Education news in brief, 12.3.15

Lewiston second-grader Ashlynn Baldus is using her artistic talents to help spread holiday cheer this season.

Holiday Card WinnerThe Orchards Elementary School student was named the winner of the Idaho State Department of Education’s annual holiday card contest. Ashlynn’s winning design features a bright red cardinal depicted against a wintry backdrop. Her cardinal will adorn the official holiday cards sent out this year by the SDE.

“This contest allows students the opportunity to display their talents, and I would like to thank all students who made a submission this year — it goes to show that students in Idaho are not only dedicated to furthering their education, but show astounding work in extracurricular activities such as this,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said in a news release.

As part of the contest, Ashlynn will receive copies of the card to share with her family and friends and earn a certificate.

The contest was open to all elementary public school students in grades K-6. Other students recognized for their holiday card designs include:

  • Brock Bolen, kindergarten, Silver Sage Elementary, West Ada district.Holiday card Brock
  • Lacie Bolen, first grade, Mary McPherson Elementary, West Ada.Holiday card Lacie
  • Eli Main, third grade, Orchards Elementary, Lewiston.Holiday Card runner up Eli
  • Annika Huff, fourth grade, Centennial Elementary, Lewiston.Holiday Card Annika
  • Zoie Kessinger, fifth grade, Centennial Elementary, Lewiston.Holiday card Zoie
  • Lily Walsh, sixth grade, K12 – Idaho Digital Virtual Academy, Latah County.Holiday card Lily


STEM Action Center announces donation

The leaders of Idaho’s new STEM Action Center made a $50,000 donation to help launch an upcoming robotics competition.

The donation will help support the inaugural FIRST Robotics Regional Competition, which is expected to attract 45 teams and 1,500 students to Boise on March 30, according to a news release issued this week by Gov. Butch Otter’s office.

““It’s exactly the type of program that the STEM Action Center believes in and seeks to support,” STEM Action Center executive director Angela Hemingway said in the news release. “It’s a logical partnership and an investment in Idaho.”

The new regional competition, set to take place at Boise State University’s Taco Bell Arena, will feature teams of high school students who design their own robots.

“For years our Idaho teams have had to leave the state to find places to compete,” Idaho’s FIRST Regional Competition Chairman Lisa Lalliss-Skogsberg said in the news release. “We want our kids to stay in Idaho and to have other state teams compete here too.  With the support of organizations like the STEM Action Center, Boise State University and others, we can make an impact on these students and demonstrate through our actions that Idaho is leading-edge when it comes to technology, STEM education and workforce development.”

Idaho’s STEM Action Center was created by Idaho lawmakers and opened July 1. The center will focus on promoting education and the fields on science, technology, engineering and math.

State Department of Education to unveil new website

The State Department of Education will launch a new website in January designed to be more user-friendly for educators, parents, students and community members.

SDE officials announced the revamped website this week in a statewide news release.

“Rather than focusing on our needs at the department, the new department website focuses on our end-users—educators, students and Idahoans across the state,” Ybarra said in a news release. “We will be utilizing free technology and analytics to better serve schools, students, and all end-users.”

The department’s website can be accessed at



Clark Corbin

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday