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Ribbon-cutting celebrates single campus
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 29 -- More than 100 people were on hand late Thursday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of the Watkins Glen School District's single-campus facility.
Speakers at the ceremony, staged in front of the renovated north end of the high school, included Superintendent Tom Phillips; State Senator Tom O'Mara; former School Board president Tom Richardson; Dick Robertson, construction manager for Welliver, which built the addition; and Keith Miller, project manager for Hunt Engineers, Architects and Surveyors, the project designers.
A reception followed the ceremony, and so did a tour of the addition.
"We now have a 21st-century learning facility and we have streamlined operations," said Phillips.
The $24.6 million project added more than 19,000 square feet to the campus. Included are an expanded and modernized library, new district offices, additional gym space (an old pool was converted), and a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) center.
Phillips pointed to the STEM addition as key to the project, and key for students entering an increasingly competitive working world.
The old Middle School north on Decatur Street closed with the end of the last school year. Students have been phased out of that school grade by grade for the past couple of years, until now -- with the upcoming opening of the school year, all district students, K-12, will be on the same campus, off 12th Street.
Watkins receives grant to expand UPK
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 18 -- The Watkins Glen Central School District was recently awarded a New York State UPK Expansion Grant in the amount of $485,056.
The grant will allow the district to expand its pre-kindergarten program to full day.
Children who will be four years old on or before December 1 are eligible for the district’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program. Interested parents are asked to call the Elementary Office at 535-3220 to request an application.
The following items need to be included with the completed application:
Call the Elementary Office with questions or for more information.
Catholic Charities leads Back to School drive
WATKINS GLEN, July 23 -- In partnership with local businesses,
Catholic Charities is requesting the public's help in preparing kids for
a successful school year. From now through August 18, new or like-new
clothing, sneakers and backpacks and new school supplies will be collected
at the following drop off locations:
“As a mother/father/guardian, you want the best for your child,” said Lindsay Winters, Catholic Charities’ Director of Development. “But what if you couldn’t financially make ends meet? Can you imagine sending your child to school in clothes with holes, sneakers that are too tight, a tattered backpack or without the needed school supplies for success? Please donate today. With the help of our local businesses and people like you, we can ensure all kids start the year off right.”
Monetary donations may be sent to Catholic Charities, 607 N Franklin St., Watkins Glen, NY 14891 or made online at cs-cc.org. Please indicate Schuyler County Back to School Drive.
Catholic Charities’ Back to School Giveaway will be held at Schuyler Outreach on August 21 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. (recipients must be Schuyler County residents). From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., organizers plan to offer free haircuts by local barbers and beauticians. Anyone wishing to donate time to cut hair, call Nancy at 607-228-5021.
Hospital Auxiliary awards scholarships
Special to The Odessa File
MONTOUR FALLS, July 8 -- The Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary has awarded $1,000 scholarships to two high school students who are planning to enter the healthcare field, as well as a Schuyler Hospital staff member advancing her education.
Samantha Gill, daughter of Patrick and Emogene Gill of Watkins Glen, is a 2014 graduate of Watkins Glen High School. Gill plans to attend LeMoyne College’s Direct Entry Physician Assistant Program in the fall.
Natasha Patel, daughter of Bharatkumar and Neela Patel of Watkins Glen, is also a 2014 graduate of Watkins Glen High School. Patel will attend Hobart and William Smith Colleges in the fall, with plans of becoming a specialty surgeon.
Michele Myers, Director of Rehabilitation Services for Schuyler Hospital, where she has worked for 20 years, is pursuing her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Utica College.
Scholarship awards are presented each year to two graduating high school seniors who live or attend school in Schuyler County and plan to enter careers in the healthcare field, as well as to a Schuyler Hospital employee advancing his or her education.
Awards are based on academic achievement, volunteerism, and personal essays.
Previous recipients have been in such diverse fields as orthopedics, dentistry, physical therapy, optometry, speech therapy, and pharmacy.
The Auxiliary awarded its first scholarship of $250 in1990. Over the next twenty years it has grown to three $1,000 scholarships annually. Funds for the awards are raised through the auxiliary’s hospital gift shop and other volunteer activities.
For more information about the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary, go to www.schuylerhospital.org
Photo in text: From left, scholarship winners Samantha Gill, Michele Myers (standing), and Natasha Patel. (Photo provided)
Three Watkins Glen High School graduating seniors were presented scholarships on June 28 by the Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association at its 89th Annual Banquet, held at the Community Center in the Clute Park complex. The recipients were, from left: Mitchell Mangus ($1,500), Natasha Patel ($2,000), and Megan Daigle ($1,500). (Photo by Don Romeo)
O-M Superintendent Jim Frame (left), teacher Kevin Tarbert (fifth from left) and Principal Chris Wood (second from right) are joined by Cargill Cares Committee members (l-r) Mike VanZile, Jerry Dunlavey, Phil Pamel, Keith Klug, Clay Furniss, Bill Lindsley and Sherry Saunders. (Photo provided)
O-M receives grant for science equipment
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, July 2 -- High school science students at Odessa-Montour will engage in inquiry-based STEM education next fall thanks to a grant from Cargill.
Teacher Kevin Tarbert wrote the proposal for the grant -- amounting to $29,046 -- which will be used to fund the Outdoor Inquiry Project at O-M. The project will include six STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) high school science courses. The grant will be used to purchase resources and equipment, including a wireless weather station, probes and sensors, dissecting and polarizing microscopes, transit compasses, and general lab materials such as test kits, rubber boots and geological picks.
The Outdoor Inquiry Project will utilize the region’s natural resources to provide outdoor learning experiences that integrate environmental education topics into secondary science curricula, said Tarbert. The intent is to build students’ interest and attitudes toward science, increase their levels of environmental literacy, improve their critical thinking skills and ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world settings and lab work, and increase student achievement of New York State Learning Standards.
Tarbert developed a “wish list” of items he wanted for his students and was awarded the entire amount he asked for. According to Keith Klug, plant manager for Cargill in Watkins Glen, the grant was provided through a combination of funds from the local Cargill facility, a matching grant from the Cargill Salt Community Environmental Program and a matching grant from the Cargill Global Partnership Fund.
“Cargill takes environmental stewardship seriously, and we enjoy working with our communities to enhance education and to support environmental awareness,” said Klug.
“This grant will help radically change our science department,“ said O-M Superintendent Jim Frame. “It is essential to the implementation of the STEM curriculum in our district, and is making possible what could have taken us years to accomplish.”
Suddaby receives $1,000 Arc scholarship
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, June 30 -- The Arc of Schuyler’s Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Watkins Glen High School graduate Lindsey Suddaby at the school's June 28 commencement ceremony.
The $1,000 scholarship honors Joanne Hayes, former board member and president of The Arc of Schuyler’s board of directors who passed away in 1987. The award is given annually to a graduating senior pursuing an education in human services, special education, or a related field for a career providing supports to people with developmental disabilities.
Suddaby, daughter of Rick and Kim Suddaby of Burdett, is enrolled at Ithaca College to study speech pathology and American Sign Language. She aspires to be a Speech Therapist and assist children and adults who are deaf or have a disability.
Lindsey was ranked near the top of her graduating class and was a member of the varsity swimming, bowling and track-and-field teams. She held leadership roles in National Honor Society and Music Club, and was a member of Student Council and Rotary Interact Club. She was honored in May as Watkins-Montour Rotary Student of the Month and in June as a member of the Top Drawer 24. In addition to her athletic and academic achievements and volunteer work, she has held a part-time job as a Watkins Glen lifeguard and instructor.
The Joanne Hayes Memorial Scholarship is made possible through donations to The Arc of Schuyler, a not-for-profit organization providing supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. For more information, visit www.arcofschuyler.org.
Photo in text: Lindsey Suddaby
Middle School Principals
WATKINS GLEN, June 25 -- Five educators who have served as principal of the Watkins Glen Middle School were present Wednesday, June 25, for a celebration of the history and tradition of the building, which will soon become senior housing. The building was sold as part of the school district's consolidation to a single campus on 12th Street in Watkins Glen. From left: Kai D'Alleva, who has been principal this school year; Charlena Curry Brown, who served from 1969-1977; Brian O'Donnell, (1981-88); Dave Warren (2001-03); and Kristine Somerville (2003-13). The celebration featured remarks by O'Donnell in the school auditorium, and then an opportunity for attendees to tour the building's hallways.
Student Council donates $200 to Habitat
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, June 19, 2014-- Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity has received a gift of $200 from the Watkins Glen High School Student Council in memory of loved ones of WGHS.
The gift furthers the effort of Habitat for Humanity to construct a home for a qualified family. The home is presently under construction at 130 Havana Glen Road, and is dedicated to the memory of Dave Centurelli of the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department.
Work days at the site are Wednesdays and Saturdays. Information regarding volunteering can be obtained at www.schuylerhabitat.org. Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 45, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.
General meetings of Habitat for Humanity are held at 7 p.m. on the last Wednesday of each month at the Silver Spoon Café in the Human Services Complex, Montour Falls.
Photo in text: The Habitat home on Havana Glen Road on Friday, June 20.
Seniors from Watkins Glen High School honored Wednesday night as Schuyler Scholars during a dinner at the Harbor Hotel pose with their plaques afterward. From left: Corey Flahive, Natasha Patel, Samantha Gill, Matt Woodworth, Principal Dave Warren, Caitlin Connelly, Megan Daigle, Matt Gill, Emily Doppel, Lindsey Suddaby and Joseph Roth. Top academic seniors from the Odessa-Montour and Bradford High Schools were also honored. Those from O-M were Jenelle Bleiler, Hayley Guild, Hayden Moss, Maia Rumsey, Trisha Williams and Jasmine Wittig. From Bradford: Amanda Machuga, Nicholas Machuga and Melanie Meighan. (Photo provided)
Miss Wixson’s 6th-grade students carry their banner around the track. (Photo provided)
Odessa-Montour hosts Relay Recess
ODESSA, June 20 -- The Odessa-Montour Central School District held its fifth annual Mini-Relay for Life, now called Relay Recess, on Thursday, June 5, at the school track.
This year, the theme of the event was “Racing Towards
a Cure.” The event included laps by grade
BC Cate students and staff (grades PreK-2) participated at the track in the morning, and Hanlon Elementary students and staff (grades 3-6) held their Relay Recess in the afternoon.
Photo in text: B.C. Cate students learned yoga at one of the Relay Recess stations. (Photo provided)
3 receive $500 scholarships from SFLW
MONTOUR FALLS, June 17 -- At the Leaders of Tomorrow Annual Celebration held June 16 by the Southern Finger Lakes Women, a Chapter of New York State Women, Inc., three $500 scholarships were awarded to Schuyler County high school seniors. The ceremony was held at the Montour Falls Moose Lodge.
Student winners are as follows:
Kaylyn Teemley. Kaylyn is the daughter of Bill and Kimberly Teemley. She is graduating from Odessa-Montour Junior-Senior High School. Kaylyn has also been busy filling her schedule with college courses during her high school career. As a result, she will enter Corning Community College in the fall ready to complete her Associates Degree after only three semesters. After that, Kaylyn will be transferring to Mercy College to pursue her Bachelor's Degree of Music Industry and Technology. Kaylyn has already started down the path of a career in the audio field through working as an intern and with other professionals in the field. Throughout high school, she has volunteered for various activities and programs, including local concerts, talent shows, Live Like Liz and school plays.
Megan Daigle. Megan is the daughter and stepdaughter of Kristine and Mike Morseman. She is graduating from Watkins Glen High School and will be attending Le Moyne College in the fall, pursuing a path in marketing, sales, and management, with the intent of obtaining her MBA. Megan has been taking all college courses in her senior year. In addition to continuous involvement in many after-school related functions, she is actively involved with her community as well as an employee at the Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor.
Samantha Gill. Samantha is the daughter of Patrick and Emogene Gill. She is graduating third in her class at Watkins Glen High School and will be attending Le Moyne College in the fall beginning in the Direct Entry Physician Assistant Program. Samantha earned this spot out of hundreds of applicants. This rigorous program will allow her to complete her undergrad studies in Biological Sciences in less than four years and move her into the graduate Physician Assistant Program for her fourth and fifth years of college.
New York State Women, Inc., provides members with professional development, networking, and career advancement resources. Its mission is to achieve equity for all women in the workplace through advocacy, education and information. The Southern Finger Lakes Women Chapter meets on the 3rd Monday of each month. For more information about the chapter, contact Gloria Hutchings at (607) 594-2489 or JoAnne Krolak at (607) 732-1171.
Photo in text: From left: Samantha Gill, Megan Daigle and Kaylyn Teemley. (Photo provided)
Somerville on Dean's List at West Point
WEST POINT, NY, June 16, 2014 -- Cadet Brett Somerville, son of Jim and Kristine Somerville of Watkins Glen, has been named to the Dean"s List for the Spring Semester at the U.S. Military Academy. He is an engineering psychology major.
Somerville (right) graduated from Watkins Glen High School in 2012 and will be commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation at West Point.
The U.S. Military Academy is a four-year co-educational federal undergraduate liberal arts college located 50 miles north of New York City. Founded in 1802 as America's first college of engineering, it consistently ranks as one of the top colleges in the nation. A pre-eminent leader development institution, its mission remains constant -- to educate, train and inspire cadets for careers of professional service to the Army and the nation.
