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Club presents scholarships to 3 graduates

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, July 5, 2024 -- The Ladies Wednesday Afternoon Club has awarded $150 scholarships to each of three 2024 Schuyler County high school graduates who plan on attending a college or trade school. The scholarships go to one student each at the Odessa-Montour, Watkins Glen and Bradford High Schools. They are:

Odessa-Montour: Jenna Wolfe. Jenna is a strong student who has faced and pushed through many challenges. She is going to Corning Community College for liberal arts next year, and then plans to finish her associate's degree and transfer from there.

Watkins Glen: Keira Sulkey. Keira is a hard-working student and is in the top ten of her class. She plans to attend Alfred State Vet Tech, and then on to a four-year school to pursue a Vet Tech/Horse Rehab career.

Bradford: Logan Barned. Logan was a quiet student who worked hard and flourished in his high school years, becoming more socially active. Logan will attend SUNY Corning in the fall to study Information Technology.

The Ladies Wednesday Afternoon Club meets once a month and values learning, each year presenting scholarships to Schuyler County High School graduates who have worked hard and shown that they can succeed.

Graduates Lillian Ameigh, left, and Jasmine Marie Craven seated with their classmates during the graduation ceremony.

58 graduate in Watkins Glen ceremony

WATKINS GLEN, June 29, 2024 -- Fifty-eight seniors graduated Saturday at Watkins Glen High School's annual Commencement Exercise in the school auditorium.

The valedictorian was Maisie Robertson, who presented a Valedictory Address in which she urged her classmates to "keep on smiling" in the face of future adverrsity -- to "live in the moment" and not be afraid of life.

Salutatory addresses were presented by Malina Butler and Brandon Chiacchiarini following introductions by High School Principal Kyle Colunio, who referred to the Class of 2024 as "the first graduating class of Lake Hawks" -- the school mascot adopted in place of the previous "Senecas." He also told the graduates -- as did Superintendent Kai D'Alleva in later remarks -- that they would be "welcome back in Watkins Glen with open arms" if ever they choose to return here.

The National Anthem that preceded the speeches was played on guitar by graduating senior Brandon Hollenback, with the words that go with the music signed by fellow graduate Sydney Brubaker.

Various prizes were announced by Principal Colunio and presented by Senior Advisor Sam Brubaker, and then diplomas were awarded by Superintendent D'Alleva. The students graduating with the Class of 2024 included:

Maisie A. Robertson
Malina Marie Butler
Brandon Chiacchiarini
Lukas R. Bower
Vey Cowan
Keira Denise Sulkey
Sarah Grace Jones
Alyson Lindsey Gibson
Thalia M. Marquez
Johnny R. VanScoyk
Lillian R. Ameigh
Bishop Baldassarre
Colton R. Barrett
Kalila R.A. Beach
Alex M. Bennett
Jayla C. Boine
Nicholas B. Bonsignore
Sydney O. Brubaker
Shealie Cadence Buckley
Alessandro C. Carubia
Skylar Krystine Churchill
Riley Cloutier
Katie M. Cook
Jasmine Marie Craven
Drake W. Croft
Skye D. Cummings
Philip Cummings III
Kaitlyn Marie Davis
Tommy J. Field
Raymond Fitzgerald III
Jaymes Forker
Michael A. Hanville
Anthony S. Holland
Brandon Hollenback
Alexander Holmes
Sasha G. Honrath
Kaiden Karius
Louden Karius
Madigan T. Kelley
Alannah D. Klemann
Giuseppe La Face
Teagan E. Lampman
Lawrence E. Majors III
Emmali Jo Mathews
Katrina N. McCarty
Lillie R. Orr
Brenna Pierce
Isabelle V. Rice
Camden D. Shaffer
Thomas J. Snow
Camden H. Swank-Cady
Colin Tomberelli
Jennifer A. Westfall
Adah R. Wilke
Ryan J. Willett
Sierra E. Wilson
Kyren M. Young
Zach Castillo

Photos in text: From top: Co-Salutatorian Malina Butler receives her diploma from her mother, School Board member Theresa Butler; Maisie Robertson delivers the Valedictory Address: Co-Salutatorian Brandon Chiacchiarini receives his diploma from Superintendent Kai D'Alleva.

Left: Graduating seniors Sydney Brubaker (signing) and Brandon Hollenback (guitar) perform the National Anthem. Right: Brenna Pierce before the start of the ceremony.

Left: Giuseppe La Face receives his diploma from his mother, retiring faculty member Robin La Face. Right: Katie Cook strides across the stage to receive her diploma.

Thomas Field receives his diploma from Superintendent Kai D'Alleva.

Jayla Boine (left photo) and Johnny VanScoyk (right photo) receive scholarships awards presented by Senior Class Advisor Sam Brubaker.

Left: Alannah Klemann receives her diploma from her mother, faculty member Sheila Klemann. Right: Sarah Jones receives her diploma from Superintendent Kai D'Alleva.

Left: Sasha Honrath receives a scholarship award from Senior Class Advisor Sam Brubaker. Right: Thalia Marquez receives her diploma from Superintendent Kai D'Alleva.

The O-M Class of 2024 poses in the Jack Davis Gym before the graduation ceremony, which was held in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.

Odessa-Montour bids farewell to 42 grads

ODESSA, June 28, 2024 -- Forty-two students were presented their graduation diplomas Friday night at the annual Odessa-Montour High School commencement ceremony in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditoriium.

Valedictorian and Salutatorian of the Class of 2024 were David Patterson and Hannah Barr, respectively. Patterson presented the Class Message, saying how he and his classmates were "closing one chapter of our lives and starting a new one." And he added to his fellow graduates: "As the world shapes your identity, be proud of where you came from."

After marching into the auditorium, packed with family and friends of the graduates, the Class of 2024 was introduced one by one by retiring High School Principal Almon McCarty, Jr. Then came the Class Message and the presentation of diplomas by O-M School Board President Robert Halpin, and individual congratulations from Interim Superintendent Dr. Tracy Marchionda.

The diplomas went to the following:

Ryan James Alton
Kylie Ruth Austin
Hannah K. Barr
Kelsey J. Bates
Angel M. Burlew
Daniel J. Button
Braiden W. Cannon
Abrianna N. Carrigan
Mary Collier
Anabelle Crippen
Keyonna Garrison
Gina G. Gavich
Bradley Scott Gillis
Cameron J. Halpin
Lillian Louise Halpin
Aries James Harler
Benjamin Heichel
Gunner D. Herrmann
Cameron T. Johnson
Leah Nicole June
Kaden L. Landon
Tristan J. Landon
Allison M. Packer
David William Patterson
Turin Pound
Lance K. Reese
Christopher D. Seewald
Breck D. Senecal
Jacob T. Shaul
Heaven L.G. Smith
Nathan S. Smith
Aidan P. Sparling
Connor Sparling
Madison Stone
Aiden William Summers
Carly A. Thomas
Aiden Patrick Vogel
Wesley A. Wade
Aiden K. Westlake
Alexander Willette (Preczewski)
Ayden W. Williams
Jenna Grace Wolfe

After the awarding of diplomas and the turning of the graduates' tassels, a reception was held in the courtyard in front of the school.

Photos in text:

Top: Valedictorian David Patterson is congratulated by High School Principal Almon McCarty.
Middle: Lillian Halpin receives a hug from her father, School Board President Robert Halpin, after he presented her with her diploma.
Bottom: A number of students tossed their caps in the air in celebration upon the conclusion of the commencement ceremony.

Left: Salutatorian Hannah Barr. Right: Ben Heichel adjusts his cap before the ceremony.

Left: Gina Gavich in the Jack Davis Gym before the ceremony. Right; Jenna Wolfe.

Left: Gunner Herrmann. Right: Lance Reese receives congratulations from Superintendent Dr. Tracy Marchionda after receiving his diploma.

From left: Carly Thomas, Brady Cannon and Leah June on the graduation stage.

Left: Graduate Keyonna Garrison with her sisters during the reception held outdoors after the ceremony. Right: Madison Stone.

The Schuyler Scholars after the dinner. Front from left, Lucas Bower (WG), Kailey Yeoman (Bradford), Alyson Gibson (WG) and Maisie Robertson (WG). Back from left, Vey Cowan (WG), Malina Butler (WG), Mikayla Schoffner (Bradford), Brandon Chiacchiarini (WG), Kylie Austin (OM), and Gina Gavich (OM). Not present: David Patterson (OM) and Hannah Barr (OM), each of whom had a schedule conflict.

Schuyler Scholars honored at dinner

WATKINS GLEN, June 12, 2024 -- The top academic seniors in the Watkins Glen, Odessa-Montour and Bradford high schools were honored Wednesday night at the 17th annual Schuyler Scholars dinner, held at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

The honorees, the seniors ranked academically in the top 10% of their class, were each presented a plaque marking the occasion. On hand were the Superintendents from all three districts: Kai D'Alleva (Watkins Glen), Tracy Marchionda (O-M) and John Marshall (Bradford).

A speech was presented after dinner by Maria Antonio, a 2019 graduate of Bradford High School who attended Elmira College and is now a Special Education Teacher at Odessa-Montour. She urged the evening's honorees to be true to themselves, and to be inquisitive ("Asking questions can lead to lots of great things," she said).

The honorees were then introduced, one by one, and called forward to receive their plaques.

Honorees from the Bradford school district were Mikayla Schoffner and Kailey Yeoman.

Honorees from Odessa-Montour were David Patterson, Hannah Barr, Gina Gavich and Kylie Austin.

Honorees from Watkins Glen were Maisie Robertson, Malina Butler, Brandon Chiacchiarini, Vey Cowan, Alyson Gibson and Lucas Bower.

Photo in text: Schuyler Scholars dinner speaker Maria Antonio.

Left: Watkins Glen Superintendent Kai D'Alleva presents a Schuyler Scholars plaque to honoree Malina Butler. Right: O-M honorees Gina Gavich (left) and Kylie Austin.

O-M names new Student Services director

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, May 23, 2024 -- Ryan Collins has been selected as the new Director of Student Services for the Odessa-Montour Central School District, effective July 1.

Collins earned a bachelor's degree from Colby-Sawyer College (NH), a master's degree in professional studies from Manhattanville College and a certificate in educational administration from SUNY Brockport.

He has worked as a Special Education teacher in the Blind Brook-Rye Union Free School District and the Corning-Painted Post Area School District. He then served as an assistant principal and assistant supervisor of Special Education at the Elmira City School District. He is currently the CSE (Committee on Special Education) chairperson in the Horseheads Central School District.

"The Odessa-Montour Central School District has an outstanding reputation for engaging and empowering students, and providing them with a truly excellent education," said Collins. "I'm excited to be joining the talented team at O-M who work hard each day to support students in countless ways. I will listen first and collaborate with team members to always try to find the best possible outcome to any challenge, while remaining student focused."

"OMCSD is excited to welcome Mr. Ryan Collins to the Director of Student Services position," said Interim Superintendent Tracy Marchionda. "Mr. Collins' experience as a Special Education teacher and CSE chairperson were two reasons why he stood out to our interview committee. Additionally, Mr. Collins' focus on relationships, his understanding of Special Education law and his vision for building opportunities for afterschool programming aligned with what we were looking for in this position. We are excited to have him join our team."

Photo in text: Ryan Collins (Photo provided)

O-M holds its prom at Ginny Lee Cafe

VALOIS, May 18, 2024 -- Odessa-Montour High School held its annual prom Saturday night at the Ginny Lee Cafe at Wagner Vineyards along Route 414 north of Valois.

The locale was the same one selected by the school for last year's prom. Some afternoon showers gave way to a beautiful evening overlooking Seneca Lake.

The photos here were snapped in the parking lot, in the cafe, out on the terrace, and looking down from there to the lawn below.

Photo in text: A group arrives in the parking lot outside the Ginny Lee Cafe.

Constitutional Essay Contest award: $1,500

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, May 10, 2024 -- The Schuyler County Republican Committee is inviting local high school graduates to enter its 2024 Constitutional Essay Contest.

According to GOP Chair Maryann Friebis, one winning graduate will be selected to win a $1,500 award. The winner will be selected based upon an essay on one of the following topics:

1. The interaction between the14th Amendment and the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

2. Does a constitutional right to privacy exist?

3. Do Second Amendment rights apply to persons residing in the United States in contravention to U.S. immigration law?

Judges for the contest will be Schuyler County District Attorney Joseph Fazzary, County Attorney Steven Getman and Public Defender Josette Colon.

The contest is open to any 2024 high school graduate (including home-schooled students) legally residing in Schuyler County who will be continuing their education or entering military service after graduation.

Entries must be submitted prior to 12:00 AM on May 27, 2024. Winners will be announced by the Schuyler County Republican Committee at a date to be announced. The winner will be notified after the judging has been completed prior to graduation.

For more information, and a complete copy of the contest rules and entry forms, contact the Schuyler County Republican Committee at

This couple was seated at a window overlooking a rain-soaked Logan Ridge terrace.

WGHS holds its prom at Logan Ridge

HECTOR, May 11, 2024 -- Watkins Glen High School students dressed in gowns and tuxedos Saturday for the school's annual Prom, held as in recent years at Logan Ridge Estates.

The theme was "A Midnight Stroll," although the persistent rain precluded much in the way of outside excursions. Several young ladies had to cover their heads as they rushed through a rainfall from the parking lot to the prom entrance.

Nonetheless, once inside, the spirit of the occasion -- and the camaraderie -- took hold for an enjoyable evening.

Photo in text: The rain abated enough to enable this group to approach the prom without rushing.

Alpine's Jensen earns CASE Award

Special to The Odessa File

CORNING, April 25, 2024 -- Cameron Jensen (Alpine, NY -- Odessa-Montour High School), a second-year student at SUNY Corning Community College, has earned the prestigious SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence (CASE) from
the State University of New York.

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. awarded 193 students from 62 campuses SUNY’s highest honor for academic excellence and leadership. The 2024 CASE Awards recognize students for outstanding achievements throughout their SUNY experience in areas including academics, leadership, campus involvement, community service, and the arts.

Jensen, who is studying in SUNY CCC’s Engineering Science program, is one of 73 community college students to earn the CASE award. He is a first-generation, non traditional student, who re-enrolled at SUNY CCC after a rocky educational journey during high school and a first failed attempt at higher education in 2018. Despite those obstacles, Jensen has gone on to achieve academic success at the highest level, which includes participation in NASA’s Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program.

“When I came back to CCC in 2022 it was a total fresh start for me,” said Jensen. “I had been out of school for three years, and I didn't have any kind of academic reputation or achievements to speak of. I worked incredibly hard to be the best version of myself I could possibly be, and having all of that work finally be recognized with an award as prestigious as CASE is an incredible honor.”

“This year’s winners," said SUNY Chancellor King, "include first-generation students, researchers, a single mother and grandmother, a cancer survivor, international students hailing from over 16 nations, athletes, and a student who worked with NASA’s
Goddard Space Flight Center -- among so many more with inspiring stories of excellence in the classroom and beyond. It is my honor to celebrate the achievements of the nearly 200 CASE awardees as they inspire others and illustrate what is possible with a SUNY education.”

Photo in text, Courtesy of the State University of New York: From left, SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr., Cameron Jensen, SUNY CCC President Dr. William P. Mullaney.

Members of the Watkins Glen High School boys varsity swm team -- champions of the Interscholastic Athletic Conference and Section IV, Class C -- pose with their Certificates of Achievement presented to them at the March 19 School Board meeting.

Watkins School Board opts to cancel classes on April 8; discusses its upcoming budget

WATKINS GLEN, March 19, 2024 -- The Watkins Glen School Board, which had planned
a half day of school on April 8 -- the day of a Solar Eclipse that is generating such interest that local authorities are concerned about heavy road traffic -- decided Tuesday night to close school that day, using one of three emergency closure days still available.

Superintendent Kai D'Alleva said that while the reaction might seem alarmist, the district is working with "unknowns," punctuated by reports that Thruway traffic might be so backed up that it could be diverted south toward Schuyler County. On top of that, all available hotel, motel and B&B facilities locally are reportedly full for that celestial event. The Board action will counter "whatever this is," D'Alleva said. "We don't really know."

The Board, which discussed the upcoming budget in detail in a workshop following Tuesday's regular meeting, also heard from County Emergency Services Director Kirk Smith, concerned that the annual Learn Not to Burn program in the schools might face the budget axe in the face of an Executive Budget proposed by Governor Kathy Hochul that would reduce state aid to school districts. He urged the board to take a close look at saving the decades-old program, which he said only costs $600 a year. Superintendent D'Alleva said the district will have a fire safety component in its curriculum, since it is required by law to do so.

The Board subsequently heard from a variety of school department heads on the upcoming budget, which the board is expected to approve at its next meeting on April 2nd. D'Alleva said that the spending document will contain some "significant cuts" to meet those that Hochul's budget might impose on the district -- although the latter are still up in the air as the State Legislature moves slowly toward agreement on the state's final spending plan. A public hearing on the Watkins budget will be held on an as-yet unspecified date, with the public vote on it coming May 21.

WGES Assistant Principal Jamie Harter leads the students in a cheer.

WGES Pep Rally encourages kids to read

WATKINS GLEN, March 18, 2024 -- The entire student population of the Watkins Glen Elementary School -- about 400 children -- gathered in the high school Field House Monday morning for a pep rally designed to encourage them to read.

The pep rally, which school officials said was, to their knowledge, the first such event ever held solely for the WGES pupils, featured teachers and staff competing in games on the Field House floor while the kids screamed out their encouragement.

The reading program, a new one called SOAR (Sail On and Read) with a theme of Hooked on Books (as in hooking a fish, in keeping with the marine idea), will run during the next month, with kids receiving prizes for achieving a certain number of minutes reading each day and week.

The program was coordinated by a committee that included WGES Principal Jessica Reger and teaching staff Jessica Purpura, Jennifer Titus, Wendy Grinolds and Tara Dykshoorn. The pep rally grew out of their efforts, and included games where one team of teachers would square off against another.

Games included one in which potatoes were pushed from one end of the floor to the other, one where blindfoldeed teachers tried to locate reading books set in random areas of the floor, and one in which each of two teams kept a large inflated ball (a pair were purchased from Amazon) in the air for as long as possible, passing it from player to player until it careened out of reach and touched the floor.

The 400 kids filling the bleachers on the west side of the gym roared their approval for each of the contests.

Afterward, Purpura and Assistant Principal Jamie Harter deemed the rally a success -- which it certainly was. And Purpura said that some sort of concluding celebration -- maybe an ice cream social -- would be held at the conclusion of the month-long SOAR program.

Photos in text:

Top: Two inflated balls are aloft, kept in the air for as long as possible.
Bottom: WGES Assistant Principal Jamie Harter and Principal Jessica Reger punctuate the pep rally excitement with a little high kicking.

The point of the pep rally -- encouraging kids to read -- was the subject of a cheer spelling it out.

The reading program committee that devised the pep rally included, from left: Jessica Purpura, Jennifer Titus, Principal Jessica Reger, Wendy Grinolds, and Tara Dykshoorn.

Pinette is next principal at O-M Jr.-Sr. High

Special to The Odessa File 

ODESSA, March 15, 2024 -- Kelsey Pinette has been selected as the new principal of the Odessa-Montour Central School District Junior/Senior High School, effective June 1.

Pinette earned a bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College, a master’s degree in music from Pennsylvania State University and a Certificate in School Building and School District Leadership from the University of Rochester.

She has served as an instrumental music educator in the Watkins Glen Central School District since 2017. She also serves as Watkins Glen’s ACE Plus Program site coordinator, Fine Arts deparment coordinator, grading and evaluation committee co-chair and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee member.

“I applied for the position knowing I was ready to step into the next chapter of my career,” said Pinette. “The interview process showed me the pride that the students, faculty, staff and community take in OMCS. My goal is to learn as much as I can about the values, beliefs, initiatives and shared vision at O-M. We will use this shared knowledge to collaborate as a team, with a focus on building relationships and our instructional practices for all students.”

“We are excited to welcome Mrs. Pinette to the Grizzly Family,” said Interim Superintendent Tracy Marchionda. “Her focus on supporting students and connecting with families, as well as her commitment to working with our faculty and staff, makes her a perfect fit for O-M. In the interview process, Mrs. Pinette demonstrated passion and energy that aligns with our mission: Every student. Every day. We look forward to her leading our Jr./Sr. High.”

The school’s current principal, Skip
McCarty, will retire on July 1 after working through a transition period with Pinette.

Photo in text: Kelsey Pinette (Photo provided)

Lilian Artusa presented a vocal rendition of "Ripples" -- accompanying herself on piano.

Watkins Glen students, grades 5-12, show their vocal, instrumental talents at concert

WATKINS GLEN, March 13, 2024 -- Students from the 5th through 12th grades performed instrumentals and vocals Wednesday night at the annual Artists-in- Residence concert in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium.

The Artists-in-Residence program was started 30 years ago by now-retired teacher Jim Murphy and famed cellist Hank Roberts of Ithaca to help fulfill a sound and science grant in the Middle School. It has been overseen the past few years by violinist Rosie Newton and Katie McShane, and grown to include eight grades.

The professionals on hand this year to train the concert performers -- an in-school process over a couple of weeks -- included Newton along with Dylan McKinstry and Chris Ploss. Paul Martin returned as sound engineer.

Each performer -- whose efforts were featured during the day at assembly -- was accompanied by Newton, McKinstry and Ploss.

Performing vocals were Nick Brusso, Ava Malysa, Julia Allen (with Cullen Metris at her side on saxophone), TaMya Van Orden and Alexis Wood (duet), Sopheya Mathews and Rebecca Perry (duet), Paisley Allen, Kylie Swan, Zane Cross, Lilac Cruz, Addie Coolican, Lilian Artusa (accompanying herself on piano), and Shae Bechtold and Haiden Brant (duet).

Instrumentals were performed by Jade Spulak on flute; Rowen Stegner and Makenzie Fish on clarinets; Morgan Saks, Hank Titus and Sydney Fields on trombone, sax and clarinet, respectively; Emma Pendergast and Eliza Van Ness on trombones; Annabelle Thompson, Lydia Schubmehl and Eliza Van Ness on french horn, sax and trombone, respectively; Lily Weed, Leah Bubb and McKenzie Wheaton on trumpet, flute and flute, respectively; Lizzi Fitzwater (horn), Emmanuel Rodriguez (sax) and Ceci Gaines (guitar); Hank Titus on sax; Lucas Schubmehl and Lucas VanSkiver on trumpet and sax; and Callan Schamel and Max Canzler with a rendition of The Entertainer.

Photos in text:

Top: Addie Coolican sings "To Believe."
Bottom: Shae Bechtold, left, and Haiden Brant sing "Scars to Your Beautiful."

Left: Hank Titus performs "The Pink Panther Theme." Right: Zane Cross sings "I've Got No Strings."

From left: From left, Lily Weed, Leah Bubb and McKenzie Wheaton prepare to play an instrumental rendition of "Call Me Maybe."

