dixilene Park (Stark County)

“OTTAWA COUNTY JUDGE ELECTED TO
PRESIDENT OF STATE ASSOCIATION”

Judge Kathleen L. Giesler of the Ottawa County Probate/Juvenile Court recently became the President of the Ohio Association of Probate Judges. Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor administered the oath of office to Judge Giesler during the judges’ summer conference in Columbus.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this association over the next two years and to work with judges throughout the State of Ohio”, Judge Giesler said. She has served as the probate and juvenile judge in Ottawa County since 2003.

The Ohio Association of Probate Judges was organized in 1897 and is dedicated to the improvement of probate law and to the efficient and effective administration of justice within courts having probate jurisdiction.


 

Judge Kathleen Giesler was sworn in for second term

Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Giesler jokes with family and friends after a swearing-in ceremony at the Ottawa County Courthouse on Friday. (Jonathon Bird/News Herald)

PORT CLINTON -- Nearly 100 people turned out to see Judge Kathleen Giesler take her oath of office for her second 6-year term as Ottawa County Judge of Probate and Juvenile Court.

Friends, family and colleagues crowded the gallery and jury seats, leaving standing room only in the common pleas courtroom as Judge Paul Moon administered the oath.

Law enforcement and education professionals, elected officials and members of the bar association attended the event. Moon said Giesler first served the court as the domestic relations magistrate, the position currently held by Magistrate Bruce Winters until he takes his oath of office as he assumes Moon's role as Common Pleas Court Judge.

"Today and the next two Fridays are a testament to the inexorable passage of time," Moon said. "And I'm out of here."

Giesler thanked her family, the local bar association and her staff. Her husband Ron and granddaughter Ashley Mauder watched as she took her oath.

She said she looked through her notes from the first time she took the oath of office six years ago, and quoted American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. The judge said she planned to have a small ceremony, but her staff talked her into having a reception afterward.

She said she had no idea so many people would come. Giesler said she truly enjoyed working with everyone in her office.

"You make my job and my life so much easier," she said.

Originally published January 19, 2009, Port Clinton News Herald


 

Court gets 12 new laptops

PORT CLINTON -- Do the 12 days of Christmas include 12 laptop computers?

Members of the Ottawa County Probate and Juvenile Court Strategic Planning Advisory Board are Jack Nitz of Port Clinton City Schools, standing in for Superintendent Pat Adkins, Chris Galvin of Ottawa County United Way, Dennis Russo of Ohio Telecom, Chip Palazzo of FirstEnergy, Judge Kathleen Giesler, Martin Sutter of GenoaBank and Jay Faris of Ottawa County Probation Services. Back row: Deputy clerk Jenn Simpson and court administrator Lori Clune. Not pictured are Len Partin and Glenda Ward. (Submitted photo)

They do for the Ottawa County Juvenile and Probate Court, thanks to a donation from FirstEnergy.

Earlier this month the company donated the Dell computers to the court. Chip Palazzo, Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station's senior nuclear external affairs representative, serves on the court's strategic planning advisory committee.
From employees and volunteers to Judge Kathleen Giesler, the donation was appreciated.

"It was wonderful," the judge said. "It's just amazing in this community how, when you ask, people will step up."

She said the advisory planning committee meets quarterly to give court personnel advice on how to run the office more efficiently.

According to the judge, when computer issues were discussed Palazzo said he would check to see if his company would be able to make a donation.

Giesler said when she received the e-mail saying the donation was approved, she said, "Oh, my goodness!" As personnel opened the same e-mail, the reaction was the same -- a chorus of "Oh, my goodness!" throughout the court offices.
According to court administrator Lori Clune, they are now looking at which computer programs are needed and what type of information needs to be tracked.

"One of our challenges in the court has been our case management system," she said. "All of our programs are grant funding."

Grants are often awarded based on specific statistics and outcomes. "We don't have a system that really captures that," Clune said.

The laptops will likely be used in the court's alternative classroom, by probation officers and by volunteers. "We're short office space," the administrator said.

They will also be used to give power-point presentations, during home visits and when probation personnel visit county schools, according to Clune.

"They have to take notes as to when they meet with kids, what issues were addressed," she said.

One will be used for backup records of court proceedings.

Jay Faris, director of probation services, said the donated laptops will help court personnel be better prepared.

"The outcomes help us to predict the future, too," Faris said. "We really don't have tracking for the past three years to predict what will happen in the next three years."

"We have an equipment distribution program. The laptops that we have for our employees, we have about 11,000 employees across FirstEnergy, we turn those over about every three years or so. When there's a need in the community we're able to pass those resources, used resources, and put them to work in other places," Palazzo said.

"They're going to be able to do a lot more, more efficiently and more effectively for the benefit of all residents of Ottawa County."

Originally published December 29, 2008, Port Clinton News Herald


Local judge, recorder help train others

PORT CLINTON -- Kathleen L. Giesler, judge of the Ottawa County Probate and Juvenile Courts, and Virginia M. Park, Ottawa County recorder, both recently assisted in teaching separate two-day seminars in Columbus.

Giesler assisted in instructing 14 newly elected Probate and Juvenile Judges and Park assisted in teaching 16 newly elected recorders in their official duties.

Giesler first participated in a panel discussion with two other judges from Lorain and Hamilton counties, to discuss the "nuts and bolts" of being a juvenile court judge. This session covered budgets, personnel supervision, docket management, relationships with community organizations and other administrative matters.

Giesler also personally taught a session on Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency of minor children. In the final session, she participated in simulated trials where each of the new judges was seated "on the bench" in a courtroom to act out difficult situations. These sessions focused on the ability and demeanor of the new judges in controlling the atmosphere of a courtroom.

Park joined the Executive Committee of the Ohio Recorders Association in serving as a teacher for a two-day New Recorder's Seminar. The teaching materials were compiled and written by Park, with revisions by four other Recorders who also helped teach the seminar.

Park taught two of the seven sessions. The first covered fees collected by county recorders and described how to interpret the laws covering charges for recordings, filings, copies of documents, facsimile transmissions, and microfilm images. Park discussed how to handle these public monies and the procedures for paying them into county or state funds. She also discussed rules of ethical conduct for elected officials.

Park taught a final session covering "miscellaneous" items, giving new recorders the opportunity to ask questions about areas of interest.

Discussion covered continuing education certification for recorders, laws dealing with duties of recording, and use of the state-wide ORA video in training personnel. Park also offered suggestions for public relations options for recorders, among other topics.

This was the fourth time that Park has served on the faculty for the New Recorders Seminar.

Originally published December 29, 2008, Port Clinton News Herald  


Dance talents of local personalities will be
showcased on Nov. 15

News Herald reports

OAK HARBOR -- Ottawa County Court Appointed Special Advocates Program will showcase the dance talents of local personalities, "Ottawa County Stars Dance For CASA" couples local stars with professional dance instructors who will amaze the audience with exciting dance numbers, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at Community Market VFW Memorial Hall in Oak Harbor.

Doors open at 7 p.m.

The celebrity with the most donations will be declared "Best Celebrity Dancer". Vying for the title are dance duos Sheriff Robert Bratton and Paula Ferguson of Class A Dance, Juvenile and Probate Court Judge Kathleen Giesler and Hank Fox of Class A Dance, Port Clinton Mayor Debbie Hymore-Tester and Timothy Nyman of Black Tie Dance Studio, County Commissioner Carl Koebel and MaryAnn Snider of The Ballet School, and County Commissioner Jim Sass and Annessia Nyman of Black Tie Dance Studio.

The teams are battling it out on the dance floor to raise money so CASA can continue to advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children here in Ottawa County. Jerry Wittman will spin the tunes for the evening, so get your dancing shoes shined up and come ready to have a blast. Hors d'oeuvres will be served and a wine and beer cash bar.

Tickets are $30 and are available by contacting the CASA office at 419-734-7705.

Originally published October 22, 2008, Port Clinton News Herald

 

This week is Parents Week
News Herald reports

PORT CLINTON -- You Gotta Love Parents is the theme for Parents Week in Ottawa County this week.
The week is set aside each year to recognize and celebrate people raising children and to promote the many resources available to help with this extremely vital task. The Ottawa County Family and Children First Council head up the week long celebration.
One activity that has become an annual event is the fourth-grade writing contest. In early September, Juvenile Court judge Kathleen Giesler visited each fourth grade class in the county to encourage the students to write an essay about parents.
They could choose the topic "What makes a good parent" or to tell their parents "You are special because..." A committee from the council read the entries and selected one winner from each fourth-grade class in the county. Those essay winners and their parents were honored at the Parents' Week Kickoff Breakfast at St. John Lutheran Church, 207 Adams St., Port Clinton.

Eat together

Sitting down and eating together as a family is an effective means of maintaining the bond between parent and child. Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University showed that the more a child eats dinner with his or her family, the less likely that child is to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs.
Why not celebrate the week with a special "Eat Together Day?" Here are some suggestions:

  • Have a themed dinner. Pick a certain ethnicity or a fun theme like Halloween foods.
  • The meal doesn't have to be dinner. Prepare a breakfast casserole the night before and start the day with a breakfast together.
  • Take a meal to your aging parents' home. While you eat together, be sure to offer a thank you for the time and energy your parents put into raising you.
  • If time is limited, go for take out. The food does not have to be extravagant for a family to share a quality meal together. Just make sure the TV is off and you're all at the table together with good conversation.

Family conversation

Try some of these Conversation Starters to enrich your family communication at dinner time, bed time or anytime.

  • Complete this sentence, "If I could have my favorite meal it would be..."
  • What is more fun -- going to a movie theater or renting a movie to watch at home?
  • Do you (did you) have a favorite stuffed toy? What is it?
  • What would you do if you won a million dollars?
  • Name two things you are good at.
  • Which state would you like to visit in the Winter? In the Summer?

Family Life Resources

The Ohio State University Extension Ohioline Web site includes some useful fact sheets for parents and families. To access facts sheets such as:

  • Communicating with Your Teen
  • Children and Play
  • Fathering Your Adolescent: Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship
  • Decision Making/Problem Solving With Teens
  • Teaching Children to Resolve Conflict
  • Kids and Cash
  • Why Won't My Child Talk to Me?
  • Don't Clash over Cash
  • Resolving Conflict Constructively and Respectfully
  • Laughter is Really Good Medicine
  • Spending Time with Your Children

Visit the Ohioline Web site at: http://ohioline.osu.edu/ and click on "Families."

Originally published October 23, 2008, Port Clinton News Herald

 
 
SAP helps students with credit recovery
News Herald reports

Seventy-five people gathered to recognize students who made great strides incredit recovery through the Student Achievement Program, May 29.

Ottawa County Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Geisler with some of the people honored May 29 at the Student Achievement Program.

Twenty-three students took advantage of SAP this year. Of those, eight students earned enough credits to graduate from high school and five students completed two years' worth of work in one year.
SAP is a program of the Ottawa County Juvenile Court in partnership with the Department of Job and Family Services and the EHOESC. It provides an educational alternative to the traditional classroom. Students who are credit deficient complete all their courses online. Students hear a variety of speakers and take numerous field trips. They also participate in physical education, counseling, and life skills development. Personal growth, self-awareness, interpersonal skills and responsibility for one's behavior are stressed throughout the program.

Some of the highlights of the year were a tour of Guardian Industries in Millbury, a presentation by Captain Steve Levorchick on the Ottawa County Special Response Team, completion of a First Aid/CPR course, and participation in Tiger Woods' "The First Tee" golf program at the Oak Harbor Golf Club.

Originally published July 21, 2008, Port Clinton News Herald



School board honors Flagship Award winners
News Herald reports

PORT CLINTON -- At the April 22 meeting, the Port Clinton Board of Education recognized the following individuals with Flagship Awards.