Somerville will be continuing his military training this summer in Ft. Lewis, Washington.
Photo in text: Cadet Brett Somerville (Photo provided)
The NHS inductees. From left: Portia Wells, Margaret Bond, Brenen Murphy, Bernadette Osborne, Claire McManus, Megan Hoy, Cheyenne Stansfield, Lucas Wickham, Katherine Meehan and Brandon Pike.
10 join Honor Society at WG
WATKINS GLEN, June 5 -- Ten students joined the ranks of the Watkins Glen High School chapter of the National Honor Society during an induction ceremony Wednesday night in the school auditorium.
Joining the 36 incumbent members were Brandon Pike, Cheyenne Stansfield, Portia Wells, Lucas Wickham, Margaret Bond, Megan Hoy, Claire McManus, Katherine Meehan, Brenen Murphy and Bernadette Osborne.
The ceremony featured a piano prelude by member Taylor Kennard. NHS President Samantha Gill gave opening and closing remarks, the latter bringing each of the graduating seniors forward to identify themselves and tell where they will be going to college.
There are 14 such seniors: Samantha and Matthew Gill, Megan Daigle, Lindsey Suddaby, Caitlin Connelly, Alexis Naylor, Abbey Willis, Natasha Patel, Emily Doppel, Becca McIntyre, Nathaniel Beaumont, Erika Rhodes, Joseph Roth and Matthew Woodworth.
The officers -- Samantha Gill, Megan Daigle (vice president), Lindsey Suddaby (secretary) and Caitlin Connelly (treasurer) -- each explained one of the four pillars of the National Honor Society (Leadership, Scholarship, Service and Character), and lit a symbolic candle.
After the new inductees had been introduced -- each through a speech by incumbent members -- they marched to the stage in newly donned robes, carrying candles in a darkened auditorium, and recited an NHS pledge. Then they blew out their candles, and were thus members.
Photos in text: Portia Wells, left, and Maggie Bond recite the NHS pledge while holding symbolic candles on a darkened stage; NHS president Samantha Gill.
Inductees Cheyenne Stansfield and Brenen Murphy don their Honor Society robes.
The Odessa-Montour Senior High Chorus performs during the Spring Concert. The accompanist was Sally Michel.
O-M Senior High Band,
ODESSA, May 29 -- The Odessa-Montour Senior High Band and Senior High Chorus presented an emotional concert Wednesday night in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.
The Senior High Band offered several numbers, including "Big Four March," "Chesford Portrait," "Critical Mass," "South Pacific," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," and "Stormchasers."
The Women's Choir sang "I Believe" and "Somewhere above the Clouds," while the Senior High Chorus presented several songs: "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "The Stars Are With the Voyager," "The Dream" (with solos by Rachel Bruno, Heavyn Arias, Logan Barrett, Manley Gavich, Olivia Scata, Joel Kelly, Dana Roberts and Joe Raymond), "Chantez Alleluia," "Like An Eagle," "Fields of Gold" (with solos by Maia Rumsey and Hayden Moss), "River in Judea," and "Show Me The Way" (with solos by Tess Visscher and Hayley Guild).
The seniors in the band and chorus were also honored, with director Clarice Miles presenting each with a gift-laden bucket. She fought back tears as she did so. The seniors in turn gave her a present -- not only for her guidance, but for her pending retirement. This was her last spring concert. At the conclusion of the concert, she was exchanging hugs with her student musicians.
Seven members of the band are seniors, as are six members of the chorus.
Photos in text:
Top: The trumpet section of the Senior High Band.
Bottom: Band and Chorus member Maia Rumsey hugs director Clarice Miles after the concert concluded.
Chorus members Tess Visscher (left) and Hayley Guild (right) perform solos. In the center photo: director Clarice Miles.
Members of the High School Band perform.
High School Chorus members Hayden Moss (left) and Phil Humphries.
Donation will buy kayaks for WG students
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, May 24 -- A $3,425 donation from the estate of a Watkins Glen graduate and her husband will allow the district to purchase four kayaks and related equipment for use in physical education classes.
The donation was made by Bill Pylypciw, Jr., in memory of his parents, William and Delores Bartone Pylypciw. His mother was a 1940 graduate of Watkins Glen High School.
In a letter that accompanied the check, Pylypciw said: "Although most of their married life they lived outside of Watkins, this was still home to them and they loved it here."
He added: "They would enjoy knowing they were providing students with a chance to enjoy this beautiful lake."
The Top 10% honorees in the WGHS senior class posed after the ceremony. From left: Tyler Cummings, Sam Pulis, Matt Woodworth, Lindsey Suddaby, Samantha Gill, Matt Gill, guest speaker Sam Brubaker, Principal Dave Warren, Megan Daigle, Caitlin Connelly, Abbey Willis and Emily DeSantis. Not pictured: Erika Rhodes, who had already departed.
WGHS honors Top 10% of its students
WATKINS GLEN, May 21 -- It was, as retiring Watkins Glen High School principal Dave Warren said, "the beginning of the celebration season."
It was the annual Top Ten% Celebration Tuesday evening in the WGHS cafeteria, where students in the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes were honored for placing in the top 10% of their class academically during the school year just ending.
Warren, the emcee, said it was different than the Top 10 honor bestowed later in the school year and reserved for seniors based on accumulated high school careers.
"It is not an easy thing that you have done," he told the honorees, adding in an aside to the parents present: "Enjoy it."
Guest speaker was Physical Education teacher Sam Brubaker (right), who related how he had graduated from WGHS with the intent to enter the engineering field, but that after attending Bucknell and finding a job in his field, learned "it wasn't for me." His calling, as it turned out, was teaching, which required him to return to college -- not something he had anticipated doing.
But he did, and "today I am truly a person who enjoys going to work every day ... well, almost."
He told the students that whatever careers they pursue, "put in the time and effort" needed to succeed, and they will be able to do so.
Superintendent Tom Phillips, in closing remarks, noted that on July 1 Principal Warren will conclude a career that has spanned 34 years at Watkins Glen. He thanked Warren "for all you have done for me in my eight years here and for the students and community." And turning to Warren, he gave him a big hug.
Then, turning back to the students, Phillips told them that as they enter the working world, "change with it, but stay true to yourselves."
Concluded Warren, speaking to the parents and fighting back some tears: "Every year, every moment, I've thoroughly enjoyed working with your kids."
The honorees, by class, were:
Class of 2017: Jacob Carocci, Ruthe Gardner, Sara Gardner, Alexander Gibson, Sara Morrissette, Brienna Solomon, Payton Watson, Cambria Weeden and Phebe Wickham.
Class of 2016: Maggie Bond, Megan Hoy, Claire McManus, Katherine Meehan, Brenen Murphy, Brandon Pike, Cheyenne Stansfield, Portia Wells and Lucas Wickham.
Class of 2015: Samantha Bradley, LynnAnn Caslin, Colin DeMeritt, Mikayla Elliott, Luke Flahive, Madison Gates, Alexis Gonzalez, Lydia Myers, Elizabeth Reed and Taylor Yaw.
Class of 2014: Caitlin Connelly, Tyler Cummings, Megan Daigle, Emily DeSantis, Matt Gill, Samantha Gill, Sam Pulis, Erika Rhodes, Lindsey Suddaby, Abbey Willis and Matt Woodworth.
Photos in text:
Top: Principal Dave Warren congratulates junior Samantha Bradley as honorees Luke Flahive and LynnAnn Caslin await similar greetings.
Middle: Guest speaker Sam Brubaker addresses the audience.
Bottom: Superintendent Tom Phillips and Principal Dave Warren exchange a hug.
Conklin earns Doctorate of Physical Therapy
Special to The Odessa File
ROCHESTER, May 14, 2014-- Dr. Jaclyn M. Conklin, PT, DPT received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Nazareth College of Rochester on Sunday, May 11.
While at Nazareth, Conklin was a student clinical instructor. She was also a member of the Nazareth swim team, breaking multiple school and pool records. She also participated in the NCAA Division III National Swimming Championships.
Conklin is the daughter of Gary and Alice Conklin and a 2008 graduate of Watkins Glen High School. She currently resides in Rochester, NY.
Head Start gains Whiteboard through grant
MONTOUR FALLS, May 14 -- Schuyler Head Start received what was described as "a generous grant" from the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger lakes Schuyler County Fund to purchase an Interactive Whiteboard.
Hatch's TeachSmart Learning System is a hands-on interactive whiteboard technology tool which enables early childhood teachers to engage children in activities focused on pre-literacy and pre-math skills.
Each of the board's more than 1,100 interactive early childhood learning activities correlate with National and State learning standards. Plus, said Head Start in a press release, "the TeachSmart is fun!"
Photo in text: Head Start's Ashley Cross, left, with Kiera Cartwright. (Photo provided)
WGHS teacher charged, 'relieved of duties' following stun-gun bus incident
WATKINS GLEN, May 2 -- A Watkins Glen High School science teacher was charged Friday morning by Village Police with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 4th Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Child following an incident in which a high school student was found in possession of an electronic stun gun on a school bus.
Village Police said Kathryn E. Barthlomew, 50, of Montour Falls, was charged following investigation of the bus incident. She was issued a ticket to appear in Watkins Glen Village Court on June 12 on the two charges, each a Class A misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
A statement from School Superintendent Tom Phillips said the school district "is cooperating with the Watkins Glen Police Department regarding this morning's incident," adding: "The district employee has been relieved of duties at the school pending the results of the investigation. The school is following the district Code of Conduct relating to any disciplinary action. Because this is a personnel matter, the district will make no further comment."
Barthlomew has been serving as President of the Watkins Glen Faculty Association. She is also known locally as chair of the Schuyler County Environmental Management Council.
According to Village Police, the bus incident occurred when the driver communicated to the bus garage that there was a suspected weapon in the possession of a student on the vehicle. That message was relayed to police headquarters, and minutes later Sgt. Steve Decker and School Resource Officer David Waite intercepted the bus near Decatur and 10th Streets.
Police said the student was removed from the bus and questioned. He had in his possession the stun gun, which was taken from him by police. Decker said such a gun could be purchased on the Internet for $35. It is far different from a taser used by police, he said -- the latter being an $800 item with sophistiated electronics and controls that require training. A stun gun, he said, is legal in some states, but not in New York.
The student, police said, was not charged. But the investigation, they added, led them to Barthlomew, who was at the school preparing for the day's classes. The stun gun "had been in her possession first," Decker said, before ending up in the possession of the student.
How it reached the student was not a matter police were revealing, Decker explaining that the department was trying to cooperate with the school district as it dealt with a sensitive personnel issue.
But he added: "There was nothing illegal in the transfer" of the stun gun. The student "didn't steal it."
Photo in text: Kathryn Bartholomew
Gates to study in Beijing this summer
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, April 25 -- Madison Gates, an 11th-grade student at Watkins Glen High School, has been selected by Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA) and Corning Incorporated to attend the APSA China Study Abroad Summer Program to be held in Beijing from June 28 to August 11.
“I’m really excited,” Gates said. “This is a great opportunity to see another culture and the world in a wider scope.”
This is the second year that Watkins Glen students have been selected for the program. Corey Flahive and Hannah Armstrong attended last year.
The APSA China Scholars Program focuses on language acquisition, cultural understanding, leadership development and exposure to international careers. The program is funded in part through a grant from the U.S. State Department National Security Language Initiative for Youth, administered by American Councils.
Additional funding comes from private sources. Corning Inc. supports the program locally.
“Corning has been instrumental in recruiting and selecting students from area schools, and we are grateful that this opportunity has been provided again this year,” said Nan Woodworth-Shaw, director of instruction and student services for the Watkins Glen Central School District.
Photo in text: Madison Gates (Photo provided)
New members were introduced by chapter members. From left, James Terry was introduced by Hailie Searles, Logan Barrett by Brooke Collins, and Mechel Wead by Joe Collins.
O-M's National Honor Society inducts 7
ODESSA, April 25 -- The Odessa-Montour chapter of the National Honor Society inducted seven new members Thursday evening at a ceremony in O-M's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.
The seven bring the chapter's membership to 20.
Those inducted included Logan Barrett, Tyler Clark, Madison Lodge, Maia Rumsey, Olivia Scata, James Terry and Mechel Wead.
Keynote speaker was Jill Kautz, an O-M graduate several years ago who has taught and coached at the school. She urged the honorees to commit to community service, "an essential part of membership," and to "take a chance to try new things."
High School Principal Chris Wood told the chapter members that "your school looks to you as leaders," and urged them: "Do not settle. Continue to strive for excellence."
Each of the seven honorees was introduced by a chapter member.
A candle ceremony outlined the NHS's four pillars: Scholarship, Service, Leadership and Character. Narrator for the ceremony was senior Tyler Goossen, while candles were lit by members Callie Stillman, Addi Rhodes, Hailie Searles and Jordan Little.
A reception was held in the school cafeteria after the ceremony.
Photos in text:
Top: New member Maia Rumsey is introduced by chapter member Dana Roberts.
Bottom: Keynote speaker Jill Kautz.
Other introductions included, from left: Madison Lodge, introduced by Brianna Struble, Tyler Clark by Joseph Rorick, and Olivia Scata by Samantha House.
Water Aerobics classes seek participants
Special to The Odessa File
SCHUYLER COUNTY, April 18 -- Get fit and have fun, loosen up and laugh! Odessa-Montour Central School and Watkins Glen Central School are hosting water aerobics classes (“Aerobic Fun in the Water”) this spring, but you have to move fast!
Everyone over 18 is welcome. Odessa-Montour’s sessions begin Monday, April 21 and run for five weeks, with Thursday classes beginning April 24. Watkins Glen Central School is hosting “Aqua Aerobics” classes. The next session begins Tuesday, April 22.
All classes need sufficient registered participants to be scheduled, and some sessions are in danger of being cancelled if more folks don’t register.
Call NOW to ensure that these classes are scheduled! All sessions are $7 per class. Register online at www.gstboces.org or call Carol at 607-739-8170 or 7905.
The classes are offered through GST BOCES Adult Education.
Dan Whelan of Bearsch Compeau Knudson, Architects & Engineers of Binghamton, as he explained the Middle School plan to the Watkins Glen Planning Board in November. The board approved the project, which will convert the school to apartments
Watkins Glen Middle School project gets needed funding
Apartment complex, already OK'd by Planning Board, is good to go
WATKINS GLEN, April 17 -- The developer planning to convert the Watkins Glen Middle School into apartments got a much needed economic shot in the arm Wednesday with announcement of a $3,839,219 grant -- a key element in moving ahead with the nearly $14 million project.
The grant was awarded to S.E.P.P., Inc. of Binghamton for "the adaptive reuse of the former Watkins Glen Middle School into 51 units of affordable housing for seniors." It was one of $95 million in state-funded awards announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo for affordable housing developments across the state
The grant, long expected, will permit the S.E.P.P. group to move forward with the project this summer after the Watkins Glen School District vacates the Middle School at the end of the current school year. The sale of the building by the School District last year -- contingent on this grant -- was a key component in the district's move to a single campus.
"Now," said Tony Fiala, executive director of S.E.P.P., "this project is going to move. This was the piece we needed to make this work. We're very happy with it." Had the grant not come through, he admitted, "we'd be in tough shape."
But instead, all systems are now "go," he said, with the remainder of the needed funds coming "through different financing sources." The project could take up to two years to complete, although the start date hinges both on the timing of the grant funds' release, and on the time required by the school district to vacate the building after classes end in June. That is not, however, expected to take long, he noted.
The Middle School project is also considered a key element in Project Seneca, an economic plan that envisions a new wastewater treatment plant shared by Watkins Glen and Montour Falls that would eliminate the existing plant along the Seneca Lake shoreline and trigger lakeside and community development.
The governor's office said the S.E.P.P. grant is part of "a coordinated State investment with the Empire State Development Corporation, which also awarded the project $900,000 last year as part of the 2013 Regional Council Consolidated Funding Application." That $900,000 was earmarked for renovation of the Middle School's existing gymnasium and auditorium, which will be separated from the apartments in the building and used by the community.
S.E.P.P. (Serving the Elderly through Project Planning) has already gained approval for the Middle School renovation from the Watkins Glen Planning Board. The S.E.P.P. group has transformed old schools into similar housing projects in the past.
The apartment complex will be for people 55 and older with incomes up to 80 percent of the average median income.
Few changes in the building's exterior are planned, other than the addition of a wheelchair accessible entrance in the front of the building, new windows throughout, and some masonry restoration. Additional parking will be created in the property's northeast corner, and the asphalt playground at the rear of the property will be eliminated, with a grassy area installed for use by building residents.
"In 2014 every New Yorker deserves a safe, decent
and affordable place to call home," Governor Cuomo said in announcing
the state awards. "Today we're building on the over $1 billion we've
already invested to make that dream a reality."
Photo in text: An overhead view of the Middle School housing project, as presented to the Watkins Glen Planning Board in November. The Board gave its blessing to the plan.
Used goods drive to benefit Senior Party
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, April 15 -- An eco-friendly way to divert waste from our nation’s landfills and reach people in need: The First Annual Used Clothing (and Household Goods) Drive is happening here in May!
Sponsored by the WGHS Parent Committee for the All-Night Senior Party, donations of gently used clothing and household goods will be collected at the Watkins Glen Bus Garage along Decatur Street on three consecutive Saturday mornings -- May 3rd, May 10th and May 17th.
The Parent Committee earns 10 cents a pound for each bag and box of goods donated, and all proceeds go toward the all-night, alcohol-free party honoring WGHS graduating seniors. The sky’s the limit on poundage. Are you up for the challenge??
For a full list of acceptable and unacceptable donations, click on the
Contact: Mary Fanara at (607) 232-4104 with questions or to arrange for a pickup.
Cole earns spot in academic honor society
BROCKPORT, April 15 -- The Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society has selected Cassaundra Cole for membership in the local chapter at The College at Brockport.
Delta Epsilon Iota was established to recognize and encourage academic excellence in all fields of study. Students qualify on the basis of academic achievement. Prospective members must have completed a minimum of 30 semester hours at an accredited college or university while maintaining a 3.30 cumulative grade-point average or a scholastic ranking in the top 15% of their class.
Cassaundra, daughter of Tammy and Michael Cole, is a Watkins Glen High School graduate studying health science. She is scheduled to graduate from Brockport in May, and plans to attend a graduate program in Physical Therapy.
Photo at right: Cassaundra Cole (Provided)
Office of Civil Rights to probe Title IX 'equity issue' in Watkins school sports
WATKINS GLEN, April 8 -- An alleged inequality in sports opportunities in the Watkins Glen School District -- favoring boys over girls -- will be the subject of an investigation by the federal Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights following a complaint that the district is violating Title IX regulations.
Title IX is a statute established in 1972 -- part of the Education Amendments of that year that guard against discrimination based on gender "under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."
The complaint was filed by Hector resident Kristina Hansen, who parenthetically has since obtained petitions for a run in the upcoming School Board election. Her complaint has triggered the Title IX investigation.
Hansen last year obtained the services of the Cornell Legal Aid Clinic at the Cornell University Law School, which took her Title IX complaint and, in her words, "added legal jargon to it." It was filed with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in New York City by Cornell law students Lauren Bowman and Catherine Eisenhut, with approval of Visiting Clinical Professor Jonathan Feldman.
Their 8-page document was filed, it read, "to complain about ongoing sex discrimination in the athletics programs in the Watkins Glen Central School District on behalf of all female athletes in the district. The complainant asserts that there is unequal funding for boys' and girls' sports in the district and that there are unequal athletic participation opportunities for female students in the district
"Further, the complainant asserts that, by accepting a grant for a boys' high school lacrosse team, the Watkins Glen Board of Education has created even greater disparity in benefits and opportunities between male and female sports ... The complainant now requests that the Office of Civil Rights investigate the illegalities set forth ... and take appropriate action to ensure the WGCSD, a recipient of federal funds, complies with federal law by requiring WGCSD to provide equal benefits and participation opportunities for female students."
The alleged violations involved Board creation of the lacrosse program and acceptance in early 2013 of more than $7,000 in donations for the program, as well as acceptance later in the year of a U.S. Lacrosse First Stick Program Grant "with associated requirements and benefits." Hansen said the requirements included a two-year commitment to varsity boys lacrosse.
Superintendent Tom Phillips, when asked to comment, confirmed the investigation, saying that "legally, I am limited to acknowledging that the District was notified of a Title IX complaint and will work with the Office of Civil Rights to complete their investigation. Should any violations be indicated, the District will work with OCR to address" them.
It is, he also noted, "an equity of opportunity issue."
The final page of the complaint reads: "If, as we strongly suspect, OCR finds unequal treatment in the school athletics programs between male and female students, the complainant asks that WGCSD be required to ensure equitable funding for both boys' and girls' sports teams ... and provide additional athletic participation opportunities for female students. Based on female student interest these additional opportunities could include the addition of new programs, such as creating a girls' lacrosse team, or the expansion of existing programs to accommodate greater participation by female students."
According to Hansen, the investigation should begin soon. "I have been very open about my reason for filing this complaint -- (there is) more money, more effort, more teams for boys," she said. "Lacrosse was the tipping point.
"Beyond the Title IX issue, (there is) so much grumbling in the community about how the lacrosse program came into being, (with) many parents, athletes and Watkins Glen coaches unhappy about how difficult it is now to schedule practice time with the addition of two teams (Modified and Varsity Lacrosse) that need time in the Field House."
Hansen's numbers -- obtained, she said, through the school's Athletic Director's office -- indicate only a moderate advantage by the Watkins Glen boys in terms of total numbers of sports opportunities, although there are more boys teams than girls teams.
There is, however, an evidently growing disparity in funding with the addition of lacrosse financing in the upcoming 2014-15 budget. A look at the budget figures provided to the School Board by Athletic Director Rod Weeden shows the cost of the boys Modified and Varsity Lacrosse programs totals $13,689 -- part of $122,161 provided to 17 boys teams.
Fifteen girls teams, meanwhile, will receive $99,859, a $22,302 disparity. And Hansen says it should be considered more than that since "fall cheerleading is not a sport." Cheerleading -- fall and winter -- is listed in the sports budget as one item, for $10,706.
Six other Watkins Glen squads with both boys and girls on them -- bowling, cross country and four others -- are funded jointly and thus would not reduce the disparity if added equally into the boys and girls budget totals.
Bond named to U. of Rochester Dean's List
Special to The Odessa File
ROCHESTER, NY, April 3 -- Sarah Elizabeth Bond, a junior majoring in biochemistry at the University of Rochester, has been named to the Dean’s List for academic achievement for the fall 2013 semester.
Bond, a resident of Watkins Glen, is the daughter of Christopher Bond and Michelle Bond, and a graduate of Watkins Glen High School.
Glen School Board set to vote on budget with 2.7% levy hike
WATKINS GLEN, April 3 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Wednesday night, at the end of its final budget workshop, directed Superintendent Tom Phillips to prepare documents that will lead the way to board approval Monday night of a proposed 2014-15 budget with a 2.76% tax levy increase.
The 2.76% is the maximum increase permitted under the state tax cap. The total proposed budget amounts to $24,047,481, an increase of 2.99% in spending.
The tax rate will be going up an estimated 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, to $12.51 per $1,000 from $12.18.
The public will vote on the spending plan next month.
Among the highlights outlined by Phillips to the board are the following:
-- The district is taking back Career Development Coordination from BOCES, replacing that person with a "displaced Watkins Glen teacher" -- one of the many who lost their jobs when the district reduced the number of positions under budget constraints in recent years.
-- The district will add a School Psychologist "based on an increase in Special Needs." The position will be advertised, seeking a person with an Educational School Psychology degree -- a Masters in Social Work. If no such person can be found, Phillips said, "we can issue a waiver" to hire a person with a lesser Psychology degree.
-- Two teachers will become Deans of Students -- one for K-6 and one for grades 7-12. Two teachers will be hired on the elementary level, one to replace the selected Dean in the classroom, and one for an additional classroom position.
-- Lacrosse -- both Modified and Varsity -- is being added to the budget. It has been self-funded since being launched last year.
Phillips and district Business Manager Gayle Sedlack also reiterated the savings that will occur with the closing of the Middle School as the district moves to a single campus in the fall, and noted that the fund balance is being boosted back to its maximum-allowed level of 4%. It had been reduced from that level in recent belt-tightening years.
They also pointed out that the state's Gap Elimination Adjustment program initiated in 2009-10 has been reduced somewhat as the state begins what it calls a "restoration" of some of the GEA funding it took from school districts. That program, designed to help the state eliminate gaps in its own budget, sees New York take back a portion of the state aid it hands out to districts each year. That amount in the Watkins district, counting an estimated $1.4 million this year (taken back from state aid of $9.3 million), has amounted to $10.8 million over the program's six years.
The "restoration" this year, in the state's eyes, amounts to $314,000 -- the difference between last yea's takeback of $1,730,000 and this year's takeback of $1,416,000.
-- Longtime board member Gloria Brubaker has announced that she has changed her mind and is running for re-election. She was circulating her petition after Wednesday's board workshop, and said that with three positions on the ballot and no other incumbents running, she feels the Board will need her experience. Incumbent Tom Richardson is not seeking re-election, and board Vice President Kevin Field resigned his seat earlier this year.
Other possible candidates -- three people with petitions in hand -- include Jim Somerville, Kristina Hansen and Annette Bascom.
Photos in text:
Top: From left, district Business Manager Gayle Sedlack and board members Tom Richardson and Mike Myers at Wednesday's workshop.
Bottom: Superintendent Tom Phillips looks on as board member Gloria Brubaker makes a point at Wednesday's workshop.
Auxiliary offers health care scholarships
Special to The Odessa File
MONTOUR FALLS, April 2 -- The Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary is offering scholarships to students who plan to enter the health care field.
$1,000 scholarships will be awarded to graduating high school students who are residents of Schuyler County, and to hospital employees wishing to further their education in the health care field.
Applications may be found online at www.schuylerhospital.org, by clicking on the media release at the top right. Applications may also be picked up at high school guidance offices and at the hospital’s Human Resources office – located inside the hospital's new Main Entrance.
Applications must be postmarked by May 30, 2014.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary member Joan Argetsinger at (607) 535-6622.
Houck named new Dundee superintendent
Special to The Odessa File
DUNDEE, March 28, 2014 -- The Dundee Central School District Board of Education has appointed Kelly Houck as the district's next Superintendent of Schools, effective July 1.
