Max and the Tornado by Brian Curry

Congratulations Brian Curry on you first published book, Max and the Tornado! He worked for two years assembling the story with mentors Mrs. Breaden and Tim VIgnere, painstakingly using Photoshop and original artwork from Kelli Keriotis to complete the illustrations.  Third graders Matthew Minnite and Noah Schweikert finished the final two pages of artwork and got the book ready for the Baden Academy Media Lab.  The book was a research fellows project at the school.


The description reads: “Max and his family must respond quickly to a tornado warning, but the loud wind makes him frightened. This story reinforces for children checklists and procedures to survive a tornado.”  All profits from the book benefit the American Red Cross. Get your copy today from Lulu, or come to the Baden Academy Story Walk to his first book signing.

Way to go Brian – you indeed wrote a book that could save a life!


Take Action involves over 250 students in Bake for Good!

1240 rolls + 6 loaves by over 250 volunteers from grades K-6 and ages 5 to 90 delivered to Meals on Wheels!
Thank you to all the volunteers
  • Aleenia Reich and Bella Rivera (great Take Action Leaders)
  • Taylor Breaden (amazing Take Action coach!!!!)
  • 48 Take Action kids from grades 3 to 6 who stayed 2 hours after school to help!
  • Melanie Houston, Bridget Biggins, Brenden Finn, and Sara McMillen 4th and 5th grade math teachers who asked their students to apply their math and science lessons and make flour, oil, water, yeast, sugar, and hard work into bread dough!
  • Jessica Graff with Kelli Keriotis and Meghan Holl – who celebrated the art of shaping risen bread dough with Kindergarten students – way to go!!!
  • Sisters of St. Joseph for the help with kindergarten shaping the bread, the gloves, and the use of the dining hall for bread shaping.
    PTP for the great volunteers (would not have been possible without Trish!!!)
  • Parents who helped including Mrs. Wagonner, Katy Ake and Lee Ann Tomlinson (and MOST of all parents who continued the lesson at home by making the bread recipe again with their kids!)
  • Barb in the kitchen for the gloves, the pans, and the use of the kitchen.
  • Amelia, Mona, and Chelsea for logistics!
  • Lauren Bensink for empowering everyone!
  • Patty, Mike, and our whole maintenance for the extra duties!
  • The whole Baden Academy Family for the flexibility to take a day to help provide a daily nutritious meal, a friendly smile and a safety check for eligible seniors to help keep them healthy, safe and living independently in their own homes. 
  • Mr. Jake from the Media Lab for climbing steps over 40 times to ferry bread dough to rising stations and rush supplies to the gloveless.
Mrs. Wagonner – again – 2 extra hours at an over after a whole day working in the cafeteria.  Thank you!














Thank you to the TimeOnline and Marsha Keefer for the great article and video!!!

Baden Academy Charter School pupils rise to help Meals on Wheels

Marsha Keefer  
Posted Mar 14, 2018 at 2:01 AM

On the surface, the bread-baking class at Baden Academy Charter School taught math and science lessons but incorporated something far greater: helping others.

BADEN — Flour dust coated parchment paper-covered desktops. The smell of yeast permeated the air.

One day last week, Baden Academy Charter School resembled a bakery as four classrooms of fourth- and fifth-graders measured ingredients, mixed them in bowls and kneaded pliable masses of dough into soft, round loaves.

The project incorporated math and science concepts, but intrinsic was a far loftier lesson: It’s important to help those in need.

Approximately 1,250 dinner rolls and six loaves of bread were made and delivered to the Lutheran Service Society’s Meals on Wheels, which provides nutritious meals for eligible senior citizens with physical or financial limitations that prevent them from shopping for and preparing their own meals.

In Beaver County, Meals on Wheels serves 150 clients in 28 communities.

“I think it’s very, very nice that we’re helping out the community,” said 10-year-old Brett Barthelemy, a fifth-grader in Bridget Biggins’ class. “I really enjoy doing it for the greater good. I just think that we should really give back to the elderly a lot. They have done a lot for this generation right now, and I think we should help them.”

Mike Dengel, manager of the county’s Meals on Wheels program, agreed.

“Gosh, it was wonderful,” he said. “Sometimes these kids are impressive when they come up with these ideas on their own and decide to make it happen.”