Flagship Award winners were honored at the April 22 Port Clinton Board of Education Meeting. Pictured left to right: Patrick Adkins, superintendent of Schools, with Flagship Award recipients Jack Berning, Michelle Kodak, Suzanne Cuevas, Donna Drusbacky, Judge Kathleen Giesler and Board of Education President David Belden.


Judge Kathleen Giesler, Crew Award; There is no greater advocate for children in Ottawa County than Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Giesler. She is a strong supporter of education and is a true partner with the Port Clinton City School District. Her cooperation and concern for the well-being of children has made a great impact on the students of this district.
In constant cooperation with the administration of Port Clinton City Schools, Giesler has initiated numerous programs. The SAP program offers students a second chance at high school graduation. Her court also sponsors the "You Gotta Love Parents" Week Essay contest for fourth grade students to honor their parents and practice writing skills.
Grade five students also visit the court each year and participate in a mock trial then tour her court.
Bataan Crossing Guards, Suzanne Cuevas, Donna Drusbacky, Erin Gibbons, Michelle Kodak, and Rachel Lawson, First Mate Award; Through rain, sleet, or snow the Bataan Crossing Guards reported to duty to keep the children of Bataan Memorial Elementary School safe. They help students cross the street and monitor traffic in the area.
These volunteers answered the call to help when the transition teams determined the need for adult crossing guards due to the district reconfiguration. These dedicated individuals help each school day in the morning and afternoon to improve the safety of our students. Under the direction of Physical Education Teacher Adam Siefke, they have continued to come day after day, week after week, and have truly endured some undesirable weather conditions.
Jack Berning, Captain Award; If you ever need help, no matter what the reason, Jack Berning at PCHS is at your service. For the past 14 years, Berning has been in charge of maintenance at Port Clinton High School. The high school is the hub of activity for the community and he graciously works with others to make sure that PCHS is ready to welcome the many students and guests that enter the doors on any given day, officials say.
He works closely with all staff making repairs, doing electrical work, pulling wires/cords for computer equipment, and much more. If you ask Berning to do something it is done.
It is true, his job is to know all about the high school building...but his eagerness to help and pleasant nature makes Jack Berning special. Berning is always accessible, willing to help, and his knowledge makes each job easier, he is a true member of the team.
The Flagship Awards are part of Port Clinton City School District's recognition program to honor parents, community members, staff and students that help the district fulfill its motto of "Proudly Charting a Course for Success.

Originally published May 5, 2008, Port Clinton News Herald


CASA gains independence
Ottawa County has its own children's advocate program

By CATHARINE HADLEY
Port Clinton News Herald

Jonathon Bird/News Herald

Leslie Lynch, the director of CASA, looks over some paperwork along with Connie Snyder and Kami Sayre.

A local program that represents children in court has now become independent.
The Ottawa County Court-Appointed Special Advocate program, which had been part of the Erie County program, became an independent nonprofit organization earlier this month.

Volunteers speak for children during court proceedings.

Ottawa County Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Geisler said the program has been established for a few years. "We wanted to start a CASA program and through the help of Erie County we were able to do that jointly with them," she said. "I really appreciate all that Erie County did for us in getting it started."
She said the work of the volunteers help her do a better job.

"I'm called upon in cases involving abuse, neglected and/or dependent children based on what I hear in the court," Geisler said. CASA volunteers give her more information, which is "valuable in making better decisions," she said.

"They are literally the voice of the child in the courtroom. Children don't come to court in those kinds of cases, and they are able to provide that information that the child has given, that information that they see at home, and it is invaluable for me to make the best decisions that I can," she said. "I can only make decisions regarding those types of cases with information given to me in the courtroom or pre-trial conferences."

Geisler said she receives some information from a child's caseworker, "but they have a caseload and they can only do so much."

"She's very interested in what we have to say," said Leslie Lynch, new CASA director. Along with Geisler, Lynch said the program has received support from Ottawa County Common Pleas Court Magistrate Bruce Winters and State Rep. Chris Redfern.

Lynch said it was time for the local CASA to separate from the Erie County branch. "Erie and Ottawa County, our populations are just very different, and so they kind of mentored us for the last three years and we felt that now was a good time to kind of spread our wings and go out on our own." =

She said the volunteers do thorough research on behalf of the children they represent before they go into the courtroom.

The children are abused, neglected or "dependent on the court to find them a place to live, someone that's going to care for this child," Lynch said.

"We see the worst of the worst," she said. Volunteers gather information about the child through family members and school personnel. "We have a court order stating that we can collect information from doctor's offices, psychological records ... We always get police reports, check the police departments and see what's going on, if the parents have been in trouble before."

The program checks the background of prospective volunteers, then gives them 30 hours of training before they take a case.

"We really need more volunteers," Lynch said. The local program has about 15 volunteers, who learn about domestic violence, substance abuse, neglect and anger management as part of their training.

Volunteer Connie Snyder said she has learned "how to spot some of those things when you're dealing with a case," she said, including "how to ask a child pertinent questions."

She said the work takes a considerable commitment of time. "We're not allowed to have more than two cases," she said. "The total number of hours you put in a month is anywhere from two to 30."

"When you get a case, it's not over in six months," she said. A CASA volunteer may follow a child's progress until the child turns 18 years old, Snyder.

Snyder was the Volunteer of the Year last year. "The biggest reward as a volunteer is to see happy smiling children," she said. "They're allowed to be children again."

Kami Sayre is the funding coordinator for the program, which recently became a non-profit organization.

"We get a lot of our money from the United Way, and we're also funded by the courts," she said.

Lynch said the program is run on a "shoestring budget," and fundraisers will be planned in the future.

Originally published January 23, 2008, Port Clinton News Herald


Juvenile court will now accept credit cards Ottawa County Juvenile Court has announced that it is now accepting major credit cards including MasterCard, Discover and American Express, along with debit cards that have the MasterCard logo.