Houck comes to Dundee from Canaseraga Central School, where she has been School Superintendent for the past two years. Before that she was the Bradford High School principal. Over the past 10 years, she has also served in various roles of public education, including: teacher, Director of Special Education, and Director of Transportation.
Houck received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Mansfield University, a Masters of Education in Elementary and Special Education from Mansfield, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration from SUNY Brockport.
“I am truly elated to join the Dundee team,” said Houck. “I believe that Dundee Central School is the best kept secret of the Finger Lakes, and I look forward to using my skills, knowledge and experience in assisting the district in aggressively preparing our students for the 21st Century and beyond."
The hiring process included: the involvement of many student representatives, staff members and community representatives.
"I am grateful for this opportunity," said Houck, "and I am very pleased to be retiring my resume and beginning a longstanding relationship and commitment to Dundee Central School.”
Photo in text: Kelly Houck (Photo provided)
From left: Abbey Willis, Lydia Myers and Paige Hughey.
'No, No, Nanette' ends its run at WGHS
WATKINS GLEN, March 31-- The Watkins Glen High School production of the musical comedy “No, No, Nanette” -- which opened Friday night -- was presented for the third and final time Sunday afternoon before an enthusiastic audience in the WGHS auditorium.
The audience responded at the end of the performance with a standing ovation.
Although not as well known as other musical comedies, “No, No, Nanette” features a number of popular songs, including “Tea for Two,” “Too Many Rings Around Rosie,” “I Want to Be Happy,” and “I’ve Confessed to the Breeze.”
The weekend audiences found “No, No, Nanette!” to be a fun romp through the 1920s – with humor, romance, mistaken identity, spilled secrets and, ultimately, a happy ending.
It also had three skits that were crowd pleasers. One featured the Gill twins, Matt and Samantha, in a comedy about a cheese salesman and a prospective buyer. Another was the classic "Who's on First?" routine made famous by Abbott and Costello, in this case presented by Chase Richtmyer and exchange student Juliette Barbay. And the third was a case of one-upmanship carried to extremes by Mikayla Elliott, Chris Likoudis, Portia Wells and Phebe Wickham.
This was the 10th Watkins Glen High School musical directed by Tim and Michelle Benjamin. Sarah Mathews was Music Director, and Sam Brubaker was Producer. Students Lydia Myers, Portia Wells, Mikayla Elliott, Justine Hulbert, Paige Hughey and Abigail Rundle choreographed the numerous song-and-dance numbers.
Student Kevin Baker was Stage Manager. Student Natasha Patel was in charge of makeup, while the professionals from Shear Designs once again handled the hairstyling. Parents Tammy Cole and Dee Hughey were costumers.
"No, No, Nanette!" Cast List:
-- Abigail Rundle
Photos in text:
Top: Caitlin Connelly as Lucille Early belts out a song while (from left) Dayne Hughey, Chase Richtmyer, Chris Likoudis and Dakota Cole accompany her with some dance steps.
Second: Dakota Cole and Brooke Grinolds as sweethearts Tom Trainor and Nanette.
Third: Megan Dupuy, part of the play's ensemble of singers and dancers.
Left: Brooke Shaffer and Andrew Likoudis as Sue and Jimmy Smith. Right: Portia Wells performing ballet during an Act III song.
From left: Ensemble members Bridgette Guild and Justine Hulbert; and Zack Kelly as Billy Early muzzles Dakota Cole's Tom Trainor.
Ruthe Gardner (front) and Juliette Barbay perform with the play's ensemble during a song-and-dance number.
Reed, who doubled as a member of the on-stage ensemble and
Left: Brooke Grinolds as Nanette admires an engagement ring given to her by Dakota Cole as Tom Trainor. Right: Abigail Rundle, right, as Pauline laughs at a joke she made about the attributes of Flora Latham, portrayed by Lydia Myers.
Song-and-dance ensemble members Phebe Wickham (left) and Keziah Fraboni.
Left: Pit band member Tom Bloodgood. Right: Billy Early (Zack Kelly) lifts his wife Lucille (Caitlin Connelly) during a musical number.
And on Saturday night:
Caitlin Connelly and Zack Kelly complete a dance routine, backed by a group of singers.
Dakota Cole as Tom Trainor and Brooke Grinolds as Nanette.
From left: Zack Kelly, Lydia Myers, Paige Hughey and Abbey Willis.
From left: Pit Band drummer Andy Stevenson, Brooke Shaffer as Sue Smith, and Andrew Likoudis as Jimmy Smith.
The conclusion of an Act Two musical number.
And on Friday night:
Lucille Early reacts to an explanation by husband Billy Early,
Samantha and Matt Gill perform a skit about a cheese salesman.
From left: Dakota Cole as Tom Trainor, Brooke Shaffer as Sue Smith, and Andrew Likoudis as her husband, Jimmy Smith.
Elliott completes a dance move
From left, Abbey Willis, Lydia Myers
and Paige Hughey as three women
From left: Cast members Joelle Slater and Phebe Wickham.
Juliette Barbay and Chase Richtmyer perform the comedy skit "Who's on First?"
Left: Pit Band member Bernie Riley. Right: Music Director Sarah Matthews.
Left: Abigail Rundle as Pauline. Right: Justine Hulbert flies across the stage, doing flips, during a musical number.
At earlier rehearsals:
"No, No, Nanette" cast members (from left) Lydia Myers, Paige Hughey and Abbey Willis.
Brooke Grinolds as Nanette and Dakota Cole as her romantic interest, Tom Trainor.
Left: Caitlin Connelly as Lucille Early. Right: Andrew Likoudis as Jimmy Smith, and Brooke Shaffer as Sue Smith.
WGMS students write, publish cookbook
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, March 28 -- Eighth-grade home and careers students at Watkins Glen Middle School recently wrote, edited and published a cookbook titled Taste of the Lake. The book contains more than 125 of the students’ favorite recipes, along with student artwork, stories about the origins of the recipes and essays describing family food traditions.
Students currently are selling the cookbooks throughout the community for $6. Proceeds from the sale will be used to cover the cost of a career awareness field trip to Cornell University in April.
The hands-on project offers students a chance to practice several career skills, including desktop publishing, direct sales, meeting deadlines, learning to work with each other productively and important computer skills. Friendly competition between classes helps encourage great salesmanship, another important career skill.
To order a copy of Taste of the Lake, email Barbara Bristow at email@example.com.
The 3rd/4th Grade Chorus performs "Sing a Song, Song, Song."
O-M presents Music in Our Schools concert
ODESSA, March 27 -- Students from the 3rd through 12th grades in the Odessa-Montour School District displayed their musical talents Wednesday night at a Music In Our Schools concert in the high school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.
The 4th Grade Band started the concert with three selections: "Au Claire De La Lune," "Merrily We Roll Along" and "Lightly Row." Next up was the 5th/6th Grade Chorus, with songs "Seize the Day" and "Exsultate Deo, Rejoice."
The 3rd/4th Grade Chorus presented "Sing a Song, Song, Song" and "Put on a Happy Face," while the 5th/6th Grade Band played "Prehistoric Suite" and "Louie, Louie."
The Junior High School Band performed "Kingsport Overture" and "Sax-O-Matic," followed by the Junior High School Chorus singing "My America" and "Make a Song for My Heart to Sing."
The Senior High School Band performed "Last Ride of the Pony Express," and the Senior High school Chorus concluded with "Someone Like You" (with senior Tess Visscher on piano) and "Omnia Sol."
Musical directors were Kim Laursen, Michelle Voorheis and Clarice Miles. Sally Michel was accompanist.
Photos in text: Members of the Junior High School Chorus (top) and Junior High School Band perform.
The 5th/6th Grade Band played two selections.
The Senior High School Band plays "Last Ride of the Pony Express."
The Senior High School Chorus sings "Someone Like You."
Somerville is on West Point Dean's List
WEST POINT, NY, March 25 -- Cadet Brett Somerville, son of James and Kristine Somerville, has been named to the Dean’s List for the Fall Semester 2013 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. To earn this distinction, a cadet must maintain a 3.0 average in all courses. Cadet Somerville’s major is Engineering Psychology.
Somerville graduated from Watkins Glen High School in 2012 and will be commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation from West Point.
The U.S. Military Academy is a four-year co-educational federal undergraduate liberal arts college located 50 miles north of New York City.
Superintendent Tom Phillips explains the 2014-15 layout of the high school. New construction is on the left, including district offices, school library and STEM lab.
'Transition Meeting' leads to school tour
WATKINS GLEN, March 25 -- About two-dozen area residents attended Monday night's "Transition Meeting" at the Watkins Glen High School Auditorium, and were led on a tour of the new construction at the school by Superintendent Tom Phillips.
The "transition" is the ongoing process that will consolidate Middle and High School functions in one building, creating a single campus for all district classes along 12th Street.
Phillips explained the project through a power-point presentation, touching on such subjects as student traffic flow, grade-specific classroom placement, and bus dropoff and pickup plans for the next school year.
Middle School Principal Kai D'Alleva and High School Principal Dave Warren were also on hand to explain some facets of the project, which includes a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lab area, an enlarged cafeteria, a new gym where the old pool was, a new library, and new district offices.
Following the presentation, Phillips led attendees through the new construction, from district offices to library to TV studio to computer rooms to STEM lab and back along an old hallway to the western end of the building. He explained that the entrance there will be reconfigured so that anyone entering will have to go through two buzzer points before gaining admission to the hallways.
"That's not how we thought years ago," he said, "but it's how we think now" -- an allusion to the need for heightened security in an age when school shootings in the United States have occurred with alarming frequency.
Among those on hand for the tour was former high school principal and former School Board president Brian O'Donnell, who said afterward that he could have used "a map. That place is like a maze."
D'Alleva assured the audience that come summer, the district will make an effort to open the school for an hour or so at a time on prescribed days so that "everybody who wants to get in here can get in here as many times as they want, including parents" in an attempt to familiarize people with the building's new configuration and reduce confusion that otherwise might occur when the single-campus concept takes effect with the 2014-15 school year.
Photos in text:
Top: Middle School Principal Kai D'Alleva, left, and High School Principal Dave Warren were on hand to help answer questions. They are spearheading the transition of the Middle and High Schools onto a single campus, to take effect in the next school year.
Middle: An artistic rendition of the new library, as seen from overhead.
Bottom: Attendees listen as Superintendent Tom Phillips explains the construction during the tour.
Arc of Schuyler offers $1,000 scholarship
Special to The Odessa File
From left: Max (Logan Barrett), Capt. von Trapp (Brennan Voorheis) and Elsa (Hailie Searles) sing "No Way to Stop It."
'Sound of Music' ends its run
ODESSA, March 16 -- The Odessa-Montour High School spring musical "The Sound of Music" was presented for the fourth and final time Saturday night before an appreciative audience in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.
The play was also performed Thursday and Friday nights and then at a matinee Saturday afternoon. The photos with this article are from Saturday night.
The story about the von Trapp Family, its musical abilities, the romance and marriage of the clan's father with the governess Maria, and the escape of the family from Nazi-controlled Austria is well known from the film starring Julie Andrews in the mid-1960s.
The O-M production was directed by Kim Laursen. Emma Raymond and Hayley Guild shared the role of Maria, with each performing it in two of the four performances (Guild Thursday and Saturday nights, and Raymond Friday night and Saturday afternoon).
Captain von Trapp was portrayed by Brennan Voorheis. The Mother Abbess was portrayed by Jenelle Bleiler (Thursday and Saturday nights) and Dana Roberts (Friday night and Saturday afternoon). Logan Barrett had the role of Max Detweiler, while Baroness Elsa Schraeder was portrayed by Hailie Searles.
Choreographers were Holly Faulk, Manley Gavich and Mrs. Laursen. The sound was overseen by Andy Campbell, Cheyenne Barrett and Hayley Burke, and the lighting by Frank Wood, Ryan Lambert, Brandon McCormack, Mrs. Laursen and Sam Norton.
The pit band members included Sharon Anderson (clarinet), Lou Cicconi (bass and guitar), Pam Cicconi (trombone), Bob King (trumpet), Tori Pries (clarinet), Kate Ross (French horn), Andy Stevenson (percussion), and Michelle Voorheis (flute).
Familiar songs included "The Sound of Music," "Maria," "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," "So Long, Farewell," and "Climb Every Mountain."
The Sound of Music cast:
Hayley Guild (Thurs & Sat evenings), Emma Raymond (Fri eve., Sat matinee)
Photos in text:
Maria (Hayley Guild)
The Von Trapp Family Singers perform at the Kaltzberg Festival before their escape.
A group of youngsters called the Kinder Saengerbund aus OdessaMonto perform at the festival.
(blindfolded) plays a game with the children.
Left: The captain with the Baroness. Right: A dance at the Von Trapp villa.
During the dance sequence at the villa, some of the participants
moved to the "patio,"
A trio of nuns from the Nonnberg Abbey.
The full Nun Choir performs the finale, "Climb Ev'ry Mountain."
The Family von Trapp makes its escape from Austria, into the fog of night and over the Alps.
And on Friday night:
Left: Rolf (Manley Gavich) pulls away as Liesl von Trapp (Jordan Little) moves toward him. Right: Maria (Emma Raymond) with her guitar.