Left: Ava Malysa sings "Mr. Sandman." Right: Lilac Cruz sings "Digital Silence."

Julia Allen sang and Cullen Metris played the sax and sang on "I Want It That Way."

2024 Congressional Art Competition set

Special to The Odessa File 

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2024 -- Congressman Nick Langworthy has announced that his office is accepting submissions for the 2024 Congressional Art Competition on behalf of New York’s 23rd Congressional District. All high school students living in NY-23 are eligible to submit artwork. The winning artwork will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol.

The deadline for submission is April 19, 2024.

“Western New York and the Southern Tier are filled with artistic talent, and I am thrilled to once again host the Congressional Art Competition to showcase the incredible work of our local high school students," said Congressman Langworthy. “This competition provides a unique opportunity for young artists to have their talent recognized on the national stage. I encourage all eligible students to participate and share their art with our community and the nation.”

For submission guidelines and more information, visit Congressman Langworthy’s website. If you have questions, reach out to Sharon Murphy at, or (607) 377-3130.

Congressman Nick Langworthy represents the 23rd Congressional District of New York, including Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben Counties and parts of Erie County.

Photo in text: Congressman Nick Langworthy

Solomon on the Dean's List at U. of Buffalo

BUFFALO, March 10, 2024 -- Jenna Solomon, a 2023 graduate of Watkins Glen High School, has been named to the Dean's List at the University of Buffalo.

Solomon is in the school's Honors Program for Pre-Med.

Staff members pose outside Hanlon Elementary School with the outgoing principal, Rob Francischelli (center), who had just completed his last day there. A popular item: cardboard cutouts of Francischelli's head.

Staff, students bid farewell to principal

ODESSA, Feb. 16, 2024 -- Students and staff bid goodbye Friday to Hanlon Elementary School Principal Robert Francischelli, who was completing his final day after nine years at the helm of the school.

Dr. Francischelli has secured a job as Principal of the GST BOCES Coopers Plains campus. The School Board recently appointed Michael Siebert, a retired educator from Campbell, as interim Hanlon principal, to take over after the school district's February break.

Francischelli was surrounded by students after school outside the building, dispensing handshakes, head pats and hugs to the kids, some of whom were carrying signs bidding him farewell.

Photo: Dr. Francischelli is surrounded by students outside Hanlon at the end of the day.

D'Alleva calls on legislators to help as district faces Executive Budget fallout

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 1, 2024 -- Watkins Glen School District Superintendent Kai D'Alleva has contacted State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano to enlist their aid in countering the education funding proposals -- the sizable cutbacks in state aid -- in Gov. Kathy Hochul's Executive Budget.

That budget -- according to figures made available upon its release in mid-January -- would, according to D'Alleva, "result in a reduction of $1,961,896 to the district, of which $1,871,196 is due to the recalculation of foundation aid."

Hochul proposed a $35.3 billion school aid package, which marks an increase of 2.4% over last year, including an increase in the total amount of foundation aid (the primary source of state funding for public schools), but it proposes changes as to what districts get what money. In the words of one state senator, the changes are "based on dropping enrollment figures and the idea that poorer, larger districts need more assistance. The first change is an adjustment for inflation that critics say is far below what schools face when it comes to rising costs; the second would effectively do away with a provision called "save harmless," which is meant to ensure the amount of aid provided to a district is no smaller than what a district received the year before. Rural districts take the hardest hit."

Accordingly, D'Alleva said in his letters to O'Mara and Palmesano, "If enacted as currently written, the Governor’s Executive Budget proposal will prove to be detrimental to the Watkins Glen Central School District."

He added: "State aid makes up 56% of our revenue at WGCSD. We rely on it to function. Our second largest source of revenue comes through the taxation of property in our school district. Property taxes make up 36% of our revenue. If we were to make up the loss of foundation aid by increasing taxes, we would need to raise our tax levy by 17.34%.

"Governor Hochul’s proposal is haphazard and brings with it an additional level of chaos to school districts as we face unprecedented challenges to how we do business. There are claims being made that districts in New York State must adjust their budgets to reflect enrollment reductions. Simply put, school districts are being tasked with doing more now than they ever have before. In addition to being schools, we are community centers, doctor’s offices, mental health clinics, and so much more. The reduction of foundation aid does not solve the problem of declining enrollment.

"Our District received no warning that a cut of this magnitude was coming. We are being encouraged to use reserves to close our budget gaps. However, how can we responsibly utilize our savings without knowing what is coming as it relates to this critical revenue stream? If we utilize our reserves for the 2024-25 budget, how do we move forward with the 2025-26 budget without a predictable calculation for aid? Simply, the use of savings to offset a cut of this magnitude is not sustainable nor is it fiscally responsible."

Complicating the matter is the timing. School districts need to produce their budgets for the 2024-25 school year by early April. The State budget is supposed to be passed by April 1, but rarely has been in recent years. So the districts are planning ahead without any assurance that the Hochul proposals might be mitigated. They will have to move forward, in absence of a state budget, based on the numbers in her proposal.

Perplexing in all of this, said D'Alleva, is the fact that Hochul's proposals "are a 180 from her last two budgets" -- which makes him wonder if there is some hidden agenda, or some political gamesmanship, at the heart of it.

"This had to come from somewhere," he said. "If it's a hidden agenda, I'd like it brought to light."

He held out hope, though, that help might come from the legislators "on both sides of the aisle." Working toward that end, he said O'Mara and Palmesano are striving to counter the Hochul move. Help is also coming in the form of advocacy from Schuyler County Legislature Chairman Carl Blowers and County Legislator Laurence Jaynes.

If none of that helps, D'Alleva wrote, and the governor's proposal should "come to fruition, we will be forced to reduce our already exhausted faculty and staff to close the funding gap. For example, we will need to eliminate math and ELA interventionists as well as examining other potential layoffs and staffing adjustments that will negatively impact opportunities for growth for the students of Watkins Glen."

In addition, "The sunsetting of COVID-relief aid does not relieve school districts of the challenges presented by the disrupted learning for a generation of students who were impacted by closure, hybrid learning, and forced quarantines. Though we are working hard to close the achievement gaps, the academic challenges remain, and intensive intervention is needed to get our students up to the standards set forth by New York State.

"It is my hope," he told O'Mara and Palmesano, "that this information will help you and your colleagues in your house negotiate a better plan for the students, faculty, staff, and community of the Watkins Glen Central School District."

Photos in text:

From top: Watkins Glen School Superintendent Kai D'Alleva, Gov. Kathy Hochul, State Senator Tom O'Mara, and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.

7th grader wants O-M to okay XC teams

ODESSA, Dec. 14, 2023 -- Odessa-Montour Junior-Senior High School 7th grader Lexi Strobel asked the district School Board Thursday night to consider creating boys and girls cross-country teams at the school for the 2024-25 year.

Strobel, who sought and received permission last fall to run as a one-person modified cross-country team for the school, said she has since identified almost two-dozen students in the school who are interested in competing in cross country.

She said eight of them (three boys and five girls) would be on the modified level, and 15 of them (10 boys and five girls) would be on the varsity level. Just three of the 23, she said, participated in sports last fall.

The board, after a slide presentation by Strobel -- who was accompanied to the meeting by her father, Skip, a teacher/track coach at O-M who served as her cross-country coach -- indicated it would take up the matter when it started work on its 2024-25 budget.

Lexi said her cross-country experience earned her new friends, "cool T-shirts," and a new-found self-confidence. "I started to open up and talk to people," she said.

She competed in two dual meets, finishing 2nd and 4th; in three large invitationals (placing 23rd out of 123 runners, 74th out of 284 runners, and 13th out of 109 runners); and in two end-of-season tournaments (placing 10th among 61 runners and 5th among 34).

Photos in text: Lexi Strobel and her father, Skip, at the board meeting; and Lexi presenting a slide presentation about her cross country season.

Back row, left to right: Principal Almon McCarty, Caleb Collier, Connor Foggie, James Halpin, David Patterson, Aiden Vogel, Alex Campbell, and NHS Adviser Andrew Campbell. Front row, left to right: Samantha VanHorn, Hannah Barr, Molly Rafferty, Sarah Strobel, Cara Reynolds, and Riley Brooks. (Photo by Gail Sgrecci)

Seven join O-M chapter of Honor Society

ODESSA, Dec. 14, 2023 -- Seven students were inducted earlier this week into the Odessa-Montour High School chapter of National Honor Society.

Joining the chapter, which now includes 12 members, were Alexander Campbell, Caleb Collier, Connor Foggie, James Halpin, David Patterson, Samantha Van Horn and Aiden Vogel.

The previously active members -- Riley Brooks, Sarah Strobel, Cara Reynolds, Hannah Barr and Molly Rafferty -- introduced the new inductees and performed the functions of the induction candle-lighting ceremony.

Brooks served as Narrator, while Strobel lit the candle of Scholarship, Reynolds the candle of Service, Barr the candle of Leadership, and Rafferty the candle of Character.

Barr serves as the Chapter President. The Chapter Advisor is Andrew Campbell.

Members of the Watkins Glen High School 2023 Section IV, Class C championship girls soccer team with their certificates. (Photo provided)

Section IV title teams honored by BOE

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 11, 2023 -- The Watkins Glen High School's girls varsity soccer and swim teams were honored Monday at the district Board of Education meeting at the school. The two teams won Section IV, Class C championships, the soccer team for the second straight year, and the swim team for the seventh straight year.

The soccer team was coached by Scott Morse. It amassed an 18-2 record, losing only to Class B power Bath and, later, to Sauquoit Valley in an intersectional postseason contest.

The swim team, coached by Jason Westervelt, dominated at the sectional meet, held in the WGHS pool.

All of the athletes from the two teams were presented certificates acknowledging their accomplishments.

Members of Watkins Glen High School's 2023 Section IV, Class C championship girls swim team with their certificates. (Photo provided)

The new members of the WGHS Chapter of National Honor Society. Front row from left: Molly O’Connell-Campbell, Skye Honrath, Olivia VanSkiver , Salvatore Purpura and Liam Smith. Back row from left: Samuel Caslin and Kendra Fish. (Photo provided)

7 join National Honor Society at WGHS

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 26, 2023 -- Seven Watkins Glen High School students were inducted Thursday into the WGHS Chapter of National Honor Society.

The inductees were Molly O’Connell-Campbell, Skye Honrath, Olivia VanSkiver, Salvatore Purpura, Liam Smith, Samuel Caslin and Kendra Fish.

To be eligible for membership consideration, these students met a minimum cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.7/4.0. Additionally, they went through a lengthy application process, including submission of an application outlining how they met and exceeded the NHS pillars of service, leadership and character, as well as participation in personal interviews.

Students’ applications were then reviewed by a faculty council consisting of five principal- appointed members.

CCC unveils its spring President's List

CORNING, July 30, 2023 -- SUNY Corning Community College has announced the students named to the Presiden't List for the Spring 2023 semester.

To be eligible, a student must have a Grade Point Average of 3.75 or higher, 12 or more hours of earned credit, and no grade lower than C.

Among those from Schuyler County on the list are Cameron Jensen from Alpine, Ross Pentz from Burdett, Grace Vondracek from Cayuta, Gavin Bond from Hector, Noah Gardner from Montour Falls, Alijia-Jean Bailey from Odessa, and Lisa Brower, Taylor Doelman, Wolfgang Gates, Mikayla Holmes and Sanna Wilber from Watkins Glen.

Arc's Hayes scholarship goes to O-M's Barr

ELMIRA, July 8, 2023 -- The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler has awarded its Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship to Sarah Barr, who graduated in June from Odessa-Montour High School.

This $1,000 scholarship honors Joanne Hayes, former board member and president of The Arc of Chemung-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.

Barr, a daughter of Ryan and Angela Barr, is enrolled at St. John Fisher University with a plan of obtaining her degree in Nursing.

In her application essay, Barr writes about how she “has always known that she wanted to be a nurse so she could help others, on their good days and bad days, as well as give them the care and respect that they deserve.” Barr has been involved with numerous extracurricular activities and community service experiences throughout her years in high school, including working with the Special Olympics of Western New York.

The Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship is made possible through community donations to The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler.

Photo in text: Sarah Barr (Photo provided)

WGHS Honor Roll for final marking period

WATKINS GLEN, July 10, 2023 -- The following is the Honor Roll listing from Watkins Glen High School for the final marking period of the 2022-23 school year.

7th Grade

High Honor Roll

Zane Chambers, Amy Field, Chloe Green, Nicolai Holmes, Sydney Howell, Ellery Thaete

Honor Roll

Evan Clarkson, Kassitie Clugstone, Grace Coston, Oriana Crosby, Paige Ells, Brixton Fuller-Bianco, Jarett Hill, Mason Horrocks, Leon Lagramada, Ava Malysa, Sopheya Mathews, Kelcie Miller, Amelia Moskal, Luke Palmer, Rebecca Perry, Isaac Rumsey, Ewan Smith, Nicholas Sorce, Jr., Leah Teed

Merit Roll

Gabriel Crane, Emily Emerson, Austen Karius, Grayson Robertson, Callieondra Tohafjian, Johnathon Williams, Noah Wright

8th Grade

High Honor Roll

Elizabeth Fitzwater, Isaac Hendrickson, Emma Lewis, Arloween Loucks-Scuteri, Emmanuel Rodriguez, Grace Weed, Michaela Wheaton

Honor Roll

Matthew Bain, Isabella Cherock, Benjamin Henry, Aubrey Klemann, Elizabeth Metris, Stryder Pickett-Shreve, Aurora Scott, Cayden Spulak, Natalie VanSkiver, Faith White, Isabella Yaw

Merit Roll

Bryce Bockelkamp, Johnny Sisana

9th Grade

High Honor Roll

Lilian Artusa, Wendy Coleman, Gillian D'Alleva, Marcus Delong, Anna Franzese, Zade Gomez Fitzsimmons, Samuel Hohle, Olivia King, Enric Lin, Emily Melveney, Michael Purpura, Grace Roney, Erin Snow

Honor Roll

Ryan Dean, Logan DeBolt, Jeremiah Desrochers, Cecilia Gaines, Brianna Hatch, Aidan Kelly, Clarice Lewis, Madeline Pendergast, Christopher Simiele, Jade Spulak, Carson Thaete, Cordelia Thompson, Rachel Vickio, Andre Wixson, Avah Wright, Justin Wrubel

Merit Roll

Caleb Bresett, Natalee Oliver, Kaylin Smith, Madison Tuttle, Kaylee Yaw

10th Grade

High Honor Roll

Samuel Caslin, Nicholas D'Alleva, Draco Del Toro, Kendra Fish, Aleice Guild, Skye Honrath, Kyelan Perko, Salvatore Purpura, Naja Radoja, Jocelyn Sisana, Olivia VanSkiver

Honor Roll

Brady Bockelkamp, Jennifer Gublo, Molly O'Connell-Campbell, Emilia Rodriguez, Isaiah Rudy, Liam Smith, Kyra Yaw

Merit Roll

Tala Benjamin, Nicholas Brusso, Nathdanai Chokngoen, Aidan Maphis, Maximus Ricca, Nicholas Ritter, Julian Soule

11th Grade

High Honor Roll

Lukas Bower, Malina Butler, Brandon Chiacchiarini, Ava Cowan, Thomas Field, Alyson Gibson, Thalia Marquez, Maisie Robertson, Keira Sulkey, Johnny VanScoyk

Honor Roll

Nicholas Bonsignore, Drake Croft, Philip Cummings III, Sarah Jones, Adah Wilke

Merit Roll

Lillian Ameigh, Colton Barrett, Leo Belbas, Alex Bennett, Kaitlyn Davis, Michael Hanville, Anthony Holland, Giuseppe La Face, Jennifer Westfall

12th Grade

High Honor Roll

Carly Arnold, Nedim Bedir, Hannah Berry, Caleb Cummings, Jacob Davis, Kendall Gascon, Otto Hohle, Han Shun Liu, Nikhil Manakkal, Erin McKenzie, Alyssa Miller, Shane Miller, Faye Mooney, Jason Murphy, Katrina Ricca, Sarah Schaffner, Jenna Solomon, Jonathan Wickham

Honor Roll

Ava Barber, Alexis Hatch, Lois Hosley, Aubrey Kellogg, Skylar Lagramada, Andrue Mathews, Isabella Samuel, Samantha (Sam) Seaman, Deven Searle, Kadin Simpson, Haley Tuttle, Emmalise Updyke, Shea Young

Merit Roll

Domonic Craven, Demitrius Dillon, Payton Hilfiger, Maia Kamakawiwoole, David Kelly III, Abigail Morseman, Chelsea Parsons, Ann Roney, Joseph Sutterby

Faye Mooney, a member of the graduating Class of 2023, performs The National Anthem on the violin at the outset of the Commencement Exercises.

WGHS says goodbye to the Class of 2023

WATKINS GLEN, June 24, 2023 -- The Watkins Glen High School Class of 2023 -- 73 members strong and "The Last Senecas," in the words of one administrator -- were handed their graduation diplomas Saturday morning in Commencement Exercises in the WGHS Auditorium.

The class -- the last to be able to use the nickname Senecas in the school's sports due to a state edict forcing the retirement of all such Indian names (Watkins' teams will now be the Lake Hawks) -- received its diplomas after remarks by High School Principal Kyle Colunio, the co-salutatorians, the valedictorian, and Superintendent Kai D'Alleva.

Colunio commended the class for bringing "so much fun back to being a student at Watkins Glen High School" after going through the struggles created by the pandemic.

Co-Salutatorian Nikhil Manakkal urged his classmates to "always act to keep your childhood dreams alive," while Co-Salutatorian Jenna Solomon spoke of the bonds with teachers and students that "I will forever cherish," adding: "Today marks the end of our journey together."

Valedictorian Katrina Ricca said that while goals are desirable, flexibility is needed in life since "the future is unforeseen, undefined and unpredictable." When difficult times arise, she said, "the mindset you hold will determine whether you stand back up." She urged her classmates to "work hard, but have fun in-between."

And Superintendent D'Alleva commended the class by saying "You persevered" despite the pandemic, coming out strong from a time that was "unprecedented and at times unfair."

The diplomas were then distributed by D'Alleva. The 73 graduates:

Alexis Andrews
Carly Elena Arnold
Carmichael Jay Ayers
Ava Madison Barber
Nedim T. Bedir
Hannah M. Berry
Bryce Cady
Ethan Cary
Ashlyn Castillo
Alyiah Clink-Bentley
Domonic Craven
Caleb Cummings
Jacob Lee Davis
Aiden Dawson
Demitrius Marcus Dillon
Macy E. Fitzgerald
Kendall Gascon
SebastianW. Gates
Thomas W. Goltry-Coots
Abigail May Grebleski
Corbin M. Groves
Richard K. Harrell
Alexis Ann Hatch
Payton Ella Hilfiger
Otto E. Hohle
Lois Lorraine Hosley
Jared Walter Jilson
Maia N. Kamakawiwoole
Aubrey May Kellogg
David L. Kelly III
Kairos Lees
Skylar Lagramada
Dylan Lyles
Han Shun Liu
Nikhil Manakkal
Andrue J. Mathews
Erin Colleen McKenzie
Damyan Matthew David Metris
Aaliyah M. Miller
Alyssa Miller
Shane M. Miller
Faye Mooney
Abbey Marie Morseman
Jason Murphy
Aili Marie Narde
Jaylee Lynn Osborne
Chelsea Jade Parsons
Ross Abram Pentz
Chloe Phenes
Katrina Celeste Ricca
Adriano Roma Ripol
Ann Roney
Isabella Samuel
Sarah Kathleen Schaffner
Sam Seaman
Deven Searle
Kadin Simpson
Julya Slater
Brynn Smith
Gavin Forbes Smith
Jenna May Solomon
Cassandra Lynn Sortore
Christopher Stevens
Sarah Grace Stolpinski
Joseph William Sutterby
Julia Thorsland
Haley Tuttle
Emmalise Kathryn Updyke
Jacob VanDerEems
John Wickham
Kayla R. Wood
Jacob D. Yontz
Shea David Young

Photos in text:

From top: Valedictorian Katrina Ricca receives her diploma from Superintendent Kai D'Alleva; Otto Hohle receives his diploma from D'Alleva; Ava Barber marches toward the stage during the processional; and Co-Salutatorians Jenna Solomon and Nikhil Manakkal deliver their speeches.

Left: One of the graduate's caps. Right: Carly Arnold receives her diploma from Superintendent Kai D'Alleva.

Left: Shea Young receives his diploma from Superintendent Kai D'Alleva. Right: Ross Pentz smiles after receiving some scholarship awards.

Left: Haley Tuttle receives her diploma from Superintendent Kai D'Alleva. Right: Julya Slater displays her diploma after the ceremony.

Odessa-Montour's graduates toss their caps high at the end of the ceremony.

O-M bids farewell to its 36 graduates

ODESSA, June 23, 2023 -- Thirty-six seniors at Odessa-Montour High School were handed their diplomas Friday night at the annual O-M Commencement, held in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.

The ceremony, forced indoors by the threat of rain, saw School Board President Rob Halpin hand diplomas to the three-dozen graduates after welcoming remarks by High School Principal Almon McCarty Jr. (who introduced each graduate, one by one, listing their awards and future plans) and Senior Class President Hannah Nolan, and a speech by Valedictorian Katie Adams.

McCarty commended the class for "rising to the challenge" presented by the pandemic, while Adams, wryly suggesting that "the teachers are going to miss their favorite class," said the seniors "all have different paths we are going to follow."

She urged her classmates to not "be afraid to change your mind about what you're going to do. You'll always have opportunities."

The diplomas went to the following 2023 graduates:

Kathryn Erin Adams
Paiton R. Bailey
Sarah M. Barr
Kyleigh Bates
Victoria G. Brewster
Hailie Jade Button
Benjamin Thomas Campbell
Brandon E. Davis
Nicholas R. DeLong
Erin L. Donnell
Dominick J. Elliott
Tristan Harrington
Austin Nikoah Hoyt
Hannah M. Kinner
Emma Rose Landon
Daniel P. Lewis
Jade M. Madill
Braiden Elliott Merrill Ventra
Jeremy L. Miller
Hannah Marie Nolan
Adrionna Hope Personius
Reagan Reese
Caleb R. Reynolds
Madelyn Mae Root
Zachary S. Rounds
Maximilian Seles
Dan Spencer
Jon Y. Spencer
Ryan Thompson
Trinity A. Trojanowski
Jesse J. Underdown
Mark C. Waterman
Kaylee Watson
Colton Thomas Wig
Gabriel Williams
Zachary T. Wyre

Following the ceremony, light snacks and beverages were provided to graduates and their families in the high school cafeteria.

Photos in text:

Top: Exchange student Max Seles (from Slovakia) receives his diploma from School Board President Rob Halpin.
Middle: Dominick Elliott is handed his diploma.
Bottom: From left, graduates Tori Brewster, Reagan Reese and Hannah Nolan.

