LIGONIER — Orchestra teacher Shania Liv Lescano sang a mariachi song to the West Noble school board Monday night — accompanying herself on a guitar she had just learned to play on Saturday — as a demonstration of what a Donors Choose grant will provide to her students.
Lescano received the grant to buy instruments to offer an after-school mariachi program to enhance the school’s orchestra instruction. Lescano bought a classical guitar, a vihuela and a guitarron, and said some students already have instruments of their own.
Lescano said mariachi ensembles can be five to 30 musicians, featuring several types of guitars, violin, trumpet and vocals. Typically, mariachi songs celebrate Spanish culture and heritage or community events.
Lescano is an accomplished cello player from Las Vegas and is in her second year of teaching at West Noble. She is bilingual and of Argentine heritage, which inspired her to consider the mariachi opportunity. A major mariachi conference is held in Las Vegas, she said.
Lescano said she took a group of eighth-grade musicians to Goshen High School in October, where the middle school students performed with high school orchestra musicians in a similar program.
The school board also took care of some housekeeping tasks, reelecting Travis Stohlman as president, Joe Hutsell as vice president and Dave Peterson as secretary. Barbara Fought continues as the district treasurer.
The board approved an addition of a Heritage Speakers elective class to the high school curriculum for next year. The class is for native Spanish speakers, focusing on formal and informal use of the language in an immersive setting. Non-native speakers of Spanish may also take the class if they are fluent in Spanish. Current staff members would teach the class.
That prompted board member Joe Hutsell to ask about the workload for teachers in the transition to a six-period school day. Principal Greg Baker said the six-period day mostly affects the electives that can be offered.
Superintendent Galen Mast said adding electives for a six-period day could result in more revenue from the state. He said the state reimburses schools an amount per student for offering some courses.
In other business, the board accepted the resignation of Karyssa Dave, the high school assistant gymnastics coach, effective immediately.
The board approved an intermittent leave of absence, beginning Jan. 9, for Samantha Allen and approved the hiring of Sarah Mambula as a high school special education instructional assistant for seven hours per day at $9 per hour.
The board approved service agreements with Whitney Eatmon, high school assistant gymnastics coach, $605.50 (50% of $1,211 stipend; Kim Baker, middle school assistant gymnastics coach, $826; Ashley Croninger, sixth grade girls basketball coast, $1,050; Jeff Anders, Jonathan Foremen, Khara Kimmel, Monte Mawhorter, Susan Stackhouse and Randall Younce, dual credit stipend of $250 for each one for Trimester 1; Charles Grady and John Marano, high school girls co-head track coaches, $1,449.50 each (50% of $2,899 stipend); Charles Grady and John Marano, high school girls co-assistant track coaches, $886.50 each (50% of $1,773 stipend); and Michael Flora, high school girls assistant track coach, $1,773.