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May 22, 2010 - 7:55pm



Mrs. Caprio's sixth-grade class from St. Joseph's Elementary School poses for a picture at the Richmond Memorial Library -- with Teen Services Librarian Paula Haven hiding out in the back (far left).

Richmond and St. Joe's partnership started several years ago with Library Director Diana Wyrwa's visit to the school, where she spoke to the faculty about library services and extended an invitation to all grades.

"The library is such a treasure," Caprio said. "And it's right by our school, so why not take advantage of it? It's especially helpful as a supplement to (St. Joe's) library, which is kind of small."

St. Joe's 6th-graders started to visit the library last year under the supervision of Nicole Tamfer. That group was, in Haven's words, "very independent." They only came every other week or so, then mainly just to look for books.

Wanting to see the sixth-grade library experience continue, Caprio contacted Haven about bringing her class over on a weekly basis for an ongoing library orientation program.

Last September, this program was pretty much the same as its predecessor: the kids came to familiarize themselves with where different types of books were and…well, to look for books. Caprio and Haven quickly learned that if this was going to succeed on a weekly basis, certain changes were going to have to be made.

"We found that even at this age, young people need more structure," Caprio said.

This is where Haven had to put on her thinking cap. Capitalizing on her field of expertise, she started them off with library skills -- but with a little twist.

"I would go through the Teen Corner shelves and take books out of place," Haven said, "and then ask the students to spot them and put them back where they belong."

Moving away from the shelves to the Teen Corner tables, the group then started doing Reader's Theatre, which helped establish familiarity between "Miss Paula" (as the kids call her) and her new once-a-week class.

Reader's Theatre was followed up with genre studies, where the kids learned about the different types of fiction and then tried their hands at writing their own stories within each genre. From there, they have since graduated to creating their own graphic novels, which they spent Friday's session illustrating.

That, in a nutshell, is the history of the Haven/Caprio brainchild thus far. With roots in Wyrwa’s efforts to bring students to the library, it has taken on a life of its own and evolved accordingly. Haven and Caprio plan on continuing the program next year and building on what they’ve already done.

So what did everybody get out of this thing?

The planning and instruction involved in the program have taught Haven a lot about what teachers do on a daily basis.

"I've really gotten to experience firsthand the challenge of keeping the students focused," she said. "We’re talking about a situation where you only have a half hour, and you really have to keep things interesting for them."

Having never taught before, Haven found this to be as much of a learning experience for her as for the students. She attributes her overall success to the support she received from Caprio – who gave her complete freedom when it came to program planning but remained on hand to help her when necessary – and to the cooperativeness and enthusiasm of the kids.

“They’ve done very well this year,” Haven said. “They’ve participated with enthusiasm, they’ve been pleasant, and you can see them put effort into their work. They surprised me every week by their openness and enthusiasm.”

One thing that Haven and Caprio both agree on is that it’s nice to see these young people experience the library as an enjoyable place to be.

“I love seeing video-age teens connect to the library. I like that you can start with their interests (many students incorporated popular culture references like Michael Jackson and McDonald’s into their fictional works) and then help them segue into being lifelong readers.”

Caprio’s class members were asked to share their thoughts/feelings about the program via written responses. They submitted the following comments to The Batavian:

Alex R.

"I like when we got to write our own paragraph/story. I didn't know a book goes backwards (referring to anime graphic novels, which are formatted according to the Japanese style of writing back-to-front)."

Anonymous #1

"I like how we got to read short stories about different genres and learn about them. Also I like how we got to write our own paragraphs on the genre we were learning about. I would recommend it for other classes because it is a great chance to learn about how different books are made. I think Miss Paula is a very good teacher and is very open about a lot of things. Also Miss Paula is very nice."

James F.

"I had a really good time doing all the great activities. I look forward to it every week and it really brightens up my day. I would definitely recommend this program to other classes. It was very enjoyable. It has also really helped me on essays. I have learned how to improve my sentence fluency and raised my grades, too! Miss Paula was very nice. She was always in a good mood! She was patient and helped us when we were stuck."

Anonymous #2

"I would definitely recommend the program to other classes because going to the library is fun. It gives you a break from school as well as having some educational values. We've recently been learning about different genres of books. Some include: horror, fairy tale, and science fiction. Everyone is nice to you at the library including Miss Paula. Everyone really enjoys the library!"

C.J. S.

"I like making our own cartoons."

Anthony H.

"The experience was fun because we were able to write our own stories and learned a new story genre each week. I found out also that graphic novels can start from the back of the book so there was a bit of education."

Emily F.

"I liked the library program. I didn't know that much about genres, but now I know a lot about them. I thought we would just look at books, but we actually learn a lot. I have learned that graphic novels start from the back. But now we are drawing our own graphic novels, it is cool! Miss Paula is very nice and patient. She lets us do fun stuff. I do recommend this program to other classes. I know they will have a load of fun!"

Peter D.

"We talk a lot about different elements of reading like horror and comedy."

Nichol S.

"One thing I liked about this is making up our own stories. For example, when we learned about science fiction, we had to write our own science fiction story. I would recommend this to other schools because it helps students tell what type of genre a story is. Miss Paula is open and explains things pretty well."

Anonymous #3

"What I like is that we read a story and talk about the elements. (When asked if the class had any educational value): I can express myself from time to time."

Anthony G.

"I like going to the library. Miss Paula is cool. She knows where the books are when I ask. I like (the program) and I want to keep going."

Tyler H.

"At first I thought that we would just be looking at books. Then I found out that we would be learning a lot about literature. I liked that a lot. I would recommend it to other classes because kids can learn more about literature than they do in English class. I learned more about books every week. Also, I got to learn more kinds (a.k.a. genres) of books. Miss Paula let us talk freely. She was a good teacher."

Peter K.

"I liked making our own stories."

Jacob H.

"I liked learning about how the story originated and writing our own stories. I would recommend it to future kids because it will help them learn about stories. Miss Paula is a nice librarian."

Jessica

"I think Ms. Paula is very nice and knows what we need to learn/should know. She has a lot of interesting topics. I would recommend it for other classes because it is fun and you learn at the same time."

Anonymous #4

"I enjoyed going to the library every week and learning about the different genres. Miss Paula was very nice and always had something ready for us to learn about."

Grant B. (a.k.a. "That Kid")

"It's fun when we write our own stories. We get to express ourselves. All kids would probably like it. It had a little educational value because we learned all the different parts of a book/story."

Joseph S.

"I liked the fact that we were able to look for books at the beginning."

Shea N.

"I think that the best part of this is drawing cartoons! Miss Paula was verry nice!!! Would I recommend (the program)? Well, yes! P.S. – I love The Batavian!”

(I promise I did not make that last part up).

May 22, 2010 - 5:17pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, Announcements, all babies cherished.

All Babies Cherished Pregnancy Assistance Center will host its "Let There be Life" walk beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 5. Walkers will recruit sponsors and walk two miles to raise money for the pro-life cause.

The walk starts at St. Paul Lutheran Church, at 31 Washington Ave., in Batavia. Anyone who would like to get involved but cannot participate on the day of the walk may walk two miles in their own neighborhood and then mail sponsor forms to: All Babies Cherished, 445 Ellicott St., Batavia, NY 14020.

For more information, contact All Babies Cherished at 344-5660 during its regular hours:

  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday and Wednesday
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday
  • 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday
May 22, 2010 - 1:24pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in Announcements, Summer Youth Theater.

Batavia Players will host auditions for their Summer Youth Theater production of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" on Tuesday, May 25 and Wednesday, May 26.

Auditions will last from 6:30 until 9:30 p.m. and will be held at John Kennedy Elementary School, at 166 Vine St. in Batavia.

This is open to kids ages 12 through 21. For more details, contact the director, Patrick D. Burk, at 343-9721.

May 16, 2010 - 1:15pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in Batavia Downs, Announcements, horses.

The 4th annual Batavia Showtime horse show has courses for families and people of all ages featuring horse (and pony) jumpers and hunters. It will take place at the infield of the Batavia Downs Casino, at 8315 Park Road., Batavia, and will run from 7:30 a.m. until 5 or 6 p.m.

There are three sets of four-day shows on these dates:

  • Thursday, May 20 through Sunday, May 23
  • Thursday, June 17 through Sunday, June 20
  • Thursday, June 24 through Sunday, June 27

Refreshments and bleacher seating will be available. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Lizabeth Keller at 820-7889 or visit www.tsgequineevents.com.

May 9, 2010 - 12:46pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, Announcements, Richmond Memorial Library, children.

The kids and parents in Kelly March's (back, left) "Woolly Book Worms" club got some special treats for their last meeting Saturday: a scrumptious peanut butter pie, a delectable white cake with strawberries (both pictured below), and a visit from nearby children's author Peggy Thomas (second from right in the back).

Also included were some parent-friendly and kid-friendly beverages to wash the sweets down.

Thomas is the author of 14 books for children and young adults, including "Joshua the Giant Frog," which is a folkloric tale of the Erie Canal.

In spite of the fact that her mother, Margery Facklam, is also a children's author (her works include "Creepy, Crawly Caterpillars" and "The Big Bug Book"), writing was not Thomas' childhood ambition. Her father was a high school science teacher, and for a while it looked like she was going to follow in his footsteps and become a scientist. When it came time to go off to college, this became her focus.

Well, "focus" might not be exactly the right word...

"I kind of jumped around a lot in college," Thomas said.

After having explored different science programs, she ended up topping off her academic career with a master's degree in anthropology. But she gained something from her college experience that was arguably more valuable than a degree: her vocation.

"I learned from my mother that writing was a good, valuable thing as a kid," she explained. "And in college I realized that if I became a writer, I wouldn't have to be tied to just one thing. I could explore all these different subjects I was interested in."

Thomas' other works include juvenile nonfiction books on the subjects of forensic anthropology, animals, nature and New York State, as well as a picture book about President George Washington's life as a farmer in Mt. Vernon.

Her visit to the library was very informal. She sat down with the kids, let them ask questions, and talked about the steps involved in the writing process as well as the roles of the people involved -- including the illustrator, the editor and the copy editor.

She also showed everyone the "print run" of one of her mother's books, just to give an idea of the complexities of the book-publishing process.

Thomas lives in Middleport, which is about 2 hours and 45 minutes away from Batavia. For more information on her and the books she has written, vist her website at www.peggythomaswrites.com.

ADDITIONAL NOTE:

March would like to start Woolly Book Worms again in September. To learn more about this program, please contact the library at 343-9550, ext. 4.

May 5, 2010 - 3:14pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in Announcements, Richmond Memorial Libary.

Yesterday's trustee election at the Richmond Memorial Library garnered 167 votes for Rosemary Surowka, who has been re-elected to the Board of Trustees.

Library Director Diana Wyrwa submitted this information to The Batavian.

May 5, 2010 - 11:37am
posted by Daniel Crofts in technology.

All five Batavia City schools are taking learning to a new level using the "bells and whistles" of the modern classroom.

Last night, elementary, middle and high school students got to show their parents -- and others -- what kind of work they've been doing at the district's "Technology Exposition" at Jackson Elementary School:

Joe Rebisz' fifth-grade class at Jackson has been discussing Gary Paulsen's book "Hatchet" using Moodle, an online discussion tool. Each student takes a turn asking a question, and then the class tries to answer it based on the details of the story.

Four students from Andy Reagan's fifth-grade class at John Kennedy man the computers in the Jackson Media Center, each talking about a different internet-based program/resource that all John Kennedy fifth-graders are using.

Examples include:

  • "Class Blogmeister"-- Every fifth-grader has a personal blog -- linked to the classroom blog -- where they can keep journals, complete writing assignments and interact with their teachers and classmates (by commenting on postings, etc). All postings are reviewed and approved by the teachers before being published. 
  • "Famous Americans Wiki"-- Each student chooses a famous American to research for the fifth-grade Exit Project. They set up their own wiki pages and add pictures, written information, links to other resources and, last but not least, audio interviews in which one student asks questions and another plays the role of the famous person being interviewed.
  • "Fish4Info"-- The kids use this interactive site to look for books, review books they've already read, and to see which books their classmates are recommending.

For more information on what the John Kennedy students are up to technology-wise, have a look at this brief article.

