Parent Connection - Blog

The Parent Connection blog is a community blog, written by parent contributors from throughout the District. We hope you'll both enjoy it and gain some valuable information, too!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fishcreek 5K Raccoon Run with 1-Mile Fun Run to Be Held April 27

Looking forward to Spring? Time to dust off those running and walking shoes, and get ready for to the 3rd Annual Raccoon Run!

The race will be held on Sunday, April 27th, and will consist of a 5K and 1-mile Fun Run centered around the neighborhoods of Fishcreek Elementary School. While promoting the health and wellness of their students and the community as a whole, the Fishcreek PTA leaders, who are organizing this event, will be using this fundraiser to support programs such as the Reading Club, family connectivity in the school, as well as improved safety and security within the school.

Last year’s race had over 800 registrants, and the organizers expect close to 1,000 participants this year, many who will come from all over Northeast Ohio to compete. This year’s timing company will be Ohio Running Events, which is known nationally for its professionalism and accuracy with timing and reporting of results.

Last year’s 5K overall Raccoon Run winner was Jonathon Blake, with a finish time of 17:34. The first female finished at 19:55 and that recognition went to Tracy Meder.

“I am so excited to announce that the Fishcreek PTA is gearing up for our 3rd Annual Raccoon Run 5K & Fun Run fundraiser on Sunday, April 27th, 2014! This is an awesome opportunity for our community to get their paws moving, promote a healthy lifestyle and help support our Fishcreek Elementary students! Registration has already begun, and we also have many sponsorship opportunities for our Stow businesses as well! All information is found at our website ,” said Heather DeSessa, Fishcreek PTA President.

2014 Participation Costs:

5K & FUN RUN - $23.00 (Save $2 when you register online! Mail in registration is $25.)

1-MILE FUN RUN only $12.00 (Save $3 when you register online! Mail in registration is $15.)

Register at

Karen Steigmeier is a Stow resident with two children in the Stow-Munroe Falls City School District.

Posted by Guest Blogger at: 1:16 PM  

Monday, July 8, 2013

I'm Bored.

Seriously. How many times have you already heard that this summer? I have lost count in our house.

I thought for the greater sanity of all of us, I would put together a list of fun things to do within a couple hours’ drive from our great communities of Stow & Munroe Falls. I have solicited the help from locals for the ideas of things to do, so they promise to be tried and true!

Be sure to let me know of any new adventures you take in the comments section that you would like to share!

The Inaugural Summer Biking Spree through the Metro Parks Serving Summit County

 It seems like cycling just keeps getting more and more popular in our area! Through this new 2-month long event, cyclists of all ages can earn free rewards during this first-time event, July 1 through August 31. Ride at least five sections of the multipurpose trails managed by Metro Parks, Serving Summit County: the Bike & Hike Trail, the Towpath Trail and the new Freedom Trail.

One lucky participant – drawn at random from submitted forms (due by 10/15) – will win a new Raleigh bicycle from Century Cycles. The drawing will be held October 16. The number of completed forms will determine the odds of winning.

For more information on this NEW event through the Metro Parks Serving Summit County, visit here.

The Lake Erie Shores & Islands

I feel like Lake Erie and its islands are something that many in our area take for granted. In fact, having grown up spending almost every summer weekend on the shores of or on one of the Lake Erie Islands, I find it unfortunate that there are some lifelong Ohioans who have never been. The time is now, people! The Lake Erie Shores & Islands website is a really cool way to plan your adventure! So much to do!


My family of five with three children ages 14, 11, and 7 prefers Cedar Point, Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island, and Marblehead State Park. If your family likes to camp, head over to Kelley’s Island State Park and enjoy the quiet and beautiful island. Smaller children will be sure to love African Safari Wildlife Park!

The Farm at Walnut Creek

This “alternative livestock farm”, which is also a working Amish farm, is located in Sugarcreek, Ohio just about an hour and a half from Stow.