The wedding of Maria (Emma Raymond) and Captain von Trapp (Brennan Voorheis).
Left: Hailie Searles as Baroness Elsa Schraeder. Right: Maria (Emma Raymond) sneaks out of the von Trapp estate, on her way back to the Abbey.
The von Trapp children gather around Maria (Emma Raymond) as she returns from the Abbey.
Roberts as The Mother Abbess sings "Climb Ev'ry Mountain."
Formal dancing dominated an Act 1 scene.
Maria and the children belt out a song on the stairs of the von Trapp villa.
And on opening night Thursday:
Maria (Hayley Guild) and Capt. von Trapp (Brennan Voorheis) dance in a scene from Act 1.
Manley Gavich as Rolf Gruber and Jordan Little as Liesl von Trapp perform "Sixteen Going on Seventeen."
Hayley Guild (Maria) sings "The Sound of Music" early in the
Baroness Elsa Schraeder (Hailie Searles) with Capt. von Trapp (Brennan
Hayley Guild, as Maria, is surrounded by the von Trapp children at the end of a song.
From left at the dance: NHS Vice President Megan Daigle, NHS President Samantha Gill, NHS Treasurer Caitlin Connelly, Foreign Exchange Student Juliette Barbay, and NHS Secretary Lindsey Suddaby.
Dance raises nearly $1,000 for charity
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, March 13, 2014 -- The Watkins Glen High School National Honor Society's annual Charity Ball was held at Lakewood Winery on Friday night, March 7.
"It was a great success!" said NHS President Samantha Gill. "The charity we chose this year is also one we chose last year -- Sharing Sharee's Smile, which donates toys to children in hospitals.
"Ticket sales were slow in the beginning of the week," said Gill, "but rapidly picked up speed. Through both ticket sales and donations, we raised just shy of $1,000. Everyone had an amazing time dancing the night away. I would especially like to thank Lakewood Winery for allowing us to use their facilities, as well as A Walk on the Wild Side for the music."
Left: Enjoying the Charity Ball were Bridgette Guild, left, and Raevyn Saunders. Right: Also on hand were Katherine Meehan, left, and Mikayla Rhoads. (Photos provided)
Houck is a Dundee superintendent finalist
Special to The Odessa File
DUNDEE, March 8, 2014 -- The Dundee Board of Education has identified two finalists for the District’s next top administrator. The person selected will assume office on July 1. The finalists are:
-- Kelly Houck (right), Superintendent of Schools for the Canaseraga Central School District, and before that the Bradford School District's high school principal.
-- Joyce Carr, Supervisor of Pupil Personnel Services for the Elmira City School District.
“Our Board has been diligent in narrowing the pool of candidates to these two strong finalists," said Board President James M. Koehler. "We are very excited about what each finalist will bring to the Dundee School District.”
Added Scott Bischoping, Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES District Superintendent and Search Consultant: “The Board has been extremely detail-oriented and thoughtful throughout this search process. Their selection of these two experienced educators as finalists is a great example of their hard work.”
The two finalists are scheduled for day-long interviews on Wednesday, March 19 and Thursday, March 20. Throughout this process, finalists will meet with many different stakeholders including students, district administration, teachers, support staff, community members and the Board of Education.
Photo in text: Kelly Houck (File photo)
The Combined Chorus performs under the direction of Dr. Susan Avery.
3 schools join in concert
Watkins, O-M, Bradford celebrate Music In Our Schools
WATKINS GLEN, March 6 -- Student musicians from the Watkins Glen, Odessa-Montour and Bradford High Schools joined together Wednesday night for a Music In Our Schools Concert in the WGHS Auditorium.
The concert, celebrating Music In Our Schools Month, featured performances by bands from all three high schools, choruses from the Watkins Glen and O-M schools, and a Combined Band and Combined Chorus.
The WGHS Band started the concert by playing "Invicta," which was followed by the O-M High School Chorus's rendition of "Why We Sing." The Bradford High School Band then performed Wagner's "Children's March," the WGHS Chorus sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and the O-M Band played "Last Ride of the Pony Express".
Clarice Miles directed the O-M Chorus and Band, while Diana Groll directed the WGHS Band, Wendy Griffin the Bradford band, and Matthew Craig the WGHS Chorus. Sally Michel accompanied both the O-M and Watkins choruses on piano.
The Combined Chorus was under the direction of Dr. Susan Avery, associate professor of music education at Ithaca College, accompanied by Christine Schwind. The group sang "Festival Sanctus," "Omnia Sol," and "Twelve Gates."
The Combined Band was directed by Dr. Elizabeth Peterson, professor of music at Ithaca College and conductor of the Ithaca College Symphonic Band. It performed "American Riversongs" and a medley of John Williams music from the films Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and The Patriot.
Photos in text:
Top: Members of the WGHS Chorus perform "Lift Every Voice and Sing." The arm belongs to Director Matthew Craig.
Bottom: Dr. Elizabeth Peterson directs the Combined Band, made up of students from all three school districts.
Members of the Combined Band play "American Riversongs."
Left: O-M Band members Hayley Guild, left, and Dana Roberts during performance of "Last Ride of The Pony Express." Right: Three members of the Bradford High School Band's horn section perform during Wagner's "Children's March."
Members of the O-M Band perform "Last Ride of The Pony Express."
In the midst of the Combined Band as it performed "American Riversongs."
Members of the O-M High School Chorus perform "Why We Sing."
Chamber offers $1,000 scholarship
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 13 -- Local high school and home-schooled students have an opportunity to earn a little extra cash for their continued education. The Business and Education Committee of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring its eighth annual program to determine the winner of a $1,000 scholarship to be used toward higher learning expenses.
Who is eligible?
High school seniors in Bradford, Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen schools and home-schooled students in Schuyler County are eligible. Students must also plan to attend an institution of higher learning in the fall of 2014.
2014 Topic: If you could start a business in Schuyler County, what type of business would you start and why? As the business owner, what skills and attributes would you look for in hiring your employees? Explain why those skills are important.
2014 Instructions: Choose to answer the questions in the 2014 Topic using one of the following media:
--Create a website for your business with a minimum of 4-6 tabs.
How to enter: Detailed information can be gathered from high school guidance offices in Bradford, Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen, or by contacting Katherine Strawser at the Chamber at 607-535-4300 or by email at Katie@watkinsglenchamber.com.. Submit your application along with the type of media chosen for the topic to the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, 214 North Franklin Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.
Deadline: April 11, 2014.
BOCES board member Learn honored
ELMIRA, Feb. 12 -- Alice Learn, a member of the GST BOCES Board of Education, has been recognized by the New York State School Boards Association for her efforts to expand her knowledge and skills in school governance.
Learn was honored at the BOCES board meeting on February 4.
Learn has served on the BOCES board since July 1, 2012. She previously served on the Odessa-Montour Board of Education for 22 years.
She received the Board Achievement Award for her participation in NYSSBA developmental activities including the NYSSBA Annual Convention, legal conferences, regional workshops and district-level improvement programs.
Photo in text: GST BOCES District Superintendent Horst Graefe presents Alice Learn with the Board Achievement Award. (Photo provided)
Phillips PTO talk rescheduled
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 12 -- A talk by Tom Phillips, superintendent of the Watkins Glen Central School District, before the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) originally set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13 has been rescheduled to Thursday, March 6.
Phiilips will discuss the budget development process and implementation of the Common Core curriculum. The meeting will be held in the Watkins Glen Elementary School library.
Phillips will also discuss the district's transition to a single campus and lead participants on a tour of the newly renovated areas of the Elementary and High Schools.
The public is invited to attend.
Hanlon to hold spelling bee on Feb. 14
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, Feb. 10 -- Twenty-four Hanlon Elementary School students representing grades 3-6 will participate in a school spelling bee on Friday, February 14 at 9:30 a.m. in the school complex's Fetter-Brown auditorium.
Hanlon is participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is locally sponsored by the Corning Rotary Club, Arnot Ogden Medical Center, Guthrie Health Care and Kraft Foods.
Every Hanlon student received a study list for his/her grade level along with a study list of words for grades 1-8. During the week of February 3, all students participated in their own classroom spelling bees, in which the students were tested on the words at their own grade level. The top three finishers of the individual classroom spelling bees moved on to compete in the school spelling bee, where students will be tested on the more challenging study list of words for grades 1-8.
The top two winners of the school bee will participate in a regional spelling bee at Campbell- Savona High School on March 6.
The champion of the regional spelling bee will then go on to compete in a national spelling bee in Washington, D.C.
O-M receives UPK grant, will expand
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, Jan. 26 -- The Odessa-Montour
Central School District will expand its Universal
The district was awarded a Priority Full-Day Pre-Kindergarten and Expanded Half-Day Pre-Kindergaten Grant and will receive approximately $185,000 total during the current and next school year.
“As standards are raised, we see the greatest gains in early childhood education,” said Superintendent James Frame. “We’re extremely pleased to be able to provide this opportunity to young children in our community, who we know will see the benefits of this experience from kindergarten through their senior year.”
Funds will allow the full-day UPK program to include time for inquiry-based learning, fine motor skills development and additional math instruction, as well as technology use, physical activity, arts enrichment and a library component.
Money also will be designated to fund 10 additional Odessa-Montour students who attend the Schuyler Head Start program currently. A portion of the grant money will be used to provide joint professional development for O-M and Head Start staff and transportation for Head Start students who live in the district.
“This grant gives us the opportunity to better prepare children for the rigorous academic program they will encounter when they start school,” said B.C. Cate Elementary Principal Veronica Lewis. “These resources will enrich district and Head Start programs, so it will improve our entire school community. We will be able to help more than 30 students, which is approximately half the population of an incoming kindergarten class, build a strong core foundation of skills that will make them better students.”
A meeting for parents of current students was held on January 22. The extended program will begin in February.
Odessa-Montour is one of 27 school districts across the state selected to receive the competitive grant. The grant was written on behalf of the district by GST BOCES Grant Services.
Photo in text: Richard Pike II creates a painting in his UPK classroom. (Photo provided)
Adult Water Aerobics classes offered
Special to The Odessa File
SCHUYLER COUNTY, Jan. 18 -- You can get fit and have fun, loosen up and laugh.
Odessa-Montour Central School and Watkins Glen Central School will host water aerobics classes this spring. Everyone over 18 is welcome – men and women.
The Odessa-Montour (“Aerobic Fun in the Water”) program is accepting registrations for the new sessions: Monday classes will begin February 10 for 8 weeks, and Thursday classes will begin on February 13 for 8 weeks.
Watkins Glen Central School is hosting “Aqua Aerobics” classes. The next session will run Tuesdays from February 25 for 7 weeks. You may also drop in for individual classes for $7 per class payable at the class; seniors receive a 10% discount. All classes need sufficient registered participants to be held.
Organizers ask that you call now to ensure that the classes are scheduled! Register online at www.gstboces.org or call Carol at 607-739-8170 or 7905.
The classes are offered through GST BOCES Adult Education.
Former boxer Ray Ciancaglini urges concussion awareness
By Paul Gotham
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 13 -- Ray Ciancaglini spoke to more than 600 students and staff of Watkins Glen Central School District Thursday about the need for concussion awareness.
The former professional boxer conveyed a cautionary tale which all students, athletes and non-athletes need to hear.
A lifetime spent dealing with the consequences of poor choices made during his youth gives Ciancaglini a unique opportunity to help younger generations.
“It‘s good for someone like Ray who was a professional athlete and not a health-care professional to advocate playing sports, but he is advocating doing it safely,” said Jim Somerville, the Watkins Glen Central School District trainer. “I can tell kids until the cows home that this is what we need to do, this how you need to treat this, but they think because I am a trainer I am going to go way over on the other side.”
With the awareness of head injuries on the rise because of the growing concern in the National Football League, Ciancaglini’s message is emphatic: “The game you sit out today could be the career you save tomorrow.”
Somerville took Ciancaglini’s message a step further as he emphasized the need for all students to hear what Ray has to say.
“I wanted to get Ray in front of the student body to raise awareness of the concussion issue from the standpoint that it doesn’t have to be just athletes,” Somerville continued. “It can be kids out doing recreational things like riding the ATV or even playground injuries. I wanted to make sure Ray spoke to the entire school body.”
Once a promising young boxer, Ciancaglini’s life changed when he failed to seek proper medical treatment for a concussion and reentered the ring. Now, he has dedicated his life to mentoring today’s youth who may face a similar decision. More than four decades after his last professional fight, Ciancaglini suffers from Dementia Pugilistica and Parkinson’s Syndrome. He takes medication to cope with its effects.
Initially, Ciancaglini suffered from fatigue as a result of his first concussion. He slept for hours, only to wake and still feel tired. Forty years later, he can only sleep for three hours at a time. Sommerville mentioned the positive discussions he had with students after they heard Ray’s speech.
“I think they came away from the presentation and recognized that they have to be honest and get it (a concussion) treated instead of putting it off,” Somerville said. “He put in their minds that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sporting event. It can be anything.”
Somerville explained a situation during this school year when two elementary students sustained concussions as the result of a collision on the playground.
“That was just on the playground and with little kids,” Somerville said. “It’s definitely out there.”
As the school district’s trainer, Somerville has had numerous interactions with student-athletes who have possibly suffered a concussion. He now can echo Ray’s words.