Alicia Scroger and Anand Patel are both in Jen Sloan's fourth-grade class at Robert Morris. Sloan's class has been working closely with Sean Krauss' (pictured below, left) 11th-graders at Batavia High on learning to communicate through technology.

Sloan's students submit written work to Krauss' students via an online blog, and then the high-schoolers proofread and offer editorial suggestions.

The following video shows the "Math Review Games on the Promethean" and "Programming and Designing with Technology" exhibits, representing Batavia Middle School and Batavia High, respectively (Bob Mullen was the BHS faculty advisor).

Vist the Batavia City School District website for more info.

May 4, 2010 - 1:18pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in Announcements, Richmond Memorial Libary.

The Richmond Memorial Library's trustee election will continue until 9 tonight in the library's Gallery Room, 19 Ross St. in Batavia. Anyone who lives in the Batavia City School District and is registered to vote may participate.

NOTES

  • Rosemary Surowka is seeking re-election as a trustee
  • Due to the absence of a proposed tax increase for the library this year, there is no budget proposition
May 3, 2010 - 1:12pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, Announcements, science, religion, evolution, creation.

So did we come from monkeys? Or did God create us? Or both?

Are evolution and creation compatible? Did humans and dinosaurs coexist?

Is the world billions or thousands of years old?

These are some of the main topics that creation science evangelist Steve Grohman, PhD, is covering in the "Creation Seminar" at United Pentecostal Church, at 180 Oak St. in Batavia.

Grohman visits hundreds of churches and schools -- both public and private -- every year to present scientific evidence for the Creationist theory of the universe. Pastor John Hatch of United Pentecostal invited The Batavian to see him in action, and Grohman was kind enough to answer some questions in a video interview.

Yesterday was the first day of the Creation Seminar. Each session is different, and a variety of topics are covered -- including geology, fossil records, the Great Flood of Genesis, etc. The congregation welcomes anyone who would like to attend, including skeptics.

The remaining times and dates are as follows:

1 to 3 p.m. and 6:45 to 8:45 p.m., Monday, May 3

6:45 to 8:45 p.m., Tuesday, May 4

6:45 to 8:45 p.m., Wednesday, May 5

For those who are interested, here are some links to videos showing some of the various differing perspectives on the evolution/creation, religion/science debate:

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4 (up to 4:40)

Video 5

Video 6

Video 7

April 29, 2010 - 11:28am
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, genesee county, community violence.

Not too long ago, a young Genesee County mother beat her 18-month-old child with a belt for what most of us would consider a typical toddler's action.

Ed Minardo, director of Genesee Justice, was recently injured while attempting to break up a fight between two high school girls -- both cheered on by nine other youths -- outside of one of Genesee Justice's satellite offices.

In November 2005, Lisa and Bill Fickel were settling in for a typical Thursday night at their Oakfield home, when suddenly a truck pulled into their driveway; the driver then pulled out and parked across the street. Thinking that perhaps this person was interested in buying their van (which Lisa said they were trying to sell at that time), Bill went outside to meet him/her.

After a while, Lisa realized she had waited an awful long time for him to come back. She hadn't heard any conversation outside the whole time -- just the sound of the truck backfiring. Impatient to have her husband back inside so that they could watch "Survivor," she stepped out into the night...and found that the truck was gone.

She saw Bill's flashlight lying on the ground -- which was unusual, because Bill was always very careful with his tools and such. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she caught something lying on the side of the road. She looked closer, and saw that it was Bill.

At that moment, she knew that the noise she had mistaken for the sound of the truck backfiring was the gunshot that killed her husband.

Yes, Genesee County is better off than other places -- particularly urban communities -- when it comes to community violence; but clearly, violence is a very real and pressing concern for Batavia and the surrounding area.

A newly formed "Coalition," which has not yet chosen a formal name, has resolved to address and rectify this problem. The Coalition's members include:

April 28, 2010 - 1:24pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in Announcements, GCC.

Sean Walker, a 2006 graduate of Geneseo Central School, is the winner of GCC's Student Art Show, which runs through May 2 and showcases the best works of the college's Fine Arts students.

