Rocky River town hall meeting tackles drug overdose topic: West Shore Chatter

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio - The Rocky River City School District will sponsor a town hall meeting, "Ohio's Drug Overdose Epidemic: What Families Need to Know," at 7 p.m. March 6 at the Rocky River High School Commons, 20951 Detroit Road. Participating organizations...

Rocky River town hall meeting tackles drug overdose topic: West Shore Chatter

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio - The Rocky River City School District will sponsor a town hall meeting, "Ohio's Drug Overdose Epidemic: What Families Need to Know," at 7 p.m. March 6 at the Rocky River High School Commons, 20951 Detroit Road.

Participating organizations will include the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Rocky River Police Department and Westshore Enforcement Bureau. All are invited to attend the event.

The problem continues to grow in severity. Last August, more people died from heroin or fentanyl than any other month in Cuyahoga County history, according to the county medical examiner. Ironically, International Drug Overdose Awareness Day is observed on Aug. 31.

There were 52 deaths last August in Cuyahoga County, which shows a continuing spike in opioid-related deaths in the county. Statistics showed that between March and August 2016, there was an average of 11 heroin or fentanyl overdose deaths per week. The deaths cross all age, gender and incomes. Rocky River is among the communities touched by overdose deaths.

And the problem is not getting any better. Fourteen people died the first weekend of February of suspected heroin and fentanyl overdoses, according to the Cuyahoga County medical examiner. Two dozen people died from the drugs during the first five days of February. Although none was from Rocky River, several recent overdose deaths were from the western suburbs, including three from neighboring Lakewood.

There were at least 46 heroin and fentanyl deaths in January, and that number could rise to 57 after toxicology tests are finalized, according to the medical examiner.

Take some time to attend the town hall meeting on March 6 to arm yourself with information about this growing problem.

Speech, speech: Congratulations to the sixth- through eighth-graders at St. Paul Lutheran School, Westlake, who participated in the school's sixth annual Speech Bowl on Feb. 17.

Top participants in the St. Paul Lutheran School Speech Bowl pose for a photo. Picture provided by St. Paul Lutheran School.

The students with the eight highest scores are Anthony Ghali, first; Maggi Feit, second; Logan Murray, third; Austin Murray, fourth; Penny Meredyk, Noelle Hanchuk and Devin Headrick, three-way tie for fifth; Denna and Taylor McFadden, sixth; Max Hanchuk, seventh; and Jack LaPointe, eighth.

The event was organized by the middle and junior high school language arts teacher and gives students an opportunity to research, write and present a topic of their choice in front of students, teachers and guests.

Presidential Scholar: Westlake High School senior Justin Krantz is among 156 students nationwide who were named Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

Application for the program is by invitation only. Students must score exceptionally high on the SAT or ACT and submit candidacy materials including essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports and transcripts. Candidates are evaluated on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities and an analysis of their essay.

Justin earned a perfect 36 score on the ACT and was named a National Merit Commended Scholar. He is a member of the Academic Challenge and Science Olympiad teams, enjoys playing basketball and soccer with his friends, reading science fiction and listening to rock music.

He plans to study chemical engineering. He has not chosen a college yet.

All 800 candidates were named semifinalists. Their information was forwarded to a commission for further review. In April, up to 161 Presidential Scholars -- one young man and one young woman from each state -- plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. families living abroad and 15 students at large will be selected. The winners will receive a trip to Washington, D.C. in June and a special medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House.

Aiding history: The Bay Village Foundation will sponsor "Back to Bay's Future," a 1960s-themed party, at 6 p.m. April 29 at Lakewood Country Club in Westlake. The event is a fundraiser for Bay Village's historic district. Proceeds will help with much-needed renovations to the Community House in Cahoon Memorial Park, said Eric Eakin of the Bay Village Historical Society.

There will be live music, a wine pull, side boards and more. Tickets are $100 and registration forms are available at Bay Village City Hall.

Call 216-386-5997 for more information.

Erin go bragh: St. Patrick's Day is just two weeks away, which means it's time for the 35th annual All Irish Boutique.

The event will take place 3-7 p.m. March 3, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 4 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 5 at Rocky River Memorial Hall, 21012 Hilliard Blvd. Admission and parking are free.

Entertainment will include an artist at heart paint parties 3:30-5 p.m. March 3 and 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 5, register at; Irish dancers from Leneghan Academy at 6 p.m. March 3 and 2 p.m. March 4; Burke School of Irish Dance, 3 p.m. March 4; Nally Irish Dance, 2 p.m. March 5 and Brady Campbell Irish Dance School, 3 p.m. March 5.

Dozens of vendors will offer jewelry, bakery, plants, photography, knick-knacks, chocolates, clothing and more. Refreshments will be sold, both warm and cold foods, for a snack or meal.

For more information, visit

Distracted driving crusade: Westlake High School students are involved in a campaign to encourage teens to address the top 10 distractions that drivers are tempted with while behind the wheel.

