Education news briefs from around Idaho

Idaho newborns win college money

New parents at four Idaho hospitals got a surprise bonus with their newborns on Sunday —$529 in an IDeal — Idaho 529 College Savings Program account.

The families were chosen to receive the scholarship because their children were the first babies born at the hospitals on 529 College Savings Day, May 29. The donations were part of a statewide and national effort to encourage college savings as a means of facilitating the pursuit of post-secondary education.

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Bentley Clark

The winning families:

  • Chelsea and Michael Barreto and baby girl Samantha, born at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.
  • Sevinch and baby girl Esmira, born at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.
  • Tarea Clark and baby boy Bentley, born at West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell.
  • Mike and Eliza Dayley and baby boy Leonardo, born at Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg.
  • Joni Shepherdson, winner of IDeal’s online sweepstakes, who lives in Meridian and plans to split the award between her twin four-year-olds, Jayden and Julia.
  • IDeal plans to award a winner at St. Luke’s McCall Medical Center, though a winning baby has not been born yet.

An IDeal 529 account is an investment plan that can be opened for anyone. Money invested in an IDeal account has the potential to grow and compound and Idaho taxpayers who contribute to an IDeal account can take a state tax deduction.

Literacy in the park program kicks off

A summer learning initiative by the Idaho Commission for Libraries will kick off Literacy in the Park on June 6. The nine-week program offers kids storytime, activities and books to borrow from traveling lending libraries.

The program will be hosted in Boise and Garden City.

“There’s solid evidence the program helps a sizable number of kids to read more compared to previous summers,” said Ann Joslin, the state librarian. “Children who read six or more books over the summer hang onto their reading skills better than those who don’t.”

Literacy in the Park is open to all kids in the community. Check out the Literacy in the Park schedule here.

St. Maries expo helps students stay local

The annual St. Maries Vocational Expo hosted 460 teens from Lakeside, Kootenai, Potlach and St. Maries in the effort to show students the advantages of staying local and living in the St. Maries community.

Nearly 45 vendors took part in the expo including logging firms, the local hospital, automotive repair businesses and aerospace training.

“The whole idea is to grow our own, that’s what it’s all about,” said Kristi Payne, the program coordinator for the school district’s St. Maries Community Education Center. “We’ve had kids hired by local firms because of the connections they made at the Expo.”

The expo helps students identify their career goals and focus their coursework to meet those goals.

St. Maries Vocational Expo
Local businesses and industries in the north Idaho logging community displayed heavy equipment they use as part of the St. Maries Vocational Expo.

Orofino students get paid to learn

To help students earn extra college credits before graduating from high school, the Orofino School District set aside $15,000 to pay for more dual credit classes. Superintendent Bob Vian wants to go beyond the state subsidy.

“We’re doing what we can to remove obstacles for kids,” Vian said. “The district’s funds could have a huge payoff in a successful future for the district’s students.”

Nearly 360 students are eligible for the district’s financial aid, and this year 43 students applied for the district subsidy. Combined, the district and state programs will help Orofino students earn about 170 college credits this year.

“Many of our parents have nothing beyond a high school diploma,” said Vian. “It takes a whole lot of money and students often ask themselves if they’re smart enough to go to college.”

The goal is to get teens to go on after high school to a vocational-technical program or a college.