Lisa Burnsworth of Economy, parent of fifth-grader Brynn, suggested bread baking as a project for the academy’s Take Action Club, an after-school, service-learning club that challenges students to identify local and global issues and encourages them to take action to improve their communities.

Burnsworth directed sixth-grader Aleenia Reich, who founded the club a few years ago, to King Arthur Flour, an American company that supplies flour and baking materials and also sponsors Bake for Good. Burnsworth’s colleague, Eileen Brennan, learned of Bake for Good at a workshop a few years ago.

Bake for Good, launched in 1992, is part of the company’s educational outreach teaching students the know-how of making bread from scratch. Besides learning fractions, reading and understanding recipes and conversion charts, measuring dry and liquid ingredients, and the chemistry behind baking, they also learn problem solving, teamwork, patience and especially compassion by sharing what they make with those in need.

“It makes me feel really good,” Aleenia said. “I know that I’m helping out people who cannot cook for themselves. … It feels really nice that I can help out.”

The young bakers started the day watching a step-by-step, King Arthur Flour tutorial video on bread making.

Afterward, they washed their hands, rolled up their sleeves and in groups of four to five visited a work station laden with bowls, liquid and dry measuring utensils, spoons and ingredients: warm water, flour, yeast, sugar, salt and cooking oil.

Once they filled their bowls with ingredients, they went to desktops covered with parchment paper and set about stirring and kneading.

“Push away, turn it around, roll toward you, push away, turn it around, fold, push — I think I got it,” said a satisfied Dakota Jones, 11, a fifth-grader in Melanie Houston’s class, on his kneading technique.

Partner Hoby Schweikert, 11, gently pressed his fingertips in the soft mound, and when it bounced back, he knew it was ready to be placed in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap and clean towel, and then left to rise.

Reflecting on the experience, fifth-grader Andrew Kennaday said baking dough is “a lot harder than you think. You have to have a lot of teamwork ’cause one mess-up and it could destroy the entire thing.”

Later that day, kindergarteners — with the assistance of art teacher Jessica Graff and the Sisters of St. Joseph — divided and shaped dough into dinner rolls that were baked in the cafeteria’s commercial ovens.

Meals on Wheels personnel picked up the rolls that were frozen to keep them fresh, Dengel said. On Monday, volunteers packaged rolls in sandwich bags that will complement meals delivered Wednesday.

Clients, he said, receive two meals: a brown-bag lunch consisting of a sandwich, fruit and dessert and a three-course dinner tray that can be heated in a microwave.

Rolls made by academy students, he said, will be a “little bonus surprise” and “really, really appreciated” by clients. He also gave shout-outs Boy Scouts who are decorating meal bags this week for St. Patrick’s Day and to other school classes that create “little calling cards” to insert in bags with greetings like “have a nice day.”

“All activities we do show that even somebody as young as elementary school students can make a positive difference in the world,” said Taylor Breaden, fifth-grade teacher and Take Action Club’s coach.

Projects have included charitable fundraising to benefit a food bank, cancer studies at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, clean-water initiatives in Africa, Puerto Rican victims of Hurricane Maria and awareness of the plight of the homeless.

Aleenia designs projects and creates lesson and action plans for her colleagues, said Ellen Cavanaugh, director of the academy’s Media Lab, which supports creativity and discovery. Aleenia graduates this year. Third-grader Bella Rivera will helm the club next year.

Take Action Club is but one of several after-school clubs. Others include chess, future engineers, origami, photography and filmmaking, computer and technology, robotics and mobile app design.

Cavanaugh also supervises a number of arts-infused learning projects that pair students with outside mentors in various disciplines — engineering, technology, food science, theater, dance, creative writing, for example.

“I’m always so impressed with what the kids can do,” Breaden said.

Being an arts-integrated school enables the infusion of creative and performing arts into the traditional academic curriculum, she said, and that extends to life, too.

“The whole purpose of us being arts integrated and using arts to teach things is we want those kids to make connections not only cross-curricular, but to things from school to outside life and the arts is a really great way to explore that because it teaches them real-world problem solving.”

Baden Academy Enriches Students’ Lives Through Shakespeare

Joey Pugh, Aleenia Reich, Adam Woods, and Zoey Mangus performing a scene from Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” on the stage of Pittsburgh’s O’Reilly Theater.

