US2020, part of the national nonprofit Citizen Schools that focuses on building up America’s STEM programs, has announced that the Idaho STEM Action Center is one of the 15 finalists for its STEM Coalition Challenge.

The STEM Action Center was chosen through an application process, where it was evaluated based on its “potential for impact, approach to partnership building, creative engagement strategies and sustainability planning,” according to a press release.

As a finalist, members of the STEM Action Center will join 14 other programs on Jan. 31 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to participate in the STEM Collaboratory (a collaboration laboratory, maybe?), which is a two-day workshop.

Following the workshop, sometime in the spring, eight programs will be chosen to receive two years of financial, consulting and staff support from US2020.

We’ll keep you posted!

Ridgvue speech and debate teacher gets Diamond Coach Award

Applause goes to Ms. (Kristen) Drew, speech and debate coach at Ridgevue High School, for earning a Diamond Coach Award from the National Speech & Debate Association’s Honor Society!

The award is meant to recognize careers exemplifying longtime excellence in speech and debate. To earn it, a coach has to be a member of the honor society for at least five years and earn distinction through team participation, student achievement, public service and their leadership work.

Everything is assigned points, and as soon as you get 1,500 points, you get a Diamond Coach Award. This is called the “first diamond”; a “second diamond” is awarded at 3,000 points and a third is given at 6,000 points. It keeps going from there, but five years must elapse between each diamond award, so it’s not like Ms. Drew can put in some serious effort and get another before the year is out. (Sorry.)

But best of luck to Ms. Drew and her students for a wonderful school year, just the same. Go make a name for this new school of ours!

Andrew Hilty, Kason Reddish win oratorical contest

Congratulations to Andrew Hilty and Kason Reddish for winning first and second, respectively, in the local level of the American Legion High School Oratorical Contest!

In the contest, which was on Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, both Andrew and Kason gave prepared speeches on the U.S. Constitution and citizens’ responsibilities to the government, then spoke on the (unprepared) topic of the Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

Tha Nampa Post of The American Legion oversaw the contest and awarded scholarships, certificates and pins to both boys.

The next step is for Andrew to represent the Nampa Post at the District 3 contest on Jan. 27. In case you are interested in attending, that event will be at 10 a.m. at the Meridian Post, which is 22 W Broadway Ave. in Meridian. The public is invited.

The person who wins at the District 3 competition will go on to the area contest in Payette. After that comes the state level, then the national competition.

Really, this whole tidbit should come as no surprise to the people who know Andrew. He had a successful run at Idaho Boys State in 2017 that led him to participate in its national equivalent, Boys Nation.

He also wants to be an attorney. Don’t be surprised if your next Andrew update is that he won the state level of this contest.

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