The Farm has two authentic farm houses, and if you are lucky, you will walk in to them with the smell of freshly baked cookies! You also have the option of driving through the property to view, interact with, and feed over 500 animals from six different continents such as buffalo, llamas, zebra, giraffes, deer, long horn cattle, moose, elk and many more that call The Farm home. You can also tour the property on a horse-drawn wagon. There is a working blacksmith shop on the farm, a petting area with smaller animals (although, trust me, you get to pet the big ones, too!), and a playground for the smaller ones. The Farm’s property is breathtaking and so worth the trip!

Oh, and don’t forget to bring cash! No credit cards accepted.

Be sure to check out these other attractions in Amish Country after you visit The Farm at Walnut Creek!

The West Side Market

Located on West 25th Street in Ohio City, Cleveland’s West Side Market is its oldest publicly owned market. Beginning as an open air marketplace, today the market is home to over 100 vendors of great ethnic diversity. You can check out fine meats and fresh vegetables, but also fresh seafood, baked goods, dairy and cheese products… even fresh flowers!! There are also booths that sell ready-to-eat foods, herbs, candy and nuts.

Last year it is estimated that over a million people visited the market… and I am very sad to say, I have never been one of them. This summer is the time to change that!

Summit Motorsports Park

I have lived in northern Ohio for most of my life, and I never knew this place existed! But, a friend of mine suggested it for this post, as she had just been for the first time herself. The Summit Motorsports race track is located in Norwalk, OH, which is just less than 2 hours west of us here in Stow.


It is Summit Motorsports Park’s 50th Anniversary, and they are celebrating big on August 10, 2013 with “Night Under Fire”. For more information on this celebration, check out the park’s website. You can find an entire list of the season’s event at the park here.

If I give you any more suggestions, and you don’t start planning, you are going to run out of time to do anything! Be sure to share with us your adventures and provide your own ideas for making the most of Summer 2013 before the kids head back to school!


Anne White is a local blogger that lives in Stow, with three children in the Stow-Munroe Falls City School District.



Posted by Guest Blogger at: 7:57 PM   0 COMMENTS

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to take great cycling photos

Cycling as a sport has gained much recognition over the years, thanks in part to the Tour de France, one of the most famous bicycle races in the world. Photographing cycling can be tricky because of the extremely fast movement involved, but with a little advance preparation, you can achieve maximum results in no time.

• Be prepared to move around with your camera.

• Use a long lens to get tight compositions, and try not to use a flash.

• Be prepared to increase the ISO when using fast shutter speeds or in lower light situations.

• Remember that where you position yourself for the shot is critical to ensure those awe-inspiring pictures.

With the District’s Bulldog Benefit Ride this Saturday, here are some thoughts for brushing up on your photography abilities or learning a few new tips before the weekend arrives.

Many times for cycling events you will want to use a long telephoto zoom lens to isolate and capture the action from either up close or far away - using a 300mm lens to narrow down the background and focus in on a single cyclist or a small pack.

Set the lens to continuous focus (for me I use a Nikon so the setting would be AF-C). This way the camera will continue to focus as the subject – the cyclist – keeps moving forward.

In cycling, the rider is constantly exerting him or herself, and a compelling photo will capture the sweat, the grimaces, the pain and determination. That struggle is best illustrated in the face of the athlete.

Be ready for fast-paced close-ups of the cyclists. Set the lens to AF (Autofocus) and select continuous focusing (AI AF-C Nikon) and keep the sensor points inside the viewfinder tight on the rider’s face.

Take multiple pictures of the athlete while the shutter is opening and closing. You'll get motion blur in the background, but (when done correctly) you will have a sharp rider. Turn the mode dial to M (Manual mode) and set your shutter speed between 1/10s - 1/60s, which ensures that camera movement will cause a blur. You’ll want to have a tight aperture (say f/8) to ensure that the athlete is sharp with blurred surroundings. Then press the shutter release and rotate with the subject throughout the opening and closing of the shutter – it is important to follow through to obtain the full effect.

Follow the flow vs. the ONE person. If you are more interested in a particular athlete…follow them, but lock in….keep the shutter going and look at your photos later. Taking the time to view and see how you did…you are only going to miss that one shot that you watched vs. captured.

