Alexis Gearhart, fourth-grade teacher at Rootstown Elementary School, was excited to share information about the service project organized as a collection drive for local animal shelters and rescues by the entire fourth grade.

"It started as a small project involving one fourth-grade class and grew to include all 90 students," said Gearhart. "The school district and community members also helped."

Students, staff and parents worked hard to collect shelter supplies as well as fabric to make tie blankets and ingredients to make homemade dog treats.

The four classrooms were turned into blanket- and treat-making factories for one day before the holidays with the results 120 tie blankets made and more than 500 treats hand-rolled.

"Along with the blankets and treats, we collected 151 cans of cat food, 57 bags of dog treats, 24 bags of dog food, 31 paper towel rolls, 16 toilet paper rolls, 11 large bottles of bleach, 11 large bottles of laundry detergent, six boxes of latex gloves, 22 containers of disinfectant wipes, five boxes of trash bags and various chew toys, along with a $250 donation from Trivent Financial," sad Gearhart.

Gearhart was joined in the effort by fellow fourth-grade teachers Cody Apthorpe, Christy Duvall and Nicole Strope, along with parent volunteers.

The donations were picked up by Dave McIntyre, Portage County Dog Warden, and distributed to Rose’s Rescue, Portage County Humane Society, Paws & Prayers and One-of-a-Kind Pets.

"We hope to see this project continue to grow each year as we teach kids the importance of kindness and empathy," said Gearhart.

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The Rootstown Athletic Department recognized the outstanding athletes competing in the Fall Sports Season at the recently-held awards ceremony in the high school gymnasium.

Girls Cross Country: Debbie Vogt, varsity Most Valuable Player; Taylor Coates, most improved; Theresa Smith, coaches’ award; Katie Plecko, outstanding freshman.

Boys Cross Country: Jeff Paulus, varsity MVP; Josh Vogt, most improved; Jacob Collins, Roger Williams, Evan Piscitani, coaches’ awards.

Football: Ryan Boyle, varsity MVP; Brandan Nicholas, junior varsity MVP; Scott Steger, best offensive player; Tristan Herman, best defensive player; Logan Klicman, most improved offense; Gavin Schlaubach, most improved offense; Travis McCrady, most improved defense; Trey Burch, most versatile player; Nick Putnam, Robert C. Dunn award; Matt Gordon, True Grit award; Seth Noel, sledgehammer award; Charles Harris, playmaker award.

Cheerleading: Skylar Benedict, varsity excellence; Gyllien Anderson, junior varsity excellence; Emma Campbell, most improved; Esther Shackelford, Rover Spirit.

Girls Soccer: Kayla Decker, varsity MVP; Lauren Housley, best offensive player; Ashley Coffman, best defensive player; Skylar Hayes and Kaley Heckert, coaches’ awards.

Boys Soccer: Garrett McHugh, varsity MVP; Ivan Martinez, best offensive player; Joey Steinlechner, best defensive player; Isaiah Schweizer and Bryan Zalamea, coaches’ awards; Gabe Oropesa, most improved.

Golf: Laszlo May, varsity MVP; Mason Bartholomy, junior varsity MVP;Brennan Schlaubach and Adam Whitacre, coaches’ awards; Blake Bower, junior varsity most improved.

Volleyball: Hannah Fogleman, varsity MVP; Hannah Dougherty, junior varsity MVP; Shaelyn Stefancik, most improved; Mykala Crumb and Katie Moore, coaches’ awards; Kylie Kaut and Jenna Kurtz, outstanding freshmen.

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Contact Susan Jenior at golffam2@gmail.com or  330-206-9083