Favorite Friday: Lori Jung

Meet Lori Jung: Thoughtful, Creative, and Fantastic



(Lori is pictured here  with Cam Piatt. Lori and Cam directed our volunteer team at Starry Night 2014 and were amazing!)

In the past few years, we’ve come across some talented, passionate, brilliant, dedicated people. It’s been inspiring for us when they’ve been willing to contribute their time and energy-as WPE volunteers, partners, and sponsors-to strengthening and enriching education in our schools.

We decided to share the stories of these special collaborators and volunteers with you on Fridays! Enjoy!

1. How did you get involved with WPE/what do you like about volunteering with WPE?

I had heard about WPE and then volunteered for SN 2013. What I noticed right off the bat was the positive perspective from EVERYONE involved. I feel there are big and little opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways, and all are welcome in this district-wide effort. The mood is always collaborative and constructive.

2. From your perspective, what are some needs in our schools?

I often feel as though the guidance counseling staff is simply overwhelmed with the quantity of work and students they need to address.  I think it would be nice to offer a more comprehensive approach to guiding and mentoring students at all grade levels so they can choose relevant course options and perhaps even explore careers through mini-internships.  I also believe students would benefit from more integrated coursework, such as the magnet schools have offered.  I think students need to understand how their daily effort helps them not only reach their goals, but also reach beyond their classroom to do meaningful work.  I appreciate how WPE fosters this sense of community, which is vital to a thriving district and city.  I think exposure to careers, research, exploration and problem solving will only make our students stronger people and more confident global citizens.

3. What are some of the great things already happening in our district?

I appreciate the collaboration I have seen in recent years…sharing information and resources, business and community partnerships. I love the huge volunteer base and seeing these volunteers anywhere from Starry Night to elementary libraries and athletic events.  I know of many teachers who work hard to make very specific and relevant experiences accessible to students, from foreign exchanges to research projects, from leading theater and ski clubs to mentoring leaders through IB and Key Club. I am amazed at our programs that, despite often being at risk regarding funding, thrive and make passionate statements throughout Westerville:  students’ art in public places, bands winning awards, theater presentations that knock your socks off, teachers providing interesting and integrated coursework.  I like how WPE’s role is to observe and listen to what people need in order to build and sustain these relationships. Rather than, “We should or you should…” they offer, “How can we help make this happen for you?”  I enjoy being a part of that.

Get involved with us! Click here to sign up for our newsletter. The first edition comes out in May, and you don’t want to miss it!



Stars in the Parks-Canceled!

We have decided to cancel Saturday’s star-gazing night due to muddy field conditions. We hope for a reschedule later in 2014.

Favorite Friday: Jim Varadi

Meet Jim Varadi, Astronomer Extraordinaire

In the past few years, we’ve come across some talented, passionate, brilliant, dedicated people. It’s been inspiring for us when they’ve been willing to contribute their time and energy-as WPE volunteers, partners, and sponsors-to strengthening and enriching education in our schools.

We decided to share the stories of these special collaborators and volunteers with you on Fridays! Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How did you get involved with WPE? I met Amy at the Westerville music and Arts festival. Part of their display was their desire to put on the “Starry Night” program, and she asked me if I would be willing to help out in some fashion. I told her that I could provide a display and could maybe get others from the Columbus Astronomical Society to participate. That was the beginning of my involvement with WPE and “Starry Night.”

I am going to be working with WPE to help Walnut Springs Middle School form an Astronomy Club next year. I think this same thing could possibly be done at other schools with the help of additional volunteers from CAS. I think it’s possible to, throughout the year, do programs similar to “Stars in the Park” but in a smaller scale. We do have people in CAS who are retired who might be able to take a telescope to a science class during the week and give a short presentation on telescopes and how they work and are used. I had thought about the possibility of hosting an astronomy class for older children and maybe even parents. 

How did you get involved in astronomy? I’ve always had a deep interest in astronomy and science. While in the Army, I was involved in Electronics  as Aviation Equipment Repair and Missile Internal Guidance and Electronic Equipment Repair and Calibration. I was stationed at Redstone Arsenal and had a hand in the development of the Saturn V booster that was part of the Apollo program that eventually carried our astronauts to the Moon. That experience deepened my interest in astronomy. 

What are some upcoming things happening with the Columbus Astronomical Society? CAS members help to put on the Friday night programs at Perkins Observatory by having our telescopes available on the lawn of Perkins for guests to observe through. There is a charge of $8.00 for those programs. During the end of summer, August or September,  CAS will be having their annual Astronomy Fair. The only cost is $5.00 per car for parking.  For more information about the Columbus Astronomical Society, check them out at: http://www.columbusastronomy.org/

Be sure to find Jim and other amazing CAS astronomers at our Stars in the Park stargazing night on May 3rd!