One of the beauties of digital photography is the high volume of photographs you can take without having to switch out a roll of film or the memory card. When the action is fast, vibrant and explosive, you don’t want to miss any action, so use the continuous shooting mode on your camera to capture 2, 3, 4, or 5 photos in a couple of seconds.

Carla Ehrhardt is a Stow Resident, Booster Club Treasurer, and a mom with 2 graduates from Stow, and a Junior at Stow-Munroe Falls City High School.


Posted by Jacquie Mazziotta at: 9:52 AM  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fishcreek 5K Raccoon Run with NEW 1-Mile Fun Run to Be Held April 28

It’s almost time to put away the snow boots and pull out your running and walking shoes! The 2nd Annual Fishcreek Raccoon Run will be held on Sunday, April 28 and will consist of a 5K and 1-mile Fun Run centered through the neighborhoods of Fishcreek Elementary School. The Raccoon Run promotes the health and wellness of the district’s students and the community as a whole, while supporting some of the district’s PTA organizations.

“Last year, we took a risk by thinking outside of the box with a fundraiser like this, but it paid off tremendously, not only for our school, but for the entire community of Stow. We look forward to the additional offerings we have this year, which include the 1-mile Fun Run, a Pasta “Carb Loading” Dinner, and a Pancake Breakfast on the morning of the race,” said Fishcreek PTA President, Jennifer Taylor.

The Pasta Dinner mentioned is a fundraising event of Stow’s Highland Elementary and the Pancake Breakfast, which will be held at the race on the morning of, is a fundraiser of Kimpton Intermediate School. The Pasta Dinner, which will be held in the evening at Heritage Barn on Friday, April 26, 2013, is open to everyone and more information can be found at The Kimpton Pancake Breakfast will include pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee or hot chocolate. Advance sale tickets will be available at packet pickup on Friday April 26 at Fishcreek Elementary OR you can order online.

“To our committee, this isn’t just about fundraising. We want our event to be as awesome as possible, so we welcomed the help of some of the other PTA groups within the district to help with additional race related events. It’s all reciprocal. They promote our race and we promote their fundraisers that support the race, as well,” said Taylor.

Last year’s inaugural race had over 600 registrants, and with the addition of the 1-Mile Fun Run this year, the organizers expect 800-1,000 participants, many who will come from all over Northeast Ohio to compete. This year’s timing company will be Ohio Running Events, which is known nationally for its professionalism and accuracy with timing and reporting of results.

Last year’s 5K overall Raccoon Run winner was Jonathon Blake, with a finish time of 18:19. The first female finished at 19:41 and that recognition went to Tracy Meder. The first Fishcreek student was Nick Yanky, coming in at 26:24.

For more information about the Raccoon Run, visit You can find all information about participation, business sponsorships, as well as volunteer opportunities. You may also register as a participant at

2013 Participation Costs:

5K & FUN RUN - $20.00 until April 13 | $25.00 after April 13

1-MILE FUN RUN only - $10.00 until April 13 | $15.00 after April 13


Posted by Guest Blogger at: 1:34 PM  

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013: New Year, New Start, and Refreshed Ideas for Studying!

The holiday season is over so it is time to get our children back on track in the New Year with STUDYING! No two teens will study the same; however, there are some general techniques that are likely to produce good results for the second half of the school year.

As a parent, the first thing YOU will need to do is be sure you know your access to Progress Book. Progress Book is your way to keep connected with your child’s assignments, instruction, grades and academic progress. Do your best to know your child’s assignments, which is increasingly difficult the older they get. You can almost be certain that they won’t tell you if you don’t ask!

Develop Strategies for Better Writing

It is a scenario all too familiar with me (from my own high school experience). Students put off papers until the night before they’re due, just to get the assignment done, which means they are putting very little effort into developing the skills required to be a clear, concise, and organized writer.