Left: Graduates Sarah Barr, left, and Kaylee Watson before the start of the ceremony.
Right: Graduate Ben Campbell after receiving his diploma.

O-M graduates Jon Spencer (left photo) and Jade Madill receive their diplomas from School Board President Rob Halpin.

From left: O-M graduates Katie Adams, Trinity Trojanowski and Mark Waterman.

Glen School Board adopts 'Lake Hawks'

WATKINS GLEN, June 21, 2023 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Wednesday night officially retired the school nickname "Senecas" and adopted a new one: "Lake Hawks."

The retirement was forced by a state policy eliminating Indian mascots and imagery from high school team names. The retirement action was in keeping with a state timeline.

A governance team had selected 16 viable names from the many suggestions offered by students and other members of the school district, and put those 16 to a descending vote among students, first reducing the 16 to eight, and then to four, and then to a final two: "Lake Hawks" and "Thunder."

Superintendent Kai D'Alleva said more than 350 students voted on the final two, with "Lake Hawks" prevailing "by more than 50."

The name "Senecas" will be removed from the floor on the north end of the Field House basketball court, replaced simply by "Watkins Glen." It will also be removed from the Alumni Field artificial turf end zones, and not replaced with anything except turf due to a rule change involving field lines. Arrows on the turf will be replaced by "Alumni Field."

D'Alleva said a team of school officials is already at work on a new logo, looking at existing ones such as those utilized by the Atlanta Hawks and the Susquehanna University River Hawks. During the design development, he said, students will be consulted, including the Varsity Club and the school's Advertising and Marketing class.

WGHS Schuyler Scholars include, from left, Nikhil Manakkal, Katrina Ricca, Jenna Solomon, Kendall Gascon and Alyssa Miller. Absent: Faye Mooney and Han Shun Liu.

Schuyler Scholars honored at hotel dinner

WATKINS GLEN, June 8, 2023 -- The top academic seniors in the Watkins Glen, Odessa-Montour and Bradford high schools were honored Thursday night at the 16th annual Schuyler Scholars dinner at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

The honorees, the seniors ranked academically in the top 10% of their class, were each presented a plaque marking the occasion. Speeches were presented before dinner (by 2012 WGHS graduate Alec Moore and by Nicole King, a labor relations specialist at GST BOCES), and the honorees were introduced, one by one, after the meal. On hand were the Superintendents from all three districts: Kai D'Alleva (Watkins Glen), Tracy Marchionda (O-M) and John Marshall (Bradford).

Honorees from the Bradford school district were Michele Rosno (the valedictorian) and Chelsey Williams.

Honorees from the Odessa-Montour district were Katie Adams (the valedictorian), Tori Brewster, Sarah Barr, and Trinity Trojanowski.

Honorees from the Watkins Glen district were Katrina Ricca (the valedictorian), Jenna Solomon, Kendall Gascon, Nikhil Manakkal, Alyssa Miller, Faye Mooney and Han Shun Liu.

Photos in text:

Top: Honorees from Odessa-Montour included (from left) Katie Adams, Trinity Trojanowski and Sarah Barr. Not pictured: Tori Brewster.

Bottom: Bradford students honored were Chelsey Williams, left, and Michele Rosno.

Tori Brewster, left, takes a photo while Hannah Nolan holds a sign presented by one of the students lining the front of Odessa-Montour High School.

O-M gives Hannah and Tori a send-off

ODESSA, June 8, 2023 -- Odessa-Montour High School seniors Hannah Nolan and Tori Brewster were given an outdoor send-off by the student body of the O-M school district as the two departed Thursday for the New York State Track & Field Championships in Middletown, scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Nolan and Brewster each qualified for the State tourney by capping off a record-setting season with strong performances at the Section IV State Qualifier at Union-Endicott High School last week.

Brewster, who had already qualified for the 100 Meter Dash (for which she holds the school record) by bettering a target time earlier in the season, added the 200 Meter Dash to her States competition by finishing first among small school athletes at the Qualifier. Her 200 time broke her own school record in that event.

Nolan, who excels at the Triple Jump (she set the school record during the season), the 100 Meter Hurdles and the 400 Meter Hurdles (she set a school record at the IAC meet), competed at the Qualifier in the Pentathlon -- and won.

Before they departed Thursday, both young women were awarded Athlete of the Year honors by The Odessa File for the second year in a row -- an award sponsored by E.C. Cooper Insurance of Watkins Glen. Other Athlete of the Year honorees are O-M senior Daniel Lewis and Watkins Glen High School seniors Jacob Yontz and Faye Mooney.

Thursday's send-off of Nolan and Brewster was set up by Superintendent Tracy Marchionda, who was out front with the student body of the high school and the pupils of the adjoining Hanlon Elementary School. She said the girls deserved such a reception to celebrate their achievement. After Hannah and Tori had walked the length of the student line and entered the vehicle taking them to Middletown (driven by Tori's father and track coach Burton Brewster), they were scheduled for one other stop -- to meet the students at B.C. Cate Elementary School in Montour Falls before hitting the road.

Photos in text:

Top: Tori Brewster and Hannah Nolan are celebrated by their schoolmates.
Bottom: Tori, left, and Hannah pose with Athlete of the Year plaques presented to them by The Odessa File.

Left: Hannah and Tori are warmly greeted as they make their way along the lengthy student line. Right: Among the high school students celebrating Hannah and Tori were Brooklynn Thompson, left, and Evvie Zinger.

Hannah, center left, and Tori move along the line of Hanlon Elementary School students.

Brubaker makes Dean's List at Bucknell

LEWISBURG, Pa., June 6, 2023 -- Maria Brubaker, a graduate of Watkins Glen High School, has been named to the Dean's List at Bucknell University for outstanding academic achievement during the Spring semester of the 2022-23 academic year.

Brubaker, who is a sophomore, is majoring in History.

A student must earn a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher on a scale of 4.0 to receive Dean's List recognition.

Scenes from the Watkins Glen prom

HECTOR, May 13, 2023 -- Watkins Glen held its annual prom Saturday night, with an estimated 150 students making their way to Logan Ridge for an evening of gowns, suits, camaraderie and music.

The theme of the evening was the Enchanted Forest. Here ae some photos from it.

A group of students arrives in the Ginny Lee Cafe parking lot on the way to the prom.

Scenes from the Odessa-Montour prom

LODI, May 6, 2023 -- The Odessa-Montour prom was held Saturday evening at the Ginny Lee Cafe, with a Las Vegas theme and large prop dice adorning the entrance and the interior.

It was the first time the school had held its prom at the cafe, located on the grounds at Wagner Vineyards. Here are some photos snapped as the evening began.

Right: David Patterson dons his white jacket.

The scene from the deck at the Ginny Lee Cafe on O-M's prom night.

WGHS Technology teacher Robert Hogan educates a 3rd Grade Watkins Glen Elementary School class on what it takes to build a race car. (Photo provided)

WGHS students tackle car construction, complete with build and marketing teams

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, April 29, 2023 -- Watkins Glen High School (WGHS) students are changing course, literally!

Partnered with the Winners Circle Project (WCP), WGHS students have built an entire race team incorporating the fields of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). This student-led project, consisting of both build and marketing teams, will in turn build, race and sell a Shelby Cobra race car.

When asked about the Winners Circle Project, most people mention the car build, but it goes far beyond that. The student-led project, under the direction of Founder and Executive Director Pius Mawejje Kayiira and his amazing supporting cast -- Visual Communications Director Matteo Banfo and Enrichment Coordinator Matteo Lundgren -- incorporates three major components: Visual Communications, Pathways to Success, and Marketing, Public Relations, and Fundraising.

The WCP’s project-based curriculum not only gives kids hands-on experience and introduces them to an array of career fields; but also helps them focus on personal growth and strengths inside and outside the classroom.

The Watkins Glen High School Transportation 2 class has been given the exciting opportunity to build a race car from the ground up! Technology teacher Robert Hogan divided his class into two teams: the "body team" and the "chassis team." Operating in full throttle, the chassis team is concentrating on the mechanics behind the build, while the body team is focused on completing an eight-step process to get the car body race ready!

The marketing team at WGHS, led by teacher Angela Morse, has been busy building a strong foundation for the racing team. Through logo design, team name creation, newsletter and development and management, the marketing team has made it their mission to make the racing team a collaborative effort.

Photos in text:

Top: WGHS student Alex Holmes works on the Cobra race car.
Bottom: WGHS student Joseph Sutterby works on the car. (Photos provided)

Left: A WGES student gets some hands-on experience in the build class.
Right: WGHS student Brenna Pierce helps direct traffic at a Winners Circle Project seminar. (Photos provided)

O-M unveils 4th period Honor Roll

ODESSA, April 29, 2023 -- The Odessa-Montour Junior-Senior High School has released its Honor Roll for the fourth marking period of the 2022-2023 school year.

High Honor Roll

Seventh Grade

Leah Antes, Emma Bailey, Paige Bailey, Peter Dechow, Abigail Grady, Isla Landon, Addison Learn, Thomas Mace, Perry Navestad, Lacey Pierce, Jessa Reynolds, Reese Rounds, Breyden Seamon, Blake Thomas

Eighth Grade

Hannah Albertsman, Jaeden Clark, Rianne Drake, Kayden Garrabrant, Casey Hines, Jaden Jarrell, Ella Kramer, Kali Madorsky, Caleb Malnoske, Riley McCoy-Thompson, Hunter Mowry, Ethan Nolan, Sidney Pike, Richard Pike II, Elizabeth Rawleigh, Alannah Rounds, Maxwell Sgrecci, Lauren Signor, Zachary Smith, Dana Spaccio, Aaron Sutton, Pietra VanderWerff, Jared Watson, Vanessa Wood, Everly Zinger

Ninth Grade

Rilke Arrance, Olivia Barr, Gavin Bruce, Alexander Campbell, Joseph Chamberlin, Caleb Collier, Kacie Colunio, Kyler Eriksen, Connor Foggie, James Halpin, Noel Hauber, Isaac Hough, Dev Patel, Olivia Rivera, Brycen Skinner, Alyiah Thornton, Samantha VanHorn, Alex Walters, Ronald Wilson IV

Tenth Grade

Lucas Barr, Kelsey Bates, William Beckley, Kathleen Benway, Riley Brooks, Andrea Coston, Evan Crane, Gavin Lohmeyer, Jedidiah Lynch, Jacqueline Mace, Tyler Malnoske, Maya Moser, Magdalene Pentz, Molly Rafferty, Cara Reynolds, Sarah Strobel, Zachary Willette

Eleventh Grade

Kylie Austin, Hannah Barr, Angel Burlew, Anabelle Crippen, Gina Gavich, Bradley Gillis, Cameron Johnson, Leah June, David Patterson, Alexander Willette

Twelfth Grade

Kathryn Adams, Sarah Barr, Victoria Brewster, Benjamin Campbell, Brandon Davis, Dominick Elliott, Emma Landon, Daniel Lewis, Jade Madill, Braiden Merrill Ventra, Jeremy Miller, Hannah Nolan, Adrionna Personius, Reagan Reese, Caleb Reynolds, Maximilian Seles, Jon Spencer, Trinity Trojanowski, Jesse Underdown, Mark Waterman, Gabriel Williams

Honor Roll

Seventh Grade

Odessa Arrance, Kendall Colunio, Khloe Dean, Konnor Madorsky, Lucas McCoy-Thompson, June Oglesby, Amber Swaney, Braidyne Wilson

Eighth Grade

Daniel Austin, Calie Casselberry, Alexzander Castillo, Joseph Davis, Ashlynn Derr, Brooklynn Thompson, Haylee Young, Cassius Zinger

Ninth Grade

Robert Frasier, Kyle Hashagen, Quincy Johnson, Alexa Landon, McKenzie Landon, Jasmine Mace Degraw, Jaiden Merino, Madeline Raymond

Tenth Grade

Cassie Allen, Abrianna Carrigan, Kailynn Frasier, Michael Hines, Paisley Jeziorski, Benson Patterson, Ava Struble

Eleventh Grade

Braiden Cannon, Mary Collier, Benjamin Heichel, Gordon Janack, Tristan Landon, Heaven Smith, Nathan Smith, Carly Thomas, Aiden Vogel, Wesley Wade, Jenna Wolfe

Twelfth Grade

Kyleigh Bates, Nicholas DeLong, Dan Spencer

School Board OKs budget; vote is May 16

WATKINS GLEN, April 3, 2023 -- The Watkins Glen School Board on Monday night approved a $29,427,585 budget it will send to the school district voters on May 16.

Voting will take place that day from 12 noon to 8 p.m.

The spending plan, up from the 2022-23 budget of $28,574,037 -- an increase of $853,548 (or 2.99%) -- proposes a tax levy of $10,437,000, up from last year’s $9,800,000.

Watkins School Board reaching out to O-M about merger; electric buses' safety knocked

WATKINS GLEN, April 4, 2023 -- The Watkins Glen School Board decided to reach out to the Odessa-Montour School District regarding one consequential issue while pushing back against the state on another at its meeting Monday evening.

The reach-out regarded the possibility of a merger of the two districts, something discussed in past years with no notable traction toward acceptance by the residents of either district.

Superintendent Kai D'Alleva cautioned that nothing might have changed in that regard, but conceded that recent mergers of various sports teams -- the board gave its blessing Monday to a merger of O-M's reduced softball varsity into that of the Watkins Glen squad -- might have tempered any past desire for independent, separate operations.

The pushback dealt with the state's move toward electric buses in all of its school districts on a timeline that D'Alleva said he and other superintendents are urging be softened to permit a phased implementation and a final deadline well beyond the current 2035.

Board member Keith Caslin brought the reluctance into sharper focus with a vow that he would be a firm "no" vote when it came time to vote on the bus program -- arguing that the technology surrounding such vehicles has not been developed enough to avoid putting the children riding them in grave danger in the event of a bus fire.

The Reach-Out:

The issue of merger came up with that vote on the softball teams, with discussion veering from the shrinking nature of enrollment and of participation in sports in the two districts -- to a look at how joining forces not just in sports, but in academics and fine arts, could enhance the education, opportunities and development of children in the two districts.

"To start such a conversation is fair," said board member Joe Stansfield.

Caslin was more blunt. "It's time to say enough is enough ... I don't think the county can continue to support both districts. The people just aren't here." Beyond that, he said, the competitive fire that used to exist between the two districts has been muted by the merger of several sports programs -- to date softball, baseball, football, wrestling, and boys and girls swimming. And relationships have changed, with "some of the Watkins and O-M kids now best friends."

"It all seems kind of awkward," added Stansfield, "when you have all of these merged teams, but then the two schools' soccer teams, for instance, play each other. It's just awkward."

Beyond that, the board agreed, the culture has changed drastically in the past few years, with the needs and wants of kids changing with it.

"When we were kids, we didn't have $4-a-gallon gas," said D'Alleva. "Now if a kid wants to drive, he needs a job to pay for it. "

And the advent of social media has altered the pressures that come to bear on the psyches of teenagers. "Gen Z is the most anxious generation we've seen," D'Alleva added, and has had to deal with anxiety and depression that earlier generations didn't face. "We weren't under the social media magnifier. It's a different world."

Among the byproducts, he said, was "a fear of participation" and an inability to dream like previous generations did.

Or as Stansfield put it, "When we were young, we wanted to be like our sports heroes, like Caitlin Clark" -- the University of Iowa basketball player who lit up the recent NCAA Women's Tournament with her scoring prowess from 3-point range.

"Right," said D'Alleva. "Now nobody thinks they can be."

Joining forces with O-M as one district, D'Alleva added, "wouldn't be to save money. but to create greater opportunities for kids, to make their experience a better one." Those districts with a greater enrollment tend to find greater success on the playing fields, he said, and by extension greater success in the classrooms.

Seeking a single district with a greater enrollment "is moving in the right direction," said Caslin. "The sky is the limit."

The Watkins enrollment, he added, "keep declining, and O-M has no (permanent) superintendent. It's a good time to start looking at it."

D'Alleva warned that the entire merger process is a difficult one, requiring board approvals in both districts, straw votes in both, and a final vote in each -- a process that can be (and has in the past been) discarded early on. But he said he would prepare a detailed account of the process for the board, as well as reach out to the O-M administration to gauge its willingness to talk about it.

The Push-Back:

Caslin, a fire inspector with, accordingly, a firm knowledge of fire safety and fire dangers, was adamant in his opposition to the state's plan to force zero-emission (electric) bus fleets on its school districts

The state, he said, “can’t prove the buses are safe for children. It would take just 19 seconds for fire to go from one end of the bus to the other” -- leaving no time to get the kids safely off the vehicle. “I wouldn’t be able to sleep if our kids were riding them.”

After a question from board member Jessica Saks asking what would happen if the board voted against the state’s plan, Superintendent D’Alleva -- who has been lobbying for a more reasonable time frame in instituting the buses -- said that “nobody knows.”

Caslin said this wasn’t like the state edict banning Indian-related nicknames on sports teams. “The loss of ‘Senecas’ is not detrimental to anyone,” he said. “But these buses? We’re saving lives here” by opposing them. “They’re just not there yet with the technology.”

He said it takes “a huge amount of water” to put out an electric vehicle fire, “and they’re telling us to get the kids off the bus” and clear of it and to “let it burn. But there’s not a chance in hell we’d be able to get the children off the bus.”

And storing the buses indoor, recommended in particular in seasonably cold climates such as the Southern Tier’s, offers a problem of another kind -- the loss of the building if a bus catches fire inside it.

D’Alleva showed some photos he snapped recently while examining such a vehicle that was brought here, explaining as well as he could what the various key elements of the bus system are -- and stressing the need, among other things, for mechanics well versed in caring for them.

Beyond that, the need exists, he said, to continue to lobby for a more reasonable time frame in instituting such a plan.

“How do we ease our way into this? We’ll see. We’re finally starting to see some advocacy about state changes. I anticipate some changes.”

D'Alleva added later: "While I do anticipate some amendments to the current legislation, I do not feel that this is going to go away. I believe that electrification of transportation is here to stay. My hope is that a slowdown and a common-sense approach to this shift will allow the technology to catch up to both reduce cost and decrease the health and safety risks connected with lithium-powered buses."

Photos in text:

Top: Superintendent Kai D'Alleva, with board member Amanda Voorheis at left and board president Barbara Schimizzi.
Middle: Board member Keith Caslin.
Bottom: One of the slides presented by D'Alleva of an electric bus he examined and rode.

SCCUDD billboard contest seeks entries
with substance abuse prevention messages

SCHUYLER COUNTY, March 31, 2023 -- The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking (SCCUDD) is holding its annual billboard contest for Schuyler County students in grades 7 through 12. All students attending Odessa-Montour Central School, Watkins Glen Central School, and Bradford Central School are eligible, including homeschool students residing in Schuyler County.

The contest is for substance abuse prevention messages with a “Prom or Graduation” theme. The winning billboard will be displayed during the months of May and June.

Billboards created must have a message that informs, persuades, or states facts about substance abuse pertaining to teens and graduation and/or prom. Topic substances could include marijuana, alcohol, nicotine/tobacco/vaping, and/or prescription drug abuse or illegal drug use and how it is harmful to youth. The message can be about one or all of these topics/substances.

Students are encouraged to look up facts and statistics and gain knowledge of why these substances are harmful to youth. Students are encouraged to be creative and think about a message that would reach youth.

Billboard ideas need to be submitted by April 12, 2023. All entries will be shared on SCCUDD’s social media platforms. The winner will be selected by members of Schuyler Teens against Alcohol, Nicotine, and other Drugs (STAND), and will be notified by email.

“Each year we do this, the submissions become more and more creative. I am looking forward to this year’s messages.” said SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower. The winning billboard will be displayed on Rte. 14 in Montour Falls throughout May and June.

Information regarding contest rules or entry will be provided at each school’s Main office or people can contact SCCUDD directly at 607-535-8140.

SCCUDD is a group of dedicated community members, businesses, and agencies that work 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.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at, or follow SCCUDD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Barber, Trojanowski win state-level gold

SCHUYLER COUNTY, March 28, 2023 -- Watkins Glen High School senior Ava Barber and Odessa-Montour High School senior Trinity Trojanowski recently won gold medals in an FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) state competition.

"We attended the FCCLA New York State conference/competition where we had to present our project," said Trojanowski. "It was located at the Villa Roma Resort in Callicoon, NY.

"We now go on to national competitions at Denver, Colorado to represent the New York State FCCLA," she added, explaining how the pair earned their medals.

"Ava and I hosted a food drive within our school districts," she said, with an eye toward establishing a food pantry at each school. Their project in the FCCLA competition -- in the category of National Programs in Action, specifically community service -- was titled "Slaying Hunger in Schuyler."

"Ava and I wouldn't have this opportunity," she added, without the GST BOCES-based New Visions program, which provides courses designed "for motivated, accelerated, college-bound seniors."

New Visions, Trojanowski said, "were the ones who enrolled us in FCCLA. As of right now, New Visions will pay for our air fees" to Denver.

Photo in text: Ava Barber, left, and Trinity Trojanowski. (Photo provided)

Brandon Hollenback and Lillian Artusa perform an electric guitar duet.

Artists-in-Residence concert showcases musical talents of Watkins Glen students

WATKINS GLEN, March 15, 2023 -- The musical talents of Watkins Glen school students were showcased Wednesday night at the annual Artists-in-Residence concert in the high school auditorium.

The Artists-in-Residence program was begun about 30 years ago in the Watkins school district -- initially at the Middle School under the auspices of nationally known cellist Hank Roberts of Ithaca and now-retired teacher Jim Murphy. It shifted eventually to the high school in the hands of instrumentalist Katie McShane and singer-fiddler Rosie Newton -- who this year were accompanied by two other professionals who have helped before (multi-instrumentalist Dylan McKinstry, and bassist Jesse Heasly). The program was revived last year after a pandemic-forced absence.

The Artists-in-Residence, who help students in grades 5 through 12 prepare musical selections for performance in this culminating concert, offered a mix of vocals and instrumentals Wednesday night, the concert opening with a group of teachers singing "Hey Jude" and then teacher Travis Durfee singing "Something's Rattling."

Student performances at the two-hour-plus concert included vocals by Julia Allen, teamed with clarinetist Cullen Metris for "The Star Spangled Banner": Arloween Loucks-Scuteri singing "All I Want"; Paisley Allen singing "Pride and Fear"; McKenzie Wheaton singing "Easy on Me"; Kambrie Thorpe singing "Glimpses of Us"; Callie Tohafjian and Sopheya Mathews singing "Someone Like You"; Rachel Perry, Nicole Perry and Piper Smith singing "Wolves": Brynn Smith singing "How Could You"; Nick Brusso singing "Ave Maria" and teaming with Lilac Cruz for "I Love You Too Much"; Madison Meisner and Lillian Weed singing "Lover"; Sarah Schaffner singing "Graceland Too"; and Lillian Artusa singing "Last Words of a Shooting Star" while at the piano, accompanied on electric guitar by Brandon Hollenback.