“The biggest thing is to be honest,” Sommerville said. “Even though you may have to miss a game or some time, it’s worth it to get better, so you don’t experience the same thing Ray has over the course of his lifetime. That’s my biggest thing. Be honest with me, so we can get you back in there, and you can play normally and safely.”
Ciancaglini’s story has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, and the New York State Athletic Trainer’s Association has endorsed him. Ciancaglini, along with New York State Senator Mike Nozzolio, combined their efforts in passing the Concussion Management Awareness Act. The legislation requires coaches, teachers and other school personnel to be trained on the symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries and the importance of proper medical treatment.
Ciancaglini is the founder of The Second Impact, an organization dedicated to concussion awareness. The foundation has an Internet website (www.thesecondimpact.com) where students and families can read more about Ray’s story.
Ciancaglini and The Second Impact recently organized and presented an Educational Seminar on Concussions at the Belhurst Castle in Geneva, New York. The evening featured presentations by Dr. Jason Feinberg, the Chief Medical Officer of Finger Lakes Health; Dr. Jeff Bazarian of the University of Rochester Medical Center; Jeff Bray of Keuka College's athletic trainers’ department, and Tom Del Papa of Finger Lakes Health.
In past months, Ciancaglini has spoken at Canisius College, Ithaca College and St. Bonaventure University.
Photo in text:
Watkins Glen School District Trainer Jim Somerville, left, with former
Diana Groll directs the High School Band in its performance of "Carol of the Bells."
Glen students shine at Winter Concert
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 10 -- Watkins Glen instrumentalists and vocalists from the 6th through 12th grades put on an entertaining Winter Concert Monday night in the newly renovated high school auditorium.
The concert began with the 6th Grade Band playing "Bugler's Dream" and "The Simple Gifts of Christmas," followed by the Middle School Chorus singing "African Noel," "All on a Silent Night" and "Minka, Minka."
The Middle School Band weighed in with "Celebration Overture," "Jumpin' Jolly Old St. Nick" and "Celtic Bell Carol," and the High School Chorus performed "Bidi Bom," "Amid the Falling Snow," a Nigerian Christmas Song tltled "Betelehemu Olatunji & Whalum" featuring Aidan DeBolt on the conga drum, and "O Holy Night," with solos by Paige Hughey and Alexis Naylor.
The High School Chorus then teamed with the Middle School Chorus to sing "A Candle's Light" before the High School Band took the stage to perform "Carol of the Bells," "Niagara Overture," "Mamma Mia!" and "Encanto."
The combined bands and choruses then led the audience in a closing Christmas Sing-A-Long consisting of a medley of holiday favorites.
The Middle School Band and Choral Director was Sarahjane Harrigan, while Diana Groll directed the 6th Grade and High School bands. Matthew Craig directed the High School Chorus, and Sally Michel served as choral accompanist.
Photos in text:
Top: Two members of the High School Band during performance of "Carol of the Bells."
Bottom: Part of the horn section of the High School Band.
Left: Aidan DeBolt plays the conga drum during a High School Chorus performance of a Nigerian Christmas song. Right: Alexis Naylor, left, and Paige Hughey, who sang solos during the High School Chorus performance of "O Holy Night."
The horn section of the Middle School Band performs during "Celtic Bell Carol."
Members of the High School Chorus sing under the direction of Matthew Craig.
O-M's Smith is Bush Student of Month
Special to The Odessa File
ELMIRA, Nov. 13 -- Tailith Smith, a junior Criminal Justice student from Odessa-Montour High School, and Precious Campbell, a senior Automotive Technology student from Elmira Free Academy, have been selected as the Career and Technical Education Program Students of the Month for October at the GST BOCES Bush Education Center.
“Tailith has demonstrated remarkable leadership,” said Criminal Justice Instructor Tammy Lotocky. “He is a positive role model to peers by going above and beyond what is expected.”
During a physical fitness benchmark test, students ran 1.5 miles, which equalled nine laps on a course. Six squads of students began the course at staggered intervals. According to Lotocky, she noticed that Tailith was on the course among the final runners, although she knew he had completed the distance. When she told him he could stop, his response was “No thanks. We are a team. I am not going to leave the course until everyone is done.” His dedication to his classmates spread to those who had finished, and they rejoined Tailith in running until the last student was done.
Tailith plans to enter the military after high school.
According to Instructor Dan McNaughton, Precious overcame her shyness
to work the shop service counter in her class, which involved interacting
with all of her classmates. She created a computer generated log of all
jobs in the shop and a job board to share information. “Precious
took extra steps to help the shop run a lot smoother and more efficiently,”
said McNaughton. “She is a quiet and shy student, but she leads
by example, which is why her classmates elected her
Precious plans to attend college after graduation.
The Student of the Month is selected by a committee of CTE staff based on nominations.Photo in text: Tailith Smith and Criminal Justice Instructor Tammy Lotocky. (Photo provided)
Common Core draws fire, resolve at Board meeting
WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 5 -- The implementation of the new Common Core curriculum drew comments from a student, three teachers, several School Board members and the superintendent Monday night at a meeting of the Watkins Glen School Board in the district Middle School.
The general tone was one of frustration with the demands of the program, but a willingness to work together in an attempt to implement it.
Common Core is an initiative which, according to Wikipedia, "seeks to bring diverse state curricula into alignment with each other by following the principles of standards-based education reform." It is supported by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Backers say it will improve the educational standing of the United States in a global marketplace that our students are ill-suited now to enter successfully. It puts an emphasis, they say, on critical-thinking skills and problem solving.
According to a website touting the Common Core State Standards, "45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the CCSS in English-language arts and mathematics, and one state, Minnesota, adopted only the ELA standards."
Critics have complained that the program expects -- through more rigorous standards -- too much of teachers and students too soon. In the process, students' test scores have nosedived -- putting additional stress in New York on teachers whose performance evaluations are tied to those scores.
Student John Smith, a Watkins Glen High School junior, expressed concern to the Board with the haste with which the program has been introduced, and said the matter deserves debate.
Watkins Glen Faculty Association President Kate Bartholomew read a statement detailing the difficulties in implementing the program, which "has required significant overtime" by teachers. "Their efforts are exemplary, and truly represent a best effort to deliver the Common Core curriculum ... While the faculty will do its best to continue this practice, it needs to be recognized that this level of manpower is excessive and unsustainable."
Teacher Travis Durfee, on leave from the classroom this year, said that "a lot of what is embedded in the Core Curriculum has been practiced at Watkins Glen" for years. He expressed concern that "New York State is rushing forward" with the program, and that "the haste does a disservice to our students."
Teacher Liam O'Kane recommended the board read a book titled "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools" by Diana Ravitch -- an education historian and former reformer who argues that the reform movement in American schools is "a deliberate effort to replace public education with a privately managed free-market system of schooling." The reformers, she says, "are putting the nation's children on a train that is headed for a cliff."
Board President Mike Myers noted that many of the recommendations in the book "are already being worked on." Board member Tom Richardson added that in any event, "the (Common Core) train has left the station. It's the law. I don't think it's a good idea" to try and delay it.
Superintendent Tom Phillips reported on a meeting of the New York State School Boards Association that he attended with Board members Kristin Hazlitt and Kelly McCarthy, a session where an address by State Education Commissioner John King "was enlightening in that he appeared to understand the problems with implementation" of the Common Core initiative.
"But (King) was relentless," Phillips added, "in the need to increase expectations in our kids, our teachers and our communities." The Commissioner made it clear, he said, that "we need to increase the rigors and expectations for students entering a world vastly different from the one we have experienced."
The Association meeting, Hazlitt said, yielded ideas on how to help teachers cope with the implementation without having to put in the vast amounts of overtime cited by Bartholomew. That could include providing substitute teachers to free teachers up for planning their classes effectively, and surveying teachers to find out what they need.
"We need to know what to do" to help, added McCarthy. "We're definitely listening, and want to help."
Added Phillips: "Hats off to the teachers for what you've been through. You prepared for changes, only to find they weren't what you expected." Test scores, he noted, had dropped 30% across the state with the increased rigor of tests from one year to the next.
"We're stubbing our toes and knees all over the place," he said. "But we'll continue to work and evaluate and see what we have to do to change. The train has indeed left the station, and it's not going back."
Photos in text:
Top: School Board President Mike Myers, left, and Superintendent Tom Phillips.
Second: Student John Smith.
Third: Teacher Liam O'Kane.
Bottom: Watkins Glen Faculty Association President Kate Bartholomew.
For the district summary of the meeting, click here.
McIntyre awarded $68,000 scholarship
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 30 -- Taylor McIntyre, a GST BOCES Criminal Justice student and senior at Watkins Glen High School, is the September recipient of Keuka College’s George H. Ball Community Achievement Award.
McIntyre will receive a $68,000 scholarship ($17,000 annually) in recognition of her strong academic and community service record. The award honors Rev. Dr. George Harvey Ball, founder and first president of Keuka College. It is the college’s highest and most prestigious award.
McIntyre was nominated for the award by GST BOCES Criminal Justice Instructor Tammy Lotocky. “Taylor has helped her community and made a difference to the people around her,” said Lotocky. “This consistent willingness to go above and beyond best describes her.”
McIntryre’s long list of community service includes involvement in:
--Walk a Mile in My Shoes, a local suicide prevention walk.
McIntyre will major in criminology and criminal justice at Keuka and has prepped for her college career in the Criminal Justice program at GST BOCES.
She was selected to serve on the Bush Campus CSI Team, a three-person group that competes in forensic science knowledge and skills at the regional and state level. In addition, she was selected by her peers and instructors to serve an eight-week stint as class lieutenant – the highest rank – and was responsible for peer academic support and classroom discipline.
Photo in text: Taylor McIntyre. (Photo provided)
Students get taste of Vietnamese culture
WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 30 -- Vietnam native Alex-Thai Vo recently visited Watkins Glen Middle School to discuss Vietnamese food and culture with eighth-grade students. Vo is currently pursuing his PhD in History at Cornell University.
Eighth-grade students recently read the verse novel Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. The book tells the story of a Vietnamese girl and her family who are forced to move to the U.S. because the Vietnam War has reached their home. After living as refugees, the family finally settles in Alabama.
During his visit, Vo helped students prepare “roll salad” or spring rolls, a traditional Vietnamese dish, and served them with a variety of sauces. He also discussed some of the cultural differences between Vietnam and the United States.
Vo has lived in the United States since he was eight years old and currently resides in Ithaca.
Photo in text: Vo serves peanut sauce to eighth-grader Christine Hunsinger during his recent visit to the Watkins Glen Middle School. (Photo provided)
Arc receives Vocational Training grant
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 14 -- The Arc of Schuyler has been awarded a $7,500 grant by SourceAmerica, formerly NISH (National Industries for the Severely Handicapped), to support productive work training for people with developmental disabilities.
The Arc provides vocational training and industrial services through Glen Industries. Among other business services, Glen Industries specializes in serving the co-packing needs of start-up and small production companies. Vocational trainees manufacture and package diverse products including sauces, dressings, salsas, and dry items for more than 15 customers from all over the country.
The grant awarded by SourceAmerica will be used to purchase equipment that will automate and enhance food co-packing processes – improving the quality of finished products for customers and allowing for expanded job opportunities for people with disabilities.
“At Glen Industries, we are always looking at ways we can improve production goals and quality, eliminate waste, and reduce costs,” said Brian Bockelkamp, Director of Glen Industries. “This grant will create a more efficient production line in our kitchen, which will have a significant impact on workers with disabilities.”
Glen Industries’ primary purpose is to assist people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to find meaningful employment. Through food co-packing vocational training, people receiving vocational supports are trained in a state-of-the-art kitchen, certified through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. There they learn kitchen sanitation, organization, recipe comprehension, and food preparation.
“This is a critically important grant for The Arc at this time,” said Executive Director Jeannette Frank. “Both the federal government and New York State are drafting plans for restructuring work centers and increasing the number of people with disabilities in competitive employment. This funding helps us prepare for those changes.”
Photo Caption: Chef William Cornelius of Chef William Creations, a Glen Industries food co-packing customer, prepares a batch of specialty sauce with employee Christy Pandozzi. (Photo provided)
Glen district receives Phys. Ed. grant
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 30 -- The Watkins Glen Central School District recently
learned it is the recipient of a three-year federal Carol M. White physical
education grant. The grant will be used to implement PIVOT (Physical Activity
Is Vital to Our Tomorrow). The three-year total for the grant will exceed
• Increase student’s physical activity and fitness through afterschool and summer activities, as well as focus on lifetime sport opportunities such as kayaking, cross country skiing and water sports in physical education class. In addition, students will develop individual wellness plans.
• Collaborate with agencies to develop a community-wide approach
to health and wellness. The district plans to partner with Catholic Charities
to develop community gardens, with the Village of Watkins Glen to renew
the summer recreation program and with Schuyler County Mental Health to
provide proactive treatment.
Coach Nils Watson, center, was at the Board meeting along with lacrosse parents and players.
Grant could lead to WG varsity lacrosse
WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 17 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Monday night approved a resolution empowering Superintendent Tom Phillips to accept a U.S. Lacrosse First Stick Program grant that could lead to establishment of a varsity lacrosse program at the school.
That could come "in the next budget cycle," said Phillips, who explained that the grant is in the form of equipment and uniforms, covers two years, and is for a varsity program that, as of now, doesn't exist.