The leading payment transaction provider, Official Payments Corp., will charge a nominal fee for this service. Payments will be accepted for court costs, fines and deposits in person at the court, online at www.officialpayments.com or by calling (800) 272-9829. At the prompt, enter jurisdiction code 4578.

Methods of payment now include cash, cashier check, money order, personal checks, and credit and debit cards.


Ottawa County parents honored
News Herald reports


OAK HARBOR --Ottawa County celebrated Parents Week with a kickoff breakfast in Oak Harbor Oct. 23 with 135 community members attending.

The event was sponsored by Family and Children First Council and made possibly by donations from First Energy; Brush Wellman; U.S. Gypsum; Community Markets; First Community Church, Gypsum; Community Markets, First National Bank, Port Clinton; and Ottawa County 4-H.

Ottawa County Commissioners' President Carl Koebel, alongside Commissioners Steve Arndt and Jim Sass, read the proclamation for Ottawa County declaring Oct. 21-27 "You Gotta Love Parents" week in Ottawa County. Judge Kathleen L. Giesler of the Ottawa County Probate and Juvenile Courts is the spokeswoman for Parents Week and emphasized the wonderful job parents and caregivers do with raising the children in our community. Giesler also shared comical bits from what fourth-graders throughout the county said in their essays about how parents can be better.

Giesler visited 21 fourth-grade classes this fall to talk about Parents Week in Ottawa County and explain the Fourth-Grade Essay Contest. Fourth-graders were given the opportunity to write a 100-word essay on one of two topics. The winners of the contests, as well as their parents, were recognized at the breakfast.

Winners of the essay contest were: Ellis Adolph, Immaculate Conception Catholic School; Briana Rock and Samantha Wilkinson, Danbury School; Jasmine Garcia, Emily Shaw, Taylor Steyer, Molly Emerson, Dallas Helson and Kelcie McCord, Jefferson Elementary; Rachel Thierren, Erica Harder, Maranda Mullins, Amanda Bartson and Logan Shamp, Allen Central; Nichole McDonald, Graytown Elementary; Shelbie Tabbert, Carroll Elementary; Kayla Ann MaDonna Lemmon, Amanda Lorentz and Alex O'Lalde, R.C. Waters; Mary Kebker, St. Boniface School, Oak Harbor; Madison Dombrowsky, Rocky Ridge Elementary; and Meredith Engel, Put-in-Bay School.

The winning essays may be read at www.ottawacountyjuvenilecourt.com.

Each winner received a bag of prizes donated from a local business. Nagoya, Monsoon Lagoon and African Safari Wildlife Park donated the grand prizes for three winners.

Magical entertainer Dennis Russo provided entertainment for the morning.

Community leaders, school officials, parents and grandparents were present to recognize and celebrate people raising children and to promote the role of positive parenting throughout the county.

The Parents Week Committee consisted of co-chairs Kathy Booher from Ohio State University Extension, Lori Clune from probate/juvenile court, Giesler, Koebel, Marcia Jess from OSU Extension, Ralph Yoss with Family and Children First, and Janet Gray-Moore with Family and Children First.

Originally published November 6, 2007, Port Clinton News Herald

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Ottawa Co. CASA swears in volunteers
News Herald reports

The new Ottawa County CASA/GAL volunteers stand with Judge Kathleen Giesler (left), Krista Underwood, Tara Myers, Nichole Velliquette, Lolita Blay, Ottawa County CASA Director Leslie Lynch, Yvonne Hall and Candy Bensch.

Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Giesler had the opportunity to swear in six new Ottawa County CASA/GAL volunteers.
The Court Appointed Special Advocate mission is to support and promote advocacy for abused, neglected and dependent children.
The CASA volunteer's job is to ensure that the best interests of the child are represented in all court proceedings.
These volunteers are the eyes and ears of the juvenile court judge by providing pertinent information to help in the decision-making process. The information is vital in helping to provide a safe and healthy environment for children. The main quality needed when deciding to become a CASA volunteer is the desire to make a difference in a child's life.
For information about the program, contact the CASA office at (419) 734-7705

Originally published July 3, 2007, Port Clinton News Herald

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Keeping kids in school
County judge starts program to curb truancy and dropout rates

By ROBERTA REDFERN
News Herald correspondent

PORT CLINTON --Shirley Crabtree's sons didn't get into any really serious trouble. Some fighting with peers; some underage drinking.

But it was enough trouble to land them in the juvenile court system and cause them to lose time and momentum in school. So it was with relief that the Genoa resident welcomed an opportunity for the boys -- now a junior and senior -- to get back on track through a program initiated by the Ottawa County Juvenile Court system.

The program piloted this summer by Ottawa County Juvenile and Probate Judge Kathleen Giesler was one of several she started since taking over the bench to try to curb truancy and dropout rates in the schools and ensure increased student success.

For Crabtree, whose sons attended the school for about nine weeks during this summer, it was an opportunity to gain what they had lost the previous school year -- and more.

"It was a great program. Even though the boys had to go from 9:30 (a.m.) to 4 in the afternoon, both of them really enjoyed it," Crabtree said. " They (the kids in the program) are basically troubled kids who have been through the court system and had some trouble in school, and this program gives them a chance. I know it really built their self-esteem -- they came out of there

feeling like they had accomplished something."

The program, called the Student Achievement Program, started in full Tuesday, and goes hand-in-hand with one of Giesler's other programs to increase attendance rates in Ottawa County schools. She started the Truancy Mediation Program in 2003.

"Not only are we getting our kids back in school, but research also shows that if they are not in school, they are sometimes committing delinquent acts," Giesler said. "Statistics show that truancy is the first sign of trouble."

One of the program's goal is to reduce the number of truancy complaints that land in court by sending a trained mediator into the schools to meet with the student, parents, school officials and the court's truancy officer, Gary Truman. Together, the group creates a plan to keep the student going to school, based on determinations why the student is skipping in the first place.