Instrumentals were by trumpeter Lucas Schubmehl ("The Star Wars Theme"), who later teamed with trumpeter Drew Popovich ("Sweet Caroline"); trombonist Eliza VanNess ("God Bless America"); Jade Spulak on the flute ("Evening in the Country"); alto saxophonist Topher Herforth ("I'm Blue"); clarinetist Samantha Austic ("How Far I'll Go"); alto saxophonist Callan Schamel ("Alouette"); pianist Natalie VanSkiver ("Say Something"); the trio of Rowen Stegner and Keira Ells (clarinets) and Makenzie Fish (french horn) playing "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?"; Leah Bubb on flute and Jacob Bond-Trimble on piano playing "Hedwig's Theme"; trombonists Lydia Schubmehl, Kasha Malysa and Emma Pendergast playing "Imperial March"; Cece Gaines on guitar, accompanying Nick Brusso and Lilac Cruz on their vocals; baritone saxophonist Elizabeth Fitzwater and clarinetist Elizabeth Metris playing "Careless Whisper"; and Lillian Artusa and Brandon Hollenback playing an electric guitar duet, "Lithium."

In the evening program distributed at the door, the Artists explained the philosophy behind what they do in Watkins Glen.

"At the heart of it," they wrote, "is the idea to elevate confidence, and to lift our students up by giving them a moment to share the stage with professional performers in front of their classmates, family, and community. Our goal is to leave them with a feeling of success and empowerment after the final performances."


Photos in text:

Top: Natalie VanSkiver performs "Say Something" on the piano.
Second: Teacher Travis Durfee sings "Something's Rattling."
Third: Artist-in-Residence Katie McShane. She and the three other mentoring musicians accompanied students on their concert performances.
Bottom: Emcees for the concert were Gillian D'Alleva, left, and Zade Gomez-Fitzsimmons.

Left: Jade Spulak on the flute, playing "Evening in the Country." Right: Madison Meisner, left, and Lillian Weed singing "Lover."

Left: Kambrie Thorpe sings "Glimpses of Us." Right: Lucas Schubmehl performs the "Star Wars Theme" on his trumpet.

Left: Sarah Schaffner performs "Graceland Too." Right: Nick Brusso sings "Ave Maria."

Display presented by Superintendent Kai D'Alleva at the School Board meeting.

Senecas name fails to gain approval from State Ed's Indigenous Advisory Group; district to seek public input for new name

WATKINS GLEN, March 8, 2023 -- The New York State Education Department's recently formed Indigenous Mascot Advisory Group has told the Watkins Glen School District it does not approve of the name "Senecas" -- the identifying nickname for generations of Watkins Glen sports teams. And under a State Ed decree adopted in December, said School Superintendent Kai D'Alleva, that means the name must be retired by June.

The news, received by D'Alleva Wednesday morning through BOCES Superintendent Kelly Houck, was explained by D'Alleva in an email to School Board members after its receipt, and expanded upon at the board's regularly scheduled Wednesday night meeting.

The move by the state, feared but not -- based on previous messages from various knowledgable sources -- really expected, is the culmination of the state's move over the recent past toward elimination of Indian mascots and imagery from school teams. It is a movement that has gained steam in other states and nationally (witness the retirement of the Redskins and Indians nicknames from the Washington football and Cleveland baseball teams).

Odessa-Montour this year replaced its longstanding "Indians" with "Grizzlies," and other districts have likewise rebranded. Watkins Glen had eliminated almost all of its imagery, but was hoping to maintain the "Senecas" name on a geographic basis, Seneca Lake being prominent locally.

D'Alleva said he had been told in November that the district seemed to be moving in the right direction with its geographic link, but to wait while the matter ran its course. The Indigenous Mascot Advisory Group was created to sign off on -- or reject -- such "gray area" mascots and nicknames as that represented by "Senecas." A thumbs down would be tantamount to rejection of the "Senecas" name.

That thumbs down came Wednesday morning, as D'Alleva explained in his email to the board. He said Wednesday night that "the way I read this, they're not allowing us to move forward with 'Senecas,' and (BOCES Superintendent) Kelly Houck agreed." He wrote:

"A week ago, District Superintendent Houck informed me that the advisory committee on indigenous mascots was formed and things were moving fast.

"She urged me to write up a summary and timeline of our intentional actions to move away from indigenous imagery.

"I took her lead and immediately sent her a summary of our plan and our updated imagery.

"Mrs. Houck forwarded that plan to David Frank, Chief of Staff in the Office of Education Policy at the State Education Department.

"Mr. Frank added our questions to the agenda on the first meeting of the committee, which was last Thursday.

"I have been told that the committee discussed our situation with the following result as summarized by Mr. Frank:

“Given the team name history and connection with an Indigenous Nation, the Indigenous Mascot Advisory Group did not feel that the Watkins Glen CSD team name, “Senecas,” would be something they could sign off. They suggested that this as an opportunity for the district to re-brand. We do not anticipate that any logos, names, mascots etc. that are vestiges of the use of Native American mascots by school districts to be considered acceptable going forward.”

"It is my opinion," D'Alleva continued in the email, "that it is time to move forward with the rebranding of our team name and mascot.

"My goal is to give you time to digest this information, and allow you to ask questions in advance of tonight’s meeting so I can provide you with as much information as possible.

"This evening I will provide the timeline provided by NYSED and the planning process that we will now have to follow."

That timeline -- adopted by State Ed in December -- is pictured above this story. It calls, in light of the thumbs-down from the Indigenous Mascot Advisory Group -- for the retirement of the name "Senecas" by June, and adoption of a new name within a year of that. "Full rebrand should be complete by the end of 2024-25," it adds.

One problem: the name "Senecas" is part of the Field House gym's basketball court, on its northern end. "Watkins Glen" were the words chosen on the court's southern end. The "Senecas" end will have to be redone -- something that D'Alleva said won't be cheap, but which will cost less than it would have if the floor, resurfaced several months ago, had completely cured.

The word "Senecas" is also in the end zones of the artificial-turf football field. The field also carries some arrows, which were already planned for excision under the current capital project. Removal of the end zone names will be covered by the remaining capital project funds, D'Alleva noted.

He said it is "highly likely" that Watkins sports teams this spring will continue to be known as "Senecas," although the name must be jettisoned no later than June.

The School Board and D'Alleva agreed at Wednesday's meeting that input from students and the community will be sought regarding a new name, and that the selection process could take a long time.

D'Alleva said it is also "highly likely" that the Watkins teams would not have a nickname in the next school year, "at least at the start." Those merged with Odessa-Montour go under the moniker "The Storm."

He said that retirement of the "Senecas" name does not rob those generations of students who were Senecas in the past, and always will be.

"As hard as this is to digest," he said, "it is also an opportunity to do something great for the (current) kids," involving them in the rebranding process. "It is an opportunity to move forward with something great for future generations. But there might be bumps and bruises along the way. It won't be easy."

Photos in text:

Top: The "Senecas" in the floor at the north end of the Field House gym must be removed, along with the same word in the football field's end zones.

Bottom: From left, School Board member Craig Bianco, Superintendent Kai D'Alleva and Board President Barbara Schimizzi at the board meeting.

Watkins hosts Rubiks Cube competition

WATKINS GLEN, March 7, 2023 -- A dozen students in grades 4 through 11 from the Watkins Glen and Hammondsport schools participated Saturday in a Rubiks Cube competition organized in the Watkins district.

The students, said organizer Rebecca Ross, K-12 Instructional Coach and Science Department Coordinator at WGCSD, "solved three different types of cubes for fastest average time."

Junior Kaiden Karius won the 3x3 solve with a time of 21.6 seconds. Donny Leister, a 6th grader from Hammondsport, won the 2x2 in 13.5 seconds. A WGHS senior, David Kelly, designed and made the day's trophies.

Ross said she "organized the competition for Watkins Glen and invited any other student from our GST region.

"Hammondsport had three students (grades 4 and 6) compete, while Watkins Glen had nine students ranging from the 5th through the 11th grade."

The event was kick-started, Ross said, when Watkins student Jarett Hill "asked if we could have a club for Rubiks Cube speed solving. He started the idea and a group of 7th-12th graders get together every few weeks and work on solves or talk about what methods they are working on and to share tips.

"Kaiden Karius and Lance Majors were interested in a competition, so I organized one. They decided on what to offer for events: fastest solve for 3x3, 2x2, and megaminx, and a team solve. Although we followed the World Cube Association basic format, this was not an official competition.

"The students hope to compete in an official competition next year as they work on getting their solve times to below 10 seconds. The closest WCA competition we have found is in Rochester.

"We awarded the top two winning times in each category. In each competition the students had to solve five times; fastest and slowest times were eliminated and the remaining three times were the average for the winning time. Times were as low as 15 seconds for the 3x3!"

1 - Kaiden Karius 21.6 seconds
2 - Isaac Hendrickson 47.4 seconds

1 - Donny Leister 13.5 seconds
2 - Cayden Spulak 17.3 seconds

Megaminx: Isaac Hendrickson, 3.12 minutes

Team Solve:
Isaac Hendrickson, Cayden Spulak, 08:29.9
Donny Leister, CeCe Fox, Sawyer Fox, 12:36.7
Lucas Schubmehl, Drew Popovich, Jarett Hill, Micah Pierce, Broghan Fuller-Bianco, 15:30.0.

Photos in text: The competition participants, and a Cube Trophy. (Photos provided)

O-M unveils 3rd period Honor Roll

ODESSA, Feb. 22, 2023 -- The Odessa-Montour Junior-Senior High School has released its Honor Roll for the third marking period of the 2022-2023 school year.

High Honor Roll

Seventh Grade: Leah Antes, Paige Bailey, Peter Dechow, Abigail Grady, Isla Landon, Addison Learn, Thomas Mace, Lucas McCoy-Thompson, Perry Navestad, June Oglesby, Lacey Pierce, Reese Rounds, Breyden Seamon, Blake Thomas

Eighth Grade: Hannah Albertsman, Rianne Drake, Kayden Garrabrant, Casey Hines, Jaden Jarrell, Ella Kramer, Kali Madorsky, Caleb Malnoske, Riley McCoy-Thompson, Hunter Mowry, Richard Pike II, Elizabeth Rawleigh, Alannah Rounds, Maxwell Sgrecci, Lauren Signor, Zachary Smith, Dana Spaccio, Aaron Sutton, Pietra VanderWerff, Jared Watson, Vanessa Wood, Everly Zinger

Ninth Grade: Rilke Arrance, Olivia Barr, Alexander Campbell, Caleb Collier, Kyler Eriksen, Connor Foggie, James Halpin, Noel Hauber, Isaac Hough, Alexa Landon, Dev Patel, Alyiah Thornton, Samantha VanHorn, Alex Walters, Ronald Wilson IV

Tenth Grade: Lucas Barr, William Beckley, Riley Brooks, Evan Crane, Hayden Fenner, Jedidiah Lynch, Tyler Malnoske, Maya Moser, Magdalene Pentz, Molly Rafferty, Cara Reynolds, Sarah Strobel, Ava Struble, Zachary Willette

Eleventh Grade: Kylie Austin, Hannah Barr, Gina Gavich, Gordon Janack, David Patterson

Twelfth Grade: Kathryn Adams, Sarah Barr, Victoria Brewster, Benjamin Campbell, Brandon Davis, Dominick Elliott, Emma Landon, Daniel Lewis, Jade Madill, Braiden Merrill Ventra, Hannah Nolan, Adrionna Personius, Reagan Reese, Madelyn Root, Maximilian Seles, Dan Spencer, Jon Spencer, Trinity Trojanowski, Jesse Underdown

Honor Roll

Seventh Grade: Emma Bailey, Kendall Colunio, Khloe Dean, David Heichel, Konnor Madorsky, Jessa Reynolds, Braidyne Wilson

Eighth Grade: Alexzander Castillo, Mason DuPay, Nevaeh Dzikiewicz, Ethan Nolan, Sidney Pike, Brooklynn Thompson, Haylee Young, Cassius Zinger

Ninth Grade: Gavin Bruce, Logan Buchanan, Robert Frasier, Alexis Gillis, Jasmine Mace Degraw, Jaiden Merino, Olivia Rivera, Brycen Skinner, Madalynn Stevens, Brayden Thompson, Ean Walsh

Tenth Grade: Cassie Allen, Kelsey Bates, Andrea Coston, Kailynn Frasier, Michael Hines, Gavin Lohmeyer, Jacqueline Mace

Eleventh Grade: Angel Burlew, Anabelle Crippen, Bradley Gillis, Benjamin Heichel, Leah June, Lance Reese, Christopher Seewald, Nathan Smith, Aiden Vogel, Alexander Willette, Ayden Williams

Twelfth Grade: Kyleigh Bates, Austin Hoyt, Hannah Kinner, Caleb Reynolds, Mark Waterman, Zachary Wyre

Brubaker makes Dean's List at Bucknell

LEWISBURG, Pa., Jan. 24, 2023 -- Watkins Glen High School alum Maria Brubaker, a sophomore at Bucknell University, has been named by the university to the Dean's List for outstanding academic achievement during the fall semester of the 2022-23 school year.

A student must earn a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher on a scale of 4.0 to receive Dean's List recognition.

Football team honored

The 2022 Schuyler Storm varsity football team -- a combined squad of Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour High School athletes -- was honored Monday night at a meeting of the Watkins Glen School Board in recognition of the squad's Section IV Class C Independent Championship. Players received Outstanding Athletic Achievement Award certificates, and then posed with their coaches for the photo above.

From left: O-M honorees Hannah Nolan, Tori Brewster and Ben Campbell, and Watkins Glen honorees Jacob Yontz, Joseph Sutterby and Aubrey Kellogg.

Rotary honors 6 as Students of the Month

MONTOUR FALLS, Jan. 19, 2023 -- A half-dozen high school seniors were honored Thursday as Students of the Month at the twice-monthly luncheon meeting of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club, held at the Montour Moose Lodge.

The large number of honorees made up for some missed months due to logistical issues, and brought the program up to date. Normally, the club honors one senior from each school each month during the school year.

The club also welcomed its newest member, Dr. Cynthia Terry, a longtime and recently retired physcian. She has over the years served with Gannett Health Service, Schuyler Hospital, Foster House Medical Affiliates and, beginning in 1994, with Arnot Health, most recently as a primary care physician before her retirement. She was a member of the Rotary back in the 1990s, but her workload forced her to step away from the club at that time.

Honored by the club were the following seniors:

Hannah Nolan, Odessa-Montour, introduced by teacher Holly Campbell. A standout in soccer and basketball, Hannah plans to attend SUNY Cortland, where she will study Conservation Biology and play soccer. While praising Nolan's athletic achievements, Campbell said "Hannah is so much more ... She is also a fierce supporter of her friends and teammates. She is always encouraging others and works hard to keep things positive in all situations."

Tori Brewster, Odessa-Montour, introduced by teacher Holly Campbell. A standout in soccer and track, she plans to attend Houghton University with an eye toward a career in Education. Campbell said that "if you've ever seen Tori on the field, the court, or the track, you should know that she shouldn't be underestimated, despite her diminutive stature." She added: "Tori is devoted to her friends, always treating others with kindness."

Ben Campbell, Odessa-Montour, introduced by teacher Skip Strobel. A three-sport athlete, Ben plans to attend SUNY Geneseo, where he "might run track." Strobel said that in addition to Ben's "numerous academic and athletic accolades ... if I had a son, Ben Campbell would be the model of the kind of son I'd want."

Jacob Yontz, Watkins Glen, introduced by teacher Jessica Purpura. A standout in soccer and basketball, Jacob plans to attend college, but did not say where. Purpura, coach of Jacob's school soccer team, said he is "respectful, calm, determined, a class act" and "a voice of reason who leads by example."

Joseph Sutterby, Watkins Glen, introduced by the Watkins School District's Library Media Specialist, Maggie Field. A standout in basketball, Joseph plans to attend college in Mechanical Engineering, with an eye toward a career in motorsports. Field said that Joseph, a member of National Honor Society, is "kind, ambitious and humble, all at the same time," with "a great curiosity for current events."

Aubrey Kellogg, Watkins Glen, introduced by teacher Ward Brower, her coach on the school bowling team. Brower praised her work as a Girl Scout on the Sheriff's Drug Take-Back program, and called her a "hard worker, a leader, and an original thinker not afraid to let you know what she is thinking." Aubrey said she is undecided on college, but is considering a career in business.

Photos in text:

Top: New Rotarian Dr. Cynthia Terry stands next to Rotarian Ken Wilson, who introduced her at the luncheon meeting.
Bottom: Each of the six honorees received a plaque marking the occasion.

Members of the Watkins Glen High School girls varsity soccer team pose with their coaches after receiving certificates and a championship plaque at the Jan. 9 School Board meeting in the school library.

Board honors WGHS girls soccer team

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 9, 2023 -- The 21 members of Watkins Glen High School's Section IV champion girls varsity soccer team were honored Monday night by the district School Board during a gathering in the school library.

Each member of the team -- which earned the first such title for the school in that particular sport -- was called forward to receive a certificate of Outstanding Athletic Achievement presented by Athletic Director Rod Weeden.

The girls then posed for a team photo, but not before Superintendent Kai D'Alleva praised them for the hard work they put in throughout a season that saw them continually improve as they earned divisional, IAC and Section IV, Class C titles.

Members of the team -- as engraved on a Section IV championship plaque presented by Weeden -- included Lillian Ameigh, Carly Arnold, Madaline Bryerton, Gillian D'Alleva, Michaela Wheaton, Molly O'Connell-Campbell, Jennifer Gublo, Sasha Honrath, Olivia King, Brenna Pierce, Maisie Robertson, Olivia VanSkiver, Zade Gomez-Fitzsimmons, Ava Kelly, Erin Snow, Brianna Hatch, Skye Honrath, Natalee Oliver, Katrina Ricca, Madison Tuttle and Rachel Vickio. The head coach was Scott Morse, assisted by Ralph Diliberto.

Photo in text: Each member of the team received an Outstanding Athletic Achievement certificate.

5 join National Honor Society at O-M in 1st induction since before the pandemic

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, Dec. 12, 2022 -- The Sapientes Chapter of National Honor Society at Odessa-Montour High School had its first inductions Monday night since the disruptions of the pandemic.

Hannah Barr (a junior), Riley Brooks (sophomore), Molly Rafferty (sophomore), Cara Reynolds (sophomore), and Sarah Strobel (sophomore) were inducted at the ceremony.

Since all of the chapter's members had graduated since the last induction, several faculty members assisted with inductions in roles typically filled by current NHS members. Almon McCarty, Dan Batchelder, Michael Palm, and Chapter Advisor Andrew Campbell each lit a candle and read a passage for the pillars of NHS.

Mrs. Holly Campbell officiated the NHS oath with the inductees and narrated the candle lighting..

To be inducted into National Honor Society at O-M, students must first have an 89.5 overall GPA and be at least a sophomore. From there, they submit an application, two references, and an essay about how they demonstrate the four pillars of NHS – Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Character. Students are then interviewed by a faculty council that ultimately decides if the candidate is a good fit for NHS.

"I would like to congratulate our new members," said Advisor Campbell. "They will represent NHS and OMCS well and be a great group to help restart and rebuild our chapter of National Honor Society. I am excited to see this be the group that rekindles NHS at Odessa-Montour and look forward to working with them."

Photo in text: From left, Sarah Strobel, Cara Reynolds, Molly Rafferty, Riley Brooks, and Hannah Barr. (Photo provided)

Wood's resignation: "I need time to tend to the things I have neglected for far too long"

ODESSA, Dec. 2, 2022 -- The full text of Odessa-Montour School Superintendent Chris Wood's resignation announcement sent to members of the school staff on Friday follows:

"Dear Staff,

"I have spent the better part of 35 years at Odessa-Montour. I have lived the role of everything from student to Superintendent and truly loved my time here. I had great teachers, met great friends, and went through many ups and downs as a student. And I've met great teachers, administrators, students, community members and Board members and went through many ups and downs in each of my roles along the way.

"The duties of Superintendent have been overwhelming for me. The roles and responsibilities require a great deal of energy, time, and work. For some time now, I've been talking to those closest to me about the impact of those stressors on my physical and mental well-being and have been in discussion with the Board of Education about this as well. I mentioned to you all on Opening Day that we could finally "get off the treadmill." Unfortunately, I was not able to do this, and I can no longer give the time, energy and effort needed to run this great District. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, I can no longer do it.

"I have asked the Board of Education to accept my letter of resignation and they are willing to honor my request. Today will be my last day as superintendent of the Odessa-Montour Central School District. I need time to tend to the things I have neglected for far too long -- my family and my own well-being.

"The District will be in great hands as your Board will find an outstanding replacement. In the meantime, GST BOCES District Superintendent Kelly Houck will oversee the day-to-day operations. Your administrators are the best in the area and will continue to keep things moving in a positive direction. I believe you are the best staff in the region, and I know you and the students will continue to thrive.

"For those of you closer to me, I do not believe this comes as a shock; the role of Superintendent, and where I am in life right now, are no longer compatible. I have given Odessa-Montour all I can, and you deserve someone who is able to carry the District forward and continue to do great things.

"I want to thank you all for what you do. Thank you all for your support over the past 35 years. I ask that staff try and understand where I am coming from and respect the needs of my family and myself. The next time I am in the building, I will be wearing my favorite title, 'Dad.'"

Christopher J. Wood

The new National Honor Society members at Watkins Glen High School during their induction ceremony. (Photo provided)

11 join National Honor Society at WGHS

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 1, 2022 -- Eleven students were inducted on Thursday, Oct. 27 into the Watkins Glen Chapter of the National Honor Society.

To be eligible for membership consideration, these students met a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.7/4.0. Additionally, they went through a lengthy application process -- including submission of an application outlining how they met and exceeded the NHS pillars of service, character, scholarship and citizenship -- and participated in personal interviews. Students were then reviewed by a five-person faculty council.

The following are the new National Honor Society members:

Nicholas Bonsignore
Sydney Brubaker
Malina Butler
Vey Cowan
Alyson Gibson
Payton Hilfiger
Skylar Lagramada
Thalia Marquez
Maisie Robertson
Keira Sulkey
Shea Young

Members of the Class of 2022 cross the athletic field on the way to their ceremony seats.

WGHS bids goodbye to the Class of 2022

WATKINS GLEN, June 25, 2022 -- Seventy-two seniors were presented their diplomas Saturday morning at the annual Commencement Exercises at Watkins Glen High School -- under an atmosphere of heightened security.

Following the phone threat Thursday to the high school that warned of shooting violence -- and prompted a lockdown, perimeter search and extensive interior search of the school campus -- armed Village Police and Schuyler County Sheriff's Department personnel were positioned at various locations Saturday around the graduation-ceremony site: the school's Alumni Field, where rows of chairs were filled by spectators in front of the bleachers.

