Students’ songs inspired by pandemic, accompanied by Lima Symphony

The Lima Symphony Orchestra recently completed a project almost two years in the making – Project Noteworthy. This educational project, which stemmed from a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts awarded to the orchestra in 2020, culminated in performances of original songs written and performed by Lima City School students and accompanied by the Lima Symphony Orchestra. The songs, written by the students themselves, were inspired by feelings of isolation and loneliness brought on by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and remote learning.

After months of planning, Project Noteworthy launched in early 2021. This unique project gave students in four elementary and middle school classes in the Lima City School district a creative outlet to process the anxiety and isolation they experienced amidst the upheaval caused by COVID-19. Participating classes include Ms. Rohrbaugh’s 4th grade class from Independence Elementary, Mrs. Miller’s 4th grade class from Heritage Elementary, Mrs. Place’s 4th grade class from Freedom Elementary, and Mr. MacBenn’s 5th grade class from North Middle School. Working with professional songwriter and children’s book author Mary Amato, students gave voice to both their fears and their resiliency, creating original songs. The songs were then arranged for orchestra by composer Jonathan Wey, and performed by Lima Symphony Orchestra musicians under the direction of Music Director Andrew Crust. Ultimately, close to 70 students participated in this amazing and inspirational project.

“I am so excited by the outcome this project,” commented Renee Keller, Marketing and Educational Coordinator with the Symphony. “Last year was really difficult for everybody, but especially for students. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for students to miss out on almost an entire year of in-person learning. With the funding we were awarded from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Symphony really wanted to find a way to help students use music as a way to heal from that experience. I think this project really shows how powerful a tool music can be in terms of bringing people together and helping them move forward.”

Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts was matched by a generous contingent of local sponsors, including: Dominion Energy, Lima Pathology, Rudolph Foods, AR-Hale Family Foundation, Range Kleen, Altria, Lima Pallet, Mid-American Cleaning Contractors, Sign Source USA, Inc., and Mercy Health/St. Rita’s.

A complete summary of the project and performances by the participating classes are available for viewing through the Lima Symphony Orchestra website ( and YouTube page (, or by following the video links are listed below:

Project Noteworthy:

“Deep in My Emotions” – Crystal Miller’s 4th Grade Heritage Elementary:

“Everything is Right” – Nicole Rohrbaugh’s 4th Grade Independence Elementary:

“Gray Day” – Joe MacBenn’s 5th Grade North Middle School: 

“Trying to Find the Light” – Kara Place’s 4th Grade Freedom Elementary: 



Ms. Mary Amato – Songwriting Coach

Mrs. Renee Keller – Marketing and Education Coordinator, Lima Symphony Orchestra

Mrs. Kristin Lee – Director of Arts and Magnet Program, Lima City Schools

Mr. Jonathan Wey – Music Arranger

Modo Media, LLC

Chad Stearns

Jonathan Fissel

Cody Ridenour



Conductor: Andrew Crust

Violin 1: Michael Houff

Violin 2: Matthew Latawiec

Viola: Carmen Granger

Cello: Shelbi Wagner

Flute: Lindsay Baker

Oboe: Terri Rivetti

Clarinet: Hila Zamir

Trombone: Dale Laukhuf

Horn: Greg Hillis

Drums: Sarah Waters


Independence Elementary:

Ms. Nicole Rohrbaugh


Kimiah Alston

Zani Armstrong

Luke Goodin

Taiwan Griffin

Madison Hendricks

Kesan Johnson

Tevin Kelley

Avery Martin

Ja’Kyia McWay

Acie Myers

Traven Roeder

Daylen Rogers

Terry Simpson

Zai’Den White

Keagan Williams


Heritage Elementary:

Mrs. Crystal Miller – Music Teacher, Heritage Elementary School

Miss Katelyn Shepherd – Student Teacher, Ohio Northern University

Mrs. Samantha Tippie – 4th Grade Teacher, Heritage Elementary


JayQuan Ackles

Aleah Bass

Gaige Bellamy

Ayden Bevis

Courtney Coleman

Ay’den Deal

Derik Green

King Grisby

Raylen Hampton

Tylor Hodge

Jaeshadd Jones

Addisyn Lape

G’Naya Secession

Ta’Shaun Thomas

Laney Thomas-Eldridge

Paityn Tripp

Ni’Asia Walker

Bri’son Ward


North Middle School:

Mr. Joe MacBenn


Quin’Nasija Ackles

Caylee Coffman

Avy’Ahna Fields

Hailey Gillette

Angela Green

Andrew Green

Somalia Johnson

Saniyah Jones

Koralyn Kay

Kamiah Lee

Remi Ordoñez

Lakken Ousley

Tahleya Ricks

Aleesha Stewart

Tybalt Thirkill

Nicholas Thompson

Taylor White

Chae’la White

Zachariah Wicker

Marte’ja Nelson

Rylan Hammack

Demetruis Kelly

Y’aMari Martin

Zairea Young


Freedom Elementary School:

Mrs. Kara Place


Kyley Bridgewater

Ke’von Conner

Tori-Ajia Dew

Talyn Ford

E’Manie Fuller

Derrick McNeal

Victoria Pierce

Keyanna Robertson

Zy’shon Robinson

Amyla Sorrels

Te’Niya Whiteside-Jones



National Endowment for the Arts

Dominion Energy

Lima Pathology

Rudolph Foods

AR-Hale Family Foundation

Range Kleen


Lima Pallet

Mid-American Cleaning Contractors

Sign Source USA, Inc.

Mercy Health/St. Rita’s


The Lima Symphony Orchestra is dedicated to preserving musical excellence as a living part of our community. Serving communities throughout West Central Ohio, the Lima Symphony annually presents five subscription concerts, a family concert, Mozart by Candlelight concerts and an annual New Year’s Eve Pops concert.

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“Every Day – On Time” brings focus on school attendance

Every Day. On Time. School Today. Success Tomorrow.

This is the message the Lima City Schools will push out to students and parents throughout the school year in an effort to improve attendance and ultimately student success.

The “Every Day. On Time” mantra can be seen around the school district and community, with television commercials, billboards, banners and posters in schools and local businesses.

“We want our students and parents seeing and hearing this message everywhere they go,” Superintendent Jill Ackerman said. “This should be a community-wide push. School attendance impacts not just students and schools, but the entire community. A student with attendance issues now with likely carry them over to the workforce.”

Statistics show that students with chronic absentee issues are more likely to struggle in the classroom, including on reading skills, tests and ultimately graduation. Additional statistics on attendance can be found below.

The campaign is designed to promote good attendance as well as to get at the root cause of attendance issues and then help families navigate those issues. Parent workshops and other interventions are planned throughout the school year. Parents have also received materials with tips and ideas on how to improve their child’s attendance.

“We know there are lots of reasons why families might struggle with attendance, some that we may not even be aware of,” Ackerman said. “We need to dig deep and work with families to understand those issues and then together address them.”

An important piece of the campaign is incentives and rewarding both students and parents. It is important to reward small successes, Ackerman said, in order to begin to make real lasting changes and impact attendance beyond one month or one year.

A number of local businesses have stepped up to provide incentives for the program. Thanks to Westgate Entertainment, Lima YMCA, Open Doors Academy, Speedway, Charles River Laboratories, North Middle School staff, Championship Floors, Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution, Cheap Sign Company, Sullivan Insurance, Teamsters Union, Lima Pallet, Keller Williams Realtors and Alexander Realtors.

Statistics on the impact of attendance

Missing two days of school a month, or 18 days a year, is 10 percent of the year and considered chronic absenteeism.

Absenteeism in the first month of school predicts poor attendance throughout the school year.

Poor attendance influences whether a child reads proficiently by the end of third grade or is held back a grade.

By sixth grade, chronic absenteeism is a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.

For every year of chronic absences the student starts the following year further behind.

Early absences correlate with reading difficulties and poor attendance in later years.

Chronically absent preschool students are five times more likely to be chronically absent in second grade.

Chronic absences in preschool correlate to weaker kindergarten readiness scores.

Students who are chronically absent each year between preschool and second grade have reading scores that indicate a need for intensive intervention.

A students is seven times more likely to drop out if they had one year of chronic absenteeism between 8th and 12th grade.

Chronic absences are associated with lower test scores.

Children who are chronically absent in early years of education fall behind peers in social-emotional development.

Students with chronic absences are less likely to go to college or get a job.

When students improve attendance, they improve academic prospects and chances for graduating.

Late arrivals disrupt other students/class time.

Students who are tardy perform lower on test scores, as do others in their class.

Students who arrive on time to school have time to get settled into class, get supplies/materials ready, focus.

Tardy students miss the start of lessons, important information, reminders about tests, due dates, etc.

Students who are perpetually late are more likely to fall behind academically.

Being on time develops pattern of being punctual that will carry over to college, jobs and other commitments.

Students who arrive to school on time every day feel better about themselves and have higher self esteem.

Chronic tardiness most often leads to chronic absenteeism.

How parents can help address attendance issues

Monitor child’s attendance.

Communicate with teacher and school.

Establish bedtime and morning routines.

