Click on the ad above to visit the VisionsfcuRocks website.
Our Primary Pages
You can visit
To go to Jim Guild's Famous Brands website, click on the drawing above or here.
For a summary of the latest Watkins School Board meeting, click here.
Houck is a Dundee superintendent finalist
Special to The Odessa File
DUNDEE, March 8, 2014 -- The Dundee Board of Education has identified two finalists for the District’s next top administrator. The person selected will assume office on July 1. The finalists are:
-- Kelly Houck (right), Superintendent of Schools for the Canaseraga Central School District, and before that the Bradford School District's high school principal.
-- Joyce Carr, Supervisor of Pupil Personnel Services for the Elmira City School District.
“Our Board has been diligent in narrowing the pool of candidates to these two strong finalists," said Board President James M. Koehler. "We are very excited about what each finalist will bring to the Dundee School District.”
Added Scott Bischoping, Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES District Superintendent and Search Consultant: “The Board has been extremely detail-oriented and thoughtful throughout this search process. Their selection of these two experienced educators as finalists is a great example of their hard work.”
The two finalists are scheduled for day-long interviews on Wednesday, March 19 and Thursday, March 20. Throughout this process, finalists will meet with many different stakeholders including students, district administration, teachers, support staff, community members and the Board of Education.
Photo in text: Kelly Houck (File photo)
The Combined Chorus performs under the direction of Dr. Susan Avery.
3 schools join in concert
Watkins, O-M, Bradford celebrate Music In Our Schools
WATKINS GLEN, March 6 -- Student musicians from the Watkins Glen, Odessa-Montour and Bradford High Schools joined together Wednesday night for a Music In Our Schools Concert in the WGHS Auditorium.
The concert, celebrating Music In Our Schools Month, featured performances by bands from all three high schools, choruses from the Watkins Glen and O-M schools, and a Combined Band and Combined Chorus.
The WGHS Band started the concert by playing "Invicta," which was followed by the O-M High School Chorus's rendition of "Why We Sing." The Bradford High School Band then performed Wagner's "Children's March," the WGHS Chorus sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and the O-M Band played "Last Ride of the Pony Express".
Clarice Miles directed the O-M Chorus and Band, while Diana Groll directed the WGHS Band, Wendy Griffin the Bradford band, and Matthew Craig the WGHS Chorus. Sally Michel accompanied both the O-M and Watkins choruses on piano.
The Combined Chorus was under the direction of Dr. Susan Avery, associate professor of music education at Ithaca College, accompanied by Christine Schwind. The group sang "Festival Sanctus," "Omnia Sol," and "Twelve Gates."
The Combined Band was directed by Dr. Elizabeth Peterson, professor of music at Ithaca College and conductor of the Ithaca College Symphonic Band. It performed "American Riversongs" and a medley of John Williams music from the films Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and The Patriot.
Photos in text:
Top: Members of the WGHS Chorus perform "Lift Every Voice and Sing." The arm belongs to Director Matthew Craig.
Bottom: Dr. Elizabeth Peterson directs the Combined Band, made up of students from all three school districts.
Members of the Combined Band play "American Riversongs."
Left: O-M Band members Hayley Guild, left, and Dana Roberts during performance of "Last Ride of The Pony Express." Right: Three members of the Bradford High School Band's horn section perform during Wagner's "Children's March."
Members of the O-M Band perform "Last Ride of The Pony Express."
In the midst of the Combined Band as it performed "American Riversongs."
Members of the O-M High School Chorus perform "Why We Sing."
Chamber offers $1,000 scholarship
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 13 -- Local high school and home-schooled students have an opportunity to earn a little extra cash for their continued education. The Business and Education Committee of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring its eighth annual program to determine the winner of a $1,000 scholarship to be used toward higher learning expenses.
Who is eligible?
High school seniors in Bradford, Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen schools and home-schooled students in Schuyler County are eligible. Students must also plan to attend an institution of higher learning in the fall of 2014.
2014 Topic: If you could start a business in Schuyler County, what type of business would you start and why? As the business owner, what skills and attributes would you look for in hiring your employees? Explain why those skills are important.
2014 Instructions: Choose to answer the questions in the 2014 Topic using one of the following media:
--Create a website for your business with a minimum of 4-6 tabs.
How to enter: Detailed information can be gathered from high school guidance offices in Bradford, Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen, or by contacting Katherine Strawser at the Chamber at 607-535-4300 or by email at Katie@watkinsglenchamber.com.. Submit your application along with the type of media chosen for the topic to the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, 214 North Franklin Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.
Deadline: April 11, 2014.
The cast of the WGHS musical, "No, No, Nanette." (Photo provided)
WGHS readies 'No, No, Nanette'
By Caitlin Connelly
It’s that time of year again, as preparation is moving along for Watkins Glen High School’s annual spring musical.
Directors Tim and Michelle Benjamin and the entire cast are looking forward to an exceptional performance of the musical comedy “No, No, Nanette,” which will run March 28-30 in the WGHS Auditorium.
Although not as well known as other musical comedies, “No, No, Nanette” does feature a very popular song, “Tea for Two.”
“No, No, Nanette” will take its audience back to the 1920s through a plot complete with humor, romance, and several conflicts caused by secrecy and suspicion. The conflict begins when Jimmy Smith, a wealthy Bible publisher who is married to thrifty Sue, finds himself with more money than he knows what to do with. In an effort to make people happy, he secretly assists three beautiful yet unfortunate women without Sue’s knowledge.
Meanwhile, Jimmy's and Sue’s adopted daughter, Nanette, wants to feel grown up for once in her life. Being a young and energetic girl, Nanette isn’t ready yet to settle down with Tom, though that is his ambition. Oblivious to his spendthrift wife, Lucille, Billy has also been helping Jimmy keep the three girls (Flora, Betty, and Winnie) a secret from his wife.
Throughout the play, Sue and Lucille become suspicious of what their husbands are up to, Tom struggles to win over Nanette, and Nanette tries her hardest to finally be seen as an adult, which sarcastic maid Pauline is more than happy to help her with.
Songs include “I Want to be Happy,” “Peach on the Beach” and “Take a Little One Step,” along with several other catchy tunes that you’re sure to be singing as “No No Nanette” comes to an end.
Sarah Mathews has returned once again to offer her expertise as pianist and Music Director. Students Lydia Myers, Portia Wells, Mikayla Elliott, Justine Hulbert and Paige Hughey have begun choreographing the numerous musical numbers in the production.
The leads Nanette and Tom Trainor will be played by Brooke Grinolds and Dakota Cole. Grinolds, a senior at Watkins Glen High School, has been in the ensemble of both “Mame” and “Grease,” along with several other plays in her childhood. Cole took one of the lead roles of Young Patrick in “Mame” and played the role of “Teen Angel” in last year’s production of “Grease.” Now, as a freshman, Dakota is highly anticipating his role as Tom.
Jimmy will be played by Andrew Likoudis, in his first year in a Watkins Glen musical. His lawyer-boss, Billy, will be played by senior Zachary Kelly, who took the role of Johnny Casino in “Grease” last year and rocked the song “Hand Jive.” Their wives, Sue and Lucille, will be played by seniors Natasha Patel and Caitlin Connelly, respectively. Both took part in the ensemble of “Mame” and “Grease” for the past two years.
Also featured in the show are Abigail Rundle as wise-cracking maid Pauline, along with Lydia Myers, Paige Hughey and Abbey Willis as the three girls entangled in Billy’s generosity.
The cast list:
Pauline -- Abigail Rundle
Dayne Hughey, Chris Likoudis, Chase Richtmyer, Juliette Barbay, Valerie Biviano, Victoria Blanchard, Amanda Cherock, Darby Cady, Tiffini Crissinger, Megan Dupuy, Mikayla Elliott, Keziah Fraboni, Ruthe Gardner, Bridgette Guild, Justine Hulbert, Gabriella LaRosa, Serafina Lopresti, Becca McIntyre, Taylor McIntyre, Maya Palumbo, Elizabeth Reed Mikayla Rhoads, Brooke Shaffer, Joelle Slater, Portia Wells, Phebe Wickham
Photos in text:
Top: Cast members Mikayla Elliott (foreground) and Caitlin Connelly during rehearsal.
Bottom: Cast member Megan Dupuy (Photos provided)
O-M prepares for 'Sound of Music'
ODESSA, Jan. 17 -- The Odessa-Montour High School spring musical this year will be "The Sound of Music," which students are already preparing for its March 13-15 presentation in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.
The story about the von Trapp Family, its musical abilities, the romance and marriage of the clan's father with the governess Maria, and the escape of the family from Nazi-controlled Austria is well known from the film starring Julie Andrews in the mid-1960s.
The O-M production is being directed by Kim Laursen. Emma Raymond and Hayley Guild are sharing the role of Maria, with each performing it in two of the four performances. Captain von Trapp will be portrayed by Brennan Voorheis. Mother Abbess will be played by Dana Roberts and Jenelle Bleiler. The role of Max will be performed by Logn Barrett, and that of Baroness Elsa Shrader by Hailie Searles.
The Sound of Music cast:
Hayley Guild (Thurs & Sat evenings), Emma Raymond (Fri eve., Sat matinee)
Photo in text: The cast of O-M's production of "The Sound of Music."
BOCES board member Learn honored
ELMIRA, Feb. 12 -- Alice Learn, a member of the GST BOCES Board of Education, has been recognized by the New York State School Boards Association for her efforts to expand her knowledge and skills in school governance.
Learn was honored at the BOCES board meeting on February 4.
Learn has served on the BOCES board since July 1, 2012. She previously served on the Odessa-Montour Board of Education for 22 years.
She received the Board Achievement Award for her participation in NYSSBA developmental activities including the NYSSBA Annual Convention, legal conferences, regional workshops and district-level improvement programs.
Photo in text: GST BOCES District Superintendent Horst Graefe presents Alice Learn with the Board Achievement Award. (Photo provided)
Phillips PTO talk rescheduled
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 12 -- A talk by Tom Phillips, superintendent of the Watkins Glen Central School District, before the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) originally set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13 has been rescheduled to Thursday, March 6.
Phiilips will discuss the budget development process and implementation of the Common Core curriculum. The meeting will be held in the Watkins Glen Elementary School library.
Phillips will also discuss the district's transition to a single campus and lead participants on a tour of the newly renovated areas of the Elementary and High Schools.
The public is invited to attend.
Hanlon to hold spelling bee on Feb. 14
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, Feb. 10 -- Twenty-four Hanlon Elementary School students representing grades 3-6 will participate in a school spelling bee on Friday, February 14 at 9:30 a.m. in the school complex's Fetter-Brown auditorium.
Hanlon is participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is locally sponsored by the Corning Rotary Club, Arnot Ogden Medical Center, Guthrie Health Care and Kraft Foods.
Every Hanlon student received a study list for his/her grade level along with a study list of words for grades 1-8. During the week of February 3, all students participated in their own classroom spelling bees, in which the students were tested on the words at their own grade level. The top three finishers of the individual classroom spelling bees moved on to compete in the school spelling bee, where students will be tested on the more challenging study list of words for grades 1-8.
The top two winners of the school bee will participate in a regional spelling bee at Campbell- Savona High School on March 6.
The champion of the regional spelling bee will then go on to compete in a national spelling bee in Washington, D.C.
O-M receives UPK grant, will expand
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, Jan. 26 -- The Odessa-Montour
Central School District will expand its Universal
The district was awarded a Priority Full-Day Pre-Kindergarten and Expanded Half-Day Pre-Kindergaten Grant and will receive approximately $185,000 total during the current and next school year.
“As standards are raised, we see the greatest gains in early childhood education,” said Superintendent James Frame. “We’re extremely pleased to be able to provide this opportunity to young children in our community, who we know will see the benefits of this experience from kindergarten through their senior year.”
Funds will allow the full-day UPK program to include time for inquiry-based learning, fine motor skills development and additional math instruction, as well as technology use, physical activity, arts enrichment and a library component.
Money also will be designated to fund 10 additional Odessa-Montour students who attend the Schuyler Head Start program currently. A portion of the grant money will be used to provide joint professional development for O-M and Head Start staff and transportation for Head Start students who live in the district.
“This grant gives us the opportunity to better prepare children for the rigorous academic program they will encounter when they start school,” said B.C. Cate Elementary Principal Veronica Lewis. “These resources will enrich district and Head Start programs, so it will improve our entire school community. We will be able to help more than 30 students, which is approximately half the population of an incoming kindergarten class, build a strong core foundation of skills that will make them better students.”
A meeting for parents of current students was held on January 22. The extended program will begin in February.
Odessa-Montour is one of 27 school districts across the state selected to receive the competitive grant. The grant was written on behalf of the district by GST BOCES Grant Services.
Photo in text: Richard Pike II creates a painting in his UPK classroom. (Photo provided)
Adult Water Aerobics classes offered
Special to The Odessa File
SCHUYLER COUNTY, Jan. 18 -- You can get fit and have fun, loosen up and laugh.
Odessa-Montour Central School and Watkins Glen Central School will host water aerobics classes this spring. Everyone over 18 is welcome – men and women.
The Odessa-Montour (“Aerobic Fun in the Water”) program is accepting registrations for the new sessions: Monday classes will begin February 10 for 8 weeks, and Thursday classes will begin on February 13 for 8 weeks.
Watkins Glen Central School is hosting “Aqua Aerobics” classes. The next session will run Tuesdays from February 25 for 7 weeks. You may also drop in for individual classes for $7 per class payable at the class; seniors receive a 10% discount. All classes need sufficient registered participants to be held.
Organizers ask that you call now to ensure that the classes are scheduled! Register online at www.gstboces.org or call Carol at 607-739-8170 or 7905.
The classes are offered through GST BOCES Adult Education.
Former boxer Ray Ciancaglini urges concussion awareness
By Paul Gotham
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 13 -- Ray Ciancaglini spoke to more than 600 students and staff of Watkins Glen Central School District Thursday about the need for concussion awareness.
The former professional boxer conveyed a cautionary tale which all students, athletes and non-athletes need to hear.
A lifetime spent dealing with the consequences of poor choices made during his youth gives Ciancaglini a unique opportunity to help younger generations.
“It‘s good for someone like Ray who was a professional athlete and not a health-care professional to advocate playing sports, but he is advocating doing it safely,” said Jim Somerville, the Watkins Glen Central School District trainer. “I can tell kids until the cows home that this is what we need to do, this how you need to treat this, but they think because I am a trainer I am going to go way over on the other side.”
With the awareness of head injuries on the rise because of the growing concern in the National Football League, Ciancaglini’s message is emphatic: “The game you sit out today could be the career you save tomorrow.”
Somerville took Ciancaglini’s message a step further as he emphasized the need for all students to hear what Ray has to say.
“I wanted to get Ray in front of the student body to raise awareness of the concussion issue from the standpoint that it doesn’t have to be just athletes,” Somerville continued. “It can be kids out doing recreational things like riding the ATV or even playground injuries. I wanted to make sure Ray spoke to the entire school body.”
Once a promising young boxer, Ciancaglini’s life changed when he failed to seek proper medical treatment for a concussion and reentered the ring. Now, he has dedicated his life to mentoring today’s youth who may face a similar decision. More than four decades after his last professional fight, Ciancaglini suffers from Dementia Pugilistica and Parkinson’s Syndrome. He takes medication to cope with its effects.
Initially, Ciancaglini suffered from fatigue as a result of his first concussion. He slept for hours, only to wake and still feel tired. Forty years later, he can only sleep for three hours at a time. Sommerville mentioned the positive discussions he had with students after they heard Ray’s speech.
“I think they came away from the presentation and recognized that they have to be honest and get it (a concussion) treated instead of putting it off,” Somerville said. “He put in their minds that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sporting event. It can be anything.”
Somerville explained a situation during this school year when two elementary students sustained concussions as the result of a collision on the playground.
“That was just on the playground and with little kids,” Somerville said. “It’s definitely out there.”
As the school district’s trainer, Somerville has had numerous interactions with student-athletes who have possibly suffered a concussion. He now can echo Ray’s words.
“The biggest thing is to be honest,” Sommerville said. “Even though you may have to miss a game or some time, it’s worth it to get better, so you don’t experience the same thing Ray has over the course of his lifetime. That’s my biggest thing. Be honest with me, so we can get you back in there, and you can play normally and safely.”
Ciancaglini’s story has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, and the New York State Athletic Trainer’s Association has endorsed him. Ciancaglini, along with New York State Senator Mike Nozzolio, combined their efforts in passing the Concussion Management Awareness Act. The legislation requires coaches, teachers and other school personnel to be trained on the symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries and the importance of proper medical treatment.
Ciancaglini is the founder of The Second Impact, an organization dedicated to concussion awareness. The foundation has an Internet website (www.thesecondimpact.com) where students and families can read more about Ray’s story.
Ciancaglini and The Second Impact recently organized and presented an Educational Seminar on Concussions at the Belhurst Castle in Geneva, New York. The evening featured presentations by Dr. Jason Feinberg, the Chief Medical Officer of Finger Lakes Health; Dr. Jeff Bazarian of the University of Rochester Medical Center; Jeff Bray of Keuka College's athletic trainers’ department, and Tom Del Papa of Finger Lakes Health.
In past months, Ciancaglini has spoken at Canisius College, Ithaca College and St. Bonaventure University.
Photo in text:
Watkins Glen School District Trainer Jim Somerville, left, with former
Diana Groll directs the High School Band in its performance of "Carol of the Bells."
Glen students shine at Winter Concert
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 10 -- Watkins Glen instrumentalists and vocalists from the 6th through 12th grades put on an entertaining Winter Concert Monday night in the newly renovated high school auditorium.
The concert began with the 6th Grade Band playing "Bugler's Dream" and "The Simple Gifts of Christmas," followed by the Middle School Chorus singing "African Noel," "All on a Silent Night" and "Minka, Minka."
The Middle School Band weighed in with "Celebration Overture," "Jumpin' Jolly Old St. Nick" and "Celtic Bell Carol," and the High School Chorus performed "Bidi Bom," "Amid the Falling Snow," a Nigerian Christmas Song tltled "Betelehemu Olatunji & Whalum" featuring Aidan DeBolt on the conga drum, and "O Holy Night," with solos by Paige Hughey and Alexis Naylor.
The High School Chorus then teamed with the Middle School Chorus to sing "A Candle's Light" before the High School Band took the stage to perform "Carol of the Bells," "Niagara Overture," "Mamma Mia!" and "Encanto."
The combined bands and choruses then led the audience in a closing Christmas Sing-A-Long consisting of a medley of holiday favorites.
The Middle School Band and Choral Director was Sarahjane Harrigan, while Diana Groll directed the 6th Grade and High School bands. Matthew Craig directed the High School Chorus, and Sally Michel served as choral accompanist.
Photos in text:
Top: Two members of the High School Band during performance of "Carol of the Bells."
Bottom: Part of the horn section of the High School Band.
Left: Aidan DeBolt plays the conga drum during a High School Chorus performance of a Nigerian Christmas song. Right: Alexis Naylor, left, and Paige Hughey, who sang solos during the High School Chorus performance of "O Holy Night."
The horn section of the Middle School Band performs during "Celtic Bell Carol."
Members of the High School Chorus sing under the direction of Matthew Craig.
Part of the party: Posing for photographs.
WGHS holds its semiformal
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 9 -- It was semiformal time at Watkins Glen High School Saturday night, with camaraderie, dancing and attractive clothing on display.
Royalty selected in a vote of attendees:
Count and Countess: Alex Gibson and Courtney Irwin.
Duke and Duchess: Ian Chedzoy and Katherine Meehan.
Prince and Princess: Luke Flahive and LynnAnn Caslin.
King and Queen: Adam Tuttle and Megan Daigle.
The theme of the evening was "A Night in the Vineyard." The event was sponsored by the school's Yearbook Club.
Photo in text: King Adam Tuttle and Queen Megan Daigle. (Photos provided)
Dancing was a centerpiece of the evening.
At the entrance: Students checked in, and voted for royalty.
Tour, decommissioning ceremony set
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 4 -- The Watkins Glen Central School District will officially close its former swimming pool during a decommissioning ceremony at 6 p.m. on December 26.
Former swimmers and coaches are invited to attend and celebrate the success they experienced in the facility during its 48-year history.
