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Speaker Series

RREF kicked off funding efforts for the Rocky River City Schools Speaker Series at its annual auction/dinner in March. RRCS has been fortunate to have noted authors Loung Ung (First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers) in 2012, James Swanson (Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer) (2013), and Jodi Picoult (2015) speak to the student body and the community as part of RRHS’s summer reading program.  “The summer reading speaker provides an exceptional opportunity for our students who get to hear first-hand the vision and process that goes into writing,” says RRHS English Department Chair Stephanie Minotti.

RREF, which helped fund the substantial cost of having these speakers appear, recognized the impact such speakers had on our students and the larger community and wanted to help ensure that the school district would be able to continue to bring in quality speakers. As a result, RREF had a special fundraising effort--Raise the Pirate--at its annual auction and raised just under $15,000 for the Speaker Series. RREF will continue its own fundraising efforts and look to partner with other organizations to help bring in authors/speakers to one or more schools in the district each year. As Minotti notes, “Collegiate experiences such as the speaker series are what set our students and community apart.”

Grant Spotlight: Robotics Club, RRHS

With support from the Rocky River Education Foundation and Ohio Cat, Rocky River High School has established its first Robotics Club.

The club, a member of the international program First Robotics, combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology, capturing student interests in mechanics, fabrication, programming, electrics, business, marketing/social media, and strategy. Students will do everything from managing a budget to working with power tools.

Advisers, RRHS mathematics teacher Nathan Woos and computer science teacher Christina Bright, have already started recruiting members. This fall, the club will establish roles on the team and establish a team brand, website, and social media presence. They will also begin their community outreach to find mentors to help in the various fields the build requires.

Woos explains that participation in the club isn’t just “tinkering” but collaborating on a team robot for the FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST describes the team experience as “as close to real-world engineering as a student can get.”

Build season begins in January, when the club will work under strict rules, limited resources, and an intense six-week time limit to design, build, and program an industrial-sized robot, culminating in the Buckeye Regional Competition at the Wolstein Center March 28 – March 31. Robots compete in a field games such as stacking objects or even shooting baskets.

The Rocky River Education Foundation awarded Woos a generous startup grant, covering all power tools, hand tools, and supplies in the new robotics shop room at Beach School to construct and test robots. A second room, a computer lab / planning room, provides space for students to program, plan fundraisers, and design robot plans. Woos says he’s “excited about the Robotics Club because it’s a new experience for Rocky River.” The club will be a “cross section of students who come together towards one goal.”

RRCS Board Member and past RREF trustee Rev. Jon Fancher who attended the robotics open house says to forget the robotics “gear-head” stereotype. Robotics “crosses all kinds of lines to bring kids together” and says the “fellowship is exciting.”

For more information regarding the Rocky River Education Foundation, please contact Joe Calabrese at