Parent helps children connect

January 7, 2019

A disturbing Snapchat between her daughter and a girl she knew left Amy Wiginton reeling : but it also led her to create an after-school program that gets kids away from screens and encourages healthy interactions.

“I knew I needed to do something,” the mother of five said. “We have to connect.”

After several stops and starts, Wiginton launched Project Connect Us in the fall at St. Vincent de Paul School with 10 third-graders and some seventh-grade helpers.

Its logo is hands joined to resemble a heart.

“I want the kids to look at their hands and say, ‘OK, what can I do?’” Wiginton said, noting there’s value in connecting not through screens but through such actions as hugs, high-fives and thumbs-ups.

Wiginton targeted elementary school students so they will be better prepared for whenever they get a smartphone and become interested in social media, she said.

The group met five times, with each week focused on a different theme: fun, family, friends, faith and foundation.

“I call them the five finger factors to making healthy human connections,” Wiginton said.

Meetings included crafts, team bonding activities, a hat and glove drive benefiting children at the Euell A. Wilson Center and a role-playing exercise that demonstrated the difficulty of knowing someone’s true identity online, Wiginton said. She also brought in a rotary telephone so children could learn phone calls used to involve more patience, less privacy and no text messaging.

There’s value in hearing someone speak, she told them.

“If we don’t hear their voice, we don’t know if we’ve upset them,” Wiginton said.

Wiginton, who also offers workshops for parents, hopes to bring Project Connect Us to more schools. Call 260-494-8650 for more information.



• Bishop Luers High School, 333 E. Paulding Road, will host a New Family Financial Aid Knight at 6 p.m. Thursday in the media center. Enter through door No. 3 near the cafeteria. The meeting is for new interested parents of students entering Luers in the 2019-20 academic year. A Spanish interpreter will be available.

• The new freshman enrollment opens at 8 a.m. Jan. 14 for the 2019-20 academic year. Go to www.bishopluers.org and look under the “Admissions” tab for the link to “New Student Application.” Follow the instructions on the next page by clicking on the “Parent Portal” link. Parents will need to create a new account and complete the application. The following documents are required: student’s birth certificate, first semester eighth-grade report card, most recent ISTEP scores (seventh grade), NWEA scores (if applicable) and attendance and discipline record. The application fee is 135. For more information, contact Jenny Andorfer at 456-1261 ext. 3139 or jandorfer@bishopluers.org.

Recognition, scholarship

• Steven Nicolet, director of annual giving at Trine University, received a Silver award from District V of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education during the organization’s annual conference in Chicago. The university was recognized in the “Best Event on a Shoestring” category for Trine Day on April 13. The one-day, 24-hour challenge invited alumni, students, employees and friends to celebrate by dressing in their favorite Trine gear and supporting the university with a charitable contribution. With a dedicated budget of less than 83,000 from 259 donors.

• Indiana Tech has established a new Ph.D. scholarship for faculty and staff members at community colleges nationwide, reducing tuition costs for eligible students by 20 percent. The university’s Ph.D. in Global Leadership program offers specializations in academic administration and organizational management, making it an ideal choice for community college faculty and staff seeking to expand their knowledge and advance their careers in higher education. For more information, contact Kristin Conley, director of Ph.D. admissions, at 260-422-5561 ext. 3417 or KNConley@IndianaTech.edu or go to www.phd.indianatech.edu.


• The Zamboni at Trine University’s Thunder Ice Arena has a new look in honor of a gift and sponsorship by university trustee Jack Shaw and his wife, Sue. Photos of Clydesdales from Great American Clydesdales in Orland now decorate the ice resurfacer. The Shaws own Great American Clydesdales. A message honoring the Shaws’ parents is also included on the Zamboni.


• Warsaw Community Schools selected April Fitterling as its chief financial officer. She joined the district in 2014 as deputy treasurer and was most recently corporation treasurer. She was recently selected as one of the first recipients of the WCS Board Leadership Scholarship and will be pursuing her Master of Business Administration.

• The school board honored Edgewood Middle School student Cayman Blake for his continued dedication to raising awareness on the detriments of smoking cigarettes. While in sixth grade, Blake visited the Indiana House Committee on Public Health to advocate raising taxes on cigarettes. He has been invited to participate and speak before the House panel this month.

• Warsaw Community High School alumni Brayden Sammons and Hunter Haines recently spoke to educator Angie Heinsman’s students about turning their high school dreams into reality : opening an eatery, Campus Craves, in Bloomington. The Indiana University students talked about creating a business plan; the challenge of opening a business at a young age; financing; and the importance of networking. They credited Heinsman, a Warsaw Area Career Center teacher, for supporting their idea.

Students and parents who have a favorite teacher can nominate the individual for Teacher Honor Roll. Send nominations to The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email asloboda@jg.net.

To submit an item, send a typed release from the school or organization to Education Notebook, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email asloboda@jg.net at least two weeks before the desired publication date.

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