Officials follow up to make sure both the parents and the students are complying. During the 2004-05 school year, there were 186 truancy referrals. Of those, 133 reached an agreement through the mediation and only nine truancy complaints were filed, as opposed to 54 truancy complaints against juveniles in the 2002-03 school year. Since the programs implementation, the school districts have seen a 40 percent reduction in truancy complaints against juveniles that lands them in court, Giesler said.

"It improves attendance and keeps kids in school, but as a by-product of that we could hopefully keep some of these kids out of the courtroom," Giesler said. "(Truancy) is one of the most powerful predictors of juvenile delinquency."

The county was able to start the program through grant funds, and now pays for it through court fees, said Lori Clune, the court's administrator. The majority of the cost is to pay the four trained mediators that handle the mediation process. The program cost $7,000 to run in the 2004-05 school year, she said.

Another goal of the program beyond keeping the students in school is to tackle the underlying problems that sometimes aren't readily obvious on the surface. When Ottawa County officials got together last year through a program called Partnership For Success to discuss some of the county's top concerns, keeping kids in school was one of them. But it was not only to ensure that they are successful in getting an education, but to curb other underlying issues within the family that could result in bigger problems, said Lynn DeTray, director of probation and court services.

"We can help the families with those other issues, not just make sure the child is in school," DeTray said.


Originally published September 7, 2005, Port Clinton News Herald


 

MEDIATION PROGRAM

For more information about the Ottawa County Mediation Program, call Attendance Officer Gary Truman at the Ottawa County Educational Service Center at 419-855-3589.

WHAT IS TRUANCY AND WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?

Habitual Truancy: When a student is absent without a legitimate excuse for five or more consecutive days, seven days within a month or 12 days within a school year.

Chronic Truancy: When a student is absent without a legitimate excuse for seven or more consecutive days, 10 days in any month, or 15 days within a school year.

Parents whose children violate these laws are notified of the need for their child to attend school. If attendance officer Gary Truman receives a second notice from the school district that the child is still not in compliance, that student is cited and brought into court. Among ordering the student to attend school routinely, a judge can also order diagnostic assessments, place the child on probation, take away driving privileges and order him or her to do community service. Parents can also be cited for not complying with the law.

AREA ATTENDANCE RATES

Percentages of attendance for Ottawa County School Districts:

Benton-Carroll-Salem -- Not available for years 2000 to first half 2003. School year 2003-04, 95.2; 2004-05, 95.3.

Danbury -- Not available for 2000 to first half 2002: School year 2002-03, 94.8; 2003-04, 95.2; and 2004-05, 95.2.

Genoa -- School year 2000-01, 95.7; 2001-02, 95.6 ; 2002-03, 96.4; 2003-04, 95.6; 2004-05, 95.1.

Port Clinton -- School year 2000-01, 94.5; 2001-02, 93 ; 2002-03, 95.1; 2003-04, 95.3; 2004-05, 95.4.

Put-in-Bay -- Not available for 2000 to first half 2002. School year 2002-03, 96.9; 2003-04, 96.2; and 2004-05, 95.4

Woodmore -- School year 2000-01, 95.5; 2001-02, 95.8 ; 2002-03, 95.5; 2003-04, 96; 2004-05, 95.7.

The root of the problem
Program puts focus on issues behind truancy

By ROBERTA REDFERN
News Herald correspondent

For almost 30 years, Gary Truman chased burglars, solved crimes and tried every day to bring justice to the village of Genoa.

Now, five years after his retirement as Genoa's police chief, he is hoping to bring a different type of justice to the community through his work as Ottawa County's school attendance officer.

Truman took on the role four years ago and now works closely with the Ottawa County Juvenile and Probate Court and Judge Kathleen Giesler, who took the bench in February 2003. The overall goal of the mediation program is to keep students in school and out of court -- the less apparent goal is to deal with underlying issues that result in problems later.

"It really gets the parents involved in what the kids are doing in school, as well as the problems of why they are not getting up and going in the first place.," Truman said. "We definitely try to keep the kids from standing in front of the judge. Mediation is just one bite of the apple."

"Everything has been pretty positive for us. The first year we took over (and implemented the program) there were a lot of students who had been cited into court. The trend has been that we have more kids attending school on a regular basis. And the schools are getting more involved and getting them into mediation too before we have to send in a (truancy) notice."

At Port Clinton High School, there has been a push to make student attendance a priority,

even before the judge's mediation program was in place, said Bob Beck, assistant principal at PCHS.

"Over the last few school years we have put a stronger emphasis on attendance and have been working hard with the judge on the programs she has implemented," Beck said. "Our attendance rates have increased the last two or three years, and as those rates go up, our students have a greater opportunity to excel in the educational arena because we have worked on this."

In the program's first year, Truman was a part of 11 mediations. The program has grown so much, that during the last school year, he was involved in 186 mediation referrals.

Although Truman was no stranger to controversy and sometimes butted heads with public officials during his time as Genoa police chief, his dedication to the community he was working in must have been apparent to some. The 58-year-old was approached to take on the attendance position shortly after his retirement while he was doing some work for a private investigative agency.

While he works on all aspects of school law in his position, he concentrates mostly on the truancy aspect. The program goes beyond working within the mediation process -- Truman also provides education on the subject to students in the classroom through talks and hands-on activity to improve student success. He believes in the cause strongly, even offering to come into the family's home and work on issues if need be.

"When they told me about the program, I said 'Where do I sign?' This way I can still be involved with the community and the schools," he said.

Originally published September 8, 2005
Port Clinton News Herald

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Dropping out creates huge cost for society

The cost of high school dropouts is huge for Ohio. Although the state and area school districts are implementing programs to get students to stay in school, more work needs to be done.

The statistics are staggering. According to information gathered for a three-day series that we published on the dropout problem here and across the state, the financial toll in Ohio is as much as $8 billion, which includes lost productivity and funding for adult educational services, welfare, indigent health care, legal fees and incarceration.

An estimated 45,000 Ohio teenagers are projected to dropout this year, about as many students enrolled at Ohio State University in Columbus. That's three out of every 10 students.