If you had walked through the halls of Baden Academy over the past four months, you may
have heard words like “hie,” “afeard,” and “forsooth” coming from the classrooms. That’s because 33
students in the school’s theater enrichment classes were studying, analyzing, and practicing scenes from the works of William Shakespeare. Then on Monday, February 5, they all traveled into Pittsburgh to compete in the Pittsburgh Public Theater’s annual Shakespeare Scene and Monologue Contest at the O’Reilly Theater.

This year over 1,200 students in grades 4 through 12 from over 90 schools in the Pittsburgh region
competed, and a group of four Baden Academy students placed in the top five groups in their division: Zoe Mangus, Joey Pugh, Aleenia Reich, and Adam Woods. They went on to perform their scene from Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” in front of family, friends, and other finalists at the O’Reilly on Monday, February 19. Baden Academy was thrilled to learn that in addition to this team of finalists, an additional 15 of their students made the competition’s honorable mention list.
“I’m so incredibly proud of all of our students who participated,” said Johnny Gallagher, director of
theatrical instruction and enrichment at Baden. “Experience with theater, including this highly respected Shakespeare competition, develops essential skills like critical thinking, creativity, and public speaking.

And it also increases students’ self-esteem and their sense of empathy.”  Joey Pugh, a sixth grader at Baden Academy and one of the finalists, says, “It was so much fun. I was nervous, but my teammates helped me, and we got to meet other actors our age. I was also really inspired
by the judges and the speeches at the end about following your dreams. The competition made me realize that I can really do this.”

Baden Academy is a charter school with the mission of integrating the arts into traditional academic subjects. Gallagher explains, “By connecting the arts to our curriculum, we create the foundation for a really well-rounded education. When our students study Shakespeare, they’re not only learning about acting, they’re understanding the development of the English language; the history of the Elizabethan and Renaissance worlds; the science behind the Elizabethans’ stages and the technology of their special effects; and the rhythm and mathematics behind Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter. I’m so grateful that the Public Theater hosts this event. Our students explored the power of Shakespeare’s stories, and then they had a blast performing on one of the most beautiful stages in Pittsburgh.”

Baden Academy’s Jaylee Duncan’s Ted Talk featured in National Playlist!

TEDEd Clubs international headquarters wrote recently about how inspired they were by Jaylee Duncan’s TED Talk made last year.  They created a new YouTube Playlist, included her video, and sent it out on their international mailing list.

When you listen to the kids she shares a space with, you can’t help but walk away filled with hope for our future.  What an incredible program!  I love that we can acknowledge and celebrate the ideas worth sharing from the young.

Please watch and like and comment on her video!

Introducing our newest YouTube playlist

This week’s newsletter is all about students taking their destinies into their own hands, and committing to #doingsomething! In fact, we asked you on Facebook if you have any ideas your putting into action this year, and a lot of you responded! Aliqa Wasim said, “I’m being more vocal out there!” Aditi Puttur is building up her confidence, “Emphasizing hard work with minimal stress.” And Magd Muuk is “Encouraging more students to speak out.” In order to celebrate all the awesome work you’re doing, we’ve created a YouTube Playlist that highlights moments when TED-Ed Club Members were compelled to take action – to stand up for something they believe in, to lend an ear to a friend, to help protect the world we share, and more.Check out how students around the world are turning ideas into action here!


Our TEDEd club is preparing to film 4 more talks this year.  You can view all the Baden Academy TED talks at

Remember to like and comment on videos!


Hungry in Tanzania benefit from Baden Academy Take Action efforts

A check for $240 was sent today to We Charity.  The club worked hard to organize a hoagie sale and the school community generously responded with a sell out.  Thank you!

Aleenia, our club leader, had spent a week this past summer at the Take Action Leadership Summit in Toronto.  One of her group leaders had recently returned from Tanzania and their passion for the people and their need.  She learned  Tanzanian children have high rates of malnutrition: 16 percent of babies are born underweight and 42 percent of children experience stunted growth . It is wonderful to see the school respond to the Take Action call.

Our money will be used for

  • Implementing nutrition programs and creating school vegetable gardens
  • Providing agricultural training and tree planting activities to help communities learn better and more efficient agricultural practices and techniques

Read more about We Charities work in Tanzania