If your child doesn’t already, encourage him to start developing outlines for each paper, which will help him see the structure and stick to the important topics. There is nothing wrong with (multiple) revisions of an essay or report. Learning how to edit his own work will help your student develop into a more skilled (and confident!) writer. Also, encourage your child to get into the habit of asking somebody else to look over each writing assignment.

Establish Good Study Skills

Being able to self-motivate and study on a schedule is a necessary skill for both academics and life beyond school. If your student doesn’t already have a set schedule for homework and studying, encourage him or her to identify the most alert and motivated time of day—whether it’s immediately after school, after dinner, or in the early morning—and set aside that time for schoolwork. A study schedule should always be subject to change to find the best fit for your student.

A study area should be separate from eating, sleeping, or lounging areas and should be organized, quiet, and free of distractions. Yes, that means NO ELECTRONICS! Easier said than done in our house, that is for sure. A good study spot is quiet, comfortable, well-lit and should be stocked with the study essentials - pens and pencils, paper, reference books, etc. – to eliminate unnecessary distractions.

Manage Time Effectively

High school students are old enough that they shouldn’t have to be reminded of each task, chore, and school deadline. In terms of school assignments, I recommend your student also make it a habit of checking Progress Book on a daily basis. Teens are at a stage in life where they must learn and be expected to maintain a to-do list, prioritize assignments, and manage time to accommodate school, extracurriculars, social life, family, and possibly work. Remember, college may be just around the corner for many of them and independence without time management can be an ugly thing. Studying at the last minute because of poor planning or lack of motivation is almost always futile.

Ease Test-Taking Anxiety

Being nervous about tests has nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with preparation and confidence. If your child has a tendency to test poorly, remind your student that practicing good study habits will best prepare him or her for tests and exams, rather than pulling an all-nighter. Before big tests and exams, make sure your child has had a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast.

Here are some great things to encourage your student to do on the day of the big test to ease the anxiety:

• Show up to class early so you won't have to worry about being late. There will be another time when you can squeeze every ounce of the class change out for socializing.

• Stay relaxed, if you begin to get nervous take a few deep breaths slowly to relax yourself and then get back to work.

• Read the directions slowly and carefully.

• If you don't understand the directions on the test, ask the teacher to explain it to you. There is no point in letting the teacher know you didn't understand after the fact.

• Skim through the test so that you have a good idea how to pace yourself.

• Write down important formulas, facts, definitions and/or keywords in the margin first so you won't worry about forgetting them.

• Do the simple questions first to help build up your confidence for the harder questions.

• Don't worry about how fast other people finish their test; just concentrate on your own test.

• If you don't know an answer to a question skip it for the time being (come back to it later if you have time), and remember that you don't have to always get every question right to do well on the test.

• Focus on the question at hand. Don't let your mind wander on other things.

Connect with Teachers

Many students are afraid to approach teachers for extra help or advice, but a teacher is their best resource. Whenever information presented is unclear or confusing, and if your student needs extra help, encourage him or her to consult with the teacher. Also, remind your child to ask questions in class whenever he doesn’t understand something, and (gasp!) to participate in class discussions.

Don’t wait until you see poor grades on Progress Book or a report card to get in touch with your student’s teacher. Ask the teacher for ideas about how you can help, by possibly finding a tutor or simply monitoring your child’s work and study habits more closely.

As a parent, you may have to sit back and watch your high school student figure out life on his or her own, but there’s no teenager who doesn’t do better (at almost anything, right?) with a little help from Mom or Dad. Students, welcome back and parents, good luck!

Anne White is a local blogger that lives in Stow, with three children in the Stow-Munroe Falls City School District.

Posted by Guest Blogger at: 7:41 AM  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Permission to NOT do everything this holiday season

It’s funny that the holiday season, for many of us, inevitably will become another source of stress and chaos in our lives. Focusing on rest, reflection, celebration and togetherness with friends and family often takes a back seat, but we can plan to change that this year.

Without further ado, let’s talk about simplifying the holidays!