Walker has been an artist since he was a kid, and he spent the last few years developing his talent before enrolling at GCC. His goal is to start a career in freelance art and eventually become an art director.

He specializes in realism and fantasy artwork, and is also interested in Romanticism and storytelling via illustration.

Photo submitted by Elisa DiPietro

April 25, 2010 - 2:40pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, Announcements, science, religion, Christian.

From May 2-5, the Pentecostals of Genesee are inviting people to attend a Creation Seminar featuring Creation Science Evangelist Steve Grohman, who speaks hundreds of times each year at schools and churches, and via radio.

Over 350 dinosaur fossils will be on display, and Grohman, Ph.D, will explain why he believes that fossil records and other scientific data support Young Earth Creationism rather than Darwinian Evolutionism. Each session will be different.

The sessions are as follows:

10 a.m. to noon and 6 to 8 p.m., Sunday, May 2

1 to 3 p.m. and 6:45 to 8:45 p.m., Monday, May 3

6:45 to 8:45 p.m., Tuesday, May 4

6:45 to 8:45 p.m., Wednesday, May 5

The event is free, open to the public and does not require registration. For more information, please contact the Pentecostals of Genesee at 345-0925.

For more information on Steve Grohman, please visit www.creationseminar.net.

April 22, 2010 - 1:06pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in religion, east bethany.

They are private, and they are public.

They are contemplative, and they are active.

Their ways are ancient, and modern.

They are Presbyterian, but with a Celtic flavor, and with a bit of Franciscan spirituality and the Desert Fathers thrown in.

They are local -- and they are nationally significant.

They are the Seekers of East Bethany's Seeker Community Church, and they have just been named a "New Church Development" in the Presbyterian Church USA.

This group of Seekers was founded in 2007 by Rev. Bill Hockey, a pastor for 30 years and currently a half-time pastor at North Bergen Presbyterian Church.

It started as a spontaneous project between friends (Hockey included) who wanted a new worship experience, one that would let them live differently from the fast-paced and goal-driven culture around them and be present to the people in their lives and communities who needed them.

They modeled their commitment on the New Monastic movement, which is built on the premise that people become more aware of and available to serve the needs of their neighbors by fostering a deep connection with God and His presence in their lives.

As a recovering alcoholic, Hockey appreciates that angle on spirituality.

"I made a lot of connections in the 12-step recovery program," he said. "I found there were a number of people who longed for a place to worship but didn't feel connected to the churches they had been to."

Right now, the Seeker Community Church -- which currently has about 15-20 members -- meets every Sunday at East Bethany Presbyterian Church. But the Seekers will soon have a space to call their own, thanks to an anonymous donor who gave them 22 acres of woodland in East Bethany. There they hope to build a "refuge of prayer" to which the people of the Genesee Valley can come to get away from their hectic lives and "seek the Lord."

April 19, 2010 - 1:19pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, Announcements, CASA for Children.

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for Children will offer an information session for people interested in volunteering to help children victimized by domestic abuse or neglect.

This session will feature information on what being a CASA volunteer entails, as well as the testimonies of experienced volunteers. People will also have a chance to apply for a volunteer position.

No prior experience or training is necessary. Anyone who is passionate about helping children in the community is encouraged to attend.

This meeting will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. at 430 E. Main St. (GCASA Conference Room, 2nd floor). For more information, please contact Tara Pariso at 344-2550, ext. 2331.

April 13, 2010 - 1:03pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, Board of Education.

The Batavia School Board met in the John Kennedy Elementary School cafeteria last night. Left to right: school board members Gary Stich and Gail Stevens, and BHS senior Sahil Jain, student ex-officio.

The superintendent of the Batavia City School District says a key goal of the proposed budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year is to make cuts as need be "without hurting any student programs."

Yet it calls for fewer coaches and their support staff, and cutting teaching positions in each core subject as well as three aides. Decreased enrollment in secondary schools is partly to blame, according to Superintendent Margaret Puzio. There will be no transportation provided for summer school either.

The good news is that BOCES will be getting a 15-percent increase in funding.

Overall, Puzio said the school district projects a "flat budget" for the upcoming fiscal year, meaning minimal or no increase. Certain cuts to be made in order to make room for investments in other areas, according to the trustees.