Also on December 26, from 3 to 7 p.m., the Schuyler County League of Women voters will host a tour of the ongoing renovations and additions underway at the district’s 12th Street campus.
Both events are free and open to the public. If you plan to attend the ceremony at the pool, RSVP by calling the district office 607-535-3220 by December 20.
Watkins schools plan holiday concert
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 4 -- The Watkins Glen school district music department will present a holiday concert on Monday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. in the newly renovated High School auditorium.
The concert will feature the sixth grade band, seventh and eighth grade chorus, seventh and eighth grade band, high school chorus and high school band. The high school jazz band, flute ensemble and clarinet ensemble will provide prelude music beginning at 6:45 p.m. in the auditorium.
The concert is free and the public is invited to attend. (Please note: the snow date for this concert will be Thursday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m.)
Water Aerobics classes on tap in area
Special to The Odessa File
SCHUYLER COUNTY, Nov. 15 -- Odessa-Montour Central School and Watkins Glen Central School are hosting water aerobics classes. Everyone over 18 is welcome -- men and women.
The Odessa-Montour (“Aerobic Fun in the Water”) program is currently accepting registrations for the new sessions. The next Monday session begins November 18 and runs for eight weeks, through January 27, and Thursday classes will begin on November 14 and run nine weeks.
Watkins Glen Central School is hosting “Aqua Aerobics” classes. The current session runs Tuesdays from November 15 through December 17. Participants may drop in for individual classes for $8 per class, payable at the class; seniors receive a 10% discount.
All classes need sufficient registered participants to be held, and there’s only room for 15 in the pool. Register online at www.gstboces.org or call Carol at 607-739-8170 or 7905.
Classes are offered through GST BOCES Adult Education.
O-M's Smith is Bush Student of Month
Special to The Odessa File
ELMIRA, Nov. 13 -- Tailith Smith, a junior Criminal Justice student from Odessa-Montour High School, and Precious Campbell, a senior Automotive Technology student from Elmira Free Academy, have been selected as the Career and Technical Education Program Students of the Month for October at the GST BOCES Bush Education Center.
“Tailith has demonstrated remarkable leadership,” said Criminal Justice Instructor Tammy Lotocky. “He is a positive role model to peers by going above and beyond what is expected.”
During a physical fitness benchmark test, students ran 1.5 miles, which equalled nine laps on a course. Six squads of students began the course at staggered intervals. According to Lotocky, she noticed that Tailith was on the course among the final runners, although she knew he had completed the distance. When she told him he could stop, his response was “No thanks. We are a team. I am not going to leave the course until everyone is done.” His dedication to his classmates spread to those who had finished, and they rejoined Tailith in running until the last student was done.
Tailith plans to enter the military after high school.
According to Instructor Dan McNaughton, Precious overcame her shyness
to work the shop service counter in her class, which involved interacting
with all of her classmates. She created a computer generated log of all
jobs in the shop and a job board to share information. “Precious
took extra steps to help the shop run a lot smoother and more efficiently,”
said McNaughton. “She is a quiet and shy student, but she leads
by example, which is why her classmates elected her
Precious plans to attend college after graduation.
The Student of the Month is selected by a committee of CTE staff based on nominations.Photo in text: Tailith Smith and Criminal Justice Instructor Tammy Lotocky. (Photo provided)
Common Core draws fire, resolve at Board meeting
WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 5 -- The implementation of the new Common Core curriculum drew comments from a student, three teachers, several School Board members and the superintendent Monday night at a meeting of the Watkins Glen School Board in the district Middle School.
The general tone was one of frustration with the demands of the program, but a willingness to work together in an attempt to implement it.
Common Core is an initiative which, according to Wikipedia, "seeks to bring diverse state curricula into alignment with each other by following the principles of standards-based education reform." It is supported by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Backers say it will improve the educational standing of the United States in a global marketplace that our students are ill-suited now to enter successfully. It puts an emphasis, they say, on critical-thinking skills and problem solving.
According to a website touting the Common Core State Standards, "45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the CCSS in English-language arts and mathematics, and one state, Minnesota, adopted only the ELA standards."
Critics have complained that the program expects -- through more rigorous standards -- too much of teachers and students too soon. In the process, students' test scores have nosedived -- putting additional stress in New York on teachers whose performance evaluations are tied to those scores.
Student John Smith, a Watkins Glen High School junior, expressed concern to the Board with the haste with which the program has been introduced, and said the matter deserves debate.
Watkins Glen Faculty Association President Kate Bartholomew read a statement detailing the difficulties in implementing the program, which "has required significant overtime" by teachers. "Their efforts are exemplary, and truly represent a best effort to deliver the Common Core curriculum ... While the faculty will do its best to continue this practice, it needs to be recognized that this level of manpower is excessive and unsustainable."
Teacher Travis Durfee, on leave from the classroom this year, said that "a lot of what is embedded in the Core Curriculum has been practiced at Watkins Glen" for years. He expressed concern that "New York State is rushing forward" with the program, and that "the haste does a disservice to our students."
Teacher Liam O'Kane recommended the board read a book titled "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools" by Diana Ravitch -- an education historian and former reformer who argues that the reform movement in American schools is "a deliberate effort to replace public education with a privately managed free-market system of schooling." The reformers, she says, "are putting the nation's children on a train that is headed for a cliff."
Board President Mike Myers noted that many of the recommendations in the book "are already being worked on." Board member Tom Richardson added that in any event, "the (Common Core) train has left the station. It's the law. I don't think it's a good idea" to try and delay it.
Superintendent Tom Phillips reported on a meeting of the New York State School Boards Association that he attended with Board members Kristin Hazlitt and Kelly McCarthy, a session where an address by State Education Commissioner John King "was enlightening in that he appeared to understand the problems with implementation" of the Common Core initiative.
"But (King) was relentless," Phillips added, "in the need to increase expectations in our kids, our teachers and our communities." The Commissioner made it clear, he said, that "we need to increase the rigors and expectations for students entering a world vastly different from the one we have experienced."
The Association meeting, Hazlitt said, yielded ideas on how to help teachers cope with the implementation without having to put in the vast amounts of overtime cited by Bartholomew. That could include providing substitute teachers to free teachers up for planning their classes effectively, and surveying teachers to find out what they need.
"We need to know what to do" to help, added McCarthy. "We're definitely listening, and want to help."
Added Phillips: "Hats off to the teachers for what you've been through. You prepared for changes, only to find they weren't what you expected." Test scores, he noted, had dropped 30% across the state with the increased rigor of tests from one year to the next.
"We're stubbing our toes and knees all over the place," he said. "But we'll continue to work and evaluate and see what we have to do to change. The train has indeed left the station, and it's not going back."
Photos in text:
Top: School Board President Mike Myers, left, and Superintendent Tom Phillips.
Second: Student John Smith.
Third: Teacher Liam O'Kane.
Bottom: Watkins Glen Faculty Association President Kate Bartholomew.
For the district summary of the meeting, click here.
McIntyre awarded $68,000 scholarship
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 30 -- Taylor McIntyre, a GST BOCES Criminal Justice student and senior at Watkins Glen High School, is the September recipient of Keuka College’s George H. Ball Community Achievement Award.
McIntyre will receive a $68,000 scholarship ($17,000 annually) in recognition of her strong academic and community service record. The award honors Rev. Dr. George Harvey Ball, founder and first president of Keuka College. It is the college’s highest and most prestigious award.
McIntyre was nominated for the award by GST BOCES Criminal Justice Instructor Tammy Lotocky. “Taylor has helped her community and made a difference to the people around her,” said Lotocky. “This consistent willingness to go above and beyond best describes her.”
McIntryre’s long list of community service includes involvement in:
--Walk a Mile in My Shoes, a local suicide prevention walk.
McIntyre will major in criminology and criminal justice at Keuka and has prepped for her college career in the Criminal Justice program at GST BOCES.
She was selected to serve on the Bush Campus CSI Team, a three-person group that competes in forensic science knowledge and skills at the regional and state level. In addition, she was selected by her peers and instructors to serve an eight-week stint as class lieutenant – the highest rank – and was responsible for peer academic support and classroom discipline.
Photo in text: Taylor McIntyre. (Photo provided)
Students get taste of Vietnamese culture
WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 30 -- Vietnam native Alex-Thai Vo recently visited Watkins Glen Middle School to discuss Vietnamese food and culture with eighth-grade students. Vo is currently pursuing his PhD in History at Cornell University.
Eighth-grade students recently read the verse novel Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. The book tells the story of a Vietnamese girl and her family who are forced to move to the U.S. because the Vietnam War has reached their home. After living as refugees, the family finally settles in Alabama.
During his visit, Vo helped students prepare “roll salad” or spring rolls, a traditional Vietnamese dish, and served them with a variety of sauces. He also discussed some of the cultural differences between Vietnam and the United States.
Vo has lived in the United States since he was eight years old and currently resides in Ithaca.
Photo in text: Vo serves peanut sauce to eighth-grader Christine Hunsinger during his recent visit to the Watkins Glen Middle School. (Photo provided)
Arc receives Vocational Training grant
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 14 -- The Arc of Schuyler has been awarded a $7,500 grant by SourceAmerica, formerly NISH (National Industries for the Severely Handicapped), to support productive work training for people with developmental disabilities.
The Arc provides vocational training and industrial services through Glen Industries. Among other business services, Glen Industries specializes in serving the co-packing needs of start-up and small production companies. Vocational trainees manufacture and package diverse products including sauces, dressings, salsas, and dry items for more than 15 customers from all over the country.
The grant awarded by SourceAmerica will be used to purchase equipment that will automate and enhance food co-packing processes – improving the quality of finished products for customers and allowing for expanded job opportunities for people with disabilities.
“At Glen Industries, we are always looking at ways we can improve production goals and quality, eliminate waste, and reduce costs,” said Brian Bockelkamp, Director of Glen Industries. “This grant will create a more efficient production line in our kitchen, which will have a significant impact on workers with disabilities.”
Glen Industries’ primary purpose is to assist people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to find meaningful employment. Through food co-packing vocational training, people receiving vocational supports are trained in a state-of-the-art kitchen, certified through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. There they learn kitchen sanitation, organization, recipe comprehension, and food preparation.
“This is a critically important grant for The Arc at this time,” said Executive Director Jeannette Frank. “Both the federal government and New York State are drafting plans for restructuring work centers and increasing the number of people with disabilities in competitive employment. This funding helps us prepare for those changes.”
Photo Caption: Chef William Cornelius of Chef William Creations, a Glen Industries food co-packing customer, prepares a batch of specialty sauce with employee Christy Pandozzi. (Photo provided)
Glen district receives Phys. Ed. grant
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 30 -- The Watkins Glen Central School District recently
learned it is the recipient of a three-year federal Carol M. White physical
education grant. The grant will be used to implement PIVOT (Physical Activity
Is Vital to Our Tomorrow). The three-year total for the grant will exceed
• Increase student’s physical activity and fitness through afterschool and summer activities, as well as focus on lifetime sport opportunities such as kayaking, cross country skiing and water sports in physical education class. In addition, students will develop individual wellness plans.
• Collaborate with agencies to develop a community-wide approach
to health and wellness. The district plans to partner with Catholic Charities
to develop community gardens, with the Village of Watkins Glen to renew
the summer recreation program and with Schuyler County Mental Health to
provide proactive treatment.
Coach Nils Watson, center, was at the Board meeting along with lacrosse parents and players.
Grant could lead to WG varsity lacrosse
WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 17 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Monday night approved a resolution empowering Superintendent Tom Phillips to accept a U.S. Lacrosse First Stick Program grant that could lead to establishment of a varsity lacrosse program at the school.
That could come "in the next budget cycle," said Phillips, who explained that the grant is in the form of equipment and uniforms, covers two years, and is for a varsity program that, as of now, doesn't exist.
But the basis for a varsity program is in place with the establishment last school year of a Modified Lacrosse program that was an outgrowth of a club established under the guidance of Kelly McCarthy, who is a member of the School Board. The Modified program was for student-athletes in 7th through 9th grades, and was funded by parents and contributors.
"But we had interest on the high school level, too," says Phillips, explaining that "another 16" students in high school expressed a desire last year to play the sport, and were frustrated that it didn't exist on a varsity level in which they could compete. The Modified coach was and is Nils Watson, a teacher in the Watkins Glen High School.
The grant, Phillips said, "would support the establishment of a varsity program. So we have to look at installing it" as a varsity-level enterprise "in the next budget cycle." That would allow participation by the high school students, as well as by last year's 9th-grade Modified participants who are now at the age of varsity competition.
The School Board meeting was attended by a number of lacrosse players and their parents, along with Watson, as the Board gave Phillips clearance to accept the grant, which he said is expected soon, its major proviso being that the coach attend a mandated "positive impact" training program at what Phillips called "a minimal cost" to the district.
The grant would take the form in the first year of full equipment for two-dozen lacrosse players along with "full goalie equipment. But we're waiting on details," said Phillips. The second year "might include uniforms or practice equipment," he added.
Phillips cautioned that nothing is set in stone yet -- that "there's a lot of work to be done" in determining financing. The Modified program still has money in its coffers, he said, which might mean it remains self-funded. Or perhaps some of that money could be used to help finance the varsity sport. Beyond that, there was $50,000 provided through State Senator Tom O'Mara's office whose use still has not been determined.
Also to be determined is whether Watson would continue as Modified coach, be the Varsity coach, or perhaps handle both jobs.
"We have to sit down and figure out all of this," said Phillips. "So in a way, while the grant is a blessing, it also means a lot of work. But so what? It's for the kids."
The Modified program was deemed a success in its inaugural season last spring, based on the interest level of the students and the fact that the McCarthy-led effort raised substantial funding for the enterprise. "They raised more than $10,000," said Phillips, "which I'm sure is what caught the eye of the U.S. organization.
"I applaud Kelly for all the work she has done," he added. "She and her group have been proactive, and that's been recognized on a national level."
Now, he said, "we have to funnel money where the most interest is." He pointed to a dropoff last year in student interest in tennis, which led to termination of that sport. The addition of lacrosse would not impact funding for other sports, he said. Continued funding for those competitions would be driven by student interest.
"From the ground up, this has been a grass-roots movement," Phillips said of the growth of lacrosse in the Watkins Glen district. "The kids want this sport. It was started by the community and supported by the kids. We need to listen to the community, and listen to the kids."
Photos in text: Superintendent Tom Phillips and School Board member Kelly McCarthy at Monday's meeting.
O-M welcomes new staff members
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, Sept. 13 -- The Odessa-Montour Central School District welcomed several new staff members this school year. They include:
--Theresa Cain, Hanlon
Elementary Special Education
Arts Boosters move session, seek members
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, Sept. 13 -- The regularly scheduled Odessa-Montour Fine Arts Boosters meeting has been moved to Monday evening, September 30 at 7 p.m. in the Faculty Dining Room of the O-M High School.
According to spokesperson Kim Laursen, new members are needed. Adults, she said, are needed to help with "the many, many things the group does to support the Fine Arts in our school. Scholarships are given annually, and the boosters pay for all of the Art and Music Awards as well as organizing the Great American Picnic. Help is needed with fund raisers to help buy instruments for band students and supplies for art students." The boosters also sponsor O-M's Senior High Musical in the spring.
"If you cannot make the meeting, but would like to volunteer to help," Laursen added, contact her on the OMCS website.
Changes ahead for Equivalency program
Special to The Odessa File
SCHUYLER COUNTY, Sept. 13 -- On January 1, 2014, a new test series called TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) will replace the existing GED® exam.
Current testing and passing requirements will continue until the new test is available. When the new test is released, scores from the current test cannot be combined with new test scores. Scores will expire for those who have not completed or passed all portions of the current exam.
The new test series (TASC) will measure common core standards in math, reading, social studies, science and writing. After successfully completing the new assessment, an individual will earn a New York State High School Equivalency Diploma.
Preparation programs are funded by NYS Adult Education Department grants and are available for adults 18 or older who are out of school and committed to increasing their literacy and career readiness skills.
For more information or to register, call 739-7684.
Adult water aerobics classes slated
Special to The Odessa File
SCHUYLER COUNTY, Aug. 20 -- Odessa-Montour Central School and Watkins Glen Central School will host water aerobics classes this spring. Everyone over 18 is welcome.
The Odessa-Montour program (“Aerobic Fun in the Water”) is now accepting registrations. Monday classes will begin September 9 and run for eight weeks. Thursday classes will begin on September 12 and run for nine weeks.
Watkins Glen Central School is hosting “Aqua Aerobics” classes. The next session will run Tuesdays from September 10 through October 29. Participants may also drop in for individual classes for $7 per class payable at the class; seniors receive a 10% discount.
All classes need sufficient registered participants to be held. Call now to ensure that these classes are scheduled. Register online at www.gstboces.org or call Carol at 607-739-8170 or 7905.
The classes are offered through GST BOCES Adult Education.
Bradford district aligns with Sheriff's Office for enhanced presence in school
Superintendents, at forum, weigh in on State of Education
WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 15 -- The State of Education and its future were the general topics of discussion Wednesday at a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored forum with Schuyler County's three school superintendents.
The event, at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, featured Bradford Superintendent Wendy Field, Odessa-Montour Superintendent Jim Frame, and Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips. The moderator was Rebekah LaMoreaux, president of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. More than 30 people attended.
While discussion ranged from Common Core Standards to Curriculum Development to transportation and the Watkins district's transition to a single campus, the most specific and immediate news came from Field.
She said her district is aligning with the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department for an enhanced presence of deputies in the school. She said a room recently used for storage will be made available to any deputy patrolling the area. From there -- in what Field called a "satellite office" -- the deputy will be able to transmit reports and undertake any other procedures that might otherwise require a return to Watkins Glen, thus saving on gas and time.
During stops at the school, Field said, the deputy can approach the work area by traversing the hallways, adding an element of police presence without the cost of employing a School Resource Officer. The district wanted an SRO and had placed it in its last preliminary budget, but had to eliminate it, she said.
The agreement with the Sheriff's Office is expected to be completed soon, Field noted. "Then we'll see. I'm excited to see how it works out. It will provide us with the eyes and ears of law enforcement on our campus on a regular basis."
Other topics discussed included:
Enrollment. Watkins Glen is at 1,153 students, down from 1,700 in 1980. "It's incumbent on us to look at who we are and what we do," said Phillips, and accordingly adopted appropriate efficiencies. Bradford's enrollment rises and falls, and is currently around 300. Odessa is up "20 to 25 students this year," said Frame, bringing the total above 800.
Sharing. The most visible recent example is the conjoining of the O-M and Watkins transportation systems under the auspices of the Watkins district. Field also mentioned sharing curriculum development with the Campbell-Savona district, and sharing sports teams in baseball and modified soccer with the Dundee district.
The Changing World Scene: With the advent of the Internet, the needs of a global workforce have changed, and the old ways of educating are being left behind. The future, said Phillips, will be "much different" in terms of "what you and I believed was a quality educational experience."
Photos in text:
From top: Superintendents (from left) Jim Frame, Wendy Field and Tom Phillips; Chamber President Rebekah LaMoreaux; and Frame listens to a question from the audience.
Bond named to Dean's List at Rochester
Special to The Odessa File
ROCHESTER, Aug. 12 -- Sarah Elizabeth Bond, a sophomore
majoring in biochemistry at the University of Rochester, has been named
to the Dean’s List for academic achievement for the spring 2013
Supers to discuss State of Education
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, July 29 -- The Government Affairs Committee of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce will host the three Schuyler County School Superintendents for an informational session on the current state of education in the county on Wednesday, Aug. 14 at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.
Bradford Schools Superintendent Wendy Field, Odessa-Montour Superintendent Jim Frame and Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips will discuss the current state and the future state of education and how the community can support the school districts.
The session will run from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. There is no fee, although an RSVP is required.
Said Field: “The district is proactive in seeking creative ways to efficiently provide to our students a high quality education that corresponds with college and career expectations for excellence. I look forward to discussing these issues with the Chamber membership."
Added Frame: “As we look forward to the new school year, we are
pleased to update our
Register no later than August 12 through the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce at (607) 535-4300 or email Katie@watkinsglenchamber.com.
M.A.S.H. Camp focus: medical careers
MONTOUR FALLS, July 27 -- Eight students going into 8th and 9th grades recently spent two days at Schuyler Hospital in Montour Falls, gaining hands-on experience in a variety of potential healthcare careers.
