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Anna Weselak, from the National PTA board of directors, conducts a workshop on National PTA programs for delegates at the European Congress of American Parents, Teachers and Students Wednesday at Chiemsee, Germany.
Anna Weselak, from the National PTA board of directors, conducts a workshop on National PTA programs for delegates at the European Congress of American Parents, Teachers and Students Wednesday at Chiemsee, Germany. (Rick Emert / S&S)

CHIEMSEE, Germany — Recent DODDS budget cuts, extracurricular activities and physical education were the top issues at the 2003 European Congress of American Parents, Teachers and Students convention held last week at Chiemsee resort.

No formal resolutions were introduced on restoring funds cut from the Department of Defense Dependents Schools budget or in retaining extracurricular activities, but the delegates vowed to lobby at the local level to resolve those issues.

“If there is any truth that the money cut from DODDS education [budget] is going toward funding the war, then we have a problem with that,” said Dave Mattingly, outgoing European PTA president. “We’re not anti-war by any means. We continue to wave our flags proudly. But, we don’t agree with mortgaging a child’s education as a means to pay for war.”

A formal resolution was introduced, at the 2000 ECAPTS convention, to increase students’ physical activity to at least 30 minutes each school day or 150 minutes per week, Mattingly said.

“[The delegates] felt very strongly about this,” Mattingly said. “I felt there was a consensus that this is the most important issue we are facing.”

In the resolution introduced in 2000, the European PTA called for the issue to be resolved within five school years. The problem, again, goes back to DODDS funding. Studies showed that DODDS’ physical education program was operating on only 40 percent of the national minimum acceptable budget.

The aim of the resolution was not to get the same budget as stateside schools, but to pinpoint how much more DODDS must spend to reach the 150-minutes per week of physical activity for students, Mattingly said.

The delegates got a strong show of support from Lt. Gen. John Sylvester, European Command chief of staff and chairman of the European Schools Council. Sylvester spoke candidly to the delegates about EUCOM’s mission and fielded questions on topics ranging from the nutritional value of the school lunch program to DODDS budget cuts.

Sylvester assured the delegates that EUCOM, as well as the Army, Air Force and Navy commands in Europe, were also working to restore the funds cut from DODDS budget last year.

Sylvester left the group of parents, teachers and administrators with some words of encouragement as they continue to lobby for extra curricular activities, improved physical education and more funding.

“Everyone of you in this room, we know what it is you do and go through every day” to educate servicemembers’ children, he said.

Sylvester also echoed the driving theme behind this year’s convention, getting parents more involved in their children’s education.

Don Armell, the newly elected European PTA president, spoke about getting parents, dads specifically, more involved.

Armell said he spent the past three years visiting installations in Europe and meeting with fathers to see what would get them more involved in DODDS schools.

He said his surveys showed that dads need the specifics.

“You can tell a mom that we need some help with the class on a certain day, and she’ll come,” Armell said. “[Many fathers] are not coming into the school unless you tell them what you want them to do.”

“Tell them when to be there, when they’ll be done and exactly what you want them to do, and they’ll come.”

Guest speakers such as Sylvester and Armell inspired the PTA’s newly elected secretary, Sabrina Nylund, she said.

“I have a lot more drive to go and help the children,” Nylund said. “This convention really sets you on fire.”

Nylund, who joined the PTA last year, said parents must take a more active role in their children’s lives.

“I feel that my children are my job, and the school is only there to help me educate my kids,” she said. “It’s not a day-care system. Involved parents create successful children.”

Mattingly said such drive and motivation are the keys to success in resolving the issues brought up at the convention — beginning with each PTA member.

“I hope none of the members think that once we organize a resolution, that’s it,” Mattingly said. “Every member should look for ways to move us toward resolution of these issues by seeing what they can do at the local level.”

ECAPTS honors

The European Congress of American Parents, Teachers and Students convention was not all business. The delegates took time out to honor students who excelled in some the PTA’s programs offered during the school year — Reflections, the scholarship program and the spelling bee.