Police were located at entrances, at either end of the field, and on its sides -- including two men on the school roof west of the ceremony.

School Superintendent Kai D'Alleva praised the police officers afterward, saying that "without them, we're not doing this." And he waved his arm at the gathering of hundreds of spectators and the 74 graduates milling about on the athletic field, taking photos and congratulating one another.

One police officer said that during a debriefing after the Thursday threat and search, D'Alleva had asked Village and Sheriff's officials if graduation should be delayed, but they all said it shouldn't -- that the members of this graduating class "had gone through enough" in their journey to the ceremony and to their diplomas. Not least of the challenges the class had faced was the pandemic and all it entailed.

Beyond Saturday's police presence, which one observer said added "an odd atmosphere," the ceremony went off as planned, with speeches by the Valedictorian (Matthew Sandritter) and Salutatorian (Doublas DiGregorio) and a Senior Oratory by Cameron Holland, ranked third in the class. (The others in the Top 10 included Robin Zimba, Gavin Bond, Sierra Morris, Connor Karius, Jade Scaptura, Melanie Wysocki and Andrew Hayes.)

Various monetary awards, previously unannounced and unknown to the recipients, were then bestowed by Senior Class Advisor Sam Brubaker, leading to the presentation of diplomas by D'Alleva.

The 72 graduates were as follows, in alphabetical order:

Carlie M. Baker
Brady Austin Bargesser
Donner Allen Bean
Bailey Elizabeth Beaumont
Owen Douglas Bingham
Gavin Bond
Stoyan G. Bond
Aleksander Lee Burke
Daine Michael Butler
Breanna M. Carl
Haley Carl
Lily M. Clark
Star A. Clark
Claire Elizabeth Cole
Anthony Michael Cummings
Ethan W. Day
Colby D. DePree
Douglas G. DiGregorio
Molly K. Dunham
Daniel David Ely
Georgio Robert Fazzary
Jonathan C. Fuller
Noah S. Gardner
Michael J. Gee
Abigail Lisa Gibson
Chloe E. Gouin
Andrew C. Hayes
Brayden C. Heady
Cameron C. Holland
Draven Michael Hollenback
Madelynn P. Jones
Travon E. Jones
Connor J. Karius
Alexis C. King
Isabella Francesca La Face
Mason Annorah Lampman
Katherine JoAnna Larson
Alexis N. Lapp
Jacob Ryan Marsiglio
Sierra Morris
Eric Michael Morrissette
Adam D. Pastore
Jacob Jackson Pierce
Mitchell W. Pike
Cassidy Marie Ploucha
Jesse L. Powell
Jacob Michael Powers
Emily Grace Rhoads
Raeline C. Rider
Charlie Oscar Samuel
Matthew W. Sandritter
Jade Marie Scaptura
Owen J. Scholtisek
Kara Michele Sheesley
Anya M. Simpson
Jordannmarie Chloe Simpson
Brandon L. Smith
Caleb Anthony Smith
Jayden Ryan Smith
Kimberly Dayana Smith Brown
Luke A. Spahalski
Matthew J. Swarthout
Benjamin Robert Swinnerton
Christa R. Taber
Colby Curtis Thurston
Nathan Garrett VanOstrand
Kade J. Westervelt
Jade Emonie Williams
Richard J. Winchell
Cloey N. Wratten
Melanie P. Wysocki
Robin Mallory Zimba

Photos in text:

Top: Douglas DiGregorio and Melanie Wysocki sing The National Anthem.
Second: Matthew Sandritter delivers the Valedictory Address.
Third through Fifth: Superintendent Kai D'Alleva presents diplomas to Ben Swinnerton, Jade Scaptura and Cameron Holland.

Sierra Morris receives congratulations from Senior Class Advisor Sam Brubaker upon receiving a monetary award.

Left: Daniel Ely receives his diploma from Superintendent Kai D'Alleva.
Right: Graduates Carlie Baker, left, and Abby Gibson strike a pose.

Left: Law enforcement personnel on the school roof. Right: Village Police Officer and School Resource Officer Jamie Coleman.

Left: Robin Zimba receives her diploma from Superintendent Kai D'Alleva.
Right: Graduate Bailey Beaumont chats with friends after the ceremony.

Left: Graduate Andrew Hayes after the ceremony. Right: Expressive graduation headwear.

Left: Graduate Georgio Fazzary after the ceremony. Right: Gavin Bond receives his diploma from Superintendent Kai D'Alleva.

Left: Breanna Carl receives her diploma from Superintendent Kai D'Alleva.
Right: Graduate Brayden Heady receives a hug from his football coach, Trevor Holland, after the ceremony.

Anya Simpson receives congratulations from Senior Class Advisor Sam Brubaker upon winning a monetary award.

Odessa-Montour graduates Jade Baldwin, left, and Marissa Marsh.

Odessa-Montour says farewell to 40 grads

ODESSA, June 24, 2022 -- Forty Odessa-Montour High School seniors were graduated Friday evening in a Commencement ceremony on the school's Charles Martin Field.

Co-Valedictorians Camille Sgrecci and Annaleise Beckley each gave short speeches, recounting the challenges they have faced -- such as the pandemic -- and the support members of the Class of 2022 have shown for one another over the years.

Sgrecci, who will be attending Lycoming College in Academic Exploration, said she was "glad I learned how to live life in the moment." She left her classmates with a thought for the future provided by Henry Ford, who once said "Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently." She concluded by saying: "We finally made it.!"

Beckley, who will be studying Criminal Justice at Corning Community College, recounted the difficulties imposed by the pandemic, and said that now that we are "somewhat" back to "a normal life," she and her classmates have the opportunity to move forward with an "independence" into the future.

School counselors Colleen Coolican and Dan Batchelder then called the seniors one by one for presentation of their diplomas by School Board President Rob Halpin and congratulations from Superintendent Chris Wood.

The 40 graduates, in alphabetical order, with their plans:

--Haley M. Albertsman, Corning Community College, Early Childhood Education
--Jana E. Arias, Workforce
--Abigail A. Aukstikalnis, CCC, Engineering Science
--Jade Ann Marie Baldwin, St. John Fisher College, Nursing
--Annaleise Marie Beckley, CCC, Criminal Justice
--Brittany Lynne Cooper, Finger Lakes CC, Paramedic
--Mackenzie Lynn Cannon, Alfred University, Biology
--Charlotte Alexis Chamberlain, Undecided
--Cayden Paul Confer, Trade School
--Courtney Davis, CCC, Nursing
--Casey Dudgeon, Workforce
--Christopher Durfey, Workforce
--Seth R. Durfey, Culinary Institute of America, Pastry Chef
--Dominick D.J. Fazzary, Workforce
--Jonathan Gillis, United States Navy
--Gabriel I. Grover, Purdue University, Nutrition Science
--Arden Heichel, Tompkins Cortland CC, Sports Management
--Molly Louise Heichel, Ithaca College, Theater Production and Design
--Keith R. June, St. John Fisher College, Sports Management
--Casey W. Keyes, CCC, Mechatronics
--Ethan G. King, CCC, Liberal Arts
--Raven Machele Lott, Niagara County CC, Applied Science
--Marissa Renee Marsh, SUNY Geneseo, Liberal Arts
--Jacob Menzi, Workforce
--Katelynn May Mitstifer, Undecided
--Madison L. Moss, Mansfield University, Psychology
--Chyanne L. Murphy, Alfred State University, Animal Science
--Veer M. Patel, Penn State University, Mechanical Engineering
--Delaney Paulisczak, Elmira College, Nursing
--Samuel W. Pierce, Workforce
--Justin Thomas Ruocco, Undecided
--Xavier Ryan Sekella, Workforce
--Camille M. Sgrecci, Lycoming College, Academic Exploration
--Elizabeth Starkweather, CCC, Liberal Arts
--Ashton Sutton, Workforce
--Salina R. Tanner, Undecided
--Madison Thompson, Undecided
--Aidan Kenneth Thurston, University of Evansville, Archeology
--Kaetlyn Beth Nikole White, Arnot School of Radiology
--Michael John Wyre, Undecided

Photos in text:

Top: Co-Valedictorian Camille Sgrecci delivers a speech.
Second: Co-Valedictorian Annaleise Beckley receives congratulations from Superintendent Chris Wood after receiving her diploma.
Third: Graduate Mackenzie Cannon.
Fourth: Graduate Molly Heichel.

Left: Dominick Fazzary receives his diploma from School Board President Rob Halpin. Right: Graduate Cayden Confer.

From left: Graduates Madison Moss, Keith June and Eliza Starkweather.

Left: Ashton Sutton is congratulated by Superintendent Chris Wood, right, after receiving his diploma from School Board President Rob Halpin, center. Right: Graduate Gabriel Grover.

From left: Graduates Haley Albertsman, Brittany Cooper and Raven Lott.

Kaetlyn White receives her diploma from School Board President Rob Halpin.

From left: Graduates Delaney Paulisczak, Aidan Thurston and Sam Pierce.

From left: Retirees Jim Ameigh, Kelly Muir and Skip Opdyke.

Retirees John Fazzary and Eileen Malaney.

WG School Board bids farewell to retirees, honors 2 students as 'Everyday Heroes'

WATKINS GLEN, June 22, 2022 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Wednesday night thanked nine retiring employees for their years of service, and honored two sophomores as "Everyday Heroes" for their role in helping another student who was reacting with respiratory distress to a bee sting.

The retiring staff members, five of them present at the School Board meeting and each presented with a wrapped gift, included:

Eileen Malaney: a business teacher with 39 years of service to the district.
John Fazzary: a physical education teacher and longtime coach, 33 years.
Jim Ameigh: a custodial worker, 30 years.
Kelly Muir: a high school English teacher, 26 years (after four in the Bradford district).
Skip Opdyke: bus driver, 12 years.
Teresa Loudon: multiple roles, 31 years.
Sally Cocca: elementary school teacher, 17 years.
Gloria Scranton: bus driver, 8 years.
Pam Marsh: multiple roles, 4 1/2 years.

The honored students -- 10th graders Skye Cummings and Lance Majors -- were cited for their quick thinking in tending to another student -- a female -- stricken by the bee sting during school hours on June 2nd. The girl was -- said High School Principal Kyle Colunio in introducing Cummings and Majors to the School Board -- in respiratory distress even after self-applying an EpiPen. Cummings and Majors directed her from the school hallway to a classroom, and Cummings ran to the Nurse's Office to signal the need for medical attention.

Back in the classroom, she and Majors kept the afflicted student comfortable and alert -- in a situation "that could have been really bad," said Colunio -- and managed to flag down the School Resource Officer, Jamie Coleman, who was able to direct the arriving ambulance personnel to the classroom. The patient was then transported to the hospital.

Both of the "Everyday Heroes" were well-versed in first aid, said Colunio -- Cummings through the school's Lifesaving course, and Majors through his role as a firefighter with the Beaver Dams Fire Department -- and used that knowledge and training. He also said some people run away when faced with an emergency, while "you have people who run in. These two ran in."

Superintendent Kai D'Alleva told the honorees that they were the "inaugural members" of a heroes club, and that the district will in the future honor other students "who go above and beyond" the norm -- as Cummings and Majors did.

The certificates presented to each read: "This certificate is proudly awarded ... to recognize your significant and outstanding achievement for going above and beyond what's expected to make Watkins Glen Central School District a great place to learn and work."

Photo in text: Watkins Glen High School Principal Kyle Colunio leads the applause for "Everyday Heroes" Lance Majors and Skye Cummings at the School Board meeting.

O-M Academic Award recipients find seats at the picnic lunch outside the school.

Picnic provided for O-M award recipients

ODESSA, June 21, 2022 -- The Odessa-Montour High School Academic Award recipients were treated Tuesday to a picnic lunch in a courtyard next to the school. Nickel's Pit Barbecue of Watkins Glen donated the meal.

The award recipients are as follows:

Elmira College Key Award: Dominick Elliott and Jade Madill.

University of Rochester:
Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award:
Trinity Trojanowski
George Eastman Young Leaders Award:
Hannah Nolan
Frederick Douglas & Susan B. Anthony Award:
Emma Landon
Xerox Award for Innovation & Information Technology: Colton Wig

Rochester Institute of Technology:
Computing Medal Award: Katie Adams
Creativity & Innovation Award: Tori Brewster

Clarkson University:
Leadership Award: Reagan Reese
Academic Achievement Award: Hannah Nolan

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute:
Rensselaer Medal Winner: Katie Adams

Russell Sage College:
Student Award: Tori Brewster and Sarah Barr

Wells College:
Leadership: Sarah Barr and Ben Campbell

Keuka College:
George H. Ball Achievement Award: Trinity Trojanowski, Daniel Lewis, Nicholas DeLong, Hannah Kinner and Caleb Reynolds

Alfred University:
School of Engineering Award: Katie Adams
Scholars Award: Jon Spencer

New York State Attorney General:
Triple C Award:
Mark Waterman and Tori Brewster

New York State Comptroller:
Achievement Award: Aidan Thurston

Photos in text:

Top: Tori Brewster, left, and Trinity Trojanowski at the picnic.
Bottom: Award recipient Katie Adams.

From left: Award recipients Daniel Lewis, Reagan Reese, Ben Campbell, Aidan Thurston

The honorees and their families, along with school officials, at the Schuyler Scholars dinner at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

Schuyler Scholars dinner honors top 10%

WATKINS GLEN, June 8, 2022 -- Seniors in the top 10 percent of their class academically at the Odessa-Montour, Watkins Glen and Bradford high schools were honored Wednesday evening at a Schuyler Scholars dinner at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

The program, an annual event that was on hiatus the past two years due to the pandemic, saw eight students from Watkins Glen, five from O-M and two from Bradford receive plaques.

Speakers for the evening were Sally (Wilcox) Homolka, a 2005 Odessa-Montour graduate, and Kelly Houck, the GST BOCES superintendent.

Homolka, who left Schuyler County after graduation for a dozen years before returning to the area -- where she now lives, and works as a Physical Therapist -- urged the honorees to be spontaneous in whatever course they choose -- to "go with the flow" -- and to be resilient, ready to bounce back from any failures along the way. "You'll make mistakes," she said, but by being resilient "it will all work out as it's supposed to ... I'm excited for all of you" as each experiences "the next chapter of your life."

Houck told the honorees that the Schuyler Scholars honor and any others they receive "are important to you," but important to their parents as well, in keeping with "the high hopes they have for you." As for the future, she said: "What's next? The best part is you get to decide." She told the students that if life deals them setbacks -- if they feel "dropped or crumpled" along the way, like a $20 bill that falls to the ground and is stepped upon -- that they should remember that "you retain your true value as a person." And she urged them to "try to find the way to do your best."

The honorees, by school:

Bradford: Baleigh Monell and Nicole Peterson.
Odessa-Montour: Annaleise Beckley, Gabriel Grover, Marissa Marsh, Camille Sgrecci and Aidan Thurston.
Watkins Glen: Gavin Bond, Douglas DiGregorio, Cameron Holland, Connor Karius, Sierra Morris, Matthew Sandrittter, Jade Scaptura and Robin Zimba.

Photo in text: The Scholar Scholars dinner speakers, Sally Homolka (left) and Kelly Houck.

Left: O-M Superintendent Chris Wood hands plaque to honoree Camille Sgrecci.
Right: Watkins Glen Superintendent Kai D'Alleva poses with honoree Matthew Sandritter.

Schuyler County Sheriff Kevin Rumsey addresses students gathered to watch the re-enactment at Watkins Glen High School.

Re-enactment sends sobering message to students at Watkins Glen High School

WATKINS GLEN, May 26, 2022 -- Students at the Watkins Glen High School got a dose of potential reality Thursday in the form of a mock re-anactment of a DWI accident staged by the school's Wellness Club in the student parking lot -- complete with a "corpse," an "arrest" and a Jaws of Life "rescue."

It was all followed by a sobering message during an assembly in the school auditorium.

The re-enactment was the first in five years at the school, which used to try to schedule them every other year. Part of the delay: the pandemic. It was timed this year to reach students before they celebrate graduation and reach the more carefree days of summer.

Schuyler County Sheriff Kevin Rumsey outlined the accident "facts" to the students gathered on the lawn at the far end of the parking lot. On hand were other police officers, soon joined by members of the Watkins Glen Fire Department arriving in one of their trucks, and members of Schuyler Ambulance.

The "accident" left a "pedestrian" lying "dead," and a passenger severely "injured" in the back seat of the wrecked auto being used in the exercise. It all required the removal of car doors and roof to extract the interior victim. The driver and another passenger were "arrested" and placed in the rear of a police vehicle, where one of them was heard exclaiming loudly -- whether in supposed pain or anger wasn't clear.

A helicopter was en route from Guthrie to join the re-enactment, but was diverted to what one police officer described as a "real world car crash."

After first responders and Fire Department paramedics and ambulance personnel and assorted investigating officers had completed the demonstration, the pedestrian "corpse" rose and headed back with the other students into the school. The Sheriff and Fire Department personnel offered students at the assembly some insight into accidents like the one just staged.

One of those speakers said drivers under the age of 20 are "three times as likely" to be involved in a fatal accident than someone over 20. More than 40,000 people died in traffic accidents last year, he added. "We don't want something nasty like that to happen to you, which is why we are here."

The entire program would not have happened, said Watkins Glen High School Principal Kyle Colunio, without the efforts of senior Anya Simpson, who lobbied for and organized the event with the help of Wellness Club advisor Margaret Swinnerton and the Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD).

Photos in text:

Top: A pedestrian "corpse" lies in front of the car used in the re-enactment.
Bottom: Paramedics work to extract a "victim" from the back seat after removing doors and the car roof, which is in the foreground.

WGHS students Cordelia Thompson, left, and Daniel Coston shatter clay targets.

Trap shooting takes hold at Watkins High

MONTOUR FALLS, May 18, 2022 -- The first-year Watkins Glen Trap Club -- an entity approved earlier this year by the Watkins Glen School Board -- is having a successful inaugural season.

The club, which features competitive clay trap shooting by Watkins Glen High School students -- 40 expressed interest, and 23 are registered and competing against other clubs and shooters in the region -- has completed five competitions over the past five weeks.

Those followed three weeks of practice that followed the School Board approval. The final of the five competitions came Tuesday at the Millport Hunting & Fishing Club on Gano Road above Montour Falls. Any students who couldn't make that event due to conflicts with sports obligations at WGHS would get in their shooting two days later.

This all leads to a state competition on June 27 at the Bridgeport Rod & Gun Club near Cicero. Eight of the 23 WGHS students have signed to compete that day, with an eye toward qualifying for a national competition in Michigan.

The club is affiliated with the New York State Clay Target League, a chapter of a national organization that boasts 32,000 student members.

Locally, "the kids love it," said one of the Watkins Glen club's volunteer coaches, Dennis B. Thompson -- whose daughter, 8th grader Cordelia Thompson -- is one of the club's shooters. Each student, steeped in firearms safety, provides his or her own shotgun -- 12-gauge is the preferred weapon -- while parents provide the ammunition.

It's an expensive sport, made more affordable in this case by donations -- such as the many, many clay targets provided by the Millport Hunting & Fishing Club (at 135 targets to a box, at $14 a box); $500 from the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department; safety equipment for the eyes and ears from US Salt, and a monetary donation from Welliver construction and individually from several of its employees.

Participants range in age from 13-19 (they must be at least 12). In a competition like Tuesday's, each fires 50 rounds, five rounds at a time from a trap station, in sequence with four other shooters.

They fire at clay targets launched from a trap machine in a trap house positioned well in front of the shooting stations. Each hit is recorded by a scorekeeper, who then totals them up after each set of 25 shots. The ultimate totals are forwarded to the state league to compare with other clubs. It is remote competition.

On this day, for instance -- a cold, windy day that was making the exercise (aim, shoot and hit) tricky -- WGHS senior Daine Butler hit 22 targets in his first 25 shots, while the 8th grader, Miss Thompson, hit 21. Some of the others struggled with the shifting currents.

Watching the whole time -- and ready to help if, for instance, a gun should jam or a cartridge shuld fail to fire -- were various coaches. Also present were parents and Hunting & Fishing Club members. All were well behind the shooters, many under the roof of a pavilion, content to observe and socialize. For among its attributes, this is a social sport, shared by young and old of like interest.

And there is, at this level, no breakdown by age or gender. Of the 23 students, five are female, each competing on the same level with their male counterparts, and in some cases outshooting them.

Its future? Trapshooting has been around for a long time, and will continue to be. Just by its very existence, clubs like the Watkins Glen Trap Club will replenish the sport's proponents and participants.

"The discipline of the kids is phenomenal," said Coach Thompson.

As is their enthusiasm.

"Even when they miss a few targets," he said, "they come off the field smiling."

Photos in text:

From top: Katrina Ricca takes aim on a target she hit; Daine Butler shatters a target; the trap house; and the trap machine in the trap house. The machine holds 500 clay targets.

Five students at the five trap shooting stations at the Millport Hunting & Fishing Club, with the trap house in the background.

The Millport Hunting & Fishing Club clubhouse, located off Gano Road.

A line of Watkins Glen High School Prom-goers arrives at Logan Ridge Estates.

WGHS holds its Prom at Logan Ridge

HECTOR, May 14, 2022 -- Watkins Glen High School's annual Prom was conducted Saturday night on a pleasant, breezy evening in the lodge and on the terrace of Logan Ridge Estates in Hector.

Logan Ridge has been the site of several previous WGHS Proms. This one had a "Masquerade" theme, although few of those in attendance were wearing masks.

Upon entering, Prom-goers were asked to vote on the King, Queen, Princess and Prince. There were three candidates in each category. The results:

King: Daniel Ely
Queen: Abby Gibson
Prince: Gavin Smith
Princess: Jenna Solomon

Photo at right: Senior Melanie Wysocki arrives at the Prom.

Other photos from the Prom:

Learn not to burn

Firefighters were on hand at the Watkins Glen Elementary School Monday for a "Learn Not To Burn" session -- a monthly effort aimed at educating students in fire safety. As the final visit of the school year, firefighters brought along trucks to show to the students, who on this day ranged from pre-school to 4th grade. The program, which has been operating locally for decades, is part of a National Fire Protection Association effort that uses educational strategies that incorporate positive and practical fire safety messaging.

The Schuyler County and Regional Envirothon winner, the Odessa-Montour High School
"Otters.” From left: Aidan Thurston, Ethan King, teacher Doug Chapman, Veer Patel and Casey Keys. (Photo provided)

O -M team wins Regional Envirothon

Will represent Schuyler County at the State competition in Geneva

Special to the Odessa File

OWEGO, April 28, 2022 -- A team from Odessa-Montour High School is the winner of the 2022 Regional Envirothon -- the first such victory by an O-M representative at the annual competition. It defeated 29 teams from 11 regional schools on Thursday, April 28 at the Tioga Sportsmen's Complex in Owego.

The winning Odessa-Montour team, The O-M Otters, were coached by high school science teacher Doug Chapman. The squad, all seniors were competing at the Envirothon for the first time.