Schuyler Hospital co-sponsored the Medical Academy of Science and Health (M.A.S.H.) Camp on July 23-24 with the Central New York Area Health Education Center (CNYAHEC) and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
The students learned CPR, injected saline water into an orange, viewed their own hand germs in the lab, tested their lung capacity, exercised with Seneca View residents, sutured a stuffed animal, and gave each other wrist casts. They also toured Schuyler Ambulance.
The campers were visited by New York State Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, who awarded special certificates. Certificates were also presented by Alison Hunt, representing U.S. Congressman Tom Reed.
The students expressed interest in various areas of healthcare, from pharmacy, to midwifery, to EMT and more.
M.A.S.H. Camp at Schuyler Hospital takes place annually each July, and is coordinated by CNYAHEC.
For more information contact Schuyler Hospital at (607) 210-1950 or go to www.schuylerhospital.org
Photos in text:
Top: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano wished the Schuyler Hospital M.A.S.H. Campers well on their first day.From left: Deanna Darling from CNYAHEC, Deanna Cofone, Tyler Morehouse, Michelle Benjamin from Schuyler Hospital, Joseph Hinterberger, Elizabeth Dillon, Assemblyman Palmesano, Cristian Lau, Trevor Thurston, Anastasia Couch and Hanley Elliott.
Bottom: Schuyler Hospital M.A.S.H. Campers show off the colorful casts they gave each other. From left: Hanley Elliott, Trevor Thurston, Christian Lau, Joseph Hinterberger, Elizabeth Dillon, Tyler Morehouse, Deanna Cofone and Anastasia Couch. (Photos provided)
Watkins, O-M share transportation services
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, July 27 -- Beginning in September, the Watkins Glen Central School District will provide transportation services for Odessa-Montour Central School District students. As a result of the change, Odessa-Montour anticipates cost savings of about $100,000 for the 2013-14 school year.
Previously, the Odessa-Montour school district had contracted with private transportation companies for these services. Several months ago, the district began looking at more cost-effective ways to provide the same level of service and approached the Watkins Glen Central School District.
According to Jim Frame, O-M superintendent, the agreement with the Watkins Glen District provided the cost savings he was looking for, along with continuity.
“No one lost a job with this transition,” he said. “Our bus drivers, mechanics and our transportation supervisors will be employed through the Watkins Glen District. We can provide the same service to our students and still reduce our costs.”
Tom Phillips, Watkins Glen superintendent, said his district benefits from the agreement as well.
“We can combine travel for sports teams when it’s feasible, using one bus instead of two. We can send one bus to BOCES every day for both districts. As part of the agreement, we’re sharing the administrative costs for the program. We can draw from the same pool of substitute drivers,” he said. “It’s just a much more efficient way to do business.”
Hospital Auxiliary awards scholarships
Special to The Odessa File
MONTOUR FALLS, July 19 -- The Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary has awarded $1,000 scholarships to two high school students who are planning to enter the healthcare field, as well as to a Schuyler Hospital staff member advancing her education.
Chelsea Kennard, daughter of Carin and George Kennard of Burdett, is a 2013 graduate of Watkins Glen High School. Kennard’s school activities included Interact Club, National Honor Society, Student Council, Model United Nations, Choir, Band, and the school play – as well as swimming/diving, bowling and tennis. Kennard has also worked as a lifeguard. She will be spending a year in Finland through Rotary Youth Exchange, but plans to pursue a Pre-Med degree upon her return.
Kristyn Penhollow, daughter of Leland Penhollow and Lori Ray of Alpine, is a 2013 graduate of Odessa-Montour High School. At Odessa-Montour, Penhollow was active in swimming, Student Council, National Honor Society and the Zonta Club. She also worked at Gerould’s Deli, and volunteered with the Horseheads American Legion. Penhollow participated in the GST BOCES New Visions Medical Program, and plans to attend the University of Rochester to major in Pre-Med.
Angela Champlin, Director of Activities for Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility, where she has worked for over 7 years, is pursuing her BS in Health Services Management.
The awards, presented annually, are based on academic achievement, volunteerism, and personal essays.
The Auxiliary awarded its first scholarship of $250 in 1990. Over the next 20 years it has grown to three $1,000 scholarships. Funds for the awards are raised through the Auxiliary’s hospital gift shop and other volunteer activities.
Survey to gauge after-school program options
Special to The Odessa File
SCHUYLER COUNTY, July 10 -- Representatives from community agencies, as well as the superintendents of the Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen Central School Districts, met Monday to explore options for after-school programming for students in grades 5-8 in Schuyler County.
For the past five years, this programming has been provided at both Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen districts through a Federal 21st Century Grant. The districts recently learned that the grant would not be renewed for the 2013-14 school year, leaving a void in after-school programming in the county.
Representatives from Catholic Charities, Schuyler County Family Services, GST BOCES Grant Services and the Career Development Council, as well as Tom Phillips, Watkins Glen superintendent, and Jim Frame, Odessa-Montour superintendent, met to explore options.
To gather more information about the community’s needs, the group developed a brief survey for parents. The survey will be available on the Watkins Glen (www.wgcsd.org) and the Odesssa-Montour (www.omschools.org) websites until July 31. Parents are encouraged to complete the survey.
Once survey results are complete, the group will meet again to review the data and plan a community meeting on the issue.
WGHS grad receives Arc $1,000 scholarship
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN – The Arc of Schuyler’s Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Watkins Glen High School graduate Ashlee Hill at the school's June 22 commencement ceremony.
This $1,000 scholarship honors Joanne Hayes, former board member and president of The Arc of Schuyler’s board of directors who passed away in 1987. The award is given annually to a graduating senior pursuing an education in human services, special education, or a related field for a career providing supports to people with developmental disabilities.
Ashlee Hill, daughter of William and Tiffany Hill of Watkins Glen, plans to enroll at SUNY Geneseo in the fall to study psychology and pre-med. She then hopes to transfer to John Hopkins University for nursing. Through her career, she hopes to be able to make a difference in her hometown community.
Ashlee is ranked in the top of her graduating class and has participated in school clubs such as National Honor Society, Diversity Club, Music Club, World Language Club, SADD, and Rotary Interact. Ashlee has also been captain of her JV and Varsity Cheerleading teams. In addition to volunteer work, she has held a part-time job throughout high school at her family’s restaurant, Classic Chef’s.
The Arc of Schuyler is a family-based charitable organization providing supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism. The Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship is made possible through local donations to The Arc. For more information or to make a donation to The Arc, call 607-535-6934 or visit www.arcofschuyler.org.
Photo in text: Ashlee Hill (Photo provided)
Administration add-on brings debate
WATKINS GLEN, June 30 -- And the debate continues.
The Watkins Glen School Board's approval of an extra administrative post to help in the final year of transition to a single campus has drawn some fire -- earlier by a columnist and by the Watkins Glen Faculty Association, and now in a couple of letters to The Odessa File and in an artistic entry by longtime cartoonist Ron Havens of Catharine Corners.
The extra administrator was first mentioned in an article -- found lower on this page -- pertaining to a School Board meeting. Then came a column by A. Moralis, a pseudonymous writer who has contributed many essays to this website. That can be found here.
Next came opposition in a letter from the Faculty Association to Superintendent Tom Phillips and the School Board (here), and in return came a letter from Phillips to the Faculty Association. Originally sent to the Association leadership with copies emailed to Association members, it was soon made public by outgoing School Board President Brian O'Donnell. (That can be found here.)
Now come two letters -- one from a Watkins Glen writer who identifies himself as Frank Serpico, and one from a Tyrone writer, Alan Hurley.
The first writer, Mr. Serpico, said the title of the A. Moralis column, Game of Thrones, "seems apropos for what is going on in the Watkins Glen school district board room these days." He objects to the hiring of an extra administrator for the coming school year, asking "how, exactly, will this help educate our children? Are there really that many more duties to be assigned when we have fewer kids, faculty and support staff? Why didn't they just give these extra duties to the current faculty manager, as I understand he already has an administrative certification?"
The second writer, Mr. Hurley, observes that "it seems as if there has always been a 'distance' between the Administration of Watkins Glen Central School and some Faculty Association representatives. The continued 'refuting' and disagreeing from both sides on which programs to cut and how to do it leaves (everybody) wondering where the gridlock will lead us."
He added that now that the district is in the midst of a $24 million consolidation plan -- which he said includes "more rooms and more Administrative offices we probably don't need" -- "I question the leadership and common sense of both sides (administration and faculty) as it seems Watkins Glen is victimized by a political and monetary fight all at the expense of the taxpayer."
He adds: "Why the redundancy by creating yet another payroll addition" in the form of an extra administrator?
And to top it off came the cartoon commentary from Havens, who has contributed dozens of collections of his often barbed efforts to this website for years.
Current teachers, former teachers and former students from Watkins Glen High School pose during a party June 14 at Lakewood Vineyards honoring the retirement of WGHS teacher Craig Cheplick (left) and guidance counselor Nancy Loughlin (seated to the right of the center post).
One of the many tables filled Saturday by WGHS alumni and their families.
Ellison, Van Wagner honored at banquet
WATKINS GLEN, June 23 -- Two Watkins Glen High School alumni -- the late Judge William N. Ellison and Marcia Miller Van Wagner, a retired U.S. Army Nurse Corps colonel -- were recipients Saturday of Watkins Glen Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Awards at the 88th annual Alumni Banquet held at the Community Center.
Also honored were three graduating WGHS seniors, each of whom received scholarships from the Association. They are Sarah LaMascus, who received $2,500; Katrina Swarthout, $1,500; and Abigail Cocca, $1,000.
The dinner tables were filled with alumni and family members for a dinner hosted by Bleachers Sports Bar and Grill and for a celebration of the classes present (including several members from the class of 1938) and of the honorees.
Judge Ellison, a 1946 graduate of WGHS, was a Schuyler County and State Supreme Court judge who was active in many civic organizations -- among them 45 years of service to the Northrup Education Foundation, which raises money for interest-free college loans for area students. He was also instrumental in championing educational services for special-needs children long before the services of today existed.
Among many other organizations, he served on the Schuyler Hospital Board of Directors in a period that saw construction of the much-needed Long Term Care facility, and on the Corning Community College Board of Trustees, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Corporation, the Southern Tier Heart Association, the Watkins Glen Volunteer Fire Department, and the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club. Following his death, the Schuyler County Courthouse was renamed in his honor.
Present for Saturday's ceremony were his widow, Patricia, and son Harry.
The other honoree, Marcia Miller Van Wagner, was a 1960 WGHS graduate who was, early in her career, a staff nurse in several local-area hospitals as well as at the Schuyler County Public Health Department -- where she was awarded the American Red Cross Nursing Badge for her service during Hurricane Agnes in 1972. She was commissioned a captain in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in 1974, and served as a member of the team that developed the U.S. Army's first treatment model for parental child abuse in a military setting. She then went on to represent the United States in Geneva, Switzerland to present this model to the World Health Organization Convention on Child Abuse and Neglect.
In 1982, she returned to a civilian career as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, while remaining in the Army Reserves -- where she rose to the rank of colonel. In 1990 she volunteered for active duty for Operation Desert Storm and was put in charge of the Army’s 1,000-bed hospital in Saudi Arabia. Before retiring a second time from the Army, she developed and implemented the current training program designed to ensure the mobilization readiness of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.
The banquet's welcome was presented by Peggy Doolittle Scott, a 1970 WGHS graduate who serves as president of the Alumni Association board of directors. Other members of the board include Jo Pat Paradiso Wright, vice president; Donna Ney Lodge, secretary; Phyllis Hollenbeck Teeter, treasurer; and Robert Lee, Dennis Morris, Patti Schimizzi, Elvin West, Joe Orbin, Nan Woodworth-Shaw, Mary Pinto, Alyce Richardson Stratton, Sandra Arcangeli Spaulding, William Paradiso, and Sharon Edsall Stadelmaier.
Photos in text:
Top: Patrica Ellison, right, widow of honoree William N. Ellison, alongside 1946 WGHS classmate Anne Meehan.
Second: Alumni Association scholarship winners (from left) Katrina Swarthout, Abigail Cocca and Sarah LaMascus.
Third: Distinguished Alumni honoree Marcia Miller Van Wagner with her award, including a high school yearbook picture of her.
Bottom: Alumni Association President Peggy Scott welcomes the alumni to the banquet.
8th graders donate funds to charity, PTO
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, June 21 -- Eighth-graders in Home and Careers classes at Watkins Glen Middle School held two very successful fundraisers this year. First, they wrote, edited, published, advertised and sold cookbooks. Then, they prepared and served a Mexican dinner to 250 guests. The fundraisers were held to cover the cost of a field trip to Cornell University in April. Even after the career exploration trip to Cornell, students had more than $500 left from their fundraisers.
Students were offered several choices for using the extra funds, and decided to donate to the Middle School Student Council, the Watkins Glen Parent Teacher Organization and Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). FMSC is an Ithaca-based charity that purchases and packages food that is shipped to areas where hunger is a problem.
Marcie Bishop, a representative of the charity, estimates that FMSC will package and donate about 300,000 meals this year. The $400 donation from Watkins Glen eighth-graders will provide 1,818 of those.
“I’m very proud of my students for their successful efforts all year long and for their desire to make a difference both locally and beyond the borders of Schuyler County by giving back to the community,” said Barbara Bristow, Home and Careers teacher.
Photo in text: Maria Chedzoy of the Watkins Glen PTO receives a $400 donation from eighth-grade Home and Careers students. From left, back row: Michael Deidrichs, Casey Falls, Will Fitzsimmons, Christopher Joseph and Haleigh Porter. Front row, from left: Courtney Irwin, Maria Chedzoy and Marah McCauley. (Photo provided)
Watkins school principals changing jobs
WATKINS GLEN, June 19 -- The Watkins Glen Middle School principal will become the Elementary School principal, the Elementary School principal will become the Athletic Director and the Middle School will have a new, as-yet-unnamed principal under a plan unveiled Wednesday by Watkins Glen School Superintendent Tom Phillips.
Phillips announced the shift in personnel to teachers at a mid-afternoon meeting. It followed by two days a move by the Watkins Glen School Board to add an administrator to the district mix for the upcoming school year -- the final year of Middle School usage before the district transitions to a single campus.
Construction is under way at the high school-elementary school complex to make room for that transition.
Phillips announced that Elementary School Principal Rod Weeden will become the district's Athletic Director as well as handling other administrative duties. Middle School Principal Kristine Somerville will become the Elementary School principal. Dave Warren will remain as High School principal.
Phillips also announced a reorganization of guidance counselors in the wake of the retirement of longtime counselor Nancy Loughlin. Melissa Woodward will be the counselor for grades 10-12, while Michelle Simiele will handle grades 6-9. Laurel McIntyre will remain the elementary school counselor.
SFLW awards 3 Schuyler scholarships
Special to The Odessa File
MONTOUR FALLS, June 18 -- Three $500 scholarships were awarded to Schuyler County high school seniors Monday at the Southern Finger Lakes Women's annual Leaders of Tomorrow celebration at the Montour Falls Moose Lodge. SFLW is a chapter of New York State Women, Inc.
Student winners were:
-- Bradford High School senior Katelyn Scott, who will attend Corning Community College to prepare for a career in speech language pathology.
--Watkins Glen High School senior Katrina Swarthout, who will be attending the University of Buffalo.
--Watkins Glen High School senior Haley DeNardo, who will enroll in Penn State's architecture program. Due to a prior commitment, she was not able to attend the awards ceremony.
New York State Women, Inc., provides members with professional development, networking, and career advancement resources. Its mission is to achieve equity for all women in the workplace through advocacy, education and information. The Southern Finger Lakes Women Chapter meets on the third Monday of each month. For more information, contact Gloria Hutchings at (607) 594-2489 or JoAnne Krolak at (607) 732-1171.
Photo in text: From left, Katelyn Scott, SFLW President Judy Phillips, and Katrina Swarthout. (Photo provided)
School Board OKs new administrator, listens to plea on After-School Program
WATKINS GLEN, June 18 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Monday night approved the creation of a new administrative position designed, Superintendent Tom Phillips said, to help in the transition of the district to a single campus.
Phillips, when asked after the meeting for specifics of the plan, said he would be unveiling them on Wednesday, after he had a chance to address the district teaching staff on the matter. The staff has dwindled in numbers in recent years due to budget cuts.
The transition to a single campus has one more year remaining, during which the Middle School will be used for grades 7 and 8. After that, it will be closed. Kristine Somerville has been serving as its principal.
The administrator move came after the board had heard Erica Murray, director of the 21st Century After-School Program in the district, propose a spending plan to keep the program running in the wake of its failure to secure a second five-year grant from the federal government.
The program, which in the past year had an average daily attendance of 80 students in grades 5-8 and a total enrollment of 110 students, will end if it doesn't secure financing of some sort. In its five years, it has served 416 students, 88% of whom have shown improved classroom behaviors (in the areas of homework completion, attendance, social interaction, and academic performance), according to Murray.
She proposed a first-year budget of $58,900 "to sustain the program" -- a barebones spending plan that would eliminate transportation for the kids and hold the enrollment at 55 students. The cost, while optimally covered by the district, might be attained through other creative means, she indicated.
"I know these are tough times," she said, adding that if a financial commitment by the district "is not an option," another option would be to charge parents of participating students $25 a week. If 55 sets of parents were willing to pay that amount, that income would cover the program's barebones cost, with the exception of a $4,000 district contribution for teacher salaries. Field trips, important to the program but eliminated in the budget proposal, could be reinstated through "one big fundraiser per year."
"I don't want you to think I'm up here asking to save my job," Murray said, pointing instead to the many benefits of the program and the hole it would leave in the lives of students should it be terminated.
In response, Board President Brian O'Donnell -- in his final meeting -- termed Murray's report "outstanding" and said she had "given us a lot of food for thought. But we're not prepared to give you an answer tonight. We can't promise you anything tonight."
Superintendent Phillips, meanwhile, said that he would be consulting with Odessa-Montour Superintendent Jim Frame and Catholic Charities in an attempt to devise "a cooperative venture" that would "reallocate resources" and lead to a "community-based" after-school program that would give "the biggest bang for our buck."
He also pointed to the school's Modified Lacrosse team -- some of whose members were on hand to present to the Board, in thanks, a framed team photo with signatures of each player on the roster. The Board had approved the lacrosse program this year without using any school funds. It was, Phillips said rather pointedly, financed through community contributions and fund-raisers.
--The meeting marked the last official one for O'Donnell and Board member Joe Fazzary, neither of whom had sought re-election. O'Donnell said he would miss the Board, and that accordingly his departure was "bittersweet." He said it had been a "privilege" working with Phillips, who he called "a superintendent with vision and energy." Fazzary gave no farewell remarks. They are being replaced next month by Kristin Hazlitt and Mark Franzese.
--Phillips updated the Board on ongoing plans to take control of the Odessa-Montour transportation drivers and fleet. He said he had had "a fruitful meeting" with O-M Superintendent Frame and business manager Scott Arnold to discuss O-M contracting with Watkins in a pact whereby Watkins would take over the transportation system, with chargebacks to the Odessa district. "We're trying for a more effective use of resources," Phillips said. "It cannot be business as usual." He said an agreement "will not happen overnight, but quickly. There will at least be a pilot" program.
--The Board approved a handful of new Fall and Winter coaching appointments. Most appointments had been approved previously. The new ones:
--Phil Watson will be the boys varsity soccer coach.
--The Board approved the resignation into retirement of Nancy Loughlin, who has served for more than 40 years as a French teacher, English teacher, Guidance Counselor and track coach. "She has had a colorful and varied career," said O'Donnell, "and we thank her for her service."
--Phillips distributed certificates to graduates of the GST BOCES Career and Technical Education Program, and to golfers who competed in New York State High School tournaments: Keith Rekczis, Sarah Wickham and Halle Phillips.
Photos in text:
Top: Outgoing Board members Brian O'Donnell, left, and Joe Fazzary, right, pose with Superintendent Tom Phillips after Monday night's meeting.
Second: Erica Murray, director of the After-School Program, listens to the School Board.
Third: The team photo presented to the School Board by members of the school's Modified Lacrosse program.
Bottom: Golfer Sarah Wickham receives a certificate and congratulations from Superintendent Tom Phillips for her participation the New York State Girls High School Golf Tournament.
Bradford's BreOnna Leonard receives her plaque from Superintendent Wendy Field.
21 Schuyler Scholars honored
WATKINS GLEN, June 13 -- Twenty-one top scholars in the Watkins Glen, Odessa-Montour and Bradford school districts were honored for their academic achievements Wednesday night at the sixth annual Schuyler Scholars Celebration at the Harbor Hotel.
Seniors whose academic efforts in their high school careers have earned them a spot in the top 10% of their class were on hand to receive plaques commemorating the accomplishment.
The honorees included 12 seniors from Watkins Glen High School, six from Odessa-Montour and three from Bradford. The evening began with appetizers, and included a choice of chicken or pasta dinner.
The meal was preceded by introductory remarks from Superintendents Wendy Field (Bradford) and Tom Phillips (Watkins Glen). After the meal, speeches were delivered by Watkins Glen School Board President Brian O'Donnell and Watkins Glen alumnus Andrew Clark, who is employed by Valicenti Advisory Services, Inc.
Those honored were:
Bradford: Hillary Bonning, BreOnna Leonard and Elizabeth Wood.
Odessa-Montour: Adam Gardner, Gavin Guild, Danielle MacDougall, Kristyn Penhollow, Katelin Pierce and Morgan Stermer.
Watkins Glen: Abigail Cocca, Gavin Gates, Elise Groll, Sarah Hazlitt, Ashlee Hill, Chelsea Kennard, Sarah LaMascus, Alexis Pike, Katrina Swarthout, Sarah Swarthout, Brenton Whiting and Sarah Wickham.
In his speech, O'Donnell told the honorees that three things required to be successful are organization, time management and multi-tasking "in our complex world." Upon graduating, he told them, "these will be the times when you find out what you are really made of ... when your character will be solidified."
Clark, who returned home to Watkins Glen and to a career after attending Binghamton University, said he has learned that he can make a difference in a small community much easier than in a large one, and suggested the same could hold true for the Schuyler Scholars. "The younger generation will become the older generation. If you don't return (home), who will be the (community's) leaders?" he asked.
Photos in text: Honorees Alexis Pike (top, of WGHS) and Danielle MacDougall (O-M).
Left: Honoree Sarah Hazlitt (WGHS). Right: Speaker Andrew Clark.
Left: Honoree Katelin Pierce (O-M). Right: Honoree Ashlee Hill (WGHS)
Students learn about nature at Field Day
Special to The Odessa File
HECTOR, June 11 -- A total of 155 sixth-grade students from the Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen Central School Districts attended an outdoor education program, Conservation Field Day, on June 4 at the Finger Lakes National Forest.
The day-long program provided hands-on activities to stimulate youths to explore and respect their natural surroundings and to show them that there are many professions that work in and with nature. Students learned about the importance of floodplains, forests, insects and wildlife, and learned how to fish, how shiitake mushrooms are grown and how dairy animals are fed.
The Field Day was organized by the Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) with assistance from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County, the Finger Lakes National Forest, the two school districts and their 6th grade teachers, and a number of local businesses and organizations.
The SWCD extended "special thanks" to Seneca Marine in Watkins Glen for the donation of worms for the fishing station and to all the speakers who worked with the students.
For more information about Conservation Field Day or other Soil and Water District Programs, visit the website www.schuylerswcd.com
Photo in text: Sixth-graders practice fishing at Potomac Pond in the Finger Lakes National Forest as part of the Conservation Field Day. (Photo provided)
Middle Schoolers to present snacks on TV
WATKINS GLEN, June 12 -- Watkins Glen Middle School students Maggie Barrett, Victoria Krnotch and Hannah St. Julien recently were named winners in the WSKG “After School Fuel Recipe Contest.” Watkins Glen students earned two of the six awards given for submissions from across the WSKG viewing area.
On June 25, the winners will travel to Chenango Forks High School, where they will be filmed making their recipes and will be interviewed by the host of WSKG’s Move It.
Students created their snacks as a project for their science class. The winners included a very purple smoothie made of blueberries and Greek yogurt, with a secret nutrition boost from baby spinach created by Krnotch and St. Julien. The other winner from Watkins was a salad with romaine, spinach, sliced cucumber and carrots stuffed into a whole-wheat pita, topped with garlic dressing made from Greek yogurt created by Barrett.
The contest was open to students in grades 1-8, who were invited to create tasty, nutritious, on-the-go snacks. Participants worked in teams of up to two students and one adult. The entries were judged by Lourdes Hospital staff based on creativity, use and knowledge of kitchen tools, low sugar content, nutritional value, ingredients used, ease of preparation and taste.
In the fall, Barret, Krnotch, St. Julien and their teacher, Melissa Kissell, will be invited to the WSKG studio to view a screening of the show before it airs.
Photo in text: Students Hannah St. Julien (foreground) and Victoria Krnotch create their award-winning smoothie. (Photo provided)
Somerville on Dean's List at West Point
WEST POINT, NY, June 4 -- Cadet Brett Somerville, son of Kristine and James Somerville of Watkins Glen, has been named to the Dean's List for the Spring semester at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
The U.S. Military Academy is a four-year co-educational federal undergraduate
liberal arts college located 50 miles north of New York City. Founded
in 1802 as America's first college of engineering, it consistently ranks
as one of the top colleges in the nation. A preeminent leader development
institution, its mission remains constant -- to educate, train and inspire
cadets for careers of professional service to the Army and the nation.
Cadet Somerville graduated from Watkins Glen High School, Watkins Glen, N.Y., in 2012 and will be commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation from West Point.
Photo in text: Cadet Brett Somerville (Photo provided)
O-M musicians, artists honored
ODESSA, June 5 -- The annual Great American Picnic and Fine Arts Awards celebration was held Tuesday evening in the courtyard fronting the Odessa-Montour Junior-Senior High School.
Music was performed by the school's bands and chorus, and awards were presented, with High School Principal Chris Wood serving as emcee. Dinner was also provided picnic-style -- with hot dogs, hamburgers, salads and chips. Picnic coordinator was Sharon Stadelmaier.
Junior High NYSSMA: Liza Carnes, Simonne DeWalt, Ethan Fellwock, Jaylin Rumsey, Bronwyn Stermer, Taylor Sykes, Britney Visscher
Senior High NYSSMA: Hayley Guild, Hayden Moss, Kate Ross, Olivia Scata, Tess Visscher
Junior High Area All-State: Simonne DeWalt, Taylor Sykes, Britney Visscher
Senior High Area All-State: Morgan Stermer
Senior Certificates: Alisha Chamberlain, Jon Chapman, Brooke Frasier, Ashton Stadelmaier, Morgan Stermer
Marine Semper Fidelis Award for Musical Excellence: Morgan Stermer
National School Choral Award: Alisha Chamberlain
John Philip Sousa Band Award: Brooke Frasier
Quincy Jones Musicianship Award: Morgan Stermer
Seniors who have taken art for 3 years: Angel Litweiler, Lee Sidle, Staci Starkweather, Chelsea Vondracek, Marissa Voorhees, Sydney Eberhardt, Sheode Brown, Angel Carson, Cortney Dudgeon, Brooke Frasier, Felicia Johnson, Brandee LeClaire, Jeremy Zoeke
The Titus Award: Staci Starkweather
Outstanding Artist Award: Sheode Brown
Portfolio Award: Angel Carson
Up-and-coming Artist of the Year: Heavyn Arias
Honorable Mention for Up-and-Coming Artists:
Fine Arts Scholarship : $250 for Michael Huey, Culinary ARts
Fine Arts Booster of the Year: Mrs. Pam Kelly
Photos in text: The High School Band performs; the food tent in silhouette.
O-M presents its Academic Awards
ODESSA, June 4 -- Odessa-Montour High School presented dozens of awards at its annual Academic Awards Program Monday night. They follow:
CONNIE TORPY JONES MEMORIAL AWARD – Gavin Guild
WELLS COLLEGE 21ST CENTURY LEADERSHIP AWARD – Jasmine Wittig
Gabrielle Cain, Abigail Chapman, Tyler Clark, April Dunn,
Luke Eberhardt, Joel Kelly, Victoria Pries, Emma Raymond, James Williams,
MATH DEPARTMENT AWARDS
Four Year Math Awards:
Matthew Bleiler, Leeah Fazzary, Adam Gardner, Morgan Stermer
TECHNOLOGY ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Certificate of Excellence in Technology: Dominik Chapman, John Freund, Tom Peckham
HISTORY DEPARTMENT AWARDS
Joseph Lemak Global Studies Award –
PHYSICAL EDUCATION BABE RUTH AWARDS – Adam Gardner and Brittany VanAmburg
USMC Scholastic Excellence Award – Danielle MacDougall
NYS ATTORNEY GENERAL TRIPLE C AWARD – Jenelle Bleiler and Hayden Moss
English 9 Award –
ACE English Recognition: Matt Bleiler, Sydney Eberhardt, Brooke Frasier, Adam Gardner, Felicia Johnson, Danielle MacDougall, Tom Peckham, Kristyn Penhollow, Katelin Pierce, Morgan Shutter, Staci Starkweather, Morgan Stermer
Spanish II Achievement Awards
– Logan Barrett, Me’chel Wead
STELLAR STUDENT AWARDS - HIGHEST AVERAGE
FOR THE SCHOOL YEAR
BAUSCH AND LOMB HONORARY SCIENCE AWARD – Hayden Moss
BOYS STATE AWARDS – John Reasor, Dan Rounds
UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER FREDRICK DOUGLAS AND SUSAN B.ANTHONY AWARD – Tess Visscher
SCIENCE DEPARTMENT AWARDS
Four Year Science Awards – Matthew Bleiler, Sydney Eberhardt, Brooke Frasier, Adam Gardner, Ryan Gardner, Kristyn Penhollow, Katelin Pierce, Brittany VanAmburg
UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER GEORGE EASTMAN LEADERSHIP Award – Jenelle Bleiler
NYS OFFICE OF THE STATE COMPTROLLER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – Danielle MacDougall
ELMIRA COLLEGE KEY AWARD – Hayley Guild and Maia Rumsey
PERFECT ATTENDANCE AWARD – Callie Stillman
HIGH HONOR ROLL
Freshmen: Logan Barrett,
Starr Cole, Madison Lodge, Rosemary Peckham, Olivia Scata, James Terry,
RIT COMPUTING MEDAL – Jenelle Bleiler
ROCHESTER INSTITUTE INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY AWARD – Maia Rumsey and Tyler Goossen
CLARKSON UNIVERSITY HIGH SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT
AWARD – Samuel Norton
RUSSELL SAGE COLLEGE WOMEN OF INFLUENCE AWARD – Hayley Guild and Courtney Neumire
UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER XEROX AWARD – Tyler Goossen
PRESIDENT’S AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE (Must have 90 average and College Entrance Exam Scores at or above the 85th Percentile): Jonathon Chapman, Adam Gardner, Gavin Guild, Kristyn Penhollow, Katelin Pierce
FOUR-YEAR HONORS (Seniors who have a 3-5/6 year average of 85 or above): Matthew Bleiler, Steven Bonham, Jonathan Chapman, Tyler Dupuy, Sydney Eberhardt, Aaron Fisher, Michael Fraboni, Brooke Frasier, Adam Gardner, Ryan Gardner, Gavin Guild, Michael Hughey, Felicia Johnson, Danielle MacDougall, Bobette March, Thomas Peckham, Kristyn Penhollow, Katelin Pierce, Trinity Plate, David Sidle III, Dakota Simpson, Ashton Stadelmaier, Staci Starkweather, Morgan Stermer, Matthew Stevenson, Brittany VanAmburg
Watkins Glen High School academic award winners can be found here.
Crispell graduates from SUNY Cobleskill
COBLESKILL, May 26 -- Devon Crispell -- a 2010 graduate of Watkins Glen High School -- graduated with high honors from SUNY Cobleskill on May 11, 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Plant Science.
He also received the Outstanding Student award in his major for “demonstrated high academic standards, student leadership, enthusiasm and commitment to his area of study, and strong personal integrity.”
Devon is the son of Claude and Diane Crispell of Burdett, and the brother of Alice. He is employed as greenhouse manager for Blenheim Hill Farm, owned by the Manhattan-based Smörgås Chef restaurant group.
WGHS Model UN Class students pose with their signs on the Seneca Lake Pier.
WGHS students protest LPG storage as part of class project
WATKINS GLEN, May 23 -- Watkins Glen High School's introductory Model United Nations class had a choice of three subjects to pursue as part of its final project.
One had to do with the recent debate over gun control, another with helping raise funds for victims and families affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. The third had to do with something closer to home: the proposed storage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas in salt caverns owned by the Inergy Midstream firm north of Watkins Glen, along the western shore of Seneca Lake.
According to teacher Marie Fitzsimmons, groups within the class prepared papers on each subject and then resolutions based on what they had learned. And then the class voted on the resolution it wished to pursue -- the winner being one opposed to the LPG storage plans.
As part of the class project, the students agreed to two marches -- one Wednesday evening and one the following evening -- starting at the Seneca Harbor Park, going south on Franklin Street to the State Park and then north again to the park and the adjoining pier. The march Wednesday, under sunny and humid conditions, finished with a group photo on the pier (see top).
Most of the dozen Model UN class students, along with other history students who gained extra credit for participating, marched with enthusiasm and a number of chants provided them by the Gas Free Seneca group that opposes the storage plan.
Get up, get down,
Seneca Lake we will protect,
Whose lake? Our lake.
There was one opposition note among the gathering: history student John Smith (pictured at right), whose father is an Inergy official at its Watkins Glen plant.
"I believe that in a democracy, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion," he said. "But we need to be more educated on this subject before making decisions."
The rest of the students chanted while they marched, drawing honks and thumbs-up from passing motorists -- except for one man who yelled: "Go back to Ithaca."
Before marching, the students gathered in the park to talk about their project and exchange opinions with spectators, most of whom appeared to be with Gas Free Seneca. The students -- such as class Secretary General Samantha Gill, along with Rachael Miller, LynnAnn Caslin and Lydia Myers -- all expressed the desire to protect the area's tourism industry and the lake from what they see as the dangers of the storage project.
The class project included contacting Inergy and the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (which sent a representative to talk to the students at school Wednesday), and an appearance before the Schuyler County Legislature on June 5th.
"I think it's great," said teacher Fitzsimmons, who marched with the students and led some of their chants. Such a project, she said, teaches the kids a number of things, not the least of which "are citizenship and participation."
Photos in text:
Top: Students (from left) Rachael Miller, LynnAnn Caslin, Chelsea Kennard and Lydia Myers march on Franklin Street. Obscured on the right is Model UN student Nate Beaumont.
Bottom: John Smith, the one voice at the march that was not protesting the LPG storage.
6th graders creating cards for our military
WATKINS GLEN, May 21 -- The 6th grade students at Watkins Glen Middle School are celebrating the upcoming Memorial Day holiday by creating cards to be sent to our military.
Trish Ervay’s classes are creating cards by hand and sending them to A Million Thanks -- amillionthanks.org -- an organization that forwards letters to our troops. The organization is also involved in other programs such as Wounded Soldier's Wish and Fund A Scholar, which supports the Armed Forces Children's Education Fund.
Diane Wood’s Computer Skills classes are creating computer-generated cards using Microsoft Publisher. Those cards will be sent through the Blue Star Mothers of America's New York Chapter No. 1, based in Rochester. They are the Moms of the military. Their goal is to take care of our deployed soldiers with boxes full of a touch of home.
Photo in text: Making cards in Computer Skills class. (Photo provided)
NY State Lifeguard Exam set for June 7
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, May 21 -- The Finger Lakes State Parks will be holding their annual New York State Lifeguard Exam at the Watkins Glen High School, 12th Street, Watkins Glen at 5:30 p.m. sharp on Friday, June 7.
Candidates are encouraged to arrive one hour prior to the exam to register and be given an opportunity to practice their CPR skills.
New candidates and returning lifeguards must pass the exam in order to be considered for a position in the upcoming season. Candidates are required to bring their picture ID and their own pocket masks for the CPR portion of the exam.
Visit www.nysparks.com for a list of all the qualifying procedures and prerequisites to employment or for other exam dates and locations.
Candidates are encouraged to pre-register by either calling the Finger Lakes State Parks Regional Office at (607) 387-7041 x 113 or by e-mail at Bonnie.Jepsen@parks.ny.gov.
WGES students learn about aviation careers
WATKINS GLEN, May 18 -- First Air Commercial pilots Tom Freeman and Shona Freeman landed a helicopter on the Watkins Glen Central School District football field Friday morning to give fifth-grade students a closer look at careers in aviation.
Their visit was part of Career Day for fifth-grade students at Watkins Glen Elementary School, organized by the school and the Career Development Council.
Other guests representing careers in the performing arts, healthcare and computers also spoke to students.
Photo in text: Tom Freeman explains how a helicopter stays in the air and what a pilot needs to do to land it safely. Students also learned about the various routes for gaining a pilot's license and the variety of different aviation careers available. (Photo provided)
CCC rep to meet with prospective students
Special to The Odessa File
CORNING, May 11 -- A Corning Community College representative
will host community visits on the following dates to meet with prospective
students considering attending college to attain degrees or to enhance
their career opportunities.
Bids are next as
WATKINS GLEN, May 8 -- The Watkins Glen School District has received approval to move forward on the construction phase of its plan to consolidate into a single campus.
Superintendent Tom Phillips, under the agenda heading "Update on State Education Department Project Approval," told the School Board Tuesday night that he was "pleased to announce we have our building permits" and can thus "move forward with the consolidation project."
Bids will be open on May 14 at 2 p.m. in the district bus garage, with acceptance at the May 20 Board meeting. "We continue to get requests for tours" of the Middle School, he said, "by people interested" in purchasing it. The school is being closed as part of the consolidation project.
"Some are local, some regional and some completely out of the area," he said of the potential buyers, adding that he doesn't think the building will stand vacant for long.
As the construction bid opening nears, he said, "contractors from all over the state" have been inquiring about the campus consolidation, which includes the addition of some classrooms and renovation of such things as the cafeteria and the library. The latter, Phillips said, will be "vacated next year," its operations "set up in temporary space" before it reopens in March.
The entire campus project is scheduled for completion "a year from September," Phillips noted.
The Board also:
--Held a public hearing on the budget, with Phillips and District Business Manager Gayle Sedlack explaining the spending plan to a handful of district residents present. A vote on the budget -- which calls for a 4.82% tax-levy hike -- is set for May 21, along with the election of two new School Board members to replace the retiring Brian O'Donnell and Joe Fazzary. Five candidates submitted petitions: Kristin Hazlitt, Barbara Schimizzi, Heidi Pike, Mark Franzese and Tom Lewis.
--Heard Phillips announce a settlement between Inergy and the Town of Reading over the company's assessment, an issue that affects school district coffers. He said Inergy, which had sought a reduction of about 50%, to roughly $14 million, has agreed to a step reduction from $29 million to $26 million this year "with no refund of taxes," and then in succeeding years to $24 million and $22 million. A refund would have amounted to $100,000 of school district money, he said, adding that when he heard the details of the settlement, "I breathed a pretty big sigh of relief."
--Approved coaching appointments for next year. They include, in the fall, the return of Lou Condon Jr. as football coach, with Mike Stephens assisting; and the return of Kelsey Wood as girls swim coach and John Fazzary as cross country coach. In the winter, appointments include Fazzary as boys basketball coach again, and Alicia Learn, the JV coach last year, as the new head coach of the girls basketball team. Jen Conklin will be back as the boys swim coach. And in the spring, Ben Connelly is set for another season as baseball coach, with Jim Scott again coaching softball and Rob Michel coaching golf, assisted by Diane Wood.
Photo in text: Superintendent Tom Phillips and Business Manager Gayle Sedlack at the budget hearing Tuesday night.
Students bake bread for food pantry
WATKINS GLEN, May 5 -- Brud Holland, executive chef of Red Newt Bistro, recently gave a lesson in bread baking to eighth-grade students at the Watkins Glen Middle School. Holland taught home and careers students the skills they need to create delicious and beautiful homemade bread from simple ingredients like flour, yeast, oil, salt and water.
At the end of the lesson, 31 students volunteered to bake bread at home. Each student was asked to make two loaves – one to eat and the other to bring back to school. The homemade bread was then donated to the Schuyler County food pantry.
King Arthur Flour Company provided flour and yeast for this project.
Photo in text: Students prepare to deliver homemade bread to the Schuyler Country food pantry. Back row, from left: Sara Morrissette, Jordan Dillenbeck, Katherine Taylor, Phoebe Wickham and Ryan Clark. Front row: Matt Hulbert. (Photo provided)
Schimizzi running for School Board
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, May 5 -- Barbara Schimizzi, Watkins Glen resident and community volunteer, has announced her run for the Watkins Glen Central School District’s Board of Education.
“Education is a top priority for our children,” said Schimizzi. “Their education is as important to them as it is to us; they are our future.”
Schimizzi and her husband Dominick have two sons, Max and Alex, who are in the 8th grade and 7th grade, respectively. Barbara grew up in Schuyler County, attending Watkins Glen schools. She is an active volunteer with Watkins Glen Boy Scout Troop 2674 and Saint Mary’s of the Lake Youth Group.
She is employed at Geneva General Hospital as the Clinical Coordinator for the CT Department.
Schimizzi said she has been attending School Board meetings because she "wanted to know the decision process and personnel of our district.
“I am sensitive to budget and staff issues and have encouraged re-evaluation of staff cuts for the current budget,” she said.
Schimizzi believes she can be an important part of the schools' continued success. “I will encourage open dialogue and transparency for all parties involved,” she said. And, she added: “Please come out on May 21 and exercise your right to vote!”
Photo in text: Barbara Schimizzi (Photo provided)
Arc of Schuyler offers $1,000 scholarship
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, May 5 -- One graduating senior will be awarded the 2013 Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship of $1,000 in June. Seniors at Watkins Glen, Odessa-Montour and Bradford Central Schools or seniors who are Schuyler County residents pursuing education elsewhere are eligible to apply for the award, which honors a former member of The Arc of Schuyler Board of Directors.
The scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior continuing his or her education in special education or human services or a related clinical area such as nursing, psychology, speech pathology, or physical/occupational therapy, which will be used in a career providing supports to people with developmental disabilities.
According to a press release, The Arc of Schuyler "has identified that there are serious workforce issues facing organizations providing supports to people with disabilities. This scholarship program focuses on informing students, parents, schools and the community at large that there are important and rewarding jobs and a variety of career opportunities working with and for people with disabilities."
Joanne S. Hayes was a past board member and president of The Arc of Schuyler, who lived in Odessa before her death in 1987. She was a strong advocate for career and employee training. "This education fund is a fitting tribute to her commitment to The Arc and to our workforce," said Jeannette Frank, executive director of The Arc. The Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship is made possible through local donations.
Eligible applicants must submit the following to their school guidance office or to The Arc of Schuyler’s Human Resources Office at 210 12th Street in Watkins Glen by May 24, 2013:
• Completed application
Applications are available at school guidance offices, on The Arc’s website, or by contacting Holly Baker, The Arc’s Director of Community Relations. The Arc of Schuyler is a family-based organization providing supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism. For more information about The Arc call 607-535-6934 or visit www.arcofschuyler.org.
O-M receives science-equipment grant
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, May 1 -- Science students at Odessa-Montour will
soon be using state-of-the-art
Doug Chapman wrote the grant proposal for $23,270, which will be used
to purchase enough Vernier probes and accessories for two classes of students.
The probes are hand-held
“The same type of equipment is used in college courses and by professionals in the field,” said Chapman. “And because many students are accustomed to using hand-held devices such as smartphones, these new devices should really pique their interest.”
The idea for requesting the money from Cargill was brought to Chapman by Bill Lindsley, who coaches in the district and works at Cargill.
Chapman developed a “wish list” of items he wanted for his students and was awarded the entire amount he asked for. According to Don Chutas, plant manager for Cargill in Watkins Glen, half of the grant was provided by the local Cargill plant and the other half was given by Cargill headquarters in Minneapolis, MN.
“Many Cargill employees have children who attend local schools, so we look for opportunities to support education, especially within our focus areas of science, nutrition and health and environmental studies,” said Chutas.Photo in text: From left, O-M Superintendent Jim Frame, teacher Doug Chapman, Cargill employee and O-M Coach Bill Lindsley, and Cargill Plant Manager Don Chutas. (Provided)
WGHS plans spring concert on May 9
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, May 1 -- The Watkins Glen High School music department will present a spring concert on Thursday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the school auditorium.
The concert will feature the chorus, concert band, jazz band, flute ensemble and several other small ensembles. Musical selections for the evening include: Selections from Chicago, His Honor March and My Heart Will Go On.
The concert also will mark the final performance for the Class of 2013. The seniors featured include: Braedan Fitch, Elise Groll, Kyle Hancharick, Sarah Hazlitt, Ashlee Hill, Chelsea Kennard, Sarah LaMascus, Jessica Littler, Michael Olmstead, Jennifer Ruger, Mikaela Suddaby, Jesse Turner, Brenton Whiting and Sarah Wickham.
The concert is free, and all are invited to attend.
Middle School Concert Set, Too
The Watkins Glen Middle School will hold its Spring Concert in the Middle School auditorium at 6:30 p.m. on May 29. It will feature the 6-8 Grade Chorus, 5th Grade Band, and 6-8 Grade Band.
League plans Glen candidates forum
WATKINS GLEN, April 27 -- The Schuyler County League of Women Voters will host a Meet the Candidates forum featuring the Watkins Glen School Board candidates from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 14 in the Watkins Glen Elementary School Auditorium.
The five candidates running for the two 3-year seats are Kristin Hazlitt, Heidi Pike, Tom Lewis, Barb Schimizzi and Mark Franzese. The event is free and open to the public. For additional information, visit www.schuylervotes.com.
All of the Schuyler County participants from the Odessa-Montour and Bradford Central Schools at the 2013 Southern Tier Regional Envirothon. (Photo provided)
O-M 'MayFlies' win Envirothon title
Special to The Odessa File
OWEGO, April 27 -- The Odessa-Montour Central School repeated as the Schuyler County Envirothon champion Thursday, defeating seven other Schuyler teams. The squad is coached by high school science teacher Doug Chapman.
Schuyler, Chemung, Broome, Tioga and Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation Districts combine efforts each year to provide high schools in the five counties with a regional, Southern Tier Envirothon competition to determine county champions that earn a chance to compete at a statewide event. The students’ knowledge is put to the test as the teams complete tough exams in Aquatics, Soils, Forestry, Wildlife, and this year’s Current Issue: "Sustainable Rangeland Management."
Two schools from Schuyler County participated in the event, sending eight teams to the Tioga County Sportsmen’s Center in Owego. A total of 40 teams from 16 regional schools were there. Odessa-Montour had three teams, and Bradford Central School had five. A number of Schuyler County students also participated in Greater Southern Tier (GST) BOCES teams, including students from Watkins Glen Central School.
The Odessa-Montour "MayFlies" team was this year’s Schuyler County winner. Bradford's "The Piffetts and Him" came in second, and the Bradford team "Missing Benjamin" was third. Rebecca Schrader is the coach for the Bradford teams.
The O-M "MayFlies" will represent Schuyler County at the 2013 New York State Envirothon, to be held at Morrisville State College on May 30 and 31. The winning team at the statewide competition will compete at the Canon National Envirothon at Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana this August.
The Soil and Water Conservation Districts help to organize the Envirothon, and essential support is provided by the school science teachers, the school districts and local businesses. To date, this year’s Schuyler County Envirothon sponsors are: Cotton-Hanlon Inc., Specchio Ford, Watkins Glen Elks Lodge #1546, Jim Hazlitt, Fagan Engineering, the Schuyler County Environmental Management Council, Montour Falls Moose Lodge #426, the Watkins Glen Fire Company, and Atwater Vineyards.
The Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District provides programs
and services to help residents and communities manage and protect the
natural resources of Schuyler County.
The boys team with litter collected. (Photo provided)
WGHS tracksters clean up area on Earth Day
WATKINS GLEN, April 23 -- Members of the Watkins Glen High School boys and girls varsity track teams celebrated Earth Day Monday gathering garbage and litter scattered along the shore of Seneca Lake and along Rock Cabin Road in Watkins Glen.
The annual event, a team favorite, is used to help the student-athletes raise money while encouraging environmental stewardship. Students are encouraged to gather bags of litter and loose refuse to clean the roads and trails the team lives near, and trains on, throughout the season.
"What a better day to do it then on Earth Day!"
said boys track coach Travis Durfee. "Please donate what you can
to support us. All proceeds from the fundraiser go to support the WGHS
Photo in text: The girls team with items collected. (Photo provided)
Bond named to U. of Rochester Dean's List
Special to The Odessa File
ROCHESTER, NY, April 14 -- Sarah Elizabeth Bond, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry at the University of Rochester, has been named to the Dean’s List for academic achievement for the fall 2012 semester.
Bond, a resident of Watkins Glen, NY, is the daughter of Christopher Bond and Michelle Bond, and a graduate of Watkins Glen High School.
The University of Rochester, founded in 1850, is a private research university that offers an undergraduate curriculum that emphasizes a broad liberal education.
The WGHS Advertising and Marketing class with teacher Eileen Malaney. (Photo provided)
WGHS students get look at 2 businesses
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, April 12 -- Ten Watkins Glen Advertising and Marketing students got a firsthand look recently at how two local businesses operate.
The business students, along with teacher Eileen Malaney, visited the six-month-old Village Bakery in Montour Falls to see what kind of marketing techniques they use in the operation. After a tour of the facility and overview of the business, manager Emily Van Volkinburg talked to students about how advertising for a family operation in a small community is quite different from that of larger corporations, and how social media plays a big role as well as word-of-mouth advertising.
Tablet in hand, she showed students the bakery website and Facebook pages. After a taste of the baked goods, students went on to the Castle Grisch Restaurant and Winery. While there, general manager Theresa Butler gave a thorough tour and highlights of the many facets of the family-owned operation including vineyards, restaurant and tasting room. She discussed advertising from a perspective of those visiting the area for wine trail events, destination getaways and staycations, as well as the important role again of social media and websites.
The class trip was arranged in cooperation with the Career Development Council.
Students included Colin DeMerritt, Keziah Fraboni, Taylor Yaw, Matt Estes, Victoria Wixson, William Pastrick, Dakota Lodge, Colin Gates, Luke Flahive and Jesse Teeter.
Photo in text: Village Bakery's Emily Van Volkinburg (Photo provided)
Left: Dana Roberts, left, is welcomed into the National Honor Society by member Ashton Stadelmaier. Right: Inductee Trenton Randall.
11 students at O-M inducted into National Honor Society
ODESSA, April 12 -- Eleven Odessa-Montour High School students were inducted Thursday night into the O-M chapter of the National Honor Society.
The ceremony, which took place in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium, featured a keynote address by Dr. Brian Bleiler, a Watkins Glen optometrist.
He told the honorees that of the four key standards prized in NHS membership -- Scholarship, Service, Leadership and Character -- the most important is Character.
"Your character is what everybody thinks about you plus what they don't know about you," he said. "Value your character over your reputation. A reputation can be maligned, but your character belongs to you. Protect it."
If a person maintains good character, he said, "good scholarshp, good leadership and good service" will follow.
The new Honor Society members were introduced to the audience by incumbent members, starting with Brooke Collins, introduced by her brother Joseph.
Incumbent member Gavin Guild narrated the candle-lighting ceremony, with each of four candles (signifying Scholarship, Service, Leadership and Character) lit by incumbent members Bobette March, Danielle MacDougall, Brittany VanAmburg and MacDougall again.
Final remarks were issued by Junior-Senior High School Principal Chris Wood following an introduction by chapter advisor Holly Campbell.
Photos in text:
From top: Inductee Brooke Collins is introduced by her brother Joseph; Manley Gavich is introduced by Jordan Little; inductee Callie Stillman, left, lights one candle from another candle held by inductee Hailie Searles; inductee Tanner Dupuy is introduced by Tyler Goossen.
Left: Inductees Adrianna Rhodes and Joseph Rorick. Right: Inductee Samantha House
Left: Speaker Dr. Brian Bleiler. Right: Inductee Brianna Struble is introduced by Jordan Little.
Watkins Glen School Board approves proposed budget
3 candidates have submitted petitions for School Board runs
The district's meeting summary can be found here.
WATKINS GLEN, April 9 -- The Watkins Glen School Board, after hearing pleas to retain two positions being eliminated, approved its proposed 2013-14 budget Monday night and sent it on to district residents for a vote next month. It still calls for those two job cuts.
The $23,350,020 spending plan carries a tax-rate increase of 55 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation (raising the rate to $12.15), and has a tax-levy increase of 4.8%, which falls within the tax cap.
The May 21 vote will also include an election to fill two seats on the School Board, both for three-year terms. Petitions have been filed by Heidi Pike, Barbara Schimizzi and Mark Franzese. Board President Brian O'Donnell is stepping down from the Board, while incumbent Joe Fazzary has not yet filed petitions. Both Pike and Schimizzi were present at Monday's meeting.
The budget approval came after several speakers -- both students and teachers -- addressed the board, saying students couldn't afford to lose the services of an elementary teacher and a guidance counselor, the two positions being eliminated. One student also referred to the pending loss of a high school history teacher, but Superintendent Tom Phillips and High School Principal Dave Warren said that position is being retained.
The students were Samantha Gill (pictured above), Chelsea Kennard, Ryan Rondinaro and Gavin Gates. The teachers were Marie Fitzsimmons and Kate Bartholomew (pictured at right). Fitzsimmons upset Phillips by saying that money generated late in the budget process -- largely by a change in health insurance plans -- would be enough to retain the two jobs being cut. "Not correct, not correct," said Phillips, adding that the change in plans -- neccessitated when the previous consortium the district belonged to folded -- does not free the district from $600,000 in prior claims filed under the old plan. Phillips has also recommended -- and the board has agreed -- that money realized from an increase in state aid be used to restore dwindling district reserves.
Board President Brian O'Donnell said that "public education is in harm's way. This is a situation that has come to us, not one we created. Our job is to preserve positions and maintain" educational standards, but "we can only give as much as we can get. We're doing our very best to keep this people-oreiented, with students first."
The three principals -- Warren, the Middle School's Kristine Somerville and the Elementary School's Rod Weeden -- also spoke, assuring the students that they would still have the necessary guidance from counselors in the district, even with the reduction of a position.
A common theme from Warren and Weeden was enrollment, with Warren saying high school numbers have been dropping significantly -- from 460 students in 2008-09 to a point where "we're looking at 361 students," and Weeden saying that with each grade in his school consisting of fewer than 100 pupils, "the board could cut two more positions, but thankfully it has chosen not to go there."
"We've been working on the budget since November," Phillips said, "and we really got into the numbers, looking at class sizes and enrollment. Only one class (the 8th grade) is over 100, and most are under by a lot. This budget is not impacting one academic offering at all. That's pretty amazing when you look at other schools in the area" and the cuts they are adopting.
In other action, the board:
--Accepted "with regret" the resignation of longtime kindergarten teacher Rick Comfort, a former head of the Watkins Glen Faculty Association, who is heading into retirement after 32 years in the district.
--Heard Watkins Glen Public Library Board President Carol Franzese (pictured at right) present the annual library budget, a $172,417 spending plan that proposes a tax-levy hike of $2,402 due to computer, software and personnel cost increases. Also present were board members Ken Wilson and Judy Phillips. The School Board's O'Donnell is also a member of the library board. The library budget vote will be from 2-8 p.m. May 1 at the library.
--Praised retiring Buildings and Grounds Superintendent Mike DeNardo, who finishes his career on April 23, when he will be succeeded by Jerry Harriger, who has been serving temporarily as DeNardo's assistant. Phillips and O'Donnell praised DeNardo's efforts over the years for the district, and O'Donnell presented the retiree with a print of a Don Maas watercolor of Watkins Glen. Said DeNardo: "What a long, strange trip it's been ... Thanks for the memories."
Photos in text:
From top: Student Samantha Gill addresses the board; teacher Kate Bartholomew, who also spoke to the board; Board President Brian O'Donnell presents retiring Buildings and Grounds chief Mike DeNardo with a print of a Don Maas watercolor; Watkins Glen Library Board President Carol Franzese outlines the library's proposed budget.
Aquatic aerobics class planned at O-M
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, April 2 -- GST BOCES Adult Education and Training will offer Aerobic Fun in the Water from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays in the Odessa-Montour High School pool. The course will begin April 25 and continue through June 20.
Pre-registration is required. To register, call 739-4296. For more information on this and other courses, go to www.gstboces.org/adulted.
WGHS business students learn about careers
CORNING, March 28 -- A group of Watkins Glen High School business students along with teacher Eileen Malaney attended a Business Careers Panel March 27 at Corning Incorporated headquarters .
The agenda for the panel, sponsored in part by the Career
Development Council, included speakers with varying backgrounds employed
in finance, sales, marketing, international business, human resources,
management, and business ownership.
Photo in text: WGHS students attending the Business Careers Panel included, standing from left, Dakota Lodge, James Updyke, Joseph Roth, Deven Bond, Bryce De La Osa Cruz, William Pastrick, Anthony Keough, and Taylor Yaw; and sitting from left, Scottie Hatch, Megan Daigle and Caitlin Connelly. (Photo provided)
From left: Students from the Bush Culinary team pose with a Master Chef at the recent ProStart Competition. From left are Victoria Perry (Waverly), Nicole Cornish (Southside), Master Chef Fritz Sonnenschmidt, Michael Hughey (O-M), Connor White (Elmira Heights), Jordan Scalia (Southside), and Phil Humphries (O-M). (Photo provided)
O-M students excel at culinary competition
Special to The Odessa File
NIAGARA, NY, March 28 -- Culinary Arts students from the Bush Education Center -- including two Odessa-Montour High School students -- recently earned third place at the annual ProStart Culinary Competition, held March 23 in Niagara, NY.
Thirteen culinary teams from across the state competed this year. They prepared an appetizer, an entrée (consisting of a protein, starch and vegetable) and a dessert. They were required to use only two butane burners and no electricity or battery-operated equipment. Teams had one hour to prepare six plates, three to be presented to the judges and three for display.
The students had the opportunity to meet with master and culinary chefs from colleges and restaurants. The competition is sponsored by the New York State Restaurant Association Education Foundation.
WGMS students write and sell cookbook
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, March 28 -- Eighth-graders in the Home and Careers class at Watkins Glen Middle School recently wrote, edited, published, advertised and marketed their own cookbook as a fundraiser.
The book, titled Flavors of the Glen, contained more than 140 of their favorite family recipes. The book also included student artwork, stories describing the origin of the recipes and additional essays describing family food ways.
This hands-on project taught skills in writing, editing, desktop publishing, direct sales, meeting deadlines and working with each other productively.
Students sold all of the 500 cookbooks that were printed, said Barbara Bristow, home and careers teacher.
Friendly competition between classes helped encourage salesmanship, Bristow said. Top cookbook sellers were: Casey Falls, Dakota Cole, Amanda Pike, Sara Morrissette, Alexandra Coots, Trevor Bardeen, Matthew Hulbert, Tyrone Smith, Marah McCauley, Alexander Gibson, Aran Holland, Jordan DeMerritt, Phillip Craven and Courtney Irwin.
Proceeds from the sale will be used to cover the cost of a career awareness field trip to Cornell University in April. Students will visit various Cornell departments to learn about what’s offered there and what college life is like.
Photo in text: Students
who sold the most cookbooks as a class project pose for a photo.
WG juniors absorb Seneca Falls history
(We received the following from Watkins Glen High School teacher Marie Fitzsimmons following an annual field trip by the WGHS junior class to Seneca Falls on March 26.)
SENECA FALLS, March 27, 2013 -- The Watkins Glen High School junior class made the annual trek to Seneca Falls Tuesday to explore the women's rights movement, the abolition movement, commerce and trade, and the canal system.
All those topics are part of the 11th grade U.S History curriculum and are regularly addressed on the New York State U.S History Regents. The trip can be credited with extending the knowledge of the students and ensuring their success on the Regents.
An Australian tour guide led the tour of the Seneca Museum and did an outstanding presentation on the growth and changes that took place in Seneca Falls. Using wall maps, dioramas, and storytelling, he led the students through the fascinating history of a town that was the "Silicon Valley" of the 1800s. From the Gould pump to the Seneca Socks, the bustle of the area drew some of the most influential people in our history. From Lucretia Mott to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, many of the shakers and movers who helped to end slavery and launch the movement for women's rights did so just up the road from Watkins Glen.
The National Park Ranger at the old Wesleyan Chapel -- where the National Women's Convention took place in 1848 -- showcased the most recent renovations to the chapel that now stands as a revered monument to equality. He gave a tremendous lesson on what it meant for the 62 women and 38 men who signed the Declaration of Sentiments to do so. He spoke of the other 200 attendees of the conference who remained anonymous -- supportive of the cause but unable to sign their names to a document that could cause them social, political or economic harm.
At the Women's Hall of Fame, the students used their cell phones to capture the images of women who they admired. They read their stories and garnered a sense of the tremendous impact women have had on the world. From science, to medicine, to social movements and literature, the students learned of the women who changed the world. They learned that Betty Ford and Nancy Pelosi will be inducted this year with seven other women. They also learned of local women whose families or friends nominated them for recognition -- and were pleased to find the letter honoring my mother, Janet Sullivan Meaney, a social worker and shaker and mover in our own community.
Some of the students went to famed women's rights advocate Elizabeth Cady Stanton's house to walk the floors, while others traveled to I.D.E.A, the Center for the Voices of Humanity. The students found powerful quotes that resonated with them and shared those that celebrated the human spirit and the ability to rise up from discrimination and pain and find beauty and strength.
This trip is always poignant for the juniors, now young men and women taking on leadership roles in the school and opening their minds and hearts to the future as they solidify their bond as a class. The easy banter between teachers and students, the warmth of the bus drivers, the camaraderie of the students, and the kindness of the Park Ranger who ran out to tell us what a lovely school we are and how much they enjoyed our students made for a mighty sweet day. Bring on that June Regents!!!
Photos in text:
Top: WGHS juniors visit the Seneca Museum, which details the history of Seneca Falls and the Erie Canal.
Bottom: A group of WGHS juniors in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, now a national historic site, where the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention was held in 1848. (Photos provided)
The O-M Junior High School Chorus sings "Chiquita Banana."
O-M presents Music in Schools Concert
ODESSA, March 21 -- Fourth- through 12th-grade instrumental and vocal musicians in the Odessa-Montour school district presented a Music In Our Schools Concert Wednesday night in the Fetter-Brown Auditorium at the high school.
The 4th Grade Band played "Merrily We Roll Along" and "Farm Out," while the 5th/6th Grade Band played the "Star Wars" main theme.
The 3rd/4th Grade Chorus sang "Singing a Happy Song" and "Straighten Up and Fly Right," while the 5th/6th Grade Chorus sang "Cripple Creek" and "Let There Be Peace."
The Junior High School Band performed "Highlights from The Sound of Music" and "Rockin' Robin," and the High School Band played "Music For A Darkened Theater."
The Junior High School Chorus sang "Limbo Rock" and "Chiquita Banana," and the Senior High Chorus sang "Joy to the World" and "I Have a Voice." The two choruses combined to sing "Let There Be Peace on Earth."
The Women's Choir performed "Second Hand Rose," with solos by Hayley Guild, Maia Rumsey, Dana Roberts, Alisha Chamberlain, Tess Visscher and Morgan Stermer.
Directors were Kim Laursen, Michelle Voorheis and Clarice Miles. Sally Michel served as accompanist.
Photo in text: High School Band percussionist Dana Roberts.
The High School Chorus sings "Joy to the World."
The High School Band performs "Music For a Darkened Theater."
The Women's Choir sings "Second Hand Rose."
Auxiliary offers Health Care scholarships
Special to The Odessa File
MONTOUR FALLS, March 19 -- The Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary is offering scholarships to students who plan to enter the health care field.
Scholarships will be awarded to graduating high school students who are residents of Schuyler County, and to hospital employees wishing to further their education in the health care field. Two $1,000 scholarships are available.
Applications may be picked up at high school guidance offices, the Hospital’s Human Resources office or at www.schuylerhospital.org.
Application deadline is May 24.
For more information, contact Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary member Joan Argetsinger at (607) 535-6622.
Mock interviews may lead to some jobs
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, March 19 -- Seventeen area business professionals spent two days conducting mock interviews with students at Watkins Glen High School recently. Students were assigned times to interview with various businesses and had to arrive prepared with resumes and completed applications.
The program was coordinated and facilitated by Watkins Glen Career Development Council representative Tess Pollack. Interviewers put the kids through the paces of real world job interviews, asking them questions about their job aspirations, educational goals, work ethic, and current job skills.
Students prepared for the mock interviews as part of Eileen Malaney’s Career and Financial Management class. Additional students were able to prepare though CDC.
Thirty-six percent of students are being called back for second interviews at the businesses. These students may be considered for summer employment.
Photo in text: Sue Brill of the Schuyler County Social Services Department interviews 9th Grade Career & Financial Management student Parker Pangallo. (Photo provided)
Annual M.A.S.H. Camp set for July 23-24
Special to The Odessa File
MONTOUR FALLS, March 19 -- Students entering 8th and 9th grade next fall will have the opportunity to spend two days in the world of hospital healthcare this summer. M.A.S.H. Camp will be held on July 23-24, 2013, at Schuyler Hospital.
M.A.S.H. stands for Medical Academy of Science and Health. This two-day camp is sponsored by Schuyler Hospital, the Central New York Area Health Education Center (CNYAHEC) and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. The three organizations have partnered on this initiative to address the mutual goal of alleviating the shortage of health professionals by encouraging young people to explore health careers.
A variety of careers will be highlighted during M.A.S.H. Camp through fun, hands-on workshops for students, including lots of attention from dedicated health professionals. All campers will receive hospital scrubs to wear each day at camp, breakfast and lunch, a tee shirt, and education materials. The camp fee is $15 per student. CNYAHEC is offering scholarships to those students who need assistance with the registration fee.
Space is limited to 10 students, and camp participants will be determined by a selection process. The deadline for applying is Friday, May 3 . Students can access the online application by visiting the CNYAHEC website www.cnyahec.com or via a link at www.schuylerhospital.org.
Frame report leans against closing of B.C. Cate school
ODESSA, March 15 -- The Odessa-Montour School Board Thursday night received a report from Superintendent Jim Frame on the possibility of closing the B.C. Cate Elementary School in Montour Falls -- a move he indicated he opposes based on initial study results that show a relatively small cost savings.
The response of two board members -- normal Frame backers Chris Scata and Damita Chamberlain -- indicated support for his position.
Frame said he looked at the use of district facilities with an eye toward projected enrollment and -- if the closing of B.C. Cate were effected -- with an eye toward transportation, food service, janitorial services, classroom space and office space. He presented a power-point outline of his findings, which he said preliminarily indicate a savings of less than $50,000 -- not enough to warrant the disruption of existing services and the potentially crowded condition of a single Odessa-based campus.
"We'd be packed to the gills," he said.
"What if enrollment went up?" Chamberlain asked rhetorically, referring to any post-consolidation spike in student population -- although Frame's report had indicated a slight enrollment decline in coming years.
Added Scata: "Could you pin down that (savings) figure? For $40,000, just a quarter of one percent in taxes, it's not worth it to me."
"I agree with you," said Frame, adding that he would come up with a final savings figure. At the request of board member Bill Schwenk, he also agreed to provide room maps showing what a reconfigured single-campus school would look like.
(For a look at Frame's report as photographed during the meeting, click here.)
In other business:
--Frame said he expects, but can't promise, the restoration of some education funds in the final state budget being hammered out in Albany. He said both the Senate and Assembly plans have called for restoration of some of the money eliminated in Governor Cuomo's executive proposal -- $415 million in the Senate version and $334 million in the Assembly version.
--Frame said the district is "continuing talks with Watkins Glen on where to go after the forum" -- a reference to a joint OM-Watkins gathering on Feb. 26 in the WGHS auditorium that drew good reviews and left both districts' superintendents seemingly pleased. He said he will be meeting next week with Watkins Superintendent Tom Phillips "about the next (forum) session" and "where to go" regarding the practice of shared services.
Frame also said that he had "talked to them" (Watkins officials) about submitting an application for a grant that would finance a study of shared services and consolidation possibilities, "but we thought it was too soon." The application deadline came and went Wednesday. When asked by board member Scott Westervelt whether the grant was on an annual cycle -- and therefore not available now for another year -- Frame said that is "up in the air."
Photo in text: O-M Superintendent Jim Frame and School Board President Debra Harrington at Thursday night's meeting.
Superintendents Tom Phillips, left, of the Watkins Glen
School District and Mary Beth Fiore, center, of the Elmira Heights School
District were among those rallying.
Glen has contingent at education rally
ELMIRA HEIGHTS, March 14 -- Watkins Glen had a number of representatives on hand at a rally in Elmira Heights on Saturday, March 9, in support of the equitable distribution of funds by the New York State government to school districts around the state.
The rally, at Thomas A. Edison High School, drew hundreds of supporters from around the region who gathered at the Edison football field and marched to the school. The event, organized with the help of district Superintendent Mary Beth Fiore, followed gatherings earlier in the week in Albany that urged more education funding and an equitable distribution of state aid, with the goal of avoiding what has become all too common in recent years: cuts in school personnel and programs.
The theme of Saturday's rally was "Albany, Can You Hear Us?"
Among those from Watkins Glen showing their support were Superintendent Tom Phillips and a number of teachers and students.
Photo in text: Some Watkins Glen School District faculty members and students were on hand for the rally. (Photo by Nancy Ruda)
International Night features foods, facts from other lands
WATKINS GLEN, March 14 -- About 150 people were on hand Wednesday evening for the annual International Night Dinner in the Watkins Glen High School cafeteria.
The event, hosted by the Model United Nations and Global Issues (MUNAGI) classes at WGHS, featured a half-dozen speakers discussing other countries. Some of the speakers are citizens of this country who have visited other lands, and others are exchange students -- attending high school in the Southern Tier -- who discussed their homelands.
A dinner consisting of foods of other lands -- prepared by the 20 MUNAGI students -- set the tone for the evening as speakers discussed such countries as South Africa, Spain, Malawi, Taiwan, Guatemala, Germany and Australia.
WGHS student Natasha Patel told with slides about a trip she and her family took to South Africa, a presentation that was followed by a talk by Chloe Hattingh of South Africa, an exchange student at Odessa-Montour High School.
Exchange student Adrian Tejedor-Lopez of Spain -- also attending O-M -- told about his country, and in particular about his home city of Madrid, the third largest in Europe.
Shao-Chi Chui of Taipei in the Republic of Taiwan, an exchange student at Elmira Free Academy, discussed the geography and weather of his country, and said the 23-hour trip to Elmira -- and the 12-hour time difference between Elmira and home -- gave him “total jet lag” for the first week of his stay in the United States.
Tim Kamanga, who came to the U.S. from Malawi seven years ago as an exchange student at WGHS, and later returned to the Southern Tier to attend college, discussed the politics of his country and some of its culture.
The evening concluded with talks by Rowan Elizabeth, a WGHS grad discussing a visit to Guatemala; WGHS grad Casey Holland on his experiences in Germany, and WGHS student Jessica Littler discussing Australia, the country from which she moved last year.
Presenting introductory remarks were WGHS junior Samantha Gill, Secretary General of the Model UN introductory class, and senior Ryan Rondinaro, Secretary General of the advanced class.
Photos in text: Speakers Chloe Hattingh of South Africa and Timoteo Kamanga of Malawi.
From left: Model UN student Sarah Hazlitt, EFA exchange student Shao-Chi Chui, and speaker Casey Holland.
Left: List of some of the foods prepared for the dinner by the WGHS Model UN class students. Right: Samantha Gill and Ryan Rondinaro, Secretaries General of the introductory and advanced Model UN classes, respectively.
Several members of the WGHS girls varsity bowling team. From left are Lucy Craig, Samantha Bradley, Sarah Wickham, Mikaela Suddaby and Lindsey Suddaby.
Glen school chiefs hope to build on forum
WATKINS GLEN, March 5 -- Watkins Glen School Board President Brian O'Donnell and Superintendent Tom Phillips hope that last week's education forum -- overseen by the Schuyler County League of Women Voters in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium -- will lead to a continuing cooperative effort by the Watkins and Odessa-Montour districts.
The forum -- featuring presentations by Phillips and O-M Superintendent Jim Frame, and with School Board members present from both districts -- attracted nearly 300 community residents for a discussion of the future of education in Schuyler County. The session was mostly upbeat, with community speakers generally courteous and the two superintendents enthusing afterward about its success and how future meetings could involve work sessions with attendees brainstorming in groups.
O'Donnell and Phillips addressed the matter during Monday night's meeting of the Watkins School Board -- O'Donnell initiating the discussion by saying that "hopefully there will be further discussions" to counter the "concerns" generated by "severely declining revenue sources," a 2% property-tax cap, rising health and retirement costs, and a situation where "we are continually being forced to reduce personnel and program" as well as educational opportunities.
Phillips said Watkins Glen hopes to work with O-M in generating "more in-depth information" regarding the economic future of the two districts, and that it "behooves the communities to do a professional study and look at all of the issues" -- a study that would be an "efficiency, feasibility study." Beyond that, he said, "I'd love to see us start to form groups and start to dig into the numbers. Let's get to work."
Added O'Donnell: "I hope you and Jim (Frame) can get together and move forward. We should get all the information possible."
In other business, the Board:
--Approved retirements by longtime Social Studies teacher Craig Cheplick and Building and Grounds chief Mike DeNardo. Both were praised for their many years of service, with Phillips saying that Cheplick "loves what he does, and will demonstrate that love to the day he walks out the door."
DeNardo, the superintendent added, was key to the development of the plan leading to the closing of the Middle School and establishment of a single-campus concept. Added O'Donnell: "He is a role model."
--Honored members of the WGHS girls varsity bowling team, which won the Section IV, Class C championship this past season. Each of the five starters on the team -- Samantha Bradley, Sarah Wickham, Mikaela Suddaby, Katrina Swarthout and Erika Rhodes -- was presented an Outstanding Athletic Achievement Award certificate. And their coach, Ward Brower, praised them as "impressive people, impressive students."
--Approved spring sports coaching appointments. The varsity coaches include Ben Connelly (baseball), Jim Scott (softball), Travis Durfee (boys track), Andy Chouinard (girls track), Rob Michel (golf), and Ann Messenger (tennis). Nils Watson is the coach for the new Modified lacrosse team -- which is set to play only scrimmages and is being funded by community contributions. The board, at the urging of member Tom Richardson, specified in a resolution approving the program that it "is not to be funded by the general budget."
Photos in text:
Top: Superintendent Tom Phillips, left, makes a point at Monday night's School Board meeting. At right is Board President Brian O'Donnell.
Bottom: WGHS varsity bowler Erika Rhodes receives an Outstanding Athletic Achievement Award certificate from Superintendent Phillips. Rhodes was a starter on the team that won the Section IV, Class C title.
--For the district summary of the meeting, click here.--
Watkins Science Fair set for March 16
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, March 1 -- The Watkins Glen school district will hold its third annual Science Fair for middle and elementary students on March 16 in the Elementary School cafeterias.
Students who have registered for the event will begin setting up their projects at 10 a.m. Parents and community members can view projects at 10:30. At 11 a.m., judges will begin interviewing students about their creations.
The event allows students to research science projects based on their own interests. Projects demonstrate students’ research skills, as well as their ability to apply information to real-world problems.
The science fair is organized by parent volunteer Sonya McCauley, along with Middle School Science Teacher Jim Murphy and Elementary School Principal Rodney Weeden. Costs for the event will be covered by a grant from the Corning Foundation.
Musicians to work with WGMS students
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, March 1 -- Two Ithaca-area musicians will work with students at Watkins Glen Middle School during March. Katie McShane, cellist, and Rosie Newton, fiddler, will help instrumental students explore their creativity and build improvisational skills.
McShane and Newton will work with students on March 6-7, 11-15 and 18-20. Students will present a concert at 6:30 p.m. March 20 in the Middle School Auditorium to demonstrate what they have learned. On March 13 and 14, students also will have an opportunity to record some of their performances under the direction of Will Russell, a recording engineer from the Ithaca area.
McShane is a versatile cellist and creative music maker. Her projects
are rooted in collaboration, improvisation and extension outside of the
sphere of standard cello repertoire. She currently plays with several
groups in Ithaca, including Heather Fae Speaker & Co., Volume One
String Quartet, You, Me, and the Radio and the contemporary chamber string
band Albert Moses Gravy Train. In addition to being an active performer,
McShane holds a degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and operates
a small private studio.
The concert on March 20 at Watkins Glen Middle School is free and open to the public.
Education forum moved to WGHS
MONTOUR FALLS, Feb. 12 -- A new location -- the Watkins Glen High School auditorium -- has been selected for a public forum on "The Future of Schuyler's Educational System."
The event -- featuring the School Boards and superintendents from both the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour School Districts -- will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26.
It had originally been scheduled for the Schuyler County Human Services Complex in Montour Falls, but a spokesperson for the sponsoring Schuyler County League of Women Voters said an "overwhelming public response" prompted the move to the much larger auditorium.
The event, the League has said in an ad promoting it, is designed "to elicit public input on the future of our educational system.
"There will be a presentation by (Superintendents) Jim Frame and Tom Phillips explaining the situation. The public's input will provide our educational leaders ... future direction in these trying fiscal times.
"Future need for additional forums will be determined after this forum."
Photos in text: Superintendents Tom Phillips (left) and Jim Frame. (File photos)
Watkins spelling bees set for Feb. 25
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 21 -- Top spellers from Watkins Glen’s first through eighth grades will compete on Monday, February 25 for a chance to represent Watkins at a regional championship.
The local spelling bee for grades 1-5 will be held at 6 p.m. in the Elementary School auditorium. The grade 6-8 bee will be held in the same location immediately after.
Participating students are the top two spellers from each grade level.
The winner and runner-up from each school will compete in a regional championship, held March 7 at 6:30 p.m. at Campbell-Savona High School.
The events are part of the Scripps National Spelling Bee Contest. The national event concludes each year in Washington, D.C.
Hanlon announces spelling bee winners
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, Feb. 20 -- Hanlon Elementary School is participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is locally sponsored by the Corning Rotary Club, Arnot Ogden Medical Center, Guthrie Health Care and Kraft Foods.
Hanlon student received a study list for his/her grade level along with
a study list of words for grades 1-8. During the week of February 4, all
students participated in their own classroom spelling bees, in which the
students were tested on the words at their own grade level. The top three
finishers of the individual classroom spelling bees moved on to compete
in the school spelling
Twenty-four students represented grades 3-6 at the school spelling bee and students were tested on the more challenging study list of words for grades 1-8.
Sixth-grader Hunter Daugherty was crowned the champion in front of a good-spirited crowd who cheered for all participants during the competition. Hunter won the bee after correctly spelling “convention.” Fifth-grader Hannah Chapman was the runner-up, and in a show of good sportsmanship the two finalists exchanged a “high five” at the end of the contest.
Hannah and Hunter will participate in the regional spelling bee at Campbell-Savona High School at 5:30 p.m. on March 7.
The final champion of the regional spelling bee will then go on to compete in the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C.
Photo in text: Hanlon spelling bee runner-up Hannah Chapman, left, and winner Hunter Daugherty will move on to the regional spelling bee at Campbell-Savona. (Photo provided)
Nabozny shares anti-bullying message
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, Feb. 14 -- Jamie Nabozny, a nationally known anti-bullying advocate, visited the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour High Schools on Feb. 7 to share with students his story and message of tolerance.
Nabozny talked about how he was subjected to verbal and physical bullying during his middle and high school years for being gay. His years of harassment ended with a beating that put him in the hospital and required surgery. In 1996, with the help of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Nabozny won a landmark lawsuit in federal court that establishes that all young people – including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered – deserve a safe educational experience.
In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center released the documentary “Bullied,” which chronicles Nabozny’s story. Students watched the film before listening to Nabozny speak.
He told students that if they want change to occur in their school and community, they have to take action. “You can’t wish it better or hope it better,” he said. “You have to make it better.”
After each presentation, he met with student leaders to discuss how they can make a difference at their school and in the community. “I hope that students take my message to heart and move forward with ideas we discussed,” he said. “For any effort to succeed, I believe it needs to be student initiated and student led.”
B.C. Cate sets kindergarten registration
Special to The Odessa File
MONTOUR FALLS, Feb. 12 -- The Odessa-Montour Central School District wishes to identify families with children eligible to begin Kindergarten in September 2013. Your child is eligible if he/she will be five years old on or before December 1, 2013.
Kindergarten registration is scheduled for April 25, 26 and 30 and May 1. Parents will need to bring their child, child’s birth certificate, proof of residency and proof of child’s immunizations.
If you did not receive a letter in February, call the B. C. Cate office at 535-7267, ext. 3780 by Friday, March 22, 2013 to be sure your child is on our roster and to schedule an appointment for your child’s kindergarten screening.
B.C. Cate sets Pre-K registration
Special to The Odessa File
MONTOUR FALLS, Feb. 12 -- The Odessa-Montour Central School District wishes to identify families with children eligible to attend a half-day Universal Pre-Kindergarten program this September.
If your child resides in the Odessa-Montour Central School District and will be four years old on or before December 1, 2013, he/ she is eligible for this program.
To express your interest in the Universal Pre-Kindergarten, call the school at 535-7267, ext. 3780 by Friday, March 22, 2013.
Watkins Spelling Bee set for Feb. 25
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 12 -- Watkins Glen’s top spellers from grades 1-8 will compete on February 25 for a chance to represent Watkins Glen at the regional championship.
The spelling bee for grades 1-5 will be held at 6 p.m. in the Elementary School auditorium. The grade 6-8 bee will be held in the same location immediately after.
The top two spellers from each class will compete for the two grade-level spots during spelling bees on February 19. The top two spellers from each grade level will then compete on February 25.
The winner and runner-up from each school will compete in the regional championship, held March 7 at 6:30 p.m. at Campell-Savona High School.
These upcoming events are part of the Scripps National Spelling Bee Contest. The national event is held each year in Washington, D.C.
O-M seniors take ski trip to Greek Peak
ODESSA, Feb. 5 -- Fourteen seniors at Odessa-Montour High School participated Saturday in a Senior Ski Trip to Greek Peak. While there, they went skiing, snowboarding and tubing and enjoyed the Adventure Water Park.
Front Row from left: Brittany VanAmburg, Katelin Pierce, Sydney Eberhardt, Adam Gardner, Ryan Gardner, Matt Bleiler, Felicia Johnson and Morgan Shutter
Back Row from left: Chaperone Brad Stephens, Kirsta Rhodes, Principal Chris Wood, Mike Hughey, Tom Peckham, Dakota Simpson, Dom Chapman and Lee Sidle. (Photo provided)
Anti-bullying message being brought to Glen
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 5 -- Jamie Nabozny, a nationally known anti-bullying advocate, will bring his message of tolerance and respect to Watkins Glen High School students during an assembly at 8:45 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 7 in the auditorium.
According to his website, jamienabozny.com, Nabozny grew up in a small town in northern Wisconsin. During middle school, he was targeted by bullies for being gay. His years of harassment ended with a beating that put him in the hospital and required abdominal surgery. Following that incident, he moved to Minneapolis.
Nabozny decided to fight back after he realized that many other young people endured similar bullying. With the help of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Jamie won a landmark lawsuit in federal court that establishes that all young people -- including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered -- deserve a safe educational experience.
Recently, the Southern Poverty Law Center produced a documentary titled “Bullied” that chronicles his life. Nabozny now speaks out for the millions of kids bullied in our schools every day and was recently named a Defender of Human Rights by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
Nabozny’s presentation on Thursday will include video from “Bullied,” followed by his comments and a time for questions.
Pre-K applications available at WGES
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 1 -- Children who will be 4 years old on or before December 1, 2013 may be eligible for the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program at Watkins Glen Elementary School. To request a copy of the application, call the Elementary School main office at 535-3250.
Completed applications should be returned to the Elementary School by March 31. In-house registration help will be provided at the Elementary School from March 4-7, if necessary.
The following items must be included with the completed application:
Applications without this information will not be considered. For more information, contact Laurel McIntyre, school counselor, at 607-535-3250.
Glen district starts with $1.1M deficit
WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 23 -- The Watkins Glen School District is facing a $1.1 million deficit at the outset of budget deliberations, the Watkins Glen School Board was told at its meeting Tuesday night.
"That's the bad news," Superintendent Tom Phillips said. "The good news is we're $1.2 million ahead of last year, when we started with a $2.3 million deficit."
The deficit estimate is based on staffing at full strength -- not taking into account possible retirements. Phillips said there are three of those confirmed, with a couple of more possible.
The deficit estimate was presented to the School Board by district Business Manager Gayle Sedlack based on state aid figures received earlier in the day from the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo released his executive budget Tuesday afternoon.
The $1.1 million deficit includes an estimated increase of $354,917 in the tax levy, the maximum permitted under the tax cap.
Most of the deficit, Phillips said, is caused by increases in teacher retirement and employee health care costs. The two combined, he said, are up about $890,000.
Two things helping cut the deficit from last year's $2.3 million, he added, are the single bus run at the beginning and end of each school day -- on track to save more than 150,000 miles from the previous double run -- and reduced use of the Middle School as the district moves closer to the single-campus concept approved by voters.
The board will in the coming months whittle away at the deficit. "There's lots of work to do," said Phillips.
Photo in text: From left, Superintendent Tom Phillips, Board President Brian O'Donnell and board member Gloria Brubaker at Tuesday's meeting.
Learn honored by state association
HORSEHEADS, Jan. 14 -- Alice Learn, former Odessa-Montour School Board president and a member of the GST BOCES Board of Education, has been recognized by the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) for her efforts to expand her knowledge and skills in school governance.
Learn, a representative for the O-M School District on the BOCES board, was honored at the BOCES board meeting on Jan 8. She has served on the BOCES board since July 1. She previously served on the O-M School Board for 22 years.
She received the Board Achievement Award for her participation in NYSSBA developmental activities, including the New Member Academy, the Board Officers Academy, the NYSSBA Annual Convention, legal conferences, regional workshops and district-level improvement programs.
Photo in text: GST BOCES District Superintendent Horst Graefe (right) presents Alice Learn with the Board Achievement Award. (Photo provided)
Hall of Fame Committee seeks nominations
WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 11 -- The Watkins Glen High School Athletic Hall of Fame Committee is seeking nominations for outstanding Athletes, Coaches or Benefactors.
Athlete inductees must have graduated from WGHS prior to June 2007. In addition to athletic excellence, inductees should have displayed outstanding character, leadership and sportsmanship.
Nominators should include specific statistics and data to support their nomination, including, but not limited to: league, sectional or state recognition; All-Star Status; MVP or other special award recognition; or participation in college or adult athletics. Other considerations might include the athlete’s role as a team captain or as a record holder. Photocopies of supporting documentation are extremely helpful.
Submit nominations by March 1st to: Alan Gregory, Athletic Manager, Watkins Glen High School, 303 Twelfth Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891 or by email at AGregory@wgcsd.org.
Nomination forms may be found on the Watkins Glen School District website under Athletics, or may be requested through the regular mail by calling 607-535-3280.
O'Donnell won't seek re-election to Board
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 31 -- Watkins Glen School Board President Brian J. O'Donnell will not seek re-election to the Board this coming spring.
O'Donnell, a retired Watkins Glen High School principal who started in the district as a 4th Grade teacher in 1969 and is completing his third term on the School Board -- including four years as Board President -- says he has informed Superintendent Tom Phillips and the other Board members of his decision.
"It is my belief," he wrote in an e-mail to The Odessa File, "that three three-year terms have enabled me to contribute some ideas and thoughts to our District and to help make decisions for the benefit of our students. I have enjoyed my association with (Superintendent) Tom Phillips and the Board members immensely and am very proud to have been a part of the process to consolidate our students and programs onto one campus, to return our students to a 'common' time schedule and to help position our District as positively as possible to face the challenges of declining state aid and the 2% tax cap.
"We have a great forward-looking and very energetic/enthusiastic Superintendent, very involved and hard working Board members, and a caring and dedicated administration and faculty/staff who all put the welfare and safety of our students first, who work hard to maintain program and personnel to keep our students competitive with those from any other district, and who continually work toward increased student academic achievement while -- at the same time -- being sensitive to the needs and resources of our residents and taxpayers."
O'Donnell said that he and his wife are "looking at
purchasing a home in Horseheads, but nothing is finalized at the moment."
Photo in text: Brian O'Donnell (File photo)
Braedan Fitch performing "Home," for which he was named "Overall Champion."
WGHS musicians show their talent at show
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 22 -- Students at Watkins Glen High School got a special treat Friday: a show featuring the musical talents of some of their classmates.
The annual event in the school auditorium featured a dancer, a violinist, pianists, vocalists and a comedy skit. All were greeted with enthusiastic applause by their classmates.
The event was sponsored by the Student Council, which provided monetary awards in five classifications at the end. Winning were:
Crowd Favorite: Jesse Bloodgood for a song he wrote, "Synchronized Suicide." He accompanied himself on piano, with his brothers Ben and John providing backup.
Most Original Performance: A competitive drum duet by Braedan Fitch and Alva Greist.
Standout Performance: A tie between Taylor Kennard, playing piano and singing "Arms," and Elise Groll and Sarah LaMascus, who performed "Call Your Girlfriend" while using plastic kitchen containers as bongos.
Judges' Choice: Jess Littler, a young lady who moved here from Australia last year and brought with her an amazing ability to play the violin. She offered a mix of styles and moods in what was described as "Tasmania violin music."
Overall Champion: Braedan Fitch for his guitar and vocal solo of "Home," a song made popular by American Idol Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips.
Other performers Friday included:
Gabby LaRosa, singing "Skinny Love"; Zack Kelly, playing guitar and singing two original songs, "True Love Prevails" and "Free State of Mind"; Natasha Patel, with a Bollywood dance routine; Aaron Sagar, playing a classic rock anthem, "Breaking the Law," on guitar; a group of girls -- Haley DeNardo, Sarah Wickham, Megan Dupuy, Lynn Caslin, Chelsea Kennard, Sam Gill, Lindsey Suddaby, Halle Phillips, Madison Gates and Alexis Naylor -- performing a comedic number, "Elf City"; Elizabeth Reed playing Haydn's "Serenade" on flute; Megan Dupuy singing a Nickelback hit, "Far Away"; Brenton Whiting playing guitar and singing "Fell in Love with a Girl," and playing piano and singing "Showtime: Haunting Piano Refrain"; a quartet of musicians -- Thomas Richtmyer, Mike Olmstead, Alva Greist and Braedan Fitch -- performing "Back in Black"; and Jesse Bloodgood -- with backup from father Tom, brothers Ben and John, and friend Nick Dalrymple -- playing the piano and singing "A Medley in A Minor."
Two videos were presented at the beginning of the program -- "The Ring" by Daniel Cornelius and Kyle Hancharick, and "The Pen: A Day in the Life of ..." by Braedan Fitch and Brenton Whiting.
Photos in text: From top: Taylor Kennard at the piano singing "Arms"; Brenton Whiting singing "Fell in Love with a Girl"; and Jess Littler performing on the violin.
Jesse Bloodgood at the piano singing "Synchronized Suicide."
Left: Sarah LaMascus (left) and Elise Groll singing "Call Your Girlfriend." Right: Gabby LaRosa singing "Skinny Love."
Elizabeth Reed performing Haydn's "Serenade."
Left: Talent show emcee Morgan Atwood. Right: Natasha Patel dancing.
A group of 10 students performing "Elf, Elf City Chicks!"
Members of the Hanlon Fifth and Sixth Grade Band perform Jingle Bells.
Hanlon students present Holiday Concert
ODESSA, Dec. 20 -- Third through sixth graders at Hanlon Elementary School performed instrumental and vocal songs Wednesday night at an annual Holiday Concert at the school.
The Third and Fourth Grade Chorus sang Holiday Lights, Be a Santa Medley and On a Starlit Night.
The Fifth and Sixth Grade Band then performed Jingle Bells and St. Nick's on the Housetop.
The Fifth and Sixth Grade Chorus concluded the concert with Rocking Round the Christmas Tree, Cold and Fugue Season, and Grinch! A Choral Medley.
Michelle Voorheis directed the band, while Kim Laursen was the choral director. Sally Michel was the accompanist.
Photo in text: The Hanlon Fifth and Sixth Grade Chorus sings Grinch! A Choral Medley.
The Hanlon Third and Fourth Grade Chorus performs at the concert.
An artist's rendering of the single campus as it will
look when viewed from the north.
Single-campus plan reviewed
Watkins School Board gets update from engineers
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 18 -- The start of site preparation work that will turn the 12th Street Watkins Glen School District property into a single campus is set for April.
The $24.6 million project calls for the eventual closing of the Middle School on Decatur Street, with the students at that school moving to the single campus. That transfer has already begun, with the Middle School reduced by one grade this year.
The project was reviewed by architects and engineers Monday night at a workshop session of the Watkins Glen School Board.
Key to the start of the project is State Department of Education approval, which the engineers said is expected by February. That would be followed by a bid advertisement, and an awarding of bids in March.
“The big question remaining is the bids,” Superintendent Tom Phillips was quoted as saying. “It’s economy-driven, and they should get a lot of interest. People are hungry for work right now.”
The project, approved by district residents in a vote late last year, will be most visible on the school's north end, where new district offices will be located and where the school library will be expanded. The school cafeteria will also be enlarged.
The facility's old swimming pool, located in a room adjacent to the swimming and diving pools now used by the district, will be converted into a gymnasium for middle school students. It is expected to be ready for the 2014-15 school year -- as are all other facets of the single-campus conversion. They include auditorium improvements, classroom additions, roof repairs, wireless and security camera improvements, window replacements, and heating and plumbing upgrades.
The following meeting summary was provided by the school district:
Brian O’Donnell started the meeting with a pause to remember those 26 victims of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut at the Sandy Hook Elementary School this past week. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the community for their loss and their shattered lives.
Mr. O’Donnell commented that we are mindful and vigilant of our responsibility to do everything in our power to keep our children safe.
Approved/accepted/acknowledged the following consensus items:
The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 7, 2013 beginning at 5:45 p.m. It is anticipated the regular session will begin at approximately 6:30 p.m. following executive session.
Tom Phillips thanked the Board of Education and the community for their support implementing the upcoming Capital Project. Moving to a single campus will be a potential savings to the district in the future.
Following the regular meeting, the workshop began with the presentation from Welliver McGuire Inc. and Hunt Engineers on the Capital Project concerning the scope of the project and its timeline.
Image in text: Another view of the north end of the school complex as it will look after completion of the capital project. (Image provided)
The WGHS Band's horn section performs at Thursday's concert.
WGHS presents annual Holiday Concert
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 14 -- Watkins Glen High School instrumental and choral students presented an annual Holiday Concert Thursday night in the school auditorium.
The concert opened with the Flute Ensemble presenting Danse des Mirlitons (from "The Nutcracker Suite").
The Chorus opened with Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, and followed that with Fum, Fum, Fum, The Water is Wide and O Holy Night.
The Concert Band then played A Vision of Majesty, The Marriage of Figaro and John Williams in Concert (a medley of the composer's most popular musical themes).
The concert closed with the Combined Band and Chorus performing It's The Holiday Season.
The chorus was directed by Matthew Craig, and the band by Diana Groll.
Photo in text: Seniors Braedan Fitch, left, and Brenton Whiting sing during the chorus' performance of O Holy Night.
The WGHS chorus performs The Water is Wide.
Members of the Odessa-Montour High School Band perform.
O-M holds Jr.-Sr. High holiday concert
ODESSA, Dec. 13 -- Odessa-Montour junior and senior high school music students presented an instrumental and choral Holiday Concert Wednesday night in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.
The Junior High School Band directed by Michelle Voorheis offered three pieces: All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth), Festival of the Eternal Lights, and Christmas Bits & Pieces.
The Junior High School Chorus directed by Clarice Miles performed Keep on Following The Star, Not Another Fruitcake, Please! and March of the Kings.
The Senior High Band, also directed by Miles, played We Need A Little Christmas, A Carol Triptych, 'Twas The Night Before Christmas (with William Christoffels, dressed in thematically correct nightclothes, reading the poem aloud) and And The Herald Angels Sang.
The Women's Chorus performed A Festive Noel and Artist of a Winter Night.
The Senior High Chorus played Welcome, Yule!, Winter Bring Me Home (with Christoffels again narrating, this time in formal attire), Come, Follow That Star and Light a Candle. They finished with Silent Night, the audience joining in.
Miles also directed the Women's and Senior High Choruses. Sally Michel was accompanist for each of the chorus presentations.
Photos in text:
Top: The O-M Junior High School Chorus, which sang three songs.
Bottom: William Christoffels narrates 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, with musical accompaniment.
Members of the O-M Junior High School Band perform.
The O-M High School Chorus sang several songs, closing the concert with Silent Night.
The Women's Chorus sang A Festive Noel and Artist of a Winter Night.
WGHS schedules holiday concert
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 30 -- The Watkins Glen High School music department will present a holiday concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13 in the school auditorium.
(Please note: the snow date for this concert will be Monday, December 17 at 7 p.m.)
The chorus, concert band, jazz band and flute ensemble will be featured. Selections will include: John Williams in Concert, The Marriage of Figaro and It's the Holiday Season.
This concert is free and the public is invited to attend.
Phillips: 'We must have the courage to make changes'
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 4 -- Watkins Glen School Superintendent Tom Phillips said at Monday night's meeting of the School Board that there is "a challenging budget cycle ahead" and that "my hope is that our State Aid doesn't decrease."
He also read a prepared statement regarding his effort to generate a multi-governmental and public discussion regarding the future course of government and education in Schuyler County. He did not mention consolidation, though that word has been used frequently in recent weeks. In his statement, he said:
"I will be traveling to Ithaca for a meeting with Cornell University staff regarding the possibility of their facilitating community discussions related to the future of Government and Education in Schuyler County. The property tax structure simply cannot support a 'business as usual' approach to the delivery of services moving forward. The community cannot shoulder the burden of shifting costs from the State to the local taxpayer. The issue is really quite simple: With less than 2,000 students countywide, why do we have three separate school sytsems, and how do we reorganize to increase efficiency and quality programming for the children of Schuyler County?
"Similarly in the area of Government, the question is what is the need for eight townships, four villages and all of the duplication of services associated with this structure when the County population has demonstrated a decline?
"The purpose of these meetings, as I see it, will be to provide a forum in which the community can voice their opinions, concerns and ideas as related to the future of Schuyler County. It is clear that the current economic climate with a 2% tax cap, which many local municipalities and the County have already overridden, will not support the existing Governmental and Educational structure. The community must have a voice in identifying solutions.
"My only hope for all of this discussion is that in the end the community will provide support for the development of a path that will strengthen Schuyler County for many years to come. We have so much to be thankful for and now must have the courage to make the changes necessary to ensure our future."
Photo in text: Superintendent Tom Phillips, left, and Board President Brian O'Donnell at Monday night's School Board meeting.
A board meeting summary may be found here.
Dozens of girls from Corning, O-M and Watkins Glen schools gathered at Seneca Lodge.
Girls attend empowerment workshop
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 21 -- Seventh, eighth and ninth grade girls from the Corning, Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen school districts took part Tuesday in a Career Development Council -sponsored workshop titled "Life -- Powered by You!" at Seneca Lodge.
The program, one of a series of educational one-day workshops being held in the Southern Tier, was made possible through a grant from the Fund for Women at the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, and additional funding from the Human Resources Association of the Twin Tiers.
The four-and-a-half-hour workshop focused on young women taking charge of their lives, and provided a connection to area professionals. Organizers said that students at Tuesday's session learned both practical and effective tools to positively and successfully impact themselves and their world. Relevant hands-on activities reinforced the ideas taught.
Speakers included Judy Rowe and Amanda Cheever of Corning Inc., Rebekah LaMoreaux and Victoria Young of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, Ralph Diliberto of Watkins Glen High School, Carrie Flasphaler of Serve-U-Credit Union, and Beverly Matern of the Fund for Women committee..
Arrangements and program logistics were coordinated by the Career Development Council, Inc. at Greater Southern Tier BOCES. The program has also been approved for the 2012-2013 program year.
Photo in text: Beverly Matern of the Fund for Women committee addresses the students.
Glen responds to Frame offer
Phillips, O'Donnell want full boards to meet in public
WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 20 -- Watkins Glen School District Superintendent Tom Phillips and School Board President Brian O'Donnell have responded to an offer by the Odessa-Montour School District to discuss "mutually beneficial programs that benefit our cost structure."
O-M Superintendent Jim Frame, in a letter to officials at contiguous school districts early in November, proposed a session with each to discuss aspects of consolidation and shared services -- to determine if there are measures that can benefit both parties. The letter to Watkins Glen was to Phillips and O'Donnell, indicating a meeting only with them -- an interpretation buttressed by Frame's comments at a recent O-M board session indicating that he and his board president, Debra Harrington, would be handling any sessions that occurred. The Horseheads district, Frame had said, was the first district to respond to him positively.
Phillips and O'Donnell said at Monday night's Watkins Glen Board of Education meeting that while pleased with Frame's overture -- which came after some media-related criticism regarding O-M's reluctance to discuss consolidation -- they preferred a meeting of the full O-M and Watkins Boards.
And the session should be public, Phillips and O'Donnell said in a return letter to Frame -- "a means of providing for our communities a forum about the future of public education in our County. We are happy to offer our facilities for such a meeting. Please let us know of times and dates that are convenient for you and the Odessa-Montour Board."
That session would be a prelude to one Phillips and O'Donnell hope to effect in conjunction with County Administrator Tim O'Hearn and Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan -- a gathering for public dialogue organized by Cornell University.
O'Hearn, the letter to O-M said, "has reached out to Cornell and there is interest in providing assistance in planning and facilitating" such a community session. "We will be meeting with Dr. Rod Howe, Assistant Director of Community and Economic Vitality from Cornell Cooperative Extension, in the very near future to discuss the department's role in facilitating meetings.
"We look forward to embarking on the journey of positioning our community in a way that will increase our ability to maintain local control, plan for future growth and provide the best educational services and opportunities to all of our children."
Phillips told the Watkins board Monday that through public forums, "we can discuss where we are and where we're going -- learn from the public what it wants, because this is ultimately a community decision" as local governments battle against shrinking revenues and increased costs.
A meeting of both boards, with the public present, would "be simply a meeting to hear the community out, not make a decision," Phillips said. "If the community doesn't want (consolidation), fine. But we can't continue to live like this. And if we don't (hold meetings) and the school districts fall apart, we're complicit."
Photo in text: Watkins Glen School Board members Mike Myers (left) and Brian O'Donnell flank Superintendent Tom Phillips at Monday's meeting.
William Christoffels delivers the Gettysburg Address during the O-M concert.
O-M concert honors veterans
ODESSA, Nov. 8 -- Odessa-Montour High School band and chorus members honored our veterans with a Veterans Day concert Wednesday evening in O-M's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.
The band played "Elegy for the U.S.S. Arizona" and "Lincoln at Gettysburg," the latter accompanied by a reading of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address by area resident William Christoffels.
The chorus sang "Thank You, Soldiers," "I Hear America Singing" and "The Glory," the latter with a trumpet introduction by student Olivia Scata. Vocal solos were offered by Alisha Chamberlain on the first song, and by Morgan Stermer on the final one.
Both band and chorus were under the direction of teacher Clarice Miles. The chorus was accompanied by pianist Sally Michel.
Photo in text: Area veterans sat in the rear of the auditorium, listening to the stirring music.
Left: Dana Roberts played percussion. Right: Olivia Scata performed a trumpet introduction for the choral presentation of "The Glory."
Student Morgan Stermer, center front, performs a solo during "The Glory."
'This cannot be about my school vs. your school, my team vs. your team.'
WATKINS GLEN, Nov 6 -- Consolidation -- a byword lately -- took center stage again Monday night at a Watkins Glen School Board meeting.
Superintendent Tom Phillips, Board President Brian O'Donnell, and board members Tom Richardson and Joe Fazzary all touched base on it, with all saying that merger itself is not a viable option -- and with Phillips describing the law under which mergers operate as "inept at best ... a hindrance rather than a help."
Their comments came in part in response to their attendance recently at a meeting of the New York State School Boards Association in Rochester, where merger and consolidation -- growing topics across the state -- were much discussed.
What can work, they said, is consolidation in one or more of its various forms, a subject Phillips discussed at length. Not mentioned overtly, but there between the lines, was the ongoing tendency of the adjoining Odessa-Montour school district to sidestep consolidation talks. Phillips' statement follows:
"On the issue of consolidation," Phillips said, "I want to begin by saying there are two ways to view this issue. The first is to ignore reality and hold on to what we have and risk the ability to control our own destiny.
"The other view is to use data such as student demographics, shrinking State and National resources (now add Hurricane Sandy into the mix), the Tax Cap, and unfunded and underfunded mandates, and one quickly sees the fact that we are faced with increasingly difficult financial challenges as growth in expenses continues to outpace revenue streams as we plan for our future.
"Ultimately, and I believe most importantly, the focus of this consolidation effort must be to position our community in a way that we in fact increase our ability to maintain local control, plan for future growth and provide the best services to our children as well as the taxpayers of our community. This must be our only goal!
"This cannot be about my school vs. your school, my team vs. your team. This discussion must be about strengthening the opportunities we provide for the children of the Schuyler County community and how we can best work together to the benefit of all children of Schuyler County now and in the future.
"We already have a model in existence. Look at the Schuyler County Youth Programs…. from Soccer to Pee-Wee and Youth Football, Softball and Baseball, Gators and the Finger Lakes Basketball Camp. How do I know? I know because my daughter was able to benefit from many of these community offerings. As for academic opportunity, we can only imagine by pooling resources what the possibilities could be for enhancing programs. We must focus on identifying ways to improve the delivery of public and educational service at reduced or at the very least contained costs.
"Most local leaders realize that we can no longer conduct business as usual and that if we don’t take a proactive approach to chart our own destiny, the State of New York through the implementation of the Tax Cap will surely do so for us.
"To this end I attended a Council of Government meeting (where the county and all of its towns and villages are represented) recently and voiced this very concern. Additionally, County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, Legislative Chairman Dennis Fagan, School Board President Brian O’Donnell and I met last Thursday to discuss the possibility of facilitating meaningful community discussion and achieving sustainable outcomes related to potential restructuring of the delivery of public and educational services in the County.
"As a result of these meetings I am very pleased to report that Tim has reached out to Cornell University and there is interest in providing assistance in planning and facilitating this community dialogue
"This county has so much to offer and the potential for strong sustained economic growth is a reality. We must all be willing to roll up our sleeves, accept the reality of the current situation and use this reality as the basis for evaluating the present and planning for the future.
"I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but as a community committed to preserving opportunity for our children, I believe together we can and will find them. This won’t be easy, but as Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling said: “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”
Added O'Donnell in a statement:
"Schools and governments are seeing reduction in personnel and services as the only way to survive; the reality is that you don't do 'more with less'; you do 'less with less.'
"Being proactive -- rather than just waiting until the State decides what we will 'look like' -- may help us identify the appropriate ways we can continue to offer the service to the people we serve.
"We have to believe that we DO have a bright future. How we do business in the future may differ from how we conduct business today; we do need to work to attract business and industry and grow as a county, and we need to see what we can do to reverse population trends which show our younger people growing up and moving away, and our population aging and on very fixed incomes."
Photo in text: Superintendent Tom Phillips reads his statement at Monday's meeting.
Phillips revisits his League remarks; O'Donnell backs him
To share or not to share -- that is the question:
WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 2 -- That was the evident sentiment Monday night as the Watkins Glen School Board and Superintendent Tom Phillips revisited a theme plumbed by Phillips at a recent Schuyler County League of Women Voters luncheon meeting.
That talk by Phillips -- recounted on this site in a column (here) -- was raised by the superintendent at Monday night's meeting of the Board after he cautioned its members that the health insurance plan the district currently shares with Odessa-Montour, Waverly, Elmira Heights and GST BOCES appears to be in financial difficulty that could negatively impact the district's budget unless a joint solution by its participants is found. A meeting on the issue is set for Monday, Oct. 15.
That led to him saying his League remarks were "not willfully engaged in, but in answer to a question from the audience" regarding the need for three superintendents in Schuyler County -- a reference to the jobs held by Phillips, O-M Superintendent James Frame, and Bradford Superintendent Wendy Field. Field was also at the League session.
The point, Phillips told the board, is "there is a real need for the Schuyler County community to come together and look at the state of public education, athletics and extra-curricular activities and decide what we can afford. If something is not done, we know what we currently have will not be sustainable. I want to compliment the Board; it's tried in five of the seven years I've been here to reach out (to Odessa-Montour) for discussion, for a broad sharing of services. We need really, truly to engage our communities. I shared that with the League, and will continue to say that. To think we can continue losing hundreds of thousands, even milliions of dollars of state aid with expenses going up and with a tax cap -- we need to resolve what we can do to still be around.
"If we don't start driving the train, education as a whole, our entire system, will fall apart. The governor said when he took office that he'd like to see one-third fewer (school) districts in the state. If we're in a stronger position when the state comes calling, we can say this is what we've done, this is why we are solvent, this is our plan for the future."
Board member Tom Richardson, after first saying "we need to proceed carefully," noted of Phillips' League remarks: "I think you handled it well."
Board President Brian O'Donnell weighed in, too. "There used to be state money available for mergers," he said. "Not any more. There is going to be absorption of (weaker) districts as they are dissolved (by the state). We should know where we're going before the state tells us where. I agree with Tom."
Added Phillips: "I understand we have to move slowly and diligently, but there is no money. Public schools in the region can't sustain (programs) when they're hemorrhaging money. So why not local control?"
Said Richardson: "We're not just talking about O-M and Watkins Glen. Look at Trumansburg and Newfield. They merged their football teams."
"Yes," responded Phillips, who noted that Corning schools merged their sports programs, as did Elmira. "And Elmira Heights and Horseheads are sharing facility maintenance and talking about sharing transportation. Why is Schuyler County immune to this? The door is open."
Winter Coaches: The board approved winter coaching appointments, a list with familiar names on it. Returning as head of the boys varsity basketball team will be longtime coach John Fazzary, with David Waite as volunteer assistant and Jim Scott running the JV squad. Chris Clark will return as girls varsity basketball coach, with Harold Chaffee as volunteer assistant and Alicia Learn overseeing the JV team.
Jennifer Conklin will be back for a second year as coach of the boys varsity swim team, Nils Watson will return as varsity wrestling coach, and Ward Brower will once again be the varsity bowling coach.
O-M receives Rewards School designation
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, Sept. 23 -- Odessa-Montour High School was recently
identified as a Rewards
This honor recognizes that O-M has shown significant progress in student achievement as compared to all high schools across New York State. Commissioner King announced that 250 schools out of 4,730 statewide earned the designation.
"We are filled with pride," said Superintendent Jim Frame. "This designation confirms what we have known all along -- great teaching and commitment yields fantastic results for students. I personally am proud of our faculty and staff, who work so hard for our students and this community."
Odessa-Montour High School was designated a school in need
of improvement when Frame came to the district eight years ago. "We
have made a steadfast commitment to empowering our students to do their
best through careful curriculum alignment, thoughtful reflection on the
assessments we give and constant professional development for faculty
to employ best teaching
Schools were assessed on student performance on state ELA and math tests, graduation rate, gap closing, adequate yearly progress and graduating at-risk students.
Applications available for scholarship
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 21 -- The Southern Finger Lakes Women, a chapter of New York State Women, Inc., has announced the availability of application forms for its 2012-2013 Women’s Scholarship Program.
The program provides financial assistance to a woman furthering her education or seeking a professional certificate or license. To be eligible for a scholarship, an applicant must:
• Be a female and at least 25 years of age by Sept.
Preference will be given to applicants who are residents
of Schuyler County and/or are
Completed applications must be postmarked by October 15, 2012. Failure to submit a complete application may result in elimination from consideration.
For further information, or to obtain a copy of the application, contact Patti Butler at (607) 742-5942. The scholarship winner will receive her award at the November 19, 2012 meeting of the Southern Finger Lakes Women at Carol Bower’s Catering, Cass Road, Montour Falls, NY.
New York State Women, Inc., provides members with professional development, networking, and career advancement resources. Its mission is to achieve equity for all women in the workplace through advocacy, education and information.
The Southern Finger Lakes Women chapter meets on the third Monday of each month. For more information about the group, contact Gloria Hutchings at (607) 594-2489 or JoAnne Krolak at (607) 732-1171. For more information about the Women’s Scholarship Program, contact Patti Butler at (607) 742-5942.
WGHS grad Bond earns Dean's List status
Special to The Odessa File
ROCHESTER, Aug. 30 -- Sarah Elizabeth Bond, a freshman majoring in biochemistry at the University of Rochester, has been named to the Dean’s List for academic achievement for the spring 2012 semester.
Bond, a resident of Watkins Glen, is the daughter of Christopher Bond and Michelle Bond, and a graduate of Watkins Glen High School.
The University of Rochester, founded in 1850, is a private research university located on the south shore of Lake Ontario.
Changes in store for returning WG students
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 22 -- Changes in school schedules and
grade-level organization will greet students when Watkins Glen schools
open on September 5. The changes are the result of
WG's 2012-13 bus routes
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 27 -- The Watkins Glen Central School District has released the following bus-route schedule for 2012-2013 -- its first year on a new one-run system.
Bus # 65 Driver – Sheila Cody
Bus # 68 Driver – Paula Wallenbeck
Walt Gilbert Road, State Route 414 North, Beaver Dams – Moreland Rd, Catlin Hill Rd, Pearl Street, DeMunn Rd, Mill Hill Rd, Coykedall Rd, Steuben Street/CR16 Hill to School.
New Run Beaver Dams Area
414 Hill, Wedgewood Rd, Meads Hill Rd, Hedden Rd, Baker Hill Rd, Bronson Hill & State Rte 414 Stop, Bennett Rd, State Route 414 to School
Bus # 58/71 Driver – Lisa Shrout
Cooley Rd, County Route 19, Townsend Rd, VanZandt Hollow Rd, State Route 329 to School
Bus # 63 Driver – Lorena Clark
County Route 16, Sugar Hill Rd, Lovers Lane, County Route 21 to School
WEST SIDE OF LAKE
Bus # 57/70 Driver – Mike Smith
Stamp Rd, Pre-Emption Rd, Beach Rd, County Route 27, Ray Roberts Rd, Cross Rd, Irelandvill Rd, Country Route 28 to School.
Bus # 66 Driver – Ken Clark
State Route 14, Spencer Rd, Country Route 29, Altay Rd, Cross Rd, Church Rd, State Route14A, County Route 28, Jennings Rd , Abrams Rd to School.
Bus # 59 Driver – Terry LaFever
Old Rd, County Route 27, Ray Roberts Rd, County Route 23, Tower Hill Rd, Wollock Rd, Aikens Rd, VanVleet Rd, Beach Hill Rd, County Route 28 to School.
51am/48pm – Judy Pearce/John Lutomske
Station Rd, Ellison Rd, VanZandt Hollow Rd, County Line Rd, Burrell Place, Steuben Street Hill Stops, 6th & Madison Ave to School.
EAST SIDE OF LAKE
Bus #64 Driver – Skip Opdyke
Beckhorn Rd, County Route 1, Wardner Corners Rd, Dugue Rd, Round School House Rd, Fausold Rd, Ball Diamond Rd, Tichenor Rd to School.
Bus # 67 Driver – Michelle Beyler
Willow Street, Satterly Hill Rd, Mathews Rd, County Route 2, State Route 414 to County Route 5, Tug Hollow to School
Bus # 61 - Driver – Robert Barlow
Reach Orchard Pt Rd, State Rte 414 and Lake Street, Covert Rd, Middle Rd, Howard Ave to School
Bus # 60 Driver- Gloria Scranton
Route 79 (Burdett Hill), County Route 4, Texas Hollow Rd, Tuttle Rd, Dean Rd, State Route 79 between Tuttle Rd and County Route 4 to School.
Bus # 69 Driver – Pam Arcangeli
Rt 79, Tuttle Rd, Rt 227 , Heaverly rd, Rt 227, Texas Hollow Rd, to School.
Bus # 54 Driver – Betty DeLong
County Route 9, County Route 8, County Route 7, Drew Rd, Dolphsburg Rd, Lake Street,, Main Street Burdett to School
Bus #50 Driver – Roger Willis
8th & Porter, 6th & Perry, 5th & Porter, 2nd & Decatur, N Madison Ave, Salt Point Rd, N Summit & Reading Rd, N Glen Ave, S Glen Ave, Lakeview and 2nd Street to School
O-M's 2012-13 bus routes
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, Aug. 21 -- The first day of school will be September 5, 2012.
Please remember to have your child at the bus stop 5 minutes before the arrival of the bus. For children Pre-4 a parent needs to be visible before a driver can release your child unless other arrangements have been made. These times are approximate. Please call 594-3341 Ext. 3978 if you should have questions
BUS 22 Driver: Jan Martz
This photo is a holdover -- overlooked in The Odessa File files for several weeks -- from the early summer gathering of Watkins Glen High School alumni in town for a weekend reunion. In this case, it was the Class of 1982 getting together. (Photo provided)
Phillips: Assessment moves by Inergy, Walmart 'not beneficial to our district'
For meeting summary, click here.
WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 7 -- The Watkins Glen School District is facing a potential loss of an estimated $270,198 in revenue through assessment reductions of about 50 percent sought by the Inergy corporation and Walmart.
And that, Superintendent Tom Phillips told the School Board Monday night, will have "a very negative impact" on the district as it faces another difficult deliberation leading to the 2013-14 budget.
"We'll be starting a quarter of a million dollars in the hole," Phillips said. "We'll have to take from reserves to close the gap, even before we look at state aid and federal aid. We'll be down $270,000, which quite frankly we can't afford."
The businesses' assessment-reduction requests, which are sought on the county level, go before a State Supreme Court judge on Aug. 17, and both Phillips and School Board President Brian O'Donnell said they hope the judge considers "the impact on the school district."
"To take a hit (like that) at this point," said O'Donnell, "it would be next to impossible to maintain our programs" at their current levels.
Phillips said the $270,000 equates to "about four positions" in a district where 15 were trimmed during last school year's budget deliberations.
School Board member Tom Richardson hastened to point out that if the assessment reduction is upheld, "we won't be losing four positions" in the coming school year. But Phillips said that such a revenue hole could in fact lead to a loss of positions in the next budget and, thus, in the 2013-14 school year.
Inergy, which owns the old U.S. Salt property, has a current assessment of $29,578,801 and is seeking a reduction of $15,015,170, to $14,563,631. The estimated loss of school taxes would total $186,188.
Walmart -- which five years ago agreed to an assessed value of $12,400,000 for a five-year period -- is seeking a reduction of $6,775,000, to $5,625,000. The estimated loss of school taxes would be $84,010.
Receipt of this information was "a little disconcerting," said Phillips, adding: "I understand their assessment position, but I believe it is the responsibility of community members to support the community at large ... where they do business. If this is upheld, the impact will not be beneficial to our district."
Concluded O'Donnell: "This is very serious."
Photos in text:
Top: School Board President Brian O'Donnell, right, with Superintendent Tom Phillips.
Bottom: District Clerk Marie Keefer and School Board member Tom Richardson.
.Link to Watkins Glen High School Library Media Center
Watkins Glen School Board
Meetings are generally held on the first and third Mondays of each month. Unless otherwise stated, Board of Education meetings are held in the Board Room at the high school, next to the guidance office, beginning at 6:30 p.m. (These are open meetings usually following a 5:45 p.m. Executive Session).
Residents of the district are invited to attend board meetings and observe the deliberations of the board.
Board members are as follows:
119 Durland Place
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Brian J. O’Donnell, President
101 Willow Drive
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
310 8th Street
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Michael D. Myers, Vice President
3650 Rose Lane
Burdett, NY 14818
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
An organizational meeting of the board is held each
July. During this meeting, board
Members serve on various board committees, including Personnel, Curriculum, Buildings and Grounds, Transportation and Finance. Much of the boards work is done through these committees.
Link to Watkins Glen High School Library Media Center
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869