Many of the dropouts will earn General Education Development diplomas, but education and employment experts say the GED isn't the same as a high school diploma. Although it's better than no diploma, a person holding a GED will have more difficulty finding a job and will be paid less over their lifetime than a person with a regular diploma.

A variety of programs are in place or being developed in the area to keep students in school.

In Ottawa County, Juvenile and Probate Judge Kathleen Giesler has started programs, including the Student Achievement Program, which seeks to cut down on truancy.

Port Clinton schools have started the Virtual Learning Academy, a Web-based program that helps students keep track of their class credits and stay in school.

At Fremont Ross, new Principal Sandy Werling wants to cut into a 16 percent dropout rate by creating a dropout prevention team that includes Werling, guidance counselors, attendance clerks and students.

Clyde High School uses a different learning environment at its Alternative Learning Center to keep students on track for a diploma.
These and other programs are necessary, and more needs to be done to keep kids in school. It costs less in the long run.

Originally published September 20, 2005 Port Clinton News Herald


Parents need to listen to kids' suggestions

During this week, Ottawa County is once again celebrating Parents' Week. It is a time set aside specifically for the purpose of recognizing the vital role that parents play in the lives of our children.

As county spokesperson, I have the opportunity each year to visit all of the fourth graders at our area schools. After introducing myself and telling them a little bit about my job in the juvenile court, we get down to the business of talking about parents. I have come to the conclusion that we have some very good parents in our midst. That's not to say, however, that fourth graders do not have a bit of parenting advice to make good parents even better.

This year each of the school children were asked to contribute a tip for a parenting book that we are assembling for distribution during Parents' Week. Since we have more than 400 fourth graders in Ottawa County, responses were quite varied -- from "sit down and talk to me after school" to "don't get vegetable chips!"

There were three key areas, however, that seemed to emerge from the multitude of recommendations. It would be wise for our parents to heed their advice. Our 9- and 10-year-olds certainly have their opinions as to discipline. They do not like it when parents yell. Grounding is specifically frowned upon. Talk to your children about consequences. Give warnings before you apply discipline.

A popular response dealt with school and learning. Kids want their parents to help them with their homework. Ask them about school when the family gathers at the end of the day. Read to your children. Take them to the library.

Above all, many fourth graders want their parents to spend more time with them. How? They suggest that you play with your child. Eat dinner together. Help practice sports and attend their games. Take vacations. Simply pay attention to them.

We should be proud of our parents here in Ottawa County. In most instances, they are doing a great job.

A Portage fourth grader said it best, "Put a lot of good memories in your child's head for when they're older so they can look back and say what good parents I had."

Kathleen Giesler is the Ottawa County juvenile court and probate judge. She is also the county spokeswoman for the local Parents' Week celebration.


Originally published September 29, 2005

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Ottawa County kicks off Parents Week

Ottawa County celebrated Parent's Week with a kickoff breakfast Tuesday in Oak Harbor.

Ottawa County Commissioners' President John Papcun read the proclamation for Ottawa County declaring Sept. 26 through Oct. 1 as "You Gotta Love Parents..." Week in Ottawa County.

Judge Kathleen L. Giesler of the Ottawa County Probate and Juvenile Courts is the spokesperson for Parent's Week and emphasized the "wonderful job" parents and caregivers do with raising the children in our community.

Fourth grade classes in the county were given the opportunity to write an essay on either "What Makes a Good Parent" or "I Hate It When My Parents...., But I Love It When My Parents..." The winners of the contests, as well as their parents, were recognized at the kickoff breakfast.

Winners included Quinton Babcock -- St. Boniface; Whitney Best -- Danbury; Hannah Kneisley -- Portage; Hannah Sarty -- ICS; Cheyenne Meek -- Jefferson; Shelby Gerwin -- Bataan; Alexandria Erd -- Allen; Megan Dunn -- Graytown; Amanda Sosa -- Carroll; Elyse Hablitzel -- RC Waters; Trinity Gephart -- Rocky Ridge; Madeline Pugh -- Put-In-Bay.

Each winner received a bag of prizes donated from local business. Cedar Point, Monsoon Lagoon, and African Safari Wildlife Park donated the grand prizes.

Community leaders, school officials and parents and grandparents were present to recognize and celebrate people raising children and to promote the role of positive parenting throughout the county.

The Parent's Week Committee consisted of Chairperson Kathy Booher, Judge Kathleen L. Giesler, Lori Clune, Gabi Felter, Carl Koebel, Marcia Jess, Ralph Yoss, Sue Harger, Susan Gore, and Sharon Hartenstein.

The event was sponsored by Family & Children First Council and made possible by the generous donations of Brush Wellman, Inc., Toledo Edison, Community Markets, and US Gypsum.


Originally published September 28, 2005

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Leadership group gives back for the holidays
News Herald reports

In early November, members of the newly formed Ottawa County Youth Leadership Group solicited donations by offering free lollipops to shoppers leaving Bassett's Market on East Harbor Road in Port Clinton.

Proceeds went to various organizations, such as Ruth Ann's House, Angel Tree and Toys for Tots, to help improve Christmas for kids in the community.

"It was really great of Bassett's to allow us to reach out to the community in front of their store," said Shannon Lang, adult chaperone of the Success Youth Program.

In order to successfully implement this project, the youth requested permission from Bassett's management to solicit donations, they made up slogans and created signs, as well as bought their own bags of lollipops. Over the past few meetings, they bought age appropriate gifts, stockings and stocking stuffers from local merchants. At a recent leadership meeting, members decorated and stuffed stockings for the children of Ruth Ann's House, which were individualized for each child. Christmas presents have been delivered to Angel Tree and Toys for Tots collection sites. During the week of Christmas, the group delivered the Christmas stockings to Linda Hartlaub, executive director of Ruth Ann's House.
The Ottawa County Youth Leadership Group was formed in early October and is comprised of the Youth Experiencing Success sponsored by Ottawa County Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen L. Geisler, The Youth Achievement Program of TDH Enterprises and the Success Youth Program of The Giving Tree.