Two schools with six teams represented Schuyler County in the event. The Otters also won the County competition, with second place going to the Brussel Sprouts of Bradford Central School, coached by Becky Schrader, and 3rd place to the Octopi from Odessa-Montour.

Schuyler, Chemung, Broome, Tioga and Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation Districts combine their efforts to provide high school students in the five counties with a regional, Southern Tier Envirothon competition to determine county champions. The students' knowledge is put to the test as the teams complete tough written exams in five categories: Current Issues, Wildlife, Forestry, Soils, and Aquatics.

The Regional winners were as follows; 1st place O-M Otters; 2nd place, the Tioga Central School Tigers; and 3rd place the CF pHish from Chenango Forks.

The O-M Otters will represent Schuyler County at the 2022 New York State Envirothon to be held at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva on May 25 and 26. The winning team at the statewide competition will compete at The National Envirothon at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio on July 24-30.

The Soil and Water Conservation Districts help to organize the Envirothon, and essential support is provided by the school science teachers, the school districts, as well as local businesses and service organizations who donate funds for financial support. Donors this year include Integrity Engineering PLLC, The Watkins Glen Fire Company, The Watkins Glen Elks Post #1546, The Montour Falls Moose Lodge #426, Cotton-Hanlon, Inc. and Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation.

The Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District provides programs for youth as well as services to help residents and communities manage and protect the natural resources of Schuyler County.

Photos in text:

Top: The Schuyler County 3rd Place finishers, the "Octopi" from Odessa-Montour High School. From left: Tori Brewster, Hannah Nolan, Katie Adams, Trinity Trojanowski, and Sarah Barr.

Bottom: The Schuyler County 2nd Place finishers, the Bradford High School "Brussel Sprouts.” From left: Michele Rosno, Dylan Monell, Baleigh Monell, Nicole Peterson, and Tyler Spina. (Photos provided)

The prom ballroom was bathed in green light. The night's theme: Enchanted Garden.

It was Prom Night for Odessa-Montour

WATKINS GLEN, April 29 -- The Odessa-Montour High School Junior-Senior prom was held Friday night at the Watkins Glen International Media Center.

The students arrived to a ballroom bathed in green light and a theme of "Enchanted Garden."

Along the way, the junior and senior royalty was announced, the result of voting by the studens as they arrived.

The King and Queen for the Senior Class: Arden Heichel and Raven Lott.

The Kng and Queen for the Junior Class: Dominick Elliott and Hannah Nolan.

Photo in text: Hannah Nolan and Cameron Holland at a table in the ballroom.

Other photos:

And the prom royalty:

The junior and senior Prom Courts. From left, junior Queen Hannah Nolan, Princess Tori Brewster and Duchess Hannah Kinner; junior King Dominick Elliott, Duke Daniel Lewis and Prince Ben Campbell; senior Queen Raven Lott, Princess Molly Heichel and Duchess Jade Baldwin; and senior King Arden Heichel and Prince Casey Keyes. Not pictured: senior Duke Jacob Menzi. (Photo by Gail Sgrecci)

Hospital Auxiliary offering scholarships

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, April 26, 2022 -- The Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary is offering scholarships to students who plan to enter the health care field.

$1,500 scholarships will be awarded to graduating high school students who are residents of Schuyler County, or to Schuyler Hospital employees advancing their education.

Applications may be found on-line at Applications may also be picked up at high school guidance offices. Applications must be postmarked by May 31, 2022.

For more information, email, or contact Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary member Alice Learn at (607) 594-3401.

From left: Superintendent Kai D'Alleva, High School Principal Kyle Colunio, Elementary School Principal Jeremy Leroux and 4th grade teacher Tyler Hutcheson with the drawings that dictated the shape of their beard trims. (Photo by Amanda Grinolds)

A fun way to head to Spring Break: Teacher, administrators get beards shaped for the kids

WATKINS GLEN, April 8, 2022 -- The idea came from Watkins Glen Elementary School 4th grade teacher Tyler Hutcheson. His students could provide designs showing how he could cut his beard just before Spring Break, and he would follow the design that garnered the most votes from 3rd and 4th graders.

Friday, the last day before Spring Break, the idea became reality when Hutcheson's beard was trimmed on stage in the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium before 3rd and 4th graders cheering him on.

And joining him in the exercise were three district administrators who had been growing their beards longer recently in anticipation of submitting to a similar trimming fate: Superintendent Kai D'Alleva, High School Principal Kyle Colunio, and Elementary School Principal Jeremy Leroux.

Doing the trimming of all four men: Mark Mortimer of Morty's Hot Spot barbershop at 301 South Madison Avenue in Watkins Glen.

The winning design, among 20 hanging on the walls of the school prior to the student vote, was in the shape of a spider. That one went to Hutcheson. The three administrators drew their beard designs from a box, with D'Alleva ending up getting a tiger design cut (striped), Colunio a Bat Symbol design, and Leroux a half-and-half cut -- half shaven, half not.

"It was just for fun," said one teacher in the school, who noted that the kids loved it.

And how long were the beard-trim subjects going to wear their new designs?

"Oh, I think just through the school day," the teacher said. "I imagine they shaved after they got home."

Photo in text: Watkins Glen School Superintendent Kai D'Alleva gets his stylish trim from Mark Mortimer of Morty's Hot Spot. (Photo by Amanda Grinolds)

Annual Art Competition kickoff announced

Special to The Odessa File

CORNING, March 29, 2022 -- Congressional Rep. Tom Reed has announced the kick-off of the 23rd annual Congressional District Art Competition. The contest provides students from across the district the opportunity to showcase their artistic talent to the community and Washington, D.C.

“Each year, we look forward to the kick-off of the Art Competition and seeing all the submitted artwork from the extremely talented students from across our district,” said Reed. “We care about the young people in our community and are glad we can provide this platform to celebrate their artistic talents.”

The annual competition is open to all high school students in the 23rd Congressional District. One student will have his or her original artwork displayed for one year in the United States Capitol and will have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., for the Exhibition Opening Celebration of the artwork. Five student finalists will have their artwork displayed in Tom Reed’s Washington, D.C. office.

Framed artwork must be submitted to one of Congressman Reed’s district offices with the appropriate documentation by Friday, April 15, 2022. One piece of artwork can be submitted from each high school. The Student Information and Release Form must be attached to the back of the artwork.

For the documents needed to submit the artwork or to schedule a day and time to drop off the artwork, please call Sharon Murphy at (607) 654-7566.

Photo in text: Congressman Tom Reed

While Cinderella (Melanie Wysocki) sweeps, her stepsisters (Ann Finn Roney, left, next to Aleksander Burke) and stepmother (Anya Simpson) sing.

'Cinderella' ends its 3-day run at WGHS

WATKINS GLEN, March 27, 2022 -- The Watkins Glen Class of 2022 presented its production of the family friendly, Prince Street Players’ version of the musical “Cinderella” for the third and final time Sunday afternoon before an appreciative audience in the Watkins Glen High School Auditorium.

“Cinderella” was also presented on Friday and Saturday nights.

Students from 7th to 12th grades rehearsed the play beginning in January, immersing themselves in the funny, dance-full, musical take on the popular fairy tale. Memorable songs include “The Slipper Routine,” “The Sneeze Polka,” and “Hi Diddle Dee.”

Michelle and Tim Benjamin of Montour Falls directed, with Sarah Matthews as Music Director. Costume Director was Amy Wysocki.

The Fairy Godmother, played by Sarah Schaffner, saved the day in this version of the show, assisted by her two Helpers, played by Kai Lees and Macy Fitzgerald. The play answered the question: Would Cinderella, played by Melanie Wysocki, live happily ever after with her Prince Charming, played by Douglas DiGregorio? Not if the Stepmother, played by Anya Simpson, and her two daughters, played by Aleks Burke and Finn Roney, had anything to say about it.

Bring in King Darling, played by Nick Brusso, and a talented Ensemble including Aimee Lilac Cruz, Kay Davis, Norah Stegner, Natalie VanSkiver and Grace Wood, and it made for an entertaining audience experience.

Photo in text:

Top: Prince Charming (Douglas DiGregorio) and Cinderella (Melanie Wysocki) meet at the ball.

Bottom: The Fairy Godmother (Sarah Schaffner) and her two Helpers (Kai Lees and Macy Fitzgerald) prepare to wake up Cinderella (Melanie Wysocki).

Left: Stepsisters Gertrude (left, Ann Finn Roney) and Henrietta (Aleksander Burke) flank the Stepmother (Anya Simpson). Right: The Fairy Godmother (Sarah Schaffner).

Left: Prince Charming (Douglas DiGregorio) fends off Cinderella's stepsister Henrietta (Aleksander Burke). Right: Cinderella (Melanie Wysocki) moments before the Prince places on her foot the slipper she left behind at the ball where they met, proving she is the woman he loves and will marry.

Left: Nicholas Brusso as King Darling The Third. Right: Douglas DiGregorio as Prince Charming the First.


And at dress rehearsal earlier in the week:

Cast members of the WGHS production of "Cinderella" pose on the school stage.

A dance scene from "Cinderella" during dress rehearsal.

Melanie Wysocki (Cinderella) and Douglas DiGregorio (Prince Charming).

WGHS student Isabella Yaw sings "La Da Dee," accompanied by Artists-in-Residence Katie McShane (background left) and Dylan McKinstry (foreground).

WGHS students, faculty show their musical talents at "Artists-in-Residence" concert

WATKINS GLEN, March 16, 2022 -- Students and faculty performed vocal and instrumental numbers Wednesday night at an Artists-in-Residence 2022" concert in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium.

The Artists-in-Residence program was begun many years ago in the Watkins school district -- initially at the Middle School under the auspices of cellist Hank Roberts of Ithaca and now-retired teacher Jim Murphy. It shifted eventually to the high school in the hands of instrumentalist Katie McShane -- and this year three other professionals (instrumentalists Dylan McKinstry and Jesse Heasly and sound engineer Christopher Ploss). The program was revived this year after a pandemic-forced absence.

The Artists-in-Residence, who help students prepare musical selections for performance in this culminating concert, offered a varied lineup Wednesday -- including a performance by faculty members of the song "For Good" from the musical "Wicked" -- dedicated to the late Diana Groll, retired WGHS music teacher who passed away recently. The trio of Kim Laursen, Renee Riley and Nancy Ruda sang the song, supported by Patrick Feher, Sarahjane Harrigan, and Kelsey Pinette.

Another faculty performance came from teacher Travis Durfee, singing a U2 classic titled "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." He was backed up by several faculty members.

Student performers included Declan Barry, Isabella Yaw, Rebecca Perry & Callieondra Tohaijian, Trystan Robbs, Logan DeBolt, Jade Spulak, Kirsten Vestal, Ann Roney, Arloween Loucks-Scuteri, the trio of Juliet Asperschlager, Elizabeth Fitzwater and Emmanuel Rodriguez, Trinity DePree, Lilac Cruz, Cecilia Gaines, Alexis Lepp, Charles Vestal-Brown, Drew Popovich, Natalie VanSkiver, Nicholas Brusso, Aurora Kelley, the trio of Kaycee Lyles, Kathryn Planty and Kambrie Thorpe, Sarah Schaffner, Douglas DiGregorio, Melanie Wysocki, Grace Weed, and the WGHS Jazz Band.

As the concert program explained, the philosophy behind the program is this: "At the heart of the program is the idea to elevate confidence and to lift our students up by giving them a moment to share the stage with professional performers in front of their classmates, family, and community. Our goal is to leave them with a feeling of success and empowerment after the final performances."

Photos in text:

Top: Arloween Loucks-Scuteri sings "Daisies," with Artist-in-Residence Jesse Heasly in the background.
Bottom: Student Ann Roney sings "Rises the Moon."

Left: Student Logan DeBolt plays the piano while singing "As the World Caves In."
Right: Student Trystan Robbs sings "Birthday Cake" as part of the concert.

Left: WGHS teacher Travis Durfee, backed up by the voices of other faculty members, sings "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2. Right: Student Jade Spulak performs "Sailors Horn Pipe" on the flute.

Left: Emcees for the concert were students Melanie Wysocki, left, and Sarah Jones.
Right: Student Kirsten Vestal sings "Home."

3 Schuyler teens attend forum in D.C.,
learn new skills to help prevent drug use

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, March 8, 2022 -- Members of SCCUDD (Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs , including three teens, recently went to Washington, D.C., to join nearly 3,000 substance abuse prevention specialists and advocates from throughout the country for CADCA’s (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's) 32nd Annual National Leadership Forum.

The Forum covered a wide range of topics -- everything from how to prevent prescription drug abuse to vaping to trending marijuana issues and how to develop policies to reduce underage drinking. Teens who attended participated in training events and learned about leadership and substance use prevention. Schuyler County teens Maisie Robertson (a sophomore at Watkins Glen High School), Carly Arnold (a junior at WGHS), and Aidan Thurston (a senior at Odessa-Montour High School) attended.

“The CADCA forum was an experience I will never forget," said Robertson. "It was amazing to meet people from all over the United States and learn how they are impacting their regions. It was an honor to be one of the youths representing Schuyler County, and I look forward to using what we learned at the forum to help our county."

Added Arnold: “I had a great time, I learned so many things that I didn't know. Most of the sessions we attended I learned great information so I can further help my community to grow.”

SCCUDD representatives heard from several leaders including Dr. Rahul Gupta, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and three former White House Drug Czars: Dr. Robert Dupont (1973-77), General Barry McCaffrey (1996-2001), and Jim Carroll (2019-2021). While in D.C., they were also able to video conference with staff members of Senator Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand during the Forum’s Capitol Hill Day event.

The group was unable to meet with Congressman Tom Reed, but he was key in setting up an important event while the group was in town. O-M senior Thurston had recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. With this, an American flag is flown over the Capitol building honoring the Scout’s accomplishment, and then sent to him. It was arranged through Congressman Reed’s office for Aidan’s flag to be flown over the Capital while the group was there.

"The CADCA Forum is an exciting and enlightening experience. I was honored to represent the youth of Schuyler County to our representatives in Congress," said Thurston.

SCCUDD is a group of dedicated community members, businesses, and agencies that work 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.

Photo in text: SCCUDD student members (from left) Aidan Thurston, Carly Arnold and Maisie Robertson in Washington, D.C. (Photo provided)

SCCUDD to conduct 2022 Youth Survey

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Feb. 8, 2022 -- The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking (SCCUDD) is holding its 2022 Youth Survey for Schuyler County students in grades 7-12 from February 14-18. All Schuyler County students in those grades are being asked to take the survey.

The information collected from the survey is vital in the work that SCCUDD does in helping the families of Schuyler County, says SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower. As an incentive for participation, SCCUDD will provide a pizza party for the grade with the highest participation rate from each school. SCCUDD will also be recognizing the school with the highest overall participation rate and announcing participation rates in each of the school districts.

SCCUDD is a group of community members, businesses, and agencies that work 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.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at, or follow it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Bush Center names Students of Month

HORSEHEADS, Jan. 5, 2022 -- Otto Hohle, a Watkins Glen junior in the Welding and Metal Fabrication program, and Robert French, Jr., an Edison High School senior in the Culinary Arts program, were selected as the Career and Technical Education Program Students of the Month for November at the GST BOCES Bush Education Center.

“Otto is always polite, on time and on task,” said Teaching Assistant Tom Batrowny. “His work is often used as an example for his classmates and he is always ready to help others. ”

“Robert is a high-achieving student who always strives to do his best in everything he does,” said Instructor Ryan Anderson. “He is hard working and asks many questions to make sure he is getting everything done the way he needs to. He doesn’t shy away from a challenge. ”

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

Photo in text: Otto Hohle (center), a junior in the Welding and Metal Fabrication program, accepts the Student of the Month award from Teaching Assistant Tom Batrowny (left) and Instructor Mike Lederman (right). (Photo provided)

Hanlon student wins sticker-shock contest

SCCUDD: Design with message will be affixed to 3,000 area pizza boxes

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Dec. 13, 2021 -- The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking (SCCUDD) will hold its second annual Pizza Box Sticker Shock event on December 28, 29, and 30 at area stores and restaurants that sell take-out pizza.

A sticker design contest was held for Schuyler County students to come up with this year’s sticker. All students attending Odessa-Montour Central School, Watkins Glen Central School, and Bradford Central School were eligible, including homeschool students residing in Schuyler County.

Stickers created were to have a message that informs, persuades, or states facts about substance abuse. Messages could be about nicotine, tobacco and vaping; alcohol; and prescription drug abuse or illegal drug use and how it is harmful to youth.

Students were encouraged to look up facts and statistics and gain knowledge of why these substances are harmful to youth.

Out of the over two dozen entries, the winning sticker design was created by Hanlon Elementary student Peter Dechow of Montour Falls. His message of “Pizza is good! Drugs are bad! Which will you choose?” will be placed on 3,000 area pizza boxes. Other entries will be placed on SCCUDD multi-media during the month of December, and each contestant will receive a SCCUDD “Shining Star” certificate in recognition of participation.

“It is great that our Hanlon students have been able to participate in the recent SCCUDD activities," said Hanlon Elementary School Principal Dr. Robert Francischelli. "Student awareness, regarding the dangers of drugs and alcohol, is a step in the right direction when promoting a healthy school and community. The earlier our students understand this important topic the better chance they will have to stay clean and be productive members of society in the future.”

SCCUDD is a group of community members, businesses, and agencies that work 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.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at, or follow SCCUDD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photo in text: Contest winner Peter Dechow (Photo provided)

Rotary supports Hanlon reading program

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, Nov. 7, 2021 -- In August, the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club awarded $500 to support a capstone event for the Hanlon Elementary Countering Summer Slide literacy program.

The, in late October, the grant enabled participating students to enjoy a pizza party and prizes, including Barnes & Noble gift cards and t-shirts, to celebrate their commitment to reading and learning. Each student submitted a log that captured their accomplishments over the summer, and which served as their ticket to the event.

“We are very grateful for the help of Watkins-Montour Rotary, who join us in advancing reading ability and comprehension, and in applauding our students for their hard work and dedication," said Hanlon’s principal, Dr. Rob Francischelli. "Community support is critical to the success of the program, and this grant serves as positive reinforcement to students for a job well done.”

Summer slide is the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. The Countering Summer Slide literacy program is a partnership between Hanlon Elementary, Books in Homes USA, and the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes. Last summer was the second year of the program, which has delivered 2,650 books into the hands and personal collections of incoming 3rd-6th grade student in the district. The books are theirs to keep.

Maria Evan, Books in Homes’ Executive Director, added, “Books spark curiosity and discovery, help children travel to new places around the world right from their homes, and establish a foundation for lifelong success. We are excited about the continued momentum of this important program to improve literacy and imagination.”

For more information on Countering Summer Slide, the program or partnership, or how to support future years, contact Kurt Anderson at

Photo in text: Students and staff at Hanlon Elemetary who have benefitted from the reading program. (Photo provided)

Students at Hanlon Elementary who entered the SCCUDD billboard contest pose in front of the Odessa-Montour High School. (Photo provided)

SCCUDD billboard winner announced

All entries -- 26 of them -- came from Odessa's Hanlon Elementary School

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Nov. 3, 2021 -- The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) has announced the winning entry in its 2nd annual billboard contest for Schuyler County students in Kindergarten through grade 6.

All students in those grades attending Odessa-Montour Central School, Watkins Glen Central School and Bradford Central School were eligible, including homeschool students residing in Schuyler County.

The contest is for substance abuse prevention messages with a “winter holiday” theme. The winning billboard will be displayed during the months of December and January.

Billboards created were to have a message that informs, persuades, or states facts about substance abuse. Messages could be about nicotine, tobacco, vaping, alcohol, and/or prescription drug abuse or illegal drug use and how it is harmful to youth. Students were encouraged to look up facts and statistics and gain knowledge of why these substances are harmful to youth.

This year all 26 entries came from Hanlon Elementary in Odessa. Odessa-Montour Art teacher Michelle Walsh was a big reason why so many from Hanlon Elementary participated. “Participating in this project has been a fantastic way for our students to show just how important it is to make healthy choices while staying drug free. I’m so proud of each one of my students and plan to continue having community involvement in the art room,” Walsh said.

Entrants' billboards were placed on SCCUDD’s social media, where the public was encouraged to vote. "Because of all the creative artwork that students provided," SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower said, "it was a very close competition. For this effort, all entered received SCCUDD 'Shining Star' recognition," as did Art teacher Michelle Walsh and Hanlon Elementary Principal Dr. Robert Francischelli.

Participants included: Aspyn Skinner. Aurora Wilcock, Connor Wood, Dalton Smith, Emmerich Koehler, Ethan Raymond, Greyson Schock, Jack Sangprkarn, Jackson Grant, Jett Jeziorski, Karlee Fay, Landon Reynolds, Lexi Strobel, Lila Voorheis, Lilly Bond, Mason Smith, Matthew Van Horn, Mini Turcsik, Odessa Arrance, Paxton Porter, Peter Dechow, Reese Rounds, Ryleigh Wood, Skylar Henderson, and Sophie Dupay.

This year’s winner is Hanlon 4th grade student Hunter Watson (right). His billboard “Stay safe this holiday season” received the most votes from the community. You will be able to see Hunter’s billboard during the months of December and January on Route 14 in Montour Falls (next to the SPCA).

On hand to pass out the awards were SCCUDD President Karen Thurston and her son Aidan, who is not only an Odessa-Montour senior, but a SCCUDD member who also sits on the Executive board.

“I am so grateful to live in a community with so many talented, caring youth. They are making good choices and I think we can all agree that the world needs more kids just like them,” said Karen Thurston. “I would like to commend the staff at OMCS for their dedication to their students’ health and education, and for their continued commitment to our community.”

SCCUDD is a group of community members, businesses, and agencies that work 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 works to reduce youth use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as they can cause lifelong problems. SCCUDD’s vision is a connected community where youth have education, resources, and drug-free options to help on their journey to become happy, healthy adults.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at, or follow SCCUDD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photo in text: Winning entry and the contest winner, Hunter Watson (Photos provided)

Former Oriskany principal awarded $484K
in ruling against Kelahan and school district

ORISKANY, NY, Oct. 27, 2021 -- A federal jury has awarded $484,000 to a former Oriskany Junior/Senior High School principal in a discrimination lawsuit brought against the school district, its School Board and its former superintendent of schools, Gregory Kelahan.

Kelahan, after leaving Oriskany, was subequently superintendent of the Watkins Glen School District for four years until his retirement at the end of this past summer. He was succeeded as Watkins superintendent by Kai D'Alleva, who had been serving as WGHS principal.

The jury trial was held before Northern District of New York Judge David N. Hurd at the Federal Courthouse in Utica this past Monday. The case derived from a complaint of discrimination filed by former Oriskany principal Lisa Krause in 2017. A full account based on court documents was published in the Rome Daily Sentinel. To read that account, click here.