Get clothes out and book bag ready night before.

Gt up a little earlier (set alarm clock 15 minute earlier).

Post school schedule on the refrigerator or other high-traffic place in home.

Have a back-up plan on how to get child to school.

Talk with your child about the importance of school and good attendance.

Avoid trips and non-urgent medical appointments during the school day.

Make sure child has required shots/immunizations before school year starts.

Identify issues (stress, academic struggles, bullying, etc.) that could be causing child to not want to go to school.

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DECA kicks off year, install officers

Lima Senior High School’s DECA program will inducted new members and installed this year’s officers at its recent annual breakfast.

Lima Senior’s DECA program now includes students in Marketing, Audio Engineering and Graphics programs.

The school has a strong DECA tradition, with students doing a number of projects and competing at the national/international level each year.

This year’s Senior Officers are

Co-Presidents: Gage Hipsher and King Shannon

Vice President: Isaiah Russell

Secretary: Diante’ Griffin

Treasurer: Quintel Wilson

Public Relations: Lamonte Layson

CEO of Spartan Spirit Shop: Elsbeth Nelson

CEO of Spartan Spirit Shack: Nicholas Sinthalaphone

CEO of the DECA Coffee Shop: Tommie Jefferson

Policy Advocate Officer: Haley Shafer

Vice President of Marketing: Alexis Burns

Vice President of Community Outreach: Domanique Peterson

Vice President of Membership: Evelyn Williams


Junior DECA I Officers

Co-Presidents: Addison Delph

Vice President: Tatum Twining

Secretary: Ti’ana Spivey

Treasurer: Braylin Upshaw


Junior DECA II Officers

President: Matilda Nelson

Vice President: Keegan Halliday

Secretary: Ayrianna Engberg

Treasurer: Destiny Harris


Audio Engineering Officers

President: Selena Payne-Greeno

Vice President: Chas Good

Treasurer: Wren Terry

Equipment Manager: Faith Parker

Graphic Liaison: Kah’Jae Petty

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Meet Us at the Bus Stop

Lima City Schools’ officials will catch a school bus and come out to meet and take questions from community members throughout the district starting next week.

Four stops are planned for the district’s “Meet us at the Bus Stop” event.

Students, parents and residents are invited to come out to the bus and talk with Superintendent Jill Ackerman and Treasurer Shelly Reiff. People will be able to ask questions, offer input and just chat with the two administrators.

Information about the district’s upcoming renewal levy and its new “Every Day. On Time” attendance campaign will be available. The two will also give out snacks and Spartan gear.

Below is the schedule

Wednesday, Sept. 22: Robb Park, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 29: Westgate Entertainment Center, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 4: MLK Park (lot across from health center), 1 to 2 p.m.

Tuesday Oct. 12: Kewpee East, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

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Come Join Us in the Parade

The Lima City Schools will again have a large group in the city’s Labor Day Parade Monday, Sept. 6.

The district invites students, families and other supporters to walk in the parade with the Lima City Schools group.

Lineup will begin at 9:15 a.m. in front of St. Gerard School on Main Street. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and finishes in the Square in downtown Lima.

The group will be led by the Spartan Marching Pride and Lima Senior Cheerleaders. Spartan athletes, Sparty and the Spartan will also be in the parade.

Participants are asked to wear Spartan attire. Individually-wrapped candy can be tossed to parade watchers.

The district will be distributing information as well at T-shirts and other fun gear for its new “Every Day. On Time. School Today. Success Tomorrow” campaign.

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School Reopening Plan

The Lima City Schools has put together its plan for the opening of school on August 18. Please keep in mind that this plan could change at any time based on current conditions of the pandemic. The plan was put in place in an effort to keep our students safe and in school.

  • School will start on August 18, 2021, with in-person instruction five days a week.
  • Per CDC recommendations, all staff and students will be required to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status in school and on buses.
  • Staff and students are to self-monitor their health symptoms. Anyone with the following symptoms must stay home: Temperature over 100 degrees, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea/vomiting or diarrhea.These do not need to be documented but are expected to be done daily.
  • We will continue to promote handwashing, the appropriate use of hand sanitizer and good hygiene practices.
  • Strict sanitation measures will continue to be in place. High traffic areas and high touch areas will be wiped hourly. Hand sanitizers will continue to be used in classrooms and available in the cafeteria and after recess.
  • Desks will be wiped down between classes or when students are changing desks.
  • Plexiglass dividers will be available when students are sitting at tables in classrooms.
  • Hallway traffic flow will continue with one-way traffic to promote social distancing. Many schools will continue to use the hallway dividers.
  • Seating charts will be kept up-to-date on Progressbook. Seating in the classroom will be spaced 3 feet and/or as far apart as possible.
  • Cafeteria will have seating charts. Seating in the cafeteria will be distanced as much as possible.
  • Students will be permitted to carry a water bottle.
  • Masks will be required at all indoor sporting events.
  • Visitors to our buildings will be very limited. Visitors will be required to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. Visitors will be required to complete health screening and have their temperature taken.
  • Contact tracing will continue per ODH guidelines.
  • Breakfast will be provided in the classrooms.
  • Proper ventilation will be maintained to allow maximum air exchange into the buildings to help to prevent the spread of the virus.
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Alumni Hall of Fame inductions coming in September

