Applications open for state student advisory council

State superintendent Sherri Ybarra is encouraging Idaho students to apply for an advisory council aimed at helping them improve schools, hone their leadership skills and gain civic understanding.

Applications are now open, the State Department of Education announced Wednesday.

“To address and understand the needs in our schools, it is essential to get feedback and ideas from the people most affected by those needs and education policies — our students,” Ybarra said. Last year’s first batch of participants from all regions of the state” suggested and examined key issues, met with the governor, attended education committee meetings and conducted mock legislative sessions.

Two of those students testified at legislative hearings, advocating for bills that are now law.

The program gives students a chance to “change the course of education,” said Hayden Barbre, a Wood River Middle School eighth-grader who participated last year.

The advisory council will meet through the end of the year, the SDE announced. Applications must include a waiver signed by a parent or guardian, and students must be accompanied by an adult to Boise for meetings. The state will provide a travel stipend, and reimburse meals and lodging, if applicable, according to Idaho state guidelines and rates.

Applications are open to all Idaho students who will be in fourth through 12th grade this fall. The deadline is July 1. Go here for more information and to apply online.

Boise student receives prestigious ‘Dream’ scholarship

A Boise State University student was one of just 20 recipients of Scholarship America’s 2022 national Dream Award scholarship.

Sara Alsaifi received the award at a dinner ceremony in Washington, D.C., on June 16. The scholarship ranges from $5,000 to $15,000 per year, renewable for up to three years.

A native of Syria, Alsaifi was six years old when her family left her home country to emigrate to the United States, where she started school behind her peers.

Her “aptitude, adaptability and a strong support system” helped her take nine Advanced Placement courses in high school, Scholarship America announced in a news release with details about this year’s winners. “Along the way, she became captivated by the groundbreaking research, novel creations, and ever-growing curiosity that the field of medicine encompassed.”

Alsaifi, a molecular biology major at Boise State, is one of 150 scholarship recipients since 2014. The program has awarded more than $3.2 million.

Applications open in August. Click here for details on how to apply.

Summer Food Service Program provides free meals

Idaho families can access free meals and snacks for children ages 1 to 18 in locations throughout the state through this year’s Summer Food Service Program.

Several summer meal sites are operating across Idaho, the State Department of Education announced Wednesday. Text FOOD to 877-877, call the Idaho Care Line at 2-1-1 or visit this map to to find a site nearest to you.

“This program does so much more than provide healthy meals,” Ybarra said. “Making our schools a central hub – even during the summer months – keeps Idaho’s students and families engaged in our educational communities.”

The program helps bridge the “summer nutrition gap” and ensure that Idaho’s students are ready to return to school in the fall, the SDE said in a news release Wednesday.

The program serves meals in areas of greatest need, with food provided by sponsors who are reimbursed for each qualifying breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner they serve. Fifty-eight sponsors served more than 4.1 million meals and snacks at more than 250 sites across Idaho last summer.

There are no income requirements. Many of the meal sites also offer games and reading activities.

Idaho elementary school wins national math competition

Gem County-based Shadow Butte Elementary School won first place for the state in the national SpringBoard math competition, the company that hosts the competition announced Monday.

Over the duration of this 10-week math challenge, students in a small group class at the school successfully completed online math activities to place first in Idaho in the national competition attracting 400,000 students nationwide.

SplashLearn, a game-based learning program for elementary classrooms, hosted the math challenge from March 1 to May 8.

“I’m thrilled for all the kids at Shadow Butte Elementary School,” said SplashLearn CEO Arpit Jain, adding that the competition motivates students to “stay engaged and excited.”

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