Four $1,000 scholarships were awarded. Students had to submit an application packet that included an essay on “Heroes of 9/11.” Two of the scholarships were funded by ECAPTS, the other two were funded by private businesses. The winners were:

• Zachary Martens, AFNORTH High School• Adam Monroe, Bamberg High School• Allison Coggins, Patch High School• Brendon Corcoran, SHAPE High School

Two essay winners were honored: Stephanie Stone for an environmental essay and Jeb Rogers for a physical education essay. Both students are from Wurzburg High School.

Dawn Anderson, from Patch Elementary School, was the spelling bee winner.

The Reflections program honors students for achievements in the arts. The winners for each category and the schools they attend follow:

Literature

Primary• Dominic Centanni, Patch Elementary School, award of excellence• Marc Wolfley, Vogelweh Elementary School, award of excellence• Samuel Parent, Aukamm Elementary School, award of excellence

Intermediate• John Pope, Aukamm Elementary School, award of excellence• Allison Hall, Kitzingen Elementary School, award of excellence• Connor Britton, Spangdahlem Middle School, award of excellence• Brittney Warrick, Landstuhl Elementary/Middle School, award of merit

Middle/Junior• Megan Gafford, Vicenza Elementary/High School, award of excellence• Kelli Clovie, Spangdahlem Middle School, award of excellence• Bert Menches, Patch High School, award of excellence• Jonathan Martensen, Heidelberg Middle School, award of merit

Senior• Jason Ullman, Patch High School, award of excellence• Tara Boseman, Ramstein High School, award of excellence• Katherine Tindal, Naples High School, award of excellence

Musical Competition

Primary• Cameron Meeker, Patrick Henry Elementary School, award of excellence

Intermediate• Cinna Horton, Aukamm Elementary School, award of excellence• Dedra Rivers, Kitzingen Elementary School, award of excellence• Amanda Wilson, Mark Twain Elementary School, award of excellence

Middle/Junior• Daniella Lujan, Heidelberg Middle School, award of merit

Senior• Eric Gilliland, Naples High School, award of excellence

Photography

Primary• Cole Rosenberg, Patch Elementary School, award of excellence• Macy Garcia, Ramstein Elementary School, award of excellence• Alex Shaaber, Mark Twain Elementary School, award of excellence

Intermediate• Zach Johnson, Spangdahlem Elementary School, award of excellence• Emma Russell, Patrick Henry Elementary School, award of excellence• Robert Allen, Robinson Barracks, award of excellence• Mary Sluss, Aukamm Elementary School, award of merit

Middle/Junior• John Frank, Kaiserslautern Middle School, award of excellence• Jonathan Martensen, Heidelberg Middle School, award of excellence• Rachel Miller, Landstuhl Elementary/High School, award of merit

Senior• Kary Gove, Bamberg High/Middle School, award of excellence• Cordea Johnson, Ramstein High School, award of excellence

Visual Arts

Primary• Savannah Allen, Robinson Barracks, award of excellence• Caitlin Keenan, Aukamm Elementary School, award of excellence• Chalen Aleong, Mark Twain Elementary School, award of excellence• Elizabeth Strom, Patch Elementary School, award of merit

Intermediate• Kristina Meeker, Patrick Henry Elementary School, award of excellence• Krizia Aponte, Mark Twain Elementary School, award of excellence• Courtney Fischer, Aukamm Elementary School, award of excellence• Samuel Miller, Landstuhl Elementary/Middle School, award of merit

Middle/Junior• Brad Armstrong, Patch High School, award of excellence• Aline Villanueva, Spangdahlem Middle School, award of excellence• Ashley Cormiea, Lakenheath Middle School, award of excellence• Jered Hilgenberg, Heidelberg Middle School, award of merit

Senior• Taylor Armstrong, Patch High School, award of excellence• Allyson Gill, Ramstein High School, award of excellence— Stars and Stripes

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