Not included in that account were motions ruled upon by Judge Hurd two weeks ago. Among those motions were two involving Watkins Glen School District employees, Michelle Simiele and Kristine Somerville.

The two rulings, identical except for the names, read:

"Defendants’ motion to preclude plaintiff from introducing testimony or evidence with regard to (name), her purported experiences, her alleged information, or her purported claims is GRANTED, unless defendants open the door for testimony or evidence concerning (name) that this order would otherwise preclude."

According to a court-related website, the proceedings on Monday, Oct. 25, began at 9 a.m. After motions and closing arguments, the jury returned its verdict at 2:40 p.m., "finding in favor of Plaintiff Lisa Krause in the amount of $484,456. Upon request of defense counsel Judge Hurd Orders the Jury polled, with all jurors concurring with the verdict as rendered."

Judge Hurd, after thanking and releasing the jury, then directed the Clerk "to enter Judgment, in the amount of $484,456.00 in favour of the plaintiff Lisa Krause as against defendants Greg Kelahan, Oriskany Central School District, Oriskany Central School District Board of Education" -- with an order "that any motions directed at the verdict shall be filed no later than November 8, 2021, with responses due by November 22, 2021 and any reply due by December 6, 2021. If motions require argument, they shall be set for December 10, 2021 at 11:00am."

Photo in text: Gregory Kelahan (File photo)

O-M's Class of 1971 holds a weekend reunion

Members of the Odessa-Montour High School Class of 1971 gathered in Schuyler County over the Sept. 17-18 weekend for their 50th anniversary reunion. They gathered Friday night at the Seneca Harbor Station Restaurant, met at the O-M school Saturday afternoon for a tour of the facility led by Superintendent Chris Wood, and ate dinner that evening at the new event center at Clute Park in Watkins Glen. For the photo above (snapped by Superintendent Wood), they posed in front of the school after the tour. Front from left: Jackie Bailey Wickham, Susan Gould Fogerite, Paula Frisk Krist, Claudia Craver LaFace, Barbara Dickinson Neal and Dawn Gardiner Larison. Back from left: Steve McClary, Sharon Herforth Lohmann, Jim Guild, Paul Beebe, Denis Redmond, Paula Sand German and Jim Campbell. A few others had to leave the tour early.

Said Kathy Fudala of the reunion committee: “The 50th Class Reunion was a great success! We had many classmates that we hadn't seen in a long time! Paula Sand German came from Utah, Dawn Gardner Larison, Jeanne Wickham and several others. We had 3 guests -- Dr. Frank Brown, Marian Hinnman (English), and Mr. Brown's great friend: his clarinet :-) Those who went on the school tour were impressed with the changes as well as the changes in progress. We had a trivia game with School Days questions that brought many laughs. Food was great! Friday night, Seneca Harbor Station and Saturday a phenomenal meal by Holy Cow. Thanks to everyone who attended!”

Photo in text: Members of the Class of 1971 gather outside the school before the tour.

SCCUDD holding 2nd annual Schuyler billboard contest for K-6th grade students

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Sept. 16, 2021 -- The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking (SCCUDD) is holding its 2nd annual billboard contest for Schuyler County students in kindergarten through 6th grade.

All students attending Odessa-Montour Central School, Watkins Glen Central School, and Bradford Central School are eligible, including homeschool students residing in Schuyler County.

The contest is for substance abuse prevention messages with a “Winter Holiday” theme. The winning billboard will be displayed during the months of November and December 2021.

Billboards created must have a message that informs, persuades, or states facts about substance abuse. It can be about nicotine/tobacco/vaping, alcohol, and/or prescription drug abuse or illegal drug use and how it is harmful to youth. The message can be about one or all of these topics/substances.

Students are encouraged to look up facts and statistics and gain knowledge of why these substances are harmful to youth. Students are encouraged to be creative and think about a message that would reach youth. They are also encouraged to NOT use scare tactics.

Billboards need to be submitted by October 1, 2021. Those billboards that are accepted will be displayed on the SCCUDD Facebook page and be voted on by the public. Voting will start on October 1 and end October 8 at midnight. The billboard with the most votes will be announced the following week.

“Last year’s winner was Kaiser Kiklowicz, a fifth-grade student from Bradford,” said SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower. “Will he win again this year? Time will tell.”

Information about contest rules or entry will be provided at each school’s main office, or people can contact SCCUDD directly at 607-535-8140.

SCCUDD is a group of community members, businesses, and agencies that work 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 on their journey to become happy, healthy adults.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit it online at, or follow it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Auxiliary awards scholarship to Harrian

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Aug. 18, 2021 -- The Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary has awarded a $1,000 scholarship to a high school graduate who is planning to enter the healthcare field.

Cambri Harrian, daughter of Jason and Laurie Harrian of Bradford, NY, graduated in June from Bradford Central School. She plans to attend St. John Fisher College to study nursing, on her way to becoming a nurse practitioner.

“Our Auxilians work hard each year to raise funds for scholarships, because it means so much to them to support our future healthcare professionals,” said Kitty Shallenberger, President, Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary. “We are proud to recognize Cambri and wish her well in her schooling and her nursing career.”

Scholarship awards are presented each year to graduating high school seniors who live or attend school in Schuyler County and plan to enter careers in the healthcare field.

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. Funds for the awards are raised through the Auxiliary’s hospital gift shop and other fundraising events.

For more information about the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary, call (607) 535-7121, visit or email

Photo in text: Cambri Harrian (Photo provided)

Progress, challenges highlight upcoming year in Watkins Glen school district

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 19, 2021 -- Administrative leaders in the Watkins Glen School District outlined to the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club Thursday what promises to be a challenging school year ahead.

The upcoming school superintendent, Kai D’Alleva, headlined a string of speakers that included Kyle Colunio, recently named high school principal; Rod Weeden, the athletic director and communications director; Melanie Chandler, the technology director; and Jeremy Leroux, the Elementary School principal.

D’Alleva said this year is one of transition, what with him taking over as Superintendent from Greg Kelahan on Sept. 1; with Colunio succeeding D’Alleva as high school principal, and the retirement of longtime clerical point person Kathy Crans.

There will also be between 17 and 20 new instructional staff district-wide in a period in which there is a shortage of teachers, of maintenance workers, of transportation personnel, of food service employees, and of substitutes.

“All districts are dealing with this,” said D’Alleva.

While the summer has been one in which the district's ongoing capital improvement project saw a number of advances in infrastructure and roof work, the coming fall and winter offer challenges yet unclear relating to COVID-19 as the Delta variant spreads around the country, including New York State.

The district is not offering remote learning. Instead, it has as a priority full-time in-school attendance, with social distancing. Whether masks are part of the equation has not yet been settled, although D’Alleva said the administrative team expects incoming Governor Kathy Hochul might institute regulations regarding masks, as well as mandates for staff in the realm of regular testing in the absence of vaccination.

State guidance -- whether from the governor’s office, from the State Education Department or from the State Health Department -- seemed to be a non-factor until a couple of weeks ago, when suddenly State Health announced it would be issuing guidance.

The situation has been fluid since then, changing almost daily, and leaving the district fully alert to possible mandates as the school year nears.

In questions from the Rotary audience, D’Alleva said the school enrollment has been steadily shrinking, from “eleven to twelve hundred fifteen years ago” to a little under a thousand now. This can affect class size and offerings, as well as creativity, he noted.

Weeden said there have been challenges in recruiting for some sports in the wake of a year in which many students were at home full time or part of the week under a hybrid attendance schedule. The challenge is to re-engage those who were inactive. One sport, boys soccer, has such low numbers in this and other districts that it might be playing “nine on nine” -- a reduction in the number of players on the field.

Chandler outlined the technology offerings available despite the lag last year in attendance and in-person services; while LeRoux and Colunio outlined capital work that has been done at each of their schools.

D’Alleva, in responding to a question about the dropoff in education created by the pandemic, said that generally speaking some kids “are behind ... More students disconnected from high school last year than ever before; gave up on school. It was less than a handful, but more than I want.”

Added Colunio: “This is not a one-year recovery. It will be years.”

Photos in text: From top: Incoming Superintendent Kai D'Alleva; Athletic Director Rod Weeden; and High School Principal Kyle Colunio at Rotary Club.

SCCUDD shares Back to School tips

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Aug. 18, 2021 -- It’s time for Schuyler County youth to head back to school and there is no better time to talk to your child about preventing alcohol, marijuana, and other drug use, says the Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD).

As your children head back to school, they may be faced with new social situations and exposed to underage drinking or drugs, notes SCCUDD, adding: "By taking time at the beginning of the school year to communicate openly and set expectations, you can reduce the likelihood of your child choosing to drink or use drugs."

SCCUDD is sharing the following back-to-school tips provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), for parents who want to encourage their child to stay substance-free this school year:

-- Talk early and talk often with children and teens about alcohol and marijuana. Teens who know their parents expect them not to use are less likely to.

-- Establish rules about alcohol, marijuana, and other drug use and be consistent when enforcing them.

-- Work with other parents to know where youths are hanging out and what they are doing. Being involved in your child’s life helps keep them safe.

-- Never provide alcohol or marijuana to young people under the age of 21. It is against the law.

Additional information on how to plan “the talk” with your child can be found here:

If you are interested in keeping Schuyler County youth safe by preventing underage alcohol and drug use, contact SCCUDD to learn how you can get involved. Or if you know a youth who is passionate about prevention, the coalition has a youth committee that meets during the school year. Contact SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower at 607-535-8140 for more information.

SCCUDD is a group of community members, businesses, and agencies that work 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 works to reduce youth use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as they can cause lifelong problems. 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 Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Scholarship recipients and their postgraduate plans included, from left: Maria Brubaker, Bucknell University, $1,500; Bryce Kelly, RIT, $1,000; Briana Hayes, Alfred U., $1,000.

WGHS Alumni group awards scholarships

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 14, 2021 -- Although the annual Watkins Glen Alumni Banquet had to, once again, be cancelled due to the pandemic, it did not prevent the Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association from continuing to award scholarships to five graduating seniors.

Amounts for the five scholarships totaled $6,000. They went to Maria Brubaker ($1,500), Bryce Kelly ($1,000), Briana Hayes ($1,000), Kelsey DeMillo ($1,000), and Seamus Mooney ($1,500).

Since 2007 the Alumni Association has awarded a total of $72,300 in scholarships.

Says Association President Peggy Scott: "We are extremely proud to be able to present these annual scholarships. Scholarship recipients from the last two years will be invited to the annual banquet in 2022."

Photos in text: Recipients Seamus Mooney, attending SUNY Albany ($1,500); and Kelsey DeMillo, attending SUNY Geneseo ($1,000).

The Odessa-Montour school's front parking lot has been closed all summer as it is rebuilt.

O-M's capital project is in full swing

ODESSA, Aug. 11, 2021 -- The Odessa-Montour Central School District's $16.9 million capital improvement project is moving forward on multiple fronts this summer as fall classes near.

The project, for which planning started in 2015 and which gained state approval in 2019, includes various upgrades and new systems -- including a link to the sewage treatment operation being built at the western end of the village, on land purchased by the Village of Odessa from the Wesleyan Church.

The school -- the first entity to connect to the sewage treatment operation -- is scheduled to be linked to it by Aug. 29, days before the start of the new school year. The new system will replace an old septic and leech-field operation on school property. Part of the capital project under way this week involves filling in the old system's septic tanks.

It also involves:

-- Asbestos abatement, with a large removal vehicle parked alongside the original section of the school, pulling out asbestos-laden material from the basement.

-- Roof repair on about 20 percent of the sprawling main campus.

-- Renovation of wood shops, art rooms and the old Jack Davis Gym.

-- The installation of hundreds of new windows

-- The repair and replacement of exterior brick siding, and the repair of grout in old masonry walls.

-- Replacement of the loading dock behind the school's original section.

-- Replacement of the aging and drainage challenged front parking lot and drive-through lane (with new, increased lighting).

-- New boys and girls locker rooms where the old ones stood in the vicinity of the Jack Davis Gym and the school pool.

-- Power washing of the entire complex.

-- Installation of a new generator down at B.C. Cate Elementary School in Montour Falls.

-- A new combination digital clock--fire alarm-public address system.

-- New wiring.

-- And, should it be approved by the School Board this month, new decking and gutters for the pool, and a new boiler and pumping system in a room beneath it.

And so on. The list is long, and according to school officials long needed. Not everything will be ready by the first day of school, but some projects -- such as the parking lot -- are scheduled to be.

The delivery of windows has been slow, so their installation, while well under way, will continue during school breaks, probably stretching into next summer.

The Jack Davis Gym -- with just about everything new, including flooring, bleachers, baskets, and windows, along with repaired walls -- is scheduled for completion in February. A wholly rebuilt wood shop -- once a pair of brick-wall-separated rooms and now sharing a connecting doorway and offering STEM and Green Room facilities, will be ready in October.

This is the third capital improvement project in recent years at O-M, and by far the largest. One dealt with installation of a new track on the athletic field and a new bus garage roof, while the second focused on technology wiring. The local share of this one -- about $2.75 million -- was covered by the long-planned application of surplus funds.

Photos in text: From top, an asbestos abatement truck; a new digital clock, part of an upgraded communication-fire alarm system; Superintendent Chris Wood checking out some of the new school wiring; and the Jack Davis Gym, undergoing a total renovation.

Club awards scholarships to 3 graduates

SCHUYLER COUNTY, July 19, 2021 -- The Ladies Wednesday Afternoon Club has presented scholarships to three graduating serniors in Schuyler County high schools -- Bradford, Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen.

The $150 scholarships, given annually to graduates planning on attending a college or trade school, went to:

-- Kalena Bennett from Bradford Central School. Kalena, the club said, "has persevered to overcome many barriers that were put in front of her, demonstrating her determination to strive for the best possible outcome, while completing her dreams and goals." She will be attending Alfred State College in the fall to study Culinary Arts.

-- Emilee Chaffinch from Odessa Montour Central School. Emilee, the club said, "is a very hard working student who does not let challenges get in her way. She has completed the Dental Assisting program at BOCES, and plans on attending Corning Community College for Liberal Arts." She then plans to transfer to Broome Community College to become a Dental Hygienist.

-- Heidi Gardner from Watkins Glen Central School. Heidi, the club said, "is a dedicated student with a bright future. She completed the honors New Visions program at BOCES, and is dedicated to furthering her education so that she can help others." Her plan is to pursue studies in occupational therapy at Corning Community College.

Zonta awards scholarships to 4 graduates

SCHUYLER COUNTY, July 15, 2021 -- The Zonta Club of Watkins-Montour has awarded $250 scholarships to each of four graduating high school females.

At Watkins Glen High School, the VanBilliard Business Award was presented to Sara Wynkoop. At the same school, the Belle Cornell Award for medical study went to Amanda Wilbur.

At Odessa-Montour High School, the Van Billiard Business Award went to Hali Daugherty, while the Belle Cornell Award went to Alexis Ayers.

The Watkins-Montour Zonta Club, meeting since 1925 and a member of Zonta International. is accepting new members. Call (607) 425-2835. For a history of the club, visit  Facebook, typing in “Zonta Club of Watkins Montour” and clicking on the yellow rose.

WGHS Honor Roll for 2020-21 year

Here are the High Honor, Honor and Merit Rolls for the Watkins Glen School District for the 2020-21 school year. It is the only Honor Roll issued by the district for the year.

High Honor Roll

Grade 7
Wendy J. Coleman, Gillian M. D'Alleva, Ryan C. Dean, Draco V. Del Toro, Anna R. Franzese, Zade I. Gomez Fitzsimmons, Samuel B. Hohle, Olivia K. King, Clarice E. Lewis, Brock E. McFall, Emily Melveney, Michael E. Purpura, Erin R. Snow, Jade L. Spulak, Carson W. Thaete, Cordelia A. Thompson

Grade 8
Brady M. Bockelkamp, Nicholas M. Brusso, Samuel D. Caslin, Nicholas D. D'Alleva, Kendra N. Fish, Isayiah D. Gilbert, Aleice E. Guild, Skye Honrath, Joshua T. Nyre, Molly A. O'Connell‑Campbell, Magdalene G. Pentz, Salvatore J. Purpura, Naja J. Radoja, Molly R. Rafferty, Nicholas J. Ritter, Jocelyn E. Sisana, Liam B. Smith, Julian L. Soule, Olivia F. VanSkiver, Autumn L. White, Kyra P. Yaw

Grade 9
Sachidhananthar J. Abidhananthar, Lukas R. Bower, Sydney O. Brubaker, Malina Butler, Brandon L. Chiacchiarini, Ava K. Cowan, Alyson L. Gibson, Madison E. Hansen, Sarah G. Jones, Mabel Kaufman, Thalia M. Marquez, Elijah A. Nyre, Brenna A. Pierce, Maisie A. Robertson, Keira D. Sulkey, Johnny R. VanScoyk

Grade 10
Ava M. Barber, Kendall E. Gascon, Lois L. Hosley, Maia N. Kamakawiwoole, Han Shun Liu, Nikhil N. Manakkal, Alyssa M. Miller, Shane M. Miller, Faye D. Mooney, Katrina C. Ricca, Sarah K. Schaffner, Jenna M. Solomon, Emmalise K. Updyke

Grade 11
Brady A. Bargesser, Gavin Bond, Kaylynn K. Burke, Breanna Carl, Douglas DiGregorio, Molly K. Dunham, Noah S. Gardner, Andrew C. Hayes, Cameron C. Holland, Ashlyn L. Karius, Isabella F. La Face, Sierra F. Morris, Matthew W. Sandritter, Kara M. Sheesley, Anya M. Simpson, Jordannmarie C. Simpson, Kimberly D. Smith Brown, Brandon L. Smith, Benjamin R. Swinnerton, Kade J. Westervelt, Melanie P. Wysocki, Robin M. Zimba

Grade 12
Boyd W. Barber, Maria S. Brubaker, Jun Yi (Jack) Chen, Timothy Clifford, Abby M. Congdon, Shannon E. Ervay, Wolfgang J. Gates, Briana L. Hayes, Mikayla B. Holmes, Bryce J. Kelly, Seamus Mooney, Dylan M. Morse, Nolan R. Ormsbee, Kayla M. Palmer, Anthony M. Ricauter-Minelli, Jasmine F. Searle, Brooke M. Usher, Nicholas J. Wright

Honor Roll

Grade 7
Alfina J. Abidhananthar, Caleb J. Bresett, Logan J. DeBolt, Desiree G. Groves, Jack D. Hayden, Maulena Kamakawiwoole, Courtney Karius, Gillian S. Kaufman, Enric Lin, Gabriel Majors, Grace E. Roney, Christopher M. Simiele, Kaylin R. Smith, Rachel M. Vickio, Justin T. Wrubel, Hannah J. Yaw, Kaylee A. Yaw

Grade 8

Ryan N. Berry, Jennifer L. Gublo, Carley M. Hansen, Aidan M. Maphis, Abigayle E. Miller, Lillian Naylor, Kyelan F. Perko, Maximus A. Ricca, Emilia G. Rodriguez, Isaiah Rudy, Maria J. Scaptura, Isaiah E. Sissel

Grade 9
Nicholas B. Bonsignore, Drake Croft, Thomas J. Field, Sasha G. Honrath, Alannah D. Klemann, Giuseppe S. La Face, Thomas J. Snow

Grade 10
Carly E. Arnold, Hannah M. Berry, Caleb F. Cummings, Sebastian W. Gates, Skylar E. Lagramada, Ann M. Roney, Isabella S. Samuel

Grade 11
Haley Carl, Daniel D. Ely, Michael J. Gee, Madelynn P. Jones, Alexis C. King, Emily G. Rhoads, Charlie O. Samuel, Owen J. Scholtisek, Christa R. Taber, Colby C. Thurston

Grade 12
Jaden T. Ault, Victoria P. Bantin, Spencer E. Beaver, Michael E. Cook, Natalie E. Edmister, Silas P. Farrell, Cammilynn E. McCarty, Genevieve Osborne, Raymond F. Rider, Cale M. Sutterby, Nicholas A. Wilston, Sarai E. Wynkoop

Merit Roll

Grade 7
Marcus P. Delong, Lucas A. Hoffmann, Kamden J. Miller, Carter Presutti

Grade 8
Balan N. Ault, Isabella M. Bassett, Madaline E. Bryerton, Brennian F. Elliott, Alivia J. Franklin

Grade 9

Ryan J. Bauchle-Willett

Grade 10
Abigail Lees, Kadin A. Simpson, Jacob D. Yontz

Grade 11
Bailey E. Beaumont, Ethan W. Day, Abigail L. Gibson, Mason A. Lampman, Jacob J. Pierce, Cloey N. Wratten

Grade 12
Jordan D. Avery, Aydin C. Bedir, Emma E. Bradshaw, Matthew A. Irwin, Sarah E. Joslyn, Connor E. Novinsky, Ava VanDusen, Madeline C. Williams, Mattie E. Yontz

SCCUDD leads grad sticker shock event

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, July 7, 2021 -- The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) partnered with ten area businesses to hold a three-day alcohol retailer sticker shock event June 18,19, and 20.

The project consisted of youth designed substance abuse prevention stickers being placed on alcohol products and bags asking patrons to help stop underage drinking. This year’s sticker was designed by SCCUDD member and rising Odessa-Montour senior Aidan Thurston.

The message on the sticker reads “Give graduates the gift of good health, stop underage drinking.” A timely message for high school graduations and the celebrations that come with them. Businesses that partnered with SCCUDD in making the project such a success included the Odessa Dandy Mini Mart, Linda’s Citco, Montour Falls Wine & Spirits, the Hector Dandy Mini Mart, TOPS Friendly Market, Walmart, Wright’s Beverages, Sinclair, Watkins Glen Wine & Spirits, and the Burdett Dandy Mini Mart.

“Three days, 10 alcohol retailers, and 2,000 stickers going out into the community,” said SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower. “All ten businesses were welcoming and helpful.  We are already talking about making it even bigger for next year!”

It is never too soon to start talking to your child about the dangers of underage drinking. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) nearly 10% of children age 12 say they have tried alcohol; by age 15, that number jumps to 50%, and by the time they are seniors the number rises to nearly 70% who have tried alcohol. To learn more about the dangers of underage drinking, or to start the conversation with your child about the dangers of underage drinking:

SCCUDD is a group of dedicated community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with our community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities, and implementing environmental strategies. SCCUDD works to reduce youth use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as they can cause lifelong problems. 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.

Photos in text: Shane Mosher, manager of the Hector Dandy Mini Mart ; and a closeup of the sticker. (Provided)

Garrison awarded Hayes Scholarship

WATKINS GLEN, July 2, 2021 -- The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler has awarded its Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship to Autumn Garrison, recently graduated from Odessa-Montour High School.

The $1,000 scholarship honors Joanne Hayes, former board member and president of The Arc of Chemung-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.

