Registration open to schools through Jan. 25 for 2018 Junior Solar Sprint competition

DOVER – DNREC challenges 5th through 8th grade students to build and race solar-powered model cars in the 2018 Junior Solar Sprint, a statewide challenge of creativity, engineering, and speed. Co-sponsored by DNREC’s Division of Energy & Climate and the Delaware Technology Student Association (TSA), the annual competition will be held Thursday, April 26, 2018 at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington.

Middle schools statewide may register up to two teams of two to four students each. Registration is free, and the Division of Energy & Climate will provide each participating school with up to two starter kits, each including a solar panel, motor, and wheels.

Registration is due by Jan. 25, 2018, and may be emailed to or sent by mail to: DNREC Division of Energy & Climate, ATTN: Junior Solar Sprint registration, State Street Commons, 100 West Water Street, Suite 5A, Dover, DE 19904.

Complete Junior Solar Sprint rules are posted online at the Division of Energy & Climate’s renewable energy webpage, or the Delaware TSA State Conference webpage. Schools are not required to have a TSA chapter in order to participate. Delaware’s event is part of the National Junior Solar Sprint Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program.

For more information, email or call 302-735-3480.

Vol. 47, No. 262

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

DPH Launches Middle School Pilot Program to Prevent Addiction and Violence

DOVER – Today, the Division of Public Health (DPH) announced the launch of a life-skills pilot program at eight middle schools across Delaware to teach students the skills they need to prevent addiction, promote positive decision-making and reduce violence.

DPH is partnering with the Department of Education to bring the Botvin LifeSkills® curriculum to the classroom. The Botvin LifeSkills® Training Program (LST) is a comprehensive, evidence-based program, which provides adolescents and young teens with the con¬fidence and skills necessary to successfully handle challenging situations.

“Adolescents tend to try substances due to peer pressure, family problems, or low self-esteem, and can easily become addicted,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We wanted to provide teachers with the resources and supports this curriculum offers, to integrate life-skills building and substance use prevention in schools while also helping them to achieve their health education requirements.”

“The impact of substance use has far-reaching effects on our students, including hampering their ability to learn and interfering with their ability to function both in school and at home,” said Department of Education Secretary Susan Bunting. “It is critical that we reach students as early as possible and equip them with good decision-making skills, so that they stay on a path that will lead them to achieve their full potential.”

The pilot program kicked off earlier this week with a train-the-trainer session for 10 teachers who will be using the curriculum. Teachers learned interventions to address the social and psychological factors that lead to experimentation with drugs and other undesirable behaviors. Topics covered included self-image, decision-making, smoking, alcohol, marijuana, advertising, violence and the media, coping with anxiety, coping with anger, communication skills, social skills, assertiveness, and resolving conflicts. The LifeSkills® curriculum must be taught by a certified Botvin trainer.

“Our pre-teens need the confidence, social skills and self-esteem to reject peer pressure and lower their risk for addiction and violence,” said Representative Ruth Briggs King, who welcomed the teachers to the training session held at the University of Delaware Kent County Cooperative Extension office in Dover. “One way to help communities is to initiate prevention, and the school setting is ideal. Research suggests that universal lessons to all children – not only to those at higher risk – strengthen children’s self-esteem, decision-making and communication skills.” DPH paid for the train-the-trainer course and curriculum materials.

DPH selected middle schools in the Capital, Indian River, Red Clay, and Seaford school districts because they are located in areas with high overdose numbers. Through games, discussion, role-playing, and other exercises, students practice refusing drugs, communicating with peers and adults, making choices in problem situations, and confronting peer pressure. Materials range from worksheets and posters, to videos and online content. Schools will decide individually how to best incorporate the 15 class sessions that run 30 to 45 minutes.

“Capital School District is committed to meeting the needs of the whole child. Health education and skill-building so our students can say ‘no’ to heroin, prescription painkillers, and other addictive drugs is critical to this mission,” said Michael Saylor, Supervisor of School Success Planning for Capital School District. “We greatly appreciate this level of partnership and support from the Division of Public Health.”

Training will be implemented in the 2017-2018 school year, beginning with sixth-graders and reaching approximately 2,000 students. Students will complete pre- and post-tests, which Botvin will analyze and summarize for DPH.

Like the nation, Delaware is experiencing an epidemic of addiction to opioids, illegal drugs and alcohol. Overdose deaths in Delaware climbed from 172 in 2012 to 228 in 2015, and then jumped to 308 deaths in 2016. First responders administered the life-saving medication naloxone more than 1,535 in 2016. Parents searching for resources and information regarding how to talk to their children about alcohol and drug use can visit

According to the U.S. Surgeon General Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health, children who use alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to become addicted to alcohol at some time in their lives, compared to those who have their first drink at age 20 or older. Nearly 70 percent of children who try an illicit drug before age 13 develop a substance use disorder within seven years. Substance use disorders among children are associated with deteriorating relationships, poor school performance, loss of employment, diminished mental health, and sickness and death from motor vehicle crashes, poisonings, violence, and accidents.