The group holds weekly meetings at the Oak House on Buckeye Boulevard and are actively planning another community outreach project for the upcoming New Year.

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Area Students Honored At Graduation Ceremony

Attending the ceremony were Port Clinton seniors Shane Oliver and Amanda Thebeau.



A graduation and recognition ceremony was held on January 20 to honor students who participated in the fall semester of the Student Achievement Program. They included Justin Flores,
Ben George, Lee Holmes, Jeremiah Pedigo, Charles Tingler, James Taylor, Troy Lane, Armando Ortiz, Amanda Thebeau and Shane Oliver.

The Student Achievement Program was formed in 2005 through the joint efforts of the Ottawa County Juvenile Court, the Erie-Huron-Ottawa Educational Service Center and the Ottawa County Department of Job and Family Services. Other agencies contributing to the success of the program include the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties, the Ottawa County Commissioners, the Giving Tree and the Ottawa County Transportation Agency.

The goal of the program is to provide students with the necessary academic and life skills to be successful citizens with career-oriented goals. The students earn academic credits through a Virtual Learning Academy and are assisted by on-site tutors. In addition to the academic component, they can participate in counseling to address drug/alcohol issues, emotional distress and school performance. The Juvenile Court’s YES! Program coordinates youth leadership activities, mentoring, and employability skill-building sessions.

“Not all students are able to excel in the traditional learning environment. The VLA provides students an opportunity to complete their coursework at a pace compatible with their style of learning”, stated Juvenile Judge Kathleen Giesler. “This educational alternative allows students to be engaged and experience short-term successes that motivate them to continue in school”.

Danbury Superintendent Martin Fanning and High School Principals Jim Henline of Genoa, Keith Thorbahn of Oak Harbor and Dale VanLerberghe of Port Clinton presented certificates of Achievement to each student.

Also on hand to congratulate the students were Judge Giesler, Kent Watkins, Executive Director of the Ottawa County ESC and many members of the community.

Port Clinton Senior Amanda Thebeau completed all of her coursework a semester ahead of her classmates. She shared her experience of academic success and personal growth. Port Clinton Senior Shane Oliver went from being a “kid who smoked weed and didn’t care about the future to a college-bound student on his way to something great”. He told his underclassmen peers, “Obstacles are easy to overcome. You can go over or around them. Never let them stop you. The only thing that can stop you is yourself...”

Genoa Junior Justin Flores ranks first in the Student Achievement class and serves as Student Legislation President. Together with his classmates, he presented a power point presentation identifying the positive attributes of each of the students.

For more information regarding the program, contact the Ottawa County Juvenile Court at 419-734-6840.

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Sheriff planning crackdown
Underage drinking could be to blame for recent deaths

By KRISTINA SMITH
Staff writer

PORT CLINTON — Authorities believe the deaths of two Ottawa County teens in the past month were related to underage drinking parties, the sheriff said.

Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton would not comment on the cases because they are under investigation.

But local residents’ concerns regarding them and other underage parties has pushed Bratton, the Ottawa County Juvenile/Probate Court and other officials to crack down on illegal social gatherings. As the weather warms and graduations approach, officials expect these parties to become more prevalent.

Police agencies across the county plan to carefully watch for these events and arrest parents who play host and those younger than 21 who drink, Bratton said.

“We’re not trying to catch people being bad,” said Lori Clune, juvenile/probate court administrator. “We’re trying to keep bad things from happening. We view it as a serious problem.”

Parents who allow their children and their children’s friends to drink in their home are not protected if they simply take car keys and refuse to let anyone drive home, Clune said.

“It’s not just the car accidents and drinking and driving,” Clune said. “It’s sexual assaults or someone drinking too much and choking on vomit.”

Parents who don’t know their children are drinking in someone else’s home could also take legal action against those who allow the parties in their homes, Bratton said. Officials want to hold parents who play host accountable.

“The parents want to be their kids’ friends,” Clune said. “They want to be cool.”

Being cool comes at a price. They could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum punishment of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, Clune said.

Drinkers younger than 21 face an underage drinking charge, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum punishment of 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

While some parents are happy to host, others don’t know their children are having parties.

“They could be out of town or out with friends,” Clune said. “By the time they get home at 2 in the morning, the party is over.”

Police agencies have not busted any of these parties but found out about them after they occurred, Bratton said.

He and Clune are asking parents and community members to watch out for these gatherings and to let law enforcement know they are happening. Some have already lent their help by asking for increased enforcement.

At least four worried parents have called Bratton at home to discuss the two teens’ deaths, which occurred in the past month.

“We don’t want to see it happen again,” Bratton said.

Juvenile court and the sheriff’s office are doing everything they can to make parents aware of the problem and the plan to curb the drinking, including an advertisement in the News Herald.

“The first logical procedure seems to be to educate the parents,” said Lynn DeTray, director of probation and court services for juvenile/probate court. “(Hosting) just isn’t worth it. I think there’s a lot of parents out there who are smart enough to internalize that.”

Meanwhile, law enforcement officers are changing how they handle underage drinking parties, Bratton said. Instead of waiting until after the offenders have been released to their parents to get statements, officers will hold the minors until they share their version of events.
Officials hope this procedure will make it easier to force teens to stick to their stories, Bratton said.

“The kids will not tell the truth,” he said. “We’ve had to dismiss charges because they have not maintained their story.”

Some of the county’s initiatives include measures that could affect legal drinkers.

Deputies plan to monitor area bars to make sure everyone drinking is of age and that bartenders do not serve to people who are already drunk. The Ohio State Highway Patrol is scheduled to set up checkpoints around the county to screen drivers, he said.

In June and July, the sheriff’s office plans to send a minor to local carryouts to see if he or she can buy liquor or beer illegally. The stores that make the sales will get a warning.

And if they make another illegal sale during the second operation, the sheriff’s office will fine them, Bratton said. Initial warnings should save stores money because they would normally get an immediate fine, he said.

“We’re showing them we want to work with them,” he said.

Originally published in the Port Clinton News Herald on May 16, 2006

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Photo by Polly Ann Bauman/pbauman@gannett.com

Ben George, 17, front, and Justin Flores, 17, carry a cooler full of walleye Wednesday from the charter boat at Lakeland Charter Services in Port Clinton. The young men, who are students at Erie-Huron-Ottawa Educational Service Center in Genoa, spent the day on the lake complements of Capt. John Stefano. The students were chosen to go out for recent high achievements.


Photo by Polly Ann Bauman/pbauman@gannett.com

Ben George, 17, Capt. John Stefano and Justin Flores, 17, show off their fresh walleye Wednesday

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Ready for the ceremony to begin are Student Legislature President Justin Flores, Advisor BJ Surovjak, Vice President Mondo Ortiz, and, in front, Troy Lane, Treasurer.
 
Above: Judge Kathleen Giesler commends top student Justin Flores for his hard work and dedication. Looking on are Kent Watkins, Executive Director of Ottawa County Operations (behind the Judge) and Oak Harbor High School Principal Keith Thorbahn, far right.

Student Achievement Program Recognizes Accomplishments of Students

For the students in the Student Achievement Program of Ottawa County, this spring semester has been one of overcoming challenges, learning new skills, discovering different career choices and experiencing what Ottawa County and the surrounding area has to offer. From learning to ice skate to learning about impressionist painting at the Toledo Museum of Art, the students have had a busy year. One outing, to the Schedel Gardens in Elmore, so impressed the students that they requested their recognition ceremony be held at the Gardens.

On May 23rd, people who touched the lives of these young people came together to recognize the students for what they have achieved this semester. Family members, teachers, principals, counselors, county officials and members of the juvenile court gathered to honor these young people who have accomplished so much this past semester.

Keynote speaker Ottawa County Assistant Prosecutor Christy Cole talked to the students about overcoming obstacles and becoming successful. She noted that Abraham Lincoln lost his bid to be elected to office several times, and Thomas Edison had hundreds of failed experiments, yet these men continued to work hard to achieve success. She encouraged the students to never give up on their dreams for the future.

Judge Kathleen Giesler brought some humor to the afternoon as she spoke of individual student accomplishments and how classmates perceive each other. She focused on community service and extracurricular activities, such as Laura Pastor and Mondo Ortiz's time spent helping out in the multi-handicapped classroom at Camper School in Genoa. She pointed out that Shawn Colletti is the fastest speed skater in the class and the most likely to write a book, and that Justin Flores is the class bowling champ and top student with a 3.9 GPA who hopes to own his own business someday. Troy Lane is "non-irritating", flexible and friendly and Shane Oliver taught himself geometry. The Judge commended Xavier Carlisle for missing just one day of school this semester and for qualifying for all Friday field trips and said that William Lewis, guitarist and skateboarder, will eat anything that won't eat him first. According to the Judge, James Taylor loves sports and loves to fish, and Taylor Manns, the gentle giant, has impressed his classmates with his good manners and respectfulness. She told the audience that Charles Tingler is so determined to get his work done that he even takes it home and that Ben George, who loves to be outdoors, and is an avid fisherman, earned a 3.8 GPA.

In a touching part of the ceremony, Justin Flores, President of the Student Legislature, introduced each student who, in turn, thanked people for their concern and support. Mondo Ortiz, student speaker, shared his story of being a young runaway who made some very poor choices. Since he came to the SAP program nine months ago, his life has taken a different course. He credits Judge Giesler for his success: "for putting this program together and allowing us to experience...all the other activities...for being there for me and believing in me."

Principals Dale VanLerberghe, Port Clinton City Schools; Keith Thorbahn, Benton-Carroll-Salem Schools; Jim Henline, Genoa Schools and Assistant Principal Joe Miller, Danbury Schools presented Certificates of Achievement to students.

The program ended with encouraging words from Sheriff Bratton, who commended the students on their accomplishments and challenged them to continue to make good choices and to achieve their goals.

Originally published in The Beacon on June 15, 2006

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Program, Student Recognized

The Student Achievement Program is in its fifth year of operation, enabling students to achieve success in education. Sue Guerra, the classroom supervisor, is in her third year at SAP. Martin Fanning joined the program this fall as a full-time tutor.

The Student Achievement Program has served 99 students since its inception. Of that 99, 37 students were juniors and seniors when they entered SAP and 32 of those students met the course requirements needed to graduate from high school.

On December 11, 2009, Juvenile Court personnel involved with the Student Achievement Program traveled to Columbus to accept the Ohio Department of Youth Services Director’s Award for outstanding program. Alicia Wadsworth, a Port Clinton High School student who attended SAP in 2009, was recognized by DYS as the outstanding student.

Department of Youth Services award presenters and recipients pictured (left to right) are Director of DYS Thomas Stickrath, Governor’s Council on Juvenile Justice chair Tom Mullen, First Lady of Ohio Frances Strickland, Jackson County Juvenile/Probate Court Judge Stephen D. Michael, Ottawa County Juvenile/Probate Judge Kathleen L. Giesler, Ottawa County Juvenile/Probate
Court Administrator Lori Clune, coordinator of the Student Achievement Program BJ Surovjak, SAP classroom monitor Sue Guerra, Ottawa County Commissioner James Sass.

SAP is a program of the Ottawa County Juvenile Court in partnership with the Department of Job and Family Services, the Erie-Ottawa Mental Health & Recovery Board, the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department and Northpoint ESC.

It provides an educational alternative to the traditional classroom. Students complete all their courses online. They hear a variety of speakers and take numerous field trips. They also participate in physical education, counseling, and life skills development. Personal growth, self-awareness, interpersonal skills and responsibility for one’s behavior are stressed throughout the program.

There are currently 15 students in the SAP classroom who range in age from 14 to 18. The classroom is equipped with a kitchen, so students are learning culinary skills along with their academics.

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