Garrison, daughter of Frank and Polly Garrison, will enroll this fall to obtain her Nursing Degree, at a school still to be determined. In her application essay, Garrison expressed her desire to do all she can to help people in need around her, as well as to positively impact people through kindness and determination.

Garrison has been involved with numerous extracurricular activities and community service experiences throughout her years in high school. In his letter of support, Greg Gavich, social studies teacher and basketball coach, stated: "Autumn is the type of person who is a great representative for any organization she is part of. She displays great character and leadership by setting a good example for others to follow."

School Counselor Daniel Batchelder added: "She is someone who can be counted on when others need help."

The Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship is made possible through community donations to The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler.

Photo in text: Autumn Garrison (Photo provided)

Valedictorian Megan Adams, left, switches her tassel from the right to the left, signifying graduation, as classmates follow suit.

Odessa-Montour bids farewell to 55 grads

ODESSA, June 25, 2021 -- Fifty-five graduating seniors who earned their diplomas this year at Odessa-Montour High School received them Friday evening in a ceremony on Charles Martin Field, the athletic complex behind the school.

Following an introduction by Lillian Betts, the Class of 2021 President, the graduates saw High School Principal Almon McCarty Jr. present a Salutatorian Medal to Madison Vogel, and then heard the keynote address by teacher Russell Gardner, who is retiring.

He told them to view graduation as a doorway to the future -- one of several doorways they will encounter in life, each offering an end to one chapter but a beginning of another.

This graduation doorway, he said, also presented an opportunity to look back at their accomplishments, among them graduation itself, which "can never be taken away from you."

Megan Adams, after receiving the Valedictorian Medal, delivered an address in which she noted how her class had overcome many obstacles created by the pandemic, and told her classmates to look ahead and "aspire to greatness."

Board of Education President Robert Halpin then presented the diplomas, assisted by Schools Superintendent Chris Wood.

The 55 graduates are:

Megan Lynn Adams
Liam Amis
Isabella Lee Arlington
Cody I. Austin
Alexis R. Ayers
Stephen Michael Barrett Jr.
Joshua Christian Beckley
Michael A. Benway Jr.
Lillian Elizabeth Betts
Reagan Macee Bishop
Morgan J. Burnham
Taylor Cain
Jessica O. Carnes
Emilee Rae Chaffinch
Zachary Clemons
Grace J. Collier
Felisha A. Cook
Hali Daugherty
Jared Detrick
Cameron M. Diedrichs
Emily Abigail Donnell
Mackenzie Ellen Dundas
Jeffrey E. Eberhardt
Cameron Michael Elliott
Megan Evans
Autumn Jade Garrison
Allison Rae Heichel
Hannah Elizabeth Hoose
Taryn Elizabeth Hoyt
Jacob A. Johnston
Haley Marie Landon
Josiah Lynch
Devon R. Mahaney
Emma Jane Malnoske
Malia Lee Mertens
Sarina Minichello
Brady Neal
Angel Elizabeth Pallone
Phoenix A. Parmenter
Cole Pierce
Damion Rhodehouse
Mallory Rhodes
Anthony Robinson
Thomas C. Rumpff Jr.
Jared Christopher Rumsey
Tyler Saunders
Brock Sgrecci
Ida Josephine Sidle
Samantha Marie Sipes
Evan Underdown
Nathan L. VanAmburg
Madison M. Vogel
Brock Webb
Madisyn Wells
Dana Elizabeth Zimmer

Photos in text: From top, Lillian Betts is congratulated by Superintendent Chris Wood; Brock Sgrecci, Jared Rumsey and Tyler Saunders receive their diplomas, and keynote speaker Russell Gardner.

Left: Taryn Hoyt with her diploma. Right: Mallory Rhodes has her arms full.

Left: One of many colorful graduation caps. Right: Zachary Clemons with his diploma.

Left: Autumn Garrison. Right: Madison Vogel receives the Salutatorian Medal from High School Principal Almon McCarty Jr.

From left: Ida Sidle; Valedictorian Megan Adams delivers the Class Message; and Superintendent Chris Wood gets a hug from Mallory Rhodes as she was presented with her diploma.

Graduate Jared Rumsey had his own cheering section as he was presented his diploma.

Hanlon kids benefit from Foundation grant

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, June 22, 2021 -- The Howard A. Hanlon Elementary School, in partnership with Books in Homes USA (BIH USA), a Pennsylvania-based non-profit dedicated to inspiring a love of reading in underserved communities, has been awarded $2,000 from the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes to support its "Countering Summer Slide-Year 2" literacy program.

The grant is matched by private donations from community members and will enable Hanlon to deliver 1,607 books to every incoming 3rd-6th grader before summer break (approx. 6.7 books/student); the books are theirs to keep.

Maria Even, BIH USA Executive Director, said, “At BIH USA, entirely 100% of donations go toward purchasing books. Books spark discovery and imagination, help children travel to new places around the world right from their homes, and establish a foundation for lifelong success. We are excited to partner with Hanlon Elementary School and the Community Foundation for the second year of this important program to improve literacy and fuel curiosity.”

Summer slide is a tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year, requiring teachers to spend valuable time refreshing spring lessons rather than focusing on current curriculum. The program’s inaugural year at Hanlon delivered 1,080 books to incoming 3rd-5th graders (approx. 5.8 books/student), especially critical during a year marred by the COVID-19 pandemic and school shutdown. It, too, was supported by the Community Foundation and private donations.

“We are excited to celebrate reading with our Hanlon students for the second straight summer! Students were overjoyed last year when we were able to give them books to keep and enjoy, and we are delighted to have the same opportunity again this year. We thank all of our community partners that made this happen, including OMCS board member-elect, Kurt Anderson, and PFO representative, Jenny Lewis,” added Dr. Rob Francischelli, Hanlon principal.

The program will include a capstone pizza and ice cream social for participating students when school returns in the fall. For more information on “Countering Summer Slide-Hanlon Year 2,” the program or partnership, or how to support future years, contact Kurt Anderson at

Bryce Kelly delivers the Salutatory Address. In the background, from left, are School Board President Gloria Brubaker, Senior Class Advisor Sam Brubaker, and Superintendent Greg Kelahan.

WGHS graduates 65 in outdoor ceremony

WATKINS GLEN, June 20, 2021 -- Sixty-five seniors received their diplomas Sunday morning as Watkins Glen High School bid farewell to the Class of 2021.

A day after persistent rain, Sunday dawned bright, with alternate sun and non-threatening clouds greeting the outdoor ceremony, held at the base of the bleachers at the school's Alumni Field. The audience of mostly family lined seats set up on the eastern edge of the field's artificial playing surface.

Three student speakers delivered remarks, including Salutatorian Bryce Kelly, Valedictorian Kayla Palmer, and the Senior Class Orator, Briana Hayes. They spoke after the Processional, the National Anthem, and remarks by High School Principal Kai D'Alleva and Senior Class Advisor Sam Brubaker.

Brubaker told the graduates to "attack the future; be bold" in their dreams and aspirations.

D'Alleva told them "we started this journey together six years ago," but that nobody could have predicted its course, which was mightily affected in their junior and senior years by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kelly, in his speech, thanked teachers who had "inspired and pushed me to be my best." He told the students that each has "the potential to change the world, to leave a massive mark" through their achievements.

Palmer told them not to fear the future, but to "take a leap of faith" to be the successes they hope to be.

And Hayes, in her Oratory, said the Class of 2021 -- largely together since Pre-Kindergarten -- had "generally stuck together" despite a diverse makeup. "We don't always understand each other," she said, but do respect each other's individual talents.

The class came through school at "the worst possible time" thanks to the pandemic, and never got its Senior Trip or Senior All-Nighter, she added, "but our spirit has persevered."

She closed by saying: "Go Bills."

After remarks by Superintendent Greg Kelahan, diplomas were distributed, with D'Alleva announcing each name and School Board President Gloria Brubaker handing the diplomas out.

The graduates awarded diplomas included the following. The first 10 constitute the Top 10 academically in the class.

Kayla Palmer
Bryce Kelly
Briana Hayes
Dylan Morse
Maria Brubaker
Timothy Clifford
Kelsey DeMillo
Amanda Wilbur
Shannon Ervay
Heidi Gardner
Kaitlin Rose Asbury
Jaden Treasure Ault
Jordan Douglas Avery
Savannah Rayne Ayers
Robert Joseph Bannon
Victoria Patience Bantin
Boyd William Barber
Spencer Edward Beaver
Aydin Cem Bedir
Christopher Ryan Berry
Emma Elizabeth Bradshaw
Kyra Renee Brisbois
Lukas Henry Brown
Jun Yi Chen
Abby Morgan Congdon
Michael Edward Cook
Hayley Marie Cornish
Devon Cummings
Jacob Richard DeJong
Tanner Jay Dunham
Natalie Elizabeth Edmister
Maxwell Joseph Evans
Silas P. Farrell
Kaylee Rae Franklin
Wolfgang Jack Wilder Gates
Jonathan Basil Havel III
Mikayla Brooklynn Holmes
Matthew Alexander Irwin
Sarah Elizabeth Joslyn
Madeleine Elaine Kilcoyne
Aislinn Elizabeth Klemann
Kaden Logan Loucks
Cammilynn Elise McCarty
Halie A. Monington
Seamus Mooney
John Allan Muir
Connor Evan Novinsky
Nolan Robert Ormsbee
Genevieve Osborne
Justin M. Rappleye
Anthony Michael Ricauter-Minelli
Raymond Fredrick Harold Rider
Jasmine Fiona Searle
Madyson Haley Simpson
David Joseph Strait
Cale Michael Hall Sutterby
Joel Emerson Trinkle
Brooke Marie Usher
Ava Louchia VanDusen
Madeline Christine Williams
Nicholas Adam Wilston
Nicholas J. Wright
Sarai E. Wynkoop
Nicholas W. Yaw
Mattie Elizabeth Yontz

Photos in text: From top: Madyson Simpson receives her diploma from School Board President Gloria Brubaker; Aislinn Klemann receives her diploma; graduate Amanda Wilbur; Kayla Palmer delivers the Valedictory Address; and Matt Irwin receives his diploma.

Left: Briana Hayes, left, arrives on stage to deliver the Senior Oratory. Right: Graduate Nick Wilston after receiving his diploma.

From left: Graduates Maria Brubaker and Hayley Cornish, and the cap worn by graduate Mattie Yontz. It reads: "Now it's my turn to teach."

Left: Dylan Morse receives his diploma from School Board President Gloria Brubaker. Right: Graduate Mattie Yontz with her diploma.

Sign on the press box overlooking Alumni Field, site of the graduation ceremony.

2021 list of WGHS Scholarship Awards

The following list of 2021 Scholarship Awards given to Watkins Glen High School graduating students was provided by the school.

Amber Brockway Award: Cammilynn McCarty
Beth MacNamara Memorial Scholarship: Jack Chen
Devon Shaw “Defense for Devon” Memorial Award: Bryce Kelly
Elizabeth Amisano Ovarian Cancer Education Fund “Live Like Liz” Scholarship: Shannon Ervay, Bryce Kelly
Eric HouseKnecht Memorial Award: Nicholas Wright
Frances Freer Mucklow Scholarship Fund: Kayla Palmer
Frank DeSarno IV Memorial Scholarship: Matthew Irwin
Freeman Family Foundation Teaching Award: Kelsey DeMillo
Harriette F. Allen Award: Dylan Morse
Hector Area Lion’s Club: Aislinn Klemann
Investigator Sergeant Louis A. Van Cleef II Memorial Award: Silas Farrell
Jimmy Combs Athletic Award: Bryce Kelly
JoPat Paradiso Wright Nursing Scholarship: Kayla Palmer
Ladies Wednesday Afternoon Club of Burdett Award: Heidi Gardner
Lake Country Players Performing Arts Award: Shannon Ervay
Lucy E. Viglione Award: Briana Hayes
Maurice Costa (Theresa Costa) Scholarship Award: Anthony Ricauter-Minelli
Melissa B. Wilson Sportsmanship Award: Natalie Edmister
Nick Dugo Memorial Scholarship: Maria Brubaker
Northrup Foundation Award: Kayla Palmer
NYS Education Dept. Scholarships for Academic Excellence: Kayla Palmer, Bryce Kelly, Briana Hayes
Peter A. Pevo Memorial Ed Award: Abby Congdon
PTO Academic Improvement Award: Ray Rider
PTO Community Service Award: Aislinn Klemann
Schuyler County Dart League Math Award: Timothy Clifford
Schuyler County Highway Association Scholarship: Natalie Edmister
Schuyler County Retired Teachers’ Association Award: Shannon Ervay
Spirit of Schuyler: Maria Brubaker, Shannon Ervay
Watkins Glen Elks Lodge 1546 Annual Scholarship: Timothy Clifford
Watkins Glen Faculty Association Member’s Child Scholarship: Shannon Ervay
Watkins Glen Faculty Association Education Scholarship: Kelsey DeMillo
Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association Award: Maria Brubaker, Kelsey DeMillo, Briana Hayes, Bryce Kelly, Seamus Mooney
Watkins Montour Lions Club John Cook Milford Warner “Bud Warner” Academic Achievement Award: Kayla Palmer
Watkins Montour Lions Club John Cook Milford Warner “Bud Warner” Improved Student Award: Jun Yi (Jack) Chen
Watkins-Montour Rotary Club Achievement Scholarship: Timothy Clifford
Zonta/Belle Cornell Club Award: Amanda Wilbur
Zonta/Francis Van Billard Club Award: Sarai Wynkoop
Seal of Bi-Literacy: Kayla Palmer, Briana Hayes
Varsity Academic Marathon Award: Maria Brubaker, Timothy Clifford, Kelsey DeMillo, Shannon Ervay, Wolfgang Gates, Briana Hayes, Bryce Kelly, Dylan Morse, Kayla Palmer, Amanda Wilbur

Irwin wins SCCUDD's billboard contest

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, May 13, 2021 -- Watkins Glen High School senior Matt Irwin is the winner of the Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) billboard contest for county students in grades 7-12.

His billboard features him and his race car after a big win with the message “Enjoy Graduation. But make it to Victory Lane alive! Don’t Drink And Drive!”

The idea came to Irwin naturally, as he is a an actual local race car driver who will be attending the NASCAR technical Institute in Mooresville, NC after graduation to study engine building, fabrication, and pit crew with the dream of one day being a NASCAR driver.

“It was fun being part of this contest, especially seeing my car on a billboard,” said Irwin. "I am very grateful for the opportunity and to everyone who voted for my billboard.”

All students attending Odessa-Montour Central School, Watkins Glen Central School, and Bradford Central School were eligible in the contest, including homeschool students residing in Schuyler County.

The contest was for substance abuse prevention messages targeting prom and graduation.The winning billboard is being displayed on Route 14 in Montour Falls during the months of May and June.

Billboard entries were to have a message that informs, persuades, or states facts about substance abuse. Students were encouraged to look up facts and statistics and gain knowledge of why these substances are harmful to youth

Billboard entries were placed on SCCUDD’s social media, where the public was encouraged to vote.

“Matt’s creative and personal message is exactly what we were thinking of when we were forming the contest,” said SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower.

SCCUDD is a group of community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit it online at, or follow it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photo in text: Matt Irwin and his billboard. (Photo provided)

School Board OKs 'Pandemic Persistence Honorarium' of $750 per district worker

WATKINS GLEN, May 5, 2021 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Tuesday night approved a one-time "Pandemic Persistence Honorarium" awarding $750 to each employee of the district who has worked there the entire school year and is a member of one of the district's five associations or a non-member Civil Service employee.

The move came, said Superintendent Greg Kelahan, in recognition of "the great challenges" faced by district workers and "the mental, emotional and physical toll" imposed by the pandemic on the school staff as it worked its way through ever-changing regulations and the need to adopt a new and flexible way of delivering education.

"The Board of Education has been very interactive with staff and recognized the terrific burden" its members shouldered this school year, he said. The honorarium "has been in the works for weeks," he added, with district officials meeting with presidents of the five associations representing administration, teachers, clerical, general and transportation workers.

The amount was selected, he explained, so that each worker would have about $500 after taxes. The money, about $170,000 in total, comes from the fund balance, and has no effect, he said, on the upcoming 2021-22 budget.

The amount paid to anyone working less than the full year would be prorated, he added.

The board also:

--Approved the appointment of three new teachers and two coaches:

Katalin Boroczky -- Teacher, Science
Ismael Villafane -- Teacher, Spanish
Julie Powell -- Teacher, Special Education
Ian Chedzoy -- Modified Lacrosse Coach
Mark Moskal -- Modified Lacrosse Volunteer Coach

--Heard a report from District Business Manager Amy Howell on the upcoming budget vote, set for May 18 in the Board of Education meeting room on the north side of the high school building. Hours will be 12 noon to 8 p.m.

The $27,120,691 budget, while showing a 2.42% increase in expenditures, calls for no increase in the tax levy, which stands once again at $9.6 million. The estimated taxes per $1,000 of assessed value will be $10.90, the same as this year.

Voting will take place at the same time on three School Board vacancies, two for three years and one for two years. The candidates are James Somerville, Joseph Crane, Michael Myers, Heather Dawson, Joe Stansfield, Barbara Schimizzi, Brittany Oliver and Amanda Voorheis.

Photos in text: Superintendent Greg Kelahan and Board President Gloria Brubaker at Tuesday night's meeting.

WGHS graduation date set for June 20th

WATKINS GLEN, April 22, 2021 -- The Watkins Glen School District, after changing the graduation date from June 19 to June 26 in a bow to Juneteenth, has settled instead on Father's Day, June 20.

The initial date change angered some parents and students who had made plans for the weekend of June 19-20. The district, on advice of counsel, had moved the date fairly late in the planning stages -- in March -- in deference to Juneteenth, which is now a holiday in New York State.

Juneteenth, also called Freedom Day among other names, is a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States and celebrates African American achievements. It falls on the anniversary of the 1865 pronouncement by Union Army General Gordon Granger that proclaimed freedom from slavery in Texas. The holiday originated in Texas, and has spread across the U.S., with official recognition varying.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Oct. 14 signed into law legislation designating Juneteenth as an official public holiday in this state.

Watkins Glen Superintendent Greg Kelahan said that the district, in response to the objections aired by several parents at a School Board meeting in late March, sent out a survey to district families asking if they preferred June 26 or a different date, June 20.

"A considerable number were comfortable with either," he said. But enough liked the 20th that the change was made to that day, a Sunday. "If it works for the community, it works for us," he added.

The ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m., although potential pandemic restrictions might force two ceremonies, back to back, with one in the late morning followed by one at 2 p.m.

Photo in text: School Superintendent Greg Kelahan at Wednesday's meeting.

WG School Board sends budget to voters; WGFA chief airs rift over union proposal

WATKINS GLEN, April 22, 2021 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Wednesday night unanimously approved a proposed budget that will be sent to district voters on Tuesday, May 18. Voting will be from 12 noon to 8 p.m. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 4.

The plan calls for a total 2021-22 district budget of $27,120,691 -- a $641,814, or 2.4%, increase in spending over 2020-21. But it also calls for no increase from last year's tax levy of $9,600,000.

In includes estimated figures, such as for salaries for members of the Watkins Glen Faculty Association, with whom negotiations are currently underway.

There is an increase in the Transportation Budget of $107,702, reflecting an increase in wages and fuel as bus use in a post-pandemic climate rises.

District Business Manager Amy Howell, in her proposal to the board, noted that with the tax levy unchanged, "if tax assessed valuations are increased by Schuyler County, taxpayers within the district will likely see a decline in their school district tax bill per $1,000 of value. If there is no change in valuations, the estimated real property tax will be $10.90 per $1,000 in value."

The budget vote will be accompanied by a vote for three members of the School Board -- two for terms of three years each, and one for a term of two years. Candidates include incumbent Barb Schimizzi along with Jim Somerville, Michael Myers, Amanda Voorheis, Joseph Crane, Joseph Stansfield, Heather Dawson, and Brittany Oliver. Incumbent Kris Clarkson is not seeking re-election, and Board President Gloria Brubaker is stepping down before the end of her term.

Tenures granted:

The board approved tenure for a number of district instructors. They include teaching assistants April Simmons, Renee Riley, Richard Campbell, and Christine Irwin; Speech Pathologist Melissa Burns; and teachers Cheryle Earl (Math), Jason Westervelt (Physical Education), Kelsey Pinette (Music), Nichole Chaffee (Elementary), Jeannette Gilbert (Elementary), Emily Richmond-Handley (Art), and Margaret King (Special Education).

Library budget presentation

Watkins Glen Library Board President Judy Phillips offered a brief presentation to the board on the library's proposed $204,262 budget, a decrease of 0.78% from the current year.

A public hearing on the plan is set from 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, May 4 via Zoon (e-mail to attend). The vote will be held on May 18.

Rift with Union

Watkins Glen Faculty Association President Jeannette Lasko spoke to the board about a current situation the union finds unsettling and confusing. Her presentation follows:

"Good evening, members of the Board of Education:

"Four years ago, the Watkins Glen Faculty Association met with our Board of Education as we embarked on a search for a new superintendent. We discussed our hopes for a leader and what we wanted in the years to come. Two years ago, the WGFA Executive Board was invited into discussions during a BOE executive session. Hoping to build on these experiences, the WGFA reached out to you last week with an invitation for some friendly conversation. We had hoped to discuss our current climate and culture and to chat about our visions for the future.

"But unfortunately, I never received a reply from anyone on the board, and we were informed that the district is filing an improper practice charge against us for our request. While we have yet to receive the formal paperwork from the Public Employees Relations Board on this charge, we were directed by the district’s Labor Relations Specialist/attorney to cease and desist requests for conversations with the Board of Education. In essence, the teachers and staff of your district were told that they can’t talk to you. Our only option, as directed by the district’s LRS and attorney, is share our thoughts in the public comment portion of a formal meeting.

I’m still not exactly sure what was inappropriate about our request as we had no intention of discussing anything regarding contract negotiations. We wanted to talk about ways that we can come together to make our district what we know it can be. We wanted to talk about collaboration on decision making. We wanted to talk about ways to show our staff that they are important and valued. We wanted to talk about methods for open communication and discussion. We were excited to sit down with the elected leaders of our district for transparent and friendly conversation. But unfortunately, we were met with unnecessary legal action.

"I’m not sure where we go from here. except to say our offer for conversation still stands. As a result of the prospect of litigation against the WGFA, we are now hoping you will come to us. Organize open forums. Send us surveys. Call us. Show up in our hallways and stop by our classrooms. We want to talk to you. We want you to know the truth about how our schools are operating and how we are often misrepresented and how at times it seems there is an intention to divide us rather than bring us together.

"But also, that we educate the students of this community every day with compassion, enthusiasm and dedication. We see the key to a successful relationship and partnership is open communication."

Photos in text:

From top: Watkins Glen School Board President Gloria Brubaker, Watkins Glen Library Board President Judy Phillips, WGFA President Jeannette Lasko, and School Board member Kevin Rumsey at Wednesday's meeting.