Schools offering the Botvin LifeSkills® curriculum are:

  • Red Clay School District: Brandywine Springs Middle School
  • Capital School District: William Henry and Central middle schools
  • Seaford School District: Seaford Middle School
  • Indian River School District: Selbyville, Millsboro, and Georgetown middle schools and the Delaware School of the Arts

About Botvin LifeSkills® Training
Botvin LifeSkills® Training (LST) is a highly acclaimed, evidence-based substance abuse and violence prevention program used in schools and communities. LST has been extensively tested and proven to reduce tobacco, alcohol, opioid and illicit drug use by as much as 80 percent. Long-term follow-up studies also show that it produces prevention effects that are durable and long-lasting. Visit for more information.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

Governor’s Weekly Message: Supporting Students’ Emotional and Academic Growth

Wilmington –  As a guest host for the Governor’s weekly message, Delaware Children’s Department Secretary Jennifer Ranji discusses a statewide effort to place licensed mental health professionals into middle schools.

“We know the middle school years can be especially challenging for our youth as they  face new academic and social pressures when they enter adolescence,” said Governor Markell. “By giving our students the support they need to overcome their challenges, we’ll help them thrive in school and achieve a bright future, and that will keep Delaware moving forward.”

Every week, the Governor’s office releases a new Weekly Message in video, audio, and transcript form. The message is available on:

By email: Please contact our press team to subscribe to our press list


We know the middle school years can be especially challenging for our youth as they face new academic and social pressures when they enter adolescence. Until last year, Delaware’s elementary and high school students had someone at school to talk to if they felt overwhelmed, but middle school students did not.  That’s why Governor Markell proposed and the General Assembly approved $3.3 Million to place licensed mental health professionals into middle schools throughout the state.

We have implemented the program in 30 middle schools this year, providing screening, counseling, referral services, and much more for our students. The need for these Behavioral Health Consultants is clear. Last spring they completed over 2000 consultations, based on referrals from school personnel, parents, and even student themselves. Students are actively engaged in group therapy and hands on activities with professionals like Lisa Groak at Springer Middle who facilitates group sessions about the anxiety of transitioning to middle school. Students at Chipman, Postlethwait and Laurel Middle have taken nature walks to conduct team building and trust exercises and to show how outdoor activities and exercise can help with stress relief.

Importantly, our Behavioral Health Consultants also communicate with families, even making home visits to ensure parents are engaged. We’re pleased that these professionals have been met with support and positive feedback from school administration and staff, as well as from students and parents.

By giving our students the support they need to overcome their challenges, we’ll help them thrive in school and achieve a bright future.  And that will keep Delaware moving forward.

Delaware students compete in 2013 Junior Solar Sprint; Students designed, built and raced model cars powered by solar energy

DOVER (May 17, 2013) – With the roar of full-sized NASCAR racers in the background, more than 80 middle and junior high school students from 10 schools participated in Delaware’s 19th Annual Junior Solar Sprint Competition on Wednesday, May 15 near the Monster Monument at Dover International Speedway. DNREC’s Division of Energy and Climate organized the event to educate students about renewable energy and the environment through a creative and exciting competition.Junior Solar Sprint winning design team from Caravel Academy near Bear

Students designed and built model cars powered by solar photovoltaic cells and competed for trophies and the honor of having the fastest and best-designed cars in the state.

This year, the checkered flag went to Beacon Middle School in Lewes for the fastest car, while Caravel Academy in Bear took first place for best design. 

Participating schools also included: Holy Cross School, Dover; Milford Middle School and Milford Academy, Milford; Providence Creek Academy and Smyrna Middle School, Smyrna; Sanford School, Hockessin; Skyline Middle School and Springer Middle School, Wilmington; plus Smyrna Boys & Girls Club.

“Photovoltaic technology makes use of the abundant energy from the sun,” said Crystal Nagyiski, Solar Sprint event coordinator, DNREC Division of Energy and Climate. “We use photovoltaic technology as solar cells to power our watches and calculators, but solar power can do much more – by providing electricity for transportation and to heat and cool our homes and businesses. A solar electric panel provides a reliable, abundant and environmentally-smart source of energy.”  

Solar technologies diversify the energy supply, reduce the country’s dependence on imported fuels, improve air quality, and offset greenhouse gas emissions. A growing solar industry also stimulates our economy by creating jobs in solar products manufacturing and installation. 

The event included many of the same highlights and challenges of racing full-sized racecars, including a rain delay. Racers also competed in time trials and test runs prior to the start of the competition, and pit crews came equipped with spare parts for possible repairs. 

At the end of the day, the winning schools were:

Race Results: Fastest car

1st place: Beacon Middle School, Lewes – Car #18

2nd place: Skyline Middle School, Wilmington – Car #5

3rd place: Springer Middle School, Wilmington – Car #1

4th place: Skyline Middle School, Wilmington – Car #6 

Best Design:

1st place: Caravel Academy, Bear – Car #17

2nd place: Holy Cross School, Dover – Car #15

3rd place: Springer Middle School, Wilmington – Car #2

4th place: Springer Middle School, Wilmington – Car #1

5th place: Milford Middle School, Milford – Car #11

For more information on solar and other alternative sources of energy and the programs of the Delaware Division of Energy and Climate, visit

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 43, No. 205