Stars in the Park 2014


Stars in the Park 2014

Stars in the Park

Come out and join us and the Columbus Astronomical Society for a free night of stargazing on May 3 at 8:30pm in the Westerville Soccer Complex (on Cleveland Ave across from the Rec Ctr). CAS astronomers will be on hand with their amazing telescopes to help families see the wonders of the night sky. You won’t want to miss it!

Check out pics from last year’s Stars in the Park event!

A few items that would be helpful to bring:
• Gloves, hat and blankets, if it will be chilly
• Binoculars, if you have them

And, finally, a few tips on stargazing etiquette. It helps to prepare the kids in advance!

• Please remind children to walk, not run, for everyone’s safety and the safety of the telescopes. These telescopes belong to the astronomical society members and are significant personal investments.

• Always ask an astronomer before touching or viewing from a telescope. (In fact, it is best to keep hands off of the telescopes so they don’t get moved from their viewing position.)

• Use flashlights, cell phones, and other lighted electronic devices sparingly when in the vicinity of the telescopes. Please keep lights pointed toward the ground whenever possible.

• Enjoy yourselves!


MORE Starry Night pics!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1 in 4 Americans thinks the sun rotates around the Earth



I read about the National Science Foundation survey last month, but it’s been stunning me ever since. 1 in 4 Americans thinks the sun revolves around the Earth? How can that be?

It boggles my mind.


While it is alarming that so many adults in America lack a basic understanding of science, what sticks with me longer is drive to help ensure the growing generation of young minds have access to accurate information about the world and critical thinking skills. Ensuring children in Westerville have access to a high quality education is at the heart of our mission and motivates us to put on events like Starry Night and Books for Break.

I know this dedication to educating our youngest citizens is an important reason our sponsors, partners and volunteers feel so passionately about what we do and contribute their money, time and energy.

With the help of over 200 individuals like you, we’re helping ensure that no child in Westerville thinks that the sun revolves around the Earth.

Be part of this mission. Join our email list. Click here. 

Amy Raubenolt

Why “Starry Night”?

Number 1 Most Asked Question from 2014

Why is this event called “Starry Night'”? It’s not at night. And it’s not even all about astronomy…what gives?

Starry Night was born out of an evening I spent looking at Vincent Van Gogh’s iconic painting. I was admiring it that night and thinking about how Van Gogh was looking at the stars and must have felt inspired by them. His painting seems to vibrate with the night sky, swirls of color dance around his stars and spin through his sky. It’s beautiful. To me, it looks like music in the sky, music and wind and stars and color. All of those elements coming together to create something beautiful that speaks to our experience on this planet.


I wanted our organization to create something beautiful for children that brings science, art, music and so much more together in one place. That would give families an opportunity to learn about these disciplines together, by getting involved and interacting with them in a fun way. I leonardo-da-vinci-1920x1200wanted to promote critical thinking about how the world combines and is interrelated. I wanted to create something that would ignite creativity and a passion for exploring how the world around us connects. Other board members of WPE grew excited about the idea too and added to it.

Starry Night was born. The name is a nod to Van Gogh and how artists and scientists have inspired each other for centuries and to how those connections will inform the future we shape.

And yes, we could have named it something simple like Family Interactive Interdisciplinary Learning Festival, but that’s a mouthful and I really like our logo now, so we’ll stick with Starry Night. See you next year!

Starry Night





Starry Night Pictures (Round 1)

Huge thank you to Wes Kroninger and Lynne Maslowsky for providing us with wonderful pictures of the event! Check them out. More coming soon!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


We want to hear what you think!

thMissed the change to tell us what you think about Starry Night? Do you have an idea for a great new program to come to next year’s event? Did you see something wonderful at Starry Night? Something we need to improve?

We want to hear from you!

Fill out our Adult Survey for Starry Night or our Kid Survey.

Adults’ Survey


Kids’ Survey


Starry Night to be featured on Good Day Columbus on Sunday!


Alissa Henry from Good Day Columbus will be featuring Starry Night on Sunday’s broadcast! She’ll be talking with Andy Heck, Cherrington’s principal and WPE Board Member, and checking out some of our exciting exhibits! We’re so excited about this very special opportunity to get the word out about Starry Night and really invite Columbus families into our event. Be sure to tune in to ABC6 from 6:45am-8am and then to FOX28 from 8-10am to get a peek at some of our special exhibits and learn about Starry Night.

And then…come to Starry Night TOMORROW from 2-6pm at Westerville South High School and be amazed by ALL the outstanding exhibits. Build things, dress up in costumes, drive a robot, hear music, dance, plant seeds, check out an amazing car, play with circuits, learn blacksmithing…seriously…You will have a total blast.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 195 other followers

%d bloggers like this: