Click on the ad above to visit the VisionsfcuRocks website.


Our Primary Pages


Wine & Tourism


You can visit
.website at


We also have
a Business Card
Page. Click


To go to Jim Guild's Famous Brands website, click on the drawing above or here.











For summaries of recent Watkins School Board meetings, click here.

Suddaby inducted into Honor Society

Special to The Odessa File

ITHACA, Nov. 24, 2015 -- Lindsey Suddaby, a sophomore Speech-Language Pathology major in the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance at Ithaca College and a graduate of Watkins Glen High School, was inducted into the Oracle Honor Society on Nov. 2nd.

Founded in 1928, the Oracle Honor Society is a historic Ithaca College honor society that recognizes academic excellence.

Students who maintain a grade-point average in the top 10 percent of all students in their school throughout their first full academic year are invited into the society.

Glen schools, hospital set up health clinic

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 17 -- The Watkins Glen Central School District has partnered with Schuyler Hospital to establish a health clinic at the high school.

The clinic is available to district students in grades PreK-12 from 8 to 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays in the high school health office and provides primary care for minor ailments or illnesses. Dr. Jamie Coleman coordinates the joint effort.

The purpose of the clinic is to offer care for ill or injured students that is convenient for parents or guardians. Parents may call the school heath office to request that their child be seen during one of the scheduled times. Dr. Coleman will provide a complete summary of each visit so parents can follow up with the family physician, if necessary.

Parents of students who may be provided care at the clinic are required to provide consent for any treatment as well as health insurance information. Treatment cannot be offered to any child who does not have the completed consent and insurance forms on file. Contact your child’s school for the necessary consent and insurance forms and return the completed forms to the school office.

“We’re excited to be able to provide this opportunity for the families in our district,” said Superintendent Tom Phillips. “This is evidence of how sharing community resources can result in comprehensive services for children and families in Schuyler County.”

For more information on the clinic, call the district office at 535-3220.

Grant will lead to Head Start expansion

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Sept. 3 -- Schuyler Head Start, which serves 3- to 5-year-old children and their families in Schuyler County who meet federal guidelines, has been awarded a federal grant that will help it expand services in December to include children 18 months to age 3, known as Early Head Start -- which is home-based only.

The funding was awarded to Schuyler Head Start due to its "community assessment of needs and its ability to provide service," according to a press release.

Head Start and Early Head Start programs, the release said, "support the mental, social, and emotional development of children from birth to age 5. In addition to education services, programs provide children and their families with health, nutrition, social, and other services. Head Start services are responsive to each child and family's ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage."

Head Start will now serve 80 children. For more information on services and eligibility requirements, visit or phone (607) 535-6814 to work with an enrollment manager.

Water aerobics sign-ups due Sept. 7

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, Aug. 28, 2015 -- Odessa-Montour Central School (“Aerobic Fun in the Water”) and Watkins Glen Central School (“Aqua Aerobics”) are hosting the next sessions of water aerobics classes, and registration time is upon us. Everyone over 18 is welcome.

Odessa-Montour’s sessions begin Monday, Sept. 14, and run for 8 weeks, with Thursday classes beginning September 17 and running from 7-8 p.m.

The next session at Watkins Glen Central School begins Tuesday, Sept. 15, for six sessions; classes run from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

All classes need sufficient registered participants to be scheduled, so organizers ask that those interested register by Sept. 7 to ensure that the classes are held. The cost is $7 per
class; walk-ins are welcome, too.

Register online at or call 607-739-8170 or 739-7905.

The classes are offered through GST BOCES Adult Education.

O-M welcomes new staff members

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, Aug. 25 -- The Odessa-Montour Central School District will welcome several new staff members this school year. They include:

-- Megan Field, High School Special Education teacher. Field is a graduate of Ithaca College and Florida Atlantic University. She taught elementary special education and math for 12 years in Palm Beach County, FL and high school special education for seven years in the Newfield Central School Distirct.

-- Pam Rugiero, 4th Grade teacher. Rugiero is a graduate of Elmira College and has experience as a kindergarten aide, a 2:1 aide and a substitute teacher in the Elmira City School District.

-- Melody Stadelmaier, AIS Math K-2. Stadelmaier is a 2011 Odessa-Montour graduate. She graduated from Wells College in 2014 and has substitute teaching experience at B.C. Cate Elementary.

-- Antara Dutta, 7th-8th Grade Mathematics. A native of Toronto, Canada, Dutta holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto. She earned a degree in Adolescence Education and Mathematics from Elmira College and has teaching experience in the Corning-Painted Post and Horseheads Central School Districts.

-- Ian MacDonald, K-6 Music Teacher. MacDonald is a graduate of Mansfield University and has degrees in both music education and vocal performance. He has two years of experience as a private voice instructor and has also worked as a sound technician and stage director.

Schuyler youths, adults attend national Substance Abuse Prevention conference

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 17 -- Adult and youth leaders from the Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) joined more than 1,500 substance abuse prevention specialists from across the country at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)’s 2015 Mid-Year Training Institute in Indianapolis Aug. 2-6.

The training offered courses geared toward helping participants find solutions to their community’s toughest substance abuse problems. Thanks to the Drug-Free Communities Support Grant, awarded to Schuyler County Public Health Department for SCCUDD last year, four coalition members were able to attend the week-long intensive training: two adults and two teens.

“Personally the CADCA youth training in Indianapolis was very beneficial to me as a person and as a SCCUDD member and also as a member of Schuyler County," said Kassandra Snyder, a senior from the Odessa-Montour Central School District. "The logic model we created in our training sessions is ready to be implemented upon our arrival home. Seeing that other kids my age feel the same way about drug use and underage drinking was a wonderful experience. It's not always easy to be the odd one out against your peers. But the CADCA youth training in Indianapolis has empowered me to make a change in my community. I'm so grateful to have been given this opportunity.”

“It was a fun learning experience meeting other kids who are working for the same cause with all different motives,” agreed Amber Updike, an 8th grader from the Watkins Glen Central School District.

At the training, SCCUDD members participated in a variety of lecture and hands-on sessions to expand their knowledge in prevention science and improve their skills in implementing evidence-based strategies to reduce drug and alcohol use. The training covered a wide range of topics -- everything from how to prevent prescription drug abuse and reduce heroin use to how to create tobacco-free environments, reduce impaired driving and develop policies to reduce marijuana use and underage drinking.

“The trainings we attended at CADCA’s 2015 Mid-Year will help us address the concerning levels of underage drinking and other drug use in Schuyler County,” said Deborah Dalmat, SCCUDD Project Coordinator.

This year’s Mid-Year featured a number of renowned experts in the field of substance abuse prevention, with keynote remarks by Michael Botticelli, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; Kana Enomoto, Deputy Principal Administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); and Karla Sneegas, Branch Chief for the CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health.

The mission of SCCUDD is to prevent, reduce and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities and implementing environmental strategies. SCCUDD’s vision is a connected community where youth have education, resources, and drug-free options to help their journey to become happy, healthy adults.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at or follow SCCUDD on social media.

Photo in text: Kassandra Snyder (left) and Amber Updike draw their vision of a drug-free Schuyler County at the CADCA Mid-Year Training Institute. (Photo provided)

Francischelli is new Hanlon principal

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, Aug. 11, 2915 -- Robert Francischelli has been selected as the new principal of H.A. Hanlon Elementary School in the Odessa-Montour Central School District, effective August 12.

Francischelli earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in school psychology from Alfred Universtiy and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Administration from SUNY Brockport. He is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in educational administration at the University of Rochester. He served as a building administrator and school psychologist at Bradford Central School District for the past three years and previously worked in the Jasper-Troupsburg and Fillmore school districts.

“I am very excited to begin working with the students, staff and community members of the Odessa-Montour Central School District,” said Francischelli. “I believe that my previous experiences working in small rural schools and communities will allow for a smooth transition into the district and school community. As the newly-appointed principal of H.A. Hanlon Elementary School, I look forward to building quality relationships with all stakeholders who share a common goal of student achievement and overall student success.”

“Rob comes highly recommended from Bradford, where he spent the past three years of his career,” said Superintendent Chris Wood. “Rob’s energy and unique outlook on education will be an asset to our administrative team. We believe he will bring new and innovative ideas to Hanlon Elementary.”

He succeeds Christine Williams, who has moved to Florida.

Photo in text: Robert Francischelli (Photo provided)

Catholic Charities seeks donations for School backpack, supplies program

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, July 30 -- In partnership with local businesses, Catholic Charities is requesting the public's help in preparing kids for a successful school year. Now through August 17, the following local businesses will be collecting new and like-new backpacks and new school supplies to benefit local, Schuyler County kids in need:

--Famous Brands, Watkins Glen
--The Hi-Lites, Watkins Glen
--Parmenter Tire, Auto & Truck Service, Odessa, Montour Falls & Horseheads
--Primary Care Center, Montour Falls
--Quinlan’s Pharmacy, Montour Falls
--Watkins Glen Public Library

The drive, said a Catholic Charities press release, "is off to a wonderful start with some bins overflowing at local businesses! But there is always room for more as Catholic Charities has a goal of collecting 200 backpacks for children and teens."

Donations of backpacks and school supplies will also be accepted at Catholic Charities:
Schuyler Outreach, 112 Tenth Street, Watkins Glen: Tuesdays and Thursdays 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Fridays 12 noon-4 p.m., and August 13 from 6-8 p.m. Monetary donations may be sent to Catholic Charities, 607 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY 14891 or made online at Iindicate "Schuyler County Back to School Drive."

“As a mother/father/guardian, you want the best for your child,” said Lindsay Winters, Catholic Charities’ Director of Development. “But what if you couldn’t financially make ends meet? Can you imagine sending your child to school with a tattered backpack or without the needed school supplies for success? Please donate today. With the help of our local businesses, we can ensure all kids start the year off right.”

Catholic Charities’ Back to School Giveaway will be held at Schuyler Outreach on August 20 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. (must be a Schuyler County resident). "From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.," said the press release, "we plan to offer free haircuts by local barbers and beauticians. There will not be a clothing giveaway at Schuyler Outreach this year. However, clothing is available year-round at Saint James' Episcopal Church’s Thrift Shop in Watkins Glen."

Bond graduates from University of Rochester

Special to The Odessa File

ROCHESTER, NY, July 2 -- Sarah Elizabeth Bond, a resident of Watkins Glen, graduated from the University of Rochester on Sunday, May 17, at the 165th commencement with a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry. She graduated cum laude.

Bond is a child of Christopher and Michelle Bond, and a graduate of Watkins Glen High School.

The University of Rochester, founded in 1850, is a private research university on the south shore of Lake Ontario that emphasizes a broad liberal education through majors, minors, and course “clusters” -- a Rochester innovation -- in the areas of humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences/engineering.

Glen district offers free summer meals

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 25 -- The Watkins Glen Central School District will offer free breakfast and lunch to children and teens aged 18 years old and younger this summer.

The Summer Food Service Program will run Monday through Friday at two sites in Schuyler County. Meals will be served at the Watkins Glen High School cafeteria (310 12th Street) from 7:50-8:30 a.m. and from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on weekdays between June 29 and August 14.

Meals also will be served at the Watkins Glen Lakeside Park pavilion. Breakfast will be served weekdays from July 20 through July 31 between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. Lunch will be served weekdays beginning June 29 and running through July 31 between 12:00 and 12:30 p.m.

No application is needed to participate in this program. There is no residency requirement. All meals must be eaten on site.

B.C. Cate teacher receives garden grant

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, June 17 -- James Nolan, a 2nd-grade teacher at the B.C. Cate Elementary School, recently received a Ross C. Hudson Grant of $1,000 given by the New York State Retired Teachers’ Association.

One of the objectives of the NYSRTA is to work toward the advancement of education in the State and Country. In an attempt to help meet that objective, NYRTA has developed a $1,000 grant to assist full-time educators with an innovative program or project. To be eligible for this grant an educator must be a full-time teacher-administrator in a public school system in the Southern Zone of the New York State Retired Teachers’ Association.

Mr. Nolan’s project is to bring to life the garden in the Courtyard of the B.C. Cate School in full view of the 200+ students in their classrooms. B.C. Cate, part of the Odessa-Montour School District, will soon be implementing new inquiry-based skills through F.O.S.S. (Full Option Science Systems). This new science curriculum focuses on inquiry-based learning and involves modules such as air and weather, insects and plants, and animals. Mr. Nolan’s garden will provide students studies in New York native plant species, planters, and gardening materials for upkeep -- and a weather station to track, measure and record temperatures, precipitation and weather trends.

Bird feeders and habitats to support the animal and insect population will also be part of the garden.

Officers of the NYSRTA Southern Zone were on hand to present the grant to Mr. Nolan. They were Vince Smith, President; Donald Cutton, Scholarship Chair; Mary Lou Wood, Public Relations Chair; Lois Cutton, Treasurer; Debbi Deats, Secretary; Bonnie Stratton, Membership Chair; and Helene Combopiano, Health Care Coordinator.

Photo in text: From left: O-M Superintendent Chris Wood, Vince Smith of NYSRTA, grant recipient James Nolan, B.C. Cate Principal Veronica Lewis, and NYSRTA's Donald Cutton. (Photo provided)

Elliott wins $1,000 Chamber scholarship

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 11 -- Watkins Glen High School senior Mikayla Elliott has been selected by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce Business & Education Committee as winner of a $1,000 college scholarship.

Elliott was chosen from among a group of Bradford, Odessa-Montour, and Watkins Glen high schools seniors, and home-schooled students in Schuyler County, writing on the topic "Project Seneca."

Each applicant was instructed to select a Project Seneca project that is currently in progress, one that is written into the plan or one that he or she would like to see incorporated into the plan, and answer the following questions: 1) How will this specific project benefit the community? 2) Will Project Seneca impact the future decisions you make in terms of where you will settle down after graduation?

Elliott -- a daughter of Kirra Franzese and Mike Elliott, both of Watkins Glen -- plans to attend the University at Buffalo in the fall. She will be presented her scholarship check at the Chamber’s Summer Rendezvous on July 15 at Watkins Glen State Park.

Left: Brenna Pierce and Lacie Denmark operate their boat, called "The Thunder." Right: The boat designated winner of "Best Design," with (from left) Drake Croft, Dylan Nguyen and Nicholas Bonsignore. (Photos provided)

Cardboard boat regatta

The 3rd grades at Watkins Glen Elementary School held their 13th annual Cardboard Boat Regatta Friday, June 5 in the Watkins Glen High School pool -- a culminating piece for a Buoyancy science unit. Twenty-four boats were constructed by students. Of the 24 boats, 18 remained buoyant, successfully finishing the race. The fastest time (1:14.03) was posted by the boat "Cool in Camo." T-shirts for each of the students and teachers were designed and provided by Watkins Glen Promotions. The regatta serves as a precursor of the annual Cardboard Boat Regatta held each year at the Seneca Harbor marina.

O-M holds annual Awards Assembly

ODESSA, June 8 -- Dozens of Odessa-Montour High School students were honored Monday at the annual Academic Awards Program in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.

The awards and the winners.



HONOR ROLL: This award is presented to students who have been on the Honor Roll (84.5 average) the first five marking periods this school year.

Freshmen: Cameron Adams, LeNay Duet, Kayla Dundas, Mia Force-Russell, Taylor Grover, Andrew Ink, Erin Kleist, Brycent Kot, Alyssa Lindsley, Trey McCarty, Nakiaha Robinson, Bronwyn Stermer, Meagan Terry
Sophomores: Breeana Bentley, Cameron Bryington, Alyssa Crout, Kyle Frasier, Sage Garrison, Alexander Grady
Juniors: Lovona Carrigan, Abigail Chapman, Tyler Clark, Angeleah Holton, Madison Lodge, James Terry, Brandon Voorhees
Seniors: Brooke Collins, Marissa Ferguson, Ian Hradisky, Ryan Marsh, Trenton Randall, Adrianna Rhodes, Charles Sidle, Callie Stillman, Brianna Struble, Autumn Taylor, Jamee Wade, Tela Wittig, Casey Zimmer

Algebra – Cameron Bryington
Geometry – Breeana Bentley
Trigonometry – Logan Barrett
4 Year Math Awards – Logan Barrett, Brooke Collins, Adrianna Rhodes, Kate Ross, Olivia Scata, James Terry, James Williams, Frank Wood
5 Year Math Awards – Samantha House, Joseph Rorick, Hailie Searles, Tela Wittig

Certificate of Excellence in Technology: Frank Wood, Jeremiah Holley, Thomas Doan

Excellence in Government – Frank Wood
Excellence in Economics – Frank Wood
Joseph Lemak Global Studies Award – Logan Barrett
Edward Banfi U. S. History Award – Meghan Coates

PHYSICAL EDUCATION BABE RUTH AWARDS – Hailie Searles and William Bacon
Grade 11 Physical Education Awards – Luke Eberhardt, Lovona Carrigan
Grade 10 Physical Education Awards – Emelia Paulisczak, Nicholas Sgrecci
9 Physical Education Awards – Hailey Perraut, William Tague

USMC Scholastic Excellence Award – Kate Ross



English 9 Award Cheyenne Barrett
English 10 Award – Emelia Paulisczak
English 11 Academic Excellence Award – Me’chel Wead
English 12 Academic Excellence Award – Callie Stillman
ACE English Academic Award – Meghan Coates

Spanish II Achievement Awards – Cheyenne Barrett, Colin Marsh
Spanish III Achievement Awards – Kayla Dundas and Nicholas Sgrecci
Spanish IV Achievement Award – Kate Ross
ACE Spanish Achievement Award – Autumn Taylor

CELEBRATE EXCELLENCE AWARDS - Highest average for the school year:
Grade 9 – Cheyenne Barrett
Grade 10 – Emelia Paulisczak
Grade 11 – Me’chel Wead


BOYS STATE AWARDS – James Terry, James Williams


Earth Science – Kyle Frasier
Living Environment – Madison Morse
Chemistry – Rosemary Peckham



ELMIRA COLLEGE KEY AWARD – Olivia Scata and Logan Barrett

9th Grade - Cameron Adams, Curtis Harris, Almon McCarty, Jonathan Myers
10th Grade – Cynthia Parez, Emelia Paulisczak
11th Grade – Logan Barrett, Starr Cole, Joel Kelly, James Williams
12th Grade – Brooke Collins, Dana Roberts, Hailie Searles, Charles Sidle, Frank Wood


HIGH HONOR ROLL: This award is presented to students who have been on the High Honor Roll (89.5 average) the first five marking period this school year.

Freshmen: Cheyenne Barrett, Gillian Clark, Curtis Harris, Abigail Hauber, Elisha House, Shaunalynn Maddox, Hailey Perraut, Anna Ross, Carly Smith
Sophomores: Paxtyn Brown, Simonne Dewalt, Madison Morse, Emelia Paulisczak
Juniors: Logan Barrett, Steven Bennett, Starr Cole, Rosemary Peckham, Olivia Scata, Me’chel Wead
Seniors: Meghan Coates, Samantha House, Kate Ross, Hailie Searles, Frank Wood







PRESIDENT’S AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE: (Must have 90 average and College Entrance Exam Scores at or above the 85th Percentile) -- Maggie Coates, Hailie Searles and Tela Wittig

FOUR-YEAR HONORS: Seniors who have a 3-5/6 year average of 85 or above -- Heavyn Arias, Alexis Austin, Meghan Coates, Brooke Collins, Marissa Ferguson, Manley Gavich, Zackary Griswold, Ashley Hickey, Samantha House, Ian Hradisky, Nina Linton, Ryan Marsh, Sarah Norton, Trenton Randall, Joseph Raymond, Adrianna Rhodes, Dana Roberts, Joseph Rorick, Kate Ross, Hailie Searles, Charles Sidle, Tailith Smith, Shane Smith, Callie Stillman, Brianna Struble, Autumn Taylor, Jamee Wade, Tela Wittig, Frank Wood.

Photos in text:

From top: Logan Barrett with History teacher Greg Gavich; Maggie Coates, Emelia Paulisczak, Billy Tague and Hailie Searles.

WGHS holds annual Awards Assembly

WATKINS GLEN, June 4 -- Dozens of students received various awards and scholarships Thursday afternoon at the annual Watkins Glen High School Awards Assembly in the school auditorium.

Among the highlights:

U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Awards:
Athletes: Madison Gates and Keith Rekczis
Scholastic Excellence Award: Colin DeMeritt
Semper Fidelis Award: Elizabeth Reed.

U.S. Army National Scholar Athletes: Luke Flahive and Justine Hulbert.

University of Rochester Awards:
Bausch & Lomb Science Award: Maggie Bond
Fredrick Douglass & Susan B. Anthony Award: Cheyenne Stansfield
George Eastman Young Leaders Award: Lucas Wickham
Xerox Award for Innovation and Information Technology: Brenen Murphy

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Medal: Claire McManus
Elmira College Key Awards: Megan Hoy and Ian Chedzoy
Wells College 21st Century Leadership Award: Brandon Pike
Clarkson University Achievement Award: Claire McManus
Clarkson University Leadership Award: Brandon Pike

Top Ten Recognition: Colin DeMeritt (valedictorian), Lydia Myers (salutatorian), LynnAnn Caslin, Madison Gates, Mikayla Elliott, Justine Hulbert, Alexandria Gardner, Halle Phillips, Elizabeth Reed and Alexis Gonzalez.

Math Recognition Awards:
Integrated Algebra Regents Award: Clara Chedzoy
Geometry Regents Award: Liam Fitch
Algebra II Regents Award: James St. Julien and Maggie Bond.

Ruth Warner Math Awards: Seth Swinnerton and Megan Chilson

Francis W. Blake Sportsmanship Awards: Amanda Cherock and Keith Rekczis
Edward Homan Physical Fitness Awards: Victoria Wixson and Joseph Palumbo
Barb Hughey Physical Education Awards: Justine Hulbert and Colin DeMeritt
Water Safety Award: Matt Doppel
Seneca Football Award: Bryce De La Osa Cruz
Dr. Arthur J. Jackson Award: Luke Flahive and Halle Phillips
Coach Joseph J. Lemak, Sr. Award: Jon Brown and Victoria Wixson
T.J. O'Rourke Award: Keith Rekczis
James Angelo, Sr. Basketball Award: Keith Rekczis
Melissa B. Wilson Basketball Award: Katherine Meehan

Pulitzer Prize of WGHS (journalism award): Abigail Rundle

Yearbook Dedication: Jim Murphy (retiring teacher)

Class Officer Election Results:

Class of 2016: Katherine Meehan president; Claire McManus vice-president; Bernadette Osborne secretary; Allison Teed treasurer.
Class of 2017: Abigail Miller president; Courtney Irwin vice-president, Aidan DeBolt secretary, Alexander Gibson treasurer.
Class of 2018: Hanley Elliott president; Clara Chedzoy vice-president, Paige Robbins secretary, Simon Wigmore treasurer.
Class of 2019: Wyatt Brower president, Joseph Chedzoy vice-president, Allison Gibson secretary, Dylan Markley treasurer.

Photos in text:

Top: Keith Rekczis makes his way toward the stage to receive one of several awards he won.
Second: Lucas Wickham is presented the George Eastman Young Leaders award..
Third: Amanda Cherock after receiving the Francis W. Blake Sportsmanship Award.
Fourth: Bryce De La Osa Cruz, winner of the Seneca Football Award.

Schuyler Scholars dinner set for June 17

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 2 -- The Schuyler Scholars Dinner for the Class of 2015 will be held at 6 p.m. June 17 at the Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen.

This event recognizes the top 10 percent of students graduating this year from the Bradford, Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen school districts. Each student will receive a plaque recognizing his or her achievement.

The event will feature two speakers: Joe Thomas, Professor of Operations Management at the Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University; and Ellie Fausold, a former Schuyler Scholar and during her high school career a three-time member of the Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding scholar-athlete-citizens. She later earned a BA with honors in Public Policy at Hamilton College, and now works for DC Greens, a nonprofit organization that uses the power of partnerships to support food education, access and policy in the nation's capital.

Ears were covered as the howitzer boomed.

A booming history lesson

Re-enactors bring Civil War alive for O-M students

ODESSA, May 26 -- The sound of a cannon being fired could be heard and felt in the vicinity of the Odessa-Montour Junior-Senior High School Tuesday -- the most emphatic of many points brought home to the school's 7th and 8th graders regarding the War Between the States, better known as the Civil War.

Re-enactors from the Binghamton and Odessa areas set up tents as they would have appeared during the war years of 1861-1865, and had on hand utensils, tools and weaponry from the era of that conflict.

The day, arranged by history teacher Marc Kimmerly in conjunction with Superintendent Chris Wood and members of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War and that organization's Auxiliary, gave students -- primarily 7th graders but with some 8th graders invited too -- an eyes-on look at the era. The Civil War is on the 7th graders' radar as part of their studies this year.

Learning stations run by re-enactors in Civil War uniforms -- infantry, cavalry and artillery, each denoted by different colored uniform stripes -- were set up at three locations behind the O-M athletic field bleachers. At one, for instance, Gary Chapin of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War's Catlin Camp of Odessa joined Marie Decker of the group's Auxiliary in explaining a soldier's camping existence and in demonstrating the tools soldiers used in that era. Also available was a drink the military favored -- a concoction of apple cider vinegar, ginger, molasses, brown sugar and water, called various things, including Switchel.

Chief spokesman for the re-enactment was Douglas Deuel, commander of the Sons organization's Col. David Ireland Camp 137 of Binghamton. He is also a member of the Catlin Camp. He was showing students some of the weapons used in Civil War combat, including a rifle with a bayonet. One smaller item was a mini-ball, a sizable musket bullet which would shatter victims' bones when it struck them, and contributed mightily to the loss of limbs in battlefield surgeries. He pointed out, too, that of 620,000 casualties in the Civil War, more than half were caused by disease and inadequate shelter.

And to drive home the impact of war, he had with him his own personal cannon, an 1841 howitzer that he and fellow re-enactors lit for each group of students ushered out to the encampment site throughout the school day. One couple with him, Mary and Ed Welser of Maine, NY -- which is located near Binghamton -- have been lighting cannons like this at shows and educational programs for years. Now 86, Ed stood by and simply delivered the explosive charge to Deuel before each cannon firing.

The sound of each blast was stunning, as much felt as heard, as a ball of flame shot out the cannon barrel, along with a sudden cloud of thick smoke. "Make sure you leave your mouth open," Deuel told students before each blast, because that would help mitigate the shock. "And don't stick your fingers in your ears. That could turn out badly." Presumably someone, at sometime in the past, had reacted by jamming the covering fingers too deeply into the ear canal.

A couple of students were actually involved in the daylong presentation -- children of re-enactor Ted Dudgeon, who had helped coordinate the day. His son Casey, a 5th grader, was in a Union uniform, while Casey's sister Samantha, a 7th grader, was in a long gown emblematic of the Civil War period.

Deuel and the Welsers have been going around to schools and official re-enactments -- and been marching in parades -- for almost 15 years. This week they were doing two parades, and visiting three schools.

This was their first-ever visit to O-M, said Deuel.

Photos in text: Marie Decker explains the living quarters of a Civil War soldier; a bayonet-clad musket rests among soldiering supplies.

Left: Douglas Deuel shows to students a notebook full of ribbons won by him and his fellow re-enactors at Civil War competitions. Right: Ed Welser, who has been firing cannon during re-enactments for many years.

Re-enactor Gary Chapin tells students about some tools and other objects used by soldiers in the Civil War era.

Members of the High School Chorus sing "Royals," one of four songs they performed.

O-M presents its High School Spring Concert

ODESSA, May 27 -- The Odessa-Montour High School Band and Chorus presented their Spring Concert Tuesday night in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium. Also performing was a combined student-adult Women's Choir, singing "Danny Boy."

The band performed "March of the Belgian Paratroopers," "Yorkshire Ballad" and "The Irish Washerwoman."

The chorus performed "All Ye Who Music Love," "Royals," "What a Wonderful World" and "Shut de Do." Sally Michel served as accompanist.


Photo in text: Members of the O-M High School Band perform "The Irish Washerwoman."

The O-M Women's Choir sings "Danny Boy."

Somerville on Dean's List at West Point

WEST POINT, N.Y., May 22 -- Cadet Brett Somerville, son of James and Kristine Somerville of Watkins Glen, has been named to the Dean’s List for the Spring Semester -- January through May -- at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

To earn this distinction, a cadet must maintain a 3.0 average in all courses. The West Point curriculum offers 37 majors balancing physical sciences and engineering with humanities and social sciences leading to a Bachelor of Science degree. Cadet Somerville is majoring is Engineering Psychology and will earn a minor in Civil Engineering.

Somerville graduated from Watkins Glen High School in 2012 and will be commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation at West Point.

Photo in text: Cadet Brett Somerville (Photo provided)

Health-care scholarships deadline nearing

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 23 -- Applications must be postmarked by May 30, 2015 for $1,000 scholarships the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary is awarding 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.

Applications may be found on-line at by clicking on the media release at the top right. Applications may also be picked up at high school guidance offices, and the Hospital’s Human Resources office.

For more information, email, or contact Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary member Joan Argetsinger at (607) 535-6622.

The 5th-6th Grade Chorus combined with the 7th-8th Grade Chorus for two songs.

WGHS presents its Spring Concert

WATKINS GLEN, May 21 -- Watkins Glen High School held its annual Spring Concert Wednesday night, drawing a capacity crowd to the school auditorium.

Bands and choruses from the 5th through 12th grades performed, drawing repeatedly loud and sustained applause.

The 5th-6th Grade Band performed "This Old Band," "Siyahamba," "Rockin' Robin" and "Freedom's March," and then combined with the 7th-8th Grade Band for "Happy" from the film Despicable Me 2. Then the 7th-8th Grade Band played "Grand Canyon Overture," "Joy," and "Raiders March" from the film Raiders of the Lost Ark. 8th Grade Band members then played "Some Nights."

The 5th-6th Grade Chorus sang selected songs from "Oklahoma," and then offered "Consider Yourself." It then combined with the 7th-8th Grade Chorus for "Shenandoah" and "I'll Be There."

The High School Band played "All Glory Told," a Gustav Holst concert band selection, music from "Wicked," and "Prestissimo."

The High School Chorus concluded the evening with "Waitin' for the Light to Shine," "Over the Rainbow," "Africa," "Loves Me Like a Rock," and "Corner of the Sky."

Sarahjane Harrigan was the 5th-6th Grade Band director. Diana Groll directed the 7th-8th Grade and High School Bands. Matthew Craig was the choral director, with Sally Michel serving as accompanist.

There was also a student art show in the hallway outside the auditorium under the auspices of art teachers Dawn Coleman and Elaine Wojtus.

Photos in text: Claire McManus (top) plays violin in the High School Band; and members of the High School Chorus sing "Waitin' for the Light to Shine."

Left: Members of the combined 5th-6th Grade and 7th-8th Grade bands.
Right: In the horn section of the 7th-8th Grade Band.

Among the senior honorees were Victoria Wixson, left, receiving a certificate from Superintendent Tom Phillips, and Lucy Craig, right.

WGHS ceremony honors Top 10%

WATKINS GLEN, May 19 -- Forty-seven Watkins Glen High School students in grades 9 through 12 were honored Tuesday night for achieving academic status in the Top 10% of their respective classes.

The honors were based on academics for the current school year only. The ceremony took place in the WGHS cafeteria.

Each honoree received a certificate that read: "Watkins Glen High School is pleased to recognize (name). In honor of outstanding academic achievement as part of the Top Ten Percent of the Class of (Year). For the school year 2014-2015."

Introductory remarks were issued by High School Principal Kai D'Alleva, and closing remarks by Superintendent Tom Phillips. Guest speaker was Darcy L. Wood, a lawyer and Labor Relations Specialist who graduated from WGHS in 2002. She is currently employed by GST BOCES.

She said three things she learned in high school that she uses today are Perseverance, Integrity and Versatility.

"To persevere is to succeed," she said, adding that integrity comes from "a moral compass that you all have within you. Go with your heart and go with your head, trusting your moral compass" in challenging situations.

Versatility, she said, means "to adapt to a situation. I was and am able to fit into many different situations and settings," and so can the students. "Treat everyone with the same respect. It will serve you well."

Superintendent Phillips distributed the certificates to the honorees. The recipients:

Freshmen: Emilia Bond, Clara Chedzoy, Gabriella Decker, Hanley Elliott, Mariah Gonzalez, Meghan Hayes, Torie Hill, Ryanna LaMoreaux, Wyatt Mosher, Tanner Ryan, Jazmin Shea, Julian Thornton, Trevor Thurston and Kaitlyn Valla.

Sophomores: Jacob Carocci, Ruthe Gardner, Sara Gardner, Alexander Gibson, Rong Hang Lin, Joelle Slater, Payton Watson, Cambria Weeden and Phebe Wickham.

Juniors: Emma Allington, Margaret Bond, Claire McManus, Katherine Meehan, Brenen Murphy, Brandon Pike, Cheyenne Stansfield, Portia Wells and Lucas Wickham.

Seniors: Lucy Craig, LynnAnn Caslin, Colin DeMeritt, Mikayla Elliott, Luke Flahive, Alexandria Gardner, Kalea Jones, Alexandra Joslyn, Dean Laughlin Jr., Tamijah Lawton-Stone, Lydia Myers, Courtney Perrone, Halle Phillips, Elizabeth Reed and Victoria Wixson.

Photos in text:

Top: Sophomore Phebe Wickham receives a certificate from Superintendent Tom Phillips.
Middle: Guest speaker Darcy Wood, a 2002 graduate of WGHS and now an attorney.
Bottom: Junior Katherine Meehan is presented her certificate by the superintendent.

Sophomore Cambria Weeden receives her certificate from Superintendent Tom Phillips. High School Principal Kai D'Alleva is in the background.

The freshmen present to receive certificates were, from left, Trevor Thurston, Gabi Decker, Hanley Elliott, Meghan Hayes and Torie Hill.

7th graders plan water-project celebration

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, May 14 -- Watkins Glen seventh-graders will close a successful fundraising campaign for the Water for South Sudan charity with a celebration, planned for 8:15 a.m. May 22 at the High School football field. Lynn Malooly, the U.S. Executive Director of Water for South Sudan, will be the keynote speaker at the event.

During the fall, seventh-graders read A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, which tells the story of Nya, an 11-year-old girl in South Sudan who must travel two hours from her home twice a day to get the only water available for her family. The book also tells the story of Salva Dut, founder of Water for South Sudan.

After reading the story, students were inspired to take action and decided to lead the district in a fundraising campaign for the charity. Their goal was to raise $15,000, which is the amount it takes to build a well for a village in South Sudan. They made more than 48 presentations within the district in a single day, spoke to community organizations, sent letters to local businesses and held several fundraising events.

“This group of less than 100 seventh-grade students had such a powerful impact on this generous community that the funds were raised in just over four months,” said Tammy Kellogg, seventh grade-advisor.

Kellogg said the response of district families and the entire community was impressive. Although students reached their fundraising goal in March, they waited for warm weather to hold a district-wide celebration for their feat. The public is invited to attend.

The latest National Honor Society inductees after Wednesday's ceremony.

WGHS welcomes 15 into Honor Society

WATKINS GLEN, May 14 -- Fifteen Watkins Glen High School students were inducted Wednesday evening into the school's chapter of the National Honor Society.

The ceremony took place before family and friends in the school auditorium, with veteran Society members onstage providing introductory speeches about each inductee.

Joining the Society -- which already had 36 members -- were Ashley Gardner, Sonja Pruitt, Madeleine Ross, Allison Teed, Jacob Carocci, Ruthe Gardner, Sara Gardner, Patrick Hazlitt, Courtney Irwin, Abigail Miller, Sara Morrisette, Brienna Solomon, Cambria Weeden, Phebe Wickham and Payton Watson. After each was introduced, he or she donned a ceremonial robe.

They joined members Abigail Rundle, Alexandria Gardner, Alexis Gonzalez, Ashley Palmer, Bernadette Osborne, Brandon Pike, Brenen Murphy, Brooke Shaffer, Cheyenne Stansfield, Claire McManus, Colin DeMeritt, Elizabeth Reed, Halle Phillips, Ian Chedzoy, Jon Brown, Justine Hulbert, Katherine Meehan, Kalea Jones, Keith Rekczis, Keziah Fraboni, Lucas Wickham, Lucy Craig, Luke Flahive, Lydia Myers, LynnAnn Caslin, Madison Gates, Maggie Bond, Megan Dupuy, Megan Hoy, Mikayla Elliott, Noah Wigmore, Portia Wells, Samantha Bradley, Tamijah Lawton-Stone, Taylor Kennard and Taylor Yaw.

A piano prelude was performed by Taylor Kennard. During the ceremony, NHS President Colin DeMeritt, Vice President Halle Phillips and members LynnAnn Caslin and Lucy Craig lit candles signifying the four qualities of the NHS: Leadership, Scholarship, Service and Character.

Phillips also presented a $250 check on behalf of the National Honor Society to the Defense for Devon foundation, in memory of WGHS graduate Devon Shaw, who died of cancer nearly two years ago. Devon's sister, Kendra Shaw, and mother, Diana Crane, accepted it. Another $250 is being donated by the NHS to the Humane Society of Schuyler County.

Photos in text:

Top: From left, inductees Sara Gardner, Abigail Miller and Courtney Irwin.

Second: From left, inductees Sonja Pruitt, Patrick Hazlitt and Jacob Carocci.

Third: From left, inductees Brienna Solomon, Ashley Gardner and Madeleine Ross.

Fourth: From left, inductees Allison Teed, Phebe Wickham and Sara Morrissette.

Bottom: From left, inductees Ruthe Gardner, Payton Watson and Cambria Weeden.

Candles play a key role in National Honor Society ceremonies.

BOCES students place at HOSA event

Special to The Odessa File

HORSEHEADS, May 7 -- GST BOCES students from the New Visions Health Careers Exploration and Nurse Assisting programs at the Bush Education Center and the New Visions Medical program at the Coopers Education Center competed in the New York State HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) conference on April 15-17 in Syracuse. Students placed in the following categories:

First Place, Biomedical Debate: Shelby Brost (Elmira), Lucy Craig (Watkins Glen), Sierra Barr (Elmira), Aleena Jamison (Edison)

First Place, Creative Problem Solving: Danielle Fuller-Sincock (Horseheads), Carolyn O’Mara (Horseheads), Sara McCawley (Horseheads), Emily Thomas (Elmira)

First Place, Public Service Announcement: Yassine Dahlek (Horseheads), Allyson Marshall (Horseheads), Paige Bailey (Horseheads), Kurt Walburn (Horseheads)

First Place and a $1000 scholarship, Public Health: Shelby Brost (Elmira), Sierra Barr (Elmira), Aleena Jamison (Edison)

First Place, Job Seeking Skills: Paige Bailey (Horseheads)

First Place, Healthy Lifestyles: Sarah Turck (Elmira)

First Place, Researched Persuasive Speaking: Kurt Walburn (Horseheads)

First Place, Transcultural Health Care: Madeline Ustanik (Corning-Painted Post)

Second Place, Creative Problem Solving: Lucy Craig (Watkins Glen), Justine Hulbert (Watkins Glen), Olivia O’Shell (Horseheads)

Second Place, Extemporaneous Writing: Jenna Post (Edison)

Second Place, Extemporaneous Health Poster: Kasandra Snyder (Odessa-Montour)

Second Place, Medical Terminology: Francesco Summa (Corning-Painted Post)

Second Place, Medical Reading: Alison Clark (Corning-Painted Post)

Third Place, Biomedical Debate: Danielle Fuller-Sincock (Horseheads), Yassine Dahlek (Horseheads), Carolyn O’Mara (Horseheads), Emily Thomas (Elmira)

Third Place, Job Seeking Skills: Carissa Hamilton (Horseheads)

Third Place, Transcultural Health Care: Sydney Rutkoski (Corning-Painted Post)

Third Place, Medical Terminology: Alexandra Carl (Corning-Painted Post)

Third Place, Growth and Development: Sarah Allen (Corning-Painted Post)

The Bradford "Diamond Head Hibiscuses," Schuyler County-winning Envirothon team. From left: Elizabeth McIlwain, Jesse English, Kara Waters, Derek Sorber and Brooke Scott.

Bradford wins Envirothon; O-M second

Special to The Odessa File

OWEGO, May 3 -- Bradford Central School was the Schuyler County winner of the Regional Envirothon held at the Tioga County Sportsmen’s Center on Thursday, April 30, barely defeating Odessa-Montour for the second year in a row.

The "Diamond Head Hibiscuses" (Elizabeth McIlwain, Jesse English, Katra Waters, Derek Sorber and Brooke Scott) came in first out of seven teams from Schuyler County and were fifth overall out of the 33 teams competing from five counties: Schuyler, Chemung, Broome, Tioga and Tompkins.

One Watkins Glen student, Colton Arcangeli, was on the winning team for Chemung County, the "Wicked Weasels" of GST (Greater Southern Tier) BOCES. This team also came in second overall.

The "Hibiscuses" will represent Schuyler County at the New York State Envirothon at Hobart & William Smith Colleges on May 27 and 28, while "The Wicked Weasels" will represent Chemung County.

The Odessa-Montour "Otters" -- Nina Linton, Callie Stillman, Tela Wittig, Hailie Searles and Autumn Taylor -- were this year’s Schuyler County second-place team, and were sixth overall out of the 33 teams. The O-M "Martens" (Jerry Jordan, Gage Sayre, Madison Lodge and Bryce Elliott) came in third in the county. Three other Schuyler County students -- Tory Pries of O-M, Cody Austic of Watkins Glen and Zach Roorda of Horseheads -- were on two other teams for (GST) BOCES.

This outdoor education event, organized by the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, saw 36 Schuyler students participating this year. Battling for the chance to represent their county at the statewide event, the students’ knowledge was put to the test as the teams completed tough exams in Aquatics, Soils, Forestry, Wildlife, and this year’s Current Issue: "Urban/Community Forestry." One of the purposes of the Envirothon program is for participants to develop a greater appreciation of human dependence on the natural environment.

Essential support for the Envirothon is provided by the school science teachers, the school districts and also local businesses who donate funds for financial support. This year’s Schuyler County Envirothon sponsors, to date, are: Cotton-Hanlon Inc., Watkins Glen Elks Lodge #1546, Sawmill Creek Vineyards, Reisinger’s Apple Country, Lakewood Vineyards, Montour Falls Moose Lodge #426, David L. Sidle Insurance Agency, Specchio Ford, and the Watkins Glen Fire Company.

The Bradford teams are coached by high school science teacher Rebecca Schrader; the Odessa- Montour teams by science teacher Doug Chapman; and the BOCES teams by Don MacNaighton.

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.

Photos in text:

Top: The Odessa Montour "Otters," second-place Envirothon team for Schuyler County. From left: Nina Linton, Callie Stillman, Tela Wittig, Hailie Searles and Autumn Taylor.

Bottom: The O-M Martens, third-place team for Schuyler County. From left: Jerry Jordan, Gage Sayre, Madison Lodge and Bryce Elliott. (Photos provided)

The Odessa-Montour and Bradford Central School Envirothon participants pose for a group photo. (Photo provided)

WG School Board plans budget hearing

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, April 30 -- The Watkins Glen Central School District Board of Education will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2015-16 budget at 5:45 p.m. May 5. The meeting will be held in the Board of Education room at the High School.

The board has proposed a $25,557,076 budget for 2015-16. If the budget is approved, homeowners in the district could expect an estimated tax increase of about $ 0.11 per thousand dollars of assessed value. The proposed budget would add an additional art teacher and increase the district’s technology coordinator from a part-time to full-time position.

District residents will vote on the budget from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 19 in the Board of Education room at the High School.

Hospital Auxiliary offers scholarships

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, April 29 -- The Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary is offering scholarships to students who plan to enter the health care field.

$1,000 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.

Applications may be found on-line at, by clicking on the media release at the top right. Applications may also be picked up at high school guidance offices, the Hospital’s Human Resources office – located inside the new Main Entrance of the Hospital.

Applications must be postmarked by May 30, 2015.

For more information, email, or contact Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary member Joan Argetsinger at (607) 535-6622.

Candidate lineups set for Board elections

SCHUYLER COUNTY, April 20 -- There are five candidates running for three seats on the Odessa-Montour School Board, and four candidates running for two seats on the Watkins Glen School Board in the May 19 elections.

Terms are for three years.

Petitions were filed at O-M by incumbents Robert Halpin (the board president, pictured at right) and Karen Rock, and by newcomers Debora Fellwock, Todd Martens and Jeff Parmenter. Incumbent Damita Chamberlain is not seeking re-election.

Petitions at Watkins Glen were filed by incumbent Kelly McCarthy along with Jim Somerville, Barbara Schimizzi and Kristina Hansen. Not seeking re-election: incumbent Michael Myers, the board president.

Elections are held the same day as the vote on school district budgets. Voting at Watkins Glen takes place from 9 a.m.-8 p.m., while voting at O-M is from 12 noon-8 p.m.

Photo in text: O-M School Board president Robert Halpin (File photo)

Reed proposes 'Opt Out' legislation

Special to The Odessa File

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 20 -- Congressman Tom Reed announced legislation Monday that would empower parents to opt their children out of Common Core testing without any negative repercussions on teachers or their local school district.

The legislation, Reed said, is designed to prevent states from reducing levels of funding to school districts simply because parents have opted their children out of Common Core testing.

Reed made the following statement:

“I support the right of parents to make decisions regarding the education of their children. Parents should play an active role in determining what standardized tests their children take. Tens of thousands of parents have already opted their children out of required public school testing, a protest against Common Core curriculum and the philosophy of `teaching to the test.’ This action has sent a clear message to lawmakers: parents should decide what is in their child’s best interest, not bureaucrats in Albany or Washington.

"I care about our local students, teachers, and taxpayers. Local school districts should not be penalized simply because taxpayers are exercising their parental rights. It is not fair that local school districts could be designated as 'failing' or lose funding due to higher opt-out numbers. This legislation protects property taxpayers by ensuring that teachers, administrators, and school districts will not be adversely affected by opting students out of the Common Core tests.”

Chamber scholarship topic: Project Seneca

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, March 31 --As in years past, the Business and Education Committee of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce is offering a $1,000 scholarship to high school
seniors in the Bradford, Odessa-Montour, and Watkins Glen schools, and home school students in the respective districts. To apply, students must complete an application and submit a response to the topic selected by the committee by April 10.

The 2015 topic is Project Seneca.

Applicants must select a project within the Project Seneca plan that is currently in progress, a project that is already written into the plan, or a project that he or she would like to see incorporated into the plan.

Applicants must then answer the following questions in their response:

1) How will this specific project benefit the community?
2) Will Project Seneca impact the future decisions you make in terms of where you will settle down after graduation?

Applicants may use one of three options to answer the topic questions: a 500-1500 word essay, a 3-5 minute video, or a 4-12 slide slideshow.

Completed applications and accompanying responses must be submitted by April 10 to the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, 214 North Franklin Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

For additional information, phone Katie Strawser at the Chamber at (607) 535-4300 or email:

Participating students display Leadership Awards they earned in the training. (Photo provided)

Students design programs to combat underage substance use in Schuyler

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, March 30 -- Twenty students from Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen Central School Districts came together on March 25 and March 26 for a 12-hour, interactive youth empowerment training -- where they learned the harmful effects of underage drinking, drug and alcohol refusal skills, and how to design, implement, and evaluate a drug prevention program.

Students were also taught leadership, advocacy and social marketing skills to help them reduce underage substance use in Schuyler County.

This training was sponsored by the Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) and was made possible by funding provided by the federal Drug-Free Communities grant awarded to SCCUDD late last year.

During the second day of the training, students broke into small groups and designed drug prevention programs to address underage substance use in Schuyler County. Student programs ranged from information dissemination campaigns to drug-free alternate activities for youth.

SCCUDD plans to help implement the programs the students designed, organizers said.

The mission of SCCUDD is to prevent, reduce and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities and implementing environmental strategies. SCCUDD’s vision is a connected community where youth have education and resources and drug-free options to help in their journey to happy and healthy adulthood.

In working toward this mission, SCCUDD leaders say, the organization needs the help of the entire community.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at

Bond named to Dean's List at Rochester

Special to The Odessa File

ROCHESTER, NY, March 26 -- Sarah Elizabeth Bond, a senior majoring in biochemistry at the University of Rochester, has been named to the Dean’s List for academic achievement for the fall 2014 semester.

Bond , a resident of Watkins Glen, NY, is the child of Christopher and Michelle Bond, and a graduate of Watkins Glen High School.

The University of Rochester, founded in 1850, is a private research university. It offers an undergraduate curriculum, with no required courses, that emphasizes a broad liberal education through majors, minors, and course “clusters”—a Rochester innovation—in the three main areas of knowledge: humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences/engineering. The University (on the Web at is also home to the Eastman School of Music as well as graduate professional schools of business, education, medicine, and nursing.

Student Kelsey Kernan sings "Sweet Dreams." Accompanying on keyboard in the background is teacher Matthew Craig.

Artists-in-residence program culminates with WG concert

WATKINS GLEN, March 25 -- An annual program that has brought music to students in the Watkins Glen School District now for 24 years -- and let their voices and instruments soar in the process -- concluded its 2015 version Tuesday night with a concert by 7th, 8th and 9th graders in the high school auditorium.

The artist-in-residence program -- whereby musicians Katie McShane and Rosie Newton spend weeks instructing students in whatever area of music the students want -- showcased the talents of more than two-dozen musically gifted students on its final evening of this year. The gathering was billed as "An Evening of Music With Katie McShane & Rosie Newton in partnership with Watkins Glen Central Schools."

Adding texture to the evening was the presence of the man who served as artist-in-residence for 21 years before handing the duty to McShane and Newton three years ago: Hank Roberts, famed cellist from Ithaca. And he was there for an emotional reason: it was the final program overseen by 8th grade Watkins Glen science teacher Jim Murphy, who will retire at the end of the school year.

Roberts -- often busy with touring and recording -- had worked with Murphy for all of those 21 years, since Murphy started the program in a small fashion, with a grant that enabled him to bring one musician into the classroom to teach "The Science of Music." The program grew over the years, with Roberts spending weeks each year at this time with Middle Schoolers. Now that the Middle School is closed, the program has grown to incorporate students in 7th through 12th grades.

"I wanted to be here for Jim, this being his last year," said Roberts, who said he personally recruited McShane -- a former student of his at Ithaca College -- and Newton, "who I knew from around the musical community" in Ithaca. "I hoped they would work well together, and they do. They've done a marvelous job here."

Newton, still of Ithaca, and McShane, who has moved to the Boston area and is teaching music part-time there while "between master's programs," spent their first couple of weeks this time with 10th through 12th graders -- a talented group who presented a similar concert two weeks ago. Then the musical tandem turned to the 7th through 9th graders, carrying their talents to Tuesday night's show.. An assembly earlier in the day featured a cross section of both grade groups, "a sort of All-Star" presentation, McShane said.

"The kids are amazing," she said. "Just show them a little support, and they can do some great things."

The students who participate choose to do so -- approach McShane and Newton with an idea of what music they want to perform. And by the time they reach their concert, they are uniformly polished in their presentations.

At Tuesday night's gathering, the following students performed: Conlin Wysocki, McKala VanBrocklin, Johanna VanEtten, Jordan Barrett, Maddie Suddaby, Boryana Bond, Enqi Lin, Scott Brubaker, Kacey & Kassidy Samuels, Katlyn Kernan, Jordyn Barrett, Kai Pittman, Andrea Heskell, Olivia Lattin, Kelsey Kernan, Paige Robbins, Kendra Cornish, Jazmin Shea, Allison Gibson, Annika Wickham, Hannah Morse, Wyatt Brower, Wrett Brower, Kris Ayers, Calvin Buckley and Dayne Hughey.

There were solo vocal performances; a piano duet; a five-member band; Roberts performing with teacher Sarahjane Harrigan; Roberts performing with Murphy (a dulcimer player), accompanying teacher and guitarist Travis Durfee as he sang a song of his own composition; and, ultimately, a gathering of all the musicians on stage for a rousing rendition of "We'll Meet Again":

"We'll meet again.
Don't know where, don't know when.
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day."

According to McShane, she and Newton will indeed meet again with students next year. "Yes," she said. "That's certainly the plan." As for who might succeed Murphy as the program coordinator, she pointed toward Durfee. "I'm hoping he carries the banner for the program," she said.

Will he? "Well, I don't know that I'll run it," he said. "But I'll certainly be involved; do what I can to help. It's a great program."

Photos in text:

From top: Program instructors Rosie Newton (left) and Katie McShane; cellist Hank Roberts (foreground) and teacher Jim Murphy; teacher Travis Durfee.

Left: Hannah Morse sings "The Games People Play," with Katie McShane accompanying. Right: Allison Gibson and Annika Wickham performed a piano duet, "Lips Are Moving."

An instrumental arrangement of "You Raise Me Up" was performed by Paige Robbins, Kendra Cornish and Jazmin Shea.

Left: Andrea Heskell sings "Just A Dream." Right: Olivia Lattin sings "My Heart Will Go On."

The musical group North Country performed "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," with vocals by Wyatt Brower, left. Other members: Wrett Brower, Kris Ayers, Dayne Hughey and Calvin Buckley.

SFLW to raise scholarship funds with BBQ

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, March 19 -- The Southern Finger Lakes Women (SFLW), a chapter of New York State Women, Inc., will hold a chicken barbecue on Sunday, April 26 at the Montour Falls Moose Lodge.

The proceeds will benefit the SFLW scholarship fund. For $8, diners receive a half chicken dinner, complete with baked beans, salad, rolls and dessert. A chicken plate, consisting of a half chicken and roll & butter, is $6. Takeouts are available.

The barbecues will be served starting at 12 noon and continue until sold out. Advance ticket holders must pick up dinner by 1:00 p.m. For tickets or further information, contact Southern Finger Lakes Women at

From left: Fiona (Lydia Myers), Shrek (Chase Richtmyer), Donkey (Abigail Rundle)
and Dragon (Phebe Wickham) at play's end.

Shrek ends its run at WGHS

WATKINS GLEN, March 22, 2015 -- The Watkins Glen High School Senior Show, "Shrek the Musical," was presented for the third and final time Sunday -- a matinee performance in the school auditorium.

The play, directed by Tim and Michelle Benjamin, featured iconic characters like the ogre Shrek (Chase Richtmyer, sophomore), Princess Fiona (Lydia Myers, senior), Donkey (Abigail Rundle, senior), and Lord Farquaad (Alexis Atchie, sophomore).

They were joined by some popular fairy tale characters, including:

--Pinocchio (Mikayla Elliott, senior);
--Gingy (Justine Hulbert, senior);
--Dragon (Phebe Wickham, sophomore);
--Big Bad Wolf (Keziah Fraboni, senior);
--Wicked Witch (Mikayla Rhoads, junior);
--Humpty Dumpty (Portia Wells, junior), and
--The Three Pigs (Joelle Slater, sophomore; Nateah Cornish and Sydney VanAlstine, juniors).

The cast of 30 ranged from 7th to 12th graders.

The backstage crew included Renee Riley (vocal coach), Stephanie Rhoads (assistant and makeup coordinator), Tammy Cole and Dee Huey (costume designers), Lisa Stefanowich McKnight (stunt coordinator), Cassie Osborne (stage manager), Amanda Osborne (properties manager), Shawn Rutledge (sound coordinator), Liz Mason (lighting manager), Brooke Shaffer (art design), and Lydia Myers, Mikayla Elliott, Abigail Rundle, Justine Hulbert and Portia Wells (student choreographers).

The pit band featured Tom Bloodgood, Bernie Riley, Samantha Riley, Dennis Morris, Lou Cicconi and Andy Stevenson. Sarah Matthews was the music director.

The show was presented by the Watkins Glen High School Class of 2015.


Photos in text:

Top: Lydia Myers as Princess Fiona during a usical number.

Middle: Justine Hulbert as Gingy performs acrobatic flips across the stage.

Bottom: The Three Blind Mice. From left: Sydney VanAlstine, Joelle Slater and Nateah Cornish.

Alexis Atchie as Lord Farquaad leads a musical number.

Pinocchio (Mikayla Elliott) and Gingy (Justine Hulbert)

The 7-member pit band included, from left, Samantha Riley, Dennis Morris and Bernie Riley. The music director was Sarah Matthews.

Left: Cast member Brooke Shaffer. Right: Band member Tom Bloodgood.

Fiona (Lydia Myers, front left) on the verge of marrying Farquaad (Alexis Atchie) with a Bishop (Wrett Brower) officiating.

Left: Portia Wells as Humpty Dumpty. Right: Phebe Wickham as Dragon.

Left: Donkey (Abigail Rundle) watches Shrek (Chase Richtmyer) and Fiona (Lydia Myers) at their campfire. Right: Shrek and Fiona.

Taylor Kennard as the Sugar Plum Fairy belts out a song.

On opening night:

Lydia Myers, as Princess Fiona, leads a dance number on opening night Friday.

Abigail Rundle as Donkey straight-arms Chase Richtmyer, who portrays Shrek.

Young Fiona (Cheyenne Stansfield, center), Teen Fiona (Ruthe Gardner, left) and a grown Fiona (Lydia Myers, right) sing "I Know It's Today."

From left: Shrek (Chase Richtmyer) towers over Farquaad (Alexis Atchie); Fiona (Lydia Myers) sings; and Shrek (Richtmyer) sings..

Left: Mikayla Elliott as Pinocchio. Right: The conclusion of a musical number including Donkey (Abigail Rundle, left center) and Dragon (Phebe Wickham, in red), along with dancers.

Alexis Atchie as Farquaad along with members of Farquaad's guard.

And earlier in the week:

Abigail Rundle as Donkey, left, and Chase Richtmyer as Shrek during rehearsal Monday.

The "Shrek" cast performed for the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club at its weekly luncheon Thursday. Performers included, from left, Lydia Myers, Mikayla Elliott and Abigail Rundle.

Also among the performers at the luncheon were Chase Richtmyer and Phebe Wickham.

Left: Emma Raymond and Manley Gavich. Right: Lexi Skinner and James Terry.

O-M students strut fashions at show

ODESSA, March 6 -- More than three dozen Odessa-Montour students donned prom garb Friday for a fashion show in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.

The show, an annual event featuring gowns from David's Bridal and tuxedos from Men's Wearhouse -- with girls' hairstyles by the Simply Your Best salon -- had an incentive: a discount in prom rentals for show participants.

Those participants, most of whom walked twice aross the stage in pairs, included the following:

Vicky Ayers-Zack Griswold, Courtney Brown-Luke Eberhardt, Gabby Cain-Billy Bacon, Brooke Collins-Joe Raymond, Amy Fudala-Ryan Taylor, Henna Herrmann-Jeremiah Holley, Samantha House-Logan Barrett, Nina Linton-R.C. Brown, Maddie Lodge-Joel Kelly, Sarah Norton-Brian McLean, Emma Raymond-Manley Gavich, Addi Rhodes-Tyler Clark, Dana Roberts-Zack Pyhtila, Makayla Rought-Andrew Goldman, Olivia Scata-Joe Rorick, Hailie Searles-Ryan Marsh, Lexi Skinner-James Terry, Kassie Snyder-Anthony Humphries, Callie Stillman-Chris Foote, Tela Wittig-Bryce Elliott, Caitlyn Lawton, and youngsters Ella Kramer and Vanessa Wood.

Photo in text: Samantha House and Logan Barrett.

Left: Nina Linton and R.C. Brown. Right: Callie Stillman and Chris Foote.

Left: Tela Wittig and Bryce Elliott. Right: Olivia Scata and Joe Rorick.

Left: Courtney Brown and Luke Eberhardt. Right: Henna Herrmann and Jeremiah Holley.

Left: Addi Rhodes and Tyler Clark. Right: Amy Fudala and Ryan Taylor.

2 join Sign Language Honor Society

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, March 6 -- Watkins Glen High School seniors Samantha Bradley and Alexandria Gardner recently were inducted into the American Sign Language (ASL) Honor Society.

Bradley and Gardner are in their third year of ASL study by video conference, taught from Syracuse. They earned the ASLHS Honor Cord, which means they earned a 3.5 GPA in all ASL courses and an overall GPA of 3.2 in other coursework. In addition, Bradley and Gardner completed five community service hours. Both girls learned to sign children’s stories and held events at the public library. In addition to telling the story, they taught some signs to the children in attendance.

Gardner is the daughter of Brian and Denise Gardner. She plans to attend Corning Community College after graduation. Bradley is the daughter of Scott and Tammy Bradley. She plans to attend SUNY Brockport in the fall.

The American Sign Language Honor Society (ASLHS) is an official program established by ASLTA, the only national organization of ASL teachers. ASLHS was established to encourage high academic achievement at all levels of ASL study.

Photo in text: Superintendent Tom Phillips congratulates Samantha Bradley while Alexandria Gardner looks on. Both students recently were inducted into the American Sign Language Honor Society. (Photo provided)

Student artwork on display in March

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, March 3, 2015 -- Approximately 250 works of art created by Watkins Glen Central School District students will be on display in the community as part of National Youth Art Month.

The works were submitted by art teachers Dawn Coleman and Elaine Wotjus and selected for display by the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.

Artwork by Watkins Glen students will be on display at Schuyler Hospital, O’Susannah’s Quilts and Gifts, the Schuyler County Human Services Complex, The Schuyler County Courthouse Complex, the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce and the Watkins Glen Library.

Throughout the region, 54 businesses, financial institutions, hospitals, cultural institutions, libraries and civic organizations will display student artwork during March in support of arts instruction in the Southern Finger Lakes.

A slideshow of images, searchable map of exhibit locations, list of exhibits alphabetized by school, and information about a faculty exhibit are available by clicking here.

Talk topic: 'Stop Parenting, Start Coaching'

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 27 -- Parents of students in the Watkins Glen Central School District are invited to learn how to take a more active role in their child’s life and education by attending “Stop Parenting, Start Coaching,” presented by Professor Joe Martin. The presentation will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 12 in the Elementary School auditorium. The event is free and open to all parents in the Watkins Glen school district.

Martin will outline five strategies that parents can use to build trust, connect with, resolve conflict with, and better prepare their children for the rigors of school and everyday life. He also will teach parents how to motivate their children without lecturing and threats, and how to connect with a child who is emotionally distant.

Martin is the founder and president of RealWorld University. He is a nationally known, award-winning speaker, university professor, published author and educational consultant. In spite of being raised in one of the toughest inner city ghettos in Miami, Florida, Martin started his first business at 22 and his second at 26. He also became the youngest tenured faculty member ever hired at a Florida state university when he was 24.

Martin also will share “Street-Smart Strategies for Acing College” and “Success Strategies of the Motivationally Supercharged” with students during the school day on March 12.

Hanlon Elementary holds spelling bee

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, Feb. 24 -- Twenty-four Hanlon Elementary School students representing grades 3-6 participated in the school spelling bee on Monday, February 23. 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 2, all students participated in grade-level spelling bees, in which the students were tested on the words at their own grade level. The top six finishers of each grade-level spelling bee moved on to compete in the school spelling bee, where students were tested on the more challenging study list of words for grades 1-8.

After several rounds of competition, third-grader Aiden Vogel and fourth-grader Victoria Brewster were named first- and second-place champions, respectively, in front of a good-spirited crowd that cheered for all participants during the competition. Aiden won by correctly spelling “curator.” Victoria’s final correctly spelled word was “novelist.”

Aiden and Victoria will participate in the regional spelling bee at Campbell-Savona High School on March 5.

The final champion of the regional spelling bee will go on to compete in the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C. at a date yet to be determined.

Photo in text: Hanlon Elementary School spelling bee champions Aiden Vogel and Victoria Brewster. (Photo provided)

Kindergarten screening letters set for April

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 24 -- Kindergarten in the Watkins Glen Central School District is open to students who will be five years old on or before December 1, 2015.

Screening for incoming Kindergarten students will be held in May. If you have a child who will be eligible to start school in September 2015, you should receive a letter in April inviting you to a screening appointment. You and your child will need to be present. The screening will take approximately 1½ hours.

Items to bring with you:
• child’s birth certificate
• immunization record
• physical exam completed after September 5, 2014
• dental exam record completed after September 1, 2014
• custody papers, if applicable
• proof of childhood lead testing
• three proofs of residency (examples: tax bill, utility bills, lease agreement, etc.)

Please call the school as early as possible to make sure we have correct information about your child and your correct address. If you have special needs or need to make changes to appointment times, please contact Alyssa Hoobler, school counselor, at 535-3250, extension 2404, or Elaine Malina at extension 1404.

4-year-olds eligible for Glen UPK program

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 24 -- Children in the Watkins Glen school district who will be four years old by December 1, 2015 are eligible to participate in the Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) program during the 2015-16 school year.

If you have a child who will be eligible, please contact the Elementary School at 535-3250 to provide current contact information. The school will mail information to homes with eligible students this spring.

The Elementary School also will host UPK registration. More information will be announced when details on this event are finalized.

The WGHS 7th grade class holds a check presented by members of the Interact Club, including co-presidents Colin DeMeritt (blue sweatshirt) and Tamijah Lawton-Stone, who are standing just left of the check. (Photo by Aran Holland)

Interact Club donates $1,000

The Rotary-sponsored Watkins Glen High School Interact Club recently raised $1,000 by selling Pashmina Scarves, and donated the money to the school's 7th grade Water for Sudan Project. The project has raised more than $13,000 of its $15,000 goal, the money to be used to build a well for a village in South Sudan. Clean water is in short supply in that region of Africa, forcing residents to travel two hours each day to carry home water that is needed for family living. The Interact Club, involved in community activism in various ways, is available to help in community-based events. If in need of its services, email Nancy Ruda at

B.C. Cate schedules fall registration

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Feb. 13, 2015 -- The Odessa-Montour Central School District wishes to identify families with children eligible to begin Kindergarten in September 2015. Your child is eligible if he/she will be five years old on or before December 1, 2015.

Kindergarten registration is scheduled for April 29 and 30 and May 1, 4 and 5. Parents will need to bring their child, child’s birth certificate, proof of residency and proof of child’s immunizations.

If you have not received a letter by the end of February, call the B. C. Cate office at 535-7267, ext. 3780 by Thursday, March 19 to be sure your child is on the school roster and to schedule an appointment for the child’s kindergarten screening.

B.C. Cate to offer full-day UPK in fall

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Feb. 13, 2015 -- The Odessa-Montour Central School District wishes to identify families with children eligible to attend a full-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, 2015, he/she is eligible for this program.

To express your interest in the full-day Universal Pre-Kindergarten program, call the school at 535-7267, ext. 3780 by Thursday, March 19.

Watkins School Board OKs joint OM-Glen grid squad

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 10 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Monday evening unanimously approved the plan to merge its football program with that of the Odessa-Montour school district. The O-M School Board is set to vote on the issue Thursday night.

The Watkins Glen vote followed comments by district resident Val Carocci, who thinks that merger is a good idea long-term, but that the movement to create a new team with new uniforms, new colors and new name is being "rushed."

"I think you could have a combined team playing as Senecas, as originally proposed," she said. "Consolidation is a positive, but this is being rushed."

However, board member Keith Caslin, reacting later in the meeting to Carocci's comments, said the merger of the two programs has been discussed in many meetings since the close of the football season, and that a lot of time and thought has gone into it. He also said he has talked to more than 100 interested parties in the two districts, and that "the bottom line is ... the kids just want to see it done. It's time to move forward, and allow the kids an opportunity to play."

Discussion also involved uniforms and their impact on the budget. Superintendent Tom Phillips said that money was budgeted for new Watkins Glen uniforms this year, but that the purchase was put on hold pending the outcome of this move toward consolidating the two programs. Accordingly, he said, money is in the budget for new uniforms bearing the colors and name of the new, joint team.

There might be Modified, Junior Varsity and Varsity level squads, he said, although Junior Varsity is in question. If there is no JV, there will be one or two Modified teams. The cost of any new uniforms, he pointed out, will be shared with O-M on a 60-40 split, with Watkins bearing the larger share based on enrollment.

Phillips outlined, as he had at a joint meeting of the two districts' School Boards on Jan. 26, that a Joint Athletics Program Steering Committee -- composed of the two district superintendents, along with an administrator and football coach from each district -- will handle issues of policy and procedure that occur, with recommendations where needed being made to the School Boards.

The "draft compact" outlining particulars of the plan specifies that the Watkins district will serve as the employment arm of the program, and as such Phillips will advertise for coaches as soon as the O-M School Board approves the merger -- assuming it does.

On hand for Monday's meeting was Lou Condon Jr., the Watkins Glen head football coach for the past few seasons. Also present were two members of the O-M School Board, Karen Rock and Jen Mosher, though neither spoke. Watkins Board President Mike Myers was absent, leaving the vice president, Kelly McCarthy, to run the session.

The matter of student participation in the naming of the new team was also discussed. Phillips and Watkins Glen High School Principal Kai D'Alleva said any student in either district will be invited to voice an opinion or suggestion regarding the new name. Those suggestions will be gathered and winnowed down to "three to five," said D'Alleva, and then submitted to the schools' Student Councils for their guidance. A recommendation will go to the Steering Committee, and if it approves, then the recommendation will be forwarded to the two School Boards. The Boards, says the Draft Compact, "shall accept the recommendations or return the matter to the Committee for further consideration."

The consolidation is a result of diminished enrollment at the two schools, and an accompanying difficulty to field football teams. The O-M team had to end its season prematurely in the fall when its roster fell below the minimum number of players allowed; and a similar situation occurred at Watkins Glen several years ago.

Photos in text: Watkins Glen School Superintendent Tom Phillips; and Phillips with, from left, board members Kelly McCarthy, Mark Franzese, Kristin Hazlitt and Keith Caslin at Monday evening's meeting..

----To see the amended Draft Compact, click here.----
----To see the district's meeting summary, click here.----

School Board members Christian Maphis (O-M), Kristin Hazlitt (WG)
and Damita Chamberlain (O-M) at Monday night's joint session.

Glen, O-M School Boards
move toward joint grid squad

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 26 -- There were no sports events locally Monday night, but there was extended discussion about one sport -- football -- as the Boards of Education in the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour school districts met to discuss the possible merger of their gridiron teams.

The meeting, with all members of both boards present, was attended sparsely by the public, likely a result of inclement weather and unpleasant driving conditions. Public comment was not permitted, in any event. That opportunity comes at each board's next meeting.

By the end of the 90-minute session, after Superintendents Tom Phillips (Watkins Glen) and Peter Punzo (O-M, interim) had outlined a "compact" devised over the past couple of months, a plan to set in motion a merger of the two programs seemed headed toward fruition.

"That's the goal," said Punzo when asked if the new team could be ready for the fall, "but I'm a step-by-step guy. I like to take one thing at a time."

The next "thing" is a resolution to be prepared by attorneys that will reflect the outline prepared by the superintendents along with amendments raised by board members Monday and agreed upon in general. Attorneys on hand were Conrad R. Wolan of the Sayles & Evans law firm of Elmira, and James A. Gregory of the firm of HSLD&G of Binghamton. Those resolutions will go to the two boards for votes -- by the Watkins board on Feb. 9 and the O-M board on Feb. 12.

Assuming -- as board presidents Mike Myers of Watkins Glen and Robert Halpin of O-M indicated would likely happen -- the resolutions are adopted, then Watkins' Phillips will post the availability of coaching positions the following day as an attempt is made to secure a coaching staff by early March. At the same time, a Steering Committee will be formed which will ulimately be comprised of the superintendent, one administrator and one coach from each district. It will have a say in the coaches' selection -- which must be approved by the Watkins Board, since the coaches will be employed by the Watkins district.

The plan calls for three coaches from each school, although Phillips said there is a provision in his district by which existing members of the Faculty Association can apply for a coaching position -- although such an occurrence is scarcer than in the past with the recent tightening of coaching requirements and training.

Bringing students from both schools into the decision-making process will prove key, Phillips and Punzo said, as the effort to adopt a new team name, new mascot and new uniforms comes into play. Board members expressed the preference that such decisions be made by a near-consensus of students from both districts. As the hurdles are surpassed and the process draws closer to completion, Section IV will be apprised of the joint team -- by July 1. It has already been notified, Phillips said, that O-M will not field a football team alone in the next season.

"Every effort will be made," the proposed Punzo-Phillips outline, or "compact," says, to see that the new team will use the football fields at both schools evenly, alternating sites. And the Steering Committee would designate practice field use "based on what makes sense logistically, financially, safety and transportation wise."

The two superintendents told board members that they were envisioning a five-year agreement at the outset, with an "escape clause" after three years if things are not working out to the satisfaction of both districts and their students. Halpin suggested the agreement be revisited every year, with the option for either district to walk away if the effort is creating financial or other significant problems ... and the boards seemed to agree. But also seemingly left operational was the thought that after each season -- if the project is successful -- a year will be added on the back end of the agreement, making it a five-year plan again.

Loose ends -- and there are liable to be many -- will be taken under consideration by the Steering Commitee.

Three teams are envisioned -- varsity and two modified squads, or varsity, junior varsity and modified -- with expected rosters of about 30 players each. Startup cost to the districts would be about $200 per participant, Punzo estimated, as the schools' inventory of jerseys, pants and pads are expanded, and helmets refurbished.

No direct consideration is being given currently to merging other sports at the two schools, although board members and superintendents said this agreement could be used as a template for such future moves. The other sports teams will retain their Seneca (WG) and Indians (O-M) nicknames until such time as further mergers might occur..

"I think this is exciting," said Lou Condon Jr., the Watkins Glen varsity head football coach. "What benefits the kids is what's best."

Said Watkins' Myers of the pending resolution and the football merger: "I'm sure it will pass" his board on Feb. 9. "It's good for the kids, and will likely" spread ultimately to other sports, assuming it is a success.

Said O-M's Halpin: "As far as I know, the (Odessa) board is in favor."

It's time to do it, Myers added. "We don't want to disenfranchise any kids."

Photos in text:

Top: Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips, left, and O-M High School Principal Chris Wood.

Middle: O-M Interim Superintendent Peter Punzo, left, and Watkins Glen High School Principal Kai D'Alleva.

Bottom: Watkins Glen head football coach Lou Condon Jr. is interviewed by WETM-TV's Chuck Brame.

To see the Draft Compact for football, click here.

Sudan Water project deadline extended

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 13 -- Since November, seventh-graders at Watkins Glen High School have raised more than $10,000 to build a well for a village in South Sudan through the Water for South Sudan charity. The students were hoping to raise the entire $15,000 for the well before the holidays, but have decided to extend their fundraising until they reach their goal.

During the fall, seventh-graders read A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, which tells the story of Nya, an 11-year-old girl in South Sudan who must travel two hours from her home twice a day to get the only water available for her family. The book also tells the story of Salva Dut, founder of Water for South Sudan.

After reading the story, students were inspired to take action. To date they have made over 50 presentations within the district and to other outside organizations to elicit support from all grades and the community, said Tammy Kellogg, grade 7 English teacher. The positive response has inspired the students to push on to reach their goal. Prior to the holidays, students wrote formal business letters to local organizations seeking their support as well.

The students welcome donations from the community.

To contribute, visit and dedicate your donation to Watkins Glen School, or mail checks made payable to Water for South Sudan to Watkins Glen High School, Attn: Tammy Kellogg; 301 12th St., Watkins Glen, NY 14891 or contact

3 finalists named for O-M superintendent

ODESSA, Jan. 11 -- Three finalists have been named in the search for the next superintendent of the Odessa-Montour School District, the O-M School Board has announced.

They are O-M Junior-Senior High School Principal Chris Wood, GST BOCES Career and Technical Education Center Principal Ann Fuller-Sincock, and Romulus Middle/High School Principal Lynn Rhone.

One of those three is slated to succeed James Frame, who left the O-M superintendency when he took the job as Greater Southern Tier BOCES Superintendent on Dec. 1.

Wood has been principal at Odessa-Montour since 2012. He began his career with the district in 2005 as an instructional support teacher. In 2011, he was named the district athletic manager and dean of students before ascending to the principal's post.

Fuller-Sincock previously served as GST Alternative Middle and High School principal, Spencer-Van Etten high school principal, and Elmira Free Academy assistant principal.

Rhone has been principal at Romulus since 2012. She was also principal from 2005-2008, until being appointed principal of grades pre-K through 12.

The School Board will visit each candidate's district beginning Monday. Final rounds of interviews with the three are scheduled for Jan. 20-22.

The anticipated start date of the new superintendent is April 1.

Water Aerobics classes offered

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Jan. 11, 2015 -- Odessa-Montour Central School (“Aerobic Fun in the Water”) and Watkins Glen Central School (“Aqua Aerobics”) will soon host the next sessions of water aerobics classes, and registration time is upon us.

Everyone over 18 is welcome. Odessa-Montour’s sessions begin Monday, February 2 and run for 8 weeks, with Thursday classes beginning February 5; classes run 7-8 p.m..

The next session at Watkins Glen Central School begins Tuesday, February 3, and runs for seven sessions; classes are from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

All classes need sufficient registered participants to be scheduled, so register now to ensure that they are. All sessions are $7 per class; walk-ins are welcome, too.

Register online at or call 607-739-8170 or 739-7905. The classes are offered through GST BOCES Adult Education.

Watkins, O-M boards to meet on football

For the district's meeting summary, click here

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 6 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Monday night scheduled a joint public session with the Odessa-Montour School Board on Monday, Jan. 26 to discuss, and possibly approve, a process designed to merge the two districts' football programs.

The meeting, at 5:45 p.m., will be at a location yet to be determined.

Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips said that he has met with O-M Interim Superintendent Peter Punzo, and will meet with him at least twice more in an attempt to produce a resolution that will meet the needs of both districts.

In addition, he said, "we will be meeting with coaches" -- who will shortly be identified after openings are posted this week.

"We need coaches in place to give them time to get ready" for the next football season in the event a merger resolution is approved, said Phillips -- although at this point the shape of the team hasn't been determined, nor whether a new team name, colors and uniforms can be in place in time.

Watkins Glen Athletic Manager Erich Kramer told the board that in order to accomplish that much, "the speed" of the development process "needs to be increased ... We need five or six suggestions for color combinations" and for the team name, and "time to make the uniforms."

A joint team with a new name has been the preferred route expressed by area residents, although the possibility of O-M players joining the Watkins football team as part of its operation in the first year has been deemed a possible necessary step.

But, says Kramer, the new combined team could occur "if the boards come together" on an agreement quickly.

The two districts' combined Jan. 26 session will be in the form of a workshop, which permits open discussion in public.

The issue of combining sports has been gaining attention in recent months -- especially in football following the early termination of the O-M season when the team roster fell below the minimum required number of players.

Photo in text: Watkins Glen School Board President Mike Myers, left, and Superintendent Tom Phillips.

O-M students donate to Humane Society

Special to
The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Dec. 20 -- In honor of the giving season, the Hanlon Elementary Student Council recently organized a school-wide collection for the Humane Society of Schuyler County.

Students and community members brought in items including towels, dog food, new and used dog collars and leashes, dog toys, dog clothes and peanut butter. Student Council members were responsible for gathering and organizing the items daily.

Staff members from the Humane Society and special guest Moose, a resident at the shelter, visited the school to pick up the donations.

Photo in text: Hanlon Elementary Student Council members loaded the Humane Society van with donated items and enjoyed a visit with Moose and Diana Frederick, a staff member from the Humane Society. (Photo provided)

Gabriella LaRosa sings Dave Matthews' "Satellite," accompanied on guitar
by 2013 WGHS graduate Michael Olmstead.

WGHS students show talents on stage

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 20 -- The annual Watkins Glen High School Talent Show featuread a range of musical talent onstage Friday in the school auditorium.

Ten acts were presented, and cash awards presented courtesy of the Student Council. Between the last act and the announcement of winners, three student-crafted videos were shown, and one of them was named a winner, as well.

Among the awards:

--Overall Best Performance: The trio of Wyatt Brower, Hannah Morse and Wrett Brower, performing "Say Something," with vocals and guitar.

--Crowd Favorite: Gabriella LaRosa singing Dave Matthews' "Satellite," with 2013 WGHS graduate Michael Olmstead on guitar.

--Most Original: Conlin Wysocki (pictured at right) at the piano, singing a song he wrote, "World Through My Eyes."

--Judges' Choice: Darien Terry, playing the guitar and singing "Run Away" by Front Porch Steps.

--Best Video: By Phebe Wickham.

Other acts included:

--William Fitzsimmons singing "Closer" by Kings of Leon.

--Portia Wells and Lydia Myers, dancing to "To Be Alone."

--Kelsey Kernan, singing Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away."

--Andrew Likoudis singing "Champagne Super Nova."

--McKala VanBrocklin singing "Human" by Christina Perri, with Johanna VanEtten accompanying on guitar.

--Aaron Sager performing an original freestyle composition on electric guitar.

Jesse Bloodgood and his brother Ben also performed several songs outside of the judging. The two often perform publicly.


Photos in text:

Top: The Brower brothers, Wyatt (left) and Wrett, along with Hannah Morse, earned the Overall Best Performance award.

Middle: Conlin Wysocki sang his original song, "World Through My Eyes, for which he was given the Most Original award.

Bottom: Jesse Bloodgood played the piano and sang several song. His brother Ben accompanied him on vocals and guitar.

Left: Portia Wells, left, and Lydia Myers danced to "To Be Alone."
Right: Kelsey Kernan sang Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away."

Darien Terry sang "Run Away" by Front Porch Steps.

Left: Emcees Mikayla Elliott, left, and LynnAnn Caslin.
Right: William Fitizsimmons sang "Closer" by Kings of Leon.

Aaron Sager performed an original freestyle number on his electric guitar.

Left: McKala VanBrocklin, left, and Johanna VanEtten performed "Human."
Right: Andrew Likoudis sang "Champagne Super Nova."

Retired WGHS Principal Dave Warren paid a surprise visit to the talent show, offering to "wrap" after emcees LynnAnn Caslin, left, and Mikayla Elliott had done some rapping. Warren then recited what he likened to a rap number: The "trouble right here in River City" lyrics from "Music Man," which Warren memorized years ago.

Members of the 5th Grade Band perform "Come to the Manger."

Hanlon students stage Holiday Program

ODESSA, Dec. 19 -- Hanlon Elementary School 4th and 5th graders offered an evening of holiday music Thursday evening to an appreciative audience in the Fetter-Brown Auditorium.

The 4th Grade Chorus sang "Winter Celebration," "Nuttin' For Christmas" and "Sparkling Christmas Tree."

The 5th Grade Band performed "Come to the Manger" and "St. Nick's on the Housetop."

The 5th Grade Chorus sang "The First Snowball of the Season," "Do You Want to Build a Snowman," "No Well, No Well," and "Zoot Suit Santa."

Michelle Voorheis was the band director, while Kim Laursen directed the choruses. Sally Michel served as accompanist.

Photo in text: Members of the 4th Grade Chorus sing "Winter Celebration."

Members of the Hanlon 5th Grade Chorus sing "The First Snowball of the Season."

The Elementary Band opened the Watkins Glen Winter Concert.

Watkins, O-M stage Winter Concerts

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Dec. 16 -- Both the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour school districts presented their Winter Concerts Monday night before large audiences.

The Watkins concert in the high school auditorium featured:

--The Elementary Band playing "Good King Rocks," "Ten Little Drummers," "Star Wars" and "Gingerbread Men on Parade."

--The Elementary Chorus singing "Jingle All the Way" and "Hi-Ho, It's Christmas."

--The Elementary & 7/8 Combined Choruses singing "First Flakes."

--The 7/8 Chorus singing "Still, Still, Still" and "In Winter."

--The 7/8 Band performing "Crystal City Overture," "Simple Gifts," "Let It Go" and "A Crazy Mixed-up Christmas Concert."

--The High School Chorus singing "Follow That Star," "O Holy Night," "And So It Goes" and "A Festive Madrigal."

--The High School Band playing "Sleigh Ride," a movement from "English Folk Song Suite," "Highlights from Jersey Boys" and "The Polar Express Medley."

Sarahjane Harrigan directed the Elementary Band, Diana Groll the High School Band, and Matthew Craig the choruses.

The O-M concert in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium featured:

--The Junior High Band playing "Holiday Greetings," "Chapel Chimes" and "Frosty the Snow Man."

--The Junior High Chorus singing "Masters in This Hall," "Sing Me to Winter" and "Still in My Heart."

-- The Senior High Band playing "Hosana in Excelsis," "All is Calm" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

-- The Senior High Chorus singing "Earth, Air, Fire, Water," "Carol of the Bells," "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" and "Et in Terra Pax."

--The Women's Choir singing "The Twelve Days After Christmas."

Michelle Voorheis directed the Junior High Band, while Jennifer Kraemer directed the Junior and Senior High Choruses, the Women's Choir and the Senior High Band.

Photos in text:

From the top: Scenes from the Watkins Glen High School Band performance of "Sleigh Ride" (top) and from the O-M Senior High Band performance of "All is Calm" (middle); and Watkins Glen High School Chorus member Lydia Myers sings a solo.

The O-M Junior High Chorus performs "Still in My Heart."

Watkins Glen Elementary Band clarinetists, left, and O-M Senior High Band flutists.

O-M senior Manley Gavich directed the High School Band for one number, "All is Calm."

Baggers (from left on the right) Olivia Scata, Paxtyn Brown and Amanda Jones prepare items for delivery as Dasia Herrmann and Collin Povoski empty their cart. (Photo provided)

O-M students volunteer at Food Pantry

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, Dec. 14 -- Members of the Odessa-Montour High School Interact Club recently spent part of their day volunteering at the Schuyler County Outreach food pantry.

Students formed an assembly line to transport, unpack and organize food for a holiday giveaway. Then some teamed up to “shop” for assigned families, filling shopping carts with needed items. Others emptied carts and bagged items for distribution.

“Knowing you are making a difference in our community feels good,” said senior Hailie Searles, who has participated in the annual event for the past four years.

The Interact Club is affiliated with the service-oriented Watkins-Montour Rotary Club.

Photo in text: Jailyn Rumsey, left, and Taylor Alton fill a cart of donated items for the holiday giveaway. (Photo provided)

The O-M School Board before the start of the session. From left: Jen Mosher, Damita Chamberlain, Karen Rock, Board President Robert Halpin, Interim Superintendent Peter Punzo, Scott Westervelt, Rob Tuttle and Christian Maphis.

'Separation benefits' draw fire at O-M

ODESSA, Dec. 11 -- The Odessa-Montour School Board approved a transfer of funds totaling $68,491.07 from a reserve fund to the general fund Thursday night to pay "contractual separation benefits" to the recently departed district superintendent, Jim Frame.

The payment -- which one board member said was for accrued vacation and sick days -- drew fire from a representative of the O-M Civil Service Employees Association, and a "no" vote from Board member Rob Tuttle, who said he had nothing to do with fashioning Frame's contract and that it would "be against my belief to say 'yes.'".

The CSEA's Patrick Carlisle -- whose unit's new contract, calling for 18-cent-an-hour raises for its members, was also approved by the board Thursday -- called the payout to Frame "outrageous, insulting and shameful," and urged the board not to fall into the same contractual obligations with its next superintendent.

A search is on for Frame's successor. Frame left at the end of November for his new post as GST BOCES superintendent.

The O-M interim superintendent, Peter Punzo, was welcomed by Board President Rob Halpin at Thursday's session. Said Punzo: "I will do my very best to serve your district well."

In other board business:

--Punzo was authorized to "pursue football opportunities at the Modified, JV, and Varsity Levels." He has been in touch with Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips on that issue, and is expected to meet with him for discussion.

O-M Football Coach Bob Lee, whose team folded after two games this past season due to an inadequate number of players, told the board he was concerned about his coaching staff's future -- whether it would be included in any joint football program with another district. "I don't want us left out in the wind," he told the board.

--Student Tailith Smith, who is graduating in January and entering the Marine Corps shortly thereafter, explained to the board that he wants to attend graduation in June with his class, walking alongside graduating twin brother Shane, but wearing his Marine uniform instead of a graduation robe. He told the board that the symbolism and tradition of the uniform -- which embraces the ever-serious goal of defending the country -- precludes it from being covered by a graduation robe. Accordingly, he asked for an exemption.

Board President Rob Halpin asked when he needed an answer, and was told by High School Principal Chris Wood that any time before graduation would be fine, although sooner might be better. The board took no action -- a failure criticized by Coach Lee, an Army veteran who said "I'd approve that request tonight."

--The CSEA's Carlisle also assailed a district lunch policy that he said was jettisoned by the Board years ago, but word of which "apparently never got down to the cafeteria workers." It calls for the lunch entree of any student owing the district money to be removed from the student's tray and thrown away, to be replaced by a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He said the policy "belittles students" in front of their classmates, and "isn't cost effective" because it means discarding $1.75 worth of food on average 20 times a week. "It's a ridiculous policy," he said.

No action was taken by the board, nor did it comment.

Photos in text: From top: Interim Superintendent Peter Punzo, board member Rob Tuttle, and student Tailith Smith.

Contest winners

Four Watkins Glen High School Health Education students were among the winners in a Red Ribbon Week (October Drug Prevention Week) quiz contest sponsored by the Council on Alcoholism and Addictions of the Finger Lakes. Winners were chosen randomly from those scoring 100% on the quiz. From left above: Freshman Emmie Bond (who won a $100 Visa gift card); junior Megan Hoy (a $50 gift card), senior Elizabeth Reed (a $50 gift card), Council representative Gretchen Silliman, 7th grader Ellie Clarkson (who won a laptop computer), and WGHS Health Educator Margaret Swinnerton.

The five inductees, from left: Kalea Jones, Ian Chedzoy, Ashley Palmer, Jon Brown
and Brooke Shaffer.

5 join National Honor Society at WGHS

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 8 -- Five Watkins Glen High School students joined the ranks of the National Honor Society Monday night during an induction ceremony in the school auditorium.

The ceremony -- one of two at WGHS during the school year (a second one will be held in the spring) -- saw Kalea Jones, Ian Chedzoy, Ashley Palmer, Jon Brown and Brooke Shaffer sworn in after donning NHS robes.

Each was introduced by a member of the National Honor Society following opening remarks by chapter president Colin DeMeritt and explanations by him and other officers about the four criteria upon which membership is based: scholarship, leadership, service and character.

Four candles on the auditorium stage were lit, one for each such principle, while chapter members onstage observed. The chapter now has three dozen members. Teacher Kelly Muir is the advisor.

A reception with food was held in the hallway outside the auditorium immediately following the ceremony.


Photos in text:

Top: The four candles signifying the four tenets of the National Honor Society: scholarship, leadership, service and character.

Bottom: The National Honor Society chapter president, Colin DeMeritt, addresses the audience on hand for the ceremony.

The inductees, after donning their robes, prepare to make their way to the stage.

All 7 fall teams at WG earn Scholar status

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 8 -- All seven of the Watkins Glen Central School District’s varsity fall athletic teams recently earned Scholar Athlete status from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

Below are the teams and the combined Grade Point Average of each:

Girls Varsity Swimming -- 95.636
Girls Varsity Cross Country -- 94.375
Boys Varsity Cross Country -- 94.286
Boys Varsity Soccer -- 93.500
Girls Varsity Soccer -- 93.333
Varsity Football -- 90.583
Varsity Volleyball -- 90.375

WG's Perrone is Student of Month at Bush

Special to
The Odessa File

HORSEHEADS, Dec. 5 -- Courtney Perrone, a student in the Culinary Arts program, has been selected as the Career and Technical Education Program Student of the Month for October at the GST BOCES Bush Education Center. She is a senior at Watkins Glen High School.

Perrone has logged many work experience hours by assisting with Culinary Arts activities outside of class time, said Instructor Karen Mecum. “Courtney is always prepared and takes initiative in class,” said Mecum.

Perrone worked for Cornell Cooperative Extension at the residential camp during the past summer. She spent extra time volunteering as an assistant cooking teacher and at times ran the class herself, said Mecum. She earned accolades from the head cook and nutrition program educator for her work.

The Student of the Month is selected by a committee of CTE staff based on nominations.

Photo in text: Courtney Perrone (right) was nominated for Student of the Month by Culinary Arts Instructor Karen Mecum (left). (Photo provided)

Water Wednesdays raise funds for well

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 4 -- Seventh-graders at Watkins Glen High School are tackling an ambitious fundraising project during the holiday season. The students are attempting to raise $15,000 by December 15 to build a well for a village in South Sudan through the Water for South Sudan charity.

Since the project began in early November, students have scheduled several fundraising activities at the High School during the lunch hour on “Water Wednesdays.” At the Water Wednesday on December 3, students could donate for a chance to throw whip cream pies at seventh-graders from 11:13 to 11:40 a.m., or seniors from 12 to 12:27 p.m. There also was a push-up contest and bake sales.

Seventh graders recently read A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, which tells the story of Nya, an 11-year-old girl in South Sudan who must travel two hours from her home twice a day to get the only water available for her family. The path she travels is unsafe and the water she collects is unsanitary.

After reading the story, students were given the chance to either write an essay or to attempt to raise funds for a well, said Tammy Kellogg, grade 7 English teacher. The group overwhelmingly chose to raise funds.

Students have challenged each grade in the district to raise $1,000 toward the goal. They’ve shared their message with every class in the district, as well as faculty members, administrators and the Board of Education. They’ve also made presentations to the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club and the staff of a local mental health clinic.

“They’re working extremely hard, but they’re trying to keep it fun,” said Kellogg of her students. She added that the group also will host a dance and are planning a family fun night to raise funds for the project.

The students welcome donations from the community.

To contribute, visit and dedicate your donation to Watkins Glen School, or contact

Left: Jaden Bailor (left) and Isaac Hough enjoyed their Thanksgiving celebration. Right: First-graders made festive hats to wear for their meal. (Photos provided)

1st graders share Thanksgiving meal

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Nov. 26 -- First-graders at B.C. Cate Elementary School celebrated Thanksgiving a little early as they came together on November 20th to share a feast that they prepared.

Leading up to this event, students learned about the first Thanksgiving, and a reading group in Mrs. Fazzary’s class worked on a Reader’s Theater about the peace treaty signed by the pilgrims and Native Americans.

The first-grade classes worked together to make all of the food for the feast, which included tur- key, mashed potatoes, applesauce, corn and cornbread. Dessert was homemade pumpkin pie.

The teachers and students wish to thank Jelly Beans Restaurant in Gang Mills for donating the turkey and corn, Pine Valley Farms for donating the pumpkins, and the cafeteria staff at the school for their assistance.

Leftover pies were donated to the Town of Veteran Historical Society bake sale.

From left: Inductees Sage Garrison, Angela Hess, Emelia Paulisczak and Collin Povoski.

6 join National Honor Society at O-M

ODESSA, Nov. 21 -- Six Odessa-Montour High School students joined the ranks of the National Honor Society Thursday night during an induction ceremony in O-M's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.

Joining the NHS were sophomores Paxtyn Brown, Alyssa Crout, Sage Garrison, Angela Hess, Emelia Paulisczak and Collin Povoski. Each was introduced by NHS members.

The ceremony's guest speaker was O-M alum Danielle Bannister, a social worker who urged the Society members to "develop your leadership skills by taking the service approach."

Principal Chris Wood said the world "and our local community need leaders now more than ever. My challenge to this group is: What will you do to make this a better community and a better world?"

The ceremony featured the lighting of candles to symbolize the criteria upon which membership selection is based: Scholarship, Leadership, Service and Character. Candles were lit by NHS members Callie Stillman, Logan Barrett, Joe Rorick and Samantha House.

Photo in text: Inductees Alyssa Crout, left, and Paxtyn Brown.

From left: The ceremony's guest speaker, Danielle Bannister; candle-lighter Callie Stillman; and principal Chris Wood.

Girls on the Run participants

Girls (pictured above) from the Bradford Central School District participated in the Girls On The Run 5K in Hornell on Sunday, Nov. 9. They are in grades 3 through 5. The coaches are Heather Monell, Jenn Schoffner and Tara Simons. The photo was snapped at the race. (Photo provided)

7th graders raising funds for Sudan well

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 6 -- A trio of seventh-grade Watkins Glen School District students outlined to Watkins-Montour Rotarians Thursday how they and their classmates are trying to raise $15,000 to finance construction of a well in the Republic of South Sudan, a country in Africa.

The project is an offshoot of a book seventh graders read, "Long Walk to Water," as part of a Common Core Curriculum module this school year. The book told of the plight of South Sudan residents whose women spend hours each day walking water to their villages -- water that is muddy and leaves those who drink it susceptible to diseases. A properly drilled well can provide clean water.

The students, through fund raisers and donations from fellow students -- and a challenge to faculty, administration and the School Board to donate -- hope to achieve their goal by mid-December.

On hand at Thursday's weekly Rotary luncheon to explain the project were seventh graders Ali LaMoreaux, Adrienna Solomon and Raiana Labonte, along with English Language Arts teacher Tammy Kellogg.

Photo in text: From left, Adrienna Solomon, Raiana Labonte and Ali LaMoreaux at the Rotary Club luncheon.

Much of the Field House gym floor has been stripped down to its concrete base.

1st game on new gym floor set for Dec. 16

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 31 -- Work is well under way to replace the Watkins Glen High School gym floor, damaged by flooding on Oct. 11.

Water from an adjoining locker room -- pouring out when a flush-valve malfunctioned -- flooded the Field House gym, leaving moisture on and underneath the hardwood flooring used for basketball and other sports.

The floor is being replaced from the north wall to the folding wall on the far side of the basketball court, and from the west wall to a point near the east wall.

Workers for the DeClerck Flooring firm out of Arkport -- the same company that installed the floor originally during construction of the Field House -- have been cutting out sections of the floor and removing them to a dumpster, and then prying and sliding out sub-flooring that leads to a concrete base.

Pockets of moisture continue to be found, said one worker, leading to overnight heat treatments to dry them out.

Two sections of floor with the word "Senecas" have been carefully cut out, said Athletic Manager Erich Kramer, and are expected to be given to two people on staff who requested them. Two larger sections, with the words "Glen" and "Watkins," are also being salvaged.

Work is expected to be completed by mid-December, with the first games on the new floor set for Dec. 16 -- Watkins Glen junior varsity and varsity girls basketball games. The girls' Holiday Tournament is also set for the main gym's new floor on Dec. 26-27.

The first boys games on the new court will come with the Holiday Tournament on Jan. 2 and 3.

While four scheduled boys scrimmages have been moved to other area schools, no boys games have been displaced, said Kramer. One, against Tioga, had already been rescheduled from mid-December to the Holiday Tournament. The girls will play a couple of home games in the new, smaller gym located where the old pool used to be.

Cost of the floor project, covered by insurance, was set at $149,300.

Photos in text: A worker pries up some sub-flooring; and a section of the floor being saved.

Watkins district highlighted in report

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 29 -- The Watkins Glen Central School District’s efforts to provide access to technology for its students were highlighted in the Smart Schools Commission Report released this week.

The Smart Schools Commission was created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to create a plan for spending a proposed $2 billion bond for increasing technology in schools. On Nov. 4, New York voters will be asked to approve a proposal to borrow $2 billion to fund the plan.

The report details seven keys to success for achieving a Smart School. Watkins Glen is highlighted under Key 6 –“Focus on in-demand STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills to ensure that students graduate with 21st century skills.”

In July, representatives of the Watkins Glen Central School District were invited to present the district’s STEM program and plans for the future to a subcommittee of Governor Cuomo’s Smart Schools Commission. Tom Phillips, superintendent, and Nan Woodworth Shaw, director of curriculum, instruction and student services, spoke about the district’s Mobile Learning Device initiative, as well as the new STEM classroom that opened this fall at Watkins Glen High School.

Water Aerobics classes offered locally

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Oct. 29 -- Odessa-Montour Central School (“Aerobic Fun in the Water”) and Watkins Glen Central School (“Aqua Aerobics”) are hosting new sessions of water aerobics classes -- and registration time is here. Everyone over 18 is welcome.

Odessa-Montour’s sessions begin Monday, Nov. 10 and run for nine weeks, with Thursday classes beginning Nov. 13. Classes run from 7-8 p.m.

The next session at Watkins Glen Central School begins Tuesday, Nov. 4 for seven sessions. Classes run from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

All classes need sufficient registered participants to be scheduled, so organizers urge registration now to ensure that the classes can be held.

All sessions are $7 per class; walk-ins are welcome, too. Register online at or call Carol at 607-739-8170 or 739-7905.

The classes are offered through GST BOCES Adult Education.

Damaged WG gym floor to be replaced

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 22 -- The floor in the Watkins Glen High School Field House -- flooded by water from a flush-valve malfunction in an adjoining locker room on Oct. 11 -- will be replaced from the north wall to the folding wall on the far side of the basketball court.

The project, costing $149,300 and covered by insurance, will be undertaken by DeClerck Flooring, which installed the floor originally. School Superintendent Tom Phillips said the job will begin "soon, hopefully in the next week or so" and be done in time for the basketball season -- although preseason will require adjustments, including use of the new gym where the school's old pool used to exist.

The flooding -- up to four inches of water poured across the floor -- was discovered just before the start of the Candor-Watkins Glen varsity football game on Saturday, Oct. 11. Phillips said he was alerted while down by the football field, and upon investigating encountered School Resource Officer David Waite at the gym, too.

Together, they found the water "shooting out of a urinal in the locker room," Phillips said. "It was powerful."

An electronic flush valve had malfunctioned "and overwhelmed the drains," he added. The result, by the time the water was shut off and drained away, was a gym floor compromised by the moisture -- damage not easily visible, but easily felt by anyone walking on the hard maple boards along the edge of the gym.

The court itself was used as recently as Monday of this week for a volleyball match, but cannot be used for basketball.

"The floor didn't buckle," said Phillips, "but individual pieces started to curl at the edges. There's no way you can bounce a basketball on it; the ball goes everywhere." The worst damage is to the side of the court, he noted, "but there are spots on the basketball court where the substructure is not good."

Accordingly, he said, the entire floor to the folding doors -- the damage stopped just short of there -- will be removed and replaced, "from the concrete up." The delay to this point has been part of the process involved in awaiting insurance approval, which was given following an adjuster's visit.

If the accident had occurred a couple of weeks later, Phillips said, it would have impacted the start of the basketball season and possibly Christmas Tournament play. "And if it happened during the season," he added, "it would have been a disaster."

Photos in text: The north end of the gym (top) and the portable wall at the south end (bottom). A track and expansion joint will be installed for the portable door, allowing it to open and close without rubbing on the wood floor, as it does now. (File photos)

Elizabeth Reed named Commended Student

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Sept 24 -- Elizabeth Reed, a senior at Watkins Glen High School, has been named a Commended Student in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program.

A Letter of Commendation from the school and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), which conducts the program, will be presented to Reed by Principal Kai D’Alleva.

Reed is one of about 34,000 Commended Students in the U.S. Although she will not continue in the 2015 competition for National Merit Scholarships, Commended Students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2015 competition by taking the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Ribbon-cutting celebrates single campus

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 29 -- More than 100 people were on hand late Thursday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of the Watkins Glen School District's single-campus facility.

Speakers at the ceremony, staged in front of the renovated north end of the high school, included Superintendent Tom Phillips; State Senator Tom O'Mara; former School Board president Tom Richardson; Dick Robertson, construction manager for Welliver, which built the addition; and Keith Miller, project manager for Hunt Engineers, Architects and Surveyors, the project designers.

A reception followed the ceremony, and so did a tour of the addition.

"We now have a 21st-century learning facility and we have streamlined operations," said Phillips.

The $24.6 million project added more than 19,000 square feet to the campus. Included are an expanded and modernized library, new district offices, additional gym space (an old pool was converted), and a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) center.

Phillips pointed to the STEM addition as key to the project, and key for students entering an increasingly competitive working world.

The old Middle School north on Decatur Street closed with the end of the last school year. Students have been phased out of that school grade by grade for the past couple of years, until now -- with the upcoming opening of the school year, all district students, K-12, will be on the same campus, off 12th Street.

Watkins receives grant to expand UPK

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 18 -- The Watkins Glen Central School District was recently awarded a New York State UPK Expansion Grant in the amount of $485,056.

The grant will allow the district to expand its pre-kindergarten program to full day.

Children who will be four years old on or before December 1 are eligible for the district’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program. Interested parents are asked to call the Elementary Office at 535-3220 to request an application.

The following items need to be included with the completed application:
• child’s birth certificate
• immunization record
• record of physical exam
• proof of childhood lead testing
• completed health history
• custody papers, if applicable
• three proofs of residency (examples: tax or utility bills, lease agreement, etc.)

Call the Elementary Office with questions or for more information.

Catholic Charities leads Back to School drive

Special to
The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, July 23 -- In partnership with local businesses, Catholic Charities is requesting the public's help in preparing kids for a successful school year. From now through August 18, new or like-new clothing, sneakers and backpacks and new school supplies will be collected at the following drop off locations:

--Cabins to Castles Real Estate, Watkins Glen
--Famous Brands, Watkins Glen – receive 10% off your purchase when you make a donation
--Glen Mountain Market, Watkins Glen
--Maguire Motors, Watkins Glen & Ithaca Locations

“As a mother/father/guardian, you want the best for your child,” said Lindsay Winters, Catholic Charities’ Director of Development. “But what if you couldn’t financially make ends meet? Can you imagine sending your child to school in clothes with holes, sneakers that are too tight, a tattered backpack or without the needed school supplies for success? Please donate today. With the help of our local businesses and people like you, we can ensure all kids start the year off right.”

Monetary donations may be sent to Catholic Charities, 607 N Franklin St., Watkins Glen, NY 14891 or made online at Please indicate Schuyler County Back to School Drive.

Catholic Charities’ Back to School Giveaway will be held at Schuyler Outreach on August 21 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. (recipients must be Schuyler County residents). From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., organizers plan to offer free haircuts by local barbers and beauticians. Anyone wishing to donate time to cut hair, call Nancy at 607-228-5021.

Hospital Auxiliary awards scholarships

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, July 8 -- 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 a Schuyler Hospital staff member advancing her education.

Samantha Gill, daughter of Patrick and Emogene Gill of Watkins Glen, is a 2014 graduate of Watkins Glen High School. Gill plans to attend LeMoyne College’s Direct Entry Physician Assistant Program in the fall.

Natasha Patel, daughter of Bharatkumar and Neela Patel of Watkins Glen, is also a 2014 graduate of Watkins Glen High School. Patel will attend Hobart and William Smith Colleges in the fall, with plans of becoming a specialty surgeon.

Michele Myers, Director of Rehabilitation Services for Schuyler Hospital, where she has worked for 20 years, is pursuing her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Utica College.

Scholarship awards are presented each year to two graduating high school seniors who live or attend school in Schuyler County and plan to enter careers in the healthcare field, as well as to a Schuyler Hospital employee advancing his or her education.

Awards are based on academic achievement, volunteerism, and personal essays.

Previous recipients have been in such diverse fields as orthopedics, dentistry, physical therapy, optometry, speech therapy, and pharmacy.

The Auxiliary awarded its first scholarship of $250 in1990. Over the next twenty years it has grown to three $1,000 scholarships annually. Funds for the awards are raised through the auxiliary’s hospital gift shop and other volunteer activities.

For more information about the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary, go to

Photo in text: From left, scholarship winners Samantha Gill, Michele Myers (standing), and Natasha Patel. (Photo provided)

Scholarship winners

Three Watkins Glen High School graduating seniors were presented scholarships on June 28 by the Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association at its 89th Annual Banquet, held at the Community Center in the Clute Park complex. The recipients were, from left: Mitchell Mangus ($1,500), Natasha Patel ($2,000), and Megan Daigle ($1,500). (Photo by Don Romeo)

O-M Superintendent Jim Frame (left), teacher Kevin Tarbert (fifth from left) and Principal Chris Wood (second from right) are joined by Cargill Cares Committee members (l-r) Mike VanZile, Jerry Dunlavey, Phil Pamel, Keith Klug, Clay Furniss, Bill Lindsley and Sherry Saunders. (Photo provided)

O-M receives grant for science equipment

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, July 2 -- High school science students at Odessa-Montour will engage in inquiry-based STEM education next fall thanks to a grant from Cargill.

Teacher Kevin Tarbert wrote the proposal for the grant -- amounting to $29,046 -- which will be used to fund the Outdoor Inquiry Project at O-M. The project will include six STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) high school science courses. The grant will be used to purchase resources and equipment, including a wireless weather station, probes and sensors, dissecting and polarizing microscopes, transit compasses, and general lab materials such as test kits, rubber boots and geological picks.

The Outdoor Inquiry Project will utilize the region’s natural resources to provide outdoor learning experiences that integrate environmental education topics into secondary science curricula, said Tarbert. The intent is to build students’ interest and attitudes toward science, increase their levels of environmental literacy, improve their critical thinking skills and ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world settings and lab work, and increase student achievement of New York State Learning Standards.

Tarbert developed a “wish list” of items he wanted for his students and was awarded the entire amount he asked for. According to Keith Klug, plant manager for Cargill in Watkins Glen, the grant was provided through a combination of funds from the local Cargill facility, a matching grant from the Cargill Salt Community Environmental Program and a matching grant from the Cargill Global Partnership Fund.

“Cargill takes environmental stewardship seriously, and we enjoy working with our communities to enhance education and to support environmental awareness,” said Klug.

“This grant will help radically change our science department,“ said O-M Superintendent Jim Frame. “It is essential to the implementation of the STEM curriculum in our district, and is making possible what could have taken us years to accomplish.”

Suddaby receives $1,000 Arc scholarship

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 30 -- The Arc of Schuyler’s Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Watkins Glen High School graduate Lindsey Suddaby at the school's June 28 commencement ceremony.

The $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.

Suddaby, daughter of Rick and Kim Suddaby of Burdett, is enrolled at Ithaca College to study speech pathology and American Sign Language. She aspires to be a Speech Therapist and assist children and adults who are deaf or have a disability.

Lindsey was ranked near the top of her graduating class and was a member of the varsity swimming, bowling and track-and-field teams. She held leadership roles in National Honor Society and Music Club, and was a member of Student Council and Rotary Interact Club. She was honored in May as Watkins-Montour Rotary Student of the Month and in June as a member of the Top Drawer 24. In addition to her athletic and academic achievements and volunteer work, she has held a part-time job as a Watkins Glen lifeguard and instructor.

The Joanne Hayes Memorial Scholarship is made possible through donations to The Arc of Schuyler, a not-for-profit organization providing supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. For more information, visit

Photo in text: Lindsey Suddaby

Middle School Principals

WATKINS GLEN, June 25 -- Five educators who have served as principal of the Watkins Glen Middle School were present Wednesday, June 25, for a celebration of the history and tradition of the building, which will soon become senior housing. The building was sold as part of the school district's consolidation to a single campus on 12th Street in Watkins Glen. From left: Kai D'Alleva, who has been principal this school year; Charlena Curry Brown, who served from 1969-1977; Brian O'Donnell, (1981-88); Dave Warren (2001-03); and Kristine Somerville (2003-13). The celebration featured remarks by O'Donnell in the school auditorium, and then an opportunity for attendees to tour the building's hallways.

Student Council donates $200 to Habitat

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 19, 2014-- Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity has received a gift of $200 from the Watkins Glen High School Student Council in memory of loved ones of WGHS.

The gift furthers the effort of Habitat for Humanity to construct a home for a qualified family. The home is presently under construction at 130 Havana Glen Road, and is dedicated to the memory of Dave Centurelli of the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department.

Work days at the site are Wednesdays and Saturdays. Information regarding volunteering can be obtained at Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 45, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

General meetings of Habitat for Humanity are held at 7 p.m. on the last Wednesday of each month at the Silver Spoon Café in the Human Services Complex, Montour Falls.

Photo in text: The Habitat home on Havana Glen Road on Friday, June 20.

Schuyler Scholars

Seniors from Watkins Glen High School honored Wednesday night as Schuyler Scholars during a dinner at the Harbor Hotel pose with their plaques afterward. From left: Corey Flahive, Natasha Patel, Samantha Gill, Matt Woodworth, Principal Dave Warren, Caitlin Connelly, Megan Daigle, Matt Gill, Emily Doppel, Lindsey Suddaby and Joseph Roth. Top academic seniors from the Odessa-Montour and Bradford High Schools were also honored. Those from O-M were Jenelle Bleiler, Hayley Guild, Hayden Moss, Maia Rumsey, Trisha Williams and Jasmine Wittig. From Bradford: Amanda Machuga, Nicholas Machuga and Melanie Meighan. (Photo provided)

Miss Wixson’s 6th-grade students carry their banner around the track. (Photo provided)

Odessa-Montour hosts Relay Recess

Special to
The Odessa File

ODESSA, June 20 -- The Odessa-Montour Central School District held its fifth annual Mini-Relay for Life, now called Relay Recess, on Thursday, June 5, at the school track.

This year, the theme of the event was “Racing Towards a Cure.” The event included laps by grade
with class banners, a banner contest and stations that students rotated through. Station topics included physical activity, nutrition and sun safety.

BC Cate students and staff (grades PreK-2) participated at the track in the morning, and Hanlon Elementary students and staff (grades 3-6) held their Relay Recess in the afternoon.

Photo in text: B.C. Cate students learned yoga at one of the Relay Recess stations. (Photo provided)

3 receive $500 scholarships from SFLW

MONTOUR FALLS, June 17 -- At the Leaders of Tomorrow Annual Celebration held June 16 by the Southern Finger Lakes Women, a Chapter of New York State Women, Inc., three $500 scholarships were awarded to Schuyler County high school seniors. The ceremony was held at the Montour Falls Moose Lodge.

Student winners are as follows:

Kaylyn Teemley. Kaylyn is the daughter of Bill and Kimberly Teemley. She is graduating from Odessa-Montour Junior-Senior High School. Kaylyn has also been busy filling her schedule with college courses during her high school career. As a result, she will enter Corning Community College in the fall ready to complete her Associates Degree after only three semesters. After that, Kaylyn will be transferring to Mercy College to pursue her Bachelor's Degree of Music Industry and Technology. Kaylyn has already started down the path of a career in the audio field through working as an intern and with other professionals in the field. Throughout high school, she has volunteered for various activities and programs, including local concerts, talent shows, Live Like Liz and school plays.

Megan Daigle. Megan is the daughter and stepdaughter of Kristine and Mike Morseman. She is graduating from Watkins Glen High School and will be attending Le Moyne College in the fall, pursuing a path in marketing, sales, and management, with the intent of obtaining her MBA. Megan has been taking all college courses in her senior year. In addition to continuous involvement in many after-school related functions, she is actively involved with her community as well as an employee at the Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor.

Samantha Gill. Samantha is the daughter of Patrick and Emogene Gill. She is graduating third in her class at Watkins Glen High School and will be attending Le Moyne College in the fall beginning in the Direct Entry Physician Assistant Program. Samantha earned this spot out of hundreds of applicants. This rigorous program will allow her to complete her undergrad studies in Biological Sciences in less than four years and move her into the graduate Physician Assistant Program for her fourth and fifth years of college.

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 3rd Monday of each month. For more information about the chapter, contact Gloria Hutchings at (607) 594-2489 or JoAnne Krolak at (607) 732-1171.

Photo in text: From left: Samantha Gill, Megan Daigle and Kaylyn Teemley. (Photo provided)

Somerville on Dean's List at West Point

WEST POINT, NY, June 16, 2014 -- Cadet Brett Somerville, son of Jim and Kristine Somerville of Watkins Glen, has been named to the Dean"s List for the Spring Semester at the U.S. Military Academy. He is an engineering psychology major.

Somerville (right) graduated from Watkins Glen High School in 2012 and will be commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation 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 pre-eminent leader development institution, its mission remains constant -- to educate, train and inspire cadets for careers of professional service to the Army and the nation.

Somerville will be continuing his military training this summer in Ft. Lewis, Washington.

Photo in text: Cadet Brett Somerville (Photo provided)

The NHS inductees. From left: Portia Wells, Margaret Bond, Brenen Murphy, Bernadette Osborne, Claire McManus, Megan Hoy, Cheyenne Stansfield, Lucas Wickham, Katherine Meehan and Brandon Pike.

10 join Honor Society at WG

WATKINS GLEN, June 5 -- Ten students joined the ranks of the Watkins Glen High School chapter of the National Honor Society during an induction ceremony Wednesday night in the school auditorium.

Joining the 36 incumbent members were Brandon Pike, Cheyenne Stansfield, Portia Wells, Lucas Wickham, Margaret Bond, Megan Hoy, Claire McManus, Katherine Meehan, Brenen Murphy and Bernadette Osborne.

The ceremony featured a piano prelude by member Taylor Kennard. NHS President Samantha Gill gave opening and closing remarks, the latter bringing each of the graduating seniors forward to identify themselves and tell where they will be going to college.

There are 14 such seniors: Samantha and Matthew Gill, Megan Daigle, Lindsey Suddaby, Caitlin Connelly, Alexis Naylor, Abbey Willis, Natasha Patel, Emily Doppel, Becca McIntyre, Nathaniel Beaumont, Erika Rhodes, Joseph Roth and Matthew Woodworth.

The officers -- Samantha Gill, Megan Daigle (vice president), Lindsey Suddaby (secretary) and Caitlin Connelly (treasurer) -- each explained one of the four pillars of the National Honor Society (Leadership, Scholarship, Service and Character), and lit a symbolic candle.

After the new inductees had been introduced -- each through a speech by incumbent members -- they marched to the stage in newly donned robes, carrying candles in a darkened auditorium, and recited an NHS pledge. Then they blew out their candles, and were thus members.

Photos in text: Portia Wells, left, and Maggie Bond recite the NHS pledge while holding symbolic candles on a darkened stage; NHS president Samantha Gill.

Inductees Cheyenne Stansfield and Brenen Murphy don their Honor Society robes.

The Odessa-Montour Senior High Chorus performs during the Spring Concert. The accompanist was Sally Michel.

O-M Senior High Band,
Chorus present Spring Concert

ODESSA, May 29 -- The Odessa-Montour Senior High Band and Senior High Chorus presented an emotional concert Wednesday night in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.

The Senior High Band offered several numbers, including "Big Four March," "Chesford Portrait," "Critical Mass," "South Pacific," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," and "Stormchasers."

The Women's Choir sang "I Believe" and "Somewhere above the Clouds," while the Senior High Chorus presented several songs: "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "The Stars Are With the Voyager," "The Dream" (with solos by Rachel Bruno, Heavyn Arias, Logan Barrett, Manley Gavich, Olivia Scata, Joel Kelly, Dana Roberts and Joe Raymond), "Chantez Alleluia," "Like An Eagle," "Fields of Gold" (with solos by Maia Rumsey and Hayden Moss), "River in Judea," and "Show Me The Way" (with solos by Tess Visscher and Hayley Guild).

The seniors in the band and chorus were also honored, with director Clarice Miles presenting each with a gift-laden bucket. She fought back tears as she did so. The seniors in turn gave her a present -- not only for her guidance, but for her pending retirement. This was her last spring concert. At the conclusion of the concert, she was exchanging hugs with her student musicians.

Seven members of the band are seniors, as are six members of the chorus.


Photos in text:

Top: The trumpet section of the Senior High Band.

Bottom: Band and Chorus member Maia Rumsey hugs director Clarice Miles after the concert concluded.

Chorus members Tess Visscher (left) and Hayley Guild (right) perform solos. In the center photo: director Clarice Miles.

Members of the High School Band perform.

High School Chorus members Hayden Moss (left) and Phil Humphries.

Donation will buy kayaks for WG students

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, May 24 -- A $3,425 donation from the estate of a Watkins Glen graduate and her husband will allow the district to purchase four kayaks and related equipment for use in physical education classes.

The donation was made by Bill Pylypciw, Jr., in memory of his parents, William and Delores Bartone Pylypciw. His mother was a 1940 graduate of Watkins Glen High School.

In a letter that accompanied the check, Pylypciw said: "Although most of their married life they lived outside of Watkins, this was still home to them and they loved it here."

He added: "They would enjoy knowing they were providing students with a chance to enjoy this beautiful lake."

The Top 10% honorees in the WGHS senior class posed after the ceremony. From left: Tyler Cummings, Sam Pulis, Matt Woodworth, Lindsey Suddaby, Samantha Gill, Matt Gill, guest speaker Sam Brubaker, Principal Dave Warren, Megan Daigle, Caitlin Connelly, Abbey Willis and Emily DeSantis. Not pictured: Erika Rhodes, who had already departed.

WGHS honors Top 10% of its students

WATKINS GLEN, May 21 -- It was, as retiring Watkins Glen High School principal Dave Warren said, "the beginning of the celebration season."

It was the annual Top Ten% Celebration Tuesday evening in the WGHS cafeteria, where students in the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes were honored for placing in the top 10% of their class academically during the school year just ending.

Warren, the emcee, said it was different than the Top 10 honor bestowed later in the school year and reserved for seniors based on accumulated high school careers.

"It is not an easy thing that you have done," he told the honorees, adding in an aside to the parents present: "Enjoy it."

Guest speaker was Physical Education teacher Sam Brubaker (right), who related how he had graduated from WGHS with the intent to enter the engineering field, but that after attending Bucknell and finding a job in his field, learned "it wasn't for me." His calling, as it turned out, was teaching, which required him to return to college -- not something he had anticipated doing.

But he did, and "today I am truly a person who enjoys going to work every day ... well, almost."

He told the students that whatever careers they pursue, "put in the time and effort" needed to succeed, and they will be able to do so.

Superintendent Tom Phillips, in closing remarks, noted that on July 1 Principal Warren will conclude a career that has spanned 34 years at Watkins Glen. He thanked Warren "for all you have done for me in my eight years here and for the students and community." And turning to Warren, he gave him a big hug.

Then, turning back to the students, Phillips told them that as they enter the working world, "change with it, but stay true to yourselves."

Concluded Warren, speaking to the parents and fighting back some tears: "Every year, every moment, I've thoroughly enjoyed working with your kids."

The honorees, by class, were:

Class of 2017: Jacob Carocci, Ruthe Gardner, Sara Gardner, Alexander Gibson, Sara Morrissette, Brienna Solomon, Payton Watson, Cambria Weeden and Phebe Wickham.

Class of 2016: Maggie Bond, Megan Hoy, Claire McManus, Katherine Meehan, Brenen Murphy, Brandon Pike, Cheyenne Stansfield, Portia Wells and Lucas Wickham.

Class of 2015: Samantha Bradley, LynnAnn Caslin, Colin DeMeritt, Mikayla Elliott, Luke Flahive, Madison Gates, Alexis Gonzalez, Lydia Myers, Elizabeth Reed and Taylor Yaw.

Class of 2014: Caitlin Connelly, Tyler Cummings, Megan Daigle, Emily DeSantis, Matt Gill, Samantha Gill, Sam Pulis, Erika Rhodes, Lindsey Suddaby, Abbey Willis and Matt Woodworth.


Photos in text:

Top: Principal Dave Warren congratulates junior Samantha Bradley as honorees Luke Flahive and LynnAnn Caslin await similar greetings.

Middle: Guest speaker Sam Brubaker addresses the audience.

Bottom: Superintendent Tom Phillips and Principal Dave Warren exchange a hug.

Conklin earns Doctorate of Physical Therapy

Special to The Odessa File

ROCHESTER, May 14, 2014-- Dr. Jaclyn M. Conklin, PT, DPT received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Nazareth College of Rochester on Sunday, May 11.

While at Nazareth, Conklin was a student clinical instructor. She was also a member of the Nazareth swim team, breaking multiple school and pool records. She also participated in the NCAA Division III National Swimming Championships.

Conklin is the daughter of Gary and Alice Conklin and a 2008 graduate of Watkins Glen High School. She currently resides in Rochester, NY.

Head Start gains Whiteboard through grant

Special to
The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 14 -- Schuyler Head Start received what was described as "a generous grant" from the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger lakes Schuyler County Fund to purchase an Interactive Whiteboard.

Hatch's TeachSmart Learning System is a hands-on interactive whiteboard technology tool which enables early childhood teachers to engage children in activities focused on pre-literacy and pre-math skills.

Each of the board's more than 1,100 interactive early childhood learning activities correlate with National and State learning standards. Plus, said Head Start in a press release, "the TeachSmart is fun!"

Photo in text: Head Start's Ashley Cross, left, with Kiera Cartwright. (Photo provided)

WGHS teacher charged, 'relieved of duties' following stun-gun bus incident

WATKINS GLEN, May 2 -- A Watkins Glen High School science teacher was charged Friday morning by Village Police with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 4th Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Child following an incident in which a high school student was found in possession of an electronic stun gun on a school bus.

Village Police said Kathryn E. Barthlomew, 50, of Montour Falls, was charged following investigation of the bus incident. She was issued a ticket to appear in Watkins Glen Village Court on June 12 on the two charges, each a Class A misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

A statement from School Superintendent Tom Phillips said the school district "is cooperating with the Watkins Glen Police Department regarding this morning's incident," adding: "The district employee has been relieved of duties at the school pending the results of the investigation. The school is following the district Code of Conduct relating to any disciplinary action. Because this is a personnel matter, the district will make no further comment."

Barthlomew has been serving as President of the Watkins Glen Faculty Association. She is also known locally as chair of the Schuyler County Environmental Management Council.

According to Village Police, the bus incident occurred when the driver communicated to the bus garage that there was a suspected weapon in the possession of a student on the vehicle. That message was relayed to police headquarters, and minutes later Sgt. Steve Decker and School Resource Officer David Waite intercepted the bus near Decatur and 10th Streets.

Police said the student was removed from the bus and questioned. He had in his possession the stun gun, which was taken from him by police. Decker said such a gun could be purchased on the Internet for $35. It is far different from a taser used by police, he said -- the latter being an $800 item with sophistiated electronics and controls that require training. A stun gun, he said, is legal in some states, but not in New York.

The student, police said, was not charged. But the investigation, they added, led them to Barthlomew, who was at the school preparing for the day's classes. The stun gun "had been in her possession first," Decker said, before ending up in the possession of the student.

How it reached the student was not a matter police were revealing, Decker explaining that the department was trying to cooperate with the school district as it dealt with a sensitive personnel issue.

But he added: "There was nothing illegal in the transfer" of the stun gun. The student "didn't steal it."

Photo in text: Kathryn Bartholomew

Gates to study in Beijing this summer

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, April 25 -- Madison Gates, an 11th-grade student at Watkins Glen High School, has been selected by Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA) and Corning Incorporated to attend the APSA China Study Abroad Summer Program to be held in Beijing from June 28 to August 11.

“I’m really excited,” Gates said. “This is a great opportunity to see another culture and the world in a wider scope.”

This is the second year that Watkins Glen students have been selected for the program. Corey Flahive and Hannah Armstrong attended last year.

The APSA China Scholars Program focuses on language acquisition, cultural understanding, leadership development and exposure to international careers. The program is funded in part through a grant from the U.S. State Department National Security Language Initiative for Youth, administered by American Councils.

Additional funding comes from private sources. Corning Inc. supports the program locally.

“Corning has been instrumental in recruiting and selecting students from area schools, and we are grateful that this opportunity has been provided again this year,” said Nan Woodworth-Shaw, director of instruction and student services for the Watkins Glen Central School District.

Photo in text: Madison Gates (Photo provided)

New members were introduced by chapter members. From left, James Terry was introduced by Hailie Searles, Logan Barrett by Brooke Collins, and Mechel Wead by Joe Collins.

O-M's National Honor Society inducts 7

ODESSA, April 25 -- The Odessa-Montour chapter of the National Honor Society inducted seven new members Thursday evening at a ceremony in O-M's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.

The seven bring the chapter's membership to 20.

Those inducted included Logan Barrett, Tyler Clark, Madison Lodge, Maia Rumsey, Olivia Scata, James Terry and Mechel Wead.

Keynote speaker was Jill Kautz, an O-M graduate several years ago who has taught and coached at the school. She urged the honorees to commit to community service, "an essential part of membership," and to "take a chance to try new things."

High School Principal Chris Wood told the chapter members that "your school looks to you as leaders," and urged them: "Do not settle. Continue to strive for excellence."

Each of the seven honorees was introduced by a chapter member.

A candle ceremony outlined the NHS's four pillars: Scholarship, Service, Leadership and Character. Narrator for the ceremony was senior Tyler Goossen, while candles were lit by members Callie Stillman, Addi Rhodes, Hailie Searles and Jordan Little.

A reception was held in the school cafeteria after the ceremony.

Photos in text:

Top: New member Maia Rumsey is introduced by chapter member Dana Roberts.

Bottom: Keynote speaker Jill Kautz.

Other introductions included, from left: Madison Lodge, introduced by Brianna Struble, Tyler Clark by Joseph Rorick, and Olivia Scata by Samantha House.

Water Aerobics classes seek participants

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, April 18 -- Get fit and have fun, loosen up and laugh! Odessa-Montour Central School and Watkins Glen Central School are hosting water aerobics classes (“Aerobic Fun in the Water”) this spring, but you have to move fast!

Everyone over 18 is welcome. Odessa-Montour’s sessions begin Monday, April 21 and run for five weeks, with Thursday classes beginning April 24. Watkins Glen Central School is hosting “Aqua Aerobics” classes. The next session begins Tuesday, April 22.

All classes need sufficient registered participants to be scheduled, and some sessions are in danger of being cancelled if more folks don’t register.

Call NOW to ensure that these classes are scheduled! All sessions are $7 per class. Register online at or call Carol at 607-739-8170 or 7905.

The classes are offered through GST BOCES Adult Education.

Dan Whelan of Bearsch Compeau Knudson, Architects & Engineers of Binghamton, as he explained the Middle School plan to the Watkins Glen Planning Board in November. The board approved the project, which will convert the school to apartments

Watkins Glen Middle School project gets needed funding

Apartment complex, already OK'd by Planning Board, is good to go

WATKINS GLEN, April 17 -- The developer planning to convert the Watkins Glen Middle School into apartments got a much needed economic shot in the arm Wednesday with announcement of a $3,839,219 grant -- a key element in moving ahead with the nearly $14 million project.

The grant was awarded to S.E.P.P., Inc. of Binghamton for "the adaptive reuse of the former Watkins Glen Middle School into 51 units of affordable housing for seniors." It was one of $95 million in state-funded awards announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo for affordable housing developments across the state

The grant, long expected, will permit the S.E.P.P. group to move forward with the project this summer after the Watkins Glen School District vacates the Middle School at the end of the current school year. The sale of the building by the School District last year -- contingent on this grant -- was a key component in the district's move to a single campus.

"Now," said Tony Fiala, executive director of S.E.P.P., "this project is going to move. This was the piece we needed to make this work. We're very happy with it." Had the grant not come through, he admitted, "we'd be in tough shape."

But instead, all systems are now "go," he said, with the remainder of the needed funds coming "through different financing sources." The project could take up to two years to complete, although the start date hinges both on the timing of the grant funds' release, and on the time required by the school district to vacate the building after classes end in June. That is not, however, expected to take long, he noted.

The Middle School project is also considered a key element in Project Seneca, an economic plan that envisions a new wastewater treatment plant shared by Watkins Glen and Montour Falls that would eliminate the existing plant along the Seneca Lake shoreline and trigger lakeside and community development.

The governor's office said the S.E.P.P. grant is part of "a coordinated State investment with the Empire State Development Corporation, which also awarded the project $900,000 last year as part of the 2013 Regional Council Consolidated Funding Application." That $900,000 was earmarked for renovation of the Middle School's existing gymnasium and auditorium, which will be separated from the apartments in the building and used by the community.

S.E.P.P. (Serving the Elderly through Project Planning) has already gained approval for the Middle School renovation from the Watkins Glen Planning Board. The S.E.P.P. group has transformed old schools into similar housing projects in the past.

The apartment complex will be for people 55 and older with incomes up to 80 percent of the average median income.

Few changes in the building's exterior are planned, other than the addition of a wheelchair accessible entrance in the front of the building, new windows throughout, and some masonry restoration. Additional parking will be created in the property's northeast corner, and the asphalt playground at the rear of the property will be eliminated, with a grassy area installed for use by building residents.

"In 2014 every New Yorker deserves a safe, decent and affordable place to call home," Governor Cuomo said in announcing the state awards. "Today we're building on the over $1 billion we've already invested to make that dream a reality."

The funds were available through the New York State Homes & Community Renewal (HCR) Unified Funding Application, a single-source process to apply for several funding streams for affordable, multifamily developments. In total, HCR is making awards to 37 separate projects in the state's 10 economic development regions.

Photo in text: An overhead view of the Middle School housing project, as presented to the Watkins Glen Planning Board in November. The Board gave its blessing to the plan.

Used goods drive to benefit Senior Party

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, April 15 -- An eco-friendly way to divert waste from our nation’s landfills and reach people in need: The First Annual Used Clothing (and Household Goods) Drive is happening here in May!

Sponsored by the WGHS Parent Committee for the All-Night Senior Party, donations of gently used clothing and household goods will be collected at the Watkins Glen Bus Garage along Decatur Street on three consecutive Saturday mornings -- May 3rd, May 10th and May 17th.

The Parent Committee earns 10 cents a pound for each bag and box of goods donated, and all proceeds go toward the all-night, alcohol-free party honoring WGHS graduating seniors. The sky’s the limit on poundage. Are you up for the challenge??

For a full list of acceptable and unacceptable donations, click on the following link:

Contact: Mary Fanara at (607) 232-4104 with questions or to arrange for a pickup.

Cole earns spot in academic honor society

BROCKPORT, April 15 -- The Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society has selected Cassaundra Cole for membership in the local chapter at The College at Brockport.

Delta Epsilon Iota was established to recognize and encourage academic excellence in all fields of study. Students qualify on the basis of academic achievement. Prospective members must have completed a minimum of 30 semester hours at an accredited college or university while maintaining a 3.30 cumulative grade-point average or a scholastic ranking in the top 15% of their class.

Cassaundra, daughter of Tammy and Michael Cole, is a Watkins Glen High School graduate studying health science. She is scheduled to graduate from Brockport in May, and plans to attend a graduate program in Physical Therapy.

Photo at right: Cassaundra Cole (Provided)

Office of Civil Rights to probe Title IX 'equity issue' in Watkins school sports

WATKINS GLEN, April 8 -- An alleged inequality in sports opportunities in the Watkins Glen School District -- favoring boys over girls -- will be the subject of an investigation by the federal Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights following a complaint that the district is violating Title IX regulations.

Title IX is a statute established in 1972 -- part of the Education Amendments of that year that guard against discrimination based on gender "under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

The complaint was filed by Hector resident Kristina Hansen, who parenthetically has since obtained petitions for a run in the upcoming School Board election. Her complaint has triggered the Title IX investigation.

Hansen last year obtained the services of the Cornell Legal Aid Clinic at the Cornell University Law School, which took her Title IX complaint and, in her words, "added legal jargon to it." It was filed with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in New York City by Cornell law students Lauren Bowman and Catherine Eisenhut, with approval of Visiting Clinical Professor Jonathan Feldman.

Their 8-page document was filed, it read, "to complain about ongoing sex discrimination in the athletics programs in the Watkins Glen Central School District on behalf of all female athletes in the district. The complainant asserts that there is unequal funding for boys' and girls' sports in the district and that there are unequal athletic participation opportunities for female students in the district

"Further, the complainant asserts that, by accepting a grant for a boys' high school lacrosse team, the Watkins Glen Board of Education has created even greater disparity in benefits and opportunities between male and female sports ... The complainant now requests that the Office of Civil Rights investigate the illegalities set forth ... and take appropriate action to ensure the WGCSD, a recipient of federal funds, complies with federal law by requiring WGCSD to provide equal benefits and participation opportunities for female students."

The alleged violations involved Board creation of the lacrosse program and acceptance in early 2013 of more than $7,000 in donations for the program, as well as acceptance later in the year of a U.S. Lacrosse First Stick Program Grant "with associated requirements and benefits." Hansen said the requirements included a two-year commitment to varsity boys lacrosse.

Superintendent Tom Phillips, when asked to comment, confirmed the investigation, saying that "legally, I am limited to acknowledging that the District was notified of a Title IX complaint and will work with the Office of Civil Rights to complete their investigation. Should any violations be indicated, the District will work with OCR to address" them.

It is, he also noted, "an equity of opportunity issue."

The final page of the complaint reads: "If, as we strongly suspect, OCR finds unequal treatment in the school athletics programs between male and female students, the complainant asks that WGCSD be required to ensure equitable funding for both boys' and girls' sports teams ... and provide additional athletic participation opportunities for female students. Based on female student interest these additional opportunities could include the addition of new programs, such as creating a girls' lacrosse team, or the expansion of existing programs to accommodate greater participation by female students."

According to Hansen, the investigation should begin soon. "I have been very open about my reason for filing this complaint -- (there is) more money, more effort, more teams for boys," she said. "Lacrosse was the tipping point.

"Beyond the Title IX issue, (there is) so much grumbling in the community about how the lacrosse program came into being, (with) many parents, athletes and Watkins Glen coaches unhappy about how difficult it is now to schedule practice time with the addition of two teams (Modified and Varsity Lacrosse) that need time in the Field House."

Hansen's numbers -- obtained, she said, through the school's Athletic Director's office -- indicate only a moderate advantage by the Watkins Glen boys in terms of total numbers of sports opportunities, although there are more boys teams than girls teams.

There is, however, an evidently growing disparity in funding with the addition of lacrosse financing in the upcoming 2014-15 budget. A look at the budget figures provided to the School Board by Athletic Director Rod Weeden shows the cost of the boys Modified and Varsity Lacrosse programs totals $13,689 -- part of $122,161 provided to 17 boys teams.

Fifteen girls teams, meanwhile, will receive $99,859, a $22,302 disparity. And Hansen says it should be considered more than that since "fall cheerleading is not a sport." Cheerleading -- fall and winter -- is listed in the sports budget as one item, for $10,706.

Six other Watkins Glen squads with both boys and girls on them -- bowling, cross country and four others -- are funded jointly and thus would not reduce the disparity if added equally into the boys and girls budget totals.

Bond named to U. of Rochester Dean's List

Special to The Odessa File

ROCHESTER, NY, April 3 -- Sarah Elizabeth Bond, a junior majoring in biochemistry at the University of Rochester, has been named to the Dean’s List for academic achievement for the fall 2013 semester.

Bond, a resident of Watkins Glen, is the daughter of Christopher Bond and Michelle Bond, and a graduate of Watkins Glen High School.

Glen School Board set to vote on budget with 2.7% levy hike

WATKINS GLEN, April 3 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Wednesday night, at the end of its final budget workshop, directed Superintendent Tom Phillips to prepare documents that will lead the way to board approval Monday night of a proposed 2014-15 budget with a 2.76% tax levy increase.

The 2.76% is the maximum increase permitted under the state tax cap. The total proposed budget amounts to $24,047,481, an increase of 2.99% in spending.

The tax rate will be going up an estimated 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, to $12.51 per $1,000 from $12.18.

The public will vote on the spending plan next month.

Among the highlights outlined by Phillips to the board are the following:

-- The district is taking back Career Development Coordination from BOCES, replacing that person with a "displaced Watkins Glen teacher" -- one of the many who lost their jobs when the district reduced the number of positions under budget constraints in recent years.

-- The district will add a School Psychologist "based on an increase in Special Needs." The position will be advertised, seeking a person with an Educational School Psychology degree -- a Masters in Social Work. If no such person can be found, Phillips said, "we can issue a waiver" to hire a person with a lesser Psychology degree.

-- Two teachers will become Deans of Students -- one for K-6 and one for grades 7-12. Two teachers will be hired on the elementary level, one to replace the selected Dean in the classroom, and one for an additional classroom position.

-- Lacrosse -- both Modified and Varsity -- is being added to the budget. It has been self-funded since being launched last year.

Phillips and district Business Manager Gayle Sedlack also reiterated the savings that will occur with the closing of the Middle School as the district moves to a single campus in the fall, and noted that the fund balance is being boosted back to its maximum-allowed level of 4%. It had been reduced from that level in recent belt-tightening years.

They also pointed out that the state's Gap Elimination Adjustment program initiated in 2009-10 has been reduced somewhat as the state begins what it calls a "restoration" of some of the GEA funding it took from school districts. That program, designed to help the state eliminate gaps in its own budget, sees New York take back a portion of the state aid it hands out to districts each year. That amount in the Watkins district, counting an estimated $1.4 million this year (taken back from state aid of $9.3 million), has amounted to $10.8 million over the program's six years.

The "restoration" this year, in the state's eyes, amounts to $314,000 -- the difference between last yea's takeback of $1,730,000 and this year's takeback of $1,416,000.


-- Longtime board member Gloria Brubaker has announced that she has changed her mind and is running for re-election. She was circulating her petition after Wednesday's board workshop, and said that with three positions on the ballot and no other incumbents running, she feels the Board will need her experience. Incumbent Tom Richardson is not seeking re-election, and board Vice President Kevin Field resigned his seat earlier this year.

Other possible candidates -- three people with petitions in hand -- include Jim Somerville, Kristina Hansen and Annette Bascom.

Photos in text:

Top: From left, district Business Manager Gayle Sedlack and board members Tom Richardson and Mike Myers at Wednesday's workshop.

Bottom: Superintendent Tom Phillips looks on as board member Gloria Brubaker makes a point at Wednesday's workshop.

Auxiliary offers health care scholarships

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, April 2 -- The Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary is offering scholarships to students who plan to enter the health care field.

$1,000 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.

Applications may be found online at, by clicking on the media release at the top right. Applications may also be picked up at high school guidance offices and at the hospital’s Human Resources office – located inside the hospital's new Main Entrance.

Applications must be postmarked by May 30, 2014.

For more information, email, or contact Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary member Joan Argetsinger at (607) 535-6622.

Houck named new Dundee superintendent

Special to The Odessa File

DUNDEE, March 28, 2014 -- The Dundee Central School District Board of Education has appointed Kelly Houck as the district's next Superintendent of Schools, effective July 1.

Houck comes to Dundee from Canaseraga Central School, where she has been School Superintendent for the past two years. Before that she was the Bradford High School principal. Over the past 10 years, she has also served in various roles of public education, including: teacher, Director of Special Education, and Director of Transportation.

Houck received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Mansfield University, a Masters of Education in Elementary and Special Education from Mansfield, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration from SUNY Brockport.

“I am truly elated to join the Dundee team,” said Houck. “I believe that Dundee Central School is the best kept secret of the Finger Lakes, and I look forward to using my skills, knowledge and experience in assisting the district in aggressively preparing our students for the 21st Century and beyond."

The hiring process included: the involvement of many student representatives, staff members and community representatives.

"I am grateful for this opportunity," said Houck, "and I am very pleased to be retiring my resume and beginning a longstanding relationship and commitment to Dundee Central School.”

Photo in text: Kelly Houck (Photo provided)

From left: Abbey Willis, Lydia Myers and Paige Hughey.

'No, No, Nanette' ends its run at WGHS

WATKINS GLEN, March 31-- The Watkins Glen High School production of the musical comedy “No, No, Nanette” -- which opened Friday night -- was presented for the third and final time Sunday afternoon before an enthusiastic audience in the WGHS auditorium.

The audience responded at the end of the performance with a standing ovation.

Although not as well known as other musical comedies, “No, No, Nanette” features a number of popular songs, including “Tea for Two,” “Too Many Rings Around Rosie,” “I Want to Be Happy,” and “I’ve Confessed to the Breeze.”

The weekend audiences found “No, No, Nanette!” to be a fun romp through the 1920s – with humor, romance, mistaken identity, spilled secrets and, ultimately, a happy ending.

It also had three skits that were crowd pleasers. One featured the Gill twins, Matt and Samantha, in a comedy about a cheese salesman and a prospective buyer. Another was the classic "Who's on First?" routine made famous by Abbott and Costello, in this case presented by Chase Richtmyer and exchange student Juliette Barbay. And the third was a case of one-upmanship carried to extremes by Mikayla Elliott, Chris Likoudis, Portia Wells and Phebe Wickham.

This was the 10th Watkins Glen High School musical directed by Tim and Michelle Benjamin. Sarah Mathews was Music Director, and Sam Brubaker was Producer. Students Lydia Myers, Portia Wells, Mikayla Elliott, Justine Hulbert, Paige Hughey and Abigail Rundle choreographed the numerous song-and-dance numbers.

Student Kevin Baker was Stage Manager. Student Natasha Patel was in charge of makeup, while the professionals from Shear Designs once again handled the hairstyling. Parents Tammy Cole and Dee Hughey were costumers.

"No, No, Nanette!" Cast List:

Pauline -- Abigail Rundle
Lucille Early -- Caitlin Connelly
Billy Early -- Zack Kelly
Sue Smith -- Brooke Shaffer
Jimmy Smith -- Andrew Likoudis (right)
Tom Trainor -- Dakota Cole
Nanette -- Brooke Grinolds
Flora Latham -- Lydia Myers
Betty Brown -- Abbey Willis
Winnie Winslow -- Paige Hughey

Dayne Hughey, Chris Likoudis, Chase Richtmyer, Juliette Barbay, Valerie Biviano, Victoria Blanchard, Megan Dupuy, Mikayla Elliott, Keziah Fraboni, Ruthe Gardner, Bridgette Guild, Justine Hulbert, Serafina Lopresti, Becca McIntyre, Taylor McIntyre, Elizabeth Reed, Mikayla Rhoads, Joelle Slater, Portia Wells, Phebe Wickham.

Photos in text:

Top: Caitlin Connelly as Lucille Early belts out a song while (from left) Dayne Hughey, Chase Richtmyer, Chris Likoudis and Dakota Cole accompany her with some dance steps.

Second: Dakota Cole and Brooke Grinolds as sweethearts Tom Trainor and Nanette.

Third: Megan Dupuy, part of the play's ensemble of singers and dancers.

Left: Brooke Shaffer and Andrew Likoudis as Sue and Jimmy Smith. Right: Portia Wells performing ballet during an Act III song.

From left: Ensemble members Bridgette Guild and Justine Hulbert; and Zack Kelly as Billy Early muzzles Dakota Cole's Tom Trainor.

Ruthe Gardner (front) and Juliette Barbay perform with the play's ensemble during a song-and-dance number.

Left: Elizabeth Reed, who doubled as a member of the on-stage ensemble and
as a member of the pit band. Right: Ensemble member Serafina Lopresti.

Left: Brooke Grinolds as Nanette admires an engagement ring given to her by Dakota Cole as Tom Trainor. Right: Abigail Rundle, right, as Pauline laughs at a joke she made about the attributes of Flora Latham, portrayed by Lydia Myers.

Song-and-dance ensemble members Phebe Wickham (left) and Keziah Fraboni.

Left: Pit band member Tom Bloodgood. Right: Billy Early (Zack Kelly) lifts his wife Lucille (Caitlin Connelly) during a musical number.

And on Saturday night:

Caitlin Connelly and Zack Kelly complete a dance routine, backed by a group of singers.

Dakota Cole as Tom Trainor and Brooke Grinolds as Nanette.

From left: Zack Kelly, Lydia Myers, Paige Hughey and Abbey Willis.

From left: Pit Band drummer Andy Stevenson, Brooke Shaffer as Sue Smith, and Andrew Likoudis as Jimmy Smith.

The conclusion of an Act Two musical number.

And on Friday night:

Caitlin Connelly's Lucille Early reacts to an explanation by husband Billy Early,
portrayed by Zack Kelly.

Samantha and Matt Gill perform a skit about a cheese salesman.

From left: Dakota Cole as Tom Trainor, Brooke Shaffer as Sue Smith, and Andrew Likoudis as her husband, Jimmy Smith.

Mikayla Elliott completes a dance move
during one of the play's musical numbers.

From left, Abbey Willis, Lydia Myers and Paige Hughey as three women
who figure prominently in the comedic plot.

From left: Cast members Joelle Slater and Phebe Wickham.

Juliette Barbay and Chase Richtmyer perform the comedy skit "Who's on First?"

Left: Pit Band member Bernie Riley. Right: Music Director Sarah Matthews.

Left: Abigail Rundle as Pauline. Right: Justine Hulbert flies across the stage, doing flips, during a musical number.

At earlier rehearsals:

"No, No, Nanette" cast members (from left) Lydia Myers, Paige Hughey and Abbey Willis.

Brooke Grinolds as Nanette and Dakota Cole as her romantic interest, Tom Trainor.

Left: Caitlin Connelly as Lucille Early. Right: Andrew Likoudis as Jimmy Smith, and Brooke Shaffer as Sue Smith.

WGMS students write, publish cookbook

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, March 28 -- Eighth-grade home and careers students at Watkins Glen Middle School recently wrote, edited and published a cookbook titled Taste of the Lake. The book contains more than 125 of the students’ favorite recipes, along with student artwork, stories about the origins of the recipes and essays describing family food traditions.

Students currently are selling the cookbooks throughout the community for $6. Proceeds from the sale will be used to cover the cost of a career awareness field trip to Cornell University in April.

The hands-on project offers students a chance to practice several career skills, including desktop publishing, direct sales, meeting deadlines, learning to work with each other productively and important computer skills. Friendly competition between classes helps encourage great salesmanship, another important career skill.

To order a copy of Taste of the Lake, email Barbara Bristow at

The 3rd/4th Grade Chorus performs "Sing a Song, Song, Song."

O-M presents Music in Our Schools concert

ODESSA, March 27 -- Students from the 3rd through 12th grades in the Odessa-Montour School District displayed their musical talents Wednesday night at a Music In Our Schools concert in the high school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.

The 4th Grade Band started the concert with three selections: "Au Claire De La Lune," "Merrily We Roll Along" and "Lightly Row." Next up was the 5th/6th Grade Chorus, with songs "Seize the Day" and "Exsultate Deo, Rejoice."

The 3rd/4th Grade Chorus presented "Sing a Song, Song, Song" and "Put on a Happy Face," while the 5th/6th Grade Band played "Prehistoric Suite" and "Louie, Louie."

The Junior High School Band performed "Kingsport Overture" and "Sax-O-Matic," followed by the Junior High School Chorus singing "My America" and "Make a Song for My Heart to Sing."

The Senior High School Band performed "Last Ride of the Pony Express," and the Senior High school Chorus concluded with "Someone Like You" (with senior Tess Visscher on piano) and "Omnia Sol."

Musical directors were Kim Laursen, Michelle Voorheis and Clarice Miles. Sally Michel was accompanist.

Photos in text: Members of the Junior High School Chorus (top) and Junior High School Band perform.

The 5th/6th Grade Band played two selections.

The Senior High School Band plays "Last Ride of the Pony Express."

The Senior High School Chorus sings "Someone Like You."

Somerville is on West Point Dean's List

WEST POINT, NY, March 25 -- Cadet Brett Somerville, son of James and Kristine Somerville, has been named to the Dean’s List for the Fall Semester 2013 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. To earn this distinction, a cadet must maintain a 3.0 average in all courses. Cadet Somerville’s major is Engineering Psychology.

Somerville graduated from Watkins Glen High School in 2012 and will be commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation from 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.

Superintendent Tom Phillips explains the 2014-15 layout of the high school. New construction is on the left, including district offices, school library and STEM lab.

'Transition Meeting' leads to school tour

WATKINS GLEN, March 25 -- About two-dozen area residents attended Monday night's "Transition Meeting" at the Watkins Glen High School Auditorium, and were led on a tour of the new construction at the school by Superintendent Tom Phillips.

The "transition" is the ongoing process that will consolidate Middle and High School functions in one building, creating a single campus for all district classes along 12th Street.

Phillips explained the project through a power-point presentation, touching on such subjects as student traffic flow, grade-specific classroom placement, and bus dropoff and pickup plans for the next school year.

Middle School Principal Kai D'Alleva and High School Principal Dave Warren were also on hand to explain some facets of the project, which includes a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lab area, an enlarged cafeteria, a new gym where the old pool was, a new library, and new district offices.

Following the presentation, Phillips led attendees through the new construction, from district offices to library to TV studio to computer rooms to STEM lab and back along an old hallway to the western end of the building. He explained that the entrance there will be reconfigured so that anyone entering will have to go through two buzzer points before gaining admission to the hallways.

"That's not how we thought years ago," he said, "but it's how we think now" -- an allusion to the need for heightened security in an age when school shootings in the United States have occurred with alarming frequency.

Among those on hand for the tour was former high school principal and former School Board president Brian O'Donnell, who said afterward that he could have used "a map. That place is like a maze."

D'Alleva assured the audience that come summer, the district will make an effort to open the school for an hour or so at a time on prescribed days so that "everybody who wants to get in here can get in here as many times as they want, including parents" in an attempt to familiarize people with the building's new configuration and reduce confusion that otherwise might occur when the single-campus concept takes effect with the 2014-15 school year.

Photos in text:

Top: Middle School Principal Kai D'Alleva, left, and High School Principal Dave Warren were on hand to help answer questions. They are spearheading the transition of the Middle and High Schools onto a single campus, to take effect in the next school year.

Middle: An artistic rendition of the new library, as seen from overhead.

Bottom: Attendees listen as Superintendent Tom Phillips explains the construction during the tour.

Arc of Schuyler offers $1,000 scholarship

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, March 23 -- The Arc of Schuyler is offering a $1,000 scholarship in honor of former board member Joanne S. Hayes. High school seniors at Watkins Glen, Odessa-Montour and Bradford Central Schools or who are Schuyler County residents are eligible to apply for the award.

One 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 intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism.

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 23:
• Completed application
• Legible essay (no more than two double-spaced pages)
• Two letters of reference
• GPA, Class Rank, SAT Scores, Transcript
• Photo of applicant to be used in promotional materials

Applications are available at school guidance offices and at For more information, call 607-535-6934.

From left: Max (Logan Barrett), Capt. von Trapp (Brennan Voorheis) and Elsa (Hailie Searles) sing "No Way to Stop It."

'Sound of Music' ends its run

ODESSA, March 16 -- The Odessa-Montour High School spring musical "The Sound of Music" was presented for the fourth and final time Saturday night before an appreciative audience in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.

The play was also performed Thursday and Friday nights and then at a matinee Saturday afternoon. The photos with this article are from Saturday night.

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 was directed by Kim Laursen. Emma Raymond and Hayley Guild shared the role of Maria, with each performing it in two of the four performances (Guild Thursday and Saturday nights, and Raymond Friday night and Saturday afternoon).

Captain von Trapp was portrayed by Brennan Voorheis. The Mother Abbess was portrayed by Jenelle Bleiler (Thursday and Saturday nights) and Dana Roberts (Friday night and Saturday afternoon). Logan Barrett had the role of Max Detweiler, while Baroness Elsa Schraeder was portrayed by Hailie Searles.

Choreographers were Holly Faulk, Manley Gavich and Mrs. Laursen. The sound was overseen by Andy Campbell, Cheyenne Barrett and Hayley Burke, and the lighting by Frank Wood, Ryan Lambert, Brandon McCormack, Mrs. Laursen and Sam Norton.

The pit band members included Sharon Anderson (clarinet), Lou Cicconi (bass and guitar), Pam Cicconi (trombone), Bob King (trumpet), Tori Pries (clarinet), Kate Ross (French horn), Andy Stevenson (percussion), and Michelle Voorheis (flute).

Familiar songs included "The Sound of Music," "Maria," "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," "So Long, Farewell," and "Climb Every Mountain."

The Sound of Music cast:

Marie Rainer: Hayley Guild (Thurs & Sat evenings), Emma Raymond (Fri eve., Sat matinee)
Sister Berthe, Mistress of Novices: Rosemary Peckham
Sister Margaretta, Mistress of Postulants: Tess Visscher
The Mother Abbess: Jenelle Bleiler (Thurs & Sat eve), Dana Roberts (Fri. eve, Sat. matinee)
Sister Sophia: Sarah Norton
Captain Georg von Trapp: Brennan Voorheis
Franz, the Butler: Joe Raymond
Frau Schmidt, the Housekeeper: Maggie Coates
Liesl von Trapp: Jordan Little
Friedrich von Trapp: Rhys Stermer
Louis von Trapp: Grace Vondracek
Kurt von Trapp: Jared Rumsey
Brigitta von Trapp: Maria Scata
Marta von Trapp: Jocelyn Davis
Gretl von Trapp: Jayla Davis
Rolf Gruber: Manley Gavich
Baroness Elsa Schraeder: Hailie Searles
Ursula, the maid: Olivia Scata
Max Detweiler: Logan Barrett
Herr Zeller: Tyler Goossen
Baron Elberfeld: Dan Rounds
A Postulant: Olivia Scata
Admiral von Schreiber: Joel Kelly
Nuns Chorus, Party Guests Chorus, Finale Chorus

Photos in text:

Top: Maria (Hayley Guild)
Second: From left: Herr Zeller (Frank Wood), Admiral von Schreiber (Charles Sidle), Captain von Trapp (Brennan Voorheis) and Max Detweiler (Logan Barrett) discuss German plans to incorporate the captain into the Navy of the Third Reich.
Third: The Mother Abbess (Jenelle Bleiler) sings "Climb Ev'ry Mountain."
Bottom: The wedding of Maria and the captain.

The Von Trapp Family Singers perform at the Kaltzberg Festival before their escape.

A group of youngsters called the Kinder Saengerbund aus OdessaMonto perform at the festival.


Left: Max (blindfolded) plays a game with the children.
Gretl (Jayla Davis) exits the festival.

Left: The captain with the Baroness. Right: A dance at the Von Trapp villa.

During the dance sequence at the villa, some of the participants moved to the "patio,"
an area near the theater seats.

A trio of nuns from the Nonnberg Abbey.

The full Nun Choir performs the finale, "Climb Ev'ry Mountain."

The Family von Trapp makes its escape from Austria, into the fog of night and over the Alps.

And on Friday night:

Left: Rolf (Manley Gavich) pulls away as Liesl von Trapp (Jordan Little) moves toward him. Right: Maria (Emma Raymond) with her guitar.

The wedding of Maria (Emma Raymond) and Captain von Trapp (Brennan Voorheis).

Left: Hailie Searles as Baroness Elsa Schraeder. Right: Maria (Emma Raymond) sneaks out of the von Trapp estate, on her way back to the Abbey.

The von Trapp children gather around Maria (Emma Raymond) as she returns from the Abbey.

Left: Dana Roberts as The Mother Abbess sings "Climb Ev'ry Mountain."
Right: Logan Barrett (left) as Max Detweiler and Brennan Voorheis as Captain von Trapp.

Formal dancing dominated an Act 1 scene.

Maria and the children belt out a song on the stairs of the von Trapp villa.

And on opening night Thursday:

Maria (Hayley Guild) and Capt. von Trapp (Brennan Voorheis) dance in a scene from Act 1.

Manley Gavich as Rolf Gruber and Jordan Little as Liesl von Trapp perform "Sixteen Going on Seventeen."

Left: Hayley Guild (Maria) sings "The Sound of Music" early in the play
Right: Jenelle Bleiler as The Mother Abbess sings "Climb Ev'ry Mountain."

Left: Baroness Elsa Schraeder (Hailie Searles) with Capt. von Trapp (Brennan Voorheis).
Right: Logan Barrett as Max Detweiler.

Hayley Guild, as Maria, is surrounded by the von Trapp children at the end of a song.

From left at the dance: NHS Vice President Megan Daigle, NHS President Samantha Gill, NHS Treasurer Caitlin Connelly, Foreign Exchange Student Juliette Barbay, and NHS Secretary Lindsey Suddaby.

Dance raises nearly $1,000 for charity

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, March 13, 2014 -- The Watkins Glen High School National Honor Society's annual Charity Ball was held at Lakewood Winery on Friday night, March 7.

"It was a great success!" said NHS President Samantha Gill. "The charity we chose this year is also one we chose last year -- Sharing Sharee's Smile, which donates toys to children in hospitals.

"Ticket sales were slow in the beginning of the week," said Gill, "but rapidly picked up speed. Through both ticket sales and donations, we raised just shy of $1,000. Everyone had an amazing time dancing the night away. I would especially like to thank Lakewood Winery for allowing us to use their facilities, as well as A Walk on the Wild Side for the music."

Left: Enjoying the Charity Ball were Bridgette Guild, left, and Raevyn Saunders. Right: Also on hand were Katherine Meehan, left, and Mikayla Rhoads. (Photos provided)

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.
--Write a 500- to 1500-word essay.
--Create a 3-to 5-minute video.
--Create a slide show with a minimum 4 to12 slides (example: Prezi or PowerPoint).

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 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.

BOCES board member Learn honored

Special to
The Odessa File

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
Pre-Kindergarten from a half-day to a full-day program thanks to a grant from the New York State Education Department.

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 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 ( 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 boxer
Ray Ciancaglini. (Photo by Steve Plopper)

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.

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
president of the class club.”

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.
--Interact Club, which raises funds for many worthy causes, including AIDS relief and to send bicycles to Africa.
--Seneca Santa, a program that distributes gifts to less-fortunate families during the holiday season.
--Diversity Club, which raises awareness about equality and acceptance, as well as funds for AIDS Awareness Month.
--Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), which hosted a Halloween party for K-5th graders to promote safe and healthy spirits for the holiday.
--Relay for Life, a walk to benefit the American Cancer Society.
--Art Club, which works to raise awareness of and promote arts in the community.

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

Special to
The Odessa File

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 $1 million.

PIVOT has three main goals:

• 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.

• Increase understanding of the importance of physical activity and nutrition for overall health. Physical education and health classes will focus on healthy eating habits and nutrition, as well as positive behaviors and decision-making skills. The district also will evaluate food choices in its school lunch program, as well as in vending machines and at school events.

Grant funds will be used to purchase equipment and cover personnel and contractual costs. According to Superintendent Tom Phillips, implementation of the program will begin immediately.

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
Cain studied at Corning Community College, Keuka College and Elmira College. She previously
worked in the Campbell-Savona and Horseheads districts.
--Bridgette Duncan, 7th and 8th grade Special Education
Duncan studied at SUNY Cortland and previously taught in Sidney, NY.
--Kayla Dykshoorn, District Librarian
Dykshoorn is a graduate of Odessa-Montour and attended SUNY Cortland and Mansfield University. She previously served as a substitute and afterschool program assistant at O-M.
--Holly McNelis, School Counselor
McNelis studied at Elmira College and Canisus College. She was a youth counselor/adult counselor at GST BOCES before coming to O-M.
--Joelle Mondorf, School Psychologist
Mondorf studied at LeMoyne College and Alfred University. She was formerly a school psychologist in Rhode Island.
--Gwen Pfleegor, UPK
Pfleegor studied at SUNY Geneseo, Elmira College and SUNY Cortland. She taught for 34 years in the Elmira City School District and worked as a graduate reading instructor at Elmira College for 13 years. After retiring, she realized she missed teaching and decided to return to the classroom.
--Laurel Strobel, Living Environment
Strobel is a 1994 graduate of Odessa-Montour and studied at Cornell University and SUNY Oswego. She taught at Edison for 11 years before returning to her alma mater.
--Kevin Tarbert, Earth Science
Tarbert studied at Millersville University and Washington State University. He previously taught in Florida.

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.

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 semester.

Bond, a resident of Watkins Glen, N.Y., 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 in Rochester, N.Y. (pop. 212,000) on the south shore of Lake Ontario.

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
community on our high quality academic program for our students. We look forward to showcasing new initiatives for the 2013-2014 school year.”

Register no later than August 12 through the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce at (607) 535-4300 or email

M.A.S.H. Camp focus: medical careers

Special to
The Odessa File

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

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, 2013 -- 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.”

Administration add-on brings debate

WATKINS GLEN, June 30, 2013 -- 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.

Retirement Party

Current teachers, former teachers and former students from Watkins Glen High School pose during a party June 14, 2013 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, 2013 -- 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.

School Board OKs new administrator, listens to plea on After-School Program

WATKINS GLEN, June 18, 2013 -- 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.
--Ashley Cross will be the new varsity volleyball coach. Katey Cheplick will be the JV coach.
--Scott Morse will be the new JV girls basketball 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.

Bids are next as Glen district
gets go-ahead on construction

WATKINS GLEN, May 8, 2013 -- 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.

Frame report leans against closing of B.C. Cate school

ODESSA, March 15, 2013 -- 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.

O'Donnell won't seek re-election to Board

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 31, 2012 -- 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."

O'Donnell, who also served as interim principal at Odessa-Montour High School in the 2005-06 school year, has been associated from the outset with the annual Top Drawer 24 celebration honoring two-dozen area high school student-athletes. The team is subtitled The Brian J. O'Donnell Schuyler County Scholar-Athlete-Citizen Team in his honor. He serves on the team's selection committee, and has introduced each honoree at all seven of the annual celebrations, held at the Watkins Glen State Park pavilion. He will continue in that role.

Photo in text: Brian O'Donnell


© The Odessa File 2014
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869