Texder's Distracted Driving Crusade is in Westlake with a life-size Rad Rod, Wipeout, that is modeled after a 1929 Ford Model T. Wipeout was parked in the Westlake Recreation Center lobby until Feb. 24, when it was disassembled and moved to Westlake High School. It also will visit Lee Burneson Middle School and Westlake Porter Public Library.

After reading the distracted driving pledge on the car's roof, students can sign Wipeout. Texder and his misfit friends are also featured in a series of short videos that illustrate the dangers of being distracted behind the wheel. The videos are being played for students during lunch hours.

In case you're wondering, the top 10 distractions are cell phones, passengers, adjusting controls, eating, grooming, rubbernecking, daydreaming, uncaged animal, smoking and reaching for something.

The video series can be viewed at and the pledge can be taken at

Jaguar scholar: Congratulations to Margaret Seikel, a Rocky River resident and a senior at St. Joseph Academy in West Park, who is a finalist in the 62nd annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

She is one of 15,000 finalists being considered for 7,500 scholarships worth about $33 million.

Margaret is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. George Seikel. She is on the board of the Model United Nations, a member of the Ohio Attorney General Teen Ambassador Board and SJA Student Ambassador program. She also volunteers through the STARS program at Playhouse Square in Cleveland. In the classroom, Margaret has completed five AP classes, is taking three more this year and she earned the AP Scholar with Distinction Award.

Problem-solvers: Two dozen Dover Intermediate School (Westlake) Math Club members won trophies and blue ribbons at the Greater Cleveland Council of Teachers of Mathematics Problem Solving Tournament on Feb. 20 at Midview East Intermediate School in Grafton.

Dover Intermediate School Math Club members show off their trophies and ribbons. Photo provided by Westlake schools.

Winning students from Westlake are Nicholas Lamorgese, Rohit Jain, Evan Hargett, Alex Niceman, Leonardo Zanotti, Michael Sarsam, Connor Augustine, Lorenzo Novellini, Grace Baker, Sue Yoon, Stephanie Novellini, Katie Kretizinger, Nicholas Steffas, Dyland Malloy, Jakub Bodo, Ryan Skowronski, Kylie Nolan, Ellen Babinski, Aya Alramhi, Michelle Ho, Mohammed Al-Naseri, Roman Lucarelli, Juan Orellana and Evan Jennings.

Math Club advisors are Cathy Pietroski and Anne Dill.

NEOPC meets: "Virtual Reality, 3D Printing, Drones and More - the Future is Now" will be the topic of the Northeast Ohio Personal Computers group meeting 6:30-8:30 p.m. March 8 at Westlake Porter Public Library, 27333 Center Ridge Road. Jared Bendis, creative new media officer of digital learning and scholarship at Case Western Reserve University will be the presenter.

Visit for more information on the group and its programs.

National Merit Finalists: Eight Rocky River High School seniors were named National Merit Scholarship Finalists: Grace Janosik, Olivia Loparo, Hannah Mazzei, Ergis Mecaj, Elliott Moreau, Siwei Wang, Jessica Zelinski and Victoria Zelinski.

"We are extremely proud of our students who have been recognized in this rigorous academic competition," said Rob Winton, RRHS principal.

The National Merit Scholarship program was established in 1955. More than 7,500 students receive scholarships worth a total of $33 million each year for college undergraduate study. Scholarship winners are chosen based on their academic record, information about the school's curricula and grading system, two sets of test scores, school official's written recommendation, information about the student's activities and leadership and the finalist's essay. Finalists chosen for a Merit Scholarship award will be notified between March and June.

Slugs and Bugs: Randall Goodgame from Nashville, Tenn., will present a free children's concert, "Slugs and Bugs Live," at 6:30 p.m. March 10 at Bay Presbyterian Church, 25415 Lake Road, Bay Village. RSVP at

The event will feature animated videos, vocals, piano, guitar and mandolin instrumentals with bluegrass to Dixieland to folk-pop and arena rock music.

Doors open at 6 p.m.

Westlake High School Speech and Debate Team is heading to the state tournament this weekend. Photo provided by Westlake schools.

 Speech, debate team advances: Good luck to the Westlake High School Speech and Debate Team, which qualified for the state tournament this weekend at Berea-Midpark and Olmsted Falls high schools. Awards will be presented March 4 at the Olmsted Falls Performing Arts Center.

WHS juniors Valentina Wolf and Shawn Walls will compete in public forum debate, while junior Avi Kirpekar and sophomore Jonah Petty will compete in congressional debate and sophomore Thomas Hanson will compete in U.S. extemporaneous speech.

They qualified for the state tournament after placing recently at the Lincoln West tournament. Team advisor is Amber Greene, a social studies teacher.

Information, please: Readers are invited to share information about themselves, their families and friends, organizations, church events, etc. from Bay Village, Rocky River and Westlake for the West Shore Chatter column, which I write on a freelance basis. Awards, honors, milestone birthdays or anniversaries and other items are welcome. Submit information at least 10 days before the requested publication date to

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