Stadium Drive Lights It Up Blue

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Stadium Drive Elementary received money from the coin wars and shirt sales during the Light It Up Blue program. The funds went toward the Autism Society of the Mahoning Valley and the school's special education classrooms and curriculum. Pictured in their Light It Up Blue shirts are, from left, (front) Alex Martinez and Joshua Miller; (back) Jordyn Miller, Carley Albanese, Natalie Ludban, Lily Vondran, Addie Rudge and Braydon Rudge.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.The students particpated in a penny wars program to raise money for autism awareness. The coin war had the classrooms compete against each other to raise the most money. The winning classroom got a pizza party. Pictured are, from left, students Nicolas Bugno, Isabella Slick, Charlie Arnaut, Katherine Rudiak and Joshua Miller.

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Neighbors | Submitted.Stadium Drive Elementary ended their Light It Up Blue week with an assembly about autism awareness and acceptance on April 13. During the assembly, students used some of the special education equipment, such as thermabands, and the students from one class cut a blue tie off Principal Michael Zoccali.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Stadium Drive Elementary used the Light It Up Blue assembly on April 13 to discuss autism and the acceptance of others who have autism. Each year, the school has the program in April, National Autism Awareness Month. Pictured are, from left, PTA member Diana Bugno, principal Michael Zoccali, special education teacher Jessica Schubert, and PTA members Jaime Miller and Erin Vondran.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Stadium Drive Elementary had their third annual Light It Up Blue week and assembly April 9-13. The program spread autism awareness to the students of the school. Pictured are, from left, Christa Cook, Angeline Ramunno, Chase Arnaut and Gabe Lawman.

By ZACK SHIVELY

zshively@vindy.com

Stadium Drive Elementary School celebrated their third annual “Light It Up Blue” event for autism awareness and to show support for those with autism. The school hosted a penny wars program all week between the classrooms starting on April 9 and had an assembly in the gymnasium on April 13. They also sold 150 shirts to the students during this time. The proceeds went toward the Autism Society of the Mahoning Valley and equipment in the special education classrooms at the school.

“As a special education teacher, this is very important to me,” said Jessica Schubert. She works with students with autism in the school. Her goal for the assembly every year is to teach others about autism and to accept everyone at an early age.

The school and PTA worked together to coordinate the events. Schubert received help from principal Michael Zoccali and other school staff as well as PTA members Jaime Miller, Melissa Ludban, Diana Bugno, Erin Vondran, Kim Benson, Amanda Martinez and Jen Arnaut.

Miller works closely with Schubert on the event each year. She previously worked with children with autism. She talked to the students about autism and how to treat classmates and people with autism during the assembly, saying that “we all fit together.”

The coin wars began on April 9. Each student in the school received small plastic bags to take home with them and fill with change. Some parents sent dollar bills to the school with their children for wars. The classroom that raised the most money won a pizza party.

Last year, the school raised more than $2,000. They gave a majority of the proceeds to an autism organization, but the school used some of the money for a professional development workshop for the teachers to better instruct students with special needs. They also received sensory equipment, such as therabands to help motor skills.

During the assembly, Schubert and Miller talked to the students about autism and they let some students use the therabands. Each year, Zoccali has his tie cut by a group of students during the event.

Throughout the week, the students wear blue as a part of National Autism Awareness Month. They wore their “Light It Up Blue” shirts from X-Pert Designs on Friday for the assembly. Zoccali wore a blue tie that the students cut. The students all signed a long blue poster in support of autism awareness.

The school was the first to bring in a “Light It Up Blue” event to the school district. Since then, Center Intermediate School had a similar event this year and last year and West Boulevard Elementary had one this year. The organizers at Stadium Drive Elementary helped with the events at the other schools.

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