Four Pine-Strawberry middle school students lost the opportunity to compete at the State Science Fair week because of COVID-19. Disappointed, but still proud of her students, P-S science teacher Stacy Flanagan said winning at the county level is a big deal for the kids.

“There was a total of 88 projects at the Gila County Science and Engineering Fair this year, with 114 kids competing,” Flanagan said. “Some of the projects are group projects.”

Out of those 114 students, four rose to the top in their category from P-S’s junior high. And they are:

First place in Physics and Astronomy – eighth grader Dylan Lundsford

First place in Behavioral and Social Science – seventh grader Mya Ronning

First place in Earth Science (geology) – seventh grader Ryan Teske

First place in Medicine and Health – sixth grader Addison Sarosi

“All of them did outstanding,” said Flanagan. “We took 12 projects and came home with four first place and four second place. We did really good as a school.”

It’s a tough competition. Students have to win first place at their school before they get to Gila County’s competition.

“They had to be interviewed by a qualified scientist (judge) in their field of competition,” said Flanagan.

In her 14 years of taking P-S students to science fairs, there has only been one year they did not go to state and bring an award home.

In her project, Ronning explained how to help younger children read.

“I was reading with little Sherry (a family friend and first grader) and she was struggling and I was trying to help her,” said Ronning.

This struggle prompted her to look online and find a way to help her friend read.

“Color overlays help people with dyslexia and I was seeing if the color overlays help people without dyslexia too,” said Ronning.

She used word lists created with 12 first-grade students using four color overlays, she said.

“I read with the first graders with colored overlays to see how many they got incorrect,” she said. Her conclusion: “That the red overlay had the least incorrect answers.”

Which, it turns out, is exactly her teacher’s diabolical plan.

“Problem-solving skills will help them in the future, to look at an issue and figure out how to find a solution,” said Flanagan. “They have to get in the mind set of ‘We don’t have all the answers and we have to find a way to dig them up.’”

“Bummed” about not going to state, Ronning lights up when talking about science.

“I love science because you get to interact with things and not just listen to the teacher talk,” she said. “I liked science before, but she (Flanagan) made me like it even more. She does more hands-on activities instead of just showing the class.”

“The four first-place students would have gone to state,” Flanagan said. “These were all pretty remarkable projects.”

For now, Flanagan is using Google Classroom to connect with her students until school can resume. Ronning is still reading with little Sherry.

Helping our own in P-SBusinesses in P-S are still humming along. Many are still open, accommodating social distancing and all restaurants are providing carry-out.

Bandits Restaurant in Strawberry and the Justice McNeeley Foundation (JMF) have joined to help those in need.

Bandits owners James and Katie Parks are continuing their delivery program. Each meal helps someone else. For every meal sold, Bandits is providing a free meal to a person or family in need.

You can find their menu online on their Facebook page, or call 928-363-4075.

This ‘little restaurant that can’ has served about 80 free spaghetti meals every other day to residents from Strawberry to Gisela.

“We are going to go wherever the need is,” said Katie. This program will continue as long as there is a need to fill. Other menu items will be rotated into the program. Customers have continued to purchase meals, (that they don’t eat — aka make a $10 donation) ensuring that two meals go to those in need, she added.

“People say thank you to me, but they need to understand this is all our community,” said Katie.

Katie also serves as the president of the JMF. That board learned some families needed food for their children. JMF is now providing boxes of food.

Board members amassed a large collection of food and created boxes that will feed breakfast and lunch (plus snacks) for a child for about three days, said JMF secretary Charlene Underhill.

Bandits is also doing a canned food drive for adults in need.

If you would like to donate food, drop it off at Bandits. If you would like to donate to JMF to assist children, visit their website, There is a link to donate money. If you are in need or know of someone in need, contact Bandits by calling 928-363-4075.

THAT Pub and Brewery in Pine has joined the delivery service. Customers can find their menu online at Call 928-476-3349 to order. I have it on good authority you can order their craft beer with dinner. Just one more example of businesses helping in this interesting time we are in.

Senior CenterAccording to President Sheri Earp, the dining hall is open as normal and will continue until required to close by the state. If they close, the center has a plan in place to go to full on Meals on Wheels to keep residents fed. If you can volunteer to drive for the senior center as a driver in this time of need, leave a message at 928-476-2151.

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