District Business Manager Scott Rozanski attributes the stable budget to conservative financial practices in recent years, the availability of budget surpluses and the district's decision to pay for some expenses -- for example, construction work on the Administration Building's roof -- with reserves. These factors balance out with a slight decrease in state aid to keep the overall budget where it is now.

Here are some highlights of the budget meeting:

  • Almost all extracurricular and athletic activities that are now available will also be available next year. However, there may be fewer assistant coaches and support staff.
  • Some changes are going to be made in the elementary summer school programs. Transportation will not be provided for kids attending summer school; they will need to either walk or be driven by their parents. This year, summer school will focus exclusively on improving the reading skills of at-risk students and will consist of small classes. There will be six teachers in each school -- Jackson, John Kennedy and Robert Morris -- and a lot of small-group interaction.
  • Because of a significant decrease in enrollment projected at the secondary level, there will be staff cuts in each core subject. Puzio said that there are only about 160 students in the upcoming sixth grade class. The cuts will only effect teachers with the lowest seniority, and they will not lose their jobs if there are retiring teachers in their subject areas.
  • Three teacher aide positions will be cut, one from each elementary school.
  • There will be a 15-percent increase in the funding of BOCES services, including special, alternative and occupational education, and technology. Rozanski said that the district cut some technology expenses last year; this year, it will be able to "put new purchases back in and move forward with the wireless trend."

The budget's tax-rate information depends on factors that remain to be seen, and will therefore not be available until the fall.

The board unanimously approved the 2010-2011 budget, as well the election of BOCES Board Members. It also approved keeping the student ex-officio stipend so that the board will always have someone to keep them informed on what goes on in the schools.

The public can vote on the school board's budget from noon until 9 p.m. May 18 at one of three locations:

  • Jackson Elementary School, 411 South Jackson St.
  • Robert Morris Elementary School, 80 Union St.
  • Batavia Middle School, 96 Ross St.

Voters must live in the Batavia City School District and be registered to vote.

For more information, please contact the board office at 343-2480. 

ADDITIONAL NOTE

As the meeting came to a conclusion, Puzio distributed a letter from Genesee Valley BOCES Superintendent Michael Glover regarding Governor Patterson's school-aid cuts. According to Glover, these cuts affect less wealthy Upstate districts significantly while unfairly privileging wealthier Downstate districts (he cited Nassau County, Long Island, as an example). For more information on this, contact Rick Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium, at 315-749-3637, or e-mail <[email protected]>.

From left, board members Steven Hyde and Pat Burk, and Bobbi Norton, assistant to the superintendent.

April 12, 2010 - 10:49am

tour_stmarys04a.jpg

It's a little hard to imagine stained-glass art still having a place in American churches, with modern renovations such as movie theater set-ups, overhead projectors contemporary band music taking over the worship scene. But on Sunday, a tour sponsored by the Landmark Society of Genesee County took Batavia residents to five local churches where stained glass windows still have an important place.

The "Stained Glass Window Tour" was created in 1990. According to Landmark Society President Laurie Oltremari, this is the first time the tour has been revived in almost 20 years. This time around, it was done in order to raise money for the restoration efforts of St. James Episcopal Church.

"We thought it would be good exposure for the churches and their artwork," Oltremari said. "We hope we can make it an annual event."

The tour started at 1 p.m. and ended at 4 p.m., and tourists could visit the churches in any order they wanted. The five churches spanned several denominations, and the quantity and style of stained-glass art in each location reflected that.

The different sites were as follows:

April 10, 2010 - 1:54pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, Parents, northgate, special education.

Here are some questions for parents of children with special needs: How often do you feel alone or overwhelmed? Do you ever wish you could connect with other parents and find the resources you need to give your kids what they need?

Firsthand experience and awareness of these anxieties are what motivate Lyndy Branton and Melody McMaster in heading up EaGeR -- "Extra Grace Required" -- a parent support group at the North Campus of Batavia's Northgate Free Methodist Church, 8160 Bank Street Road.

Both are mothers of children on the autism spectrum and each week they -- along with McMaster's husband, Sean -- share their experiences and invite other parents to do likewise.