Who is home for the holidays? Family gatherings are often a universal dilemma for young parents, and it’s a dilemma for the parents of those young parents as well. None of us want to disappoint our families, especially around the holidays. But remember, it is a holiday to be enjoyed by all. This year, consider some rescheduling, think outside of the box, and re-arrange when you can. All of the celebrating doesn’t have to occur over a couple days, and a slumber party with grandparents the week before a holiday could be just as memorable as spending a crazy, distracted day with them.

Simplify your to-do list. Ask yourself “what will happen if I don’t get this done?” Then, only do the tasks that absolutely HAVE to be done. Get rid of the rest, and get rid of the guilt for not doing them.

Decide what constitutes a meaningful holiday for you and your family. It’s easy to shift into autopilot, assuming you must follow our consumer culture's pre-scripted plan for what we should do, be and buy.

Do you remember who sent you a holiday card last year? That’s okay, I don’t either. With social media playing such a huge role in our lives right now, if you are short on time this holiday, skip sending cards to those that already know how beautiful, talented and smart your children are. Send cards only to those that you keep less in touch with throughout the year, and better yet, if your mind is set on sending cards, throw everything off by doing it AFTER the holidays in January (Wishing you a Happy New Year!), when you have more time!

Give of your time and talents. Nothing helps you gain perspective and diffuse the stress of the holiday season like volunteering, especially when it is a family affair. You and your family can prepare care packages for the homeless, make a visit to a local nursing home, or volunteer at an organization to help those in need during the holiday season. And then, make a habit of volunteering throughout the year!

What matters most this holiday season? For you and your family, if is it about time spent with family and friends, instead of the adults receiving presents this year, money that would have been used for gifts could be collected and given to a charity, perhaps even through a scholarship in honor of a loved one that has passed away. One example would be to donate the money to an organization that purchases and provides medications to people with cancer who would not normally be able to afford the medications. To find an organization, a good place to start is

What do you remember most about holidays growing up? Often, the simplest and easiest things are the most cherished memories. Take the time to build a snowman and make cocoa, take a walk to look at the decorations in your neighborhood, or just catch snowflakes on your tongue. And, can we all agree that the most fun part of making cookies is applying the sprinkles, so frost and decorate pre-baked cookies. Use a kit to make a gingerbread house instead of baking from scratch. Watch a favorite Christmas movie or special with the lights out and a shared bowl of popcorn.

Now you can cuddle by the fire and celebrate the season!

Anne White is a local blogger that lives in Stow, with three children in the Stow-Munroe Falls City School District.

Posted by Guest Blogger at: 5:13 PM  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Indoor Photography Tips

Its indoor sports time!

It seems like a few weeks ago we were anxiously checking the grass to get outside and play baseball…then we blink and fall sports are already over. Now it’s time for holiday plays, recitals and indoor sports!

I can’t say indoor photography is my most favorite; however, at times it can be a bit easier than taking pictures of outdoor activities. There are a few constant factors - no wind, lighting is consistent and time of day doesn’t matter.

Here are a few tips for taking indoor photos:

  • Keep it simple - use your built in flash. Lighting is the most important aspect of any photograph. The flash exposure is controlled by the camera and only fires as much light as it needs for each shot. I use AUTO ISO all the time. The only catch is that as soon as you turn on a flash, ISO stays at its minimum. This is great for daylight, but to lighten backgrounds indoors, you'll need to set a higher manual ISO so your shutter speeds can remain reasonable.

  • If you use an external flash, be sure you aren’t too close to your subject. You can easily turn your photo into the Ghost of Mrs. Muir! Keeping your distance is key. You can always crop to get the close up later. Cameras, lenses and accessories are completely irrelevant unless you have good enough light to make a good photo.

  • Practice a few shots, glance and see if you are happy with the photo before you take one that you REALLY want to keep.


If you’re interested in checking to see if any of your favorite high school sports photos are on my website, feel free to check it out at They are posted by year, by sport….who knows, YOUR player, band member, cheerleader, etc. could be in there!

Carla Ehrhardt is a Stow Resident, Booster Club Treasurer, and a mom of two graduates from Stow, and a junior at SMFHS.


Posted by Jacquie Mazziotta at: 9:54 AM