But the basis for a varsity program is in place with the establishment last school year of a Modified Lacrosse program that was an outgrowth of a club established under the guidance of Kelly McCarthy, who is a member of the School Board. The Modified program was for student-athletes in 7th through 9th grades, and was funded by parents and contributors.
"But we had interest on the high school level, too," says Phillips, explaining that "another 16" students in high school expressed a desire last year to play the sport, and were frustrated that it didn't exist on a varsity level in which they could compete. The Modified coach was and is Nils Watson, a teacher in the Watkins Glen High School.
The grant, Phillips said, "would support the establishment of a varsity program. So we have to look at installing it" as a varsity-level enterprise "in the next budget cycle." That would allow participation by the high school students, as well as by last year's 9th-grade Modified participants who are now at the age of varsity competition.
The School Board meeting was attended by a number of lacrosse players and their parents, along with Watson, as the Board gave Phillips clearance to accept the grant, which he said is expected soon, its major proviso being that the coach attend a mandated "positive impact" training program at what Phillips called "a minimal cost" to the district.
The grant would take the form in the first year of full equipment for two-dozen lacrosse players along with "full goalie equipment. But we're waiting on details," said Phillips. The second year "might include uniforms or practice equipment," he added.
Phillips cautioned that nothing is set in stone yet -- that "there's a lot of work to be done" in determining financing. The Modified program still has money in its coffers, he said, which might mean it remains self-funded. Or perhaps some of that money could be used to help finance the varsity sport. Beyond that, there was $50,000 provided through State Senator Tom O'Mara's office whose use still has not been determined.
Also to be determined is whether Watson would continue as Modified coach, be the Varsity coach, or perhaps handle both jobs.
"We have to sit down and figure out all of this," said Phillips. "So in a way, while the grant is a blessing, it also means a lot of work. But so what? It's for the kids."
The Modified program was deemed a success in its inaugural season last spring, based on the interest level of the students and the fact that the McCarthy-led effort raised substantial funding for the enterprise. "They raised more than $10,000," said Phillips, "which I'm sure is what caught the eye of the U.S. organization.
"I applaud Kelly for all the work she has done," he added. "She and her group have been proactive, and that's been recognized on a national level."
Now, he said, "we have to funnel money where the most interest is." He pointed to a dropoff last year in student interest in tennis, which led to termination of that sport. The addition of lacrosse would not impact funding for other sports, he said. Continued funding for those competitions would be driven by student interest.
"From the ground up, this has been a grass-roots movement," Phillips said of the growth of lacrosse in the Watkins Glen district. "The kids want this sport. It was started by the community and supported by the kids. We need to listen to the community, and listen to the kids."
Photos in text: Superintendent Tom Phillips and School Board member Kelly McCarthy at Monday's meeting.
O-M welcomes new staff members
Special to The Odessa File
ODESSA, Sept. 13 -- The Odessa-Montour Central School District welcomed several new staff members this school year. They include:
--Theresa Cain, Hanlon
Elementary Special Education
Changes ahead for Equivalency program
Special to The Odessa File
SCHUYLER COUNTY, Sept. 13 -- On January 1, 2014, a new test series called TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) will replace the existing GED® exam.
Current testing and passing requirements will continue until the new test is available. When the new test is released, scores from the current test cannot be combined with new test scores. Scores will expire for those who have not completed or passed all portions of the current exam.
The new test series (TASC) will measure common core standards in math, reading, social studies, science and writing. After successfully completing the new assessment, an individual will earn a New York State High School Equivalency Diploma.
Preparation programs are funded by NYS Adult Education Department grants and are available for adults 18 or older who are out of school and committed to increasing their literacy and career readiness skills.
For more information or to register, call 739-7684.
Bradford district aligns with Sheriff's Office for enhanced presence in school
Superintendents, at forum, weigh in on State of Education
WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 15 -- The State of Education and its future were the general topics of discussion Wednesday at a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored forum with Schuyler County's three school superintendents.
The event, at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, featured Bradford Superintendent Wendy Field, Odessa-Montour Superintendent Jim Frame, and Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips. The moderator was Rebekah LaMoreaux, president of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. More than 30 people attended.
While discussion ranged from Common Core Standards to Curriculum Development to transportation and the Watkins district's transition to a single campus, the most specific and immediate news came from Field.
She said her district is aligning with the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department for an enhanced presence of deputies in the school. She said a room recently used for storage will be made available to any deputy patrolling the area. From there -- in what Field called a "satellite office" -- the deputy will be able to transmit reports and undertake any other procedures that might otherwise require a return to Watkins Glen, thus saving on gas and time.
During stops at the school, Field said, the deputy can approach the work area by traversing the hallways, adding an element of police presence without the cost of employing a School Resource Officer. The district wanted an SRO and had placed it in its last preliminary budget, but had to eliminate it, she said.
The agreement with the Sheriff's Office is expected to be completed soon, Field noted. "Then we'll see. I'm excited to see how it works out. It will provide us with the eyes and ears of law enforcement on our campus on a regular basis."
Other topics discussed included:
Enrollment. Watkins Glen is at 1,153 students, down from 1,700 in 1980. "It's incumbent on us to look at who we are and what we do," said Phillips, and accordingly adopted appropriate efficiencies. Bradford's enrollment rises and falls, and is currently around 300. Odessa is up "20 to 25 students this year," said Frame, bringing the total above 800.
Sharing. The most visible recent example is the conjoining of the O-M and Watkins transportation systems under the auspices of the Watkins district. Field also mentioned sharing curriculum development with the Campbell-Savona district, and sharing sports teams in baseball and modified soccer with the Dundee district.
The Changing World Scene: With the advent of the Internet, the needs of a global workforce have changed, and the old ways of educating are being left behind. The future, said Phillips, will be "much different" in terms of "what you and I believed was a quality educational experience."
Photos in text:
From top: Superintendents (from left) Jim Frame, Wendy Field and Tom Phillips; Chamber President Rebekah LaMoreaux; and Frame listens to a question from the audience.
Bond named to Dean's List at Rochester
Special to The Odessa File
ROCHESTER, Aug. 12 -- Sarah Elizabeth Bond, a sophomore
majoring in biochemistry at the University of Rochester, has been named
to the Dean’s List for academic achievement for the spring 2013
Supers to discuss State of Education
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, July 29 -- The Government Affairs Committee of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce will host the three Schuyler County School Superintendents for an informational session on the current state of education in the county on Wednesday, Aug. 14 at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.
Bradford Schools Superintendent Wendy Field, Odessa-Montour Superintendent Jim Frame and Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips will discuss the current state and the future state of education and how the community can support the school districts.
The session will run from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. There is no fee, although an RSVP is required.
Said Field: “The district is proactive in seeking creative ways to efficiently provide to our students a high quality education that corresponds with college and career expectations for excellence. I look forward to discussing these issues with the Chamber membership."
Added Frame: “As we look forward to the new school year, we are
pleased to update our
Register no later than August 12 through the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce at (607) 535-4300 or email Katie@watkinsglenchamber.com.
M.A.S.H. Camp focus: medical careers
MONTOUR FALLS, July 27 -- Eight students going into 8th and 9th grades recently spent two days at Schuyler Hospital in Montour Falls, gaining hands-on experience in a variety of potential healthcare careers.
Schuyler Hospital co-sponsored the Medical Academy of Science and Health (M.A.S.H.) Camp on July 23-24 with the Central New York Area Health Education Center (CNYAHEC) and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
The students learned CPR, injected saline water into an orange, viewed their own hand germs in the lab, tested their lung capacity, exercised with Seneca View residents, sutured a stuffed animal, and gave each other wrist casts. They also toured Schuyler Ambulance.
The campers were visited by New York State Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, who awarded special certificates. Certificates were also presented by Alison Hunt, representing U.S. Congressman Tom Reed.
The students expressed interest in various areas of healthcare, from pharmacy, to midwifery, to EMT and more.
M.A.S.H. Camp at Schuyler Hospital takes place annually each July, and is coordinated by CNYAHEC.
For more information contact Schuyler Hospital at (607) 210-1950 or go to www.schuylerhospital.org
Photos in text:
Top: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano wished the Schuyler Hospital M.A.S.H. Campers well on their first day.From left: Deanna Darling from CNYAHEC, Deanna Cofone, Tyler Morehouse, Michelle Benjamin from Schuyler Hospital, Joseph Hinterberger, Elizabeth Dillon, Assemblyman Palmesano, Cristian Lau, Trevor Thurston, Anastasia Couch and Hanley Elliott.
Bottom: Schuyler Hospital M.A.S.H. Campers show off the colorful casts they gave each other. From left: Hanley Elliott, Trevor Thurston, Christian Lau, Joseph Hinterberger, Elizabeth Dillon, Tyler Morehouse, Deanna Cofone and Anastasia Couch. (Photos provided)
Watkins, O-M share transportation services
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, July 27, 2013 -- Beginning in September, the Watkins Glen Central School District will provide transportation services for Odessa-Montour Central School District students. As a result of the change, Odessa-Montour anticipates cost savings of about $100,000 for the 2013-14 school year.
Previously, the Odessa-Montour school district had contracted with private transportation companies for these services. Several months ago, the district began looking at more cost-effective ways to provide the same level of service and approached the Watkins Glen Central School District.
According to Jim Frame, O-M superintendent, the agreement with the Watkins Glen District provided the cost savings he was looking for, along with continuity.
“No one lost a job with this transition,” he said. “Our bus drivers, mechanics and our transportation supervisors will be employed through the Watkins Glen District. We can provide the same service to our students and still reduce our costs.”
Tom Phillips, Watkins Glen superintendent, said his district benefits from the agreement as well.
“We can combine travel for sports teams when it’s feasible, using one bus instead of two. We can send one bus to BOCES every day for both districts. As part of the agreement, we’re sharing the administrative costs for the program. We can draw from the same pool of substitute drivers,” he said. “It’s just a much more efficient way to do business.”
Administration add-on brings debate
WATKINS GLEN, June 30, 2013 -- And the debate continues.
The Watkins Glen School Board's approval of an extra administrative post to help in the final year of transition to a single campus has drawn some fire -- earlier by a columnist and by the Watkins Glen Faculty Association, and now in a couple of letters to The Odessa File and in an artistic entry by longtime cartoonist Ron Havens of Catharine Corners.
The extra administrator was first mentioned in an article -- found lower on this page -- pertaining to a School Board meeting. Then came a column by A. Moralis, a pseudonymous writer who has contributed many essays to this website. That can be found here.
Next came opposition in a letter from the Faculty Association to Superintendent Tom Phillips and the School Board (here), and in return came a letter from Phillips to the Faculty Association. Originally sent to the Association leadership with copies emailed to Association members, it was soon made public by outgoing School Board President Brian O'Donnell. (That can be found here.)
Now come two letters -- one from a Watkins Glen writer who identifies himself as Frank Serpico, and one from a Tyrone writer, Alan Hurley.
The first writer, Mr. Serpico, said the title of the A. Moralis column, Game of Thrones, "seems apropos for what is going on in the Watkins Glen school district board room these days." He objects to the hiring of an extra administrator for the coming school year, asking "how, exactly, will this help educate our children? Are there really that many more duties to be assigned when we have fewer kids, faculty and support staff? Why didn't they just give these extra duties to the current faculty manager, as I understand he already has an administrative certification?"
The second writer, Mr. Hurley, observes that "it seems as if there has always been a 'distance' between the Administration of Watkins Glen Central School and some Faculty Association representatives. The continued 'refuting' and disagreeing from both sides on which programs to cut and how to do it leaves (everybody) wondering where the gridlock will lead us."
He added that now that the district is in the midst of a $24 million consolidation plan -- which he said includes "more rooms and more Administrative offices we probably don't need" -- "I question the leadership and common sense of both sides (administration and faculty) as it seems Watkins Glen is victimized by a political and monetary fight all at the expense of the taxpayer."
He adds: "Why the redundancy by creating yet another payroll addition" in the form of an extra administrator?
And to top it off came the cartoon commentary from Havens, who has contributed dozens of collections of his often barbed efforts to this website for years.
Current teachers, former teachers and former students from Watkins Glen High School pose during a party June 14, 2013 at Lakewood Vineyards honoring the retirement of WGHS teacher Craig Cheplick (left) and guidance counselor Nancy Loughlin (seated to the right of the center post).
One of the many tables filled Saturday by WGHS alumni and their families.
Ellison, Van Wagner honored at banquet
WATKINS GLEN, June 23, 2013 -- Two Watkins Glen High School alumni -- the late Judge William N. Ellison and Marcia Miller Van Wagner, a retired U.S. Army Nurse Corps colonel -- were recipients Saturday of Watkins Glen Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Awards at the 88th annual Alumni Banquet held at the Community Center.
Also honored were three graduating WGHS seniors, each of whom received scholarships from the Association. They are Sarah LaMascus, who received $2,500; Katrina Swarthout, $1,500; and Abigail Cocca, $1,000.
The dinner tables were filled with alumni and family members for a dinner hosted by Bleachers Sports Bar and Grill and for a celebration of the classes present (including several members from the class of 1938) and of the honorees.
Judge Ellison, a 1946 graduate of WGHS, was a Schuyler County and State Supreme Court judge who was active in many civic organizations -- among them 45 years of service to the Northrup Education Foundation, which raises money for interest-free college loans for area students. He was also instrumental in championing educational services for special-needs children long before the services of today existed.