The next induction into the Lima City Schools Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame is coming this fall.

The following people will be inducted at a special dinner Thursday, Sept. 30.

  • Melvin Glover, Lima Senior Class of 1994
  • Jeremy Heffner, Lima Senior Class of 1998
  • Kevin Hooker, Lima Senior Class of 1998
  • Robert Long, Lima Senior Class of 1968
  • Jessika Phillips, Lima Senior Class of 2000
  • Charles Smith, Lima Senior Class of 1990
  • Merlin Szasz, South Class of 1954 – posthumously
  • Judge RicKard Workman, Lima Senior Class of 1965
  • Lima Kiwanis Club, “Service to Lima City Schools” honorary member

The induction ceremony will be held Sept. 30 in the commons area of Lima Senior High School. The night will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the dinner and program at 6:30 p.m. The student-run Spartan Inn will prepare the meal.

The cost of the dinner is $25. Tickets can be purchased starting now online at or beginning Aug. 9 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Arts and Magnet Office at the Earl McGovern Education Center, 755 St. John’s Avenue. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 419-996-3435. Purchased tickets can be pick up beginning Aug. 9 at South or at the event. No tickets will be sold the night of the banquet.

The inductees will also be recognized during halftime of the Spartan Homecoming football game Friday, Oct. 1. Lima Senior takes on Whitmer at 7 p.m. in Spartan Stadium.

The Hall of fame honors alumni who have received local, state or national recognition for achievements in their occupational fields, made significant contributions to society, or performed meritorious service to our country. The first graduates were inducted in 1987. A new class is inducted every three years.

The Hall of Fame also serves as a living example for current students and the community of the caliber of accomplished graduates who have come from the Lima City Schools. The inductees will spend time in the school with students earlier in the day of the induction.


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Watch Graduation, Convocation ceremonies

Lima Senior High School’s Convocation and Commencement exercises are coming soon, with both again being livestreamed via the internet.

People can get to the livestream through the district’s website at The links will also be available on district social media pages.

Watch Convocation here:

Watch Commencement here:

Convocation will begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, May 20, in the Lima Senior gymnasium. Students will receive scholarships from various community organizations, LSH graduating classes, businesses, families and other entities. Many of the scholarships are a surprise to students. The event usually concludes in about two hours.

Graduation will begin at 11.30 a.m. Saturday, May 22, in Spartan Stadium. If weather is an issue, the ceremony will be moved into the high school gymnasium.

This year’s Valedictorian is Seth Jones. The Salutatorian is Josephine Williams. Both will speak during the ceremony.

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Students earn academic awards

During today’s Honors Banquet at Lima Senior High School, top academic honors where presented to students at each grade level from each department.

Teachers in each department decide on the award winners. Students did not know they won until today’s program.

The following were honored. They are listed in order from freshman to seniors.

English: Ariana Custer, Emma Hipsher, Laziah Williams and Cecilia Suarez.

Math: Jay’lah Frazier, Addison Delph, Paige Bartels and Gabriella Brayton.

Social Studies: Annamarie Hawk, Jadah Evans, Evelyn Williams and Josephine Shauf.

Science: Xavier Duckett, Matilda Nelson, Torious Owens and Ryan Utendorf.

Spanish: Naomi Fike and Samya Wright

French: Elsbeth Nelson and Noah Phillips.

Career Tech: Tyneiha Owens and Grace Beck

Art: Alivia Crow, Trinity Vezina, Jai McGee and Emily Fronzaglia.

Music: Ethan Snow, Joshua Wells, Shivana Breaston and Josephine Williams.

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DECA projects finish fourth at International Contest

Two Lima Senior High School DECA program finished in fourth place at the International Competition. Nearly 250 projects compete in each category.

The projects are:

Community Awareness Project – Nakiya Sigman, Je’Niya Allen and Alivea Buchanan

Sales Project – Meghan Nuckles, Ella Brayton & Alex Engberg

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