The last meeting was Friday evening in Room A-3 of the Adult Wing. It was an open discussion involving parents whose experiences ranged from that of the mother of a 2-year-old whose diagnosis is still in the works to that of the mother of an autistic teen getting ready for college.

Topics of discussion included:

• Different approaches to telling kids about their own disabilities

• The frustrations and fears of raising autistic children

• Attention to what sorts of things set their children off and what to watch out for

• Prevalent misunderstandings about autism

• Limitations encountered in getting their children the assistance they need

• The experience of dealing with teachers, relatives and even strangers who make them second guess themselves, thinking that they know the children's needs better than the parents do

• When and how to use discipline

• How to encourage kids to use positive ways of getting attention -- by focusing on their talents, etc. -- instead of socially inappropriate behavior

Many EaGeR attendees are the parents of autistic children -- and their children range widely across the autism spectrum -- but the group welcomes and addresses topics that are important to the families of all special-needs children. Many of their meetings are devoted to specific topics, such as IEP (Individualized Education Program) plans, CSE (Committee on Special Education) meetings, family, behavior modification, social skills, diet and treatment.

"It seems like we get a different group every time," McMaster said, "but it always seems to hit the spot. To connect with someone in the same boat and to know you're not alone...that in itself means a lot."

"These meetings seem to have been especially helpful for families who are noticing things in their young children and are trying to get them diagnosed," Sean commented. "It's very helpful to speak with people who have been through the experience and had to overcome a lot of the same obstacles, and just to know that help is available."

Because EaGeR is sponsored by the church, faith is an integral part of its meetings and mission. McMaster, who leads the group in prayer at the end of every meeting, stated that "our Christian faith has had a positive impact on our journey...

"One of our goals is to help prepare the church to work with special-needs kids, who need Jesus Christ as much as anyone else. As Christians, we always have to be ready to deal with them in a merciful way. If they experience rejection at a young age in church, that could make or break their faith."

At the same time, EaGeR is not limited to Christians. All families who struggle with raising special-needs children are invited to attend and to take advantage of the encouragement and support offered by other parents going through similar experiences. McMaster and Branton hold a Christmas party every December as well as a picnic for families in June in order to make people feel comfortable "regardless of where they are in their faith journey" (McMaster's words).

EaGeR meetings take place on the first Friday of every month from 7 until 9 p.m., unless otherwise noted.

For more information, please contact:

Melody McMaster -- 343-4707, or e-mail <[email protected]>

Lyndy Branton -- 409-8079, or e-mail <[email protected]>

April 2, 2010 - 5:04pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, Announcements, children, Richmond Memorial Libary.

Girls age 7 and up get a chance to celebrate being a girl with crafts, outdoor activities and other projects at the Richmond Library.

The library's "American Girl" program, based on the popular children's book series, will be held from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on April 10, 17 and 24.

Here are the names of the sessions:

4/10 - "Meet Julie"

4/17 - "Meet Lanie"

4/24 - "American Girls & their pets"

Please contact the library at 343-9550, ext. 4 for more information.

March 31, 2010 - 7:35pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in Announcements.

Genesee County AmeriCorps will host a planting project at Batavia's DeWitt Recreation Center, 119 Cedar St., from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 24. Around 50 volunteers are needed.

The goal of this project is to remove invasive plant species from the park and to raise plants designed to reduce soil erosion, provide the wildlife with food and shelter, and give visitors something more aesthetically pleasing to look at.

Supplies and water will be available, but volunteers are encouraged to bring their own water as well.

The day will include activities for youth and lunch will be provided.

Anyone interested in participating in or making a donation to this project should call the Genesee County Youth Bureau at 344-3960 and ask to speak to Lauren. Information is also available on Facebook (search "DeWitt Planting Project").

March 29, 2010 - 11:12am

The Genesee County high schools' "Change for Change" fundraiser has come to an end. The money raised will benefit United Way charities in Genesee County.

Nancy Harding of the Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union reported the following totals after final deposits were made on Friday:

Batavia High: $3,384.27

New York State School for the Blind: $701.73

Oakfield: $459.06

Pavilion: $32.95

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