Among many other organizations, he served on the Schuyler Hospital Board of Directors in a period that saw construction of the much-needed Long Term Care facility, and on the Corning Community College Board of Trustees, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Corporation, the Southern Tier Heart Association, the Watkins Glen Volunteer Fire Department, and the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club. Following his death, the Schuyler County Courthouse was renamed in his honor.
Present for Saturday's ceremony were his widow, Patricia, and son Harry.
The other honoree, Marcia Miller Van Wagner, was a 1960 WGHS graduate who was, early in her career, a staff nurse in several local-area hospitals as well as at the Schuyler County Public Health Department -- where she was awarded the American Red Cross Nursing Badge for her service during Hurricane Agnes in 1972. She was commissioned a captain in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in 1974, and served as a member of the team that developed the U.S. Army's first treatment model for parental child abuse in a military setting. She then went on to represent the United States in Geneva, Switzerland to present this model to the World Health Organization Convention on Child Abuse and Neglect.
In 1982, she returned to a civilian career as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, while remaining in the Army Reserves -- where she rose to the rank of colonel. In 1990 she volunteered for active duty for Operation Desert Storm and was put in charge of the Army’s 1,000-bed hospital in Saudi Arabia. Before retiring a second time from the Army, she developed and implemented the current training program designed to ensure the mobilization readiness of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.
The banquet's welcome was presented by Peggy Doolittle Scott, a 1970 WGHS graduate who serves as president of the Alumni Association board of directors. Other members of the board include Jo Pat Paradiso Wright, vice president; Donna Ney Lodge, secretary; Phyllis Hollenbeck Teeter, treasurer; and Robert Lee, Dennis Morris, Patti Schimizzi, Elvin West, Joe Orbin, Nan Woodworth-Shaw, Mary Pinto, Alyce Richardson Stratton, Sandra Arcangeli Spaulding, William Paradiso, and Sharon Edsall Stadelmaier.
Photos in text:
Top: Patrica Ellison, right, widow of honoree William N. Ellison, alongside 1946 WGHS classmate Anne Meehan.
Second: Alumni Association scholarship winners (from left) Katrina Swarthout, Abigail Cocca and Sarah LaMascus.
Third: Distinguished Alumni honoree Marcia Miller Van Wagner with her award, including a high school yearbook picture of her.
Bottom: Alumni Association President Peggy Scott welcomes the alumni to the banquet.
School Board OKs new administrator, listens to plea on After-School Program
WATKINS GLEN, June 18, 2013 -- The Watkins Glen School Board Monday night approved the creation of a new administrative position designed, Superintendent Tom Phillips said, to help in the transition of the district to a single campus.
Phillips, when asked after the meeting for specifics of the plan, said he would be unveiling them on Wednesday, after he had a chance to address the district teaching staff on the matter. The staff has dwindled in numbers in recent years due to budget cuts.
The transition to a single campus has one more year remaining, during which the Middle School will be used for grades 7 and 8. After that, it will be closed. Kristine Somerville has been serving as its principal.
The administrator move came after the board had heard Erica Murray, director of the 21st Century After-School Program in the district, propose a spending plan to keep the program running in the wake of its failure to secure a second five-year grant from the federal government.
The program, which in the past year had an average daily attendance of 80 students in grades 5-8 and a total enrollment of 110 students, will end if it doesn't secure financing of some sort. In its five years, it has served 416 students, 88% of whom have shown improved classroom behaviors (in the areas of homework completion, attendance, social interaction, and academic performance), according to Murray.
She proposed a first-year budget of $58,900 "to sustain the program" -- a barebones spending plan that would eliminate transportation for the kids and hold the enrollment at 55 students. The cost, while optimally covered by the district, might be attained through other creative means, she indicated.
"I know these are tough times," she said, adding that if a financial commitment by the district "is not an option," another option would be to charge parents of participating students $25 a week. If 55 sets of parents were willing to pay that amount, that income would cover the program's barebones cost, with the exception of a $4,000 district contribution for teacher salaries. Field trips, important to the program but eliminated in the budget proposal, could be reinstated through "one big fundraiser per year."
"I don't want you to think I'm up here asking to save my job," Murray said, pointing instead to the many benefits of the program and the hole it would leave in the lives of students should it be terminated.
In response, Board President Brian O'Donnell -- in his final meeting -- termed Murray's report "outstanding" and said she had "given us a lot of food for thought. But we're not prepared to give you an answer tonight. We can't promise you anything tonight."
Superintendent Phillips, meanwhile, said that he would be consulting with Odessa-Montour Superintendent Jim Frame and Catholic Charities in an attempt to devise "a cooperative venture" that would "reallocate resources" and lead to a "community-based" after-school program that would give "the biggest bang for our buck."
He also pointed to the school's Modified Lacrosse team -- some of whose members were on hand to present to the Board, in thanks, a framed team photo with signatures of each player on the roster. The Board had approved the lacrosse program this year without using any school funds. It was, Phillips said rather pointedly, financed through community contributions and fund-raisers.
--The meeting marked the last official one for O'Donnell and Board member Joe Fazzary, neither of whom had sought re-election. O'Donnell said he would miss the Board, and that accordingly his departure was "bittersweet." He said it had been a "privilege" working with Phillips, who he called "a superintendent with vision and energy." Fazzary gave no farewell remarks. They are being replaced next month by Kristin Hazlitt and Mark Franzese.
--Phillips updated the Board on ongoing plans to take control of the Odessa-Montour transportation drivers and fleet. He said he had had "a fruitful meeting" with O-M Superintendent Frame and business manager Scott Arnold to discuss O-M contracting with Watkins in a pact whereby Watkins would take over the transportation system, with chargebacks to the Odessa district. "We're trying for a more effective use of resources," Phillips said. "It cannot be business as usual." He said an agreement "will not happen overnight, but quickly. There will at least be a pilot" program.
--The Board approved a handful of new Fall and Winter coaching appointments. Most appointments had been approved previously. The new ones:
--Phil Watson will be the boys varsity soccer coach.
--The Board approved the resignation into retirement of Nancy Loughlin, who has served for more than 40 years as a French teacher, English teacher, Guidance Counselor and track coach. "She has had a colorful and varied career," said O'Donnell, "and we thank her for her service."
--Phillips distributed certificates to graduates of the GST BOCES Career and Technical Education Program, and to golfers who competed in New York State High School tournaments: Keith Rekczis, Sarah Wickham and Halle Phillips.
Photos in text:
Top: Outgoing Board members Brian O'Donnell, left, and Joe Fazzary, right, pose with Superintendent Tom Phillips after Monday night's meeting.
Second: Erica Murray, director of the After-School Program, listens to the School Board.
Third: The team photo presented to the School Board by members of the school's Modified Lacrosse program.
Bottom: Golfer Sarah Wickham receives a certificate and congratulations from Superintendent Tom Phillips for her participation the New York State Girls High School Golf Tournament.
Bids are next as
WATKINS GLEN, May 8, 2013 -- The Watkins Glen School District has received approval to move forward on the construction phase of its plan to consolidate into a single campus.
Superintendent Tom Phillips, under the agenda heading "Update on State Education Department Project Approval," told the School Board Tuesday night that he was "pleased to announce we have our building permits" and can thus "move forward with the consolidation project."
Bids will be open on May 14 at 2 p.m. in the district bus garage, with acceptance at the May 20 Board meeting. "We continue to get requests for tours" of the Middle School, he said, "by people interested" in purchasing it. The school is being closed as part of the consolidation project.
"Some are local, some regional and some completely out of the area," he said of the potential buyers, adding that he doesn't think the building will stand vacant for long.
As the construction bid opening nears, he said, "contractors from all over the state" have been inquiring about the campus consolidation, which includes the addition of some classrooms and renovation of such things as the cafeteria and the library. The latter, Phillips said, will be "vacated next year," its operations "set up in temporary space" before it reopens in March.
The entire campus project is scheduled for completion "a year from September," Phillips noted.
The Board also:
--Held a public hearing on the budget, with Phillips and District Business Manager Gayle Sedlack explaining the spending plan to a handful of district residents present. A vote on the budget -- which calls for a 4.82% tax-levy hike -- is set for May 21, along with the election of two new School Board members to replace the retiring Brian O'Donnell and Joe Fazzary. Five candidates submitted petitions: Kristin Hazlitt, Barbara Schimizzi, Heidi Pike, Mark Franzese and Tom Lewis.
--Heard Phillips announce a settlement between Inergy and the Town of Reading over the company's assessment, an issue that affects school district coffers. He said Inergy, which had sought a reduction of about 50%, to roughly $14 million, has agreed to a step reduction from $29 million to $26 million this year "with no refund of taxes," and then in succeeding years to $24 million and $22 million. A refund would have amounted to $100,000 of school district money, he said, adding that when he heard the details of the settlement, "I breathed a pretty big sigh of relief."
--Approved coaching appointments for next year. They include, in the fall, the return of Lou Condon Jr. as football coach, with Mike Stephens assisting; and the return of Kelsey Wood as girls swim coach and John Fazzary as cross country coach. In the winter, appointments include Fazzary as boys basketball coach again, and Alicia Learn, the JV coach last year, as the new head coach of the girls basketball team. Jen Conklin will be back as the boys swim coach. And in the spring, Ben Connelly is set for another season as baseball coach, with Jim Scott again coaching softball and Rob Michel coaching golf, assisted by Diane Wood.
Photo in text: Superintendent Tom Phillips and Business Manager Gayle Sedlack at the budget hearing Tuesday night.
Frame report leans against closing of B.C. Cate school
ODESSA, March 15, 2013 -- The Odessa-Montour School Board Thursday night received a report from Superintendent Jim Frame on the possibility of closing the B.C. Cate Elementary School in Montour Falls -- a move he indicated he opposes based on initial study results that show a relatively small cost savings.
The response of two board members -- normal Frame backers Chris Scata and Damita Chamberlain -- indicated support for his position.
Frame said he looked at the use of district facilities with an eye toward projected enrollment and -- if the closing of B.C. Cate were effected -- with an eye toward transportation, food service, janitorial services, classroom space and office space. He presented a power-point outline of his findings, which he said preliminarily indicate a savings of less than $50,000 -- not enough to warrant the disruption of existing services and the potentially crowded condition of a single Odessa-based campus.
"We'd be packed to the gills," he said.
"What if enrollment went up?" Chamberlain asked rhetorically, referring to any post-consolidation spike in student population -- although Frame's report had indicated a slight enrollment decline in coming years.
Added Scata: "Could you pin down that (savings) figure? For $40,000, just a quarter of one percent in taxes, it's not worth it to me."
"I agree with you," said Frame, adding that he would come up with a final savings figure. At the request of board member Bill Schwenk, he also agreed to provide room maps showing what a reconfigured single-campus school would look like.
(For a look at Frame's report as photographed during the meeting, click here.)
In other business:
--Frame said he expects, but can't promise, the restoration of some education funds in the final state budget being hammered out in Albany. He said both the Senate and Assembly plans have called for restoration of some of the money eliminated in Governor Cuomo's executive proposal -- $415 million in the Senate version and $334 million in the Assembly version.
--Frame said the district is "continuing talks with Watkins Glen on where to go after the forum" -- a reference to a joint OM-Watkins gathering on Feb. 26 in the WGHS auditorium that drew good reviews and left both districts' superintendents seemingly pleased. He said he will be meeting next week with Watkins Superintendent Tom Phillips "about the next (forum) session" and "where to go" regarding the practice of shared services.
Frame also said that he had "talked to them" (Watkins officials) about submitting an application for a grant that would finance a study of shared services and consolidation possibilities, "but we thought it was too soon." The application deadline came and went Wednesday. When asked by board member Scott Westervelt whether the grant was on an annual cycle -- and therefore not available now for another year -- Frame said that is "up in the air."
Photo in text: O-M Superintendent Jim Frame and School Board President Debra Harrington at Thursday night's meeting.
O'Donnell won't seek re-election to Board
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 31, 2012 -- Watkins Glen School Board President Brian J. O'Donnell will not seek re-election to the Board this coming spring.
O'Donnell, a retired Watkins Glen High School principal who started in the district as a 4th Grade teacher in 1969 and is completing his third term on the School Board -- including four years as Board President -- says he has informed Superintendent Tom Phillips and the other Board members of his decision.
"It is my belief," he wrote in an e-mail to The Odessa File, "that three three-year terms have enabled me to contribute some ideas and thoughts to our District and to help make decisions for the benefit of our students. I have enjoyed my association with (Superintendent) Tom Phillips and the Board members immensely and am very proud to have been a part of the process to consolidate our students and programs onto one campus, to return our students to a 'common' time schedule and to help position our District as positively as possible to face the challenges of declining state aid and the 2% tax cap.
"We have a great forward-looking and very energetic/enthusiastic Superintendent, very involved and hard working Board members, and a caring and dedicated administration and faculty/staff who all put the welfare and safety of our students first, who work hard to maintain program and personnel to keep our students competitive with those from any other district, and who continually work toward increased student academic achievement while -- at the same time -- being sensitive to the needs and resources of our residents and taxpayers."
O'Donnell said that he and his wife are "looking at
purchasing a home in Horseheads, but nothing is finalized at the moment."
Photo in text: Brian O'Donnell
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869